1994-05-10 - Re: NYT op-ed May 8

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From: dwitkow@eis.calstate.edu (David T. Witkowski)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 1798de91b8d2e4b7b36c6ef5ec51790d3519fa1b5c383762d954ac945fb34c59
Message ID: <m0q0zgb-0000RxC@nermal>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-05-10 21:51:10 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 10 May 94 14:51:10 PDT

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From: dwitkow@eis.calstate.edu (David T. Witkowski)
Date: Tue, 10 May 94 14:51:10 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: NYT op-ed May 8
Message-ID: <m0q0zgb-0000RxC@nermal>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 11:16 AM 5/10/94 -0700, Paul E. Baclace wrote:
>I just tuned-in last night...Has anyone discussed the NYT op-ed by
>David Gelernter (associate prof. at Yale)?  It was accompanied by a
>comic "the first wiretap"

I'd be interested in seeing a scan of that comic, our local paper didn't
include it.

Gelernter's <Gelernter@cs.yale.edu> piece has merit, but he seems to be
missing the point entirely.  He acknowledges that smart criminals would NOT
use Clipper, but then asserts that it's still a good idea because
half-witted ones would.  Am I missing some vital logical point, or does
this just not make sense?

Take two criminals, Danny Dumbo and Sam Smart.  If Danny is too dumb to use
alternative encryption, where does it follow that he would use any sort of
encryption at all?  Thus whether his equipment is Clippered or not, the
gov't could easily tap his line.  Whereas Sam is smart enough to choose
some other form of encryption that the gov't can't monitor.  So what good
does Clipper do in either case?  And thus, why does it even exist?  If the
gov't needs Clipper to secure its own communications, why don't they just
sanctify PGP or something likewise?

Dismissing the likely explanation; that Clipper is just some Cold-war-style
pork barrel project, we're left with one question.  How can Clipper ever be
effective?  The only two possible answers are:
1) if usage of alternative methods is outlawed.  (Which we've been told
won't happen.  Veracity-alert!  Whoop!  Whoop!)
2) if the Clipper chip itself could somehow compromise alternative
encryption schemes, perhaps by monitoring keystrokes during password
entries?  I'm really reaching with this one, but I thought it would be
wrong to dismiss it entirely.  And no, I'm not a proponent of the "Grass
Knoll" and "Frozen Aliens stored in Nevada" conspiracy theories too.  :)


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