“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – B. Franklin
After the president’s speech about how people need to be denied guns if they’re on the ‘no fly list’, and how all these ‘loopholes’ need to be closed, and ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ need to be forbidden, there’s a great focus in the survivalist community on those issues. But..there is another issue that is being brought up a little more quietly and that issue is communications.
For years now the .gov has been leaning on tech companies to make their products secure enough to please consumers, but not so secure that .gov can’t get into it if they want. Phone manufacturers, for example, are being encouraged to develop their phones so that no one but the phone’s owner can access the data within it….unless that person is .gov.
In short, we’re spiraling back to the Clipper Chip days. The idea of ‘key escrow’, or a third-party holding the keys to your phone, is still among us. From the Wikipedia entry:
Following the Snowden disclosures from 2013, Apple and Google announced that they would lock down data stored on their smartphones with encryption, in a way so that Apple and Google could not break the encryption even if ordered to do so with a warrant. This prompted a strong reaction from the authorities, with one of the more iconic responses being the chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department stating that “Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile”. Washington Post posted an editorial insisting that “smartphone users must accept that they cannot be above the law if there is a valid search warrant”, and after agreeing that backdoors would be undesirable, suggested implementing a “golden key” backdoor which would unlock the data with a warrant.
You can rest assured that the old chestnut of “If you’re not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to hide” will be trotted out.
Quite simply, I enjoy my privacy. And if I want to communicate with my fellow Like-Minded Individuals over the internet, through text messaging, or even through Mr Franklins postal system, I should be able to do so with confidence that whatever message I am sending is being viewed only by it’s intended recipients.
Things to keep an eye open for?
- More pressure on manufacturers to include backdoors for LE/.gov in their hardware/software
- Loosening up of the requirements to intercept communications
- More record-keeping of who sent what where. (You know the PO scans all snail mail addresses and stores them, right?)
- Crypto software either getting watered down, or reclassified to make sales to folks like you and I more difficult
- The FCC shuffling around which bands can/can’t be used by various classes of license.
And it really wouldn’t surprise me to see some action in the world of amateur radio. One of the first signs of a Bad Thing is when .gov tightens the screws on those wanting equipment that can allow someone to communicate to someone outside the country. I couuld very easily see an ATF 4473-style ‘background check’ put into place for those wanting ham radio licenses and certain ‘powerful’ equipment.
This might, actually, be a good time to get the ball rolling if you’ve been thinking about getting into amateur radio.