Quote of the day–New York Times

The Clinton Administration has underestimated the extent to which high-tech and privacy groups oppose the Clipper and Tessara chips — encryption technologies that would allow federal agencies with court orders to eavesdrop on data and voice communications.  At the recent conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, an Administration spokesman asked: “Do you really want to live in a world where law enforcement can not do its job because of the need for privacy?”  Pressed to explain how crooks and terrorists smart enough to use encryption could be stupid enough to use the government’s own encryption standards, the spokesman insisted: “You shouldn’t overestimate the I.Q. of crooks.”

New York Times
March 26, 1994 p.19
[In the mid 90’s we were being assaulted on all sides, the gun issue, the surveillance issue, and our medical and financial records (remember “Know your customer“?).  We have made good progress but have work yet to do.]


2 thoughts on “Quote of the day–New York Times

  1. “Know your customer” was passed as part of the Patriot Act. The “medical privacy” bill that passed during Bush’s first term would be more properly termed the “list of exceptions to medical privacy” bill, because it offers almost no privacy protection from government, employers, academia, or those in the health care industry. The “real ID” bill that just passed is probably a worse privacy threat than the clipper chip ever was, since it allows for hidden monitoring of travel.

    We have fought to a standstill on the gun issue, but we have lost ground on privacy… at least in part because neither part is serious about defending it.

  2. “Know your customer” has been implemented but it’s trivial to defeat. I do nearly all my day-to-day transaction in cash and have yet to be questioned about my activities. I maintain a residence in a different state that does not show up on any records with my name on it. The intent of “Know your customer” is indeed Orwellian but it doesn’t fail my “Jews in the attic” test (http://www.joehuffman.org/Freedom/JewsInTheAttic.htm). The Real ID bill is also Orwellian in it’s intent but it will fail in that attempt–big time. The database to handle even 1/10 that many transactions with that many people authorized to access and change records has never been achieved (look at the results of the gun registration efforts in Canada). It may be that it can never be achieved. It will be a huge waste of money that fails to accomplish even a small part of it’s goal. And that’s the “best case” from the perspective of “Big Brother”. More likely is that states will protest/resist and it will get bogged down during development and never actually be implemented.

    The government mandating of encryption methods with built in backdoors was a HUGE issue. The use of an unauthorized encryption method could have been an automatic prison sentence even if the message was just details of the weather last weekend while you went camping. Today we are free to use any encryption method we want. To the best of my knowledge (some of which is in the shadowy area between “Open” and “Classified”) even the best NSA algorithms and computers take hours to break an individual message with some commonly available encryption methods. By encrypting every message (which I do with correspondents of a like mind) just a dozen or so people can easily tie up all the computing power Big Brother has available just decrypting messages about the kids baseball game and how the dog puked on your couch last night.

    The medical privacy issue is valid if you want your place of employers medical insurance to pay for it. If you are willing to pay cash/money orders you can easily create a fake medical identity with privately purchased insurance or pay your bills directly. Again it doesn’t violate my Jews in the attic test. It’s intrusive and wrong, but it’s not exceedingly difficult or impossible to circumvent.

    The gun issue is more than “a standstill”. Look at where you can legally carry a concealed gun today compared to 10 years ago and what the next items on the table are. We now have Alaska with “Vermont style” concealed carry and other states have been discussing Vermont style carry. Cops and some former cops can now carry anywhere in the country. That is our “camels nose under the tent” for everyone to be able to carry everywhere. 10 years ago the next items were Brady II, handgun registration, and closing the “gunshow loophole”. We are making progress. Just being on the offense rather than the defense is a HUGE improvement.

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