key question

Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Fri Feb 26 19:05:56 CET 2010

On 2/26/10 12:38 PM, MFPA wrote:
> I am *not* advocating the implementation of any form of
> Digital Restrictions Malware (DRM).

You can say you're not advocating DRM -- but if it looks like a duck,
swims like a duck, flies like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a

"Digital": yes, the public key is in a digital form.
"Rights" : yes, you're advocating the owner possesses intrinsic rights.
"Management": yes, you're advocating the owner should be allowed to have
   total control over how the key gets distributed.  That's pretty
   extreme management.

But, hey.  If you don't like DRM on the honor system, I'm happy to call
it ORCON ("Originator Controlled").  ORCON material doesn't get copied,
shared, promulgated, forwarded on, without the originator's explicit
permission.  It is the most extreme form of DRM imaginable.  I thought I
was being generous by saying you were advocating DRM on the honor system
instead of ORCON -- ORCON is much more onerous.

My exposure to ORCON material came from my work with electronic voting
systems.  Government officials are sometimes willing to give electronic
voting geeks a peek behind the curtain, so long as there's an ORCON
agreement signed in blood with the Devil himself as an eyewitness.

You're advocating public keys be treated like the inner secrets of how
electronic voting machines work.  So am I.  It's just that you're
advocating they all be kept secret by default and publication being an
exception to the rule -- and I'm advocating they all be kept public by
default and secrecy being the exception to the rule.

> Uploading a somebody else's key without first checking it is OK by
> them is a breach of their privacy

You're claiming they have a reasonable expectation that, if they share
data that is clearly marked *public*, the recipient should understand
*public* means "clear it with me first"?

I don't think that's a reasonable expectation.  The key says "public"
right at the very top, and I think it's unreasonable to expect people to
infer that it means "no, don't share it."

This is why the burden is on the key provider: if you don't want the key
shared, you have to explicitly tell someone about it.  If you don't tell
someone about it, they are allowed to think the phrase "public" means
just that.

> and could well be illegal/unlawful
> in jurisdictions with data protection legislation (for example, if a
> company published a customer's key, showing their name and/or email
> address, to a server).

That's not the key sharer's problem.  That's the problem of the person
who provided the key.  If you know it would be unlawful for you to share
information, don't share it.

> I don't see the connection between DRM and a perfectly proper respect
> for individual privacy.

By implication, then, I lack a proper respect for individual privacy.
At this point this seems to be dropping straight into the ad-hominem range.

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