Smith James

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Smith James

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Submission from James Smith received on July 30, 2001 11:24 PM via e-mail

Subject: Just a thought on the proposed DMCA-like statute-from Slashdot

Just an interesting thought about making criminal the activity of reverse engineering.

I heard a saying once, "Locks are made to keep honest people out". The point here is that if I INSIST on getting in, the lock won't stop me.

The encryption algorithm used is the lock. The law "protects" me against a criminal by making it a crime to break and enter. I can put a $200000 quaduple deadbolt with solid steel reinforement, 20 armed guards, and an alarm system in place if I want to keep people out, or I can buy the cheap $20 padlock that can easily be cut by a bolt cutter. The crime to break in is the same. However, one of these methods is likely to stop that person from breaking in.

A weak encryption scheme is the same as using a cereal box lock as your sole form of protection. Granted, I'll have to break it to get in, and yes, I'll still be as criminally responsible if I do, but you made it extremely easy for me. The point is, you don't HAVE to protect yourself from honest people. Honest people aren't going to steal from you.

Those that WILL steal from you won't be stopped by something as trivial as a plastic lock. You're going to have to put something strong and solid there. You're going to have to PREVENT them from breaking in. And no law is going to do that, only something that is solid and unbreakable will.

If I decide to go around taking apart locks to see which ones I'll be able to break into, I should have that right, because a lock is only SECURE if I'm able to take it apart and still not know how to break it. Encryption is the same.

-Restil


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