Re: encryption, search, and due process [cr-95/10/21]


Sender: Arun Mehta <•••@••.•••>

CR> Sender: •••@••.••• (Kurt Guntheroth)
CR>     Why do we have a right to privacy in cyberspace that is
CR> greater than
CR>     our right to privacy in the physical world?

An argument is that electronic transactions that can be tracked to
me can be put together by government or large corporations to severely
violate my privacy. To balance that threat, I need encryption. In other
words, cyberspace does need greater attention to right to privacy than
does physical space.

Let us approach this problem from another angle. As citizens, if enough
of us want it, we have a right to whatever we damn well please. For
instance, alcohol is a dangerous drug, far more harmful than many
substances that are banned today. By those standards, the government was
justified in banning its consumption. Yet, the people weren't willing to
give it up, in fact turned to crime in defence. That is the key. If
enforcement of the law is more harmful than the crime, (the medicine
worse than the disease) a rethink is necessary.

I would submit that a large number of people and companies want effective
encryption, even if they do not use it themselves. The government is not
going to find it easy to prevent determined people from using it, and
will need to violate the rights of a large number of people to do so. In
that situation, the FBI and co. need to be told to find some other way to
catch criminals: criminalizing large numbers of ordinary citizens is not
the way.

Arun Mehta, B-69 Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-24, India. Phone 6841172,6849103
"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be
stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house
as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."--Gandhi


Sender: LECLERC YVES <•••@••.•••>

On Sat, 21 Oct 1995, •••@••.••• (Kurt Guntheroth) wrote:
> In the United States, on issue of a warrant stating the place to be searched
> and the evidence to be seized, and after showing "probable cause" that
> criminal activity is occurring, the police can search any premises, batter
> down any door, force any lock.  They can read your mail and listen to your
> phone conversations.  The Constitution does not provide unlimited protection
> from search and seizure, nor does it guarantee unlimited privacy.  I venture
> that laws are similar in most democracies.
                . . .
>     Why do we have a right to privacy in cyberspace that is greater than
>     our right to privacy in the physical world?

Your point about the limits of constitutional protections for privacy is
well made, and is probably valid in most countries.

But it is just about meaningless at the international level, since no
Constitution operates there -- the only comparable rule is the UN
Civil Liberties Covenant, which most countries have signed, but it is
much weaker than a Constitution or a national Bill of Rights... and I'm
not even sure the US is part of it (many people assume it is, but when I
asked for date and proof, I got no answers at all, and on the UN Gopher
site, the US was not listed among the signatories last time I looked).

As for your question whether we should have stronger rights in cyberspace
than in the physical world, it was just what I meant when I asked
whether this (total protection of privacy) was really what we want.

Yves Leclerc          Dead-End Democracy? or open-ended government...
<•••@••.•••>    Montreal, Quebec


Sender: •••@••.•••


You wrote:
>Strong cryptography is a thing not anticipated by the Constitution; a lock
>that cannot be picked, a door that cannot be forced.

That's one way to frame the analogy.  Another would be to say that if the
government suspects you're sending felonious encrypted messages, then it
can get a warrant to search your premises, seize you're computer, etc.  In
light of remailers, et al, could you see a workable interpretation in that

Even more to the point, I'm allowed to send a strongly coded message in a
first class envelope.  So your argument about an unprecedented "unbreakable
door" doesn't hold, fortunately.



Subject: Re: encryption, search, and due process [cr-95/10/21]

Sender: Heiko Recktenwald <•••@••.•••>

On Sat, 21 Oct 1995 02:32:11 -0700 you said:
>Sender: •••@••.••• (Kurt Guntheroth)
>Much as I loathe escrowed keys (a technically unworkable system as well
>as an invitation to tyranny and domestic espionage) we must answer the
>    Why do we have a right to privacy in cyberspace that is greater than
>    our right to privacy in the physical world?
>As yet, I have no reasonable answer to this question.  The best answer would
>be a demonstration that the constitutional protection was not strong enough
>in the physical world or in cyberspace.  Fear of tyranny does not seem enough;
>it is a real but remote possibility.
But this and other "remote" possibilities are easier to do than in the
"physical" world. There will be a big change in power already to those
who design cyberspace and have the power to do so. Design in C-Space is
more total than designing a new autobahn and cars. Hope this makes sense
in English..


 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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