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Poll Says Most Americans Favor Crypto Backdoors

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the never-mind-reality-we-want-perception dept.

Privacy 931

Sideways The Dog writes: "According to this MSNBC article, "72 percent of Americans believe that anti-encryption laws would be 'somewhat' or 'very' helpful in preventing a repeat of last week's terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C." I realize that I'm preaching to the choir here, but it is scary how many people do not realize that the bad guys are not going to play fair here. Even granted that people may not realize the tools are already out there for the bad guys to use, I wonder what the polls will say when the backdoor gets compromised and 72% of people get their bank accounts wiped." Update: 09/19 19:26 PM GMT by T : Declan McCullagh adds a link to "the actual text of the question asked by the pollsters, which Princeton Survey Research Associates describes here." Note the numbers on this page as well.

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BREAKING NEWS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320711)

Breaking News: Osama Bin Ladin IS GAY! []

Hmm.. (2)

nebby (11637) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320717)

When I wasn't logged in, for this article I got "Nothing for you to see here, please move along." Is this normal?

Most people agreed when... (0, Interesting)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320720)

They were told that the backdoors would only be used with a court order AND by the good guys to stop the bad guys..

Re:Most people agreed when... (2)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320755)

Then Joe Script Kiddie figures out how to get into the backdoor and then anybody can read everything you ever encrypted.. wonderful.

Re:Most people agreed when... (2, Funny)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320850)

Then Joe Script Kiddie figures out how to get into the backdoor and then anybody can read everything you ever encrypted.. wonderful.

It can't happen, cause the DMCA made that illegal, too. Those legislators think of everything. ;-)

Re:Most people agreed when... (3, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320782)

Clearly the poll was skewed in favor of backdoors. What if they were told that "you would need to modify programs you use on a regular basis on your computer, and as a result the feds would have access to your computer at any time"? I bet the answer would be different.

Anyway, it's MSNBC, which is crap. But it's an important wake-up call.

Percentage Opposed To Secrets (5, Insightful)

waldoj (8229) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320721)

I'd like to see a new survey:

Should you be allowed to have secrets?

I imagine that we'd see considerably different results.


Re:Percentage Opposed To Secrets (2)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320736)

Here here... That's a great point...

and in related news... (3, Insightful)

CrudPuppy (33870) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320830)

the government has announced that it will soon be
mandatory to use state-approved envelopes to send
all mail.

these new envelopes will be entirely transparent
when viewed under a federally produced lightbulb,
but there is no need to worry about these lamps
getting out to bad people, since it is time-tested
proof that all government employees are completely
honest and lack all self-serving traits present
in every other human being.

besides, it's for your own good and protection!

and if you have something to write that you don't
want everyone to read, maybe it's time for that
all-important self-examination to reveal your
underlying paranoia complex...

Poll results. (0, Offtopic)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320722)

I wonder what the polls will say when the backdoor gets compromised and 72% of people get their bank accounts wiped."

Probably that 100% of Slashdot readers are laughing uproariously.


Education is the only way to fight ignorance... (1)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320726)

... and it sounds as if there is alot of ignorance.

Its going to be a very difficult fight because their is alot of thinking with the heart, not with the head. These people were in the states for what, a year or two or more, previous. And that doesn't count anyone that helped them that was already here.

All you can do is write your congressman/congresswoman and suggest in a polite and professional manner.

Re:Education is the only way to fight ignorance... (1)

KingAdrock (115014) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320773)

That is a good idea. Someone should write up a very professional letter that outlines why these backdoors are a bad idea. Post it on slashdot, and make it easier for us all to intelligently talk to our representitives!

This just in.... (2)

Vermifax (3687) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320731)

Poll says 72% of Americans technologically illiterate.

Re:This just in.... (1)

SmallTooth (311064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320879)

Did you know that 82.5 % of statistics are made up on the spot?

Re:This just in.... (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320906)

there are lies...

damned lies...

and statistics.



name for key repository system: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320735)

Big Brother

And what is a poster comment compression filter?

If this becomes law, I become a criminal (1)

sys$manager (25156) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320738)

The moment this becomes a law, I'll become a criminal as I'll be writing my own encryption software for my own uses WITHOUT any backdoors.

Ban Compilers (1)

sys$manager (25156) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320767)

BTW, they'd probably ban compilers next so I COULDN'T build my own. Or you'll need to use the government sanctioned compiler with built in backdoor routines.

