Even a chimp can write code

Sunday, September 26, 2004

VeriSign's conflict of interest creates new threat

From Financial Cryptography: "...a world of Internet wire-tapping is a reality. The real conflict of interest here is in a seller of certs also being a prime contractor for easy breachings of certs."

I came across this insightful article (via Ross's Random Bytes) that talks about VeriSign's uncomfortable position as provider of SSL, .com and .net domain registrar and its Internet wiretapping operations.

Update: One might argue that the title of this post tends towards being alarmist. The intent of this post is to make aware, not to alarm. I retained the title from the original post as common etiquette demands.

As a law abiding member of the community, one will concede that law enforcement agencies must have avenues to summon privately held information on an entity in special cases. But that begs the question: does this extend to law enforcement agencies in repressive regimes as well? Does the junta in Burma or the government in China have powers to influence VeriSign or an analogous entity or even popular search engines to provide information on purported dissidents?

It brings to mind this timeless statement on liberty by John Stuart Mill, written over 200 years ago:

The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another until they pass into common places but which all experience refutes. History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed forever, it may be thrown back for centuries [...] Men are not more zealous for truth than they often are for error and a sufficient application of legal or even of social penalty will generally succeed in stopping the propagation of either. The real advantage which truth has, consists in this: when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice or many times, but in the course of ages, there will generally be found persons to rediscover it until someone of its reappearances falls on a time when from favorable circumstances it escapes persecution until it is made such head as to withstand subsequent attempts to suppress it.

I have no answers. Only questions.

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