Cyphernomicon Top
Cyphernomicon 6.7

The Need For Strong Crypto:
Beyond Good and Evil, or, Why Crypto is Needed

    6.7.1. "Why is cryptography good? Why is anonymity good?"
           - These moral questions pop up on the List once in a while,
              often asked by someone preparing to write a paper for a
              class on ethics or whatnot. Most of us on the list probably
              think the answers are clearly "yes," but many in the public
              may not think so. The old dichotomy between "None of your
              damned business" and "What have you got to hide?"
           - "Is it good that people can write diaried unread by
              others?" "Is it good that people can talk to each other
              without law enforcement knowing what they're saying?" "Is
              it good that people can lock their doors and hide from
              outsiders?" These are all essentially equivalent to the
              questions above.
           - Anonymity may not be either good or not good, but the
              _outlawing_ of anonymity would require a police state to
              enforce, would impinge on basic ideas about private
              transactions, and would foreclose many options that some
              degree of anonymity makes possible.
           - "People should not be anonymous" is a normative statement
              that is impractical to enforce.
    6.7.2. Speaking of the isolation from physical threats and pressures
            that cyberspace provides, Eric Hughes writes: "One of the
            whole points of anonymity and pseudonymity is to create
            immunity from these threats, which are all based upon the
            human body and its physical surroundings.  What is the point
            of a system of anonymity which can be pierced when something
            "bad" happens?  These systems do not reject the regime of
            violence; rather, they merely mitigate it slightly further
            and make their morality a bit more explicit.....I desire
            systems which do not require violence for their existence and
            stability.  I desire anonymity as an ally to break the hold
            of morality over culture." [Eric Hughes, 1994-08-31]
    6.7.3. Crypto anarchy means prosperity for those who can grab it,
            those competent enough to have something of value to offer
            for sale; the clueless 95% will suffer, but that is only
            just. With crypto anarchy we can painlessly, without
            initiation of aggression, dispose of the nonproductive, the
            halt and the lame. (Charity is always possible, but I suspect
            even the liberal do-gooders will throw up their hands at the
            prospect of a nation of mostly unskilled and essentially
            illiterate and innumerate workers being unable to get
            meaninful, well-paying jobs.)
    6.7.4. Crypto gets more important as communication increases and as
            computing gets distributed
           + with bits and pieces of one's environment scattered around
             - have to worry about security
             - others have to also protect their own products, and yet
                still provide/sell access
           - private spaces needed in disparate
              locations...multinationals, teleconferencing, video

Next Page: 6.8 Crypo Needed for Operating Systems and Networks
Previous Page: 6.6 Political Uses of Crypto

By Tim May, see README

HTML by Jonathan Rochkind