The original vision was very lofty:
"Notes should take the first major crack at the area of idea processors, textual databases, and hypertext systems."
I would love to see where an open source equivalent built for the modern age could take us... (CouchDB gave it a good shot!)
"As you know, the U.S. government has defined its "maximum tolerance
level" for exportable unescrowed cryptography at 40 bits. That is,
because they generally permit the export of 40-bit products, the U.S.
government is clearly already willing to deal with a 40-bit work
factor in order to examine encrypted communications outside of this
So, the system that we're shipping in Lotus Notes Release 4 overseas
is one that presents different work factors to different parties,
hence the name.
Against crackers -- against the run-of-the-mill adversary trying to
break a message -- the work factor is 64 bits, just like it is in the
U.S. That is, in the new International Edition of Lotus Notes, bulk
data keys are now 64 bits just as they are in our North American
Edition that's sold in the U.S. and Canada.
But when the U.S. Government needs access to a communications stream
overseas encoded by the international edition of Lotus Notes, they are
no worse off - and no better off - than they are today - they have to
crack 40 bits."
Since then, the goals of different interest groups haven't changed, and we all now about many new possibilities and about the surveillance actually being done and the dangers that the changes brought and can bring.
Other comments here in the other threads are about these more recent issues and the readers should note them too.
Connecting both aspects though: arguably the failure of subsequent technologies to fulfill the decentralized Notes vision has facilitated the rise of extreme centralization and greatly exacerbated our privacy problems.
Fun fact: The Atari 7800, designed in 1983, used a 956-bit Rabin signature to vendor lock games. Strong cryptography was unavailable for a long time primarily due to indifference, ignorance, and interference and not primarily due to computational limits.
But not to encrypt the communication -- that would have been, apparently, against the U.S. laws of that time.
> Strong cryptography was unavailable for a long time primarily due to indifference, ignorance, and interference and not primarily due to computational limits.
It's surely the "interference" in the form of the mentioned U.S. laws at the time, some other comments here detail the historical background.
However, export was another matter and the export version of the 7800 left the crypto out!
In any case, my point was that weak crypto spanning into the late 90s was not a result of technical limitations.
The laws as they were had exactly that effect: a lot of companies didn’t intend to have products sold solely in the US. And it was problematic enough that most companies avoided making a US-only version: even carrying such a product on a floppy disk while travelling outside of US could get you in trouble, see this article from 1995:
The companies that did use strong crypto typically had the contracts with the military.
I think both of us might be making the error of correcting something the other person wasn't intending to comment on! :)
Some export complications around crypto exist to this very day-- at least for commercial hardware products. I've had to fill out the export forms myself, and not that many years ago.
And I have never claimed anything else, it can be easily verified.
I worked in places that did everything from comprehensive correspondence management to configurators for factory systems. It’s a pretty powerful set of tools.
The Microsoft world was much more primitive until the mid 2000s. GroupWise and Notes shops didn’t have the ridiculous mailbox size limitations that Exchange had up until about a decade ago. Even today, the dumpster fire that is SharePoint is arguably inferior to what Notes was shipping in 1996 in some ways.
That being said, I've work on a handful of installations of various sizes, including large state governments and Fortune 500 companies setups, and have never encountered one that wasn't a massive struggle to work with compared to just about any alternative solution.
The only open question is that will Teams, which is at it's heart a bizarre mashup of SharePoint and enterprise IM/Voice/Video will eventually engender the same universal disdain.
it suffered of development inconsistency if anything, much like java applets
turns out if some platform access is too easy, everyone starts publishing crapware
If you're online, the rough edges are plastered over a little by timely updates, but working offline would amplify them a bit.
It might be hard to imagine the scope that notes encompassed in its day... it simultaneously provide mobile, offline first apps with usable data replication.. among a few features that might be surprising:
Notes had a few more unique features that modern devs might cringe to hear isn’t all that new:
- Notes provided early Nosql/relational data. Everything was a document and have fun stitching it all together in views. The NotesSQL layer would add an ODBC based layer to simulate relational dbs.
- When Lotus added Domino to Notes, it was among the first that could deliver the same Lotus Notes code to a web application. Early write once, deploy anywhere (woda). Existing apps that only ran inside Notes now worked in a web browser.
All this.. for a piece of software that was originally an email server and built workflow around it. all compromised.
Notes for email / groupware was a common implementation, and it was more capable than alternatives like Exchange, Novell Groupware, because of the application building abilities of Notes.
It was not just "business" then: the export of strong encryption had the same status as the export of weapons in the U.S. laws at that time. See the other threads here.
It's too bad IBM didn't really fix the non-windows feel of Notes until version 8. By then Exchange had clearly won - should have never happened. The Notes server back end is still far more robust than Exchange. Oh well...
- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5846189 (June 2013)
- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9291404 (2015)
> A non-authoritarian government is an historical anomaly. It's a ball balanced on top of a hill, pushed there by the deaths of millions, and kept there by the vigilance of those who care. Please start caring.
