Sources have revealed that the FBI have a history of asking software companies for backdoors in their encryption software to help them catch criminals. The backdoors would provide government agencies with the ability to wiretap people’s computers.

As the news broke out that the NSA had spent millions on malware that can be used to override security software, more information on government hacking schemes have come to light. It now seems that the FBI have also been leaning on tech companies to poke holes in their encryption software to allow the agencies easy access to people’s private files on their computers.

encryption

Loaded Questions

Peter Biddle was the head engineer of Microsoft’s encryption program BitLocker. During a recent interview, Biddle told Mashable that back in 2005 when he was working on BitLocker, he had been approached several times by government agents and asked to put a backdoor in the software. Although the computer software programmer couldn’t remember which agency it was that approached him, he could recount the conversations that he had with the agents stating that “at least once the question was more, ‘If we were to officially ask you, what would you say?’”

In all of the accounts of government agencies asking tech companies to create these back doors, there is one common theme; the question is always asked in a subtle way, dropped in to the middle of a conversation and quickly brushed over if the answer isn’t appealing to the agent. In fact, the agencies are very careful not to be caught on record asking for such things. Nico Sell, the lady responsible for the mobile phone privacy app, Wickr was also approached by the FBI and asked “So are you gonna give us a backdoor?” When Sell pushed back and asked for a written request along with the name of the agent’s manager, the agent immediately stopped with his requests.

FBI Deny Allegations

Although the FBI have gone on record as being concerned about encryption software allowing criminals (in particular pedophiles) to hide their activity from agencies, an FBI spokesperson responded to the allegations by saying “The FBI does not ask for backdoors. Period.” However, the FBI will continue to push for an expansion on the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act which tells digital communications companies to build software that can easily be wiretapped by agencies.

[Image via Google Today]