I have been a user of TextSecure (now Signal) on Android for many years. Not that I have much to hide, nor do I have many family members or friends that use the same application to profit from the message encryption – no, just as a matter of principle. But it was only recently that I could peer into the mind of the man who created the tool: Moxie Marlinspike (this pseudonym would not look out of place in a cyberpunk novel). So thanks, Wired, for this opportunity to “Meet Moxie Marlinspike, the Anarchist Bringing Encryption to All of Us“.
Just as knives can be used to stage a terrorist attack, so can any tool be used for good as well as for bad. Does that mean we have to cripple the tool, which is what some people are asking when talking about encryption? From the Wired article:
Marlinspike follows this remark with a statement that practically no one else in the privacy community is willing to make in public: that yes, people will use encryption to do illegal things. And that may just be the whole point. “I actually think that law enforcement should be difficult,” Marlinspike says, looking calmly out at the crowd. “And I think it should actually be possible to break the law.”
Up to a degree, I concur with that statement. Of course, it does not mean that any law is there to be broken all day long, every time it is possible. But how can you make better laws, if the existing ones cannot be broken? Laws are just one of the tools humans use to organise their lives. When society evolves, e.g. because of fundamental changes in technology, laws have to change as well… Let’s just make sure we pick the right law to break.
PS. Marlinspike is not a prolific blogger, but the writing on his blog is nevertheless a good way to get an idea of how he thinks. Recommended reading – not just about encryption.