I feel like the ball has started to roll downhill, and is rapidly gaining speed, but that the only folks who can stop it are too dug into their own partisanship to take a look around them and do something.
That, or they desire authoritarianism. I've frankly been surprised at the number of people I've talked to in the past few years who seem to like the idea of a strongman leader. I always assumed everyone but the most extreme wings of the right and left believed in liberty and democracy, but I now see that was I mistaken.
And when it comes to the extreme partisan wings, the dictator is giant rather than little. You don't have to engage them in conversation for it to come out, they project it all the time willingly, openly.
Freedom means something different to every person on the planet, and that makes it difficult to protect.
What you describe isn't the opposite. It's mostly the same.
And if 100% of the people you encounter are displaying either a little authoritarianism or a lot, you need to spend more time with libertarians.
Of course, the reason this works is because they’re the majority—the “everyday” Chinese citizen who the gov’t is trying to improve life for. Life is not as good if you're not in the target demographic.
With systems like the social score, can you trust any public opinion from a member of the Chinese state?
Or are you?
See the other comments here for a historical context: "exporting" stronger crypto software from the U.S. had the same status as exporting weapons of war.
I guess that's...reassuring.
The principled thing to do would be to have never tried to ship our product outside the US, knowing the export regime.
But we had customers who wanted to communicate and collaborate with teams globally. Their alternative was to send everything in the clear, and I wanted to deliver a secure comms system for my global customers.
Ultimately I felt that they were better off with something to protect them - even a compromise - rather than nothing. The bet was that we could get rid of the compromise over time. (Thankfully, the hack was only necessary for a few short years.)
While “working the issue” in DC, I personally came to the viewpoint that most of the policy makers were not inherently evil or stupid; they truly didn’t fully grasp the myriad implications of this new technology. The issues are complex, the pressures great, and it is difficult for them to know how to balance equities. And so, right or wrong, I felt my best bet to change the system was to use methods that I suppose Bruce Lee would call “fighting without fighting”, as opposed to purely principled extremism.
"In the U.S." since "the immediate post WWII period" the "crypto software was included as a Category XIII item into the United States Munitions List." That meant that exporting software with strong encryption was legally the same as exporting weapons.
What they Ray Ozzie and colleagues implemented was at that moment (1996) claimed to be a "superior exportable encryption technology when compared to
other US products on the market":
To be able to export Netscape web browser with SSL (a predecessor of TLS) "Netscape developed two versions of its web browser. The "U.S. edition" supported full size (typically 1024-bit or larger) RSA public keys in combination with full size symmetric keys (secret keys) (128-bit RC4 or 3DES in SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0). The "International Edition" had its effective key lengths reduced to 512 bits and 40 bits respectively (RSA_EXPORT with 40-bit RC2 or RC4 in SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0). Acquiring the 'U.S. domestic' version turned out to be sufficient hassle that most computer users, even in the U.S., ended up with the 'International' version, whose weak 40-bit encryption can currently be broken in a matter of days using a single computer."
"In January 2000, the U.S. Government relaxed export regulations over certain classes of mass-market encryption products. In line with these changes, Netscape has made the strong-crypto versions of Communicator and Navigator available worldwide." (1)
"For example, did you really intend to yield your 4th amendment rights when you granted a 3rd party access to your files as a part of Mac Software Update, Windows Update, Virus Scanners, etc., or when you started using a service-tethered smartphone?
Anyway, unlike 'web tracking' issues which seem to be broadly ignored because of our love for ad-supported services, I hope we all (especially the young readers of reddit, hackernews, etc) wake up to the fact that these privacy and transparency issues are REAL, and that they truly will impact you and the country you live in, and that even if you don't consider yourself an activist you really should get informed and form an opinion. Again, this is a non-partisan issue, and let's all work to ensure that it stays this way.
Two great organizations where you can learn are EPIC and EFF. (Disclosure: I am on the board of EPIC.) Take it in, and think. Your contributions are needed and would of course be quite welcome.
Ray Ozzie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Ozzie
Just as we did in the 1980's, I think we need to hold the fort and keep writing software. We need to write stand-alone applications that the user is in control of. We need to build alternatives to the stampede of needlessly cloud based offerings. And we need to keep chipping away at building federated, distributed applications where isolation is not an option. We have a long way to go, but that's always been the case for those that value software freedom. We should be used to it by now :-)
One final point: I think a lot of people will feel that we are a fringe community and can't possibly make an impact. Mastodon can not topple Twitter. Riot will never touch Facebook. This is probably true, but the more we write code that adheres to our values, the closer we get. We just need to keep chipping away. It is possible that one day at least some significant portion of the population will consider that the use of services controlled centrally by a single corporation is just insane. It might never happen, but if we don't keep building it's guaranteed not to happen.
For lots of other self-hosted things: (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21235957).
> Charlie, Al, and I were just trying to maintain a sense of humor in fairly tough times, knowing that the first who would see the key would be the folks we were working with at the ministry.
