Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Monday that the Snowden revelations have sped up the sophistication of encryption by "about seven years," according to the Christian Science Monitor.
"From our standpoint, it’s not a good thing," Clapper reportedly said at CSM's breakfast event. When asked how he came up with that figure, he cited the National Security Agency.
Over the past year, we’ve heard politicians the world over discussing the need for governments to be able to bypass encryption. Major Silicon Valley powers like Apple and Google have repeatedly told lawmakers that they can’t be given access to the encrypted services they provide for their users, with or without a warrant, because they don’t have that access themselves – only the user has the encryption key.
Documents FOIA'ed by Ryan Shapiro and shared with the New York Times shed some new light on previous FBI efforts to break encryption. Back in 2003, the FBI was investigating an animal rights group for possibly sabotaging companies that used animals for testing. The FBI's Department of Cutesy Investigation Names dubbed this "Operation Trail Mix," which I'm sure endeared it to the agents on the case. At the center of the investigation were emails the FBI couldn't read. But it found a way.
If you were skeptical that polticians would be so audacious as to propose a law effectively requiring encryption backdoors... well, you just got proof.
For most of the past six weeks, the biggest story out of Silicon Valley was Apple’s battle with the FBI over a federal order to unlock the iPhone of a mass shooter. The company’s refusal touched off a searing debate over privacy and security in the digital age. But this morning, at a small office in Mountain View, California, three guys made the scope of that enormous debate look kinda small.