back to article Legal bible Groklaw pulls plug in wake of Lavabit shutdown, NSA firestorm

Blogger Pamela Jones will shut down her award-winning legal news website Groklaw following revelations that the NSA is intercepting the world's internet communications. Jones, also known as PJ, said in a final farewell article that the shutdown of encrypted email provider Lavabit, used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, had …

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Smartphones?

      "Do CCTV cameras have sound recording? I can only assume that a huge network of microphones recording what people say will be next on the agenda."

      If you REALLY want to give full rein to your paranoid side: how many of us own a smartphone of some description, and/or take it with them almost everywhere they go?

      I thought the other day: how easy would it be TECHNICALLY for Apple, Google, Microsoft et al, to introduce a back-door into iDevices, Android machines, Windows Phones, etc. so that they could turn on the camera(s) and/or microphone and access what they picked up? (Remember the Doctor Who story "The Bells Of St John"? Instant blanket surveillance nets.)

      Yes, there are supposed to be all these laws and stuff in place to stop it, but as we've been seeing increasingly, what does that mean any more?

      ...and don't get me On One about smart TVs with built-in cameras. Not to sound like a paranoid old fart or anything, but... does the word "telescreens" mean anything to people?

      Shame ACs can't choose the "black helicopter" icon, but I'm not sure I want to write stuff like this with my username any more...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Smartphones?

        AC's can't use the Black Helicopter Icon? I humbly disagree and present evidence to prove my case.

        See icon :)

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Smartphones?

        ...how easy would it be... to introduce a back-door... that they could turn on the camera(s) and/or microphone and access what they picked up?

        Not terribly. Complicity by service providers is not required, but makes it easier. For example, packaging the spyware as a game which interacts with the environment would be simple way to get lots of people to install this themselves. Warnings that the app requests permission to use the camera likely would be ignored even by people who bothered to read the EULA.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smartphones?

        >Shame ACs can't choose the "black helicopter" icon, but I'm not sure I want to write stuff like this with my username any more...

        What? You think the righteous shield of El Reg and the magic mask of Guy Fawkes will protect you?

        Methinks not!

        In fact, for the optimum blend of spookieness, El Reg is based in Blighted and subject to blighted laws, while the servers hang out in San Antonio, Peoples Republic of UNSA

        Dear Reg, Have you ever opened your database(s) to GCHQ, MI5/6, NSA, or any other agency of any government, including secret orders from secret courts which you're not allowed to tell anyone about? (obviously not expecting an honest answer!)

        AC to keep the spooks away.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smartphones?

          AC to keep the spooks away

          Sigh. Please don't tell me that you actually believe that an A/C post offers any protection.

          1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Smartphones?

            They meant "spooky" internet trolls... they already believe the NSA is "in their heads". ;)

      4. heyrick Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Smartphones?

        "I thought the other day: how easy would it be TECHNICALLY for Apple, Google, Microsoft et al, to introduce a back-door into iDevices, Android machines, Windows Phones, etc. so that they could turn on the camera(s) and/or microphone and access what they picked up?"

        Google maybe already does. My phone's camera makes a little clicking noise when I turn it off, like maybe the focus lens collapsing back to the home position.

        I hear this noise from time to time when looking at stuff in the app store Market Play.

        I have no evidence of photos being collected and/or sent anywhere - but it seems mighty suspicious for the camera lens click to happen when I'm not actually using the camera, wouldn't you agree?

      5. Vociferous

        Re: Smartphones?

        > how easy would it be TECHNICALLY for Apple, Google, Microsoft et al, to introduce a back-door into iDevices, Android machines, Windows Phones, etc

        Oh, that's old hat: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2006/12/can_you_hear_me/

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smartphones?

        I remember from my time working at Motorola (around 10 years ago) that the code for remote enabling of the microphone existed in at least one mobile phone. (It also exists in OnStar, the auto security | car safety | navigation system popular in the US.) The only way to be sure that no one is listening is to disconnect the battery*.

        *where possible

      7. Dan Paul
        Big Brother

        Re: Smartphones?

