We can an­swer tougher en­cryp­tion

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Stephen Brinich, Spring­field

Re­gard­ing the July 9 news ar­ti­cle “FBI chief: ISIS us­ing en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tion”:

FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey raised the alarm­ing specter of ter­ror­ist com­mu­ni­ca­tions “ren­dered un­read­able” by strong en­cryp­tion. The real sit­u­a­tion is not so dire, given the ex­is­tence of tech­niques that by­pass en­cryp­tion in­stead of at­tack­ing it head-on. For in­stance, spy­ware or phys­i­cal de­vices can be planted di­rectly in phones and com­put­ers, al­low­ing mes­sages to be in­ter­cepted in clear text as they are typed into a key­board or read from the screen dis­play. Even with­out di­rect ac­cess, in­ter­cept­ing a de­vice’s elec­tronic noise emis­sions and re­con­struct­ing keystrokes and dis­plays can achieve the same re­sult.

Ad­mit­tedly, these tech­niques re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of la­bor and equip­ment for each tar­get. Thus, they are suit­able only for nar­rowly tar­geted sur­veil­lance of in­di­vid­ual sus­pects and are not prac­ti­cal for bulk sur­veil­lance. Since I’m sure that Mr. Comey is sin­cere about wish­ing to con­duct only the for­mer, I’m pleased to set his mind at ease on the non-threat of go­ing dark.

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