[cryptography] Paris Attacks Blamed on Strong Cryptography and Edward Snowden

Arshad Noor arshad.noor at strongauth.com
Thu Dec 3 09:37:32 EST 2015

On 12/01/2015 08:34 PM, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote:
> On 2015-12-01, at 1:40 PM, Arshad Noor <arshad.noor at strongauth.com> wrote:
>> It is a "choice amongst losses" only when you believe you are in a zero-sum game.  However, there is another choice that can reduce, if not eliminate, violence.
> Well sure it would be good to behave in a way that doesn’t result in people wanting to attack you; but when looking at securing something, we should always assume that there will be those who wish to attack.
> I don’t lock my bicycle because I think that everyone is a criminal. I lock it because I think that the chances of a criminal noticing it is high enough it becomes worthwhile to lock it. And to continue with this analogy, saying “well, let’s work towards a world in which everyone has all of the bicycles they need” just doesn’t feeling like a realistic approach.
> My country, the US, is being hit with small acts of domestic right wing terrorism (one can quibble about definitions), but it isn’t organized or funded. (And so it is exceedingly difficult to identify attackers or plots before they act.) Whatever the merits of the kinds of foreign policy you advocate, it really isn’t going to make this threat go away.
> I bring that up only to point out that the question of terrorist-like attacks will always remain unless one believes in some sort of utopia. But in a utopia we wouldn’t need encryption either because nobody would try to read documents that they weren’t supposed to. We wouldn’t need authentication and encryption in a utopia because everyone would respect each others privacy rights without it having to be enforced.
> The questions we need to ask about “preventing terrorism” are the same questions we ask about “preventing crime”. What powers do we give to the state, what costs do we bear, and how much terrorism/crime are will willing to accept.
> Just as we don’t give the state unlimited powers to prevent crime, and just as we don’t build our houses with solid steel walls with no windows to prevent crime, there are things that we shouldn’t do to prevent terrorism.
> I think that a huge part of the problem is that people (and politicians) think about terrorism in radically different ways than they think about more mundane crime. And so returning to your point, sure it is a good idea to build a society in which few people are drawn to crime, that doesn’t mean that we can avoid the questions of the other choices we have to make about preventing crime.

(I didn't want to respond to this thread originally because of its
potential to veer too far from cryptography - but the counter is that
cryptography is a political football, so I guess some might argue we
are on-topic.  Nonetheless, I would like this to be my last post on
the subject so as to be mindful of people's time; no disrespect
intended if I don't respond to others).

It would be naive of me to assume any kind of utopia is possible
anywhere on earth.  Even in the most idyllic of settings, devoid of
humans, creation and destruction are a constant - it is the most
natural of states.

That said, our behavior towards others should not necessarily be guided
by the ideal as much as the desire to coexist with a minimum of
destruction.  While we cannot ensure everyone has a "bicycle", we can
certainly work towards ensuring everyone has the opportunity to acquire
one - fairly.

States do have a responsibility to protect its citizens, and citizens
need to provide the State with tools to perform their jobs effectively.
But, States have a *greater* responsibility in showing they can be
trusted with the powers granted to them by its citizens.  If the State
cannot - or chooses not to - maintain transparency in carrying out its
functions [1], then citizens are justified in questioning whether the
State has a right to enhanced powers.

Last, but not least, the astute amongst the forum will have realized,
that while the discussion appeared to focus on our dealings with people
in foreign nations, the principles apply - even more so - towards our
dealings with people within our country.

Arshad Noor
StrongAuth, Inc.


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