[Cryptography] My response to White House re strong encryption

Henry Baker hbaker1 at pipeline.com
Thu Dec 17 12:47:47 EST 2015

At 05:25 AM 12/17/2015, Arnold Reinhold wrote:
>[Here are my comments to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/share-your-thoughts-onstrong-encryption ]
>In September 1999, I wrote a briefing paper for the Cato Institute titled Strong Cryptography The Global Tide of Change.  It's available on-line at: 
>  http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/bp51.pdf 
>Back then the Clinton administration wanted encryption systems to include a feature allowing government access to encrypted data, just as the FBI wishes today. Sixteen years ago I wrote:
>"Cryptographic technology is so widespread that it is impossible to stop.  If any major governments, terrorist organizations, or drug cartels are not now using strong cryptography, it is not because of lack of availability or lack of reliable suppliers.  There are many firms overseas that are willing to provide cryptographic software, and, for better or for worse, some of the cryptographic products most widely available on the international market were originally made in the United States."
>Concerning the risks of encryption backdoors, I wrote:
>"... key recovery will create new targets for miscreants to attack.  Given the enormous value that the data in key repositories represents, it is only a matter of time before they will be compromised.  Even the best security arrangements are vulnerable to bribes, blackmail, and threats of bodily harm.  Over time, commitment to security will wither under cost pressures and boredom."

Arnold's 1999 paper is well worth reading again.  The first 2 paragraphs include:

"According to legend, King Canute’s ministers believed so strongly in royal divine authority that, to prove them wrong, the wise monarch marched down to the ocean and commanded the tide to stop coming in.  He got wet feet and the ministers earned a permanent place of honor in the legion of the ridiculous."

"The parallels between Canute’s experiment in applied theology and the U.S. government’s policy on encryption are becoming more evident each day.  As officials try one approach after another to prevent the spread of strong encryption, its availability only grows."

Apparently, nothing has changed in 16 years !

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