es and seizures, shall not be violated,
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describ-
ing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.”
As this example also shows, wise
lawmakers are wary of making it too
easy for the legal system, so they add
checks and balances.
Political strategies regarding cryptography are all horrible: Kazakhstan
brutally inserts state monitors into
the middle of all encrypted traffic.
France forbids all online anonymity.
The U.S. wants backdoors built into
all crypto. These ideas are all based
on the same principle: If we cannot
break the crypto for a specific criminal on demand, we will preemptively
break it for everybody. And whatever
you may feel about politicians, they do
have the legitimacy and power to do
so. They have the constitutions, legislative powers, courts of law, and police
forces to make this happen.
The IT and networking communi-
ties overlooked a wise saying from sol-
diers and police officers: “Make sure
the other side has an easier way out
than destroying you.”
But we didn’t, and they are.
Slapping unbreakable crypto onto
more and more packets is just going to
make matters worse. The only way to
retain any amount of electronic privacy
is through political engagement.
More Encryption Is Not the Solution
Hickory Dickory Doc
J. C. Cannon and Marilee Byers
Poul-Henning Kamp ( phk@FreeBSD.org) is one of the
primary developers of the FreeBSD operating system,
which he has worked on from the very beginning. He is
widely unknown for his MD5-based password scrambler,
which protects the passwords on Cisco routers, Juniper
routers, and Linux and BSD systems.
Copyright held by author.
Publication rights licensed to ACM. $15.00.
stayed clear of anything that could
even faintly smell of “politics.” Unfortunately, that is not the way politics
works. Politics springs into action the
moment somebody disagrees with you
because of their political point of view,
even if you think you do not have a political point of view.
In spite of leaving out all those “hot”
words, the substance of BCP188 is still a
manifesto declaring a universal human
right to absolute privacy in electronic
communications—no matter what.
That last bit is half the trouble—no
Even against law enforcement.
Even if law enforcement has a court
Even if ...
No matter what.
To be totally fair, BCP188 nowhere
states “no matter what.” The real reason the result ends up being “no matter what” is the SSL/TLS protocol, when
properly configured, works as advertised: there is no way to break it.
The other half of the trouble is the
When all you have
hallmark of a civilized society is a judicial
system that can right wrongs, and there-
fore human rights are always footnoted.
The United Nation’s Human Rights
Charter has § 29. 2, which explains:
“In the exercise of his rights and
freedoms, everyone shall be subject
only to such limitations as are deter-
mined by law solely for the purpose
of securing due recognition and re-
spect for the rights and freedoms
of others and of meeting the just
requirements of morality, public
order and the general welfare in a
Politicians, whose jobs are to main-
tain “public order” and improve “the
general welfare,” follow the general
principle that if criminals can use X
to commit crimes, the legal system
should be able to use X to solve crimes,
with only two universally recognized
exemptions: when “X = your brain” and
when “X = your spouse.”
For instance, U.S. kids learn in
school that the Fourth Amendment af-
fords a right to privacy, but that is only
the first half of it. The second half de-
tails precisely how and why you may
lose that privacy:
“The right of the people to be secure
in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable search-
is a hammer, all
like nails, and the
was the SSL/
protocol, so the
battle cry was
A lot of nails have
been hit with that!