Preparing for the Revolution
As our civil rights continue their slide down
the razor blade of unconstitutional Federal excess, it appears ever more likely
that there will come a day when, if we cherish our freedom, we will be compelled
to take up arms and kill our Federal masters.
Good. I don't want to have to do that either.
But as Churchill said,
"...if you will not fight for the right
when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your
victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you
will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance
for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is
no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as
The choice is clear. You can buy freedom
cheaply now, or later find it impossible to buy at any price. Assuming you are
interested in protecting your freedom, albeit, at the lowest possible personal
cost to yourself, there are some very simple things you can do to slow the
erosion of your rights. Here's the first:
Use encryption in your e-mail
One of the most underutilized tools we have to
combat Federal invasion of our lives is text encryption. You should use it
You've probably heard of Carnivore,
the FBI's tool for grabbing all the e-mail that moves through a server? You
don't have to be the target of an FBI probe. Your e-mail is probably being read
and filtered anyway. But Carnivore has a little trouble with encrypted files.
The filtering process is primarily a matter of matching words. Carnivore can't
filter what it cannot read.
Does that mean your encrypted files cannot be
read? Not at all.
Encryption is a numbers game. There has yet to
be an encryption method that cannot be broken. What differentiates the strength
of an encryption algorithm is the effort necessary to break the message
and read its contents. Remember the simple substitution ciphers you probably
used as kids? Substitute an 'A' for a 'B' and so on? The amount of effort to
break that kind of cipher is relatively minimal. In fact, many newspapers offer
those types of "encrypted" messages as brain teasers akin to crossword
puzzles. Today's dual-key public encryption algorithms are a far cry from those
elementary ciphers, but decryption by the government of an individual message is
not a question of "if" -- it's a question of "when."
So, if the government, with all its
super-computers can break the encryption and read my mail any time it wants,
what good does it do to encrypt?
Encryption is a numbers game.
If you are the only one using encryption, there
is virtually no benefit to using it. While a plain text file might take the Feds
only a few thousandths of a second to process on a fast computer, the same file encrypted
would take days or weeks to read. Breaking the encryption is a numbers game.
So imagine that instead of just one person
encrypting their e-mail, you are able to persuade a few of your friends to
follow suit. If it takes the government a day or two per message to
decrypt the e-mails, it has a problem on its hands. And the more e-mail the Feds
have to sort through, the bigger the problem. Let's say that a Carnivore unit
can process 100,000 plain text e-mails a day. If just 10% of those e-mails are
encrypted, "daily" processing becomes over 20,000 years of computer
Of course, computers will get faster, and the
Feds can always put more computers on the problem. By putting 10,000 computers
on the case, they can shorten the processing time to a little over two years,
and if the computers are 10 times faster, they might be able to read all the
e-mails in as little as 2-3 months.
But in the meantime, they've accumulated
another 2-3 months worth of e-mail
Encryption is a numbers game.
How important is it to have surveillance-free
communications? You decide. If you wanted to control someone, how much would it
help you to be able to read their e-mail?
Will this impair the FBI's ability to fight
crime? Not at all. If the FBI suspects an individual of a crime, they can still
easily break his encrypted messages. But if a large portion of e-mail through a
server is encrypted, what they cannot do is spy on people at random by reading
all of their e-mail.
So if you really want to jam up Federal
surveillance of your Internet communications, get yourself a copy of PGP
(Pretty Good Privacy - it's free for personal use!), and start sending bowling
league stats, weather observations, love letters and shooting tips to everyone
you know! Obviously, heavily encrypted cake recipes aren't the sort of thing the
Feds will be hoping to find when they troll through your e-mail. But that's
their problem, isn't it?
By the way, my public key is below. Once you
get PGP, cut and paste will
get you started.
If you are among the group of patriots who
wants to slow down and reverse the Federal government's encroachment on your
freedom, but aren't ready to start shooting (isn't that all of us, really?), get
PGP and send me a note today!
Keep your powder dry!
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