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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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WATCH: Video Shows Bullets Fly as Armored Car Crew Narrowly Escapes Brutal Heist

Elias Marat

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Dramatic dash cam footage from Pretoria, South Africa, shows the moment that the crew of an armored car narrowly escaped an attempt by armed robes to stage a heist.

The shocking video shows a pair of private security officers transporting cash in a bulletproof Toyota truck on April 22 before they suddenly come under attack by armed assailants.

For the first minute of the roughly three-minute-long video, the security guards can be seen routinely driving down a highway.

The vehicle then comes under fire as bullets can be heard slamming into the driver side of the car, with the window by the driver’s side shattering.

The driver, who maintains his calm and composure during the attack, manages to escape amid the traffic. He also seems to slam into one of the two vehicles belonging to the attackers.

“They’re going to shoot. They’re going to f**king shoot,” the driver then says, urging his colleague to pull out the rifle and prepare to defend their lives.

As gunshots continue to ring out, the two drive silently as the tension builds. The driver then shouts to his colleague: “Phone Robbie, phone Josh! Ask them where they are.”

As the video ends, the driver can be seen stopping the vehicle and grabbing his colleague’s rifle. At that point, it becomes clear that the assailants have realized that their attack was futile they had already fled the scene.

The suspects fired several shots at the [Cash-In-Transit] vehicle in an attempt to stop it during a high-speed chase,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo , reports News24. 

“The driver of the CIT vehicle managed to evade the robbers for a while but later stopped in wait for the robbers,” Naidoo added. “The robbers fled without taking any money. No arrests have yet been made.”

Online users have praised the steel nerves of the armored car’s crew in navigating what could have been a deadly attack.

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After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb

Kenny Stancil

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The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.

When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.

Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”

Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.

According to the Times:

In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.

John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.

Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.

The robotic dog came under increased scrutiny in February, after it was deployed in response to a home invasion at a Bronx apartment building, as Common Dreams reported at the time.

“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?” 

And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.

“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time. 

While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”

“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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Senate Intelligence Leaders Say Mystery “Sonic Weapon” Attacks on U.S. Officials Increasing

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After it was revealed Thursday that US intelligence is investigating at least two potential “directed energy” sonic attacks on White House personnel – one of which is alleged to have happened just off White House grounds – the US Senate Intelligence Committee weighed in on Friday, saying such mysterious incidents appear to be happening with greater frequency worldwide.

Senators Mark Warner (D) and Marco Rubio (R) agreed that such microwave energy attacks have gone on for “nearly five years” and have targeted “US government personnel in Havana, Cuba and elsewhere around the world.” In a joint statement the two ranking members said, “This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this,” according to Reuters. 

As with the late 2016 into 2017 ‘Havana Syndrome’ attacks in which some 50 diplomatic personnel reported experiencing strange symptoms from vomiting to concussions to extreme nausea to chronic headaches, which was believed the result of some kind of undetected ‘directed energy’ weapon, the most recent incidents saw media reports speculate that Russia or China might be behind them. 

It was starting last week that the mysterious incidents returned to national media spotlight after defense officials said they believe Russia is likely behind microwave energy weapon attacks on US troops in northeast Syria. Apparently some US troops occupying the country began reporting”flu-like symptoms” which caused the DoD to investigate possible linkage to microwave or directed energy weapons on the battlefield of Syria. Politico reported that “officials identified Russia as a likely culprit, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.”

Despite instances of strange symptoms and even head injuries experienced by diplomatic personnel or troops abroad, no “energy weapon” has ever been found or uncovered that’s believed to have caused any of these alleged attacks. Most often US personnel report the symptoms enough time after the alleged attack took place for the “plot” and culprit to remain undetected. Naturally this has resulted in immense skepticism and pushback.

One deeply critical response to all the reporting late this week quipped: “Another day, another mostly anonymously sourced story about unidentified assailants supposedly assaulting U.S. government employees around the globe. This time, according to CNN, federal agencies are looking into something closer to home: symptoms suffered by a White House employee in Virginia and National Security Council staffer near the south lawn of the White House.”

“Although a government report later concluded the most likely cause was instead some sort of ‘directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy’ (i.e. a microwave weapon), that conclusion was primarily based on a lack of evidence for other causes and received strong pushback from many others in the scientific community.”

The commentary in Gizmodo pointed out further that “No hard evidence of any kind for the technology has ever been publicly presented by the US government. Reports citing government officials who suspect Russian intelligence to be involved have largely been anonymous and buoyed primarily by rumors the Russian government may have resumed Soviet-era research into experimental weapons.”

Republished from ZeroHedge.com with permission

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