So, you may have heard something about various folks going around claiming they are going to ban encryption. If you have any idea about what communication is of course, you find this extremely amusing. Basically, these folks are standing up on podiums and saying something along the lines of:
"Hi! I'd like to be important, but I'm not. And on this topic which I know nothing, that's right I've never even thought about what it means let alone cracked a book about it, I would like to speak. I'm an idiot. Thank you very much".
That's basically how it goes. Insomuch as we would like people to be smart, we let idiots like this fall on their face. This way other people will know they are idiots and be sure not to pay attention to them ever again.
So far so good. However, there comes a point at which it becomes time to speak up. Time to turn around and push your enemy's face a bit further into the mud puddle which he has just fallen in. We want to make it extra clear they are an idiot, especially because children's lives are at stake here. That time is now.
You see some people wearing hats that say "Australia Government" ((don't get me wrong, they may also be dangerous, they claim to be and likely are orcs)) have published a list called the "Defense and Stategic Goods List". Trawling through this list reveals dangerous items such as:
a. A “symmetric algorithm” employing a key length in excess of 56 bits;
It's said that when taken together with various other regulations written by other folks with Australia Government hats, these things forbid the teaching of encryption with draconian penalties if caught.
Well to be honest with you I couldn't quite stomach going through the various DSGL documents and their clauses and exceptions ((apparently it's ok if there's a copy of the dictionary or how-to-use-gpg available for "sale" somewhere on the planet? or maybe not?)) to verify if these rumors are true.
For the sake of argument lets just say they are.
Now these guys have just made it illegal to teach their own children English! Isn't that great? After all, encoding meaning into words is encryption, as all communication requires encryption. Claude Shannon pointed this out in great detail in his mathematical theory of communication, and anyone who has ever thought about it for a moment will confirm. And guess what: the English dictionary is more than 56 bits! Yup, it's strong encryption. And it really is strong too, if you've ever been trying to get around Beijing or Tokyo only speaking English you have seen. Encryption works, sometimes even when you don't want it to. According to this guy, the documents also call for a ban on learning how to perform arithmetic division. Well yeah, we wouldn't want people learning that would we! What would be next, French? It's a gateway encryption! Best nip that in the bud, son. Communication is for them thar terrurists.
OK so we've made it pretty clear these guys are not the sharpest bulbs in the toolchest upstairs 🙂 But lets also consider for a moment the damage this could do if somewhere, somehow, somebody took it seriously.
Consider the direction that society has been headed, technologically, with the rise of the internet and reliance on communication. Can you imagine how hopeless our children would be if we didn't teach them as many techniques of encryption and authentication as possible? I mean, not only languages, as many as possible, but also - authentication protocols, key management, and various essential cryptographic primitives? Without this fundamental knowledge they would be totally lost in the world.
And these guys wanted to ban not only encryption, but teaching encryption.
Just lol. LMFAO. No really.