        There are already app's that will turn a smartphone into a "crowdsourced remote video surveillance system" I have seen the demo's myself. This tech is being used now by various police departments to allow remote viewing of small cameras mounted on police vests, guns, tasers so there is a legal record of their use.

        It is not difficult to make the jump from purchased apps with that capability to the technology being surreptitiously embedded in the firmware of any smartphone.

        Extrapolating on that line of reasoning takes us to Orwellian on steroids future where all "citizens" wiil be required to have one on their person at all times or perhaps surgically implanted in their bodies so there can be nothing that remains private or unobservable.

  1. wowfood

    Does anyone else

    Think of the fascist police state from 'V for Vendetta' when they read about the NSA actions etc?

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      No I don't think that

      Any one who thinks that must be a Muslim or a Homosexual or a Terrorist.

      England Prevails

      This message brought to you by the Office of Chancellor Sutler

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No I don't think that

        @John G Imrie: So, you've seen the film, not read the book then?

        1. John G Imrie Silver badge

          Re: No I don't think that

          Actually I've done both but I remembered that from the film and it seamed appropriate.

    2. Chris Ridley
      Unhappy

      Re: Does anyone else

      "Think of the fascist police state from 'V for Vendetta' when they read about the NSA actions etc?"

      Actually I thought more of the extreme totalitarian world government of Neal Asher's "The Owner" series http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/unhappy_32.png

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not happy Groklaw's shutting down, but has this only just occurred to her now? That email isn't a secure way to exchange information? To someone running a legal site, ON THE INTERNET? Really?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Law makers said they previously only collected metadata, email date and times, subjects and addresses.

      1. b0llchit
        Big Brother

        Guilt by association

        That is called establishing "guilt by association".

        Everybody in the world is guilty of "something" when you dig far enough. Once you "associate", you are subject to scrutiny and will be proven guilty of any "something". Just to make a point that you should not "associate" but only "behave".

        Such system is also called a repressive surveillance regime and we have plenty of examples through history and contemporary.

      2. Test Man
        Thumb Up

        "Law makers said they previously only collected metadata, email date and times, subjects and addresses."

        Makes no difference, everyone knows that e-mail is de facto unsecure. Encryption doesn't change that. If she had any brains, she'd know that - the fact is e-mails, encrypted or not, pass through several servers so you clearly cannot consider it secure any more than you can consider the post office system secure.

        1. Don Jefe

          There has long been the assumption and the assurance from governments that unless you were under investigation you weren't under surveillance. That's been proven untrue and governments are gathering data to use against you in case you ever come under investigation.

          It is a really, really big difference. I hope you can see what the problem is.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "It is a really, really big difference. I hope you can see what the problem is."

            You're entirely missing the point. Email is not secure. Never has been, isn't designed to be.

            If you're working in the legal field, ON THE INTERNET, and you don't know that...

            The government are looking at her emails, via the NSA, if they feel like doing so. Everyone who thought about it for two seconds always assumed that anyway, it's just been confirmed. If you believed otherwise, you're hopelessly niaive.

            So is anyone working at an ISP who feels like it.

            Email IS NOT SECURE. I hope you can see what the problem is.

            1. Don Jefe

              Until evidence was available to prove otherwise the inherent insecurities of email were only a problem if someone was actively spying on you. A situation that, in reality, applies to very, very few people (even though they'd like to believe otherwise).

              Once we learned, not guessed or had paranoia about it, that the government was spying on everyone, the situation changed and email insecurities became a realistic problem.

              You're confusing technical and government policy issues.

              1. Vociferous

                > You're confusing technical and government policy issues.

                No, he isn't. He's correctly stating that email is and has always been trivial to spy on, and that no one should ever have expected privacy in email. Any source of data which is trivial to spy upon is 100% guaranteed to get spied upon, it's simply the way it works.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                  "Any source of data which is trivial to spy upon is 100% guaranteed to get spied upon, it's simply the way it works."

                  Until recently you'd have been accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theory merchant for making a claim like that.

