[Dailydave] Clarifying the record from EFF
trevor at eff.org
Tue Aug 21 11:45:19 EDT 2012
Below is EFF's response to the Daily Dave thread entitled "Neal
Stephenson, the EFF, and Exploit Sales."
In March, in the midst of a heated public about cybersecurity, EFF
published an article entitled "Zero-Day Exploit Sales Should be a Key
Point in the Cybersecurity Debate." Unfortunately, it has been
mischaracterized and distorted on this list and other public forums, so
we want to take the opportunity to clarify what we said, and
importantly, what we didn't say.
The confusion seems to stem from this paragraph:/
/If the U.S. government is serious about securing the Internet, any
bill, directive, or policy related to cybersecurity should work
toward ensuring that vulnerabilities are fixed, and explicitly
disallow any clandestine operations within the government that do
not further this goal. Unfortunately, if these exploits are being
bought by governments for offensive purposes, then there is pressure
to selectively harden sensitive targets while keeping the attack
secret from everyone else, leaving technology---and its
users---vulnerable to attack./
Based on this, we've been accused of calling for regulation of coders'
free speech rights. But that is not what this paragraph (or the rest of
the blog post) says. This paragraph is about what /the ////U.S.
government/ should do, and not about coders at all.
Indeed, EFF established that code is speech in the 1990s in a case
called Bernstein v. Department of Justice, winning the right to export
continue to defend these rights to this day. Any legislation or other
government action that would restrict coders from writing code (and
offering it to the government) should be presumptively unconstitutional,
and rightly so.
The blog post was written while the House of Representatives was
debating CISPA, a dangerous bill that would carve a huge hole in
existing privacy law while not actually making the Internet any safer:
The basic point we were trying to make is that Congress should look at
the government's own actions and consider what it could do to improve
security before passing sweeping new legislation to scale back everyone
else's rights. That includes the government's own decisions to keep
information from companies and the public that could help secure
networks, systems, and critical data -- as part of a hidden offensive
strategy or otherwise.
The main cybersecurity bills are no longer moving forward, but the
debate about policies to address information security will doubtless
continue. In these discussions, EFF will continue to fight for the
users, for the researchers, for robust privacy and security technology,
and against governmental restrictions on the freedom to code. While you
may not agree with everything we do, we thank you for the opportunity to
participate in the discussions on this forum.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
trevor at eff.org
415.436.9333 ext. 104
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Defending your civil liberties in the digital world.
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