Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 590, October 3, 2010

"Americans hold Congress members in lower esteem than
even drug dealers, child molesters and used car salesmen"

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Encryption for the Win
by Jim Davidson

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Recently my friend (from his Politech mailing list) Declan McCullagh wrote about the recent Obama administration's bizarre anti-encryption law. You should probably read what Declan wrote, because he does an excellent job of setting this latest bit of idiocy in the context of past attempts—by Joe Biden amongst others.

Can this law be enforced? No, absolutely not.

This law may have unintended consequences, it may drive encryption activities offshore, increase the utilisation of virtual privacy networks and other ambiguous-routing services such as the onion router (TOR) or proxy servers, and possibly launch a number of new and easy to use steganography applications. But it cannot in any way generate the intended consequence of having every communication accessible to the government.

There is no way for anyone to distinguish packets encrypted for commerce and packets encrypted for privacy. Packets are packets. There is no reason to expect commercial web sites to stop encrypting transactions with customers, nor for customers to be willing to type in credit card info when they don't see a secure connection.

Nobody is going to disclose their algorithms, as pathetic as they are, for 128 bit encryption, to show they are provably reversible, to feral gooferment agencies which have been notorious for releasing into the public domain all kinds of data. Remember 2006 when something like 70 million records of veterans went home on a laptop and got lifted? Further, a House Government Reform Committee survey of federal agencies identified more than 788 data breaches at 17 agencies from January 2003 through July 2006. If you think data breaches are a thing of the past, check the ongoing chronology. Hundreds of thousands of records are improperly handled in just one recent data breach at a government agency.

Nor are the companies that require consultants (like me) to prove we can encrypt and decrypt their files using top level encryption algorithms going to provide back doors to all their financial accounting data to the government. Do you think these people crazy? Even if the gooferment could be trusted not to disclose their data by "accidental" breach; even if the NSA weren't already lifting information from foreign companies and handing it over to selected domestic companies; these companies know the IRS would have all the data it could ever want to fuck over every company in the country. Not to mention the SEC and FTC and the rest of alphabet soup. This idea is a total non-starter from the word "go."

I was especially amused by the conceit of Valerie Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, who stressed to the nationalist socialists at the NY Times "that agents would still need a court order to force providers to unlock encrypted data. ... "We're talking about lawfully authorized intercepts," Caproni said. "We're not talking expanding authority. We're talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security." See McCullagh, op. cit.

Really, Valerie, a court order? And not merely a national security letter? We're supposed to believe that the existing authority is all you crave? What a lot of nonsense. Let's get this straight. In defending his decision to authorise the execution of an American citizen without due process of law, without trial, in direct and flagrant contravention of the fifth and fourteenth amendment guarantees of numerous protections for the accused, Obama has revealed that he has an enemies list of Americans targeted for execution.

You are a liar, Valerie Caproni, and something of an ass licking slut for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, aren't you? You know as well as we do that there is not even the pretext of due process any longer.

This law, to the extent that anyone were actually serious about it, represents a naive conception of information technology and what it means that public key cryptography has been based on published encryption protocols for decades. It is just asinine fools such as Nazi Joe Liebermann (who thinks an Internet kill switch means something) once again dipping their peckers in the caramel sauce and shouting at the kids "candy apples babies!"

What this proposal really represents is the state acknowledging that they are well and truly screwed, that they cannot get at the information that makes economic transactions truly private, that hundreds of millions of people all over the world have access to, and millions are actually using, military grade encryption technology. It represents no new enforcement authority, but a despicable desire to slaughter men, women, and children during door to door searches to seize computers and use their contents to "prove" that reprobates were violating the new law.

If you are a computer geek of any sort, the state wants to turn your skin into a lampshade. Which is reason enough not to get a tattoo.

You might as well choose your side. If you know how to encrypt information at any level, you can choose to participate in creating a new society where information is truly private, where individuals are able to communicate and exchange value in utter privacy. Or you can choose to sell out to the madmen who demand that they continue to rule the world.

Now, it may seem like an easy choice, but I assure you that I don't think so. I think many individuals have homes, families, things to protect, and a lot of soul searching in examining which side to take.

But in part of your consideration, I suggest you think on this point: if the ruling elite are supposed to have the power to control everything in the economy, to take every choice for every person, in short to run the world—shouldn't you complain about poor workmanship? If you seek monuments to the depredations of injustice and tyranny, look around you.

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Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, and anti-war activist. His 1990 venture to offer a sweepstakes trip into space was destroyed by government action as was his free port and prospective space port in Somalia in 2001. His 2002-2007 venture in free market money and private stock exchange was destroyed by government action in 2007. He's going to Mars if he has to walk. His second book, Being Sovereign is now availble from Lulu and Amazon. His third book Sovereign Self-Defense will be released for Kindle soon. His fourth book Being Libertarian will be available for free download as a .pdf, being a compilation of all his essays and letters in "The Libertarian Enterprise" since 1995. Contact him at or He and his associates at Individual Sovereign University are planning a series of concerts and celebrations of freedom around the world. One of these events is 4-6 March 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.


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