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Paris is being used to justify agendas that had nothing to do with the attack

By       Message Trevor Timm       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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Reprinted from The Guardian


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The aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks has now devolved into a dark and dishonest debate about how we should respond: let's ban encryption, even though there's no evidence the terrorists used it to carry out their crime, and let's ban Syrian refugees, even though the attackers were neither.

It's hard to overstate how disgusting it has been to watch, as proven-false rumors continue to be the basis for the entire political response, and technology ignorance and full-on xenophobia now dominate the discussion.

First, there's the loud "we need to ban encryption" push that immediately spawned hundreds of articles and opinions strongly pushed by current and former intelligence officials the day or two after the attacks, despite the government quietly admitting there was no evidence that the attackers used encryption to communicate. It was a masterful PR coup: current and former intelligence officials got to sit through a series of fawning interviews on television where they were allowed to pin any of their failures on Edward Snowden and encryption -- the bedrock of privacy and security for hundreds of millions of innocent people -- with virtually no pushback, or any critical questions about their own conduct.
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The entire encryption subject became a shiny scapegoat while the truth slowly trickled in: as of Tuesday, it was clear that American and/or French intelligence agencies had seven of the eight identified attackers on their radar prior to the attacks. The attackers used Facebook to communicate. The one phone found on the scene showed the terrorists had coordinated over unencrypted SMS text messages -- just about the easiest form of communication to wiretap that exists today. (The supposed ringleader even did an interview in Isis's English magazine in February bragging that he was already in Europe ready to attack.)

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As an unnamed government official quoted by the Washington Post's Brian Fung said, if surveillance laws are expanded the media will be partly to blame: "It seems like the media was just led around by the nose by law enforcement. [They are] taking advantage of a crisis where encryption hasn't proven to have a role. It's leading us in a less safe direction at a time when the world needs systems that are more secure."

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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