Math is Political
This discussion follows the same boring and frustrating groove of every other tech thug talk on encryption, with the same boring tech thug talking points -- and I thought The Register is better than that -- I thought The Register would be at least as critical of encryption mania as it is of copyleftism. Sadly, it's not.
What's not only frustrating but in fact deadly, given the terrorists and Telegram, is this invocation of math as a sacred force that only high priests can handle -- I've even heard a crypto-anarchist say "mathematics makes the state obsolete" -- yet in the next sentence claiming that the math is in fact flawed, filled with holes, not all that, so that we need to be so upset about maximum encryption. Well, which is it, guys?
We're supposed to accept the totalitarian proposition -- and no, it's not like gravity because it is in the hands of humans and that means politics -- that we "can't" do anything about "math" and that if a system generates random numbers to make encruption and that obviously can't be easily cracked or cracked at all, we must throw up our hands. What happened to the claim by the Snowdenistas that the NSA "weakened" encryptions? Building "back doors" is a political decision and one Silicon Valley's titans didn't take because they want to make sure they keep their street cred and fight The Man. Meanwhile, a new version of CISPA quietly passes anyway.
The tech thugs who invoke "math" all the time aren't thinking through the consequences of their totalitarian proposition, whatever its "science" -- that law-enforcers are therefore likely to become more brutish and use more physical methods of coercion which is why your friend -- and I say your friend because you invoke "math" like he does as a weapon -- Julian Assange built RubberHose -- which was taken away from him as classified by the NSA, prompting him to wage hacker jihad on the USG ever since. The consequence of more "math" are more racial profiling, more intrusiveness, less permission for travel, more kinds of other surveillance. And that's how you -- and Bruce Schneier -- want to leave it -- you get to be in the 21st century, the police have to be in the 19th.
And any time anyone, especially a woman raises the slightest critique of this thug-world, you can only disparage them as stupid, not getting "the math" and pursuing an agenda by some evil force.
The government, of course, can make the same efforts to regulate as it did Clipper Chip and PGP and fail because of the connivings of the crypto set, then double back and become more deadly in other ways -- and as you say, your math is weak in places. Of course, there's another path whereby tech companies secure general privacy and don't cave to governments lightly without a warrant, but under which they cooperate on the basics; after all, the user can't encrypt the view of his actual form of payment and ID from the company providing the service, right guys? They have to see it to serve him.
Perhaps they will have to adapt a willingness to not encrypt the metadata of geographical places. Once you open up a free debate without the hobbling of disparagement over your perception of math, some solution might become visible -- never the 99/1 that the binary geek mind insists on, but good enough.
Telegram was made by a Russian who fled Putin's persecution (supposedly) and who doesn't care if his product is used by terrorists (Bazarov, call your office). Putin isn't bombing ISIS but propping up Assad. This is all science, not math. It matters who the humans are who establish the "math" institutions and how accountable they are to the public.
Maybe it will turn out that like the lead in the Romans' cups, encryption will be the thing that killed the arrogant tech class who thought they would usher humanity in the future.