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Re: Why the WHite amendment is a good idea (fwd)



Oops ... this may appear twice due to a mail hiccup.

 To: [email protected]
 Subject: Re: Why the White amendment is a good idea (fwd)
 Cc: [email protected]
 
 > From: Aaron Weissman <[email protected]>
 >
 > The NETCenter is a great idea.  Very few of us would argue that our
 > society has an interest defining rules and in prosecuting their
 > transgression as crimes.  Once we have agreed on that point, the
 > issue changes to a (still very important) discussion on methods.
 
 I believe MOST people would agree with this statement.
 
 I must point out, however, that your next statement does not logically
 follow because the primary complaint of the NSA/FBI is that unless the
 work factor is artificially reduced (via some method) to some
 negligible point, their jobs in the future will become much harder
 (that is, if all they do is stick with the same ol' operational
 methods) per intercept.  In fact, they are claiming that "much harder"
 could mean "practically impossible".
 
 > creating a decryption lab (and funding it with tremendous amounts of
 > money), our society will fulfill the basic obligation to protect
 > against the transgression of our rules.
 
 I am ignoring the comments on protecting the US citizens against abuse
 of this lab.  I seriously doubt they could abuse significant numbers
 of individuals given free market development of encryption.  If there
 was only one standard (say, DES), then there would only be one target.
 If there were 100 standards and 1000 data formats each, you can pretty
 much kiss this lab good bye.  It is much more likely that this lab
 will engage in breaking incompetent criminal-use cryptography.  It is
 unlikely that this lab can engage in the sort of mass data sweeps that
 NSA has been priviledged enough to do in the past.
 
 This sudden drop in capabilities and sudden jump in cost per intercept
 will enforce the status quo which the FBI has had to deal with to
 today.  The cost per intercept has been estimated at $50K per domestic
 target.  This is expensive enough that it does not make sense to tap
 anyone except where the cost can really be justified.
 
 > I have no doubt that a considerable portion of the NETCenter's time
 > will be spent in matters of foreign intelligence.  (As I said, we
 > cannot afford two massive decryption laboratories -- the NSA will
 > have to give its decryption mandate to this new agency).
 
 I completely disagree here.  You might be right, but I give you 1
 million to 1 odds.  The NSA is absolutely NOT about to give up its
 role as the numero uno decryption lab without sacrificing many
 politicians (possibly with their lives, too, as its accountability to
 the public is near non-existent).
 
 The NSA is politically impossible to take on for very obvious reasons.
 
 > In other words, this is a great tool for prosecutors to use *after*
 > they have established probable cause in their most heinous cases,
 > and a strong guarantee that the eyes of the government will not
 > intrude into our persons, papers and effects.
 
 The astronomical cost per decryption and the lack of a guarantee that
 it might necessarily produce useful evidence will guarantee that this
 tool is not abused.  I agree with this kind of conclusion.
 
 That is, I believe that, if any side of this debate is to be
 guaranteed anything, it should be that abuse is guaranteed to be low,
 rather than LE access is guaranteed to be easy.
 
 > The passage of this amendment helps ensure that the terms of this
 > debate remain centered on our civil liberties -- not kiddie porn.
 
 I assure you that this debate will always be shifted toward the
 "suitcase nuke", kiddie porn, child molestor and drug dealers by the
 FBI and the NSA in secret briefings.  There is not a chance in hell
 they will give up the best PR tool they have to scare the legislators,
 judges and the president without anyone present to counter their
 arguments.
 
 Ern