Crypto Backdoors or Key Escrow? Constitutionality? (2)

Nonesuch (90847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320742)

The real question is do we implement backdoors in all available crypto (very dangerous and generally unsafe) or do we mandate 'key escrow' on all international or inter-state crypto transactions?

I do not believe it would be constitutional for the Federal government to require any restrictions on individuals, groups, or businesses using crypto for transactions that do not cross state lines.

"I do not deploy Linux. Ever." Suck it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320905)

have fun doing absolutely nothing with your OpenBSD boxes then... what runs on those things? grep?

However (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320749)

It may be the case that is if encryption software must have a backdoor (witch I guess is a special "police" key that the data also is encrypted to and not some general backdoor) the people not using encryption software with a backdoor has something to hide? Should be easier to spot WHO to go after.

Re:However (1)

MeNeXT (200840) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320861)

So anyone who locks their car or house must be a criminal becuase they have something to hide?

Re:However (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320881)

No, I just think that is could be a bit easier to spot potential terrorist.

Re:However (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320866)

*puts on thick Nazi accent* If you haff nothing to hide, you haff nothing to fear.

Great way to run a country, right?

Article says 'key escrow'. Return of 'Clipper'? (2)

Nonesuch (90847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320870)

Do we really want to create laws so the government can easily find people who have "something to hide", and prosecute them not for any specific crime, but for the crime of not revealing their communications to the government?

The article, and most every serious proposal for this type of application, including the 'Clipper chip' specifically suggest "key escrow" as a solution.

IOW, you do not have a "special police key that the data also is encrypted to, but rather, for every key you generate, you generate a second key and hand it to a trusted third party.

In theory, the government would need to obtain a search warrant or 'digital wiretap order' and present this to the trusted third party before they could obtain a copy of your key and decrypt your data.

The proble with "key escrow" is that, in theory, without a warrant the government should never have access to your keys, so until the day they get the warrant, there is no way to detect if you are filing bogus keys, or using an additional, non-escrowed, encryption layer before you encrypt with the "Government approved" crypto.

I have every reason to believe that the government will "go on fishing expeditions" to find such behavior, and that the "trusted third party" will be swiftly compromised by every three-letter-agency you can name, along with the mafia, big business, and anybody else with bribe money and an interest in obtaining your secrets, your credit card number, or your love letters.

Bring the back doors .. (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320751)

.. and the "terrorists" will just have to encrypt twice, and/or use stegano.

"But, if they're caught doing this, they'll get a fine!!!"

I'm sure the fanatics who are willing to kill themselves for the djihad will care about getting caught using illegal encryption ...

Re:Bring the back doors .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320888)

I thought the argument used in this /. story looked familiar... then I substituted "encryption" with "guns" and it was obvious.

Make it illegal, and criminals will use it anyway, and you will trample on people's rights while you fail to stop them.

I'm not making a statement for or against either encryption or guns here... just noticing something interesting.

Backdoors (1)

Kryptonomic (161792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320753)

So what are they going to do?

Ban books and research on cryptography and discrete mathematics next?

It doesn't matter if the "official" software has backdoors as long as the algorithms and mathematics are available. But I guess the idea of someone making their own software is too far fetched for the general public: "The terrorists can't encrypt their messages if Microsoft doesn't sell encryption software our government can't decrypt!"

Re:Backdoors (1)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320854)

So what are they going to do?
Ban books and research on cryptography and discrete mathematics next?

Actually, I think we're already there. If you wrote a book containing example code for certain cypto schemes, that book would not be allowed to leave the U.S.

Re:Backdoors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320898)

Well, the way PGP got out of the U.S. legally was by being printed onto a shitload of paper, mailed to Europe, then OCRed, then someone manually went through the results for typos^H^H^Hscannos.

Most Americans.. (1)

fogof (168191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320754)

As I read in the new paper "the Gazette" in montreal quebec canada .... Most americans also beileve that arabs should hold special identification stating that they are arabs and be checks at airports more then the rest of you ....
I don't think that most americans are right ... and what should be taken into consideration is not what most _poeple_ think but what most _educated_ poeple think.... by educated .. I mean educated in the field that the questions expands on...

yes but... (1)

Misfit (1071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320759)

Most American's have a third grade reading level.
And, on average, half the people you meet are dumber than average.

