John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

See, We Told You It Was a Dangerous Precedent

“We think it sets a dangerous precedent.”

–State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on the United Arab Emirates BlackBerry ban

Coming as it does after the State Department’s condemnation of the United Arab Emirates demand for oversight of BlackBerry mobile services, a White House-sponsored bill that would require all Internet-based communication services to be technically capable of intercepting and unscrambling encrypted messages on behalf of the government seems more than a little ironic.

Sadly, that irony appears to have been lost on the Obama administration, which plans to submit the bill for congressional deliberation next year despite the unsettling implications. Requiring providers of encrypted communications services to create back doors through which government officials with a wiretap order can eavesdrop carries no guarantee that only government officials with wiretap orders will use them, is it?

“Back door” is really just another term for vulnerability, and there are plenty of interests out there willing to try their hand at exploiting them. And that’s without including the National Security Agency.

“I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Columbia University computer science professor Steven Bellovin told The New York Times. “If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.”