1996-05-18 - Re: Senator, your public key please?

Header Data

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
To: t byfield <hieronym@desk.nl>
Message Hash: ace4709d774e903c312de20eb38beed53f3beece47fbffbd287ab74b684b8967
Message ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960518041217.7337C-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
Reply To: <v03006600adc32fbc08ec@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1996-05-18 21:00:52 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 05:00:52 +0800

Raw message

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 05:00:52 +0800
To: t byfield <hieronym@desk.nl>
Subject: Re: Senator, your public key please?
In-Reply-To: <v03006600adc32fbc08ec@[]>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960518041217.7337C-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Sat, 18 May 1996, t byfield wrote:

> 6:01 PM  +0200 5/16/96, Black Unicorn:
> > Secondly, the Ethics Committee was very interested in the issue.  As of
> > now they have ruled that "exchanging" PGP signatures is an "exchange in
> > kind" and an ethics violation.  Ms. Howell expressed exasperation over
> > this lunacy, but put it much this way:  "No, you guys don't understand
> > what the issues are here, but I don't have 3 hours to explain it all to
> > you either."  Apparently the ethics committee is concerned that a
> > signature from Leahy's key will constitute some sort of endorsement and the
> > "you sign mine and I'll sign yours" looks like influence peddling.
> 	And, in fact, according the general outlines of the "reputation"
> schemes advanced hereabouts, they're right: that's why they call it
> "reputation _capital_," mais oui?

Well, this depends on what we assume a signature does.

> 	There's no reason that webs of trust of well-signed keys couldn't be
> very fluidly incorporated into patronage networks, for example, or that
> their incorporation would affect network dynamics in any notable way. One
> doesn't need to understand political theory or economy in any analytical
> sense to become part of a patronage network, and one doesn't need to
> understand cryptography to know  what a key is vaguely enough to be swayed
> by someone waving a "well-signed" key around--in fact, _not_ understanding
> cryptography will lead people to be wowed by such keys.

I'm not sure I agree with this "mysticism" of key signatures.  The Senator
can sign an autograph if he likes, why not a key?

> Most people don't
> understand cryptography, and most will continue not to understand it. So in
> the pristine realm of mathematics, the Ethics Committee may be wrong, but
> in the real world of sloppy thinking they're basically right. Basically.

"They are corrected because everyone else is an idiot."  Is that about the
thrust of your argument?  While technically it may have some merit, I
think its highly dangerous to legislate and regulate based on assumptions
about what people _may_ think.

> 	If my key was signed _only_ by the CEOs of the top 10 Fortune 500
> companies, a few dozen heads of state,  bigwig spooks from around the
> world, the pope and a dozen cardinals, it's not too hard to imagine how I
> could open a few doors with that key--and make a buck or two in the process.

This depends on the intrepretation of the meaning of signature.

> 	After all, Uni, what _does_ a signature signify? You were asking some
> very pointed questions about that quite recently.

Precisely, and in the absence of an answer to this question which is more
substantial I think assuming that Senators and CEO's intended to vouch for
your financial or character reputation is stretching it a bit.  But hey,
I'm not on the Ethics Committee.

> Ted

My preferred and soon to be permanent e-mail address:unicorn@schloss.li
"In fact, had Bancroft not existed,       potestas scientiae in usu est
Franklin might have had to invent him."    in nihilum nil posse reverti
00B9289C28DC0E55  E16D5378B81E1C96 - Finger for Current Key Information
Opp. Counsel: For all your expert testimony needs: jimbell@pacifier.com