If Trump really wanted to investigate corruption in the deep state, he should start by interrogating his good buddy Edwin Meese, instead of honoring him with the Medal of Freedom. He could also ask his own Attorney General Bill Barr why he whitewashed the Justice Department last time he had it investigate itself. (Actually, maybe that's why he hired Barr!)
>Trump To Honor Former Reagan Attorney General, Who Left Government Under Ethics Cloud
>Experts Agree! MEESE is a PIG
>Barr refused to appoint an independent counsel to the Inslaw case, relying instead on a retired federal judge, in this case Nicholas Bua, who reported to Barr alone. In other words, the DOJ was responsible for investigating itself.
>The Justice Department had dishonestly conspired to "drive Inslaw out of business 'through trickery, fraud and deceit'" by withholding payments to Inslaw and then pirating the software.
>The Justice Department had done so in order to modify PROMIS, originally created to manage legal cases, to become a monitoring software for intelligence operations.
>"PROMIS was then given or sold at a profit to Israel and as many as 80 other countries by Dr. Earl W. Brian, a man with close personal and business ties to then-President Ronald Reagan and then-Presidential counsel Edwin Meese."
>"There appears to be strong evidence, as indicated by the findings in two Federal Court proceedings as well as by the committee investigation, that the Department of Justice 'acted willfully and fraudulently,' and 'took, converted and stole,' Inslaw's Enhanced PROMIS by 'trickery fraud and deceit.'"
>A book written in 1997 by Fabrizio Calvi and Thierry Pfister claimed that the National Security Administration (NSA) had been "seeding computers abroad with PROMIS-embedded SMART (Systems Management Automated Reasoning Tools) chips, code-named Petrie, capable of covertly downloading data and transmitting it, using electrical wiring as an antenna, to U.S. intelligence satellites" as part of an espionage operation.
>"another undeclared mission of the Justice Department's covert agents was to insure that investigative journalist Danny Casolaro remained silent about the role of the Justice Department in the INSLAW scandal by murdering him in west Virginia in August 1991."
>Inslaw's new allegations described the Justice Department dispute with Inslaw as part of a broad conspiracy to drive Inslaw into bankruptcy so that Earl Brian, the founder of a venture capital firm called Biotech (later Infotechnology), could acquire Inslaw's assets, including its software Promis. Inslaw owner William Hamilton told PSI investigators that Brian had first attempted to acquire Inslaw through a computer services corporation he controlled, called Hadron. Hamilton said that he rejected an offer from Hadron to acquire Inslaw, and that Brian then attempted to drive Inslaw into bankruptcy through his influence with Attorney General Edwin Meese.
>The INSLAW Octopus
>Software piracy, conspiracy, cover-up, stonewalling, covert action: Just another decade at the Department of Justice
>The House Judiciary Committee lists these crimes as among the possible violations perpetrated by "high-level Justice officials and private individuals":
>> Conspiracy to commit an offense
>> Wire fraud
>> Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees
>> Tampering with a witness
>> Retaliation against a witness
>> Interference with commerce by threats or violence
>> Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) violations
>> Transportation of stolen goods, securities, moneys
>> Receiving stolen goods
>The Undying Octopus: FBI and the PROMIS affair Part 1
35 years later, file reveals dropped leads and confirmed allegations in “the scandal that wouldn’t die”.
>Inslaw’s attorneys, which included Elliot Richardson, who had previously resigned from the DOJ rather than comply with President Nixon’s orders to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, repeatedly demanded a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate the matter, along with its numerous connections that implicated officials such as Ed Meese, who were in turn allegedly connected to affairs such as Iran-Contra and Reagan’s October Surprise.
> There were also disputes over service fees. During the first year of the contract, the DOJ did not have the hardware to run Promis in any of the offices covered by the contract. As a stopgap measure, Inslaw provided Promis on a time-share basis through a Vax computer in Virginia, allowing the offices to access Promis on the Inslaw Vax through remote terminals, until the needed equipment was installed on-site. EOUSA claimed that Inslaw had overcharged for this service and withheld payments.
in the second case having just a few documents would result in only the NSA being able to decrypt without even brute forcing...
> the Ministry of Truth was the agency who's job was propaganda and suppression of truths that did not suit the malignant fictional future government in the book, and "Big Brother" was the evil shadowy leader of this government.
"Are we the baddies?", said nobody at the NSA.
Seriously, this is kind of blatant. I could see them using the phrase "Big Brother", because it has become a common saying and lost some of its edge. But not Ministry of Truth, that only has one meaning and it's terrifying. It literally means "ministry of lying to the people and denial of truth". There is no reading of the book, no matter how superficial, that the term "Ministry of Truth" is anything but overtly sarcastic.
What does this come from? Is it edgy young people (young back then), picking these names? Even if tongue-in-cheek, it has enormous consequences on the culture inside a rather insulated work environment of a job that really should be one of solemn responsibility.
Do some reading of the threads here + links to previous discussions. Ray Ozzie (one involved) has been commenting.