TUCoPS :: Privacy :: priv_123.txt

Privacy Digest 1.23 10/28/92

From privacy@cv.vortex.com Wed Oct 28 17:23:54 1992
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Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 13:14 PST
From: privacy@cv.vortex.com (PRIVACY Forum)
Subject: PRIVACY Forum Digest V01 #23
To: PRIVACY-Forum-List@cv.vortex.com
Status: RO

PRIVACY Forum Digest     Wednesday, 28 October 1992     Volume 01 : Issue 23

         Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (lauren@cv.vortex.com)
                Vortex Technology, Topanga, CA, U.S.A.
                     ===== PRIVACY FORUM =====

   	  The PRIVACY Forum digest is supported in part by the 
	      ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy.

	(Fwd) A Trial Balloon to Ban Encryption? (Bob Leone)
	A response to Dorothy Denning on RISKS (Phil Karn)

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   Quote for the day:

      Flint:	"If you don't mind, sir, I'd prefer to use my
		 own personal code."

      Cramden:  "I'd prefer you use the government one."

      Flint:	"I already know mine, sir.  It's a mathematical
		 progression, 38-24-36, it's based on..."

      Cramden:  "I can imagine what it's based on."

				-- James Coburn and Lee J. Cobb
				   "Our Man Flint" (1966)


Date:    Wed, 28 Oct 1992 14:20:51 -0500
From:    Bob Leone <leone@gandalf.ssw.com>
Subject: (fwd) A Trial Balloon to Ban Encryption?

The following recently appeared on the Agorics Forum, and I think it
relevant to this group:

    Date: Mon, 26 Oct 92 17:02:28 PST
    From: mark@xanadu.com (Mark S. Miller)
    To: agorics@xanadu.com, community@xanadu.com
    Subject: [uunet!netcom.com!tcmay: (fwd) A Trial Balloon to Ban Encryption?]
    Content-Type: text
    Content-Length: 4773

    Return-Path: <uunet!netcom.com!tcmay>
    From: uunet!netcom.com!tcmay (Timothy C. May)
    Subject: (fwd) A Trial Balloon to Ban Encryption?
    To: cypherpunks@toad.com
    Date: Mon, 26 Oct 92 10:19:54 PST
    Cc: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
    X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.3 PL11]

Fellow Cypherpunks,

I have rewritten my posting on Denning's proposal and posted it to
sci.crypt, for wider discussion. I'm surprised the sci.crypt folks had
not already the significance. You might want to consider debating the
issue there, rather than on this list, as your words will then be
heard by more folks and could mobilize an effort against proposal like
this one of Denning's.

Cryptically your,


Newsgroups: sci.crypt
Path: netcom.com!tcmay
From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: A Trial Balloon to Ban Encryption?
Message-ID: <1992Oct26.180813.7002@netcom.com>
Organization: Netcom - Online Communication Services  (408 241-9760 guest) 
X-Newsreader: Tin 1.1 PL5
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1992 18:08:13 GMT

Is there a trial balloon being floated to effectively ban encryption?

Noted and influential influential crypto advisor Dorothy Denning has
apparently floated the idea of _public key registration_ in a paper or
talk at the 15th Computer Security Conference in Baltimore, held
recently. Discussion of this is in comp.risks ("RISKS"), so far, but
certainly belongs in this group.

I posted a summary of this position to a private mailing list devoted
to crypto issues and got a huge response of concerned folks. I don't
understand why this is not a hot topic on sci.crypt, so I'll post
something right now.

Here's my understanding of her proposal:

* Anyone using public key cryptography would be required to register
the private key with the appropriate authorities, for example, the
Justice Department.

* To head off the obvious concerns about the government routinely
reading e-mail, financial dealings, etc., this registered key would be
stored at an independent agency after first being encrypted with the
_public key_ of Justice. (That is, the independent key storage agency
would have an unusable key, so _they_ couldn't use it themselves.)

* To obtain a usable form of the private key, Justice would have to
get a valid court order, go to the independent storage agency, present
the order, pick up the key, open it with their own _private key_, and
proceed to open mail, read communications, etc.

This is ostensibly the procedure now used for wiretaps.

But the effect on encryption would be chilling:

-would greatly complicate the rapid changing of keys

-would probably be a way to get "unlicensed" crypto programs off the
market (e.g., don't think about using PGP 2.0, as the key registration
authorities would either insist on another algorithm, or would send
the "registration application" to, for example, RSA Data Security for
legal action)

-would undoubtedly require a "fee" (like a driver's license)

-would interfere with the use of digital pseudonyms, anonymous nets (a
la Chaum's "DC Net" proposal, which some of us are exploring now), and
digital money

-would establish the precedent that private communications are not
legal, that copies of all private communications must be placed in
escrow with the government

Registering keys is no different than, for example, requiring a permit
for every public utterance or for registering typewriters, modems,
computers, fax machines, and copiers. Or banning the use of sealed
envelopes for mail. In Phil Zimmerman's great words, it would be like
requiring all mail to be sent on postcards.

