Encryption is more important than the Second Amendment

I don’t disagree with anything written here. It is a very important topic. But assume for a second that all Christians, Conservatives, etc. were completely denied access to a “secure” digital world. Wouldn’t this just be going back to 1987 or so? Perhaps this justifiable worry is also an indication that our digital lives have become too ingrained in our beings. I mean, there’s always homing pigeons, no?

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I don’t think so. It is partially because we use digital technology that we need encryption. But I would contend that it is also partially because of the changes that have taken place in society that have put everybody under constant surveillance (whether they use any digital technology or not).

It speaks to Joseph’s farsightedness that he has thought about this and posted this article, and my own ignorance that this has never occurred to me as a problem. Like most people, when I hear about surveillance, I’m troubled by it but I more or less believe that such surveillance is just the way things are. I would have quite a few nickels if I had a nickel for every time I have been told “Nothing you do is private in a digital age.”

Conservatives instinctively want to look to the past, but this proposal is forward-looking. It has an eye on development. Conservatives tend to be suspicious of all development. It will be interesting to watch how the debate unfolds. Unfortunately, the amendment process is very cumbersome, and it’s hard to imagine 2/3 of the House and Senate and 3/4 of the states agreeing on anything, much less this.

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Too true. But the interesting thing in this case is that there is a fair bit of liberal support for encryption. I figure I can do my part among conservatives. I’ve not seen anybody advocate for an amendment before, though. Probably that’s because, as noted above, it’s not technically new. It’s just speech. But the danger of losing it is real.

The free speech aspect is nothing new. But I understood your stagecoach analogy to be about more than speech. I took it to be referring to our “data,” which includes speech but is also more than speech.

Maybe I misunderstood? It’s definitely something worth fleshing out.

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Joseph, now I think that you’ve completely missed what I’ve been trying to say, both here, and in our phone call. The right to self-defense is innate, and the 2nd Amendment codifies a particular application of that right. We are lawfully permitted to use any necessary means to protect our lives from those who would harm us, including agents of the government. To call personal protection a “secondary effect” is get the entire thing totally backward.

I’m in total agreement on the necessity of encryption, I just think that you’ve positioned your argument in contrast to a strawman of the 2nd Amendment, and that doesn’t do justice to the real value of the discussion of encryption…

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From a rhetoric standpoint, if you want to convince conservatives, framing your argument as, “This is more important than the Second Amendment” is a great way to get into arguments about the history and purpose of the Second Amendment, rather than getting people to consider your points as such. Putting the worst possible spin on it makes your argument sound a little like the old chestnut of “If Christians were really pro-life, they’d sign up for my pet cause of [anti-death penalty activism | stricter gun laws | welfare policies].”

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Perhaps I have, and I am definitely not an expert on the the Second Amendment. I’m sure this quote is what you object to, right?

I think I’ve chosen my words poorly, but I maintain my basic point. Let me try again.

Self defense is a basic right. The right to own a gun is related but different. I just went and looked at Wikipedia, and sure enough, I read: “Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.”

My point was not to say that the 2A doesn’t protect the right of self-protection. It does. My point is that the right of self-protection against private attacks was a given. They weren’t worried that would be prohibited. What they were worried about was an overly powerful federal government oppressing people. I shouldn’t have summarized it as “states” being bullied, though that was clearly part of their concern. If you disarm the people in the state, you have disarmed the state. To protect against government oppression, they guaranteed the people power: arms.

According to Wikipedia, the Supreme Court in Heller made a similar point:

In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court remark[ed] that the English right at the time of the passing of the English Bill of Rights was a right not to be disarmed by the Crown and was not the granting of a new right to have arms.

And remember that Heller was a huge outcome supporting self-defense.

There are many benefits to the 2A. Without it, we might well be in a much worse spot for personal protection against private attacks. But its central purpose was always to be a protection against abuse by the federal government. Guaranteed gun ownership was just the means to that end. The people already had guns, as was their right, so the threat was the government passing a law to take away their guns.

Likewise, privacy is a basic right. But right now the government is actively abusing the people through its power to collect vast amounts of private information. Widespread use of encryption is power in the hands of the people. It is an auxiliary right. It has many other benefits, too, including protection against private attacks, but the only reason you need a constitutional amendment is really because of the government threat.

