Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2015/1162

The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work

Phillip Rogaway

Abstract: Cryptography rearranges power: it configures who can do what, from what. This makes cryptography an inherently \textit{political} tool, and it confers on the field an intrinsically \textit{moral} dimension. The Snowden revelations motivate a reassessment of the political and moral positioning of cryptography. They lead one to ask if our inability to effectively address mass surveillance constitutes a failure of our field. I believe that it does. I call for a community-wide effort to develop more effective means to resist mass surveillance. I plea for a reinvention of our disciplinary culture to attend not only to puzzles and math, but, also, to the societal implications of our work.

Category / Keywords: cryptography, ethics, mass surveillance, privacy, Snowden, social responsiblity

Date: received 1 Dec 2015, last revised 14 Mar 2016

Contact author: rogaway at cs ucdavis edu

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: * Paper corresponding to an IACR Distinguished Lecture given at Asiacrypt 2015. A one-page abstract appears in those proceedings. * A version of this paper with endnotes instead of footnotes can be found on the author's homepage.

Version: 20160315:025408 (All versions of this report)

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