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Arvind Narayanan @random_walker
, 7 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I admire the cryptographers who had the patience and courage to work on Privacy Enhancing Technologies for decades before the Snowden leaks, even though the world wasn't ready for them. This quote explains it perfectly. #RealWorldCrypto “Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” ― Milton Friedman
For many years, just about the only example of using fancy crypto (i.e., secure multiparty computation, zero-knowledge proofs, etc.) to protect privacy was the Danish sugar beet auction, which was frankly a bit silly.
Today, in addition to the obvious (cryptocurrencies), there are a growing number of examples of complex crypto protocols for privacy. After Snowden, tech companies have been far more willing to do the engineering. For example, this blog post by Cloudflare:…
A recent Senate Bill asks the Department of Education to adopt Secure Multiparty Computation. It's just a bill, but it's still a historic moment for cryptography and privacy enhancing technologies!…
Let's not forget how utterly bizarre non-cryptographers find the idea that you can perform computations on a dataset without having access to it. Getting people to appreciate the possibility that technology can achieve these seemingly impossible trade-offs is half the battle.
What do Apple and the US Census Bureau have in common? They both use differential privacy to protect sensitive data.………
A long time ago I worked on cryptographic PETs, then became disillusioned and tried to argue that they'll never be adopted. The late, wise Caspar Bowden gently explained to me that what's seemingly inevitable or impossible is really contingent on cultural and political winds. 🙏
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