Blaming Snowden for Paris

No evidence has surfaced yet that Snowden’s revelations made a difference in this case, or that the perpetrators of Friday’s attacks used encrypted communications to conceal their activities. Many private-sector computer specialists surveyed by POLITICO were skeptical about those arguments, which if true would mesh with more than a year of warnings from intelligence officials about the growing ability of terrorists and criminals to hide their tracks online.

Still, there’s no denying the political context. The criticism of Snowden comes as intelligence officials seek to reopen a debate over the balance between security and privacy — a balance that seemed, before the deaths of 129 individuals in Paris, to have been settled firmly in favor of civil liberties. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials have complained publicly that encryption tools — in iPhones, laptops and mobile software like Facebook-owned WhatsApp — allow terrorists, drug dealers and other criminals to “go dark” and avoid monitoring…

Bruce Schneier, a renowned cryptologist, dismissed out of hand the possibility that terrorists have put themselves beyond the reach of surveillance.

“No, of course not. That’s dumb,” he said. “It’s the golden age of surveillance, because there are hundreds of ways to surveil people.”