Lonely hill: Apple’s stand on encryption

Rich Mogull of Securosis writing in TidBITS: Why Apple Defends Encryption. Great article summarizing the forces that drive Apple’s defense of encryption and resistance to introduction of a back door (briefly: their business model does not rely on compromising privacy, they understand that there is no such thing as a back door that cannot also be used by attackers, and it may be a personal issue for Tim Cook).

Rich’s analysis, which I agree with, aligns with another recently published article about the disparity in ranged weapons adoption in Europe in the Middle Ages. The question: why did it take the French and Scots nearly a century to adopt the cheaper, easier, and more effective longbow, instead continuing to rely on the more challenging crossbow? Answer: precisely because those technologies were cheaper and easier to adopt, they were blocked by the rulers of less politically stable states, who feared arming citizens with the weapon might lead to revolution. Only in more politically stable England was the longbow adopted.

There’s a clear analogy between restricting access to longbows and the current state desire to insert backdoors into consumer encrypted communications. What’s striking is the political difference in who’s doing the restrictions on crypto technology. It’s not just failed or unstable states (though there are plenty of those who seek to circumvent crypto), but also major global powers like the United States and India. I’m not sure whether that says more about the threat posed by crypto, or about the United States.

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