The FBI Wants to Put You at Risk To Make Its Job Easier
By Joe Jarvis - January 10, 2018

The FBI doesn’t like encryption. They are concerned that they cannot properly investigate criminals.

Often they have enough evidence to justify a search of a suspect’s device. But they do not have the actual ability to search many encrypted smartphones and computers.

The only solution they can think of is to violate your rights, my rights, and the rights of tech companies. They want to force companies to make their products vulnerable to attacks, in order to make their investigations and prosecutions easier.

The inability of law enforcement authorities to access data from electronic devices due to powerful encryption is an “urgent public safety issue,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday as he sought to renew a contentious debate over privacy and security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to access data from nearly 7,800 devices in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 with technical tools despite possessing proper legal authority to pry them open, a growing figure that impacts every area of the agency’s work, Wray said during a speech at a cyber security conference in New York…

Technology companies and many digital security experts have said that the FBI’s attempts to require that devices allow investigators a way to access a criminal suspect’s cellphone would harm internet security and empower malicious hackers.

But regardless of the vulnerabilities this creates, it violates rights. It violates the rights of tech companies to create and sell whatever kind of technology they want. It violates customers’ rights to own secure technology.

Owning encrypted technology is not aggressive, it does not hurt anyone.

So to stop you from possessing this technology is itself a type of assault.

Do you ever find yourself defending criminals?

I wouldn’t hesitate to philosophically defend a criminal when they are accused of a victimless crime.

But other times I defend an alleged criminal because respecting rights is important, no matter how obvious guilt seems.

This is an unenviable position to be in. Sometimes I lament being philosophically consistent. It seems so easy to criticize others using illogical appeals to emotion. But I’m interested in something deeper than gaining the subjective moral high ground.

I’m interested in an objective justice system. That is why I write about rights. The comments display the widespread misunderstanding of why rights are important.

Some people point out that rights are simply a social construct as if that negates their usefulness. I’m well aware that rights are a human invention, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Nor are rights negated by the fact that they can be violated, and sometimes perpetrators get away with it.

Others come up with hypothetical or real gray areas where it is hard to distinguish if rights were violated. Indeed sometimes it is difficult to understand if aggression took place, and prescribe the proper solution. But this does not prove rights are a worthless concept. It only proves that humans are imperfect. And that is all the more reason to have a firm objective basis for a system of justice.

Evidence may prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty. But if authorities obtained that evidence in a way that did not respect rights, I must defend the alleged criminal.

Otherwise, we go down a path of arbitrary law. Law enforcement says violating rights is justified when fishing for crimes.

We have started down that path now in the West, despite hundreds of years of common law precedent. Common Law aims to settle disputes. The precedent set by case law is useful for understanding how a society reacts to aggression under particular circumstances. That is how common law is formed.

It is objective because without a victim there is no crime. That doesn’t mean all accusers are truly victims. But it does mean the best way to avoid legal troubles is to avoid aggressive behavior.

Too many people these days think government statute trumps common law. But violating government statute requires no aggression, no victim. It is therefore arbitrary. There is no rhyme or reason to who is ensnared in legal battles. The justice system is based on the subjective whims of legislators.

An objective justice system does not criminalize peaceful behavior. A subjective justice system sees no limit to criminalizing “pre-crimes” such as the possession of encrypted technology.

(And this philosophical discussion ignores the question of the FBI’s trustworthiness. The more you look into the FBI’s history, the more their request to violate your rights seems nefarious, rather than a misguided good intention.)

The Supreme Court Weighs In

In recent hearings, the Supreme Court seems to support objective law and individual rights.

In two cases testing the reach of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protection, a majority of justices appeared to side with the suspects over the government when their constitutional rights were threatened…

“Even if you don’t have an expectation of privacy in the trunk, you’ve claimed an expectation of privacy in the property,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “And absent probable cause, there’s no right to search. So why are we here?” …

Justice Neil Gorsuch, picking up on his predecessor Antonin Scalia’s penchant for privacy rights, said Byrd would have been able to throw out a carjacker or a hitchhiker, “so why not the government?”

This is a hopeful indicator of where society is heading. But rights will not be ultimately won or lost at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The real fight for freedom takes place in the daily lives of individuals. Live your life as you see fit without harming others, and you carry the torch forward.

Raise your kids in a way that respects their rights, and instills in them a respect for others.

More than voting, litigating, or legislating, this will ensure the future of freedom.

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