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      This needs a much better introduction. No idea of the group involved, the government agencies involved, the jurisdiction (Assuming France but could be way off), what the charges were, what the surrounding circumstances were.

      It really needs some kind of introduction to what could otherwise be a really compelling narrative.

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      I assume the author is referring to this incident?


      The 8 December 2020 incident French: Affaire du 8 décembre 2020 refers to the arrests of nine French citizens who had joined the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) by French authorities in December 2020. Having volunteered to fight with the Kurdish forces against the Islamic State and having returned to France in 2018, they were designated as far-left extremists by the General Directorate for Internal Security and were arrested in a series of raids on 8 December 2020. Seven of the nine were then criminally charged with associations with terrorism. After a few months of detention, however, all except one were released.

      For the French Government to arrest civilians for volunteering to fight against the Islamic State, while simultaneously maintaining the French Foreign Legion, strains the old irony meter a bit. Not to mention the bombing of a civilian vessel in a foreign harbour, killing a person.

      But: I don’t agree with the central tenet of the article, that the use of encryption is itself being targeted or criminalized; rather, the use of encryption is being held up as proof of mens rea. To paraphrase: “they knew what they were doing was wrong and illegal, so they beefed up their operational security.”

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        The French article starts like this:

        L’affaire du 8 décembre 2020 est une affaire controversée de peines de détention préventive, dont une peine préventive de seize mois à l’isolement, et d’intentions terroristes supposées sans qu’aucun acte terroriste ni projet d’acte terroriste ne soit reproché aux prévenus.

        The most important part is towards the end. It says, roughly, that these people were put in jail, including one who was isolated for 16 months for supposedly preparing a terrorist act, except that in the end no terrorist act nor even the intent of committing a terrorist act was even found by the justice!

        Hence what the original article is explaining.

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          Oh yes - it does on the face of it seem like an injustice! The only part of the article I was disagreeing with was around their characterisation of the prosecution’s opinion of cryptography.

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      “All members contacted adopted a clandestine behaviour, with increased security of means of communication (encrypted applications, Tails operating system, TOR protocol enabling anonymous browsing on the Internet and public wifi)”

      This is the central paradox of these privacy enabling services: in the world as it is they mark you out for special attention: Tor traffic is extremely easy to pick out for a nation state level adversary. Signal probably is too given that phones must exchange data with Signal servers.

      Traffic analysis is what breaks human networks, not breaking encryption.