Techdirt Reading List: Crypto: How The Code Rebels Beat The Government Saving Privacy In The Digital Age

from the crypto-wars-history dept

We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.

As you may have noticed, we’re now deep into the “Crypto Wars 2.0” these days — especially with the news of the week concerning the FBI’s demand that Apple create a special backdoor for iPhones. Thus, I thought it might be worth exploring some books on the original Crypto Wars of the 1990s, so that people can understand a bit of the history here. The one that everyone talks about is Steven Levy’s Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government–Saving Privacy in the Digital Age — though a recent review by Kendra Albert notes, unfortunately accurately, that Levy is horrible when writing about women (and, as an aside, anyone who refers to EFF boss Cindy Cohn as “diminutive” doesn’t know a damn thing about Cindy Cohn who is a total badass).

In looking for some other books on the Crypto Wars, there unfortunately isn’t very much. The only other thing I turned up was a book called Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace: The Online Protests over Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper Chip which looks at those two different online protest efforts, written by professor Laura Gurak.

Seeing as this round of crypto wars seems to be heating up to dangerous levels, I’d certainly recommend either learning about — or at least refreshing yourself — on what went down the last time around.

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Comments on “Techdirt Reading List: Crypto: How The Code Rebels Beat The Government Saving Privacy In The Digital Age”

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Kenpachi says:

This book should be mandatory reading in every high school

Cypherpunks – Freedom and the Future of the Internet
2012 Julian Assange
ISBN 978-1-939293-00-8 paperback
ISBN 978-1-939293-01-5 e-book

btw, Levy’s Crypto is an amazing book, also a must read. Now I’m curious as to what is the contention about his writing style. (I’m reading the linked blog entry)

Anonymous Coward says:

nd, as an aside, anyone who refers to EFF boss Cindy Cohn as “diminutive” doesn’t know a damn thing about Cindy Cohn who is a total badass

And any one who doesn’t understand that “diminutive” in describing such a women is very high praise doesn’t know a damn thing.

You do not mess with women who are classified as “diminutive”, you’ll just get head taken off.

You crazy yanks.

jameshogg says:

I’ve recently read a book by the ever brilliant Simon Singh called The Code Book. It’s not as up-to-date because it was published in the year 2000 I believe. However it details the historical progression of encryption from Ancient Egypt to the internet and provides a fascinating look into encryption arms races: the prosecution against the Mary Queen of Scots, the uncracked Beale Papers, the Enigma machine and Alan Turing, the use of ultra-rare languages from the Navajo as a means of encryption against the Japanese in WWII, the decipherment of lost scripts such as Linear B providing revolutionary material for historians to better document the past (the conclusion of which will fill us folk who are passionate about science and the enlightenment with such pride and joy), and finishes both on one of the most counter-intuitive sceintific breakthroughs: that of assymetric encryption through a clever interpretation of modular mathematics and number theory, and the purely theoretical concept of quantum computing which harnesses the one-time pad perfect encryption (and will take you a good couple of reads to process as it did with me – if you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t understand quantum theory).

Encryption has always been mathematical warfare. Let us just hope nobody solves the P vs NP problem before quantum encryption gets here.

Mark Wing (user link) says:

Thank you, Mike, for being one of the first large sites to recognize the importance and scope of this issue and promote actual knowledge instead of using FUD to drive page views to your Adsense account.

Because 99% of the media’s deep understanding of the intricacies of encryption can be summed up as “but, terrorism” which gets them lots of page views but brings the public no closer to realizing what’s actually at stake.

Kenpachi says:

Well... no surprises there... after all, it's [current year]

Though it’s really sad to see Mr. Masnik not getting a long due memo: rabid feminists co-opting every aspect of human endeavors. This of course, wasn’t going to be an exception. Sad times indeed…

From the blog linked in this post:

“The story Levy has told does not have a main female character. That constraint comes from history. But that is no excuse for discounting, marginalizing, and/or framing in terms of men the women who were actually there. It’s sloppy. And although it may have been more mainstream in 2001, I expect better now.”

Spoken like a true toxic feminist, with the perfect blend of bossiness and condescending tone only attained by those of their ilk.

The entire post is an ode to passive aggressiveness. So are every other post written by this person. The frustration and projection is palpable in almost every sentence.

Recurring themes, like a broken record: harassment, gender, oppression, repeat ad infinitum.

That post is an ode to low self esteem. Bravo!

“On the broadest level, I’m interested in intermediary liability, platforms, gender, video games and intellectual property.” That speaks volumes. Gender and Video Games! Now.. where have I heard that before?… Mmmm…

“Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about online abuse and harassment, and how platforms can design their reporting procedures and policies to make sure that they express their values.” Uh, Oh… The Stasi Speech and Thought Police is here…

“Sure, players have to agree to a lengthy Code of Conduct, but that’s the case everywhere online these days.

As if that somehow validates their adoption. Quite the opposite is happening right now, for quite some time now, and for a number of good reasons. Just to scratch the surface:


On another of her entry blogs:

“…But still, it all sounds like kittens. This is an incredibly effective tactic, as far as I can tell – player reactions have been positive.”

Yayyy! Another wanna be Speech Police Officer! Hey, it’s all in name of a more civil environment, think of the children! /s

But this last one takes the prize:


“I found out about How to Suppress Women’s Writing from an Ada Initiative blog-post about Ada Lovelace, and despite the fact that the book was published in the1970s, I was able to request a copy from my local library system (Cambridge Public Library for the win!). This book is utterly fascinating especially as I embark upon another adventure into schooling where I imagine that I’ll primarily be exposed to old white dudes.”

“bell hooks was on my agenda to read this summer: my only regret is I didn’t get to her work, specifically Feminism is for Everyone, sooner. I loved this book. I think it speaks strongly against the claim that feminism is no longer necessary, and that hooks argues rather persuasively that feminism needs to be a broader radical structure in order to be successful. The most beautiful antidote to Lean In.”

Now, here is some background on the Infamous ADA Initiative:

And take notice of the books this person endorses:

Among many supremacist titles, this is the worst offender of course: Feminism is for Everyone.

TL;DR: Please Mike, do some research before taking sides with a dangerous ideologue. These toxic human beings are indoctrinated to their core and will stop at nothing to try to impose their dogma.

This is the best assessment of the 1st. world feminist movement in 2016:

Anyway, just my opinions on the subject. I’m going through the trouble of posting my opinions because this website always encourages their readers to be critical thinkers and to dig deep into the subjects presented. If anyone scratches the surface of these topics, the monster of a million heads quickly shows up.

But I can not let this slide: to bash and tarnish the reputation of such an accomplished writer as Mr. Levy is yet another example of the many that have happened before, and that continue to happen. These people have no honor, no morals and no ethics.

Despicable and pathetic beyond all measure.

Matt Bennett says:

don't go all SJW

I assume when he calls a woman “diminutive” he’s talking about her physical size, which doesn’t seem like a big deal. I suppose a far-left feminist might make a big deal about how that’s infantilizing her or some such bullshit, but to most normal people it’s just a physical descriptor, like saying they have blond or or brunette hair, etc.

Don’t be weird, Mike.

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