It seems the current FBI Director does not really understand encryption, penning an online op-ed claiming he is “not a maniac” about encryption and that he is interested in a healthy discussion about the delicate balance between privacy and national security (emphasis added):
The Obama administration has grown increasingly wary about encryption on smartphones ever since Apple and Google last year announced efforts to offer tighter security by default on their products. Earlier this year, President Obama warned that “if we get into a situation which the technologies do not allow us at all to track somebody we’re confident is a terrorist … that’s a problem.”
But many cybersecurity experts strongly disagree with Obama and Comey. Many believe there is no such thing as a “golden key” for encryption that could allow law-enforcement or national security professionals access into an encrypted device without also creating a vulnerability that malicious hackers could exploit. A secret 2009 U.S. cybersecurity report obtained by Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian seemed to back that view up, warning that government and private computers are vulnerable to cyberattacks from Russia, China, and criminal actors if stronger encryption was not adopted across the board.
Comey, in his blog post, said that the two sides of the encryption debate are “talking past each other” and that he intends to kickoff a “healthy discussion” about the tension between privacy and security with respect to this issue.
“I really am not a maniac (or at least my family says so),” Comey said. “But my job is to try to keep people safe. In universal strong encryption, I see something that is with us already and growing every day that will inexorably affect my ability to do that job.”
I am positive Comey is interested in the same type of healthy discussion Obama mentioned after the Snowden leaks originally hit the news.