                  We were all told that we could trust "the powers that be", and that if we had nothing to hide we had nothing to fear, even in the unlikely event that our communications (and not just metadata) were being intercepted unintentionally.

                  Incidentally, is X.400 email (designed from the ground up for confidentiality and trustworthiness) any better than the dinosaur-era SMTP/POP standards are in the current problem areas?

                  If so, where can I find a secure X.400 provider?

                  [X.400 used to be used for battlefield email in preference to SMTP/POP. Does that give anyone a clue?]

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                    If so, where can I find a secure X.400 provider?

                    [X.400 used to be used for battlefield email in preference to SMTP/POP. Does that give anyone a clue?]

                    [shudder] Please don't. X400 may be secure, but if you really need secure comms let me know - we CAN provide secure email. To give you an idea of the cost and efficiency delta between X400 and Internet email, I was involved in email conversions and one gov department had an ROI on their costs in one single month, and suddenly had an almost instant service rather than accepting a week (yes, WEEK) delivery time via their (major telco) gateway. This was a department with 4000+ email accounts.

                    As far as I can tell, X400's main security was provided by not delivering the messages at all...

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                      " week (yes, WEEK) delivery time via their (major telco) gateway."

                      What do you expect with BT as the supplier? (Would that be the correct guess?)

                      Other folk managed to do it rather better.

                      Email designed (not bandaided) to support mail content a bit more complex than 7bit plaintext.

                      Email that can be encrypted (by design).

                      Email that can be verified to be untampered (by design) even when not encrypted.

                      Email that has proof of delivery and proof of reading capabilities. By design.

                      Etc.

                      What's not to like?

                      But I do entirely sympathise if your only x.400 experience has been with Telecom Gold or similar.

                      1. heyrick Silver badge

                        Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                        "Email that has proof of delivery and proof of reading capabilities. By design."

                        No it doesn't.

                        It has an option to "request" a statement to be sent back when the message has been read. A statement that I have had back from automated systems, and a statement that my mail software is configured not to send.

                        It is a courtesy, like the "priority" header. It is nothing more, and it is certainly not proof of anything other than "the machine that sent this response received the message".

                      2. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                        Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                        " week (yes, WEEK) delivery time via their (major telco) gateway."

                        What do you expect with BT as the supplier? (Would that be the correct guess?)

                        Yup. You're probably right - that experience was sufficiently traumatic to avoid X400 after that - I remember being impressed with BT that they actually managed to get a client to sign up for a service which billed per message, even when the majority of the messages never got further than the gateway.

                        I disagree with the "email can never be secure" statement - I have disproved this many times over in a government and even military setting, but a degree of precision in the definition of the threat is required: secure from what? Technically it's not overly complex, but legally you have an issue. It is a fact that EVERY nation, without exception, has intercept laws in place that can compel providers to open up.

                        What every single one of you is trying to address with technology is in essence a legal problem, and you cannot secure email from lawful processes. What you can do is choose the legal processes you want to be exposed to, and manage the residual risk. This starts with leaving the US.

                        Obama and friends can make statements as much as they want and be lobbied by all and sundry, the fact remains that the current situation is a serious mess, and it won't be fixed overnight because there are too many people making money off it. Turning back the clock on abuse is as hard as addressing corruption: it will take decades. Regaining the trust from others will take even longer, if at all possible..

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                          "What you can do is choose the legal processes you want to be exposed to"

                          Oh is it you again?

                          I will repeat the questions I asked earlier, in case I missed the answers last time).

                          1) What do you propose to do if the law is changed via due democratic process in a way that doesn't suit your operation?

                          2) What do you propose to do if the powers that be choose to ignore the law and go their own way?

                          Not hypothetical questions, not any more.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                            1) What do you propose to do if the law is changed via due democratic process in a way that doesn't suit your operation?

                            2) What do you propose to do if the powers that be choose to ignore the law and go their own way?

                            Not hypothetical questions, not any more.

                            Well, this is where you start with selecting a nation that is indeed a democracy. People who actually have effect on how the nation works tend to be more involved in what happens politically - you can see evidence of the reverse in the US where a voter only gets to choose which specific robber baron gets to "represent" them, but have ZERO direct influence in law making - hence the current mess.

