“The Jurassic Park Rule of Internet Security”


Image result for jurassic park clever girl

Clever girl.


Over at Just Security, our good friend Brett Max Kaufman breaks down why the idea that “government and judges, not technology, should decide when the government can get to your private information” is absurd even if you grant the best intentions to security services.

For example, despite reportedly rigorous testing before deployment, the Stuxnet worm used by the United States and Israel to attack an Iranian nuclear facility unexpectedly spread to non-target computers. And when the government sits on a zero-day exploit to be able to exploit it later, there is always the chance that an adversary is doing the same thing. These risks are, for the most part, inherently unknowable beforehand.

I don’t want to spoil what the Jurassic Park Rule is, but you should read the piece. It’s a perfect look of how, as he says, “when it comes to encryption, doors are doors”, and when you or James Comey or anyone else create one, anybody can come in.

ACLU Interview

I mentioned in the post below the Andrew Cohen Atlantic interview with Jameel Jaffar and Brett Max Kaufman of the ACLU, but want to make sure that you are reading it.  It is a very clear and cohesive message of what citizens should not tolerate, and well as a steady-handed evisceration of people who think there is much daylight on this issue between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.    This last part, I think, is hugely important, but do read the whole thing.  (Disclosure: Brett is a good friend of mine.  I’d be interested in this anyway, but even more so when it is delivered so handsomely!)

Anything else you think is important?

In his recent speech at National Defense University, President Obama made a compelling case for the democratic necessity of bringing the nation’s wartime approach to terrorist threats to an end. That necessity applies with equal force in the context of domestic surveillance. Just as President Obama belatedly acknowledged the long-term consequences of short-sighted policies governing the use of drones and other lethal force abroad, there are creeping but grave consequences to a democracy that surrenders its liberties one phone call at a time. Nobody chooses to live in a surveillance state, but a malfunctioning democracy can produce one. Restoring constitutional dignities to their historically privileged role in our system is the best way to defend it.

Don’t worry, Rand- the ACLU’s got this

Friend of the blog and my good buddy Brett Max Kaufman of the ACLU’s National Security Project has an excellent summation of what the ACLU is doing about the NSA, Prism, etc (they are also doing a lot of work on drones and extra-judicial killings).   The ACLU has a personal stake in this too, as Brett explains

The ACLU’s complaint filed today explains that the dragnet surveillance the government is carrying out under Section 215 infringes upon the ACLU’s First Amendment rights, including the twin liberties of free expression and free association. The nature of the ACLU’s work—in areas like access to reproductive services, racial discrimination, the rights of immigrants, national security, and more—means that many of the people who call the ACLU wish to keep their contact with the organization confidential. Yet if the government is collecting a vast trove of ACLU phone records—and it has reportedly been doing so for as long as seven years—many people may reasonably think twice before communicating with us.

One thing I really like is the right of free association.  Obviously- who doesn’t like that right?  But I think it is very clever of the ACLU to be using it.   We live in an age where so many meetings of any type are no longer done face-to-face.  Thinking that there could be a mole in every conversation dampens our ability to speak as political animals.  The argument that it doesn’t matter if you aren’t doing anything wrong doesn’t hold water.  For one thing, we don’t always know who decides what is right.  But on a more basic level, conversation shouldn’t be hampered by the fear of speaking correctly or the terror or being misinterpreted.

I also want to take a moment here to praise the ACLU.  For decades they’ve been a punching bag on the right, despite their firm commitment to Constitutional principles.  There are few bigger applause lines for a Republican politician than to sneer “ACLU” to a crowd.   So it must be somewhat gratifying for them to see that, suddenly, with Obama in charge, Republicans are concerned about the national security state.  The ACLU has been on this for a long time.  They filed lawsuits against George Bush, and were pilloried for it, held up (again) as traitors, commies, terrorist-lovers, un-American, etc.  Now the right has found some common cause, albeit in a cynical matter.  But I would ask them this: just remember you are late to the party.  You are welcome, but be decent enough to find a quiet corner and don’t pretend that you invited everyone, and for god’s sake, don’t insult your hosts.   They’ve been here the whole time.