France has been keen on getting ahead of technology when it comes to their laws. From their environmental stances of requiring solar panels on their roofs to making sure that large companies like Facebook protect people’s data sufficiently. In light of recent security concerns though they have moved to punish companies for refusing to decrypt devices.
While Apple fights the demands of the FBI over encrypted iPhone data, the companies that help users communicate privately between such devices are working hard to dramatically increase their methods of security.
As America’s mounting anxieties over terrorism run up against its engrained mistrust of authority, the result has been a surprisingly robust debate about encryption and digital rights.
In 2013, the dark web email service Tormail was seized by the FBI and the contents of their servers taken with them. It was also suspected that the FBI had made use of a network investigative technique (NIT), an FBI term for a hacking tool to compromise some users of the service. A report by the Washington Post on the FBI’s use of NITs confirmed these suspicions but also opened many more questions, such as the scope of the hacking.Prior to its takedown by the FBI, the Tormail service ran on the dark web, only accessible through the Tor network. Such hidden email services are typically used by those in need to privacy, whether for legitimate reasons, such as journalism, or less than legal activities such as drug dealing, trading on Silk Road and other activities that could draw the attention of the FBI. The agency had supposedly obtained a warrant to hack the accounts of certain people thought to be associated with the distribution of child pornography.Despite this, at the time Freedom Hosting, a web host providing dark web services including Tormail, was seized by the FBI anyone accessing a page hosted by Freedom Hosting was served an error page. This error page was designed to serve malicious code that took advantage of a security flaw in the Firefox browser to transmit the user’s real IP address to a Virginia server.