Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 3, Episode 5 - Encryption - full transcript

John talks about latest US election updates, International women's day, Apple's encryption battle with the FBI.

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight !
Thank you so much for joining us.

I'm John Oliver.
Time for a quick recap of the week.

And we begin with the US election,
or as you may know it,

"the holy shit, please make it stop
trash fire two thousand fuckteen."

This was not a great week
for either party's frontrunners.

And let's start with Hillary Clinton.
Who, if she is not elected president,

will take all you fuckers down
with her.

She caused a little controversy
at Nancy Reagan's funeral,

and you might think, "how can
you get into trouble at a funeral ?"

Watch her !

Secretary Clinton
is now apologizing

for some comments
she made about Nancy Reagan.

It may be hard
for your viewers to remember

how difficult it was for people to talk
about HIV/AIDs back in the 1980s,

and because of both president
and Mrs. Reagan,

in particular Mrs. Reagan,
we started a national conversation.

What are you talking about ?
Nobody thinks that.

You cannot give the Reagans credit
for a "national conversation"

when he didn't publicly
say the word "AIDS" until 1985,

and didn't address the nation
about it until 1987.

So the Reagans started
a conversation about AIDS

the way many parents start
conversations with their kids about sex

by reluctantly mumbling
something about it existing,

around five years
after it became relevant.

And the fact Hillary Clinton
didn't know that is a little weird.

It's strange to forget something
so fundamental about a person.

It's like forgetting Cookie Monster's
thoughts on cookies

or Sir Mix-A-Lot's opinions
on big butts.

A president
is supposed to know this stuff.

But let's also quickly check in
with Donald Trump,

an ill-fitting suit full of chickens
coming home to roost.

He had a dramatic week,
culminating in this on Friday evening.

Chaos erupting at a rally
for Donald Trump.

The violence so bad,
the rally had to be cancelled.

A Trump rally being cancelled
due to violence

is the most predictable thing
to happen in this campaign

since Donald Trump
mentioning the size of his dick.

Of course those things happened.
Of course they did.

It doesn't feel like shutting down
his events is the most effective idea.

But it was hard to hear him play down
any role he may have had in this.

I certainly don't incite violence.
I don't condone violence.

And I don't talk about violence.

Obviously, you know that's a lie.
It couldn't be true,

even if he crossed his heart with his
tiny little AA battery-sized fingers.

Because there have been an escalating
series of confrontations at his rallies,

with his supporters
attacking protesters.

And where might they get
the notion that that's a good idea ?

Get him out of here,
throw him out.

If you see somebody
getting ready to throw a tomato,

knock the crap out of 'em.

You know what they used to do
to guys like that ?

They'd be carried out on a stretcher.

I'd like to punch him.

Strap in,
because we're in for a bumpy ride.

Donald Trump
is one flaming guitar player away

from turning the campaign trail
into fury fucking road.

But let's move on
to International Women's Day,

the day that men see the words
"International Women's Day",

and wonder: "Shit, do I have
to do something right now ?"

It took place on Tuesday.

Countries celebrated
with varying degrees of success.

In Russia, where
it's observed as a public holiday,

Vladimir Putin went on TV
with a message for women.

Dear women,

I wholeheartedly congratulate you
on International Women's Day.

You have time for everything;

manage a great load of issues
and stay gentle, bright and charming.

It's a little strange to hear
a warm message from a man

who looks like he's perpetually
crushing a baby bird in his fist.

And if he's trying to be progressive,
he's failing here...

"Managing a great load of issues
while staying gentle and charming"

is the double standard that women
are constantly trying to overcome.

It is great to see you're confident,
capable and career-focused.

And sometimes, you're not
even a shrill bitch about it !

It's very nice.

Meanwhile, in Turkey,
president Recep Erdogan

used his women's day speech
to make a point you might not expect.

I know there will be
some who will be annoyed,

but for me a woman
is above all a mother.

In my opinion, the greatest wrong
that you can do to a woman

is to restrict her to live a life

where she is the victim
of her economic independence.

Okay. First,
"a woman is above all a mother"

is not even appropriate
to say on Mother's Day.

And economic independence

is far from the greatest wrong
you can do to a woman.

There is a list that runs
from genital mutilation

through Nancy Meyers movies
that you need to get through first.

