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Re: your mail

On Sun, 11 May 1997, Phil Karn Sr. wrote:
> I admit the examples of wire recorders and Beta-Max are not good
> ones. But here's one for you.  Suppose Leonardo daVinci used a laptop
> with strong encryption instead of using his mirror writing in his
> notebooks, which the scholars among us can still decipher today.
> If he followed good spook practice he would not write down his
> password. Let's say he died without telling it to anyone. Everything
> he encrypted would be totally lost to us, forever.  You probably will
> object that it wouldn't make any difference if he left his encryptions
> on hard copy (paper) or on a hard disc. True, but the state of the art
> of encryption would not be possible with just pencil and paper,
> without a computer. So we have the wonderful advantage of privacy that
> encryption gives us, which I prize very highly. But we also have
> complete inaccessibility if we don't have the password.

A few things:
        (1) You're assuming he had access to strong encryption.  I'm
willing to 'pretend' for a while, but encryption (or more properly
crytography) has only recently been approached scientifically.  Anything
we say is very historically relative.  (which feeds nicely into....)
        (2) Saying it would be "totally lost to us forever" is a bit much.
Even using the strongest encryption available today, we can only make such
predicitons with a significant number of explicit assumptions about
computational power and lack of progress in number theory.
        (3) "the state of the art of encryption" may not be practical with
pencil and paper, but it certainly is "possible".
        (4) Isn't your attitude somewhat akin to that of the NSA?  You
want your cake and to eat it too.  If we believe that privary is an
inalienable right then in modern society access to strong cryptography is
an inalienable right.  Wanting to be able to protect your own privacy
while opening up everyone else's is rather tenuous.

> Phil Karn, Sr -- I'm the father of the father of ka9q, so don't blame
> any of my messages on him.

Very cool..


Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to buy Microsoft products.

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