informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Sep 01 2012, 2:10 PM Category: Commentary Source: Wendy McElroy Print

Thomas Jefferson Used Encryption

by Wendy McElroy

The encryption of computer data is one of the most powerful tools individuals have to protect themselves against an intrusive state.

Encryption is the process of converting data into encoded text produced by an algorithm. To convert the encoded text back to its original form requires either a ‘key’ or tremendous effort. A key is a sequence of numbers that senders typically offer to those they wish to decrypt the protected data. All others must use the ‘tremendous effort’ option.

The state wants to be a universal key holder. Otherwise, people could transmit everything from love letters to financial data in a secure and private manner that escapes surveillance. The state argues that encryption offers new and unique protection for terrorists, tax evaders, drug dealers, pedophiles and other miscreants. And, so, new and unique measures must be taken to pull back the dangerous veil of cyber privacy.

Nonsense. Encryption is almost as old as communication itself. The root word “cryptography” comes from two ancient Greek words: “crypto” or “hidden”; and, “graphia” or “writing.” Encryption’s main purpose is to shield information from those who would use it in an unwanted manner.

Knowledge has always been power and those who seek power have always commanded or censored access to knowledge, depending on which action gave them advantage.

In America, the tug of war between privacy and forced access to encrypted data is as old as the nation’s formation. As always, forced access was executed by authorities against individuals.

In 1785, a resolution authorized the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs to open and inspect any mail that related to the safety and interests of the United States. The ensuing inspections caused prominent men, like George Washington, to complain of mail tampering. According to various historians, it also led James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe to correspond in code. That is, they encrypted their letters to preserve the privacy of their political discussions.

The need for Founding Fathers to encrypt their correspondence is high irony. The intrusive post office against which they rebelled had been established specifically to provide a free flow of political opinion. In the 1770′s, Sam Adams urged the 13 colonies to create an independent postal system because the existing post office, established by the British, acted as a barrier to the spread of rebellious sentiment. Dorothy Ganfield Fowler in her book Unmailable: Congress and the Post Office observed, “He [Adams] claimed the colonial post office was made use of for the purpose of stopping the ‘Channels of publick Intelligence and so in Effect of aiding the measures of Tyranny.’”

Alas, the more government changes, the more oppression remains the same. Soon the Continental Congress itself wanted to declare some types of matter ‘unmailable’ because their content were deemed dangerous. Anti-Federalist letters and periodicals became one of the first types of information to become de facto unmailable. (Anti-federalists resisted centralized government and rejected a Constitution without a Bill of Rights.) During the ratification debates on the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists were unable to circulate their material through the Federalist-controlled post office.

Throughout history, encryption and the control of information has been particularly important during times of war. Prior to and during the Civil War, for example, both the North and South banned just about everything deemed to be ‘seditious.’ Private communication in America has never recovered. Recent history is rife with purely political postal measures such as the “Cunningham Amendment” (1962) which restricted the circulation of communist literature that originated in a foreign country.

The American government has always realized the political importance of controlling the flow of information. In the 1770s, communication occurred primarily through postal routes maintained by horseback riders. Today, we communicate through packets of data beamed across phone lines; the internet is the modern equivalent of the Pony Express. The difference in the transmission mode is irrelevant to the political principles involved. The key questions are, “who owns your personal information?” and “who has the right to access it?”

On May 6, 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals offered answers. The court ruled that federal restrictions on encryption violate the First Amendment: specifically, they constitute prior restraint and may limit the freedom of the press (Daniel J. Bernstein v. US Department of Justice).

In the decision, Judge Betty Fletcher stated, “The availability and use of secure encryption may…reclaim some portion of the privacy we have lost. Government efforts to control encryption thus may well implicate not only the First Amendment rights…but also the constitutional rights of each of us as potential recipients of encryption’s bounty.”

Since then, the government has sidestepped the ruling, sometimes quietly, sometimes under the aegis of other laws. For example, the Clinton Administration required a one-time technical review of encryption software as a precondition to its export.

Such maneuvers are not a new response to a new threat. They are the same tactics of which George Washington complained, the same ones that drove Thomas Jefferson to use code.
_
Wendy McElroy is Author, lecturer, and freelance writer, and a senior associate of the Laissez Faire Club.





Latest Commentary
- The War on Drugs Was Born 100 Years Ago
- What America Wannabe?
- Judicial Deference to the Torturers
- Ross Ulbricht Should Be Freed in a Fair Trial
- Government Save Us From "Overpriced" Chinese Food
- I Love Loosies and the People Who Sell Them
- Obama's Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras
- Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion (feat. Larken Rose)









Comments 1 - 2 of 2 Add Comment Page 1 of 1
Peter

Posted: Sep 02 2012, 9:49 AM

Link
81161 'The state wants to be a universal key holder'
No they don't.
Where are you getting this garbage from ??

'For example, the Clinton Administration required a one-time technical review of encryption software as a precondition to its export.'
So what ? Besides, don't you think the commie-fascist Chinese should pay for their own encryption ?
Anonymous

Posted: Sep 02 2012, 2:10 PM

Link
72223 Q33NY


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

A Peace Officer Defies the "Blue Tribe": The Exile of Officer Cariol Horne - 12/19Baby Clings to Life After Flash-Bang Grenade Lands in His Crib - 12/20Cop Stops Fellow Cop From Choking a Handcuffed Man, She Was Then Beaten and Fired - 12/18For Punitive Populists, "Comply or Die" IS The "Law" - 12/19Thieves Yell "Police" Before Invading Home, Shooting and Robbing Resident - 12/18Psychotic Vegas Cop Filmed Beating Man For Filming In Viral Video Queitly Hired By Another Dept. - 12/17Cops Called For Wellness Check Beat Innocent Man, Pile On False Charges; Jury Exonerates, Twice - 12/17Ignorance Is No Excuse for Wrongdoing, Unless You're a Cop - 12/17

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat
(more)

 
Top