REACTIONS TO QUANTUM ENCRYPTION POST
I had a couple of responses to the post on the implications of quantum encryption
. Reader Jacob H.
whose field is mathematics, sent me the following and gave his permission to post from his email:"As far as the use of strong encryption for nefarious purposes, NSA hasbeen down that road before as you may remember. Back in 1993-1994, atthe prompting of the FBI, it got involved in promoting the ClipperChip. The idea behind it was to give the public strong encryptionwithout giving the mob, terrorists and child pornographers access toit. Each Clipper Chip would have a unique private key that thegovernment would hold a copy of. Were the FBI or whoever to need toread your encrypted traffic they could go to a judge, and if they had probable cause they could get a warrant to get your private key andread your message. It was a resounding failure - largely because thecat was already out of the bag (PGP and other strong cryptosystemswere already available) and in the post-Cold War world the commercialcommunity wasn't willing to accept policies just because the feds saidthat "this is necessary for national security." So I would hope thatNSA has learned that trying to suppress advances in cryptography is alosing battle.As far as NSA or CIA infiltrating commercial QE companies to access their "proprietary key information," I think that you may have misunderstood what QE offers. I cannot claim to be an expert,especially because my physics background is woefully weak, but I do have some experience with cryptography. Once an individual ororganization has a quantum encrypted channel in operation, there is nospecial knowledge that the company that made the equipment for thatchannel can offer. There may be proprietary information regarding howthe company built that equipment but the keys used to encrypt trafficover the QE chanel are randomly created by the users. So if you wereimplying that somehow agents within the companies could access "backdoors," that simply isn't possible due to the nature of QE as I understand it. One could, however, try to sabotage individual products that were being delivered to customers the government deemed too dangerous to possess strong encryption."As a related counterpoint, Geitner Simmons , senior editor of the Omaha World Herald as well as Regions of Mind proprietor, mentioned a shift on government policy regarding research into QE in recent years that might indicate that the NSA has taken more of a velvet glove approach to the same goals:"I recently spoke with an official at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln involved in the commercializing of university research. The federal government, I learned, sometimes issues secret patents to researchers who develop technology with national security applications. A common example, the official said, is encryption technology."Collaborative and cooperative policy that respects the scientist's intellectual property rights and discovery process may be yielding greater national security gains for the NSA without inhibiting innovation, compared to the heavy-handed, old-school, approach mentioned by Jacob.