DTNS 3162 – No Rest for the Encrypted

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTesla and Wal-mart get trucking, Apple moves farther from Qualcomm, and if you can’t weaken encryption, what’s a law enforcement official to do?
With Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Roger Chang and Annalee Newitz.


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Show Notes
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6 thoughts on “DTNS 3162 – No Rest for the Encrypted

  1. Hi Tom,

    on the show you said about the just revealed prototype of the Tesla semi:
    “[…] electric is actually a little harder, because of the range, the amount of power that you need […]”

    OK, let me run down some of Musk’s assertions about the Tesla semi.

    The Tesla semi is way more powerful than the current diesel powered semi trucks.
    – When pulling the maximum higway-legal load of 80.000 lbs the Tesla semi can drive up a 5% grade at 65 mph. Current diesel powered semi trucks only manage 45 mph on a 5% grade.
    – Pulling 80.000 lbs load: acceleration to 65 mph in 20 seconds, diesel powered trucks take much, much longer.

    – 500 mile range
    – Tesla will create dedicated charging stations, capable of charging the semi very fast.
    – Obviously, over time the grid of charging stations will become denser.
    – Truck drivers have legally mandated rest periods. The semi will be capable of charging fast enough to charge to a sufficient level within the time-span of those legally mandated rest periods.

    Operating cost:
    – Less maintenance (because less moving parts)
    – Braking mainly in the form of regenerative braking: it is expected that the disc brakes will last the life-time of the vehicle.
    – Windshield made of a stronger glass than is currently used. Current windshields do not fail catastrofically, but they do get cracked by impact. It is illegal to drive a semi with a cracked windshield. The repair is costly, and the prolonged downtime for the replacement arrival and repair is costly.

    Safety feature:
    – Independent control of left and right motors (in all 4 separately controlled motors). When the truck is in danger of jackknifing the motors will actively counteract that.

    Elon Musk stated that with the Tesla semi the total cost of ownership will be significantly lower than with a diesel powered semi, because of the lower cost per mile of transportation.

    So the underlying message of this event is: diesel powered trucks will soon be obsolete. If you are a semi manufacturer, and you don’t transition to building electric trucks, you’re not gonna be building any trucks.

    Of course, as Elon Musk has stated in several interviews: engineering a particular vehicle is one thing, to develop the mass production capability – the machines that makes the machine – is 10 to 100 times more work than developing the vehicle itself. So yeah, actual production is a long way away.

    Elon Musk announced that production of the Tesla semi will start in 2019. Well, in all likelyhood that’s too optimistic.
    Still, this is a _working prototype_, it’s not a design in a computer file: this design is a physical, road-tested machine. It will be produced. Elon Musk is always late, but so far Elon Musk has always come through, he has never not delivered.

  2. About the reveal of the Roadster 2:

    That was not ‘a sportscar that was thrown in’. If anything the reveal of the Roadster 2 was the MAIN SHOW, with the semi as the opening act.

    I suppose that a fitting model designation for the Roadster 2 will be the ‘Tesla FU’.

    This performance car is a giant FU gesture by Elon Musk to all manufacturers of supercars.

    The Roadster 2 will be priced at around 200.000 dollars, and it will outperform all other supercars that are on the market, by a big margin, including supercars that cost over a million dollars.

    The key assertion of the presentation, in my opinion, was this one: Elon Musk joked: “driving a gas car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche”.

    OF course, from a utility point of view all supercars are perfectly superfluous. Supercars are status symbols, that is the only purpose they have.

    The Roadster 2 is a technological marvel, but that is not the reason that it is important. It’s important on an emotional level. Elon Musk is very annoyed by those who don’t want to accept that gas cars will be obsolete. So he commissioned his engineers to develop the Roadster 2. No internal combustion car can ever come close to the Roadster 2 performance. It’s game over. That is why I call the Roadster 2 a giant FU gesture.

  3. Regarding the conversation about encryption and the governments need to encrypt data.
    Just a thought. Verizon can push an app to my phone without my consent and prevent me from removing it. An example would be a system level app like SIM Toolkit. For years there was an NFL app I was prevented from removing. Why couldn’t they push a piece of monitoring software to the phone without my knowledge or consent? I would think this would be possible with a court order.
    Is creating a backdoor about listening to chatter amongst known malicious actors, or is it about listening to all conversations?

  4. Hey DTNS Gang,
    This show I feel left a little confusion in my understanding on what you were trying to suggest. I was a Police Officer from 1975 until my retirement in 2016 and the portrayal that the law enforcement is asking for something different than what has always been there is misleading.
    First, there has never been an absolute right to privacy, as defined in the Constitution and enforced by the Supreme Court rulings, exceptions have been granted for government (law enforcement) to look into your personal affairs. Wire Taps, Vehicle and home searches require a valid, specific Search Warrant in every case, unless there is immediate possibility of evidence destruction or removal, (i.e. evidence obtained from a moving vehicle) would not need a search warrant in a number of situations. The most personal privacy that is recognized by the courts is your home. There you have control of everything important, even items not on a phone. Therefore, in looking at any phone encryption issues and law enforcement, look to how to courts view residential searches for your guidelines.
    It was also indicated in the show that following a person required a warrant, not true as long as it’s person on person following. The courts have ruled however, using a tracking device does require a warrant.
    There was also a comment on FBI or Federal funding to allow for the breaking of encryption in addition to asking for the phone makers help. Possible two different issues as phones are not the only technology device that could hold information needed for a law enforcement case. You have computers in the home and other electronic devices that could be encrypted with no manufacture to ask for help. Encryption is not used just for phones therefore, any review of how the FBI collects evidence needs to be understood in all contexts.
    Finally, I have seen two episodes recently on encryption with LE and not really an honest discussion. One was, that’s the way it is and get over it and the other also showed negative bias toward the Govt. for even asking. Tom, I understand you really like to state all sides during your discussion. But this topic, to have a meaningful discussion needs to have a technical Law Enforcement individual in on the conversation. The encryption topic is not going away anytime soon and may even mushroom to legislation is not debated in the public properly.

    1. Thanks for the comments. The issue for me comes down to whether companies should be forced by law to write software in which there is a back door that could be used by law enforcement to decrypt a phone if needed. We use phones as the example because they are by far the most common item encountered but you’re right the same goes for computers and other devices.

      We are guilty also of taking shortcuts in conversations where we’ve gone into them at length previously. And of course that means some folks joining us late won’t have the context for our comments. We have done longer more in depth discussions on this and the fact is weakening encryption in the ways proposed ends up weakening it for all. It’s just math. And in general does not weaken it for the bad guys because you can’t make math illegal. I’ll try to dig around to find the link to our older shows about this that came out around the time of the Apple iPhone issue in San Bernardino. Thanks again.

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