NSA director James Clapper has bemoaned recent advances that have brought strong and easy-to-use end-to-end encryption to the masses. He also harbors no doubts about who is to blame,
“As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years… From our standpoint this is not a good thing.”
So yay Mr. Snowden! The remarks were made to journalists during a breakfast hosted by Christian Science Monitor. When asked how he came by that figure, Clapper responded, “from the National Security Agency”,
“The projected growth, maturation, and installation of commercially available encryption—what they had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago—was accelerated to now because of the revelation of the leaks.”
He further elaborated that,
“That’s in large part because the Islamic State is ‘the most sophisticated user by far of the Internet.’ They privately purchase software that [sic] ‘to ensure end-to-end encryption’ of their communications. And so that is a major inhibitor to discerning plotting, principally by ISIL and others.”It is something of a mystery, however, what exactly this “privately purchased” commercial software used by IS might actually be!
Is this just bullshit?
In the wake of the Paris attacks, investigators were quick to claim that the terrorists made use of end-to-end encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp, but such claims have been fairly comprehensively debunked (they used low-tech burner phones).
Even if Telegram and WhatsApp had been used, both these apps are free. There is also some speculation that IS might use TrueCrypt to secure its data and communications. This would hardly be surprising as TrueCrypt is an excellent encryption tool, but again, it is free (and 100% open source to boot).
Could it just be that Mr. Clapper is simply spouting off unsupported “facts”, using public fear of IS and terrorism to support his untenable campaign against strong encryption?
Yet again, the extent of the service Edward Snowden did the world with his brave actions shines through the lies, FUD, and deceit propagated by the NSA and its ilk…