Everyone else voted against the backdoor.


Yeah... (1)

albator69 (459249) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320760)

And I'm sure that the terrorist will use the algorythm that hava backdoor in them instead of a custom made without that "feature"...

Uh-huh (2)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320761)

"Sure, your guilt might force you to vote Democrat, but secretly deep down inside you long for the Republicans to lower your taxes, ignore the poor, brutalize prisoners, dictate what goes on in your bedrooms and rule you with an iron fist..."
--Sideshow Mel.

Actually... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320864)

It was sideshow Bob, when he was being dragged away for trying to kill Selma

hmmmmm (1)

part!cle (473500) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320889)

I think it was sideshow bob. Mel was the placid replacement.

'tis all about your choosen audience (1)

gregfortune (313889) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320763)

Given their typical audience, I'm not terribly surprised. You've got to realize that the 72% probably didn't even know they might find encryption useful for themselves. In fact, the general perception is probably that crypto is only needed by people with something to hide - like criminals.

Too bad they aren't that trusting with everything. Heck, then if I'm ever homeless, I can just walk into anyone's house and grab a bite 'cause it takes just a little too long for the police to 'break' down a door when making a bust and locks have been outlawed.



Hmmm... (1, Troll)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320766)

Go ahead and mod this down (I would...) But doesn't this color scheme look like what a baby would shit after eating a gallon of musturd?


Go ahead, mod this up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320812)

YRO deserves all the ridicule it can get

Stupid poll questions? (3, Insightful)

nebby (11637) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320768)

From reading the article, it seems the questions asked weren't "Do you support anti-crypto?" but instead "Do you think anti-crypto would help catch terrorists?"

Of COURSE anti-crypto has a chance of helping catch terrorists.. if your doctor for example has encrypted files for one of them or something random like that. That doesn't mean I support it or think it's worth it! They're extrapolating people's opinions based upon the not-so-earthshattering observation that crackable crypto has a good shot of helping catch terrorists (and this, in itself, is debatable since they already have strong-crypto for their own internal communications)

Betcha it will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320769)

And guess what, you will have to give the government root access to your box if you use ssh!

Of course making a law like this is stupid and ineffectual. But so are the laws agains drugs.

Poll: 72%of Americans want anything anti-terrorist (1, Funny) (42932) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320772)

Right now, you could ask Americans if we should paint all tall buildings blue so terrorists would have trouble hitting them with a plane.

fa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320774)

72% of Americans would cut off a major body part if someone offered to send them a 50 million dollar check in the mail.

Cracking Down on Honest People (2)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320778)

As usual, cracking down on honest people is a priority. It impresses the honest people (i.e., voters) that the authorities are on the job. If you only crack down on the bad guys, who notices?

Private Agendas (1)

Ray Yang (135542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320780)

This always happens, and it's more than a little sick. Whenever something bad happens, somebody trys to push their own agenda. When there's a school shooting, all the gun control nuts materialize.

And now people are trying to use the dead bodies of those killed last Tuesday to crack down on crypto, and to kill missile defense, both of which have no real connection to what happened. Not to mention Jerry Falwell, the NRA, and all those nuts who're using it to promote Christian fundamentalism and arming everybody on the plane with an Uzi, in that order.

These people are either contemptible for their raw opportunism, or pitiful for their sheer fanaticism and inability to see beyond their agendas.

Who is the other 28% (1)

cvbear0 (231010) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320781)

I will tell you. We are the people against cypto backdoors. I want my SECURE communications.

Crypto backdoors in Afghanistan? (0, Flamebait)

eples (239989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320783)

Great poll, but what good does weak encryption within the borders of the U.S. do for finding terrorists sending e-mail in Afghanistan?

Besides, the government can't regulate my speech whether or not it's encrypted.

72%... You know some 80% of people are in favor of this "war" we're supposedly having. Idiots. All of them.


I think the better question to ask the public is: (0, Flamebait)

mickeyreznor (320351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320784)

How would you feel if the government could figure out your credit card #'s because of mandated backdoor encryption?

72% (0, Flamebait)

GiorgioG (225675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320790)

72% of americans don't have any idea what encryption means, let alone a backdoor.

Re:72% (1)

GiorgioG (225675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320901)

This isn't flamebait - it's the truth. Ask your next door neighbors. I promise you none of my neighbors know what encryption is....

What about Non-US crypto? (2)

weslocke (240386) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320791)

Obviously it's not going to be affected by this silly law/requirement. So how is this going to affect in any way Joe Blow Terrorist in not using the latest version of Euro-PGP to be immune from FBI looking over their shoulder?

Too Many Secrets (2)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320794)

That is because most of the people in the security world do not take survays. :) It is always a flaw of survays that are voluntary.

This is so silly (1)

elliotj (519297) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320795)

If you want to talk about doors, why not consider removing the doors to the cockpit of airplanes?

It should be 100% impossible for a passenger to enter the cockpit at any time. Pilots should enter the plane from a different outer door than everyone else.

I'm really getting sick of reading about the failures of airport security, digital security or intelligence efforts when this huge security problem was what actually made it possible for last week's tragedy to occur.

We can't let people take away civil liberties in the name of safety. Last time I checked, I didn't have the god given right to meet the pilot.

We have to assume the bad guys will not follow our rules, so we have to make it harder for them to use our infrastructure to damage our lives.

One thing that they dont mention (1)

xiaix (247688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320797)

What they tend to forget is that probably 80% or more of the people that would be asked this question dont even realize that they are using encryption when they do, or what it would mean if the backdoor were hacked, or any of the other issues that those of us who are 'in the field' are concerned with. Most of the users I support dont know the difference between http and https, and even some of my better ones don't understand why I only allow access to internal systems from the outside via encrypted protocols (SSH & family) wherever possible.

If backdoors are legally required ... (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320799)

... then it'll be easy to spot terrorists : it will be all those who have software with no backdoor. Do these people really think outlaws will use law-abiding software ?

Re: If backdoors are legally required ... (1)

3247 (161794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320882)

This would mean that you'd have to decrypt all legally encrypted email to see if it contains illegally encrypted mail.

Re:If backdoors are legally required ... (2)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320903)

But you can't search every home, to see who has illegal crypto. Even if you somehow can tell ssh-backdoor apart from ssh, you can't tell ssh over ssh-backdoor from ssh-backdoor without decrypting all transmissions.

'Wiped bank accounts...' (2)

QwkHyenA (207573) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320800)

The county I grew up in, some people STILL use their ole mattress versus a bank account.

Now we all know why they cry like hell when their house burns down...

New survey: (2)

tcc (140386) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320805)

Most north american watch too much tv and are ready to beleive whatever the media tells them.

They get frustrated at how bad the information is when it refers to their center of competence/interests (therefor missleading the others who don't know much), but they forget that little detail rapidly when they watch information about something they are less familiar with, and gobble everything sent to them.

Encryption is not something common, everybody knows the word, but not everyone uses it or understand the technology, nor the fact that it won't change ANYTHING to put backdoor since there's a lot of stuff already available to create your own crypto package without backdoors. So, basically, if you're a terrorist, it's way too easy to bypass that system.

In that perspective, the govs. are only stepping in a little bit more onto you privacy, and 99% of the people will accept it because "it sounds good the way it's explained, and besides, who cares, doesn't affect them as individuals".

God I hate those terrorists, not only we suffer because of human loss, but we'll suffer because of paranoia and liberty loss too.

Similar to gun control (-1)

LoRider (16327) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320806)

How many criminals register their guns or purchase them at legitimate gun stores?

End of discussion.

Other Poll. (0, Flamebait)

hotsauce (514237) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320810)

In other news, 72% of Americans believe handcuffing airline passengers before boarding would be "very" or "somewhat" helpful in reducing hijackings.

I would, too... (2)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320811)

If it were just a matter of adding backdoors which would exist in all crypto, I'd support it too.

This may be an unpopular viewpoint on /., but I'd personally rather have the government able to read my email (with a subpeona, of course) than see another event where dozens of relatives were milling around outside a disaster zone clutching photos of their lost father/son/daughter/wife/etc.

Of course, the problem is that any moron with a mathematics education and a 486 can put together some pretty decent crypto on their own. Any smart terrorist (and it takes a smart, if not necessarily moral person to put something like this together) will use off-brand cryto without the back doors.

If there was a way to make the terrorists use standard, back-doored crypto, I'd be willing to force all crypto to have a back door.

Enforcement? (2)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320813)

So how do you plan to enforce this backdoor rule? How do you keep me from using my copy of PGP that I've already downloaded from [] ? If I take the results of encrypting my message with PGP and then further encrypt it with your backdoored protocol, you'll never even know I was using PGP unless you use my backdoor, and then you won't be able to read my messages. So how will this help anything?

who cares what lay people think would be usefull? (2)

room101 (236520) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320814)

So some percentage of uneducated, non-law enforcing people thing that it would help in solving this? bah. Who cares.

That is like advertising perscrition drugs on tv. Doctors are the only ones that can decide which drugs really need to be perscribed. It shouldn't matter which "brand" sounds better, or has a better commercial. "Such a catchy tune, I'm sure that my [fill in the blank] will be better with it!!" This is equivalent to "I am now scared, so I will do whatever to get that false sense of security back!!!"

We need a panel of experts to decide what would be helpfull. And not just FBI or DOJ experts, but ACLU types, and engineering types as well.

Trust MSNBC to Pander (1)

White Roses (211207) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320815)

You might want to read this article [] to better understand what MSNBC considers to be fair reporting practices. In the face of the facts concerning where the pilots in question were trained, no less.

Sorry, but yellow journalism does not get me to believe anything. Perhaps if some real security news forum [] reported this, I'd believe it. MSNBC belongs on the Tabloid rack at the Pic'n'Save.

Don't know where they get 72% from. It's 54%. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320816)

The poll is elucidate here: []

The poll was taken almost immediately after the attacks so it is right up there with the knee-jerk reaction of Congress. A poll taken next Wednesday, if nothing happens between now and then, would probably be more informative of actual (non-reactionary) public opion about this topic.

Important safety tip (2)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320818)

Something that most people I know follow already... Don't use the net for anything important! If you use the anology of the 'net as the bad part of town, where any stranger can take your credit cards from your wallet if you bring them, then encryption is the mask over the stranger's face to most people. Sure, ordinary people may have lots of reasons to wear masks, but that doesn't mean they're allowed to. Anyone wearing a mask is usually asked to leave the bank, or the office, or whatnot. These people simply want to make sure we can see through people's masks.

Just think... if you sent a coded letter through the mail, nobody would give you a second thought. Everyone's complaining because the most convienent means (the 'net) is going ot be even more regulated than before.

Well, so are airplanes. I can't bring a gun on one. Now, I won't be able to bring a pair of tweezers or a nail-clipper on one. Are my rights being curtailed? Not at all. If I don't like it, I can always take a plane. I don't have to use the most convienent means available.

And that's the problem. Convienence has become synonymous with 'rights' these days. You have the right to watch movies whenever you want. Saying you have the right to encryption without a backdoor is like saying you have the right to smoke. You enjoy it, but the activity hurts other people.

Okay... rant mode off.

gah. (1)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320875)

Car. If I don't like it, I can always take a car. Or bus. Or horse.

I hate when I hit 'submit' instead of 'preview'.

Lameness filer encountered. Reason: ASCII Art. Multiple times. Since when are some periods and a few quote marks in a bunch of text considered ASCII Art?

As Ben Franklin said... (2, Redundant)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320819)

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. "

Re:As Ben Franklin said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320841)

Jesus Christ! We've heard this quote over and over! I don't disagree, but I think you are only writing it to gain karma.

Moderators, MOD THIS DOWN!

As Kurt Cobain said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320855)

"Oooh well, whatever, nevermind."

foolproof solution (1)

cbowland (205263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320820)

Instead of implementing a "somewhat" or "very helpful" solution, we could just ban airplanes and/or skyscrapers and totally eliminate the possibility of repeating last weeks attacks.

People don't kill people. Airplanes do.

ask slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320824)

what is the square root of 4? will the world ever know?

Just looking for an answer.... (2)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320825)

It seems that people are just looking for a simple answer to a very complex question.

Usually when this happens (from my observation) people point fingers at the easy targets (muslims and arabs for example). This is just another case.

The majority of people (72%) just don't understand "new" technology in general and how it works. The possiblity of terrorists using encryption and e-mail and the internet scares the shit out of them. So it's very easy for them to say that modifying those technologies to allow police to easily "snoop on them" will help. When in fact they just don't know because they don't understand how it works.

This scares me because - with a few exceptions - in a democracy what the majority of the people want will happen (well in a true democracy it should anyway). So it won't surprise me if we see bills passed that will require this kind of thing to take place.

But I hope I'm wrong....


Congress lays blame (3, Interesting)

weslocke (240386) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320826)

Congress was quick to blame sophisticated encryption methods for the massive intelligence failure last week and is proposing that government officials should have backdoor access to encryption products to aid national security.

Funny... and here I had thought that the primary reasons given for the massive intelligence failure were due to budget constraints and de-escalation of the intelligence community. Sources from the CIA and various government officials have come out and point blank stated that they have a severe lack of spies out there to actually infiltrate these terrorist cells...

So how do they jump from that to blaming it on encryption? Sheesh.

The wording of these questions is important (1)

Ross Finlayson (17913) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320831)

As Ester Dyson noted here [] - Suppose that the question had been phrased:

"Should individuals and businesses be allowed to use encryption to prevent penetration of their computers and communications by terrorists?"

The results of the poll would have been very different.

Makes a lot of sense. (1)

Shanep (68243) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320835)

Ask a question of extreme technical and political complexity, to people who have no clue of the in's and out's of the technology or the corruption of their .gov, and then the laws will pass and they won't know what the fuck hit them.

The land of the free, is soon to be no more (not that it ever really was).

Look at the bunny! Look, see the cute bunny!?!?

Bad Guys (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320842)

No they won't play fair, however encrypted traffic is identifiable, and I wouldn't want to be sitting infront of a computer using unauthorized encryption software when the FBI came barging in.

"And where is Adolf Hitler, now that we finally need him?" Hunter Thompson on Afghanistan

Leading Questions (1)

billnapier (33763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320845)

Other reports [] I've read indicated that the poll asked very leading questions...

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320848)

If the backdoor is to attach our keys encrypted with NSA's public key, I don't see how this can be compromised without cracking RSA, or stealing NSA's key.

This is where I don't care ... (2, Insightful)

christrs (187044) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320853)

What the american people, states, of feds want. I will have my own encryption software without the backdoors. I will have encrypted backups, and encrypted filesystems. My business is not your business not the new "police" state.

And for what I want to keep really secret, the good old one-time pad will do nicely.


Just goes to show... (1)

rkischuk (463111) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320858)

Look at the other "polls" that Americans participate in with their hard-earned money:

In the music world, Britney Spears and 'N Sync are two of the top selling acts these days.

In the movie world, people pumped over $100 million dollars to see Jurassic Park 3.

The most broadly used internet service is AOL.

It should be quite obvious that Americans' answers to "polls" are a combination of whatever garbage and FUD has been fed to them by the media and whatever they've seen advertised the most.

Big deal. (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320859)

Most americans like Britney Spears and NSync too. This just serves as further proof that most americans don't know what's good for them.

- A.P.

Tell MSNBC what you think: rate the article (2, Interesting)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320860)

There's an option at the bottom about whether you'd recommend it for viewing.

I selected "not at all".

Encryption Backdoors are useless (1)

dills (102733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320871)

It's very simple, actually. The only people who will lose if there are encryption backdoors are the people who are willing to use those crippled encryption schemes. We won't catch terrorists. Why? There will always be some form of strong encryption available that doesn't have a backdoor.

What is the US going to do, start prosecuting people in Switzerland who publish a new encryption program that doesn't have a backdoor? Get real.

It sounds a lot more likely that the government is using the tragedy of last week to try to build public favor for encryption backdoors. Tasteless...

"Helpful" is the key word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320872)

If you ask me, I think that backdoors for encryption would be helpful in thwarting terrorist attacks. In fact, if you suspended the entire Bill of Rights, it would be _VERY_ helpful in catching criminals. But, I don't think that it's good. Neither should the people who answered the poll. The poll question was poorly worded.

yea (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320873)

I bet a simular percentage wants to "Bomb the Shit out of the Middle East"

Good thing polls don't run the country.

Well... (1)

Dog and Pony (521538) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320902)

In a way, they do, don't they?

Basically, they ask a lot of people do you agree with answer (guy) a, or answer (guy) b?

I think all poll results... (1)

Twitch42 (91037) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320877)

should include the questions asked, verbatim.

"Do you support backdoors to allow athorities to keep tabs on potential terrorist?" will yield quite a different result than "Do you support backdoors that would allow athorities to keep tabs on YOU and give hackers yet another way to access your data?

You can get the answer you want simply by the way you phrase the question.

Maybe this could be made more reasonable (1)

aoihai (518418) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320878)

It seems possible that a "back door" itself could be made in such a way as to avoid compromising cryptographic security. Perhaps this could be achievedthrough something along the lines of the NSA specified DES tables or the use of a public/private key encryption scheme to encrypt the key itself and include it with the cypher text. The private key could even be split ala a one time pad and half of it kept by a regulatory agency distinct from the government.

Admittedly this is a poor compronmise. The security of the message encryption is reduced to the security of the key encryption, and it still allows the government to read your encrypted documents, however it seems better than the classic "backdoor" method of just including the cleartext key with the cyphertext.

americans are barbarians (1)

dermond (33903) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320880)

i am not suprised by that poll. i also heard that about 70% of americans are for capital punishment. ironicaly a lot of them probably believe that they are christians.. where it is the most unchristian thing.

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (mat 5:38-44)

to me it seems that 70% of americans are just barbarians.. not that i think this ratio is much better here in any case: if most people do not understand that violence only leeds to more violence then we heading for extremly big troubles... mond.

That's odd. (1)

lie as cliche (266319) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320884)

I was just watching The Screensavers, a wannabe tech show on Tech TV for suburbanites who've just started exploring "this internet thing", and they showed statistics claiming only twenty-four percent of Americans were in favor of crypto backdoors, while seventy-six opposed them. Even accounting for different polls, I wouldn't think the disparity to be that huge.

87% of Americans are in favour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320887)

That terrorists wear badges stating they are in fact terrorists.

Education is our friend (1)

Si (9816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320890)

Instead of bleating on about it on /., talk to your friends, your family, your colleagues, and make sure they understand the issues.

Also don't forget to Sign [] the petitions [] .

Remember the Reichstag. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320892)

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one,"

On September 11, 2001, the Reichstag Burned.

Those who give up Liberty for safety, deserve neither.

Farewell, land of the free, home of the brave. Looks like terror will win in the end.

CNN Has Almost the Same Poll on Their Page (2, Informative)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320894)

With almost identical results. Of course the only conclusion is that it's safe to say that the same demographic reads both sites. There's also a biting op-ed piece on the Washington Post [] by John Podesta that basically says that we techies are the ones who "don't get it" when it comes to encryption restrictions. If this is the prevailing mood in the country, then I think we've already lost.

Oh and I wouldn't put too much stock in outside governments not changing their laws to match. Most of them would love to and the current mood is that there are only two sides available in the fight against terrorism.

Another unbiased poll shows otherwise.. (1)

Karn (172441) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320896)

This [] poll from excite shows that most people are not willing to give up any freedoms to combat terrorism (save freedom of travel which is more of a convenience than a freedom.)

That being said, I'm sure after reading an objective article on this backdoor idea most people will disagree with the it.

What set of Americans did they poll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2320900)

Polls are usually a small set of people who give their opinion to represent all people. In this case, they must have interviewed only the government and CIA types and declared 70%+. Most average americans don't even know what encryption is let alone being able to comment on it. Moreover, one could say that the poll was really a measure of the DVD encryption statistics (70%+ respond to encryption of their movies) vs. ones private data which they would probably associate it to a movie called "This is my life/autobiography" take a good read. Sounds like the V-chip and Clipper chip argument all over know.

Make your informed voice heard (1)

Kakurenbo Shogun (64436) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320904)

A few days ago I sent a letter to my congressional representatives about this. I posted it under another topic here on Slashdot, but since it took more than 5 minutes to write, it was probably up too late for many of you to see it, so here it is again. If 72% of American's don't understand this stuff, the other 28% had better speak up.

Dear [representative's name]:

Like many Americans, I am very concerned that our country respond appropriately to the terrorist attacks of last week. I have been greatly encouraged by the tone and content of statements both by President Bush, and by our representatives from Utah, as well as many others. I agree strongly that we must act decisively, leaving no question that the United States of America is a very unwise choice of targets for terrorism. I agree that we must target our response carefully to ensure that we root out the source of the problem and destroy the ability of those who have committed terrorist acts to continue such activities, while at the same time ensuring that we do not participate in the terrorists' game of injuring and killing innocent people. I am in favor of greatly increased security at airports, even at the cost of convenience. I am even in favor of some controversial uses of technology which may assist us in fighting terrorism and crime, like using face recognition in public places to look for known criminals and terrorists.

