The user privacy and security They are the order of the day because of the leaks of characters such as Edward Snowden, who revealed to the public opinion the massive follow-up programs of the American agencies. That, and that the methods to protect our communications and our data are very easy to use right now, we can find them even on WhatsApp.
However, there is a group that is not in favor that users protect themselves from the eyes of others. We are talking about agencies like the American FBI, which have earned a reputation for their methods of achieving their goals, even if they were useless later. And today we want to review that particular battle that the FBI maintains against privacy, an absurd battle as well as surprising.
The infamous Apple and San Bernardino iPhone case
We start with the case that has occupied the covers of the media for several weeks, the iPhone of one of those responsible for the San Bernardino attack found after it happened. You already know the story: The FBI wants Apple to get a version of iOS that gives them full access, and Apple refuses, arguing that this would be an attack on the privacy of users. The FBI pulls, Apple loosens, companies and users side with Apple, and the FBI pulls trial without success.
After saying up to three times that Apple’s collaboration was essential to access the iPhone, they left the case without further ado. The American agency came to pay a million dollars to an israeli computer security company to access that iPhone without the help of Cupertino, and now they do not want to tell Apple how they have achieved it, arguing that they do not know it themselves, although they are required by law to do so in theory.
The iPhone in question did not contain any useful data for research, something that several computer security experts had already predicted, but which the FBI ignored as they continued their witch hunt. He ignored it because this battle was a show of force from the start: if the FBI forced Apple to give them access to their devices, it would set a legal precedent for accessing the devices or services of any American company. The problem is that Apple knew how to defend itself from the onslaught; We will have the problem again when the FBI attacks a company without the ability to defend itself as Apple has done.
The FBI and Tor, a relationship worthy of novelty
Surely you are already familiar with Tor: a community tool that serves to anonymize our Internet connection. Yes, the bad boys of the Internet use it to hide their criminal activities (such as selling drugs, weapons or child pornography), but a large sector of its users are ordinary people who seek to further secure their connection to the network.
The FBI – and the rest of the American agencies – have as a custom criminalize the use of Tor for any purpose, reaching the point of monitoring users just for being users of the service, without any other motive. Something that obviously does not feel good to users who are objective just by worrying about the privacy of their communications.
Maybe by exporting democracy, they meant driving out the dissidents. https://t.co/dVaufyo6vR
Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 6, 2016
In addition to harassing users, the FBI also implements its harassment and takedown techniques with developers working on these tools. For example, in recent days the FBI has been demanding a meeting with Isis Agora Lovecruft (development leader on the Tor project) without explaining why, claiming the non-presence of his lawyer and threatening to stop her if she did not cooperate, something that Techdirt has echoed.
Related to all this, it has also recently been discovered that the FBI recruited a former Tor part-time worker, Matthew J. Edman, to develop tools capable of overcoming Tor anonymity. This employee, who entered the Tor Project in 2008 to be hired by the FBI in 2009, was responsible for tracking the millions in Silk Road bitcoins to find Ross Ulbricht, among many other operations.
Encryption can exist, as long as we give them keys
Knowing that the FBI has attacked Tor actively and passively, it would be very rare if they had not yet attacked encryption, the ability to protect the data on our devices so that only we can access them. Precisely the encryption was the cause of the entire case of Apple against the FBI: Apple has been reducing its access to the devices of its brand progressively, reaching the point that only we can read the data from our iPhone.
FBI Director James Comey already complained loudly that encryption is spreading on mobile devices. It specifically refers to Apple having already established mandatory encryption on its devices as of iOS 8, and that Google has started to do so with devices that come with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
And for Comey, as we can read in the Huff Post, it is ridiculous not being able to open a closet even with a court order, cites as an example a child abduction case, and accuses the companies of sell your devices as tools to flee the law. Which is funny when in the Paris attacks we could see how the attackers used SMS and Facebook to communicate without more, no encryption or milk.
Times have changed for the FBI and NSA
All of these acts are done under a single pretext, under a single excuse: to keep the United States safe, to which they belong in theory. However this battle has only one end, end user privacy although they stand as alleged defenders of privacy and encryption.
Before the arrival of the Internet, the US security forces had a certain impunity to do and undo as they please, all because there are no effective ways to spread these acts. The internet has changed this in a way making your actions under the public eye More easily, the methods to protect us from these attacks on privacy are easier to follow than ever, and the presence of leakers like Edward Snowden does not make life easier for them.
Agencies like the FBI or NSA miss the pica in which they had more freedom, but those times are over. Now a simple search reveals all the surveillance actions of the NSA, we have interactive maps with the routes of the FBI surveillance planes, and we can even know in two clicks how they have tried to discredit personalities bordering on illegality.
There are still many things that we do not know, but the Internet has made Sharing information and knowing what is happening in the world is easier than ever, and government agencies are not exempt from this.