FBI’s James Comey: ‘There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America’

“‘There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America,’ FBI director James Comey has declared after the disclosure of a range of hacking tools used by the CIA,” Julian Borger reports for The Guardian. “Comey was delivering prepared remarks at a cybersecurity conference in Boston, but his assessment has deepened privacy concerns already raised by the details of CIA tools to hack consumer electronics for espionage published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.”

All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, and in our devices. But it also means with good reason, in court, government through law enforcement can invade our private spaces. Even our memories aren’t private. Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw… In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications. — FBI director James Comey, March 8, 2017

“Fresh concerns over personal privacy arose after WikiLeaks published what it called the first tranche of a larger body of data about CIA hacking, which it says was provided to the organisation by a whistleblower seeking to trigger a debate on the issue,” Borger reports. “Democratic congressman Ted Lieu called for a congressional investigation into how the data came to be stolen and the wisdom of the intelligence agencies of withholding knowledge about vulnerabilities in consumer software from manufacturers. ‘If these documents are true, it means the CIA arsenal of cyber weapons is now out there in the public domain, and who knows who now has access to some very intrusive hacking tools,’ Lieu told the Guardian. ‘It is very disturbing to anyone who cares about privacy… It should also put to rest any argument about encryption back doors. You can’t just give encryption keys to the good guys and hope they don’t get to the bad guys. Our best protection is to have no security defects in the products we use.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The good news is that this will bring vulnerabilities to Apple’s attention that they can close. The bad news is that the government spooks are out of control and have forgotten the advice from the smartest of the Founding Fathers of the United States:

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

As for encryption, Congressman Ted Lieu is correct. Again, encryption is binary; it’s either on or off. You cannot have both. You either have privacy via full encryption or you don’t by forcing back doors upon Apple or anybody else. It’s all or nothing.

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook

Without strong encryption (meaning no back doors), U.S. companies’ tech products would be eschewed around the world.

WikiLeaks reveals CIA’s global covert hacking program targeting Apple iPhone, Google Android, Microsoft Windows and even Samsung TVs – March 7, 2017
Proving Apple’s assertion that there are no good backdoors, hacker dumps iOS cracking tools allegedly stolen from Cellebrite – February 2, 2017
A hacker just proved that Apple was right to worry about creating a backdoor to the iPhone – January 13, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook touts encryption at Senator Orrin Hatch’s Utah Tech Tour – October 3, 2016
Feckless FBI unable to unlock iPhone, even with a ‘fingerprint unlock warrant’ – May 12, 2016
FBI’s Comey says agency paid more than $1 million to access San Bernadino iPhone – April 21, 2016
Nothing significant found on San Bernardino’s terrorist’s iPhone – April 14, 2016
FBI director confirms hack only works on older iPhones that lack Apple’s Secure Enclave – April 7, 2016
Apple responds to FBI: ‘This case should have never been brought’ – March 29, 2016


      1. Noticed that. I suspect a FAKE star ratings coordinated gambit against right leaning posters. If you got that many down votes in 90 seconds I can safely assume they are counterfeit.

        1. Yes, you are the King! 👑

          Well, I just did my part and down voted you, along with myself all things being equal. 😜

          Any minute now expecting a lecture from @PreDrag on the importance of up votes and how credible they are. Of course, only a Libtard believes in FAKE votes … 🤔

        2. Well Botty, it is nice to read your honesty regarding your motives – It’s about the votes and the acclaim for you. Substance is irrelevant as long as it brings you attention.

          You know I’ve always found your act entertaining and it continues to be. However, you might consider adding a front of humility. It would help avoid the blatant groupies who sound so foolish when kissing your rear end and it might convince a few from the other side to buy in to your ideology.

          Keep up the good work and try to avoid being your own cheerleader in public. It’s not very becoming for a man so adept at manipulation of the stupid.

        3. Now your stupidity trumps your imagination. Bloviating conjecture for no real purpose, pity.

          Hey Botty, you embarrassed yet? I KNOW you don’t appreciate clueless blowhards pretending to speak for you … 😆

        4. Not that I expect you to admit mathematical facts, but if delegates to the Electoral College were allocated by proportion, then the results in the EC would have paralleled the general election. It’s just math Botty.

          I do understand that that NOT how it is. I happen to consider it wrong.

        5. That’s the whole point of the electoral college – fairness. Otherwise, you have states like California and Texas which could tip the balance either way, just by having larger populations. Just because a giant state voted for a particular candidate, doesn’t mean they picked the right one, nor should the population of their state make their opinion matter more.

        6. Which is why I favor a proportional distribution of each stae. This averages it over the whole population.

          Oh, and this is a Federal Election matter, so the Federal Government should be able to dictate it.

        7. Yeah, it would be so unfair if the winner was the person who the most citizens voted for. Brilliant point.
          By the way, it’s important to remember that, of people who live in the U.S., Trump got about 18.5% and Clinton got about 19%.
          In other words, people who live here either dislike them both, or aren’t allowed to vote.

