DTNS 2687 – The Oxen of the Cloud

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWould you still use US products if they were mandated to have an encryption backdoor? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss the findings of Bruce Schneier and company.


Using a Screen Reader? Click here

Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org.


Follow us on Soundcloud.

A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you are willing to support the show or give as little as 5 cents a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
To read the show notes in a separate page click here!

6 thoughts on “DTNS 2687 – The Oxen of the Cloud

  1. I just finished watching 2687 and had to finally comment. It seems like a broken record on your stance with encryption, no back door. I got, several shows now. What I haven’t heard on your show is how to fix the problem. I’m a firm believer if you say no to someone else’s solution to a problem, come up with a solution of your own. I’ve been in Law Enforcement since 1975 and in tech since 1988, yes I’m old, so I’m trying to come to this problem with an open tech mind with a balance for privacy rights and public rights. The problem we run into in LE with encryption is the inability to legally force compliance. You have a suspect that you obtain a legal warrant on and go to his house to look for evidence. If he tells LE at the door “take a hike” , you force entry and serve the warrant. That is not possible with encryption and that’s the problem. Look at this real work situation: You get evidence that there may be on a suspect’s phone information for a mass killing 3 days from now. You serve the warrant on the individual and ask to see his phone, he says “take a hike”. You seize the phone but it’s encrypted. What do you do??? Yes the suspect will go to jail for contempt of court until he produces the encryption key. The only problem is the event will be in 3 days, the suspect would gladly stay in jail for 3 days until the event happens. There’s more I could say to show there are real problems with encrypting communications and other evidence on a computing device, but I think you get the point. We in America have a problem and we need a solution that may not make everyone happy but one that will allow for acceptable citizen protection on both ends of the spectrum, (Privacy vs Public Right to Safety). Bring individuals on your show that will help to solve the problem. Then get the information to the law makers to enact. Trust me, if we, (the tech industry) just keep saying no with no alternative workable solutions and something big happens then the non-tech public is going to demand change with limited input from tech.

    1. The problem is that there isn’t much of a problem.

      As Schneier said the same fears of ‘going dark’ were used in the 1990s to try to ban PGP. Law enforcement did not go dark.

      In 2014, for instance, law enforcement encountered encryption in only 25 out of the 3,554 wiretaps it reported to the judiciary—about .7 percent of cases. And of those meager 25 incidents, investigators circumvented the encryption to access the target’s unencrypted communications 21 times.

      And there are several ways to ‘force the doors’ in most cases.


      Former NSA Director Michael Hayden has said, “The U.S. is “better served by stronger encryption, rather than baking in weaker encryption.”


      So the continual pressure for backdoors is a false premise. There isn’t we need back doors or we need an alternative. It is a single-minded pressure for something that is generally considered ineffective.

      It’s enough to make one suspect they want back doors for a different reason than the one they say.

  2. Tom,

    I’m pretty much religion agnostic, but found Darren’s comments offensive.

    I’ve been listening to your shows for years, but having guests that disparage religions makes me consider choosing from the many other options out there. Calling any religion with over a billion members irrelevant is ignorant at best. The more religion and politics creeps into your show, the more I consider switching to other options.


  3. While I was listening to the discussion on Encryption. I realized something. There’s no translation between the technology at hand of cellphones and the current legal system.
    So I mulled it over for a couple of days, and Apple’s news today pointed me into a new direction. and here’s what I came up with, it’s rough so bear with me.
    Let’s first dispel the concept that written texts and emails are secrets told in person as Daren suggested.
    They are written documents, and therefore are under the specific protection afforded under the 4th amendment as personal documents and affects. But also searchable with a warrant.
    As such, these documents can be burned up (deleted) and you can be arrested for destroying evidence.
    Alternatively they can be hidden, locked in a trunk and hidden in a hole under the house (Encrypted.) Apple has effectively made it easy, so that all of your documents and mail is kept in this hole. If the police can’t find this hole then it can’t be used in evidence. But they think that you have documents because they know you bought the trunk (iPhone), which they can’t find (decrypt).
    What the court is asking Apple to do is effectively this.
    “You’re the inventor of paper, Can you figure out a way to un burn the paper, and Divine the location of the trunk by somehow tracking the paper? Because the person who hid the trunk is dead or won’t cooperate.”
    The problem is… If they comply then everyone’s paper can be found and tracked. This means, Russia, China, North Korea, Isis, etc. etc. will be able to find your paper without a warrant.
    Those that find a way in are considered, trespassers, Those that take these documents are thieves and should be prosecuted as such…. Sorry Daren :).

    1. Paradigm,
      While I agree that the 4th Amendment does apply to these types of searches I do not think we want to make it as simplistic has comparing them to written documents. And I think we need to make some consideration that the 5th Amendment touches this topic as well.
      I have written many search warrants for various locations, to included, search mobile phones. And even in the instances in which I was granted a search warrant it was for specific information under specific dates and times. Something text message between the suspect and the victim on the date of the crime and 24 hours after the crime. If a search warrant is going to be granted I think this is the best way for it to happen. I do not think we should be granting law enforcement the ability to open a container (mobile phone) and just look around (examine all data without probable cause). In my business we refer to that as “fishing”. That sets up bad cases that can possibly set up bad case law. Case law that hurts everyone. And I think it is law enforcement’s job to find the evidence and a way to recover it. If you secure your home we do not call the builder and ask them to come in and deconstruction one side of your home. We do not ask Ford to come out to scenes and unlock cars for us. Inside we kick a door open or pry open the trunk. If law enforcement want to crack Apple’s encryption that it is our job to find a way.
      If I am granted a search warrant for your residence I can only search for specific items and in locations where those items would reasonably be. For instance if I’m looking for a broad sword I should not be opening a small drawer in your desk or moving the mouse on your desktop computer to see what files are displayed on your screen.
      Law enforcement and the courts are wrong to ask Apple to get into this device. There are plenty of exceptions for searching people, vehicles, residences, and every other part of our lives. These exceptions are reasonable and have come about through years of debate. What law enforcement is requesting from Apple is not reasonable and we have definitely not had enough debate!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: