The Terrorist Canard

With encrypted communications threatening to reduce the state’s revenue stream by letting us little serfs conceal our black market business dealings the political body is getting worried. Whenever the political body gets worried it begins efforts to propagandize the general populace. The propaganda always exploits fear. At one time the fear being exploited was drug usage then it became street crime and now it’s terrorism. Hoping the hamper the development of strong cryptographic tools the political body has been looking at introducing laws that would require software and hardware developers to introduce backdoors for state usage. Because it’s the fear of the day they’re selling these laws under the guise of fighting terrorism:

President Barack Obama is making his position on encryption known: he is a supporter and “believer in strong encryption” but also “sympathetic” to law enforcement’s needs to prevent terror attacks.

“I think the only concern is… our law enforcement is expected to stop every plot. Every attack. Any bomb on a plane. The first time that attack takes place, where it turns out we had a lead and couldn’t follow up on it, the public’s going to demand answers. This is a public conversation that we should be having,” Obama said in a Friday interview with Re/Code. “I lean probably further in the direction of strong encryption than some do inside law enforcement. But I am sympathetic to law enforcement, because I know the kind of pressure they’re under to keep us safe. And it’s not as black and white as it’s sometimes portrayed. Now, in fairness, I think those in favor of air tight encryption also want to be protected from terrorists.”

Can we stop with the terrorist canard? Nobody expects law enforcement to stop every terrorist plot. In fact nobody, at least nobody sensible, expects law enforcement to stop any terrorist plot. What people expect of law enforcement is to clean up after a terrorist attack. If people actually expected law enforcement would stop terrorist attacks they wouldn’t be afraid of terrorist attacks.

Furthermore the state’s widespread surveillance efforts haven’t stopped a single terrorist plot. Every claim made to the contrary has been thoroughly debunked. This isn’t surprising. Widespread surveillance creates a sea of data from which no single piece of useful data can be extracted. What makes widespread surveillance even more worthless is that no single piece of data can reveal a terrorist plot so you need to find multiple pieces of connected data to being revealing a plot. If finding a single piece of useful data in a sea of noise is difficult try finding many pieces of connected data that aren’t obviously connected.

The only way law enforcement can stop terrorist plots is to utilize old fashion investigative techniques. But these techniques are expensive in both money and time and don’t lead to revenue for departments. Why would a law enforcement agency put resources into uncovering a terrorist plot when it can rely on anonymous tips to kick down the doors of drug deals and legally confiscate all of their property to auction of later? To add insult to injury solving a terrorist plot is actually detrimental to a law enforcement agency since they rely on successful terrorist attacks to justify buying surplus military equipment.

It’s time to put the terrorist canard to bed. Only the completely gullible are being fooled and they’re not the ones that need to be convinced. In order to put backdoors into software and devices the developers and manufacturers have to be convinced and they won’t be convinced because their users will stop buying their products if they implement said backdoors. Since many of their users are gullible idiots the state’s terrorist propaganda won’t accomplish its goal and thus the exercise is a waste of everybody’s time.