Pri­vacy vs Se­cu­rity

Linux Format - - INTERVIEW -

LXF: Peo­ple dis­cussing these things tend to con­flate the mean­ings of ‘pri­vacy’ and ‘se­cu­rity’. Thoughts? EMcH: As I said ear­lier, you don’t have a right to pri­vacy in this coun­try. And that’s a good thing. Pri­vacy tends to go hand in hand with con­spir­acy, with rack­e­teer­ing, all kinds of bad stuff. The dis­tinc­tion I make when I give talks is that se­cu­rity is an ab­so­lute. If you’re go­ing to claim that you have a se­cure sys­tem you must keep the bad stuff just as se­cure as the good stuff. It must not re­veal any­thing about crimes just as it mustn’t re­veal any­thing about per­sonal in­dis­cre­tions. Pri­vacy can re­veal crimes, but not per­sonal in­dis­cre­tions.

Pri­vacy isn’t a right, nor is se­cu­rity. They’re both things that we trade off var­i­ous things with the rest of the world to have. I like se­cu­rity: the stronger the se­cu­rity the bet­ter. And I like pri­vacy, be­cause I like to have a pri­vate life. But both of them have to have the caveat that at some point it is rea­son­able, in ex­treme cases, for a govern­ment to re­quire cer­tain ac­cess to things.

While I started off way over on the crypto-an­ar­chist side when I was much younger, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that it’s not a sus­tain­able place. Un­til re­searchers start try­ing to solve this prob­lem of hav­ing very light touch fine­grained re­leases of data in re­sponse to court or­ders, we’ll be build­ing the wrong dig­i­tal fu­ture. The one that we can’t live in as hu­mans. That’s my big philo­soph­i­cal point. It’s prob­a­bly very mis­guided and some­one will come up with an al­go­rithm in 10 years’ time that will spot all those crim­i­nals be­fore they ever try to do any­thing and then we can all have per­fect pri­vacy.

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