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A Complete Guide To The New 'Crypto Wars' ( 68

blottsie writes: The latest debate over encryption did not begin with a court order demanding Apple help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone. The new "Crypto Wars," chronicled in a comprehensive timeline by Eric Geller of the Daily Dot, dates back to at least 2003, with the introduction of "Patriot Act II." The battle over privacy and personal security versus crime-fighting and national security has, however, become a mainstream debate in recent months. The timeline covers a wide-range of incidents where the U.S. and other allied governments have tried to restrict citizens' access to strong encryption. The timeline ends with the director of national intelligence blaming NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the spread of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption.
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A Complete Guide To The New 'Crypto Wars'

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  • by justcauseisjustthat ( 1150803 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @06:08AM (#51995205)
    It's fantastic that tech companies are fighting/discussing this in public, for too many years it been totally behind closed doors in secret meeting.
    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @08:22AM (#51995709)

      I don't think it has, and the summary's 2003 date is rather fucking arbitrary. What about DVD Jon's case in 2002? What about the clipper chip fiasco in the mid 1990s?

      This is a battle that's been going on very publicly since the dawn of digital cryptography.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        The Clipper Chip was never developed, it was just discussed by Sen. Al Gore in Washington... and it caused law enforcement types to go crazy. Everybody wants encryption for commerce and themselves, but government wants to intercept everything so they can review and then create charges. SSL went SOL years ago... time for something new on all sides.

        • yes it was developed...
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The Clipper Chip was developed, and it was used by a number of places back in the 1990s for a brief time, as the US government was going to require anyone who does business with them use it.

          It even goes before that, to 1990-1991, with two politicians making a bill to ban _all_ cryptography. PGP 1.0 was released at a stopgap.

          Now, before the pogrom on encryption, one's security choices were lousy. Want FDE on the PC? Best you could get would be Stacker, with password protection set on the drive, which prov

      • They start with 2003, then they skip straight to 2007. And none of it is what they claim it is. If they'd started with the Clipper Chip they'd actually have right there the vast majority of events that include "[trying] to restrict citizens' access to strong encryption," because that was the only significant attempt.

        The horse shit is so deep, they even claim that the FBI being called to testify in front of Congress is somehow relevant. People who pay any sort of loose attention to public events in Washingto

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @06:11AM (#51995211)

    Oh, that's just grand. I would blame the governments, who through their spying actions wake up folks and make them aware that they now need encryption. Otherwise, some government jerk will be reading their email . . . with the intention of stalking.

    Oh, can the government maybe blame Global Warming and the Zika Virus on Snowden, as well . . . ?

  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @06:17AM (#51995235)

    People are expected to learn at an age of around 4, that if you bite the kid next to you, he'll either bite you back or cry and make someone else punish you for the biting. Apparently, becoming a decision maker in the justice department, the FBI or the CIA, doesn't require having acquired such wisdom.

    More seriously, though, the only realistic explanations to the imbecile behavior of American governance towards cryptography is probably a mix of a few lines of reasoning:
    - "So what if my decisions of today have dire consequences in tomorrow's landscape? I won't be in power tomorrow, so I don't give a flying fuck."
    - "I don't understand any technology beyond the automobile, and I really don't care. Just give me a way of invading privacy now and shut up."
    - "So what if today's abuses of power make everyone use cryptography tomorrow? It will just be one more reason to abuse our power even more tomorrow. Everyone outside the 0.01% is a potential terrorist criminal revolutionary."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Patriot act changed things for the worse, but I feel the timeline should look back further.

    In France for example, the use of encryption was illegal until 1999 (and even worse before 1990). Sending an encrypted mail or encrypting a document could be punished with heavy fines and even jail sentences.
    That law was changed after banks, among others, complained that it made it impossible to use the internet in a secure way.

    So you could say that the discussion goes back to at least the end of the 90's. And pro

    • by jmd ( 14060 )

      Phil Zimmerman and pgp in 1991

      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        I would say it goes back as far as the late 70s and things like the "New Directions in Cryptography" paper published by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman (a paper the NSA didn't want published)

    • PATRIOT Act (spell it in all caps, it was an acronym) was passed in the dark period when news was too busy reporting 9/11 damage, and therefore there was no notice to the public that it was going to pass. Congress was smart and sunset the law... so anybody who now says "I can under the PATRIOT Act" needs to be told they lost their citation.

  • skipjack (Score:4, Informative)

    by ole_timer ( 4293573 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @07:00AM (#51995361)
    The war over civilian use of crypto goes back to at least 1994 with quickly they forget
    • by Toad-san ( 64810 )

      It goes back earlier than that. I was invited to pay a visit to NSA at Fort Meade to explain my own home-rolled "CryptoMax" and "CryptoComm" encryption software products (I guess back around '87 or '88), a most interesting visit to say the least.

