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    AG Barr’s is saying that encrypted communications should always be readable by the police, presumably with a warrant issued by a judge. This would include secret FISA court proceedings. This is a “trust us” argument.

    Another way to state his “trust us” argument is: Trust the FBI, ATF, and other federal police agencies (yes, the ones that arguably conspired to take down a president) never to misuse this power. Trust federal judges including FISA judges (yes, the ones that signed off on surveillance of President Trump’s campaign) never to misuse this power.

    Technology aside, years ago Barr would have had a better argument. Now the tentacles of the Deep State have extended too far. We’ve learned too much to rely on “trust us” in the future.

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      Barr seems to be asking for a new federal law. What would that law actually say?

      Wording matters. A lot.

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      The Deep State tag seems accurate. This policy does not vary based on who’s in the White House (what makes you think presidents can influence the permanent bureaucracy?). Here’s an article I wrote published this July:


      The best way to read this report is that it represents the latest extrusion of the permanent cadre of law enforcement and national security bureaucrats who have never abandoned their efforts, underway for over 20 years, to allow U.S. government agencies to break or bypass encryption embedded in hardware and software products.

      The last time this extra-constitutional campaign against encryption kicked off was during the George W. Bush administration, in mid-2008, when FBI officials briefed Senate Intelligence committee members on what they called the “Going Dark” problem. This campaign continued without apparent interruption during the Barack Obama administration, when the FBI asked all field offices in 2009 for anecdotal information about cases in which “investigations have been negatively impacted” by encryption. By 2012, as I disclosed in an article at the time, the FBI had drafted a proposed law to force tech companies to build in backdoors and was asking the companies not to oppose it. That legislation was never publicly introduced.