Home / Government Surveillance / iPhone Just the Beginning — Obama Just Announced He Wants a Backdoor to Everything

iPhone Just the Beginning — Obama Just Announced He Wants a Backdoor to Everything

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Austin, TX – While visiting South By Southwest (SXSW) on Friday, President Barack Obama argued that the government should be given a backdoor to all encrypted smartphones and communications devices. Although Obama repeatedly played the child molester and terrorist cards, he never confronted the possibility of U.S. intelligence agencies abusing their power at a level far more technologically advanced than the KGB, Stasi, or SAVAK.

When asked where he stood on the privacy vs. security debate, Obama answered, “All of us value our privacy. And this is a society that is built on a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights, and a healthy skepticism about overreaching government power. Before smartphones were invented, and to this day, if there is probable cause to think that you have abducted a child or that you are engaging in a terrorist plot or you are guilty of some serious crime, law enforcement can appear at your doorstep and say, ‘We have a warrant to search your home.’ And they can go into your bedroom and into your bedroom drawers and rifle through your underwear to see if there’s any evidence of wrongdoing. And we agree on that.”

No, President Obama, we never agreed on no-knock drug raids that leave innocent children maimed or murdered. After declaring an incessant war on drugs in June 1971, President Richard Nixon pushed through extreme measures, including no-knock search warrants and mandatory sentencing, in an attempt to appear tough on crime. But we never agreed to the needless deaths of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones and 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, or the mutilation of 19-month-old Bou Phonesavanh.

“The question we now have to ask is: If technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer, how do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?” Obama asked.

Apparently, it never occurred to Obama to use evidence, witness testimony, deduction, forensic science, or undercover cops to apprehend child pornographers. And although the CIA and NSA have repeatedly claimed that their mass surveillance programs are responsible for thwarting terrorist plots, they remain unable to provide a single example of identifying or preventing a large-scale terrorist attack.

“What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement?” Obama continued. “Because if in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket.”

While Obama appears to operate under the assumption that the U.S. government does not have the capability of cracking these devices, NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden recently addressed the issue asserting, “Respectfully, that’s bullshit.”

As The Intercept pointed out, security researchers say other options do exist, such as “de-capping” the “phone’s memory chip to access it outside the phone (which Snowden has also mentioned), or resetting the phone’s internal counter” for an unlimited number of password attempts. Though difficult and costly, such methods have been used with success in the past.

Refusing to speak about the specifics regarding the Apple vs. FBI encryption battle, Obama instead pleaded a case for allowing the government backdoors into smartphones and other devices. Addressing the fact that civil liberties have been violated, Obama neglected to remind the SXSW audience about the NSA analysts caught spying on their girlfriends and spouses, or Snowden’s accusations of NSA employees sharing stolen nude photos by utilizing mass surveillance programs with little to no oversight.

In 1975, CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton admitted before the Church Committee to opening and reading Americans’ mail to and from foreign countries for at least 20 years. Without the technology to read everyone’s mail, the CIA was restricted to photographing the letters before resealing the envelopes, as the NSA tapped transatlantic communication lines. The CIA was also accused of orchestrating the assassinations of several political figures, while the FBI admitted to conducting illegal surveillance and harassing civil rights leaders. But the Justice Department refused to prosecute.

Due to the fact that the CIA, NSA, and FBI were not criminally charged for repeatedly violating Americans’ constitutional rights over 40 years ago, Obama is delusional if he believes we should place blind faith in our corrupt intelligence agencies. By allowing these acronyms to operate with near-impunity, the president is completely ignoring the precedent set by human history that secret police and intelligence agencies, including the Soviet Union’s KGB, East Germany’s Stasi, Iran’s SAVAK, and Russia’s FSB, possess a consistent pattern of violating human rights and abusing their power.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, the NSA is currently providing technical assistance and decryption tools to Saudi intelligence agencies, improving their surveillance systems and spyware against political dissidents, bloggers, and human rights activists, while the Saudi government continues to fund CIA covert operations in Syria. Obama also neglected to mention that detail in his privacy vs. security argument.

Andrew Emett is a Los Angeles-based reporter exposing political and corporate corruption. His interests include national security, corporate abuse, and holding government officials accountable. Andrew’s work has appeared on Raw Story, Alternet, Activist Post, and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewEmett and on Facebook at Andrew Emett.
  • Private Citizen

    Oh HELL NO…

    • DWB

      This whole administration needs to be hung for treason.

      • Kory Rosander

        Damn right.

  • gremlinone

    I have said this on another post, why won’t the FBI consider asking Apple to unlock the phone, copy everything in memory (except the decryption key) and turn the copy over to whoever? Is it just the “Big Brother” mentality? The FBI would have the info they want, Apple would still be sole have the key solely in their possession. True, some Apple rep would have to testify that the copy is, indeed, accurate, but that should pose no problem since it’s easy to prove that bit-copiers do just that – copy one bit at a time until the entire file is copied. BTW – that’s why the phone would have to be de-crypted first, a bit copier would faithfully copy the encryption as well as the message! This is why bit-copiers will work, they do not execute any of the file that they copy, they do not take it as code, they don’t do anything except make an exact duplicate!! The FBI does not need and should not have the de-cryption key (as if government could actually be trusted. I point to SS as an example of trustig government – SS is broke cause instead of saving that money, as they were supposed to do,Congress treated it as their own personal piggy bank!!)

    • Kory Rosander

      Dude… Apple has unlocked dozens of devices for the federal government in the past… and several people have offered to do exactly what you are suggesting. They do not want or need the data. This is all about the federal government invading the privacy and the constitutional rights of the citizens. They want their back door into all our lives and they aren’t even trying to hide it or deny it. They aren’t even trying to say that they want it to protect us anymore. You heard it right from his fucking mouth … they want this back door for “simple things like tax collection.”

  • hello

    OBAMA can back door this❇ shove it right up his black muslim Antichrist gay ass!

  • patriotman

    The Federal government has no business circumventing the Constitution and private lives of American citizens (legal).

  • crockett11

    No way, he is the enemy check his ass out. He goes to a certain mosque a lot, check it and see why he goes.

  • James Andrews

    Only with a warrant, Mr. President! Otherwise, you guys are in violation of our Bill of Rights, and should you choose to do so, should be immediately ARRESTED. This is why we have the Constitution!

  • William Beech

    I don’t use smart phones and won’t. I’ve known from the beginning there was a security issue, especially with the new phones coming out so often and the trading in of used ones. If you can recover a wiped computer hard drive you can recover a phone memory, one way or another.

  • Alice Cokefair

    Unbelieveable irony, this from the Communist turd that spent how much to hide his own records?

  • opptech

    I guess if it was Bush and Cheney wanting this the people on this sight would be perfectly OK with it.

  • Donl

    Quote; It’s unfortunate that America’s biggest threat to freedom resides at 1600 pennsylvania ave. washington DC. ( Hon. Amb. John Bolton ).

  • Kory Rosander

    This was a sickening 10 minutes of lies and bullshit. I seriously had a hard time sitting through it. I can’t stand this assholes forked tongue double talk. He is so careful in the way that he words things… No wonder small-minded people fall for his blatant lies. He just literally told everybody that he believes that the federal government should have the right to reach right into our personal lives take our money Snoop around and take whenever they want without due process. Not once did he mention the words “with a warrant” … He did however mention the words with “Just Cause” … Which is the government lie that they sell when they take our property through bullshit loopholes like “asset forfeiture” laws. He even said that if we don’t let him do it the “right way” … That they will find another way to push it through legislation and then it won’t be done right, the way his administration would do it. This man is a crook of the worst kind… Absolutely no respect for the rights of the citizens. This asshole is the master of finding loopholes and ways to push his agenda through the system regardless of the moral or ethical reasons not to, and regardless of the law and due process, and total disregard for the Constitution. Not only should he be impeached… This whole Administration should be executed for treason.

  • George Matyas

    Its a cell phone, the header and trailer info is available from the phone company, So they have all the phone numbers sent or received by that phone, so they can investigate all those people and verify if any are a problem.

  • chuckdu

    Wouldn’t surprise me…if he turn into a of pillar salt

  • Mark Pascucci

    If I were Apple, I’d agree to hack into the phone only under certain conditions, them being : 1.) ONLY Apple employees will do it IN SECRET after signing an oath to never reveal this hacking information to anyone else at any time, for any reason, under threat of job loss and civil lawsuit. 2.) NO GOV’T. agents or employees will EVER be given any information by any means. 3.) Once the phone is hacked into, only Apple employees will remove the information and confidentially give it to the F.B.I.

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