back to article PGP Zimmermann: 'You want privacy? Well privacy costs MONEY'

Delivering a keynote in London today, the famous inventor of PGP complained that consumers want privacy for free, forcing his company Silent Circle to focus on selling secure telephony to enterprises - while he would like to see it more widely employed. Silent Circle, the cryptographic communications firm at which Zimmermann …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Boffin

    Shouldn't...

    Privacy be the default?

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Cryptography is not the issue

      A government who expects individuals to submit to continuous surveillance is...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cryptography is not the issue

        Pretty damn smart because the world doesn't play nice. Nice guys won't be allowed to finish the game...

  2. theOtherJT

    What you pays for...

    Consumers have this weird notion that they want all of this privacy, but they don't want to pay for it.

    Yeah, but I also have this weird notion that I don't want dog shit in my dinner, but I don't expect to pay to have it removed, I expect it not to be there in the first place.

    Privacy isn't something that we should have to pay for. It's something we should expect to get for free because what privacy is is a lack of something. It's the absence of intrusion. The invasion of our privacy, that's something that's being done to us against our will and it grates somewhat to have to pay to push back against it.

    It's like paying for a private security company to guard your house because the nation you live in is a bit of a shit hole and the police aren't any good - only in this case it's probably people working for the nation you live in you're trying to keep out, which makes it doubly stupid. Having to pay for privacy is the sign of a broken system, and whilst I might have to accept that's the way it is at the moment, I certainly don't have to like it.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: What you pays for...

      Pretty much what I was going to say, except you got there first.

      My statement to Mr Zimmerman is that there are these things called RIGHTS. Nobody pays for rights. Ever. We have a right not to be enslaved. We have a right not to be assaulted. And we have a right not to be unaccountably spied on. Those are RIGHTS, Mr Zimmerman. They are not commodities to be bought or sold, they are inalienable properties of the human condition. That means they apply equally to everyone, not just those who can afford your price for them.

      1. CommanderGalaxian
        Unhappy

        Re: What you pays for...

        "My statement to Mr Zimmerman is that there are these things called RIGHTS... And we have a right not to be unaccountably spied on. Those are RIGHTS, Mr Zimmerman..."

        Mr Zimmerman is not your enemy. Why are you shooting the messenger?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. strum

        Re: What you pays for...

        >Nobody pays for rights. Ever.

        That's more than a little naïve. If everyone stopped paying taxes, how long do you think your 'rights' would last - with no-one to enforce them?

        1. Mummy's 'ickle soldier
          Trollface

          Re: What you pays for...

          "Nobody pays for rights."

          There are 14,280,000 dead allied soldiers that would disagree with that statement if they were here today. The shame is that the legacy that they left behind is being systematically destroyed by nation states. The dream of universal rights is exactly that. Those that can afford the tech and legal teams have rights, the rest of us plebs take what we get and should be grateful. Apathy is everywhere and it's killing us.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: What you pays for...

          If everyone stopped paying taxes, how long do you think your 'rights' would last

          Indeed - and another commentator notes other kinds of costs, such as military casualties (which are by no means always incurred in guaranteeing anyone's rights, but sometimes have been).

          The founding principle of liberal (in the technical sense) societies is that both the costs and benefits of civil rights should be distributed fairly among the populace (where "fairly" is always a matter of debate). It certainly isn't that rights can be secured free of charge.

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Nobody pays for rights. Ever. "

        Wrong.

        No one gives you rights because there is always someone who reckons they can get more money/power/land/whatever from disregarding or ignoring yours.

        The English Civil War was fought to end the absolute power of the monarch to do WTF they liked WTF they liked.

      5. katgod

        Re: What you pays for…

        Steve,

        Typically the things you mentioned are not free but are paid for by anyone who pays taxes.

        It is an interesting idea that the government provide you with secure communication i.e. they would be more then happy to do this if you let them have a back door. Is that the security you are looking for?

