[cryptography] Digital cash in the news...

Nico Williams nico at cryptonector.com
Tue Jun 14 17:58:29 EDT 2011


On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM, StealthMonger
<StealthMonger at nym.mixmin.net> wrote:
> Nico Williams <nico at cryptonector.com> writes:
>
>> Crypto will NOT protect you from the state.
>
> Hmm?  Protection from the state is the very reason some of us are
> here.  Even Philip Zimmermann wrote twenty years ago [1]

In a pinch crypto will not protect you.

Let's say you have an unbreakable code.  But there's still traffic
analysis, and even with onion routing and such, you don't know if your
peers are ratting you out, or if the state has infiltrated the onion
to a sufficient degree to find out a bit of what you're up to.  And so
on.  Push comes to shove, the truth is that power still comes from the
barrel of a gun.

Do the same thought experiment regarding cryptographic coins if you
like.  The state could easily make it so insignificant amounts of
business gets transacted in a cryptographic coin that the state cannot
subvert or control.

We use crypto to protect ourselves from non-state actors and
insufficiently motivated, _civilized_ state actors.  That's it.  And
even regarding non-state actors, you still depend on the civil law
system administered by the state.  If there's no state then you have
to arm yourself to the teeth and be willing to fight.

Uncivilized state actors will not give a damn about your crypto.  They
will torture you, your friends, your family.  They may enslave you.
Ultimately they may kill you.  The trick regarding uncivilized state
actors is to stay under their radar, or to take advantage of such
somewhat civilized subset of their behaviors as might remain, and
ultimately to get rid of the uncivilized state actors (by emigration,
revolution, or just waiting until you get lucky and they civilize on
their own).

Civilized state actors granting you due process of law might also not
give a damn about your crypto (see, e.g., the UK, where you can be
compelled, under criminal penalties, to produce cryptographic keys).
They won't torture you, etcetera, but they might deprive you of your
freedom.

So: don't live in an uncivilized state (either civilize it or
emigrate), and then refrain from doing the sorts of things that might
cause even a civilized state to come down you like a ton of bricks
(i.e., refrain from committing crimes).  For added safety use crypto.

Nico
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