1993-03-23 - your note on sci.crypt

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From: Phil Karn <karn@unix.ka9q.ampr.org>
To: denning@cs.cosc.georgetown.edu
Message Hash: 86b738f928e90fdae3d22e233813980101f4500e6c730d2ede0415bad95cb05f
Message ID: <9303231045.AA01021@unix.ka9q.ampr.org>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1993-03-23 10:46:23 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 23 Mar 93 02:46:23 PST

Raw message

From: Phil Karn <karn@unix.ka9q.ampr.org>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 93 02:46:23 PST
To: denning@cs.cosc.georgetown.edu
Subject: your note on sci.crypt
Message-ID: <9303231045.AA01021@unix.ka9q.ampr.org>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Dr. Denning:

Although you are correct that many of the responses to your proposal
contained personal attacks (in which people called you naive, etc),
you seem to believe that this invalidates the fundamental underlying
point they were making.  This is not so.

This fundamental point can be summarized as follows:

The US government has repeatedly shown by its past conduct that it
simply cannot be trusted to obey its own laws regarding spying on
private citizens, particularly those who are organized in lawful,
peaceful opposition to government policies. And history has shown that
it can take many years for unlawful monitoring to become public, if
indeed they ever do (consider the current story I just sent you about
the Army spying on Dr. Martin Luther King). In other words, the
government has frequently ignored its own laws, because it knows it
can do so with impunity.

No credible case can be made that the problem has been "fixed" since
the now-publicized abuses of the 1960s and 1970s, i.e., that new
safeguards have somehow rendered the government incapable of violating
the privacy rights of its citizens. Privacy violations may or may not
still be occurring; we have no way to know. But I suspect it depends
far more on the people in power than on any post-Watergate
"safeguards" against the abuse of that power.

The private use of strong cryptography provides, for the very first
time, a truly effective safeguard against this sort of government
abuse. And that's why it must continue to be free and unregulated.

I should credit you for doing us all a very important service by
raising this issue. Nothing could have lit a bigger fire under those
of us who strongly believe in a citizens' right to use cryptography
than your proposals to ban or regulate it.  There are many of us out
here who share this belief *and* have the technical skills to turn
it into practice. And I promise you that we will fight for this belief
to the bitter end, if necessary.

Phil Karn