[Cryptography] GNU's "anonymous-but-taxable electronic payments system" Heh.

Ray Dillinger bear at sonic.net
Sat Jun 11 16:32:41 EDT 2016

On 06/11/2016 09:48 AM, Jerry Leichter wrote:

> It's curious, BTW, that those who reject solutions with many good 
> properties "because they can be used to enforce DRM" are perfectly 
> happy to accept solutions that allow for, say, truly anonymous 
> extortion. I'm not recommending one set of solutions over the other
> - looking back, I'd have include myself among those who had both of 
> these reactions.  An honest appraisal of the pluses and minuses is 
> the only way forward.

I guess I resemble that remark.  So I'll respond.

As I said at USC last year, "yes you can completely secure a computer
for DRM purposes.  But then it's not a computer anymore."

I don't care about DRM as such; I'm pretty much uninterested in
mass-market entertainment.  There's approximately nothing out there that
I'd even bother to steal.  I would cheerfully abandon everything I might
ever gain by breaking copyright, and would STILL remain a hardcore
opponent of anything that could be used to enforce DRM, because
copyright has nothing to do with why DRM is unacceptable.

What I care about is non-encrypted data which, nevertheless, can't be
used in a general purpose way.  At the bottom level, there is nothing
different about playing media and doing any other set of operations on
digital data.  Provide me the logic and math functions I need to write a
decent spreadsheet, and I can use them to modulate digital information
for output over a speaker.  Provide me the disk drive I need to read and
write backups on my computer, and I can use it to read and write media
files as well.  Binary data is binary data and operations on data are
operations on data.

In order to implement DRM, then, somebody has to interfere with my
ability to do math and logic I'd need to implement spreadsheets, or my
ability to use the disk drive I'd need to read backups.  Suddenly I
can't be trusted to write code that uses these facilities anymore, or I
might write a media player.

I don't really give much of a crap about media players, but if someone's
FEAR of them interferes with me using my machine as a general purpose
computer, that is an unacceptable outcome.

If you want your media to be opaque to general-purpose computers, then
distribute it in encrypted form and put the decryption key in
tamper-resistant hardware in your dedicated media players.  I'm fine
with that.  You can even put one of your dedicated media players in the
same box with my computer, and fix it so only one of the two gets power
at any moment, so the computer has absolutely no access to the media
player or to the data it decrypts.  That's fine too, as long as the
media player also has no access to the computer.  And when media
playing software runs on the computer, it will have no access to your
media because of encryption, and that's still fine.

But if you intend to interfere with my ability to use the CPU's math and
logic functionality, or read or write the screen pixels or the audio
stream or the disk drive _while_the_computer_is_running_, then we're
going to have a fight.


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