Tahoe-LAFS developers' statement on backdoors

Zooko O'Whielacronx zooko at zooko.com
Wed Oct 6 01:31:29 EDT 2010


Statement on Backdoors

October 5, 2010

The New York Times has recently reported that the current U.S.
administration is proposing a bill that would apparently, if passed,
require communication systems to facilitate government wiretapping and
access to encrypted data:

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27wiretap.html (login required;
username/password pairs available at

Commentary by the  Electronic Frontier Foundation
(https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/government-seeks ),  Peter
Suderman / Reason
(http://reason.com/blog/2010/09/27/obama-administration-frustrate ),
Julian Sanchez / Cato Institute
(http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/designing-an-insecure-internet/ ).

The core Tahoe developers promise never to change Tahoe-LAFS to
facilitate government access to data stored or transmitted by it. Even
if it were desirable to facilitate such access—which it is not—we
believe it would not be technically feasible to do so without severely
compromising Tahoe-LAFS' security against other attackers. There have
been many examples in which backdoors intended for use by government
have introduced vulnerabilities exploitable by other parties (a
notable example being the Greek cellphone eavesdropping scandal in
2004/5). RFCs  1984 and  2804 elaborate on the security case against
such backdoors.

Note that since Tahoe-LAFS is open-source software, forks by people
other than the current core developers are possible. In that event, we
would try to persuade any such forks to adopt a similar policy.

The following Tahoe-LAFS developers agree with this statement:

David-Sarah Hopwood
Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn
Brian Warner
Kevan Carstensen
Frédéric Marti
Jack Lloyd
François Deppierraz
Yu Xue
Marc Tooley

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