As for China, a shopping mall there
offered discounts

in honor of women's day,
but "only to good-looking women,

after their facial appearances
were scored by a face scanner."

It's not often
you hear a news story

that appears to have taken place

in the distant future
and the distant past.

But, it is amazing that,
somewhere in China,

a TJ Maxx manager
will have uttered the phrase,

"The robot doesn't want to fuck you.
Those capri pants are full price."

At this point,
you will be glad to know,

that here in the US,
women marked their own day.

Fox News Greta Van Susteren delivered
a commentary in honor of the event.

But if you think you know
where it's going, you are wrong.

The Taliban won't let women
listen to music,

or leave the house
without being covered in a burka.

Women living under Sharia Law
endure the unthinkable,

simply for being women,
which brings me to this:

on this International Women's Day eve,
it'd be a good time for us women

to recognize that American men,
let's give American men a shout out.

Yes. Greta Van Susteren
marked International Women's Day

with a shout-out to American men
for being better than the Taliban.

I didn't even know,
I didn't even know this was possible,

but I am pretty sure
she just leaned out.

And she wasn't even done.

Things aren't perfect, we still
don't have equal pay for equal work.

But American men are by far, very
by far, the best men on the planet.

We may not say it,

but we know that, and American men
deserve to hear that from us.

There may be no more fitting tribute
to the state of women internationally

than someone giving men credit
for doing basically nothing.

And finally: Switzerland,

where the national dance
is collapsing from altitude sickness.

Last Sunday,
the Swiss observed tag der kranken.

Sounds like an Ikea product
which might precipitate a divorce,

but it's in fact
their annual "day of the sick",

a tradition dating back to 1939.

Tag der kranken
is the only Swiss tradition

dating back to 1939
that is not also a war crime.

The theme of this year was laughter.
And no one embraced the theme

more than Swiss president
Johann Schneider-Ammann,

who gave a speech on the subject
without cracking a smile once.

Dear friends, those who know
sick people, dear caregivers.

Laughter is good for your health,
according to a popular saying.

Like me, you have certainly
already had the experience.

Have you laughed ?

'Cause you have the permanent
expression of a school principal

telling a child his hamster
was trampled by the marching band.

His speech was so humorless,
one media outlet noted

that he was "about as funny
as a funeral director,"

which is unfair to funeral directors,
who tell all kinds of great jokes...

"Knock knock, who's there ?
We know it's not your uncle."

The frustrating thing is,

it's not difficult
to make tag der kranken funny.

Just look at its official logo.

It is supposed to be
a doctor caring for a patient,

but it's pretty clearly two priests
fucking on a kitchen table.

I assume that image beat out
their other logo designs,

such as "doctor leaning over
to check patient's pulse";

"doctor assisting a vomiting patient",
and an orgy, just an actual orgy.

But I'm sure the Swiss president
would see no humor in that.

As he seems to be very clear about
the rules of what constitutes comedy.

A cynical laugh with the goal
of derisively mocking a person

is not a good laugh, in my opinion.

I hate to break it to you,
Mr. President,

but those are the exact laughs
we are enjoying right now.

And I feel great about it !
And now this !

And now, everybody listen.
Bernie Sanders has something to say.

Let me just say this.

Let me say this
for the fourth time.

Let me say this.
Let me say this again.

Let me say this also.
Let me say this more importantly.

Let me tell you this...
Let me simply say this.

Let me say this... we...

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns encryption.

The best way to keep people
from reading your email,

short of making the subject line

"forward, forward, forward, forward,
hilarious joke from uncle Walter."

You may not think
about encryption much,

but it is fundamental to our lives.

Almost everything you do today
uses a code.

Every time you log onto an Internet
service like Twitter or Facebook

and send your password, every time
you log into Internet banking,

all of that information
is protected using encryption code.

That's right ! Encryption can protect
the things most important to us:

our financial information, health
records, dick pics, trade secrets,

classified government records,
dick pics, our physical location,

credit card information,
dick pics, and pictures of our dicks.

Lots of things have computers
in them now, even cars.

And last year, two hackers
showed a writer from "Wired"

how they could disable his car
on the interstate.

- Do it ! Kill the engine.
- So we're killing the engine.

I can't accelerate.

I turned on the hazard lights,
but I was still stuck in the right lane.

