In this week’s podcast, I read aloud a recent Guardian column, “How to foil NSA sabotage: use a dead man’s switch, which proposes a “dead-man’s switch” service that’ll tip people off when the NSA serves a secret order demanding that Web operators sabotage their systems.
No one’s ever tested this approach in court, and I can’t say whether a judge would be able to distinguish between “not revealing a secret order” and “failing to note the absence of a secret order”, but in US jurisprudence, compelling someone to speak a lie is generally more fraught with constitutional issues than compelled silence about the truth. The UK is on less stable ground – the “unwritten constitution” lacks clarity on this subject, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act allows courts to order companies to surrender their cryptographic keys (for the purposes of decrypting evidence, though perhaps a judge could be convinced to equate providing evidence with signing a message).
Mastering by John Taylor Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes “Beer Jewelry” and “Odd Musical Furniture.” He often “meditates while reading cookbooks.”