Even as fresh revelations about the extent of the NSA’s efforts to get access to encryption keys for mobile communications continue to unspool, the agency’s director is advocating for some form of legal, direct access to encrypted communications. Mike Rogers, director of the NSA and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, said at an event yesterday that it’s important for a legal framework to be put in place to govern how intelligence agencies can access secure communications.
Bruce Schneier, cryptographer and CTO of Resilient Systems, asked Rogers directly about that problem during the event held by the New America Foundation and was unsatisfied by the answer. For Schneier, the rhetoric and the lack of technical understanding coming from the government are eerily reminiscent of the crypto wars of the 1990s.
“If someone sat Rogers down and described Clipper to him, I think he would say, ‘I want that,'” Schneier said. “He says we need a legal rule, but that can’t solve the technical problems. This is a place where policy and technology collide in a way that it limits the solution space. There’s a belief that this is just a technical problem and we can solve it.”"