STEED - Usable end-to-end encryption

Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Tue Oct 25 14:54:55 CEST 2011

On 10/25/11 5:26 AM, Peter Lebbing wrote:
> So if we can't motivate users by showing the bad stuff that can 
> happen if you have no privacy, then how to do it? I don't see any 
> other way.

Years ago W.D. Richter wrote a fictitious interview between the two
fictitious characters Reno Nevada and Buckaroo Banzai.  It sums up my
position quite well.


Q: You lament the decline of the great causes -- civil rights, the
antiwar movement, the war on poverty, the exploration of space -- and
the all-consuming preoccupation with the self in today's culture.  But
what gave birth to these great causes to begin with?

A: Twin utopias, unfortunately: the myth of revolution and the myth of

Q: These are myths?

A: To the extent that people believe in them as utopias, yes, which is
how they were oversold in many cases.  By embracing any utopia, we sow
the seeds of cynicism when things don't work out as advertised.

Q: Not that they've ever been tried...

A: Which is the fallacy -- that big change has to happen on an
institutional or national level.  When it doesn't, you have the
epidemic of cynicism we have today, with bean counters running the
whole shooting match under the rubric of being realists.

Q: So what do we failed idealists do?

A: First, stop being failures.  It's absurd to judge ourselves against
a scale larger than our own efforts.


I reject your premise, which seems to be that we *should* motivate
users, or that it is *possible* for us to do it.  I don't think either
one is true.  I don't think that I -- or any group of us -- has the
capability to do this, so my response to this is to let myself off the
hook for it.

Every now and again I'll meet someone who's interested in learning
about privacy and how to protect it.  I do my best to help these
people along.  That's what I can do, that's what's within my power,
that's the standard I judge myself by -- how well I do what good I can do.

It's made a world of difference in my mental health.

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