Ex-NSA lawyer says encryption could ‘BlackBerry’ Apple and Google

“The battle over encryption of consumer internet users’ data has pitched US technology companies against the US government itself, former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker said on Tuesday,” Jemima Kiss reports for The Guardian. “Speaking at Web Summit in Dublin, Baker claimed that moves by Google and Apple and others to encrypt user data was more hostile to western intelligence gathering than to surveillance by China or Russia.”

“Baker said encrypting user data had been a bad business model for Blackberry, which has had to dramatically downsize its business and refocus on business customers. ‘Blackberry pioneered the same business model that Google and Apple are doing now – that has not ended well for Blackberry,’ said Baker,” Kiss reports. “Baker said the market for absolute encryption was very small, and that few companies wanted all their employees’ data to be completely protected.”

“Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, defended the tech firms, saying these businesses depend on trust and that the Snowden revelations had been ‘a shot across the bow for companies like Google,'” Kiss reports. “‘Where in the past there was a willingness to work with law enforcement, that time has gone,’ he said. ‘I have faith in the math [of encryption]. No-one can monitor that – and I’m not sure we want private law enforcement taking on the law and picking which traffic is good or bad.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What did in BlackBerry was the Steve Jobs steamroller combined with deer-in-the-headlights half-CEOs distracted by NHL teams and content to rest upon their laurels while bullshitting investors, not encryption.

Of course the NSA and ex-government lawyers hate Apple’s encryption. That means it works.

Apple products are even more desirable because they are secure and offer users the ability to maintain their privacy.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

Related articles:
Apple’s iPhone encryption is a godsend, even if government snoops and cops hate it – October 8, 2014
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
What if Osama bin Laden had an iPhone? – September 26, 2014
FBI blasts Apple for protective users’ privacy by locking government, police out of iPhones and iPads – September 25, 2014
Apple thinks different about privacy – September 23, 2014
Apple’s iOS Activation Lock reduces iPhone thefts, Samsung phone thefts skyrocket – September 18, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Would you trade privacy for national security? Most Americans wouldn’t – August 6, 2014
Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers – July 15, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Apple’s iMessage encryption trips up U.S. feds’ surveillance – April 4, 2013

60 Comments

        1. There was no Karma in effect Tuesday, only the statistical outcome of an off year election with an Unpopular President in the White House. That and a lot of Gerrymandering, voter suppression and electioneering.

          Do not be fooled. In 2016 the GOP has to defend better than 20 Senate seats and 5 are in states Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. What are the odds of a swing back the other way? Pretty good.

            1. Botty, I think you did a pretty good job on your own ransom note. You’d do well not to hire HELLo, he’s a little unclear on the concept.

        2. Too much of the confidence in BO was based on his being a good-looking, young, African-American, eloquence etc and too little on his real talent as a leader. Many had high hopes that a non Older Man In A Grey Suit From The Upper Class would change things, but despite good intentions he did not make it.

          It is a normal reaction to call this FAIL, but you have to admit he tried and came a very long way. I believe this was enough of an experiment for the Americans for now and they will vote for an OMIAGSFTUC next time, before going experimental again en electing Hillary. After that it may be time for a woman. So it will take 6 years before a woman gets elected. Another 4 for a “tweeter” OMIAGSFTUC before American will have a choice based on skills and not sex or race. In ten years, Americans can vote for the person with the best skill set for the job, regardless of sex and race. Then it will be the land of the brave and home of the free again.

      1. Yeah let’s face it, the presidential vote is more of a popularity contest and who has the best suit and hair than anything else. I’d rather vote on issues than someone to represent me. I’m willing to bet most people are far more middle of the road than the stupid bullshit of painting things as Dem vs Repub. And the real problem is the avg IQ is 100 which means 50% of population is below 100. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust someone with an IQ of 90 to understand, lest vote on complex issues we face as a people.

        1. I do hope your IQ is not reflected in your deductive and calculation skills. And hope that it’s just enthusiasm and oversight that would let you conclude that “the avg IQ is 100 which means 50% of population is below 100”. 5th grade American math should already see the error in that reasoning. Sad.

            1. True, but IQ is the individual’s score on a standardized test divided by the normalized median of the population. So, while it is not quite true that 50% are under 100, it is entirely true that more than 50% are 100 or below. The difference is hardly significant to the point that only a minority of eligible voters have an IQ over 100… which is correct and hardly a fifth grade mistake.

