[cryptography] [info] The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

Benjamin Kreuter brk7bx at virginia.edu
Sun Mar 25 12:45:55 EDT 2012


On Sat, 24 Mar 2012 02:29:30 -0500
Marsh Ray <marsh at extendedsubset.com> wrote:

> If you're looking for someplace to feel subversive around, this isn't 
> it. Crypto is a mainstream engineering discipline these days, and one 
> greatly needed by modern civilization.

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of resistance to the notion
that cryptography is something that people should have, at least
cryptography without backdoors.  When last I checked, the Department of
Justice was still pushing communication service providers to include
some sort of back door, so that law enforcement agencies can decrypt
the encrypted communications of suspects in criminal cases.  They
basically think that the Hushmail model is the right one:

http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_02172011.html

(Apologies for the length; the summary is this:  the FBI is worried
about criminals or terrorists using encryption to hide their
communications from law enforcement and national security agencies, as
well as the lack of CALEA-style systems on the Internet. They as asking
for a law that requires communications service providers to provide
plaintexts if it is possible to do so e.g. Hushmail-style decryption.
The FBI insists that they are not talking about key escrow or key
recovery, and they avoid using the term "back door" to describe what
they want.)

Even worse, here at UVA we had a graduate student who was denied entry
because he traveled to a cryptography conference (he is here on a
student visa, and is a Chinese citizen). The State Department would not
allow him to come back to school unless he switched fields and stopped
doing computer security work.  He is working on wireless sensor
networks now -- clearly a field that could not possibly have any
national security implications.

The law has definitely improved over what cryptographers faced in the
90s, but the attitudes have not.  The US government still wants a
system where encrypted communications can be arbitrarily decrypted,
they just dress up the argument and avoid using dirty words like "key
escrow."

-- Ben



-- 
Benjamin R Kreuter
UVA Computer Science
brk7bx at virginia.edu
KK4FJZ

--

"If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there
will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public
opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even
if laws exist to protect them." - George Orwell
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