        8. Absolutely correct and surprised so many Dems do not GET IT.

          As I have posted more than once since the election results — four voting precincts around la la land el-lay Hollywood and NYC were responsible for the 2.7 million popular vote margin.

          Take those five precincts away and Trump wins by millions in the popular vote, in addition to his electoral college stunning victory.

          And that’s the fact — Jack! … 🇺🇸

        9. I can ignore clown citizens, absent facts while ignoring reality, like you all year long if I want to. I don’t need your permission, Junior. Get a life … ��

        10. Your response, like so many others are clear as mud.

          When you finally get an education on the merits of the electoral college, let’s dance …

        11. No Botty. You read what he wrote and it’s not what you repeated. That tactic is very old and tired no matter the political persuasion of the person making the play. Why does a guy of your intelligence resort to tactics and strategies more suited to a group of dolts? A fraction of your intelligence employed in a more skillful way would easily resolve their weaknesses. Why do you crawl in the mud with them?

        1. It’s not particularly reasonable to require someone to live in the hills and off the grid to maintain the right to privacy. Reasonable is living in your community and among your peers. Hacking ones personal possessions is equivalent to breaking and entering, which is nothing like a wiretap.

      1. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ensures that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. House, papers and effects: Its implied https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy_laws_of_the_United_States

        1. Junior, it’s not what you said and don’t try to weasel out of your mistake with gaze into my crystal ball and read my mind excuses. FAIL.

          Hooray for Gollum correctly pointing it out! 🇺🇸

        2. I do not engage in CONVERSATION with DECEPTIVE MORONS and UNAPOLOGETIC EGOS like you, junior. Obvious to some, certainly not to the like minded Libtards, we see through it and you don’t get it. Not now, not ever. FAIL …

        3. Yes, it’s called self-esteem. If you check, you’ll find that your’s is wanting. That’s one of the reason you’re a troll. It’s overcompensation for your insecurity. That’s also why it is so thoroughly simple to yank your chain and indulge in bullying you back for your abuse of others.

          Getting the clue now?

    1. Gollum,
      It’s give and take because that is what the Fourth Amendment requires. It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and then defines searches pursuant to a judicial warrant issued after a sworn showing of probable cause as presumptively reasonable. The Director could have worded his remarks better, but he is right when he says that the Fourth Amendment does not create an absolute right to privacy under any and all conditions.

      Similarly, the Fifth Amendment does not create an absolute right not to testify. Apart from attorney-client communications, anybody who has been granted immunity from self-incrimination can be constitutionally compelled to testify about absolutely anything (although there are some additional statutory privileges).

    1. Trump isn’t interested in keeping Jewish Americans safe. He’s busy giving handouts to Big Oil, Insurance, and Military contractors. Plunging USA into an age of isolationism because you know that makes his base feel safe.
      However if you move to Israel then Trump would love to sell you weapons. He’s a dealmaker and pathological liar not a leader.

  1. The National Security Police State Spy Apparatus is consuming the Republic, making it into a martial government: Martial Law. Proof is the totally unconstitutional TSA whose practice is to completely deny 4th Amendent guarantees of search and seizure.

        1. No you were accusing me, I did not require reminding and actually said it first. Facts… a difficult concept for a RW wingnut!

          Go back to watching your favorite documentary..”Happy Days!”

        2. Here we go blaming Bush and the GOP again. 😆

          Check the latest Wikileaks dump the other day. Eight years of Obama the Intel agencies ran loose. I was wondering how they broke into the San Bernadino iPhone without Apple’s help? They had the capability all along and were unduly pressuring APPLE and others. Dishonest and unbelievable.

          Add to that years of illegally targeting Tea Party groups (political opponents) and still to come the final days of the Obama and the election. The Patriot Act is tame by comparison.

          Noticed the Russia hacked or influenced the election narratives disappeared since Trump’s tweet last Saturday? Even the NY Slimes changed their headlines online. It was a master stroke of brilliance.

          A toast to Wikileaks and Snowden … 🍾

        3. And, I guess, a toast to David Greenglass and Julius Rosenberg, who let the people (or their representatives in the workers’ and peasants’ soviets) break the imperialist monopoly on the atomic bomb. Without them, we would all be under the jack boots of an Anglo-American cabal. Clearly, the U.S. and U.K. owed full disclosure to the nation that pulled their fat out of the fire in the Great Patriotic War.

          The People have an absolute right to know absolutely everything about everybody else, unless they are the ones being spied on, in which case SMERSH (Death to Spies).


  2. It’s naive to think that if you use electronic media that it will be completely private. Servers have long memories and can dig up all sorts of crap years after you randomly wrote it.

  3. My wife was born in Thüringen within the former East Germany ( DDR ) and was amongst the first to flee to the West when the Berlin Wall came down.

