Statement on Backdoors

October 5, 2010

The New York Times has recently reported that the current U.S. administration is proposing a bill that would apparently, if passed, require communication systems to facilitate government wiretapping and access to encrypted data.

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Commentary by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Suderman / Reason, Julian Sanchez / Cato Institute.

The core Tahoe developers promise never to change Tahoe-LAFS to facilitate government access to data stored or transmitted by it. Even if it were desirable to facilitate such access – which it is not – we believe it would not be technically feasible to do so without severely compromising Tahoe-LAFS’ security against other attackers. There have been many examples in which backdoors intended for use by government have introduced vulnerabilities exploitable by other parties (a notable example being the Greek cellphone eavesdropping scandal in 2004/5). RFCs 1984 and 2804 elaborate on the security case against such backdoors.

Note that since Tahoe-LAFS is open-source software, forks by people other than the current core developers are possible. In that event, we would try to persuade any such forks to adopt a similar policy.

The following Tahoe-LAFS developers agree with this statement:

David-Sarah Hopwood [Daira Hopwood]

Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn

Brian Warner

Kevan Carstensen

Frédéric Marti

Jack Lloyd

François Deppierraz

Yu Xue

Marc Tooley

Peter Secor

Shawn Willden

Terrell Russell

Jean-Paul Calderone


Sajith Sasidharan