[cryptography] crypto & security/privacy balance (Re: Digital cash in the news...)

James A. Donald jamesd at echeque.com
Thu Jun 16 17:27:40 EDT 2011

On 2011-06-17 4:02 AM, Nico Williams wrote:
 > Osama, for
> example, was found in part by traffic analysis.  Maybe he should have
> been using Tor instead of USB sticks and couriers, but I bet usage of
> Tor from a sleepy Islamabad suburb would have led to his being found
> sooner.

That was not a sleepy Islamabad suburb, but the center of military elite 
- ground zero for conspiracy as Stanford is the center of venture 
capital.  Had he been using Tor, would have fitted right in.  Plus, if 
it had been a sleepy Islamabad suburb, Tor would have been even better 
because of all the suburbanites using Tor to download porn.

> Crypto is no more than an equivalent of doors, locks, keys, safes, and
> hiding.

The state can break locks, but it cannot break crypto.

Hiding *is* effectual against the state - and long has been even before 
crypto.  The collapse of tax revenues in Greece is largely due to 
methods of tax evasion and tax resistance against the predatory state 
that would be familiar to any third worlder.  That tax evaders can now 
do business over skype video just makes it easier.  They don't notice 
that they are using crypto to resist the state.

Indeed it is a general user interface principle, that for people to use 
crypto effectively to resist the state, they should not need to notice 
that they are using crypto.  Tools that require conscious deployment of 
crypto will never be widely deployed, and when deployed, the users will 
foul up.

 > At the end of the day the rubber has to meet the road.
> People need to interact with other people in order to obtain the
> things they need for mere survival.

They interact through a banking system that is largely a branch of the 
state, and an accounting system that is transparent to the state - both 
of which are collapsing due to incompetent, corrupt, and ham fisted 
state intervention.

In the financial crisis, it not only became apparent that political 
favor is more important to bankers than profits and losses, it also 
became obvious that Sarbannes Oxley compliant accounting fails to give a 
true and fair account of a business's financial status.

They also interact through vpns and encrypted video conferencing - the 
Chinese economy is booming in substantial part through a high tech 
sector that largely bypasses or ignores the regular banking and regular 
accounting system for higher tech alternatives, and the entire Greek 
economy is going dark, disappearing from sight of the state, though I 
would guess that in Greece this largely through third world methods of 
tax evasion and tax resistance, rather than high tech methods.  They 
keep raising taxes, and, mysteriously, tax revenues fall every time.

More information about the cryptography mailing list