                            Now, specifically:

                            1 - fair point - at that point we have to adjust. But laws in a true democracy are actually a lot more stable because you cannot just buy your way. A classic example of this is Google which is now under assault in practically every nation in the EU because they thought they could do it "the American way", i.e. throw buckets of money at it and just buy the laws they need or lobby themselves out of trouble (I will again make the observation that it's IDENTICAL to what Microsoft tried to do in the EU - it's uncanny how their MO mirrors Microsoft). It isn't working *at all*, leading to the recent epic mistake of declaring themselves sovereign over UK law.

                            2 - I actually come from the legal intercept side, you could call me a gamekeeper turned poacher. If you have a nation that is democratic, a breach of rights is accompanied by proper controls so that the rights of the individual are protected. If the locals do no follow the law themselves, that has consequences ranging from civil to criminal and political - intercept as a government process does follow a certain pattern you can influence. But you are talking about theory - I prefer to go where the facts meet the road. At this moment in time, it IS possible to protect people, but it's not the main problem.

                            The main problem is that people, despite NSA events, are still not aware of what the impact of all these privacy violations are. They are numb, brainwashed and straightforward lied to (try reading the Gmail "help", for instance, as an example how BS deludes the user into giving away their personal details to an organisation that has no choice but to assist with uncontrolled invasions of privacy). In our experience, the main people that are dead hot on protecting themselves are the ones that have been burned already through identity theft, journalistic privacy invasion and hacking. This is an issue that is hard to fix as it's the result of years of brainwashing.

                  2. heyrick Silver badge
                    Black Helicopters

                    Re: Tinfoil hat no longer optional

                    "Until recently you'd have been accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theory merchant for making a claim like that."

                    Not so much these days with so many public WiFi hotspots that are unencrypted by their very nature. This isn't to say that encryption is secure, but rather anybody with a decent WiFi card and data sniffer can pluck your plaintext emails right out of the air. Plus your signin credentials and passwords. Plus your non-HTTPS browsing history (and guess at the HTTPS ones by seeing what domain resolving lookups were performed), plus every single byte of every single web page (did you sign in to El Reg on a public network? you'll note it isn't HTTPS...).

                    Potentially, not just you but every single user on that open AP.

                    This isn't tin foil hat, this is reality. And if some bored nerd can do this, imagine what those who run/fund/control the system can do...

                    Yeah, the basic line is - it is not private or secure. Not web pages, not emails, none of that stuff. And if you are in the UK, password protecting stuff for your own privacy is no longer an option when you can be "compelled" to reveal your passwords rendering something that should be secure to be about as useful as email in the long run.

                    They have us over a barrel now. Didn't you realise?

              2. Tom 38 Silver badge

                The way I've always understood and explained it to people is that sending an email is like sending a postcard, everyone along the way knows who it is sent from, who it is sent to, and can look at the contents if they so choose, and a government can as easily insert themselves into an internet exchange as they can a sorting office.

                This is not new, this should not be a surprise to internet users, and yet the kerfuffle when it was confirmed that the intelligence services do do this…

                I still don't see how the realization that email is insecure implies the shut down of groklaw.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Until evidence was available to prove otherwise the inherent insecurities of email were only a problem if someone was actively spying on you. A situation that, in reality, applies to very, very few people (even though they'd like to believe otherwise).

                Once we learned, not guessed or had paranoia about it, that the government was spying on everyone, the situation changed and email insecurities became a realistic problem."

                Err, no.

                Basically you had your head in the sand singing "la la la la la, will never happen to me", while it kept on happening, regularly, and you were unaware of it.

                I accidentally read part of an email in a packet capture I took on a network device earlier today. I wasn't actively spying on the user, and when I realised I'd followed the wrong stream, I stopped reading. This is fact, I'm afraid, not your guess at what reality is.

                Email IS NOT SECURE, BY DESIGN.

                It never has been.

