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Facing Encryption, Law Enforcement Recommends More Informants

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 9:13
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A new document created by a state intelligence fusion center and the Department of Homeland Security says that widespread use of surveillance-hindering encryption software has created a need for more personal informants.

“Due to the security restrictions of such apps,” the document reads, “it is increasingly imperative that bystanders—to include parents, teachers, and community members—remain aware of possible signs of radicalization and mobilization to violence and report concerns to the appropriate authorities.”

The Intercept reports:

The document, dated Sept. 29, 2015, appears to serve as a primer for law enforcement on encryption, examining various encrypted messaging services, such as Silent Circle, Telegram and Wickr. It notes that increasing “public awareness of government surveillance has contributed to the rising consumer demand for covert messaging apps.” …

This new document outlines the different encryption apps, giving information on what sort of data is retained, and the type of user registration required. The authors acknowledge, however, that in many cases, the apps will frustrate law enforcement attempts to obtain data, and may require other methods. “Knowledge that the subject of a law enforcement investigation is using covert messaging may also enable decisions about alternative investigative techniques such as confidential informants or undercover operations,” it says.

The use of confidential informants has exploded in recent years; exact numbers are hard to come by, but the New York Times reported in 2008 that the FBI maintains more than 15,000 covert informants, and the Drug Enforcement Agency about another 4,000.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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