Guys, I'm stuck. On the highway.

I think he's panicking.

No shit he's panicking.
You killed his engine on the freeway.

They seem like they've played
so many video games

they've forgotten that cars are
objects carrying living people.

But while it can keep us safe,

it's important to note,
encryption also has a downside.

It's making it impossible
for law enforcement

to gain access to certain information.

Or, as FBI director James Comey
puts it...

Technology has become a tool of choice
for some very dangerous people,

and unfortunately, the law
has not kept pace with technology,

and this disconnect has created
a significant public safety problem

we have described
as "going dark."

Yes, "going dark". It's a deliberately
ominous-sounding term.

You wouldn't get scared if they
just called it "bad guy go bye-bye".

And you may have heard
about this "going dark" problem,

related to one particular work
iPhone belonging to Syed Farook,

the gunman who, with his wife,
killed 14 people last December.

FBI needs Apple's help, because
the security settings on the phone

lock the device if a password
is entered incorrectly too many times.

It may even erase
all the data on the phone.

The FBI wants Apple
to upload software

that lets its analysts
get around the security features

and take as many shots
at the passcode as necessary.

Yes, the FBI has a dead terrorist's
cell phone that they cannot get into.

It's running a newer version
of Apple's operating system,

that can only be accessed
by unlocking the passcode.

Even Apple can't get into the phone.

So the government is demanding
that they come up with a cheat code

for their top-selling iPhone game,
"Fuck, what's my passcode ?!"

Rated E for everyone.

Apple is fighting that order in court,
arguing it shouldn't be forced

to undermine the security features
that protect its encryption.

Apple leadership
risks having blood on hands.

How in the hell you can't access
a phone ? I just find baffling.

Any system
that would allow a terrorist

to communicate
with somebody in our country

and we can't find out
what they're saying is stupid.

That's the angriest Lindsey Graham
has been about a cell phone

since his name got auto-corrected
to "Linty Grandma."

Stupid phone. Learn my name.
I am your boss.

Stupid. So dumb.

This issue has even been
brought up on the campaign trail,

with predictable results...

What I think you oughta do
is boycott Apple

until such time is they give
that security number.

I just thought of that.
Boycott Apple !

I just thought of it. Give me
another one. Israel-Palestine ?

Make 'em wrestle in those fake
sumo costumes. Done !

Being president is easy !

This is a rare case where Trump's
outrage is almost understandable.

Apple's refusal to crack a terrorist's
phone can seem hard to defend.

Especially when,
like John Miller of the NYPD,

you think about it
incredibly simplistically.

There is no bank. There is no
safe company. There is no vault.

There is no door that can't be
penetrated with a lawful order.

Point taken, but was "penetrated"
the best word choice there ?

The government needs to be able
to penetrate you at any time.

If we feel you need penetration,
we have to be able to do it.

Quickly, and effectively
here and now.

Why is everyone getting
so uptight about this ?

It's a hugely complicated story,
with massive implications.

Once we get to the end, you may
not feel the same way you do now.

An encrypted phone is not really
like a bank, or a safe.

If you penetrate a safe,
you've only penetrated that safe.

But a code to open a phone could be
modified to open many more phones.

A fact that does not escape
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

No one, I don't believe,
would want a master key built

that would turn hundreds
of millions of locks.

Even if the key were in the possession
of the person you trust the most.

That key could be stolen.

The only way we know to
get additional information

is to write a piece of software that
is the software equivalent of cancer.

Okay, now, on one hand giving
your phone cancer sounds bad.

But, "The Fault In Our Stars"
would have been amazing

if Shailene Woodley was playing
a terminally ill iPhone 6s.

No ! I won't let you go, Hazel !
I'll hold down the power button

and the home button
simultaneously forever !

Apple hasn't been completely

They've given FBI
information they could access,

Farook's iCloud backups
from six weeks before the attacks.

But they are refusing to create the
"cancerous" program the FBI wants.

They say it would take six to ten
engineers up to four weeks to do it.

Or, you know,
a standard genius bar appointment.

Apple worries that
once they make that program,

they can't keep it 100 percent safe.

FBI and its supporters can be
weirdly dismissive of that issue.

They either don't understand
how technology works,

or are pretending not to.