                The difference now is simply that YOU finally appreciate that. That's all. Your lack of knowledge prior to the NSA stories breaking does not change the fact that using email to exchange confidential legal information has always been a bad idea. It didn't become a bad idea, post NSA story breaking.

                Furthermore - a site like Groklaw should assume that people ARE spy on their email, because chances are it's quite interesting, to a certain audience.

                Yet another way to put this, if it helps, regarding your opinion that "the inherent insecurities of email were only a problem if someone was actively spying on you. A situation that, in reality, applies to very, very few people" - Please provide any evidence you have to support the idea that this applies to very very few people. Why do you think that? Based on what facts, what data, what research?

                It's just your guess, and not a very good guess.

                1. Don Jefe
                  Stop

                  In a paranoid conspiracy, the burden of proof is on the paranoid. So where's your proof that prior to the NSA related leaks that you, or anyone you know, was having their email intercepted?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    I've already told you - I have personally, today, read other user's email, by mistake, while doing packet captures on network devices I was working on.

                    In previous positions I've seen other email, working on other network devices.

                    This does happen, I know it does. Because email is insecure, this is simply fact, it will always happen. I'm not even trying to read their mail, mail is just plain text, so it happens.

                    You're free to disbelieve me if you like, that's your prerogative, but I genuinely don't care about proving this to be true, to you. If you choose to stick your head in the sand, go for it, matters not at all to me.

                    Besides, you made the assertion that your email being read by others "A situation that, in reality, applies to very, very few people".

                    It's up to you to back up that statement, or it's meaningless. If you can't back it up, you just imagine that's the truth, with no evidence. Which is fine, you're free to do so, but it's just your guess.

                    This isn't a paranoid conspiracy, it's people saying "Email isn't secure enough to exchange legal information", and you, bizarrely, arguing that didn't matter until the NSA were proven to be intercepting mail from all kinds of people. Err, yes, it did matter before then.

                  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

                    So where's your proof that prior to the NSA related leaks that you, or anyone you know, was having their email intercepted?

                    Well, my proof is that the security services in Britain have routinely been listening in to the worlds communications ever since world communications were invented (and largely routed through the UK). It is no coincidence that GCHQ have an outpost in Bude where a lot of the transatlantic internet (and before that, telegraph) cables come ashore. Here's a quote from a book on this topic:

                    Additionally, it read all cable traffic entering and leaving Britain. At first, this was arranged on a private basis. At the time, there were only three cable companies operating in Britain: C&W, which was owned by the British government so presented no problem, and the two American cable companies, the Commercial Cable Postal Telegraph Company and Western Union, who did not acquiesce so easily. The tacit threat of having their operating licenses removed was required before they agreed to cooperate with GCCS and and let it see their messages each day.

                    In December 1920, during a US Senate Sub-Committee hearing … one of the cable companies publicly revealed the duress under which it had been placed by the British Government. Acutely embarrassed by this unexpected disclosure, the British government hastily added a clause to the 1911 Official Secrets Act giving it the right to see copies of all cables if an emergency existed. (excerpt from The Intelligence Game by James Rusbridger)

                    This stuff has always gone on. With optical cables being trivial to tap and email being trivial to intercept from a tapped feed, what kind of naïf must you be to consider that the security services aren't looking at them?

              4. tom dial Silver badge

                I think a more accurate description would be that the government is capturing the data, and holding it for a period of uncertain length, that would enable spying on everyone. The entire federal security establishment does not employ enough civil servants and contractors to effectively spy on the entire remainder of the world, or even the U. S. only.

                While I am not aware of any significant misuse, the very fact that potentially abusable data is being collected requires that we examine the real controls and possible (but yet publicly unproved) utility of the various programs and modify them accordingly. The potential for misuse is enormous, and police agencies have long been known to exceed proper bounds on occasion.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Incomplete sentence.

              Email IS NOT SECURE without extra measures

              Those measures are not just technical, BTW, which is the flaw in the story that Lavabit and Silent Circle were trying to sell their public. So they got bitten by an issue that has existed from before 9/11. Duh.

