[Cryptography] "we need to protect [our dox] by at least encrypting them"

Arnold Reinhold agr at me.com
Sun Nov 6 07:21:54 EST 2016

> On Nov 5, 2016, at 1:20 PM, Henry Baker <hbaker1 at pipeline.com> wrote:
> At 01:28 PM 11/4/2016, Arnold Reinhold wrote:
>> There is a policy question that has not been adequately discussed in all the commotion about Hillary's email: to what extent does a high government official require and deserve a confidential way to communicate unclassified messages with others?  Yes, there is a need to maintain a historical record, but while in office, governmental leaders need privacy to carry out their duties.
> I'm going to disagree with your premises.
> I have yet to see any evidence that *secret negotiations* are _ever_ in the best interests of the ordinary citizen.  When Alice & Bob negotiate in secret, they usually give away Joe's gold watch rather than Alice's or Bob's (Joe, of course, not being in the room and hence unable to protect his interests).  Our problems in the Middle East today spring directly from exactly this sort of secret negotiation 100 years ago in the latter portion of WWI.
> Indeed, the British entered WWI on the basis of 3 people + 1 dog in a room.  (Unlike most of the other players, the Brits had a colorable rationale for not entering that war, and their non-entry -- or much later entry in concert with the U.S. -- might have dramatically improved the course of the 20th C.)
> Among other problems with diplomatic secrecy, the sh*t really hits the fan when diplomatic cables are "accidently" released (examples far too numerous to mention here).
> If the crypto community really wants to help improve the art of diplomacy, it could design games/negotiations that are completely auditable, so that all back-stabbing becomes transparent.

What you espouse is essentially the first of Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points” framework for peace after World War I (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Points):

     “I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

Wilson’s health failed before the Paris Peace Conference and point 1 was not observed in practice then nor since.  (Some of the other points address issues that are still in the headlines.)

I took a labor relations course years ago and our professor, an experienced labor mediator, explained that every negotiation between two large organizations devolves into at least three separate negotiations, the one between the two negotiating teams and the two between each team and its constituency, and that of three the first is often the easiest. The two negotiating teams sometimes find themselves cooperating in helping their opposite team outmaneuver more extreme elements opposing a settlement, while feigning hostility between the teams in public. Like it or not, difficult negotiations frequently demand such secret maneuvers. Note that the hot line between Washington and Moscow established during the height of the cold war used strong encryption (one time tapes initially) and I never heard anyone suggest it be open to the public.

The idea of using cryptography to facilitate negotiation is a very interesting research topic—I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on this--but it doesn’t alter the reality that effective diplomacy currently depends on confidentiality of discussions between the various parties, domestic as well as foreign. I think Secretary Clinton diid what she needed to do to maintain that confidentiality.

Arnold Reinhold

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