[cryptography] Interesting Webcrypto question

James A. Donald jamesd at echeque.com
Sun Mar 3 23:33:59 EST 2013

On 2013-03-04 8:10 AM, Arshad Noor wrote:
> I also agree that all this seems irrelevant considering that everyone
> has access to strong crypto in one form or another; but, even a stupid
> law is still the law.

Much though we long for the glory days when cypherpunks actually were a 
persecuted minority engaged in genuine civil disobedience, the 
government is not interested in supplying us with drama.

Laws ceased to matter about a decade or so ago, having lost any 
relationship to what is likely to result in punishment.  What was done 
to the constitution, has now been done to law, and is in turn being done 
to regulation.

Laws are increasingly idiotic, because no one cares what they say, hence 
the famous proclamation that we had to pass Obamacare to find out what 
it was.  (And we still do not know what it is)

The US government has lost interest in restricting strong crypto, in 
part because everyone is reporting their most secret activities to 
google, in part because everyone relies on PKI, which is no obstacle to 
the US government, but mostly because that horse has bolted, it is a bit 
late to lock the stable door, and everyone knows it.

It does not matter what the law says, it matters what the US Government 
cares about.  And the US government does not care about strong crypto 
any more.

Now bitcoin, that could well see some drama, especially when the US 
starts actively resisting the decline of its role as the supplier of the 
world's currency, but right now the potential for drama is limited even 
there, because our rulers cannot seem to imagine loss of faith in the US 
dollar.  As yet they only care about bitcoin to the extent that it is a 
way of laundering US dollars, not as a competitor to US dollars.

There are two ways you can get heroic and dramatic civil disobedience.  
One is, like Swartz, to demand what the government is about to give 
anyway, which is apt to be good for one's career, if you refrain from 
killing yourself for no sane reason.  The other is to provide what 
seriously pisses the government off, like Julian Assange did, which is 
not so good for one's career.

Hey, Julian Assange, how do you feel about feminism these days? Not 
quite so keen on it as you used to be?  "No" means "no" even when it 
follows sex by thirty six hours.

The state department is the in large part the headquarters of the 
official international left.  Julian Assange supplied a whole pile of 
telegrams that made the state department, and official leftism, look 
extremely bad, revealed international leftists as muppets of the state 
department, as they used to be puppets of Stalin.  An ample supply of 
entirely genuine heroic and dramatic disobedience ensued, probably a 
great deal more than Julian Assange was expecting.

Way to Go Assange!  I am cheering Assange as much as I am pissing on 
Swartz, though I doubt Assange realized just how genuine his civil 
disobedience was going to be.  He never intended to be the actually 
genuine hero, though he is now very reluctantly rising to the occasion.

However, we cannot commit strong crypto civil disobedience, because 
everyone know the government does not care, and bitcoin is not /yet/ 
civil disobedience, and when it becomes civil disobedience, it will be a 
whole lot safer committing that disobedience through a non US identity 
in a non US location.  When the US government gets the hots to shut down 
bitcoin, it is going to be the way they went after Assange, not the way 
they went after Swartz.
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