We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Journos: UK officials don’t want to “ban encryption” — they want to ban encryption that *works*.

Edward Snowden

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • The Literate Platyus

    The standards of reporting on this have been shocking, basically giving UKGOV a free ride for the most part.

  • D. Neilson

    Seems one of those distinctions without a difference. It would be like saying they are not against you having a gun, but only will permit a prop gun.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Be reasonable! What would be the point of banning encryption that doesn’t work?
    Just beat the establishment/system by never communicating with anyone, ever! That’ll teach them!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr. Royd,

    The trouble with that is, now we learn that even complete isolation (the “air gap”) doesn’t work. What you have to do is, lock the thing away behind 6′-thick conducting armor plate, thus a super Faraday cage — not foolproof, but the best I can come up with at the moment. There must be no electrical outlets in the room of course. Naturally, no telephones or radio or TV (not that radio or TV would work in there anyway). No storage media (including filing cabinets) except what is built into the machine itself. And never allow anyone to enter the room.

    I mean anyone. Including you.

    Also, there must be no batteries or other power source in the room. That includes in the machine. Come to think of it, it might be advisable to remove the motherboard before sealing up the room.


    I think that might suffice. Although probably some no-good nerd will hack it eventually.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    I think you’ve come up with the perfect solution! And what was wrong with the humble abacus in the first place?

  • Julie near Chicago

    The abacus. As it happens, I have one. I should learn to use it, and then I wouldn’t have to take off my socks so often. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Let’s not forget carrier pidgeons! If you really don’t want to cut off all means of communication, then these might be useful.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well — does Perry allow carrier pigeons to comment on Samizdata? Also, can the NSA or Google read carrier-pigeon messages?

  • I think HMG (and others) show a complete failure to understand any of the tech. Back in the ’70s/80s we had a similar situation with the Yorkshire Ripper hunt. Huge amounts of data in card indexes. Way too much, too poorly targeted. Sutcliffe was questioned eleven times! Information overload.

    But this is digital and they have the tech to mine? Yes and no. The quantity of information generate each day is staggering and this is information in the technical, mathematical sense but that is not useful intelligence. Useful to anyone really. I have much more to say on this. Much more. But laters…b

  • thefrollickingmole

    this is interesting..

    >A former Defence employee from Canberra has been sentenced to three months in jail for publishing a top secret document to online forum 4chan.

    >In October 2012, Michael Scerba, 24, uploaded two pages of a Defence intelligence report to the website.

    >The breach came to light when a former member of the Defence Signals Directorate noticed a thumbnail marked “Julian Assange is my hero” on the site.

    >On closer inspection, he discovered two pages from a “Five Eyes only” document intended only for Australia’s closest allies, and alerted authorities.

    >Despite only being up on the website for an hour, the post attracted 15 comments.

    >The court heard Scerba burned sensitive images to a disk and took it home, where police found it broken in a bin.

    >Today, Justice Richard Refshauge acknowledged Scerba’s early guilty plea, and the fact that he had been severely depressed at the time of the offence.

    >Justice Refshauge also took into account Scerba’s clean record, and that he had been socially isolated after being dumped by his girlfriend.

    >But in sentencing he emphasised the importance of general deterrence, and said the “clang of the prison gates” was a way to warn others who may be tempted to breach national security.

    >Scerba is expected to be released from prison in February 2016, and be subject to a two-year good behaviour order.

  • does Perry allow carrier pigeons to comment on Samizdata?

    Carrier pigeons probably have little to say themselves, but Alec Muffet assures me we have a WordPress add-on installed on Samizdata that allows you to post comments yourself via carrier pigeon. Apparently they fly to a rookery he installed just outside his apartment that it attached by wires to the Samizdata server under his bed (he tells me the constant rhythmic sound of hamster feet on the treadmill spinning the disc helps him sleep at night).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh, that’s very nice. A man who has a job that helps him sleep is fortunate indeed.

    If Alec is ever in need of greater hamsterpower, I have a ready source of mobile mice infesting the place, and I would be delighted to contribute them to the Cause. It’s important that Alec continue well-rested, in order to keep up with the quantity of pigeon-drops.

    I don’t suppose he could also use some raccoons?

  • the other rob

    On carrier pigeons, while this will be familiar to the old hands, some of the younger folks may not have seen it.

    Julie – you can have power outlets in a Shielded Enclosure, you just have to use a LISN to check for transmission of signals down the power line first. You’ll also need a SELDS, to check for RF permeability in your welds.