  1. I smell desperation from the government lackeys who want to spy on citizens.

    And that odor of desperation is sure sweet smelling.

    Hey NSA boys, read the Constitution, you might learn something.

    1. If this keeps up, the US may end up wasting money like Britain did in the 1940s on Alan Turing and the Bletchley Hall gang. All that money just to intercept private messages to the representatives of a people that just wanted a little more room to live in.

      Folks, there really are some bad people out there. Some of them live in Moscow and others live in our home towns. The Fourth Amendment was written to allow reasonable searches and seizures to protect us from those people. Y’all apparently won’t be satisfied by anything less than a complete ban on government investigations. A people who ignore their safety in the name of absolute privacy aren’t likely to keep either in the long run.

      1. Yes but for Turing and his work breaking codes, all of us would very possibly be speaking German or Russian by now and no the technology balance at that time would not have made the Atlantic a sufficient barrier to that. There is no absolute in privacy and security matters that’s the only fact and that balance varies depending upon the impending enemy. The likes of ISIS have always been there but only with western social media technology can its evil creed be spread and coordinated far and wide with such impact upon the weak minded and danger to the fabric of our society. Not sure Ben Franklin or even the likes of Reagan could have anticipated that development.

        1. We’re catching up…maybe even leading the world here in the uk with mass CCTV surveillance, unfettered secret service access to all aspects of the web, land and mobile communications, bank accounts, movement tracking and now…all legal communications between counsel, client and legal backup are seen as fair game for GCHQ to give to their cronies MI5 and MI6 which amounts to subverting the very foundations of the law. Fsck me!
          Oh…and before anybody gets the idea of demonstrating publicly on these issues…well they’ll know in advance…and where…and when…and who to target.

      2. If Western governments didn’t constantly go out of their way in acting as badly as Islamist preachers make out their “terror groups” would be no more than people shouting at the crowds on street corners. Injustice swells the ranks of extremists. If we really want to beat them we’ve got to isolate them from potential supporters. Have young Muslim kids watch those YouTube vids and either roll their eyes or laugh.

        Right now though there is too much truth in what those nasty pieces of work are posting, enough to make the kids themselves believe all the rest of the crap within.

        You can say it’s better to fight them there than here, but if by fighting them there we end up fighting millions rather than hundreds it’s not a great strategy. Especially if we also end up with an enemy within in the process.

        That would help secure our nation’s much more than demands against security.

      3. You apparently missed the subtle little nuance that Turing and his colleagues were fighting the nazis, not eavesdropping on millions of innocent people.

        That boot leather you love to suck on is damaging your brain.

        -jcr

  2. Encryption kept Blackberry alive for as long as it was! Well longer than it should have stayed alive. If it wasn’t for Blackberry’s encryption most of their Corporate customers, and the US Government itself, would have turned their backs on Blackberry a decade before they actually did.

    As MDN pointed out – encryption didn’t kill Blackberry, Steve Jobs, the iPhone, the introduction of the true smartphone market, and a unhealthy dose of Blackberry’s own CEOs stupidity killed Blackberry!

    1. And isn’t it scary but oh so predictable that Government representatives clearly have no idea at all as to how a business model collapsed. Doesn’t give you much confidence in his intelligence work really does it. Bet he has a Harvard Masters degree and who knows what else tucked away on his CV too.

  3. It takes a special kind of idiot to think that Blackberry’s problems stem from their encryption of their devices. The only question is if he’s saying that because he’s a total idiot, or is he just a liar.

    1. Hillary’s Law: When a government official does or says something so stupid that you have to ask whether they’re an idiot or a liar…

      What difference does it make?

  4. This is simply another shot in the battle to defeat user encryption, so that the data can be read. I expect that we will soon see various “experts” espousing the idea that corporations that make user-level encryption ubiquitous are poor citizens. Then we will have entered the “demonize the enemy” phase.

    The government needs to realize that the reason many people distrust it is that it has been untrustworthy.

  5. “The battle over encryption of consumer internet users’ data has pitched US technology companies against the US government itself..”

    bullshit. It has pitched The People against the US government itself.

  6. Those who read and care about tech know this to be completely untrue. Those who do not read such headlines do not care. So, who is this moron aiming his BS comments at?

  7. There are also international concerns for the phone makers. Apple, Google, and MS servers are in the US (if not all, than most). The NSA has made people in other nations think twice about using our products. BB being in Canada is probably the only thing keeping them alive. Canada is one of the few countries we can’t spy on.

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