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The Bike Shed

Privacy and Rights

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Originally published in Queue vol. 14, no. 1
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(newest first)

Coby Tamayo | Tue, 09 Aug 2016 22:26:26 UTC

Mass-surveillance apologists have done a wonderful job of framing this conversation as being about encryption vs. law enforcement, or about privacy vs. safety. Yes, at a basic level, it's bad that terrorists can do things in secret. But the conflation of strong encryption with terrorism or criminality is a basic lie that pervades the entire premise of that distinction: any evidence that the NSA's mass surveillance programs or similar stopped attacks of any kind has yet to surface.

These trends of defensive government overreach are a reaction to the political engagement of people like the IETF insisting that privacy is a basic right. It's just that this particular style of engagement involves cryptography.

Christopher Smith | Tue, 09 Aug 2016 18:26:21 UTC

This article seems to work from a model that the only threats to one's privacy come from the legal system. It also seems to think that TLS is perceived as a tool that "solves" the problem. Both notions are wrong.

As the expression goes: "security is a process, not a product". The principle applies to privacy as well. To protect privacy the response needs to be far more comprehensive. Even ignoring the process/product issue, TLS everywhere is not perceived as a way to ensure privacy. It merely makes *mass* surveillance more difficult and costly for governmental and non-governmental organizations. For an adversary with means going after a specifically identified target, it proves largely worthless.

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