Government hints at compromise on encryption

WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – Testifying to a Congressional committee today, an official hinted that the government was prepared to drop its insistence that internet encryption systems include a “back door” that would allow the government to read encrypted communications.

The administration had previously responded to civil liberties concerns by proposing that innocent citizens who didn’t want their emails read by peeping Toms and blackmailers, even if the readers were government employees, could apply for inclusion on a Really Private List (RPL), which would require them to prove that they had never spoken to or seen a real possible terrorist, and to answer a few simple questions, such as, “What are you trying to hide?”

However, that proposal is now generally considered too unwieldy, after the FBI indicated that the average time to investigate each RPL applicant would be approximately 14 years.

Today’s testimony by Dr. H. Jackle, Undersecretary for Arbitrariness in the Department of Hellfire and Surveillance (DHS), suggested that the government might be prepared for a compromise that allowed it to accomplish its legitimate security goals by other means.

Dr. Jackle explained that the very success of DHS counter-terrorist activities is necessitating a change in its methods. “Until recently, if we decrypted a message that said ‛Buy a kilo of salami,’ we could figure out that it meant ‛Explode a ton of dynamite in Seattle.’

“But now the terrorists realize – thanks to Edward Snowden – that we’re reading their email, and they are worried that we’ll be able to read even their encrypted messages. So they are probably setting up new codes. Maybe ‛Buy a kilo of salami’ will be changed to mean ‛Cancel that planned explosion’ or ‛Blow up San Francisco instead of Seattle,’ and how can we figure out what their messages mean?”

The DHS, Jackle continued, has been studying this problem and has devised a possible solution.

“If we are ever really to be secure, we need to know what the message means to the recipient when he or she receives it. This appears to be technologically feasible. Researchers employed by the DHS have developed a nano-computer and transmitter system that we think can be programmed to lodge in the part of the human brain that processes incoming emails, when we figure out exactly where that is. Alternatively, it could examine what someone is thinking about the world generally and whether they think violence or voting for extremists might change things for the better.

“The system would, of course, report to the authorities only information that was possibly connected to terrorist threats. It would be programmed to ignore anything that could not be so connected, and in fact our scientists have already spent more than two years trying to define thoughts that might fall into that category.”

The DHS was now investigating the feasibility of having such a system implanted in the brain of all citizens and residents. “It’s clear that this system, if generally implemented, would do away with the need to read encrypted messages,” Dr. Jackle said.

He added that the system would need to be tested and then implemented gradually, to ensure there were no unforeseen consequences. “We could start with only a small section of the population, Muslims, for example. Then, if there were no problems, it could be extended to a larger minority – say, states that had voted for the losing candidate in the last presidential election.

“Then, once it’s extended to the rest of the country – and of course visiting tourists would have already been included – we should have perfect security.”