            3. tom dial Silver badge

              Email is not secure: Check.

              Legal field, on the internet, and don't know that: Check.

              Looking at emails, via the NSA, if they feel like: not proved, and the leaked evidence does not support that it is done on anything like a routine basis. The rules say to not do that, and bureaucrats tend to follow the rules. However, it is afer to assume someone will overstep.

              Any administrator in an ISP who feels like it: Check.

              Encryption is indicated for messages that wouldn't be good on a postcard.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                " The rules say to not do that, and bureaucrats tend to follow the rules."

                Sorry, which "rules" say "don't do that"? They actually say "we're vague enough that you can justify doing this if you feel like it", from what I can tell.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There is a very obvious different between sending emails in plaintext and having them intercepted and between using a service like Lavabit and (if you read between the lines) realizing that in addition to headers the spooks are lining up to demand backdoor access.

          Pamela Jones has plenty of brains. She hasn't been using regular plaintext email given she's referring directly to the Lavabit fiasco.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Pamela Jones has plenty of brains. She hasn't been using regular plaintext email given she's referring directly to the Lavabit fiasco."

            Well ... point me to somewhere on the Groklaw site that explains how to send encrypted email to PJ or Groklaw. I can't find anything.

            I *can* find a "Contact PJ" link, on the front page, with a picture of an envelope with "Email PJ" written on it, that's a mailto link for PJ@Groklaw.net

            In other words, unencrypted email.

            There's no obvious evidence Groklaw encouraged you to encrypt email conversations with them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fear of exposure?

        "Law makers said they previously only collected metadata, email date and times, subjects and addresses."

        She is probably worried that what she actually emailed to John Gabriel, warmcat, IBM, et al might finally be revealed.

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    There are some brilliant technical minds out there

    Hopefully some of them will be putting some serious thought into developing a truly secure e-mail replacement (for hosting outside US and UK jurisdiction)

    Thankfully GCHQ don't employ brilliant technical minds - or they would be aware that it's possible to make copies of data on hard drives.

    1. chriswakey

      Re: There are some brilliant technical minds out there

      "Hopefully some of them will be putting some serious thought into developing a truly secure e-mail replacement (for hosting outside US and UK jurisdiction)"

      Wouldn't matter, as soon as the email hit a UK/US ISP, the respective governments could/would require you to hand over the decryption key.

      All your private communications belong to the Gov. You just are allowed to think it's actually private.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: There are some brilliant technical minds out there

      Indeed. Can the NSA crack state of the art encryption in a sensible timescale? Surely Groklaw just needs to publish a public key for people to use? If everyone uses it, no-one would be able to decrypt it all.

      Or she could use the physical mail system perhaps?

      1. Don Jefe
        Meh

        Re: There are some brilliant technical minds out there

        No one really knows the NSA's true capabilities; that's the problem. Encryption may be a waste of time/false security or it may be really useful, nobody knows. They can guess and assume, but there is zero proof either way.

        There's definitely more going on than they own up to. Remember, Internet Explorer used to fall under Export Control laws meant for weapons and dangerous technology because of its built in SSL support. It isn't anymore; why?

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: There are some brilliant technical minds out there

          "Remember, Internet Explorer used to fall under Export Control laws meant for weapons and dangerous technology because of its built in SSL support. It isn't anymore; why?"

          The same reason that France used to have some ridiculous law that banned personal encryption of any sort that was worth a damn.

          Money talks.

          If the Americans devise an encryption system for electronic commerce and then say "the world can have the piss-poor version, we're keeping the good stuff", then the world's best option is to devise an equally strong option and not share it with the Americans. Or in the case of France, be stuck with Minitel forever.

          Nothing kills commerce like some technical waffle getting in the way. So in the end money won out and this stuff was opened up. What else d'you expect from a capitalist country? (^_^)

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: There are some brilliant technical minds out there

            That, and also the fact that perfectly good high grade encryption became widely available outside the U. S. The paranoid among us might conclude that export regulations were relaxed to allow weak or backdoor trapped algorithms to swamp the good ones, but that's doubtful.

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