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.
Although the FBI has apparently paused its battle with Apple over encryption, there's now another branch of the technological world under fire: burner phones. A new house bill, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), would essentially kill the anonymous prepaid phone industry.
The bill calls for retailers of prepaid phones to collect personal information on all buyers, including name, birth date and home address. The retailers would also be told to verify the info with a driver's license number, social security number or other suitable form of ID.
On the eve of his company’s court date with the FBI, where it will defend its right to not weaken the security of its own devices, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at a small theater in Cupertino to introduce a few new devices. The message of the event’s opening, though? Encryption matters. And soon, on iOS, it will matter even more.
While Cook’s remarks were brief, they were determined.