[Freedombox-discuss] Fwd: Re: Roadmap / Wishlists

Philip Hands phil at hands.com
Mon Apr 18 10:30:26 UTC 2011

On Mon, 18 Apr 2011 01:44:38 -0400, AnotherPeasant <versparis at gmail.com> wrote:
> I like the way you think, but what if I forget my hammer?  What if 
> there's no handy hard surface to smash the card against?  I always carry 
> a multitool on me, always, so I've got it covered for me.

You don't fly much then, I take it ;-)

> Seriously, though, it gets back to that issue of deniability.  If you've 
> smashed stuff, it gets a lot harder.

Also, I have no confidence that it's possible to smash flash chips in a
hurry using hand tools such that the data is really not recoverable.

Doing it with software is also a serious problem, give the wear levelling
that is liable to be going on under the OS, which is quite likely to
simply mark the data as deleted, rather than actually deleting anything.

>  I'm not talking about places where 
> the cops will make an angry face, realize you've left them with nothing, 
> and charge you with jaywalking after a stern warning.  I'm talking about 
> places where they play for keeps, with no restrictions on their 
> actions.  The user _may_ be boned at that point, anyway, but without the 
> ability to pretend that they have nothing to hide, no chance in hell.  
> When facing overwhelming force, stealth and misdirection are your
> friends...

The UK's RIPA (Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act 2000) makes it an
offence to refuse to supply one's crypto keys when requested by a
properly authorised person (i.e. any random policeman, pretty much).  Of
course, there are loads of problems with this, but the point is that you
can be locked up in the UK for about a decade on the basis that you
withheld your keys/passphrase. Of course you've made their case
for them by carrying a hammer and using it, since that proves that the
protected content must be particularly naughty.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-11479831 -- it seems the
protected content in this case wasn't even evidence of criminality *sigh*

There are less liberal regimes available than the UK -- your mileage may
vary but this tactic does not seem very wise to me.

Clearly, the way one behaves in regimes where a judge must be convinced
of the justification of breaking one's front door down, and where you
are trying to protect you embarrassingly large collection of railway
locomotive photos from the public gaze require a different approach than
someone that is campaigning for the overthrow of a government that
routinely deals with people they don't like by treating them to a free
skydiving trip over the nearest ocean, sans-parachute.

I can see that a (differently configured) FB might be useful in both
scenarios, but I don't think that tuning the FB to handle the more
rigorous end of that spectrum is necessarily going to make it more
useful or appealing to the wider user base that we want, and the
resulting lack of success will also fail to help the persecuted.

Cheers, Phil.
|)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
|-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
|(|  10 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, London  E18 1NE  ENGLAND
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