The Crypto Wars Will Have No Winners

Keeping this short because I am on family vacation but there have been two stories this past week that we should all take note off. First, there was the revelation that the NSA had installed spying software deeply in the firmware of hard drives. Then, details about the breach of SIM card maker Gemalto were published that show how GCHQ and NSA obtained encryption keys for cell phones.

Yet we keep insisting that somehow these crypto wars can be won. That somehow we can build a “trusted” computing platform and do so in a non-dystopian fashion. What will it take for people to abandon this fool’s errand? How long will we continue down this spy-vs-spy path that is pitting the people against the government with ever more resources expended?

We cannot have perfect individual privacy while also having institutional transparency. The two are at fundamentally at odds with each other. We need to embrace openness as individuals (starting with activists) and then push it onto and into the institutions. To make this succeed we need to work on protecting people more than protecting data.