Recent Blog Entries
Beware Chrome and HTTP/2 Debugging April 2 2023
It’s About Security, not Privacy Feb. 26 2016
Technology Marches On Feb. 18 2016
Bitcoin: Where is the Governance? March 3 2014
Bitcoin March 1 2014
Technology marches on... it makes no friends, takes no prisoners. It just is. When it comes to technology and law enforcement, technology changes the game. Sometimes it makes law enforcement easier, sometimes not so much.
Recently the FBI has been complaining about “going dark.” The claim is that advancing technology, particularly technology designed to protect our electronic security in an increasing dangerous world (just read any Newspaper about the breach of the day...) is making law enforcement more difficult. The same technology that helps protect us from online vandals and crooks, may also make law enforcement more difficult. It is this difficulty that is being referred to as “going dark.”
However this is a one sided way to look at things. The same technology that is making the FBI “go dark” also provides ways to track people’s movements (GPS in phones), see who we are communicating with (even encrypted phones create records at the phone company when they are used), and read our e-mail (because e-mail services are not encrypted and you can always subpoena the e-mail provider). Before e-mail people had to use postal mail. Postal mail was/is much harder to obtain. And with e-mail many people communicate a lot more as well. Similarly text messages are also relatively easy to obtain.
I assert that if you look at all of the ways that modern computers, smart phones and the Internet have influenced policing, you will find that when all is considered, law enforcement is coming out pretty well on top.
One of the implicit arguments that is being made is that technology that blocks law enforcement should be prohibited. Let’s see how that applies to some technologies that we take for granted.
Let’s start with the Automobile. Using a modern automobile, a thief can commit a robbery in one state and in a matter of hours cross the border into another state (or even another country). Crossing state lines adds some complication to law enforcement. So maybe we should ensure that when someone commits a crime, they cannot quickly cross a state line. So lets ban automobiles. The citizenry can walk or purchase horses. Of course the police will keep their cars...
But consider another interesting technology. Should we permit drug dealers and moonshiners and other miscreants access to a near perfect evidence destroying machine? So when law enforcement knocks on their door they can merely deposit incriminating evidence in this evidence destroying machine and pull a lever. Clearly we should not permit this. Having such a device makes law enforcement more difficult. Let’s ban it shall we.
Well guess what. Almost all of us have this device in our homes today. It is called a TOILET! Deposit the drugs, flush the toilet, gone. How would you react to a proposal that we ban toilets. Let’s all use outhouses again... it will make us safer from drug dealers...
I've used an outhouse... I'm sticking with the toilet ;)!
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