      NSA was pretty insistent back then on hardware solutions, had no tolerance for software solutions at all. I imagine the cryppies were all clutching their chests when Dr. Dobbs Journal published an interesting article on RSA and public key algorithms way back in Th

      • R.V. Rivest, A. Shamir and L. Adleman, A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystem, Commun. ACM, Vol.21, No.2, pp.120-126, 1978 yes, 1978
  • by AntronArgaiv ( 4043705 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @07:01AM (#51995365)

    Or something. Crypto, by Stephen Levy, chronicles the first crypto war. Worth reading, for background, because this time, it's not "national security", it's kiddie porn and terrorists that are going to win if we don't give the Security Services the keys to everything. And, we should TOTALLY trust them to keep us safe.
    Yeah, right. []

  • "In order to save the village, we had to destroy it."

    "In order to defend the Constitution, we had to shred it."
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @08:02AM (#51995621)

    Had they stuck with assisting ICE, CPB and the Coast Guard, it would have been a ho hum revelation that they were feeding law enforcement active intelligence because those agencies are interdiction agencies that operate at or beyond the borders. It was when it was discovered that the NSA was going well beyond its mission and helping law enforcement in many other ways that the public started caring. It was all totally preventable. All the director had to do is issue a directive that they will not turn over any data to law enforcement operating within territorial boundaries except on national security cases.

  • The current round goes back to at least the exposure of PGP.

    • by worf_mo ( 193770 )

      I remember the time when US Export Regulations prevented PGP to be exported legally. In order to lawfully bring PGP to other countries, the source code was printed in books which were then exported, scanned and OCRed. Interested parties could follow the progress on a website (# of pages scanned/OCRed/proofread). This went on until 1999, at which point export controls on cryptographic software were lifted.

      There's actually an informative page about this [] which sports the same yellowish background I seem to rem

      • the best was the algorithm on a t-shirt..
        • by J053 ( 673094 )

          I had one of those - it's sadly fallen apart long since. I used to like wearing it through airports - never could get anyone to arrest me, though.

        • by J053 ( 673094 )

          I had this shirt with the algorithm in Perl. I used to like wearing it in airports - never got any negative attention, though. Sadly, the shirt has gone the way of all things long ago.

        • Obviously, you missed the RSA Tattoos: Illegal Tattoos: RSA Tattoos []

          Several people obtained them when U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) banned export of cryptographic software with keys longer than 40 bits, making these tattoos "munitions". Apparently, no arrests were made.

          In 1996, the ITAR restriction was ruled unconstitutional, instantly making all these tattoos "retro".

      • Yep, remember the 40-bit vs. 128-bit encryption browsers.

        • by ender- ( 42944 )

          Yep, remember the 40-bit vs. 128-bit encryption browsers.

          Yes. It was terrible. And we are STILL encountering fallout from that idiocy.
          See SSL FREAK [] vulnerability from last year.

  • By people that don't know what they're talking about. The San Bernardino case has nothing to do with "restrict[ing] citizens' access to strong encryption". It's about establishing a precedent that law enforcement can tap into a software companies inherent backdoors. In this case, the Apple backdoor is their master signing key for software updates. It seems obvious from their resistance, and other evidence, that even their "secure enclave" is vulnerable to custom firmware images. If Apple wants to truly abso
  • Pedantry (Score:5, Informative)

    by StayFrosty ( 1521445 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @09:55AM (#51996349)

    I'm sick and tired of hearing about "The debate between privacy and security." It's total bullshit. It's pretty hard to have security online without privacy. It's not a balance of one versus the other, one depends on the other. The US Government argues my case all the time when bitching about how when Snowden breached the government's privacy, he adversely affected national security.

    This brings me to my next piece of pedantry: I'm tired of hearing about "National Security Issues." Terrorism, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/IS/Whatever, Al Qaeda, Home Grown Terrorists, Lone Wolves, the Boston Marathon Bombers, etc... do not threaten the territorial integrity of the United States. There is no invasion and there never will be. The government isn't in danger of collapse. Terrorism is a PUBLIC SAFETY concern. Stop pretending otherwise. If we do that though, who is going to keep the money flowing in to the military/industrial complex?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...who is going to keep the money flowing in to the military/industrial complex?"

      No one, and that's the pivotal issue. Terror, crime, and safety are the levers used by the security apparatus to gain ever more access to money, people, data, resources, professional status, and ego fulfillment. They take it for granted that they define what the interests of the state are.

      Time was their predecessors understood the law, the constitution, civics and the balance of responsibilities. The current crop of le

  • That would definitely make the man somewhat of a hero. He would be even more of a hero by his actions if they advance the purging of all incumbents from the House in November and replaced by independents.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...