Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tinfoil Hat Time!

by Tom Bozzo

After reading this, and weeping a bit, some Deep Thoughts:

1. If the nice people at Fort Meade already have a bunch of quantum computers in the basement, then presumably public key cryptography isn't an obstacle to U.S. government access to the content of private communications. [*]

2. If the nice people at Fort Meade already are directly tapped into (e.g.) the Googleborg and not just communication switches, then we already live in a surveillance state more intrusive in many ways than (e.g.) the UK's CCTV panopticon. [**]

If neither 1 nor 2 is true, at least yet, then the general — versus privacy geek — appeal of encrypting one's personal communications has increased a lot.

Update: How could I have forgotten about first-class mail?! The venerable postal product is sealed against inspection and impervious to electronic surveillance.

[*] Which is not to say that it's lawful for them to be scooping up even ciphertext of U.S. domestic communications in contravention of FISA.

[**] Clearly some of Google's "free" services come at the price of letting its computers process one's communications and other online activities for the purpose of directing advertising, which is not without privacy considerations. Of course if Google decided to enter businesses such as blackmail, there would be legal remedies. Indeed, after posting this originally, Google served up a bunch of ads pertaining to commercial surveillance products and/or services.

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