Monday, October 14, 2013

The Price of Liberty

I recently received the following from a colleague.

"In the past few weeks some spirited discussions have sprung up amongst crypto spirits.

The consensus seems we can't even agree on how to secure, or implement, our existing Internet crypto architecture, let alone design and deploy one against Sovereign surveillance."

I was prompted to write:

The broader the application of crypto, the less effective but the more threatening to the governing class.

Crypto cannot protect us from the surveillance state.  We need both law and transparency to do that.  However, the pervasive use of crypto increases the state's cost and decreases its efficiency.

The state can read any message that it wants to; it cannot read every message that it wants to.  Every message that it reads, every person that it watches, is at the expense of another that it does not.  However, as the price of technology continues to fall, they will automatically increase their scope.  They will do so without any motive or intent but only because that is what bureaucrats do.  They believe that whatever they can do, they must.

That the effectiveness of crypto is limited in resisting state surveillance, is no reason not to use it.

All that said, I am not very sanguine.  The American people are fearful and their leaders weak.  The idea of a zero-risk society, based upon cheap technology, is too tempting for either to resist.

"The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance." The battle goes on, never fully lost or won.  Never surrender.

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