The push on tech companies to turn their products into surveillance tools for the national security state went into high gear on Wednesday.
The attacks in Paris and California served as a background as FBI director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee tech companies need to rethink their business models and come up with a “solution” allowing the government to bypass encryption.
Comey’s testimony follows a warning issued in July by Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. She said a mandate or legislation “may ultimately be necessary” to force the private sector to either rollback encryption or provide a key for intelligence and law enforcement.
Faced with opposition by tech companies, Comey made a plea to customers to nag them. He said customers are becoming more aware of the “dangers” of encryption and urged them to “speak to” phone companies and insist they will “keep using [their] phones” if companies stop offering the technology, The Intercept reports.
A few hours later House Homeland Security Chair Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN the Islamic State now has its very own encryption app and uses it to communicate terror plans.
“ISIS now has developed their own encrypted app,” McCaul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This is a serious issue for the FBI and Homeland Security, for law enforcement. You can’t see what see what the terrorists are communicating, you can’t stop that threat.”
The Islamic State Rolls Out News Reader
On Tuesday Foreign Policy reported on an Islamic State news reader and portal app running on Android devices.
“The app includes video and text reports about life under the Islamic State, announcing battlefield victories and executions of the extremist group’s enemies. [Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency] will sometimes repackage propaganda reports from official Islamic State outlets and run them as its own,” Elias Groll writes.
The app was reportedly discovered by CtrlSec, an offshoot of OpISIS and the hacker group Anonymous.
GhostSec, Military Intel, and CIAnonymous
This “discovery” should be examined a little more closely in light of accusations another offshoot of Anonymous battling the Islamic State, Ghost Security or GhostSec, “is made up primarily of ex-military members and computer security experts,” according to the journalist Candice Lanier.
Lanier also claims “GhostSec does work with a government contracted intel company for verification of some of their findings. And, that same intel is sent to the authorities.”
In February Scott Creighton dubbed the anti-ISIS branch of Anonymous “CIAnonymous” due to its efforts to block Twitter feeds.
“Some claim to be ISIS related, others seem to be just site owned by various Muslims who may or may not support ISIS. Or they might just be Twitter feeds trying to tell people what’s really going on in Iraq and Syria,” Creighton writes.
“The fact that CIAnonymous is taking out websites and Twitter feeds at such an important time (the death-squads in Iraq are showing their true face) tells you everything you need to know about this group, what they are, who they serve.
“They are not anonymous. We know what they are and who they work for. It couldn’t be more obvious.”