        To make security that is very hard to break requires much effort and is not something most governments seem to be interested in now. It is a somewhat like securing your house ideally it wouldn't be necessary but depending on how secure you want it to be it can cost little to thousands of dollars.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: What you pays for...

      .....is someone to do something you CANNOT. Go ahead, build a secure phone, OS. You can't (i assume), or you would have a free product for us to use. Go forth and spend thousands of your hours and millions of your dollars, for us, for free - because it is our right?. Your talent is worth nothing to us, but your product is .... our right, and therefore we should get it for free?

      That's what Phil is talking about. You want the phone for free .... isn't happening. Those who can do ... those who can't pay those who can; should your employer get you for free?

      Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an "unalienable right", or so they say, at least here in the good 'ole US of A. However, that house in which you happily sleep, is NOT FREE!!

      1. theOtherJT

        @something_or_another

        I think you've missed the point I'm making here.

        Zimmermann here seems to be perplexed why people won't pay him for his phone when it clearly provides something they want, and that he (and his team) have obviously put a lot of valuable effort into creating it.

        Now, I applaud his work, and I do value it - but I still object to paying for the product. I object, not because the product is bad (I presume - I don't have one, so I can't say for sure) or that I don't think the people who produced it deserve to be compensated for their work. I object to the fact that the product exists at all. It shouldn't be required.

        I don't want to have to buy back my privacy. I want it to be treated as a basic right which will be protected by the state I live in - just like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I expect the state to protect me from people who might try and take those things from me. I expect them to protect my privacy with the same level of dedication, not actively work to subvert it.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What you pays for...

      You do pay for police unless of course you have never been taxed, but your argument is still a good one. We should get security when we buy a phone even if it means a small adder to the cost of the phone. I do think that having to add it after the fact is not the correct way to get security.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Privacy.." " It's something we should expect to get for free "

      Ever hear the phrase "Freedom is not free" ?

      Or "The price of freedom (from mass surveillance) is eternal vigilance" ?

  3. Wommit

    'You want privacy? Well privacy costs MONEY'

    No, some of the toys being sold to give the buyer a small (but false) sense of privacy cost money. Privacy itself, shouldn't.

    Privacy, in the EU, is one of the ECHR fundamental rights. It's also be a constitutional right in the US, remember that bit about unlawful / repressive search & seizure? I forget the exact wording, but it is there.

    Yes, there are privacy problems in the UK, just as there are privacy problems in the US. Both need to be addressed, but do not state that our privacy needs to be paid for. It already has been. it's been paid for by the blood of our armed forces. and payments are still being made today.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: 'You want privacy? Well privacy costs MONEY'

      No, some of the toys being sold to give the buyer a small (but false) sense of privacy cost money. Privacy itself, shouldn't.

      As noted above, this is naive. All rights come with costs. Those who subscribe to a liberal1 ideology just want those costs extracted fairly among the populace (or citizenry, depending on how liberal they are and which rights they're talking about), rather than having rights be sold in the market.

      Zimmerman's point is correct in the abstract; and he's also correct that unless and until a society does provide privacy as a fundamental right, the market is your only recourse for securing it. So by all means agitate for political reform, but in the meantime the cost of privacy will be paid unfairly, by those who want it enough.

      1Again, in the technical sense, not the bastardized one used by illiterates in half-assed political arguments.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'You want privacy? Well privacy costs MONEY'

      Tell Cameron that!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tell me they can't work on $100 retail

    a copy for personal encryption software that SECURELY locks down your pc and emails.

    If it meant that much to me to be that secure, I would certainly pay that. I don't care myself as I have nothing that needs that level of security. I believe that is the real issue. Not enough people really need it. Those that really do need encryption software come with a whole host of other problems that might interfere with selling the software. Nothing like an "Aiding and Abetting" charge to make life miserable.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Tell me they can't work on $100 retail

      They can't. "SECURELY lock[ing] down your [PC]" is an unsolved problem, except for degenerate cases (such as destroying it).

