Why U.S. FBI director James Comey needn’t worry about encryption

“When Silicon Valley closes a door for spies, it opens a window,” Danny Yadron reports for The Guardian. “That’s the conclusion of several former government officials, academics and privacy advocates in a study Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society released on Monday. The report argues that despite talk that encryption from the likes of Apple and [others] obstructs national security, these companies are creating many new technologies that will make surveillance easier. That’s a notable finding because the study’s authors include several law and order types, such as Matthew G Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center for the Obama administration who is now an executive at IronNet Cybersecurity – a startup founded by former National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander.”

“It comes as many US law enforcement officials, including the FBI director, James Comey, have pressed tech companies to make sure they can access user communications even if they are encrypted as they travel the internet,” Yadron reports. “There are several reasons things may not be as bad as they seem for investigators. For one, encryption, which relies on complex math, is very hard to implement correctly. More importantly for technology companies, it can get in the way of their ability to mine user content to better target advertisements. Moreover, consumers can adopt encrypted messaging apps, but they work on phones and computers that run other less secure software. This can often give prying eyes an opening, the report says.”

“As tech companies focus their attention on making more consumer products ‘smart’ by connecting them to the internet, they increasingly open up new surveillance windows, the report concludes,” Yadron reports. “For instance, what good is an encrypted phone call if government investigators can listen in on the call through a microphone in a “smart TV” in the same room?

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonderful. Your iPhone will be secure, but your refrigerator won’t.

All the more reason to use Apple products and services over Google, if you value your privacy at all, as Google is nearly wholly dependent on mining user content to better target advertisements.

A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled.

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.

We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.

We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn’t get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.


Visit the Apple-backed reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

Apple CEO Tim Cook defends privacy, encryption amidst terrorist concerns – December 18, 2015
Apple CEO Cook defends encryption, opposes back door for government spies – October 20, 2015
Judge declines to order Apple to disable security on device seized by U.S. government – October 10, 2015
Apple refused to give iMessages to the U.S. government – September 8, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
U.S. Senate blocks measures to extend so-called Patriot Act; NSA’s bulk collection of phone records in jeopardy – May 23, 2015
Rand Paul commandeers U.S. Senate to protest so-called Patriot Act, government intrusion on Americans’ privacy – May 20, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Sparkles” for the heads up.]


  1. Seems like the ducks are lining up for a near-future Google implosion, unbeknownst to doofus investors who I hope take it in the shorts for all of their short-sightedness and rampant stupidity. The undesirability of Google to all but the most clueless becomes more evident every day.

    1. Google unlikely to implode, at least by the hand of our purchased government reps:


      Alphabet spends a ton of $$$$ convincing the politicians that they really ‘do no evil’. What’s more scary is, Google will soon be able to sell all that data on human behavior they’ve been collecting over the years through their ‘service’ products. Can you imagine what a politician would pay for information on where their most ardent supporters live, eat and shop? And how they can throw ads at them while they’re on their way home from work? And perhaps for blackmail purposes against their opponents? Yeah- politicians would definitely go for that, and Google would be happy to sell!!

  2. This is why I generally avoid “smart” products. No only are they generally not that smart or useful, but they unnecessarily open access into your home and your life. I don’t want a (Google) Nest thermostat that can be accessed external to my home. I don’t want a voice-controlled smart TV or remote or appliance that operates in an always on and listening mode. I do not need web cameras on everything. I do not need five “smart” devices with overlapping functions like Netflix, YouTube, web browsing, etc. And I will not buy or use any Google product or service, if I can possibly avoid it.

    For example, I want a dumb TV with an awesome picture and sound. I will connect the AppleTV and other devices to add functionality. I can then upgrade those devices, as desired. Keep it simple.

    1. I recently bought a Sony Bravia ‘smart’ TV and it’s without a doubt the least smart thing that I’ve ever owned. It reminds me of those people who think they’re smart, while in reality being profoundly stupid.

      The CPU is amazingly slow – make that glacial. There is a web browser, but it can take a minute or more to render a page which my Macs or IOS devices connected to the same network, will render near instantaneously. Navigation is quite dreadful too.

      If you switch it on from cold and opt for the programme guide, it initially puts up a message saying ‘Please wait’ and then gets so engrossed with doing other things that it forgets what I asked and never comes back with the programme guide.

      If I type a URL in the browser, the keyboard is laid out in QUERTY style, but when entering a URL into YouTube, the keyboard characters in alphabetical order.

      I can watch BBC iPlayer through a dedicated app, but other UK TV channels do not offer a suitable app for that TV and as Flash is not supported by the TV, it’s impossible to view those on-demand channels on the TV via it’s browser.

      I could go on about so many other flaws, but you get the drift. The bottom line is that the picture display is great, but the smart features are quite unfit for purpose. The likely way forward is going to be using it as a dumb display, with an ATV actually providing the smart features.

      Unless smart devices are well implemented, they’re simply not worth having.

  3. My next tv won’t have a camera or mic. At least if it does, it should be removable as I have noticed on Sony products.

    This does not negate the notion though that our computers aren’t already compromised via some invisible stux like system. We are hurting from too much tech and yet not enough. Difficult to tell or understand who to trust.

  4. I trust the NSA and our military. The guys and gals at the NSA are Anericas best. I trust you with my metadata and hope you will track down the scum who hates America no matter who that is (meaning ISIS and Obama and Hillary’s stinking Kotex).

    Go Trump!

    1. Trump will win the presidency because all the other candidates are weak mealy-mouthed liberals and centrists, even the other Republicans. He’ll appoint Hillary to be his Secretary of State because he declared that he wants qualified people in his cabinet, and she has done that job. And he loves and respects women, he said so. And women as old as her don’t need Kotex, which proves you don’t know much and may not even be old enough to vote.

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