Dianne Feinstein’s Encrypted Playstation Nightmare

I’ve complained about Dianne Feinstein’s inconsistency on cybersecurity, specifically as it relates to Sony, before. The week before the attack on Paris, cybersecurity was the biggest threat, according to her. And Sony was one of the top targets, both of criminal identity theft and — if you believe the Administration — nation-states like North Korea. If you believe that, you believe that Sony should have the ability to use encryption to protect its business and users. But, in the wake of Paris and Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon’s claim that terrorists are using Playstations, Feinstein changed her tune, arguing serial hacking target Sony should not be able to encrypt its systems to protect users.

Her concerns took a bizarre new twist in an FBI oversight hearing today. Now, she’s concerned that if a predator decides to target her grandkids while they’re playing on a Playstation, that will be encrypted.

I have concern about a Playstation which my grandchildren might use and a predator getting on the other end, talking to them, and it’s all encrypted.

Someone needs to explain to DiFi that her grandkids are probably at greater risk from predators hacking Sony to get personal information about them to then use that to abduct or whatever them.

Sony’s the perfect example of how security hawks like Feinstein need to choose: either her grandkids face risks because Sony doesn’t encrypt its systems, or they do because it does.

The former risk is likely the much greater risk.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

4 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    “Sony’s the perfect example of how security hawks like Feinstein need to choose: either her grandkids face risks because Sony doesn’t encrypt its systems, or they do because it does. The former risk is likely the much greater risk.”
    .
    Perfect summary. That language should be de rigueur in every article about encryption.

  2. missbananabiker says:

    Sounds like one of her staffers read Corey Doctorow’s “Little Brother” and wildly misunderstood its message.

  3. haarmeyer says:

    It doesn’t seem like it’s actually the encryption that’s the problem with monitoring PlayStation. It’s the P2P.

  4. Rayne says:

    Blind leading the frigging blind. This is what Sony’s big take-aways were from their being hacked. (be warned, after video plays an obnoxious and deafening advert)

    Sony is more worried about who to call AFTER THE FUCKING FACT than actually securing their business or protecting their users from their own inept security practices.

    Feinstein should be concerned about cybersecurity, but she should be more worried that any U.S. policy is based on the absolutely moronic behavior of businesses like Sony.

    I’m so annoyed after watching that video, I cannot help think “honeypot.” LIHOP.

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