FC: Int'v with Microsoft's Scott Charney on benefits of key escrow

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 19:06:49 PST

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    Politech archive on Scott Charney:
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 22:47:41 -0500 (EST)
    From: Charles Platt <cpat_private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    Cc: cpat_private
    Subject: More Charney
    Declan, I believe that since I was offered an interview by a public
    official, for subsequent publication, and since the magazine formally
    rejected the feature and explicitly told me I could offer it elsewhere, I
    have the (copy)right to offer you the following excerpts for distribution.
    Below are a few excerpts from the interview that Scott
    Charney granted when he was head of the computer crime
    division of the Department of Justice. These quotes were
    offered to me for publication in Wired magazine, but the
    magazine chose not to use the feature. Subsequently, with Mr.
    Charney's permission, I adapted some of the material for a
    feature in the L. A. Times, and he made some additional
    statements at that time, during a telephone interview.
    I had the impression, while listening to Mr. Charney, that he
    was speaking personally. I didn't get the sense that I was
    receiving canned policy statements dictated via the Clinton
    administration. However I must add that although Mr. Charney
    saw his interview transcript shortly after the time I wrote
    it (more than six years ago), he has not seen it since then,
    and his personal views may have changed since then.
    --Charles Platt
    Charney on key escrow:
    "if you look at the debate at cryptography, are we better off
    with more privacy and less law enforcement? I think key
    escrow makes a lot of sense for many reasons, not just law
    enforcement reasons. We invade privacy under important
    constraints such as the fourth amendement. But if a judge
    says we can go into someone's home, this is to protect
    society, which is a right for society at the expense of the
    individual. Suppose you buy a bigger lock, we bring a bigger
    sledgehammer. But cryptography is a lock so strong, society
    cannot penetrate even if 1) everyone agrees it's very
    important, 2) it will save many many lives, and 3) a court
    has authorized it after a neutral judicial review. People
    communicating about blowing up an airline--we can't
    intercept, so 400 people die. There are those who say that's
    the price of privacy, but you have to be able to live with
    the choices you make, and I'd rather save the 400 people."
    Charney on data monitoring:
    "There's a concern about law enforcement engaging in illegal
    wiretaps, and there's no doubt you can find cases in history
    to justify that concern. But there's no evidence for
    systematic abuse of that process. I'd rather think that if a
    judge orders access to data and it satisfies the fourth
    amendement test, it should be permitted."
    Charney's computer background:
    "I was programming in Cobol when I was eight. My father went
    to MIT and got into computers in the vacuum tube days. Then
    he worked for Seligman[?], mutual fund co on Wall Street, he
    wrote one of the first programs for processing mutual fund
    checks by computer. He had me writing flow charts, then do
    the punch cards, go into the air conditioned room with a
    Honeywell computer, we'd process the cards. So I had a long
    informal history with computers."
    "I had a PC relatively early on. The first machine was XT
    class. And I program as a hobby, for the department, mostly
    in FoxPro, dBASE IV. I've toyed with C but I don't have the
    Charney on influencing the evolution of net culture:
    "It's fun to be a part of it and have some small impact on
    what the future's going to look like and whether we're going
    to like it. The players include civil libertarians,
    academics, policy makers--and law enforcement is an important
    part of that. You only have to look at the front cover of
    Time magazine to wonder if criminal law is going to drive the
    internet. The answer is, it should not. The goal is to
    minimize harm but allow the benefits to be maximized."
    "I think it's really important that we find ways to protect
    children, but not paint with such a broad brush that we chill
    the use of the net. Computer crime is a very important thing.
    If people abuse the networks, that's trouble. But you don't
    want networks in the next century to be driven by the
    computer crime issue. There's so many social benefits in the
    net, the democratizing factor, the free speech factor, we
    need to preserve those benefits while minizing the harm."
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