Wednesday, May 25, 2005

freedoms failing

Yesterday a Minnesota court of appeals ruled that the presence of encryption software on your computer can be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

We find that evidence of appellant's Internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state's case against him," Judge R.A. Randall wrote in an opinion dated May 3.

Now in this specific case, I'm all for using whatever tools necessary to bust the defendant - it's a child pornography case, and if the person is guilty they should nail the fucker to a wall. But making a broad generalization that the use of encryption software implies illegal activity sets a very bad precedent.

The reason cryptographic software is important is precisely because our freedoms are disappearing. The US government has granted itself the power to read your email or tap your phone line without probable cause and without a warrant, dismissing in one fell swoop concepts like 'right to privacy' and 'the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures'. The government can crack ciphers they deem important enough to justify the effort, but with this recent ruling they don't even need to break your cipher to judge you guilty... the fact that you have a cipher at all is a sign of guilt. That's analogous to saying that people who put curtains on their windows must be doing something bad in the house.