Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FBI Director Wants Everyone to Leave Backdoors Unlocked so He Can Search at Will

The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, has called for technology companies to build 'backdoors' into their encryption systems so that the US Government can access anyone's digital communications. The most obvious flaw in his plan, as outlined in this article, is that any backdoor created for the US intelligence agencies can also be exploited by America's enemies. The vulnerability of US Government systems to hackers has been repeatedly proven, most recently with the hacking of the US Office of Personnel Management in which the confidential records of 21.5 million people who had been required to go through background checks for US government jobs were stolen, probably by the Chinese Government.

The naïveté of Comey's intentions is secondary, however, to the more important considerations of which he appears to be ignorant. It seems almost quaint to discuss the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, given how utterly those documents have been philosophically shredded in recent decades, however the Fourth Amendment states that,

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It is pretty unambiguous, isn't it? What part of that statement says that the US Government can require everyone to leave the digital equivalent of the backdoors of their houses unlocked so that one of its agencies can enter and search at will? Even the US Supreme Court, which has been only too willing to ignore James Madison's plain English and allow all sorts of unwarranted searches and seizures in recent decades, has to its credit upheld the rights of the people in respect of smartphones searches in two recent cases.

James Madison and many of his contemporaries originally thought that the powers granted to the Federal Government in the original seven articles of the US Constitution were implicitly limited, but they came to realise that the reverse was true. They understood that government power and individual rights were inherently in conflict and that for citizens to be sovereign (which is the most fundamental tenet of the US Declaration of Independence), government powers had to be explicitly limited. This is why the Bill of Rights was written.

James Comey believes the opposite to James Madison. The former believes the citizenry lives at the pleasure of the government and that therefore it is the right of the government to know everything about each and every one of its citizens, irrespective of whether there is reasonable cause to believe that a citizen has committed a crime. In James Comey's eyes, we are all guilty until proven innocent. This is why his view is so fundamentally wrong. It is why James Comey and his type that are the greatest threat to liberty today, rather than the threats from the likes of terrorist groups like ISIS that he uses to justify his demands for ever-greater power over our lives.

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