Saturday, September 7, 2013

I am the other

[UPDATE: When I first posted this, I linked to a friend's Facebook page in an effort to credit him for pointing me at one of the articles I link to. I thought his post was public, but it isn't. I shouldn't have done this without asking permission, and I'm sorry for that. He didn't complain, but it still wasn't the right thing to do.] 

Recent articles have revealed long-running programs at the NSA and GCHQ intent on the various encryption algorithms used on the Internet. The NSA's response tells us that this shouldn't be surprising:
"It should hardly be surprising that our intelligence agencies seek ways to counteract our adversaries’ use of encryption.  Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities.  Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that."
[emphasis mine]

Oh good! I thought I should be worried. They're just doing their job.

Wait a minute. I use encryption all the time and I'm not a terrorist, cybercriminal, or human trafficker. So, I must be an other. You're probably an other too. Your mobile phone uses encryption on every call. Your web browser probably encrypts the conversation with your bank's website and gmail so all your neighbors can't just read everything by just listening in to your wireless network signal.

Apparently just trying to hide something like my bank account balance or an email conversation with my wife about a fight we had makes me an adversary.

I am the other.

Thanks to: A friend on Facebook for putting some of these articles in my reading list and Ken at Popehat for starting the "other" meme.