2006/05/22

Nothing Says "F*ck You NSA!" Like Encrypted VOIP

Though many of you may not be aware, the reason that we can employ strong encryption in email was that back in the early-90s a man named Phil Zimmerman developed a public/private-key encryption system called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). That system endured--despite many years of the government harassment, many attempts to quash it through key escrow and other ill-advised schemes. So that now it is an easy to deploy standard for securing the confidentiality of your email (...or any other information that you care about).

Well with the NSA moving to intercept anything and everything that you send over the Internet, moving to record every call you make, it was only a matter of time before someone would provide encryption for the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). And guess who is at the forefront once again? Phil Zimmerman.

Way to go Phil. Let's all just hope that the US doesn't follow the UK's lead and criminalize the private use of encryption.

15 Comments:

just hope that the US doesn't follow the UK's lead and criminalize the private use of encryption.
Come on froggy, they have criminalized 'recreational' drugs, public corruption, unwarranted spying, drink driving, tortureā€¦ I could go on, but you probably get the picture.
As that famous sports footwear slogan goes: Just Do It!
I'm surprised the UK has laws limiting freedoms that we don't. Oh well, soon enough. Hard to point fingers at the Brits or anyone else these days.
Don't need no cryption in the backwoods yall!
Neat ...
Station Agent, the UK has got laws that make our look like pansy-ass annoyances! The RIPA Part 3 (the encryption statute) is just one example. You should read the rest...facking draconian. And Cartledge...so I guess RIPA sort of evens the scales, huh?

Fred...don't bet on it.

Blogenfreude, you know I've met Phil Zimmerman, and I he's a great guy--as nice a nerd as you are likely to find.
What I think is that unless people are really intimidated by this sort of law they will just ignore it and take their chances.
There has to be some pretty compelling reason before the long arm of the law will leave off scratching its arse to worry about un-enforceable laws.
Damn..I don't use my home phone for anything other than fax's. Its cell phones for us..and this encryption obviously doesn't work on that right?
Dusty...nope it doesn't. This is just for VoIP such as Skype or Vonage. Your cell is encrypted already (well, if it's digital...does anyone have analog anymore?), but nobody should trust their provider not to decrypt and store everything that goes through the ether.

Cartledge, I agree with you on the issue of enforcability, but I think that history demonstrates that if you give the police a power like this, they'll abuse it. Imagine a motivated Inspector from Scotland Yard going through Tory laptops looking for encrypted data on the pretext of throwing the owners in the slammer for failing to register their encryption keys. Labor dirty tricks? You betcha.
You know, a friend sent me an email the other day with an interesting point - actually, it was a post on my blog as well. How many right-thinking Americans really believe that the terrorists are stupid enough to use the telephone to communicate? There are many undetectable ways to communicate without raising the suspicion or ire of the NSA. Moreover, if you only speak to one another once a year, how is that going to raise any red flag for the NSA?

So, what's the real reason for the evesdropping? Is it becuase they can?
Yes, I remember that. The Clinton administration actually tried to get encryption companies to give the government access to private encryption keys, right?

Pretty shocking for those days. I guess you don't have to be a Republican to be a Big Brother wannabe. ;-)
It's always something...
Abi, it was called "key escrow" and it was for use with the governments "approved" encryption system. When it was made clear to the Clinton Administration that this would cause businesses to simply move overseas and get strong encryption from other sources, it was dropped. The Brits have something a bit different. Their law is written to compel you to turn over your private encryption keys on demand. So, in other words, you're protected until the government decides you should not be.
Key escrow. Orwell would be proud.
If anyone is listening into my calls or reading my emails, they probably fall asleep within about five minutes.
Fascinating and scary. I never realized the UK had a law like this. Windspike brings up a good point though, why would terrorists relay information this way? They're probably all resorting to tactics the Mafia have used for years to pass messages back and forth.

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