My suspicion, which Prof. Denning will presumably comment on if she's
reading this, is that the government folks have come to understand the
profound implications of modern crypto and are looking for approaches
to head off the coming sea changes. Granted, there are serious
national security threats in using modern crypto methods, but there
are in any of the new technologies, such as those listed above.
Besides, does anyone think all keys will be registered? Hiding bits is
a relatively easy thing to do.

This key registration proposal is more odious than the "backdoors in
telecom equipment" proposal discussed here recently.

Can we remain silent as our liberties are taken away?

I think it was John Gilmore who said: "If encryption is outlawed, only
outlaws will have encryption."

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP 2.0 and MailSafe keys by arrangement.


Date:    Mon, 26 Oct 92 20:32:18 -0800
From:    karn@qualcomm.com (Phil Karn)
Subject: A response to Dorothy Denning on RISKS

David Willcox spoke of the obvious risks of registering encryption
keys with some agency. Dorothy Denning responded in RISKS 13.86 that
the "risk can be reduced to about zero" and described a mechanism. Yet
neither elaborated on just what specific risks are to be protected

Denning chooses to ignore one obvious class of risks: defective
warrants, incompetence and/or outright corruption in the government
and the key registration agency. The government has abused its wiretap
facilities in the past (e.g., Operation Shamrock) and will do so again
until the widespread use of strong cryptography stops it.

Anyone who thinks that the warrant is a meaningful safeguard ought to
consider what happened recently in Poway, California (just northeast
of San Diego). Customs and DEA agents broke into an innocent man's
house at midnight and exchanged gunfire with the owner, who quite
reasonably thought his home was being invaded (the agents did not
identify themselves). Last I heard, the owner was in critical
condition in the hospital. After the shooting, neighbors overheard the
leader telling his troops "Now get this straight. He shot first!"

The sole basis of the warrant? A "tip" from an informer, already known
by Customs to be unreliable. He admitted the next day that he had
merely picked a house at random when the agents pressed him to

The judge who approved this particular warrant obviously didn't
scrutinize it very closely despite the clear potential for serious
injury to an innocent person. It's not hard to imagine a judge being
even less critical of an application for a wiretap warrant. "After
all", he'll reason, "what harm can to you really do to an innocent
person by just listening to his phone calls?  It's not like the agents
are asking for permission to break his door down."

That's the whole problem with government wiretaps. They're easy and
(from law enforcement's perspective) almost risk-free. Break down the
wrong guy's door, and there's no way to keep it out of the papers.
But tap the wrong guy's phone and he may never know. Warrants?  Don't
bother -- they leave paper trails, and are unnecessary unless you want
to produce the recordings in court. There are many other uses for
wiretaps that need not reveal one's "sources and methods".

This is especially tempting with radio. ECPA or no ECPA, the fact is
that it's incredibly easy to intercept analog cell phones and very
hard to get caught doing it.  Indeed, the government successfully
opposed meaningful encryption in digital cellular, even though it
would only protect the air link -- the land side of the call could
still be tapped with the phone company's assistance.  I wonder why.

Okay, so maybe I'm paranoid. But I don't think so. A healthy distrust
of government, particularly of those functions that are not always
open to public scrutiny, is essential to a free society. Or so the
authors of the Constitution seemed to think, even if the average
person wouldn't mind repealing the Bill of Rights to help fight the
drug war.

But let's assume that we've found some saints to populate the entire
Executive branch, so we can safely pass a law requiring crypto key
registration. Exactly how would it be enforced? Routinely scan all
private telephone conversations looking for bit streams that cannot be
easily decoded? What about certain rare natural languages - ban them
too? (Recall that the US military used Navajo radio operators in the
Pacific during WWII as "human crypto machines" against the Japanese).
So much for the First Amendment.

Suppose you find an undecodable conversation that you actually have
good reason to believe conceals criminal activity. How would you
compel the users to reveal the key, if indeed they used a protocol
that could be compromised in this way? According to several lawyers
I've asked, including a law professor at the University of Wisconsin
who specializes in the Fifth Amendment, a memorized crypto key would
clearly be considered "testimonial" evidence that could not be
compelled without a grant of immunity. So what do we do -- repeal the
Fifth Amendment too?

It is absolutely obvious to me that any attempt to control the private
use of cryptography could not help but impinge on some very basic
Constitutional guarantees. And yet it probably still wouldn't have the
desired effect. It's already a cliche, but it's still true: when
cryptography is outlawed, only outlaws will use cryptography. (And no,
I *don't* believe the same is true for guns.)



End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 01.23

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