what is killing PKI?

Stan Tobias sttob at mailshack.com
Wed Aug 29 00:27:34 CEST 2012

For the lack of time, I'll be very brief.  I plan to answer Robert
Hansen's post, but I yet need to find a couple of free hours for that.

Faramir <faramir.cl at gmail.com> wrote:

>   What would happen if you start reading your daughter's diary
> everyday, but never let anybody catch you reading it? And you are
> careful to don't talk about what you've read, or take actions that
> could hint you have read the diary. Your daughter will never know you
> read it. 

I would be violating her privacy.

> What happens with her right to privacy? 

Nothing, she still has that right.

> She is still
> exercising it, she writes on her diary everyday.

If she learned I broke her trust, she would have a reason to change her
attitude towards me.  But before that, she's vulnerable.  Note I don't
require her not to lock her diary, I just said I would be sad if she did.
We're talking human relations here, it's not all black-and-white and
obvious.  Note it's usually alright to read diaries of long-deceased
persons.  For another example, suppose she was kidnaped - it would be
alright to view her diary in order to help her.

As a thought-experiment: suppose I xerox-copied her diary a hundred times
(without reading it), and then burned all the copies.  That's fine,
it's not a copyright-like issue.  But "copying" it into my brain, is
not like copying a file between two disks.

Two of multiple reasons why I won't read her diary is that by doing
so I would break my side of relation (IOW, I would hurt myself), and
second (suppose I had a tiny-little reason to read it and not tell her),
I fear that I could leak the fact sooner or later and hurt her anyway
(sometimes it's just better not to know).  

Let's finish it here, we're veering much off-topic.

>   So, in order to enforce our right to privacy, we use a tool to make
> it really hard to break our right to privacy (a subpoena is very

I think we talk different languages here.  You have a right to privacy
whether it's breached or not (I think it's kind of a human right,
to respect).  You can "enforce" it when you tell your little sister "I'll
beat you if you read my mail", or your polititian "You're finished if
police raids our houses, and we do damn mean it!".  The tool protects
your communication, but doesn't change anything in the state of your
rights.  You do have your right to encrypt your email; the question
we're discussing is whether and when it is a good or bad idea.

Regards, Irek T.

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