    She tells me how their government ( the SED ) acted as dictators and imposed sudden law changes upon a whim. Their enforcers, the STASI were eavesdropping everywhere and people were afraid to talk about contentious topics, even within their own homes in case there might be a listening device installed. She vividly remembers her mother on many occasions taking her for a walk along the riverbank to talk about certain topics and how she would immediately change the subject if anybody approached. People were told that if they had nothing to hide, they had nothing to fear, but in reality fear was omnipresent and people assumed that eavesdropping was happening everywhere.

    There was no free press because any organisation that didn’t toe the party line was closed down one way or another. The only news sources that were given free reign were telling a version of events that everybody could see was untrue. The only reliable news came from other countries. The SED tried to discredit those sources and tried to discourage people from listening to them.

    The SED was largely controlled by Russia. Blatant vote rigging during elections was commonplace, with SED candidates in 1989 apparently winning 98.5% of the vote at times when opposition was becoming very widespread. The DDR ran up a massive international debt with no prospect of ever paying it off.

    The SED put enormous efforts into building an impenetrable wall to protect it’s borders and the SED ignored international agreements with regard to the status of refugees.

    Germans celebrate that those days long gone, but are astonished to see how events are currently unfolding elsewhere in the world.

  4. On the other hand there is so much hate coming from that terrorist nation that they have to export it.

    What a pitiful spin in the article, absolutely deflecting and pitiful. Hand right in the cookie jar and still in denial. What a joke.

  5. Electronic rights are rights, period. Our rights don’t change due to the simple fact that we use various devices to access information for which the possibility of snooping happens to exist, it makes not one iota of difference. This is beyond absurd, it is bullsh*t. :/

    1. Could either of you please point out a single accurate quote in context from any American government official that disagrees with what you are saying? Of course electronic devices and communications are entitled to the same privacy rights as written and oral communications… but no more.

      With a warrant, the government has always been able to access all the non-electronic data on your person or in your houses and papers. The Fourth Amendment quite specifically says so. With a warrant, they can access the same information stored electronically. What is outrageous about that?

      If the Government can legally acquire the information, it has the right to read it. If it is in Arabic, they can use a translator. If it is in code, they can use a cryptographer. If it is encrypted, they can use a cracking program.

      I don’t see where Comey, or even the CIA data dump, is suggesting that they advocate illegal searches against U.S. residents. All of these methods can be utilized under a warrant properly issued by the FISA Court. Many of them could be done with an ordinary criminal warrant issued by any neutral magistrate.

      Outside the U.S., of course, (where the CIA mostly works) there are no constitutional protections for non-U.S. persons. George Washington used spies, too, you know. If spies can steal information written down on paper, they can steal the same information on an electronic medium.

      I personally find Comey’s attitude offensive because not every constitutional search is ethically justified and because he expects private companies to cooperate in governmental invasions of privacy, but that isn’t a question about legal rights.

  6. Thank you for your Show and Tell Mr. Comey! You’ve demonstrated that you have read, understand and can express the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. But you still require another reading assignment…

    Even our memories aren’t private. Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw… In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications.

    No Mr. Comey, not entirely correct. Your next assignment is the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which you apparently can’t yet adequately articulate to others.

    5th Amendment to the US Constitution

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    1. Derek,
      While I agree with your moral stand, the current state of the law supports Comey rather than us.

      The Supreme Court of the U.S. has held that anybody can be compelled to testify under a grant of use immunity. Since their testimony (and the fruits of that tree) cannot be used for self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment does not protect them.

      Even the majority opinion acknowledged that this created “a cruel trilemma.” The witness can:
      1. testify truthfully and send their child to the needle or open themselves up to a mob hit;
      2. refuse to testify and go to jail indefinitely for contempt; or
      3. testify inaccurately and go to prison for perjury.

      There are a number of evidentiary privileges (husband-wife, doctor-patient, clergy-penitent, etc.) that might restrict the questioning, but all of those except attorney-client are statutory and not constitutional. There are significant exceptions to the operation of all these privileges, even attorney-client (which does not cover testimony about an ongoing criminal enterprise, for example).

      1. …a grant of use immunity

        New to me, but I’m no expert at that level of law. Seriously? Compel? I’d have thought it would have to be by personal consent with the immunity as a motivator. Hmm.

        Is there some workaround for the right of a spouse to NOT testify against the other spouse? Etc? I’m glad you pointed out the evidentiary privileges.

        I am detecting a high level of murk.

        1. Sadly, compelling testimony is quite lawful. It tends to be unusual because so many witnesses will choose to go to jail for contempt or perjury rather than tell the truth. A lawyer should never put a witness on the stand unless he knows exactly what the person will say, and compelled testimony is inherently unpredictable.

          The spousal privileges—there are two, regarding spousal testimony and spousal communications—are a very complex subject. The rules differ from state to state, and sometimes even between courts in the same state. For a pretty good overview, look up “spousal privilege” in Wikipedia.

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