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<nettime> Enforcing Rights by Technology
carlo von lynX on Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:39:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Enforcing Rights by Technology

More can be done in order for us to *really* be able
to trust technology again, not just be overwhelmed
by it and its deficiencies. Our rights must be defen-
ded by the technology, not just by the laws of best
intentions. Too little is being said about this, so 
here's a stub.

	The other day the news ran that by 2030 all
	electrical metering must be replaced by smart
	metering in Germany. I understand the wish to
	optimize energy production, but I am not quite
	satisfied that the ability of these technologies
	to monitor every time I put on the kettle or go
	to the toilet is only limited by some EU regu-
	lation stating that it is isn't permitted.

In the past years we have seen that technology bypasses
laws all the time, so the availability of smart metering
is yet another temptation for government to exercise
totalitarian surveillance over its population - or, just
as bad, by some meta- or post-government entity with
despotic powers. In any case this situation is infringing
the intentions of our democratic constitutions.

Why is that logical? Well the constitution is not about
ensuring that the government are the "good ones", nor is
it about granting citizen some privileges. It is about
ensuring that neither the government nor anyone else 
will be able to exercise totalitarian control at any 
time in present or future.

That, as we know, has heavily been undermined in the
developments since 1995, with the gaining popularity of
GSM, SMS, e-mail and the web.

It doesn't have to be this way. Not only can an Internet
be devised and required by law that ensures end-to-end
authenticity (stopping Internet scam) and provides inti-
macy, freedom of association and expression -- it can
also be designed to be reproducible, transparent, offe-
ring guarantees down to the level of protocol details.

I can reproduce the software that is running on my smart
meter. I can install a firewall that impedes that smart
meter from sending a large blob containing all my patterns
of use of electricity. I can require it to submit its
monthly statistics in a predefined format that disallows
hiding more information inside, and my firewall can then
encrypt it in my name, making it my official electricity
report of the month, digitally signed.

So many things in everyday digital life can be designed
to respect constitutional principles not just by the law
of best intentions, but by technological enforcement.

But we aren't even talking about it.

What's wrong with us?

Are we so desperately in lack of vision that we can no
longer imagine a secure Internet?

P.S. A smartphone that cannot bypass the rights of its
owner is feasible, but I don't know of anyone but myself
even offering a sketch of it. Have you heard of anything
like it?

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