[messaging] Value of deniability

Eleanor Saitta ella at dymaxion.org
Thu Dec 11 10:51:06 PST 2014

Hash: SHA256

This is a joke, right?  You don't actually believe that cryptographic
hashes influence any of these social outcomes, do you?


On 2014.12.11 13.30, Natanael wrote:
> Other examples in this spirit - you asked for a car with high
> maximum speed. You said you don't care much about security ratings.
> This gets forwarded to a data broker (look up the term) who sells
> it to your insurance company - and you can't deny you said it!
> Boom, your insurance costs just doubled.
> And as you mentioned, the dealership can get in trouble too. Many 
> companies that protect their brand have all kinds of contracts and 
> NDA's around MSRP with retailers, which among others means sale
> prices can't be published. This allows them to set their own
> margins and provide low prices for chosen retailers that advertise
> them well, and higher prices for others. Having a provable
> transcript of a conversation declaring the exact margins and terms
> would lose that retailer their contract and would make negotiations
> harder for the company, and their brand could likely get a hit.
> Discussing job options. While not having told your boss about your 
> plans to leave. Sometimes you have very good reasons to not let
> them know a thing until after your new job position is secured.
> Dealing with bullies in general. So 98% of all schools (and
> probably close to as many work places) will have somebody who'd
> abuse the ability to prove the contents of the log. Imagine
> somebody framing somebody by bulling them IRL using seemingly
> innocent phrases told in a mean manner. This gets repeated without
> that context in a chat. The angry response gets forwarded to some
> authoritive person who'll interpret it as the recipient being the
> one who initiated the fight. This isn't even slightly unlikely - if
> they think it can be (ab)used, they'll try. This happens already
> with everything from notes to trying to make people say something
> bad as a teacher/boss/etc is approaching. Don't leave people
> without other options online!
> Journalists have already been mentioned. This usecase alone is
> enough for me to be willing to demand that this feature is included
> by default everywhere. Journalists don't want to use specialized
> tools that nobody else uses except when trying to figure out how to
> securely contact a journalist. No, the default tools that everybody
> use should be secure enough. An insider should be able to claim he
> is being framed if the transcript gets published and the fingers
> are pointed at him (see Snowden, Manning and others), and
> deniability means it is nothing but word against word (or against
> rumor) rather than undeniable proof. The mere fact that he used a
> tool that supports deniability should not be worth considering as
> evidence against him, something which only is possible if it is
> commonplace already.
> One very very important thing to remember - deniability is not the 
> equivalent of seatbelts, unlike what Eleanor implies when saying
> that the user has to prepare for it.
> No, it is more like crumple zones - when shit happens, it reduces
> your risk of getting hurt, even though it doesn't guarantee
> anything by itself, and you don't have to know it exists in
> advance.

- -- 
Ideas are my favorite toys.


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