If the FBI can force decryption backdoors, why not backdoors to turn on your phone's camera?

And 2001 now has a much different, shorter ending…


“Zoom in… Enhance! That’s it, just a little more…
Now see if we’ve got anything showing the other hand so we can get the rest of the prints!”



They’d need to know who you are first, though most people have one or more unique RFID/wifi device signatures.


And Bluetooth.

And they don’t need to know who exactly you are; they can go for “everybody in this area”.


The FBI? They’re lucky to find the on switch.

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Bernstein vs. Department of Justice established source code is speech since it’s a language like any other.
Wooley vs Maynard establishes “the right of freedom of thought protected by the First Amendment against state action includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.”

Put 'em together, and bam!


Now add the proliferation of at-home manufacturing and small CNC machines, the G-code that specifies the toolpaths for machining gun parts, and a steel billet… and see how the free speech defenders get suspiciously quiet.

Extend to computer-controlled self-configurable microreactors (so far conceptual, but that was 3d printing not so long ago too), and see some more interesting times to expect.


That is why the camera on my daughter’s laptop cam has a piece of tape over it. I have always assumed that a large percentage of NSA employees are, at any given time, trying to watch naked children through their webcams. I assume that is the sort of people they are. I know that they have to aggressively recruit the best coders and security hackers. It would seem logical that others would be drawn to a career with the NSA just because they are busybodies, or perverts.


Uhm, no?

The best don’t work for their pay scale (or that of any government agency). They go to Google or the like and make quadruple plus stock.

I suspect only one of the two of us hires security professionals or regularly talks to the folks in the industry.


Way to miss his main point.

This: “That is why the camera on my daughter’s laptop cam has a piece of tape over it” is the part of his post that matters; not his non-idiomatic opining about the quality of the talent. If one wanted to add something to this discussion, one could go further, and mention how impossible it’s become over the past ~5 years to shut out all the eternal eyes that surround our kids. Electrical tape over the pinhole camera works great on a laptop, but is ugly and hard to keep in place on a ‘smartphone’. And impossible to put on the smartphone that belongs to the twerp who sits next to your kid on the bus. Who is similar to, but distinct from the twerp that has the neighboring locker in his/her gym class. Et cetera.


It is easy to shut out those “eyes.” You choose your devices and services wisely and don’t let pre-teens on social networks.

If you can’t learn to secure your smartphone, perhaps you shouldn’t have one. Mine is secure. I challenge you to tell me how it isn’t and I’m a security professional for my day job (and that wasn’t necessary to secure it either).

If you’re worried about the NSA or a government intelligence organization, good luck. If you’re worried about hackers and perverts, that’s a completely different threat profile.

But, please, wring your hands some more.

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Now that we have all those Daesh phone numbers, maybe Apple could engineer a backdoor that lets the FBI detonate the phone batteries.

I don’t follow that. I could do a lot worse with an organic chemistry textbook and some readily available materials. It is the doing, not the thinking about doing, that matters.
It is still (fortunately) the Chinese government that is working on identifying thoughtcrime.

unreasonable burden

It isn’t just about code.

Apple has detailed some of what they would require to do this project. A secure facility is one requirement (actually I think they said they need two new facilities). A reporter tallied up the bill and the cost would be around $50 million. Apparently the FBI has said “no problem”.

You don’t become a government employee, you work as a contractor.

I did some GEOINT stuff ten years ago and they paid very well. The hassle was getting security clearance and working through an agency that knows how to sell to the government.

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Put a case over it, it will hold the tape in place and cover up most of the ugly. Or use a dab of paint. For the selfie camera on the front, only paint will do. But really, it is the mic you should worry about, the camera will mostly get them photos of the inside of your pocket or your face/hands as you stare at the screen.

Yep. History has shown us repeatedly that the authorities will soon begin abusing any tool that you give them, regardless of their original stated intent. That is the nature of the authoritarian mindset.

Spelling out what they are not allowed to do - and enforcing it - is just as important, if not more so, than telling them what they are allowed to do.

Isn’t this just plain unconstitutional? Forcing someone to make encryption backdoors is like forcing someone not to remain silent, right?


Funny you should mention that.

I’ve been getting a bit worried about my phone recently, something seems to have been changed by an update.

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I’m actually planning on getting a new phone this weekend; mine’s been locking up at the most inconvenient times. I was just waiting for the Galaxy S7. So gonna have to say goodbye to HAL.