Security Seminar

The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work

Phillip RogawayProfessorUniversity of California, Davis

Cryptography rearranges power: it configures who can do what, from what. This makes cryptography an inherently political tool, and it confers on the field an intrinsically moral dimension. The Snowden revelations motivate a reassessment of the political and moral positioning of cryptography. They lead one to ask if our inability to effectively address mass surveillance constitutes a failure of our field. I believe that it does. I call for a community-wide effort to develop more effective means to resist mass surveillance. I plead for a reinvention of our disciplinary culture to attend not only to puzzles and math, but, also, to the societal implications of our work.
Phillip Rogaway studied cryptography at MIT (1991), then worked as a security architect for IBM before joining the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 1994. Co-inventor of "practice-oriented provable security," Phil's work seeks to meld cryptographic theory and cryptographic practice in a mutually beneficial way. Phil is the recipient of the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award, the RSA Award in Mathematics, and the first Levchin Prize. He is a Fellow of the IACR. Beyond his technical work, Phil is interested in social and ethical problems associated to technology.

Sponsored by

Center for Computer Security & Society

Faculty Host

Professor J. Alex Halderman