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Fair enough, @FaithAlone, and it’s happened. Lol. But I actually think that all the thinking conservatives have done about the second amendment will stand them in good stead in beginning to seeing this issue clearly.

Have I overstated my case? Perhaps. I don’t feel the argument has made it far enough to see yet.

I think you may be better off framing encryption as a kind of defensive weapon of the like already protected by the Second Amendment. Or even just comparing it to the right to bear arms without taking a position on which of them is more/less important.

When you say, “This is more important than the right to keep and bear arms,” what the Second Amendment guys hear is, “H*** yes, we are going to take away your AR-15 and your AK-47.”

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It’s definitely purely defensive in a way that guns are not, since it does no harm to anybody else while using it. @AndrewHenry pointed out to me that a gun is effective for protection even when it’s not in “use,” but the whole reason it is effective is because of the physical harm it can cause. Encryption cannot cause harm, and it’s for that very reason that it cannot be protected by the 2A. So I don’t see how it can be framed that way. I mean, I can just say that all who are in favor of the 2A should be in favor of a an amendment prohibiting the government from outlawing encryption, but… that’s kind of boring. :wink:

And the attitude of Christians toward a “right to privacy” is that it doesn’t exist and that it is just a front for abortion “rights.” I’d rather not stir up that hornets nest directly.

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I’m sure this says more about me than Joseph, but I actually like that he overstated his case a bit. If you are reading Sanityville or Warhorn and you’re not ready for some salty, contrarian takes that catch you off guard, why are you even here bro?

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The government thinks like this:

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Yep.

Trump: “They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”

In a statement, Apple said it provided gigabytes of information to law enforcement related to the Pensacola case but that it would not build a “backdoor” or specialized software to give law enforcement elevated access.

Trump told CNBC on Wednesday: “They could have given us that information. It would have been very helpful.”

The president said he’s not concerned about his relationship with Cook or Apple because the stakes are so high.

“You’re dealing with drug lords and you’re dealing with terrorists, and if you’re dealing with murderers, I don’t care,” Trump said.

Of course, Apple doesn’t have the information or they would give it. They don’t have the keys, either. Though they could indeed rewrite the software to be insecure and unprivate and get most people to update by also adding some new emojis at the same time.

And Trump’s position is very appealing to common sense and appeals to the common good.

But although guns make outlaws and murderers more dangerous and harder to apprehend, we judge the cost to society of taking away guns to be worse. The same is true of encryption today, except it is not protected and the president is effectively trying to get rid of it.

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Not encryption, but seemed somewhat relevant.

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The 2nd amendment has been reduced in scope not because guns are less effective than they were 200 years ago, but because militias no longer exist. It’s not that you with your musket would go and fight King George, it’s that you and your city/county/state would. The militia of today would be local (state level?) and have access to tanks, rocket launchers, all the stuff the federal army has (would there even be a federal army)? You could subdivide that further and have county level militias, etc.

Completely agree that encryption is vitally important. I think there was a company in Texas a few years ago that did completely encrypted email in such a way that even they could not read what was on their servers. I think the FBI told them to change that or be shut down. They chose to be shut down. Proton mail in switzerland is one option, but it would be nice for the land of the free to have an option.

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A post was split to a new topic: Which gun to get?

4 posts were split to a new topic: Militias and the Second Amendment

We now have a bill that seeks to do directly what the EARN IT Act was seeking to do indirectly:

https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2020/06/there’s-now-even-worse-anti-encryption-bill-earn-it-doesn’t-make-earn-it-bill-ok

To summarize this bill, all encryption providers (at rest and in transit) that ship more than 1 million devices per year (or copies for software, I guess) have to put in a back door at their own expense. Smaller providers need not put in a back door immediately, but could be required to at any time, with the government helping to foot the bill.

In other words, you couldn’t trust any encryption except for what you rolled yourself, like Al Qaeda does.

In other words, only the truly dangerous would have encryption, while all privacy of the rest of the 330 million citizens of the United States would be completely compromised. (The comparisons with guns just keep being obvious.)

Now, as it turns out, it appears this bill is DOA and is only meant to make the EARN IT Act seem like a mild bill and help get it pushed through. It’s an attempt to move the Overton window. Which means that all doubt is gone about whether the EARN IT Act is actually attempting to do away with encryption.

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