After the recent terrorist attack in London it was reported that the criminal has communicated with someone shortly before using the encrypting program WhatsApp on his mobile phone. The encryption made it impossible for the investigators to inspect the communication. Soon afterwards the British Home Secretary with the unoriginal notion that encryption on the internet should be made illegal.
Yes we all would like the police investigator to know all about what the criminal is doing. However can that be achieved without substantially destroying the worl we live in?
Is it a new idea?
It is not: In the 1990‘s Phil Zimmerman in the U.S. – on his own, without any professional backing – created the magnificent encryption software PGP enabling any PC to encrypt any content in a very strong way – and made the software available to the whole world. A discussion sprang up what is more important: the increase in freedom and privacy of decent people (some of them under oppressive regimes) or the risk of abuse by organised crime. The U.S. government tried to prosecute Phil under some guise for several years but failed. It effectively admitted that encryption and secrecy is a legitimate function and the governments can do nothing about it.
In the meantime several similar cases have transpired where investigators and spies of different sorts longed for the encryption functions used by their suspects to be somehow penetratable but with no success.
How secure is contemporary encryption?
Today‘s encryption technologies available on most computers or phones are way more powerful that those that decided the outcomes of World War II. Any student of “Information Theory” learns that any cipher can be broken – it is only a question how much it will cost in terms of effort and expense. For good ciphers the cost should be astronomical.
It is not possible to make a cipher permeable for law enforcement and impermeable for others. Any back door prepared for the police investigator would drastically cripple the strength of the cipher as a whole.
An effective encryption is widely available and there are many creative ways of making one’s messages secret on the internet. There are even ways of hiding encrypted content somewhere where no one will be looking for it – like inside an image. And there is a multitude of such possibilities. If some ways are outlawed creative people will find new ones.
The architecture of the Internet is helpful in these efforts by providing users with multiple various methods of free communications and giving governments few ways of controlling that communication.
How widespread and important is encryption nowadays?
A politician has made an infamous remark on TV: “Have you ever used encryption? I have not” He was certainly unaware that he was using encryption every time he turned on his mobile phone or browsed an article on Wikipedia.
(Hint: If the address field in your web browser begins with https:// where the “s” is of importance then your browsing is encrypted)
Some time ago the Putin’s regime was trying to censor the Russian Wikipedia by blocking access to some articles it considered wrong. However because Wikipedia encrypts the web communication with its readers the “censor” could not determine which article is being transmitted and whether it should be blocked. And blocking the whole Wikipedia is something that not even Putin had the courage to do.
And the banks are very specific: They depend totally on encryption and in the best interest of their clients they tend to be very strict and picky about technology.
Can encryption be outlawed to prevent abuse by criminals and terrorists?
Should the lawmakers of some state try to forbid the usage of
encryption technologies on the internet they would be starting on a path
of much destruction: First of all they would have to deal with the
workings of banks which are vitally dependent on cryptography and very
unwilling to compromise. Next they would find themselves in opposition
against the whole digital industry which would have to change the whole
staus quo to comply with such a legislation.
So the answer is: The governments could try to regulate the encryption but will never reach their goals. Just as they could not legislate water to flow uphill.
Written as a Sunday Thought for IKDP.cz http://new.ikdp.cz/?p=6862
Keywords: Digital photography, Metadata, Annotation, EXIF, JPG, Elderly Senior
My 90 year old father remembers a lot and made a lot of photographs most of which I have digitized from negatives. I thought it would be useful for him to capture his memories by annotating some of the digital photos. I was searching the world for an annotation tool that would be simple enough for him to use - he can type in a text editor but not create a new document. To my huge surprise I found nothing. So after 20 years of programming abstinence I started programming an adequate application in Visual Basic. After a few days I have it ready for him to use.
Now the question is whether anyone else would be interested in using the app and giving me reasons to continue its development. If yes, please let me know at email@example.com
Now that the world is all excited about climate change (proven) and influence on it (not proven) and attempts to reverse the trend (doubtful but harmless) I rediscovered a tiny book from 1977 ("Пленочные отражатели в космосе" Лукьянов = "Foil Mirrors in Space", Lukyanov) which contains a realistic technological concept how to do it. (Disregarding for the moment that any human impact on ecology may bring unpredictable and counterproductive consequences).
The author discusses a concept of foil mirrors in orbit around the Earth which could:
The project would be a giant one but realistic on a global level.
born around 1960and she lived in the city of Vladivostok.
The address (after some detective research and expansion) would be transcribed:
СССР город Владивосток
Ул. Проспект 100 лет Владивостоку 30б Квартира 45
Люда , if you read this, please write svobodat(at)gmail.com
Anaclet, if you see this please write me email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And, Dear Anaclet, this is the letter I had sent you in 1992 to the last known address in Dar-Es-Salaam:
it is a long time since we have last met or corresponded with each other.
When you were leaving Prague I think you were planning to spend another year or so in the USA. I wonder whether you have succeeded.
As for me in 1989 I have married a wonderful girl. Her name is Jana and she is very good at music. We expect our first baby in April.
Also in 1989 as you well know some things in our country have changed. The communists are not in power any more and the political school you have attended has been turned over to a sport/athletics institute. We do have more freedom now but not everything is perfect. The bad effects of communism on our country are very long-lasting and extremely difficult to delete.
And many of the past commanders and directors are still in their jobs - they make any progress very difficult. This is the price for a peaceful revolution. Had all the communists been put to jail all would be much simpler. But we do not want to cause damage to people so they are left free.
Dáša - the black haired girl who played the organ at st. Václav has married a fellow musician and also expect a baby next year.
You certainly remember Milada - the blonde girl who was preparing for her baptism while you were in Prague. After the years she
found a boyfriend in Italy and married him. It was a great and wonderful wedding. We have all rejoiced with Milada at the end
of her troubles concerning her original family & lack of place to live.
I wonder how your work of a journalist is going. This comes to my mind as I have recently installed a computer system in one Catholic newspaper. I hope that your newspaper is succesful.
Please give my best regards to your wife & children and have a Most Happy New Year 1992
Sušická 5/599, 160 00 Praha 6, Czechoslovakia
Bible sometimes yields interesting pieces of timeless wisdom.
My friend VE in his lecture has recently alerted me to a special category of filthy deeds which the Bible in several places describes as „sins crying out to heaven (for revenge)“
The list is:
I find it fascinating that 3 of these sins have to do with social (in)justice
First of all let me get one thing straight: I have loved John Paul 2 especially as the symbol of good against communism.
However the current news that pope F1 has given a go ahead to the process of canonization of JP2 (declaring him a saint) leaves me less than happy. In fact I am convinced that no Pope should ever be canonized for these reasons:
Any canonization is basically a communication toward the public - not toward God. (Luckily enough we have no say in how God relates to the deceased person.) Therefore an intention to canonize should be judged primarily by its impact on the public - and that impact in this case seems dubious at least.
I am sure there are many other ways of looking at the situation. This is just one of them.
(Czech version >>)
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