[Linux-aus] Encryption bill and open source

Ben McGinnes ben at adversary.org
Sat Dec 8 07:28:15 AEDT 2018

On Thu, Dec 06, 2018 at 03:47:22PM +1100, Linux Australia President via linux-aus wrote:
> Thanks aj for getting the conversation started.
> The proposed legislation is deeply flawed, ill-conceived, poorly
> consulted and no doubt will be improperly executed. The list of
> submissions to PJCIS [0] is staggering in its volume, how many big
> players responded, and the overarching message that the AAbill is
> flawed. What's even more appalling is how the submissions have been
> resoundingly ignored over vague, specious national security
> claims. And yes, passing of this bill undoubtedly jeopardises the
> Australian technology industry.

It will, but some of us who've actively opposed crap like this for
years have been a little more silent this time around.  Most likely a
result of burn out in trying to maintain the sisyphean struggle
against totalitarian power grabs.

I've certainly felt that, coupled with a few other things.  So this
time around I concentrated as much as possible on technical solutions
before doing so may or may not become illegal here (I haven't checked
the final language and honestly don't really give a damn).

>> Would improving the state of the art in open source help to defray
>> its effects?
> Yes, but no-one's going to do it.
> Open * / free * / libre * groups internationally all face the same
> set of problems Nadia Eghbal set out in her excellent paper "Roads
> and bridges" - essentially everyone uses open source software, but
> no one's paying for it to be maintained [1].

This is a major understatement.  My current job, for example, is a
paid job until the end of this year, but that's when the money runs
out.  It's a perfectly decent example of exactly this problem; the
more so because the free software project I work in is clearly
relevant to this issue.

It's also used in bootstrapping most, if not all, of the FOSS OSes;
yet seen a negligible amount of their funding.

As for my obligatory disclaimer regarding work (and impending need to
do less in the role in order to find a paying gig elsewhere); I'm
leaving my work email .signature in place this time (I normally cut
them from posts to lists).  Even though I'm not posting from my
work/project address.

As for whether or not it ought to receive more funding from those
companies and organisations which depend on it ... well, my view is
biased and the corporate world has clearly decided it doesn't.  Aside
from the token community grant from, of all companies, Facebook.

You can all decide for yourselves if that project is worthwhile in
relation to human rights and civil liberties.  ;)

Anyway, there's more to do before the year is done, so I'll keep my
focus where it will do some real good.[1]  This has the added bonus of
also being civil disobedience in the current political climate.

As for whether or not the current legislation makes my work illegal or
unlawful; I'm willing to give this legislation[2] about as much regard
as those behind this latest power grab have for conducting themselves
within the bounds of the law at all times and respecting the human
rights of everyone else.  That seems like a fair compromise.[3]


1: No, I won't plant backdoors in the thing and all my commits are
   publicly viewable here: https://dev.gnupg.org/people/commits/498/

2: Amongst a number of other legislative instruments used by both
   Australia and its allies.

3: Do I really need to say how little this regard must be?  No?  Good.

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