My Faults My Own

One's ponens is another's tollens.

Crypto at Davos, or Harvard Profs vs. David Cameron

This semester, I'm a Teaching Fellow for CS 161, Operating Systems, taught by the legendary Margo Seltzer, former president of USENIX, advisor to Harvard WiCS, and mother of two.

She's quoted in an article by the Financial Times[1] alongside two other Harvard professors speaking at Davos[?], criticizing David Cameron's post-Charlie proposals to criminalize strong encryption:

If bad guys who are breaking laws cannot use encryption, they will find another way. It is an arms race and if governments say you cannot do this, that means the good guys can't and the bad guys can. End to end encryption is the way to go. (...)

Jonathan Zittrain weighs in:

This is not just about hardware but software. You would have to find a way for a phone not to be able to download any app that could defeat [the breaking of] encryption... That would be a referendum on our entire ecosystem. (...)

Making Zittrain's comment a little more concrete, messaging app WhatsApp would run afoul of Cameron's proposed securities policies, as will Snapchat and recent versions of the iPhone.

Cameron's comments:

Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister asked whether "we want to allow a means of communication between two people which, even in extemis with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally, that we cannot read?

"My answer to that question is no, we must not. The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe." (...)

Let's be very clear here -- we're talking about programs so basic, I've been asked to code them as a homework exercise twice, once in an undergraduate math course for sophomores (and the other time, in an applied-math course that, intentions aside, I was taking as a sophomore). Maybe I'll do it again, as a way to get back into the habit of programming in C, in preparation for 161. And then I'll post it here, in violation of what, if sensible Brits aren't careful, could be UK laws.

Then again, if you're accessing https://blog.rossry.net/, you may be breaking those laws anyway. I dunno, I'm not a lawyer, and certainly not a British lawyer.


The fight for Net Neutrality may (may) be won, but governments will always misunderstand the Internet and attempt to craft dumb technology policy. I mean, if we just shift the level of the tech down a few notches, we get:

Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister asked whether "we want to allow a lock on a private residence which, even in extemis with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary, that we cannot break?

"My answer to that question is no, we must not. The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe."

Of course, there are problems closer to home as well...


Comments

Comments