The government is asking
Tim Cook: you designed it,

you can design your way
out of it for this one time.

If you figure out the formula
and crack open this phone,

you can tear that formula up,
toss it in the fireplace and throw it.

You know Apple is not writing its code
on paper, next to a fireplace.

They're a cutting-edge technology
company, not Lord Grantham.

As for the notion Apple can throw
the formula after FBI uses it once,

nobody seriously thinks
that is going to happen.

Apple says if it complies,
requests from law enforcement

could come for another phone,
opening a Pandora's box.

Manhattan district attorney says
he has 175 iPhones

with potential evidence
from serious crimes,

including murder, he cannot open.

Exactly. There are over 175 other
phones in line, just in New York.

This is bound to set a precedent.
Think of the government as your dad,

if he asks you to help him
with his iPhone, be careful.

If you do it once, you're
going to be doing it 14 times a day.

Whatever happens in this case
will have ramifications.

FBI ultimately wants Apple
and the entire tech industry

to have its encryption always
be weak enough

that a company can access customers'
data if law enforcement needs it.

So it might be the iPhone today
and an Android phone tomorrow

and a Blackberry the day after that.

Assuming that the day after that
is in 1998.

You might be wondering:
but look if there's a warrant,

do these companies
have a choice ?

The answer, surprisingly,
might be: "Yes, they do."

The government is currently
citing the all writs act of 1789,

which mandates you must
cooperate with investigators.

But courts are split over whether
it applies in cases like these.

And there's not really any more
recent law covering this area.

We've been down this road before.

The government grappled
with encryption two decades ago

and in the 90s, they came up with what
they thought would be ideal solution:

Government will press companies
to use a so-called clipper chip

which would allow authorities
to monitor coded messages.

That clipper chip
was theoretically perfect:

your information could be encrypted,
the government would have access.

Like giving your house key to a trusted
neighbor. You can trust Mike.

He's only going to try on your
underwear if it's absolutely necessary.

One problem: a computer scientist
and hacker named Matt Blaze

figured out a way to disable the
government-access feature of the chip

and the project
was eventually abandoned.

And by the way: is there
a more 90s series of words

than "a hacker named Matt Blaze ?"

It's got to be right up there
with "Talk to the hand, Furby"

and "Grammy award winners,
Milli Vanilli."

But thanks to the clipper chip fiasco
and pressure from tech companies

the government backed off,
abandoning the push for a backdoor.

Decades later, they seem to have
convinced themselves it can be done.

Apple's capabilities are remarkable
when it is their desire.

Silicon Valley is full of great people,
who when they were younger,

were told your dreams are too hard,
thank goodness they didn't listen.

I hate to hear talk like
"that cannot be done",

think about if Jack Kennedy said
we cannot go to the moon.

He said we're going
to get there in the next decade.

I love that optimism.
There are lots of things we can't do,

even though
we've been to the moon.

We are yet to master time travel
or figure out why Hulk Hogan

dresses for court like a pallbearer
at a boa constrictor's funeral.

Those still
elude human understanding.

The government's faith in Apple's
powers is the company's own fault.

Their ads have linked
them to Einstein and Gandhi,

and they sell the most mundane aspects
of their products as world-changers.

This is iPhone 6S.
Not much has changed,

except it responds to
the pressure of your finger.

Now you can change apps like this.
Pay at more places like this.

And the new color.
It's rose gold, it's awesome.

No, it is not.

Looks like someone vomited a salmon
dinner onto dirty ballet shoes.

But ads like those obscure
the real truth about Apple,

which is that beneath their shiny,
Rose Gold surface,

they are incredibly
susceptible to hackers,

who are constantly finding
flaws in their security features.

You can buy boxes like this one
on eBay that can hack you

into an iPhone running some
versions of iOS 8 or lower.

Just watch this YouTube video
showing you how they work.

You attach the wire to the screen,
adjust a few settings,

let it cycle through passcodes
and eventually, you are in.

Apple, understandably, do not
want us thinking too much about that.

"Scary security flaws" is one
of those three-word phrases

they hate to be associated with,
like "corporate tax avoidance"

or "factory suicide nets."

When Apple argues that if it's forced
to have access to its customers' data,

it can't 100% guarantee its safety,
most computer scientists agree.