However, I am also very concerned that we do not overreact. I am concerned that our united America go united in the right direction. I am concerned that in our determination to protect ourselves from future terrorism we do not give a free hand to those who would take advantage of an opportunity to expand the power of our government to intrude in the privacy of our citizens. The terrorist attacks of last week have been characterized as an attack on the freedom of Americans and free people everywhere. If our reaction to terrorism is to give away our freedoms in hope of greater security, then I fear the terrorists will have succeeded. I urge you not to be afraid of being called un-American by those who would erode our freedoms for opposing unwise or inappropriate measures at this time when our nation is so focused on unity and protection from physical danger. Please stand up for America by protecting not only our lives, but the chance to live our lives as free people.

I wish in particular to voice my strenuous opposition to two particular proposals which I have heard are being considered. First, a law requiring "back doors" in cryptographic software. Second, a law allowing internet wiretaps without a warrant.

The first, requiring "back doors" in cryptographic software, simply sounds like a bad idea. Why, while tightening security at airports in an attempt to protect ourselves, would we loosen the security of our communications by requiring an easy way to eavesdrop on them? We used to be confident that we could prevent hijackings in this country. Is there any reason to believe that we are not equally overconfident of our ability to protect back doors in encryption software? How can we be confident that no one will be able to compromise the back doors, gaining access to the strong encryption upon which we depend to protect our online credit card, banking, stock market and other transactions? If these systems were compromised, I fear the consequences to our nation may even be greater than what we have seen in the last week. The stock market was closed for a few days and is down sharply today, but our economy certainly has not been destroyed. Aside from the direct damage that might result from a serious breach of security in our online financial systems, it would almost certainly keep us off line for more than the few days that the markets were closed. The cost of recovering from such a breach would be enormous. For that matter, the cost of implementing the required back doors would probably be enormous.

Another argument against this proposal is that such a law seems certain to be obeyed only by those who the government has no need to listen in on anyway. Certainly not all criminals will be sophisticated enough to use cryptographic tools without back doors, but those who will are probably unsophisticated enough that they could be found by less drastic methods. This measure seems to carry too great a risk and too great a cost to justify the advantages in would provide.

The second proposal, allowing internet wiretaps without a warrant, appears to me to be a gross violation of our Constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. I admit I do not know much of the details of this proposal, but I cannot fathom how any such law could be Constitutional. And especially if coupled with the first proposal, I fear what might happen if our government crosses that line. The fact that our nation has stood strong so long is a testament to the sound foundation upon which it is built, not a small part of which is the limits which our Constitution places on the power of the government. It is said that power tends to corrupt. I believe that we have succeeded in limiting corruption in our government by limiting its power, and urge you to stand for the values upon which the Constitution is built in resisting the temptation to over-extend the power of government in a time when we are all looking for someone with the power to protect us.

In closing, I thank you for your service on behalf of the State of Utah and of our nation. It is encouraging to know that there are men and women of good will who are willing to carry the burden of public office, which I am sure is, especially at times like these, very great.


[my name]
[my city], UT

Don't just ask the experts either, though (2)

dstone (191334) | more than 12 years ago | (#2320910)

I think someone mentioned that it's more important to ask educated people in the relevant field, rather than just the population at large. This is important, but we also need to ask educated, _compassionate_ people whether the question needs to be asked at all. By this, I mean question the goal. One of the problems with asking educated experts about things in their field is that their field is all they know and that's how they see the world. (If you're a crypto expert, you'll look for crypto solutions to problems, and if there's a better field to solve it, you won't necessarily recognize that.) Don't just assume that crypto stuff should be on the table and then ask crypto experts about it. Of course they're going to write you a very persuasive essay (one way or the other) on the topic. And the result is you'll think crypto is significant (regardless of which side you end up on). Or if you ask military advisors what type of war should be waged, well, you've already given them the assumption they need to give you an earful of expert opinions on war and before you know it, everyone hears this stuff and believes that war (of one type or another, depending on which side of the argument you side with) is relevant to the issue. So yes, get educated opinions from experts in the field, but also carefully ask if that field is relevant. Cause if it's not, you've just promoted it to that level.
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