1995-12-12 - Re: NIST GAK meeting writeup, part 3 of 3

Header Data

From: “Pat Farrell” <pfarrell@netcom.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 3e9661ebfa61678c1d24d303b078efc9bd0428579043ae8171cff97c1adc0ce9
Message ID: <62487.pfarrell@netcom.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1995-12-12 07:04:44 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 15:04:44 +0800

Raw message

From: "Pat Farrell" <pfarrell@netcom.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 15:04:44 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: NIST GAK meeting writeup, part 3 of 3
Message-ID: <62487.pfarrell@netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

I appologise to the list for the character mangling in the original posting.
I wrote it in Word so I could spellcheck it, and I couldn't turn OFF the
idiotic smartquotes.  I've placed a cleaned up, fewer typo, and hyperlinked
version out on my NIST page,

  jim bell <jimbell@pacifier.com>  writes:

>>  Geoff said that they may want legislation support for
>>  protecting against illegal release of keys, failure to release, etc.

> Pardon me, but since this "key escrow" system was always claimed to be
> "voluntary," then how can there be any kind of legal penalties associated
> with "failure to release" those keys?

It was Geoff G. talking, not Mike Nelson or Ed Appel. The difference
is critical. Mike and Ed have some political savvy. My best friend Geoff
does not. I believe that Geoff has never bought into "voluntary" as
a concept. EPIC successfully FOIA'd papers from the FBI saying that
they will change their tune when/if there isn't sufficient compliance.

Mike and Ed are political enough to know that they can't sell this if
they push too hard. Geoff isn't.

The podium had a light that showed green/yellow/red lights. These
let the speakers know how much time was left. For the morning, since only
NIST/NSA/FBI/... folks talked, they didn't bother to reset the light.
It was red all the time, altho it blinked occasionally.

Ed took the mike, and asked "what is the red light for? Does it glow
red whenever someone from the Government is lying?" It got a good chuckle.
It was probably also close to being true. Ed and Mike understand
the audience, Geoff never will.

> Which raises another question:  Let's suppose I owned a product based on
> CKE, and I went to the escrow agent and said, "This escrow is voluntary,
> right?  If so, erase my key in your possession."
> Not that I'd trust them to do so, but how "voluntary" can a system be if
> people can't volunteer out of it?

It isn't voluntary for export approved software. The word voluntary is
not in the criteria. It is only voluntary if domestic users foolishly
choose to buy GAK'd products. So don't!

Criteria #2 says "...cryptographic functions shall be inoperable until the
key(s) is escrowed in accordance with #3."

Worse, IMHO, is criteria #9, which states " ... cryptographic functions
shall interoperate only with key escrow cryptographic functions in products
that meet these criteria..."

The interoperability issues stayed muddy. The government didn't spend much
effort making it clearer. The karma seemed to be that if you had two
products, say Webscape 128 and Webscape 64/Gak, selling 128 domestically
and 64/GAK exported, that you can't make Webscape128 interoperate with
64/GAK unless the Webscape128 keys are GAKed.

Part of this is burried in agent criteria #6, "6. Escrow agent entities that
are certified by the U.S. government shall work with developers of key
escrow encryption products to develop and support a feature that allows the
product to verify to one another that the product's keys have been escrowed
with a U.S.-certified agent."

Looks to me like the software has to chase up the chain of certification
authorities (or escrow authorities if you prefer) before it can work.


Pat Farrell    Grad Student      http://www.isse.gmu.edu/students/pfarrell
Info. Systems & Software Engineering, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
PGP key available on homepage               #include <standard.disclaimer>