  • Mr Ed

    Carrier pigeons were used in WW1 and WW2 to get messages around, the British Army certainly used them extensively, as did Coastal Command. However, there were also concerns about the use of carrier pigeons by German spies in the UK to send reports to the Abwehr and an avian Fighter Command was formed on the south coast with Peregrine Falcons to strike down escaping German spy pigeons. This was reportedly abandoned when it was found that the raptors could not, unsurprisingly, distinguish incoming British from German pigeons.

    It’s a little known fact that in WW2, the Wehrmacht stopped using carrier pigeons in the summer of 1944, after a security crackdown following the July bomb plot, Hitler ordered all their necks wrung, he was apparently worried that they were plotting a coo.

  • Phil B

    @Julie in Chicago,

    Being behind walls and isolated may not help:


    Ok – the technology AT THE MOMENT isn’t that good but in a few years time, if they can detect your fingers moving over a keyboard then they will be able to “read” the keys you are pressing.

    So a manual typewriter (using a carbon ribbon, of course) may be “hacked”.

    In short, if the State wants the power of the State to be deployed against you, then it will … with sledgehammer force.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed: *Eee-ee-ewwww!*


    What Perry Said. 🙂 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago


    Yes indeed, that illustrates one reason why your Consultant here specifies that no one may enter the room.

    As a matter of fact, Consultant is open to being sued for incompetence, as she forgot to include explicitly in the specs that the room must have no doors.

    The overall point is that there must be no method whatsoever by which any physical, whether immaterial or material, material can gain ingress to the room. Once you let in molecules, energy, or fields of any sort, you have given away the advantage of complete isolation. In this case the Air Gap will fail sooner rather than later.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea also to exhaust all air from the room. This should help greatly in assuring a fully stable microclimate therein. This will have the welcome side-effect of removing the Air Gap altogether (the existence of which implies the presence of air), thereby releasing one from the necessity of obsessing about its shortcomings.

    In fact, Consultant also neglected to specify that the room be located at least 20 miles underground, or perhaps 200 miles, so that it will be secure against extreme physical shock such as an Asteroid Extinction Hit, or a nuclear strike by Rep. Hank Johnson (who has already figured out how to tip Guam over so that all the inhabitants will slide off into the Pacific and drown).

    Nevertheless, as I said before, what Nerd can devise, Nerd can break. Nothing is ever 100%…except, maybe, foolishness. 😉

    . . .

    Seriously, though, your link is interesting and perfectly believable. It also illustrates the principle stated in my last para above. Same thing with the gizmos that detect the movements in panes of glass (parabolic mikes?), so that a well-secured bug-free high-rise office with a grand view of the Cal-Sag Channel (originally purely a sewage canal, latterly also a barge canal) can still be bugged from without, so to speak.

    What Nerd can devise, Nerd can override.

  • Fred the Fourth

    RFC1149 (running IP with birds at Layer 0) does not tell the whole story, unfortunately. There was a companion paper published later, which discussed actual implementations. IIRC the net throughput was unsatisfactory by modern standards, something on the order of 0.1 bit per second.
    Personally, I preferred the “Ethernet over barbed wire” system myself, despite the installation headaches, and the fact that it does not solve the electronic security problem.

  • gongcult

    Julie from Chicago: I still have my dads massive slide rule from the old 50’s engineering days Leave little traces for the calculations. Just a bit quicker than the abacus .

  • Julie near Chicago

    Wow, gongcult, yeah, I remember those. I learned on one of the cheap student ones, but eventually my Honey got one of the professional ones (he became a physicist).

    Heh…those were the days. Remember the circular slide rules?

  • Laird

    Julie, I used to have a circular slide rule. I still have a regular one (not that I ever use it, but it’s fun to show my son who has a degree in math but is clueless about them!).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Gee, Laird, Neither of us ever had a circular one. Though I think maybe I got to play with one for a short time, once.

    Yours ought to have been embalmed in Lucite, like the sample I have from CP-1 … or like a fossil preserved in amber.

    Since you brought it up, what’s your son’s field?

  • For those people referring to the Avian IP RFC, never underestimate the bandwidth of a truckload of tapes. A real life example(using a carrier pigeon, not a truck load of tapes) can be found at http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5885PM20090910

  • Laird

    Julie, no particular specialization, just a B.S. in Math and a Masters in Education. He’s a high school math teacher.