      It's not even well-defined, as anyone who understands the basics of security would know.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It strikes me odd to belittle consumers for hesitating to purchase yet another security solution, while extolling government and enterprise markets - neither of which use personal funds to buy a product.

    Effective legislation, laws and enforcement would bring all the end-user privacy we desire for "free", using tax funding.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      But "tax funding" is not free. See the debt hole? A good piece of it want to funding surveillance. The kids will pay for it, yes they will.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > See the debt hole?

        Yes, thus the quotes around the word "free" - perhaps a tad too subtle, I agree that taxation is another form of payment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >Yes, thus the quotes around the word "free" - perhaps a tad too subtle, I agree that taxation is another form of payment.

          Exactly: A special form of payment over which the payer has absolutely no control whatsoever.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            No control? What about moving to another country?

  6. DropBear

    "...they don't want to pay for it."

    Guess what, if I can't afford to go on a holiday anywhere out of town I'm sure as hell not going to pay for yours in Hawaii, no matter how much I value privacy (I do) or just how paranoid about it I can be (very...)! Oh, and I'd like to see how exactly are you securing my communication if I do have your handset/software, but none of my friends does...

  7. Uberseehandel

    Mr Zimmerman

    Its is easy to understand the British tolerance for widespread surveillance - they are not nice, they like beating up on people - they lock them up in prisons in disproportionate numbers - they do not rehabilitate them - the Prime Minister feels physically sick at the thought of prisoners voting (what happened to bringing offenders back into society and making them responsible), they know that CCTV does not prevent crime, just makes conviction easier.

    The police lie, the journalists are dishonest, the politicians are shonky.

    What does shock me, however is the loss of spine or backbone. The Parisians fixed the wheel clamping problem - they filled the locks with superglue. - clamping disappeared. The Dutch blew up Speed cameras. - the British just take it

    As long as somebody else is getting "beaten up on", the British are happy.

    So, Mr Zimmerman, don't be surprised by the British

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not that we like beating people up, it's that we like things to be cheap. Surveillance is a really cheap way to police.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or semblance of policing. Most on premises cctv is probably at the lowest resolution, and the better grade stuff too high up.

        Its only recently that I've seen police-released "do you know this person" cctv images in the news that seem to actually have distinctive facial features rather than being a 360px grey blur.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Devil

      Physically sick at the thought of prisoners voting but a bit of dead pig face fucking never did anyone any harm. They're a strange lot them politicians.

      We now return you to your scheduled thread.

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Happy

      The british will put up

      with anything.

      Because we shipped all the rebelious and criminal types off to foriegn lands a long time ago.

      But never under-estimate us.

      If you put the milk in the cup before the tea we get bloody furious.

      And god help you if you interrupt the tea supply...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We the British do seem to have a prison rate about twice that of the Germans, 50% more than France or Canada, a little higher than Spain/Portugal, though less than Czech or Poland, it's still about one-quarter of the US rate.

      http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison_population_rate?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All&=Apply

    5. yossarianuk

      I'm sure the fact we're a monarchy is a factor.

      i.e - us plebs do not expect rights, we are after all mere subjects.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Shut that (back)door!

    If you've done nothing naughty, you've nothing to worry about.

    Paris, as she's a very naughty girl.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Shut that (back)door!

      When is surveillance a problem?

      When there is a politician who has done something naughty that he has to worry about.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Shut that (back)door!

        Read "The Dead Past" by Asimov.

        We are creating something similar. So much of what we do is online (in the traditional sense) but even more can be reconstructed using phone GPS / cell tower tracking/mapping, toll-road data, electronic ticketing, electronic payment records. For the first time in history, industry and government have enough compute and storage think about blanket surveillance.

        Blocking external access to our email, chat and telephony are just the poster-children (or is that "pointless distraction") for a backlash against the lack of privacy created by the linking of vast amounts of data.

        Even if you think the government is benign, do we really want to build such capabilities? Avoiding Godwin, do you think either the Russian Monarchy or the revolutionaries anticipated Stalin? When building such things, perhaps we should think, "What would Stalin do?"