Or, as Matt Blaze, the guy
who hacked the clipper chip put it:

When I hear the, if we can put
a man on the moon we can do this,

I'm hearing an analogy
almost as if we're saying:

if we can put a man on the moon,
we can put a man on the sun.

That is a rational scientific view.

Just because a man
can walk on the moon

does not mean he might
as well be walking on the sun,

a point summarized recently in the
New England Journal of Smashmouth.

For the sake of argument,

let's assume Apple could have access
to your encrypted data,

repeatedly help law enforcement
and always keep the bad guys out

which, again, is widely thought
by experts to be impossible.

That still won't solve
the FBI's "going dark" problem.

If you really want to keep
your communications secret,

there's an app for that.

The encryption debate is good
business for one startup.

Telegram, a messaging app that
encrypts messages

has surpassed 100 million users.

That's the point: people who want
encryption will be able to find it.

It could be one of the more than
800 other encryption products,

almost two thirds of which are made
by companies not covered by US law.

Like Silent Phone, or Threema,
or Snikkity-Snak, or Mailgrub.

Now granted,
those last two aren't real,

but they will be in five minutes

if the government forces the other
ones to weaken their encryption.

That might not be the only
consequence of the FBI's actions.

Many countries, including Russia
and China are watching this debate

and will presumably
expect similar access.

Russia and China have
as much respect for privacy

as horny teenagers
in 80's comedies.

When you consider the legal
tenuousness of the FBIs case,

the borderline impossibility
of perfectly securing the key,

the international fallout
of creating a precedent

and that a terrorist could circumvent
of this by downloading Threema,

it's enough to sway
the most strident opinion.

Remember Lindsey Graham ?
Mister "this is stupid" ?

Just this week, he was in a hearing
with Attorney General Loretta Lynch,

and this happened:

For us, the issue is about a criminal
investigation into a terrorist act

and the need to obtain evidence.

It's just not so simple
and I'll end with this:

I thought it was that simple
until I started getting briefed

by people in the Intel community,
I'm a person who's been moved

by the arguments
and the precedent we set,

and the damage we may be doing
to our own national security.

It's a miracle. Lindsey Graham
has met the concept of nuance.

And this is a man
who once warned:

"the world
is literally about to blow up."

So you're not dealing with someone
who likes to dabble with grey areas.

There is no easy side to be on
in this debate.

Strong encryption has its costs,
from protecting terrorists

to drug dealers to child

But I happen to feel that
the risks of weakening encryption,

even just for the government,
are potentially much worse.

Even though
I'm on Apple's side in this case,

they would help both their customers
and the government understand this,

if they were a little more honest
regarding security in their ads.

Hi. We're Apple. This is an
iPhone. It comes in rose gold.

This is an Apple customer.

Siri ! Find vegan sushi.

Sounds good. And these are the
engineers who make our products.

We can help you communicate,
celebrate, pay for stuff. Everything.

We're one step ahead of hackers,
so that when lose your phone,

your information doesn't wind up
in the hands of guys like Gary.

I'm Gary. Thanks for
losing your phone, dipshit.

If Gary can get in, he has
access to pictures of your food,

your bank account, everything.

Now I can masturbate
to photos of your family !

And when we find out there's
a security flaw, this is how we react.

Fuck !

Yeah, that's about right.

So when the FBI asks if we can
undermine our encryption

without compromising emails, texts
and videos, this is our response.

Are you kidding ?
We're engineers, not wizards !

- Are you sure you're not wizards ?
- Yeah, pretty sure ! Fuck !

Apple's not perfect.
You need proof ? We made the Newton.

We made that one Mac
that looks like a toaster.

We thought
the Apple Watch was cool.

- This isn't cool ?
- No.

Shit !

We put a U2 album on your phones
you've been struggling to delete.

That thing keeps coming back ?

We can't even make our battery last
more than, like, a day. Why is that ?

You tried turning of location
services and push emails

and adjusting your screen

Okay, forget we asked.
The point is, best case scenario,

we can keep hackers out of your stuff
for 6 months before this happens.

I'm back.
I see someone's been to the beach.

So keep enjoying our products,

just know this shaky edifice
could crumble at any moment.

Apple: join us as we dance
madly on the lip of the volcano.

That's our show ! Thanks for watching,
see you next week, good night !