Sunday, April 15, 2012

Markets in Everything: No Surveillance, Privacy-Protecting Cell Phone and Internet Service

CNET.com -- "Nicholas Merrill is planning to revolutionize online privacy with a concept as simple as it is ingenious: a telecommunications provider designed from its inception to shield its customers from surveillance.

Merrill, 39, who previously ran a New York-based Internet provider, told CNET that he's raising funds to launch a national "non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption" that will sell mobile phone service and, for as little as $20 a month, Internet connectivity.

The ISP would not merely employ every technological means at its disposal, including encryption and limited logging, to protect its customers. It would also -- and in practice this is likely more important -- challenge government surveillance demands of dubious legality or constitutionality."

6 Comments:

At 4/15/2012 10:01 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

.... until SCOTUS tells him that he must turn over records that the courts have ordered released.

 
At 4/15/2012 11:16 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Interesting to contrast the proposed encrypted service with telephone party lines.

It is reported that in 1950 seventy-five percent of residential phone service was party line. This was a shared phone line, that featured a distinctive ring tone to identify each household on the line.

Party line conversations could be listened to by any subscribers that shared that line! The solution to unwanted party line eavesdropping, for some, was the Hush-a-Phone cup. The Hush-a-Cup provided muted privacy (ex the telephone operator).

 
At 4/15/2012 12:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

I applaud Merrill's efforts but it seems to me there are lots of potential holes in the scheme as its described in the C-Net article...

I wonder what is going to used for encryption?

I sure hope Merrill's plan works out...

 
At 4/15/2012 1:48 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

juandos-

any even moderately sophisticated modern cryptography scheme will work.

most are based on prime factoring to generate public and private keys that have a complex mathematical relationship. i take my message, run it through my private key then your public key and send it. you use my public key then your private key to decrypt. in this way, we can send secure messages without ever having to swap info beforehand.

this is called public key cryptography. (PKI for public key infrastructure)

there are many open source systems of immense power for this. (OS is great for crypto)

the issue becomes processing power. using 1024 bit primes and multiplying them is a serious processing load, esp for a phone.

were i setting this up, i would use elliptic curve based PKI as opposed to prime factoring. it's more mathematically elegant and thus less computationally intensive for any given level of security.

this tech is readily available and easy to implement.

the real question is what kind of speed/performance penalty the users are willing to put up with to get privacy.

you'd need an incredibly serious computer (no way on a pc) to stream video this way.

 
At 4/15/2012 2:42 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey morganovich I've got more than a little bit of experience with encryption myself...

I've been a user of PGP (still using version 2.6.2) going on two decades now and have occassionally used the 'one time pad' method also...

What I don't know is just how much brute force computing power the government has access to...

I don't really see the actual encryption itself breaking down anytime soon though but its the myriad other details of Merrill's plan itself that 'might' offer the authorities leads even though the message content itself is indecipherable...

 
At 4/16/2012 5:34 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Where do I sign up?

I too see problems with running a business as regulated as a phone service provider in defiance of government thugs, but I applaud the effort.

 

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