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US Government Wants to Ban Encryption in the Name of Protecting Children

Social media companies may soon be forced to allow backdoor government access to encrypted information.

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(TMU) — In the name of protecting the children, U.S. lawmakers and the Department of Justice want to ban end-to-end encryption, opening Internet users to a host of attacks on their privacy by not only the government but also malicious hackers.

Attorney General William Barr is claiming he wants to protect the children but his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, protected Jeffrey Epstein—one of the most serial child sex traffickers. And it turns out Barr’s own father, Donald Barr, was the headmaster of an elite New York City school that hired college dropout Epstein to teach math and physics.

Last week, Barr expressed at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking that encryption was aiding human traffickers. He said:

We live in a digital age, and like everyone else, human traffickers are relying increasingly on digital communication and the Internet … and more and more, the evidence we rely on to detect and to deal with these predators is digital evidence,” Barr said. “However, increasingly, this evidence is being encrypted.

We all recognize that encryption is important in the commercial world to protect consumers like us from cybercriminals, but now, we’re seeing military-grade encryption being marketed on consumer products like cellphones and social media platforms and messaging services, and that means that we cannot get access to this data.

We just can’t have chatrooms and websites that are involved in grooming children victims or selling trafficked women — sites that are impenetrable to law enforcement—and we have to do something about this.”

Barr has previously said that technology companies using end-to-end advanced encryption and other security measures are effectively turning devices into “law-free zones.”

As we use encryption to improve cybersecurity, we must ensure that we retain society’s ability to gain lawful access to data and communications when needed to respond to criminal activity,” Barr said in his keynote address at the International Conference on Cybersecurity at Fordham University Law School in Manhattan.

The ACLU has stated strongly that Barr doesn’t understand the benefits of encryption and that they outweigh the negatives of its use.

Encryption reliably protects consumers’ sensitive data,” Brett Max Kaufman, a senior staff lawyer in the Center for Democracy at the American Civil Liberties Union said. He added, “There is no way to give the F.B.I. access to encrypted communications without giving the same access to every government on the planet. Technology providers should continue to make their products as safe as possible and resist pressure from all governments to undermine the security of the tools they offer.”

Now Congress is seeking to ban companies from using end-to-end encryption and impose penalties for businesses that use it. Barr, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are targeting encryption with a new draft bill called the “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (or EARN IT) Act.” The act would modify the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 to make companies liable in state criminal cases and civil lawsuits over child abuse and exploitation if they don’t follow practices set by a national commission according to Engadget.

That commission would be known as the “National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention,” would be comprised of 15 people, and led by the Attorney General who just so happens to be Barr himself. This new government organization would also include the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and 12 others handpicked by members of Congress. The Commission would be tasked with recommending “best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct.”

Riana Pfefferkorn, a member of the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, wrote in a blog post that the bill threatens the constitutional rights of online communication platforms and their users in a solid evaluation of the bill. Pfefferkorn explained:

While the EARN IT Act is ostensibly aimed at Section 230, it’s actually a sneaky way of affecting [encryption laws] without directly amending it. This bill has a number of extremely serious problems, too many to fit into one blog post. It is potentially unconstitutional under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, for one thing.”

If passed the law would also require companies like Telegram to allow backdoor government access to encrypted information which would also provide a “golden key” vulnerability for malicious hackers—something that Barr doesn’t appear to understand.

The EFF wrote:

Throughout his term as Attorney General, William Barr has frequently and vocally demanded “lawful access” to encrypted communications, ignoring the bedrock technical consensus that it is impossible to build a backdoor that is only available to law enforcement. Barr is far from the first administration official to make impossible demands of encryption providers: he joins a long history of government officials from both parties demanding that encryption providers compromise their users’ security.”

Even government officials in the FBI and DOJ aren’t convinced Barr is doing the right thing by seeking to ban encryption, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In 2018, the FBI lied and inflated the number of encrypted phones it said were connected to ongoing criminal investigations. The Bureau incorrectly stated time and time again that 7,800 phones were blocked from investigators. The Washington Post later reported that those figures were more like 1,000 to 2,000. The FBI blamed a “programming error” for the discrepancy.

Modern law provides enough legal means making EARN IT an unnecessary escalation on Section 230 which protects small companies more than the big giants. Currently, if an Internet company finds that an individual or group is using its platform to distribute child sexual abuse material, federal law already requires them to provide that information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and to cooperate with law enforcement investigations.

By Aaron Kesel | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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