No Fly List Equals No 2nd Amendment

In his most recent tirade, Chairman Obama of the not so free United States called for… wait for it… more gun control in the wake of San Bernardino shootings. Yes, this guy just keeps getting more creative, innovative, predictable by the day!

His most current idea is anyone that is on the “no fly list” should be stripped of their 2nd Amendment rights. The LA Times editorial board even thought this idea was terrible. Not exactly known for the libertarian centered views even these guys can spot a terrible idea when they see it.

However this is just the latest terrible idea relating to the never ending always expanding “war on terror”. Every time some lunatic anywhere in the world does a horrible act of terror politicians in America start talking about another Constitutional right that needs to be removed or watered down to “keep us safe”.

The (un)Patriot Act has almost completely gutted the 4th Amendment with secret courts that rubber stamp broad and sweeping open warrants that essentially allow the government to go on a fishing expedition whenever they want. This of course is secret from the person being investigated and has strict gag orders in place anywhere it is used, i.e. your bank, library, or anywhere else they wish to look.

The wonderful tool of Civil Asset Forfeiture allows the Federalies to swoop in and steal your property without ANY criminal conviction. The IRS can steal money from your home, business, bank accounts, etc. simply for suspecting you of a crime under this wonderful government boondoggle. Their favorite recent toy in the box is something called “structuring” where they say ANY series of deposits NOT $10,000 or above is an attempt by you to avoid reporting laws and hence you are doing something illegal.

Police can pull you over, search your vehicle and help themselves to your cash, jewelry and other valuables under the rule “it might have been used in a criminal endeavor” theory of law. Again, no criminal conviction or even charges required. In cases of Civil Asset Forfeiture you will almost never be charged with a crime and must hire expensive attorneys to get your property back. So even if you end up “winning” by getting your own property returned by the time you pay attorney and court fees you still lost.

Americans decided to fight back against some of this abuse and many people use strong data encryption for their phones, email to keep government snoops out of their business. Then along comes the FBI saying, wait for it… we need back doors in this software for, yes, you guessed it the never ending “war on terror”

The sad thing all of these have in common is an attempt to subvert your Constitutional rights at every turn. Once your Constitutional rights are gone don’t expect the government to just give them back. People need to be aware you are getting a bad deal if you think they will make you “safer” in exchange for just one more infringement.

Obama’s recent one on 2nd Amendment rights is just the latest and certainly not the last “discussions” we will have about this or that liberty all in the name of giving law enforcement the “tools” they need to protect us.

In case you haven’t noticed all the words and phrases they use in describing these infringements are poll tested, spin tested words to mislead you. Hopefully people are smarter than that, but given the amount of infringements to date and the never ending stream of new ideas for more I am not hopeful.

Wake up people, the hour grows very late for you to stop this abuse by government.

Silk Road Prediction Coming True

A while back I wrote a post offering some thoughts on why the government gave Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road the harshest sentence possible. In that post I basically pointed out that the government was terrified that it was so easy to set up such a network. It didn’t require a huge criminal enterprise, lots of cash or vast resources. It basically required a guy with some programming skills and a laptop.

I pointed out that if this catches on even the government won’t have the resources to track down and punish all the people out there. Imagine dot com boom of the 1990s, but instead of creating new businesses for NASDAQ they will be creating new and better versions of the original Silk Road. I argued that is what truly terrified the government and encouraged the judge to impose the harshest sentence possible. Tyrants throughout time have been using this tactic. Catch the perpetrator and impose a horrific punishment for all to see. The idea being that anyone else even thinking of doing the same thing will get this punishment and scare them away. It rarely works and it won’t work this time.

In fact, it is already failing. 2 years after Silk Road was shut down new and quickly improving versions of the same thing are popping up. Again, as predicted before some will get caught and not all of the individuals are as smart as others. This is the nature of a free market. Some fail and some succeed, but each successive effort becomes a little better than the last. We see it again with this endeavor.

The government’s one card they had to play was striking mortal fear of punishment into the hearts of would be upstarts has failed as I knew it would. New markets are forming and flourishing. Some will be caught and the group following them will get even better. I would not be surprised if programmers from around the globe start creating specialized software to help fuel these endeavors. It is like a tsunami and it won’t be stopped. The tighter the government squeezes the more people will slip through their fingers, seems I have heard that before…

FBI Wants Requirements for Tech Firms to Create Weak Encryption

FBI Director, James Comey has requested that Congress create mandates on tech companies to essentially create a backdoor or weakened encryption of its products to make it easier for law enforcement to read our communications and data.

Here is an EXCELLENT video from the Cato Institute discussing what a terrible idea this is…

First, I encourage you to watch the video. It is only 7 minutes long and they make some excellent points on the issue. I will add some points from my perspective.

As a tech guy that does related activities daily the concept of creating a “back door” or “master key” that only the company can have access to and happily hand over to law enforcement or spy agencies upon request is really ill informed of exactly how encryption even works. ANY vulnerabilities, intentional or not can be exploited by others just as easily as it can be handed over by said companies to the FBI upon request.

Mr. Comey’s remarks about how he is not a tech person and thinks there are a lot of “smart people” in the tech sector that should be able to find a way to “work this out” is one of the most ignorant comments uttered in this debate.

It is ignorant comments like these that have created the millions of pages of regulations faced by American businesses today. Morons in Congress at the behest of special interest groups, like the FBI, in this case make some vague demand to make their job easier and Congress simply passes a mandate! Presto, just like that the problem is solved, yeah! Another problem solved by Congress, what’s next?

Only its not. First, what if encryption software is open source and someone from another country takes this and removes the vulnerabilities and then starts using it for terrorist communications? This would not be an American company or even an American citizen. They would not be subject to the mandate in our country and I guarantee wouldn’t follow it.

What keeps entrepreneurs in other countries from deciding to fill the gap in the market for “back door” free encryption and they sell it overseas from a non U.S. base of operations? The bad guys can still get their hands on it.

Creating deliberately weak encryption technology to make law enforcement’s job easier and simply mandating that this happen is one of the dumbest ideas ever uttered by a politician. Here is a basic truth, sometimes your job is hard.

We should not always be trying to find ways to make law enforcement’s job easier at the cost of our civil liberties and protection of our private communications.

Technologically there is no way to do this without creating vulnerabilities that skilled bad guys all over the world, i.e. China, Russia, etc can exploit to our disadvantage. Your mandate will be ignored by others around the world who will simply create the in demand software that you have barred U.S. companies from creating. Such a move might remove one of our key attributes as a innovative nation in the tech sector at risk.

The terrorist and other bad guys will simply know that there is a back door to the U.S. created stuff and will quickly adapt and go use stronger stuff created by someone else and will continue to do bad stuff. What are you going to do, mandate that all terrorists must use weakened U.S. software?

What you are seeing unfold here is morons that don’t know anything about technology telling those that do to build an inferior product and simply saying things like “there are a lot of smart people that should be able to figure this out” clearly shows you are not one of them. The FBI’s solution won’t solve the problem at hand, but will create many others.