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Shut that (back)door!

          "When building such things, perhaps we should think, "What would Stalin do?""

          A: Anything he damn well pleases because, in the end, an autocrat able to exert absolute power doesn't really need laws on paper ("Ink on a page."). If you're up against that, you have bigger problems—likely intractable ones at that. History shows that no government known to man can really stand up to a sociopath with a lot of charisma.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It saddens me to say this but looking at all what has happened and the very insightful point that you can have the best encryption in the world but if someone hacks your keys it's a waste I think we are all well and truly f*cked. The revelations about mass surveillance and the press/government and general population's reaction to it show me that it's here to stay and it's going to become even more intrusive than it already is (face recognition linked up to cctv etc.), just the fact that the U.K. government wants to ban encryption is just plain stupid and reeks of "make our job a little easier please".

    Where this will all end is anybodies guess, personally I think it's only a matter of time before these "big data" sets start getting profiled and laws are passed allowing the police to act upon these profiles to make the country safe before any crime has been committed, were already killing people in foreign countries before they commit a crime without even presenting evidence so it must be ok then or is that some kind of softener for what's to come?

    I used to be one of the few with a tin foil hat however it's the norm now.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dont mind...

    The idea of paying for privacy tools so long as its the same price for everyone and there isnt some multi-tiered bullshit product tree. "Extreme Black OP Platinum Pro Over 9000 Edition" is just bullshit.

    Also the price has to be fair.

    I loathe companies that feel the need to offer a "Pro" package that offers the one feature you were after in the first place for a fee that is arbitrary and designed to fuck you.

    Also, I though enterprise customers were meant to be bent over and fucked to subsidise consumer products. Have silent circle missed the point here?

    Isnt that the norm? Isnt that the explanation for Quadro / FireGL graphics cards pricing and the like?

    1. Chairo

      Re: I dont mind...

      Isnt that the explanation for Quadro / FireGL graphics cards pricing and the like?

      Well, it certainly is the reason that consumer cards run double precision float only at quarter speed.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I dont mind...

        Only nVidia cards do doubles at quarter speed. For a while now, AMD cards can do it at only half the speed of single, which at least makes sense.

  11. Christian Berger

    Privacy doesn't cost money

    Privacy costs effort and comfort. You cannot simply outsource privacy to some company, no matter how much money you pay them.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Privacy doesn't cost money

      And guess what? Effort and comfort have a price, too: either in money or time (then again, time is money, too).

  12. thtechnologist

    The general populace does not care, or cannot understand why they should care. If they did, there would be no Facebook, Google would have died as well. In some cases, it is a hindrance in life. I have interviewed a couple places where they, "don't trust anyone without a Facebook account," because they "wonder what you are hiding."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ziimerman shoukd read this list

    Perhaps within he'd find an answer, possibly at item "People don't seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government".

    Frankly if we thought that spooks were viewing our email all time a lot of us (ie drunks on a Saturday night) would would be tele-mooning for the laugh.

  14. kdd

    I won't even pay for a smart phone

    Phil may prefer phone security to email, but I wasn't using my phone that much so I dumped the smart phone for a $5/mo pay-as-you-go phone, and even that I barely use. And I can't use encrypted email without all my friends using it too, and I work in IT and still can't figure out how to use PGP. The few times I tried encryption I promptly forgot my password and bricked my data. None of my friends are tech savvy or want to have to worry about it. Yes, encryption should be ubiquitous, but it must also be 100% transparent. If you think that's difficult or impossible, sorry but that's reality.

  15. noj

    "...privacy costs money..."

    We pay for blanket surveillance through our taxes. We pay to be tracked and targeted with ads through the purchases we make and the web sites we look at. In both cases we don't have a choice. So Zimmerman is just pointing out the obvious. You have a choice to obtain some level of privacy using his service but it costs money too. The difference is that he's offering a service that you can pay for his service or leave it. The big boys don't give you that option.

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