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Optical Cryptography

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the this-little-light-of-mine dept.

Encryption 158

chill writes: "In Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson wrote about Bell Labs' research into using static, or chaotic signals to mask communications. A message would be generated, then the signal masked in noise. Someone on the other end would subtract out the noise to get the signal. Works great if both ends have the exact same noise. Now, Jia-ming Liu, professor of electrical engineering at UCLA, is giving a presentation on doing essentially the same thing using OC-48 (2.5 Gbps) optical circuits. The presentation will be at the upcoming Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibit. There is an article covering this and some other nice advances in optical over in Wired."

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this delicious FP brought to you by.. (-1, Offtopic)

prizzznecious (551920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185205)

a beowulf cluster of anus-breathers! tic-tacs for all!

Re:this delicious FP brought to you by.. (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185243)

Pizza rico! Don't auto eat yourself, man!

second post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185215)

cmdr taco is a faggot

Re:second post (-1)

beee (98582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185317)

you have no proof!#@

Re:second post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185421)


Re:second post (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185749)

You idiot. You should have found a more out of shape porn stars to paste those heads on.

Noise (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185217)

You could also image doing this with regular any noise and random observations. Like solar observations, for instance or other space observations. Could even be based on traffic to specific web sites....


Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185241)

You could also image doing this with regular any noise and random observations. Like solar observations, for instance or other space observations. Could even be based on traffic to specific web sites....

The trick to all noise-masking techniques is for YOU and YOUR PARTNER to have the same set of noise and NOBODY ELSE to have it.

Use a well-known public noise source and a link to that source becomes the key which decrypts all your traffic.


Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (2)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185282)

But that does bring up what I think would be an advantage to a system like this in that the bad guy doesn't have to know when you're getting your message and and is able to intercept it. If you can only recognize the message after dycrypting it than you can make it by having scheduled messages sent and only you and your partner know when and where they are. The bad guy is left with his special decoder ring and about a zillion random letters.

Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (2, Insightful)

Bellwether (12891) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185298)

This is called traffic masking, and is a useful, known tool. However, it can also be viewed as security through obscurity, typically a bad thing. (tm)

Security through obscurity. (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185350)

Hm... I don't think it's any more "security through obscurity" than PGP is.

Re:Security through obscurity. (2, Insightful)

Bellwether (12891) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185396)

Well, look at it this way: if your background traffic is random noise, and your "signal" cannot be differentiated from random noise, one must question what kind of signal actually is present.

It's really, really hard to mask a legitimate messages in random noise and hope that the bad guy won't be able to differentiate the two.

Re:Security through obscurity. (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185465)

I see. "Security through obscurity" relies on the the cracker's lack of competence, not mathematical methods, like ordinary public key encryption.

How does one hide messages in reandom noise, though? Would it work to LZ-compress them, to make them appear random?

Use BWT instead of LZ for even more diffusion (4, Interesting)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185478)

How does one hide messages in reandom noise, though? Would it work to LZ-compress them, to make them appear random?

LZ+Huffman (i.e. deflate, the core of gzip and pkzip) works, but you get more compression in a Burrows-Wheeler based scheme such as bzip2 [] . More compression => more entropy per coded symbol => more resistance to known plaintext attacks.

Re:Use BWT instead of LZ for even more diffusion (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185550)

But I thought Lempel and Ziv, the creators of the LZ algorithm, proved that it was at least as efficient as any other algorithm given a sufficiently large amount of data to be comrpessed.

Are there really any other compression schemes that are essentially better?

Asymptotic rate is not good enough. (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185585)

Yes, some variant of Lempel Ziv compression is "universal".

It doesn't mean that it is superior for finite length data sets, and it may be that BWT and subsequent coding is also universal.

And yes, there are other compression schemes that are essentially better. Lempel-ziv has a certain approach to the entropy rate for certain reasonable classes of sources, markov models.

That rate is not as good as it could be---there is a theoretical limit (Rissanen) that says how good any estimator could get.

There *ARE* compression algorithms that do achieve that limit, and LZ does not, and they are proven to be universal too. (Context Tree Weighting).

They are not used in commonly available hacker-tool programs because they run slower than gzip or bzip2 right now. But the professionals know about them.

Re:Asymptotic rate is not good enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185598)

And I thought bzip2 was fairly good. You showed me.

. o O { Hoping you didn't pull all those scientific-sounding names and words out of your ass. }

Re:Asymptotic rate is not good enough. (1, Insightful)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185626)


So you're saying Rissanen gave the theoretical limit for how quickly a compression algorithm asymptotically approaches maximum entropy in its output, and Context Tree Weighing and other algorithms actually reach that limit?

Or is this only proven for certain classes of input, like Markov models?

Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185313)

I think that's a very good idea, quantaman (making cracking attempts harder by sending a lot of fake messages).

Of course, it wastes bandwidth, and somebody may be downloading the messages with a modem... ;)

Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185303)

However, if the source for the private key is hard enough to guess, you have a very good approximation to a random signal. There is no algorithm that can be broken using mathematical or computational means.

(The private key can be formed from the number of characters in each of the small ads in The London Times, the rainfall in selected countries, etc.)

Of course the safest way is always to use a truly random sequence of numbers known only to the sender and recipient, but the problem is that the sender and recipient then have to exchange keys through some other secure channel.

Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (0)

Profane Motherfucker (564659) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185337)

So, barring everyone having a nice radioactive source and Geiger counter on a serial connection, why not just use some shit like public key encryption, which is a rather clever way of (to steal from the mantra) exchanging secure data over an insecure channel?

Re:Nope: You've just given the bad guy your key. (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185362)

Yes, public key encryption is the best solution, unless you work for a security agency (or are so paranoid you believe you are :).

British American Link during World War II (3, Informative)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185439)

We had a link with the British in the War that would use a disk of noise to overlay a signal on top of communications that would be un scrambled on the other side by the same wheel running on at the same time. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Check out the NSA's explanation []
Previous Slashdot Story []

it's just a freakin' PRNG stream cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185698)

PRNG stream cyhpers use a Pseudo-Random Number Generator to generate a stream of noisy data to obscure the plaintext. How is this technique any different? You still have to communicate the initial state of the noise source before you can communicate, just like PRNG stream cyphers. There's no real difference; this reminds me of what Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park said, "I'm not a mathematician, I'm a CHAOTICIAN!".

A Shortcut... (5, Informative)

ksw2 (520093) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185221)

If you're interested in how they syncronize the noisy lasers, here is a shortcut [] to the non-linear faq... a bit of easy evening reading for your enjoyment.

Keys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185330)

Where are the keys in this proposal?

And if they'll stay synchronised, doesn't that mean they're not chaotic? (or all the butterflys are dead :-( )

Re:Keys? (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185397)

Chaotic doesn't equal random. There are algorithms for creating chaotic signals. How else would we generate the Mandelbrot set?

Rho (-1, Offtopic)

Oily Tuna (542581) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185222)

Rho []

Re:Rho [ot] (-1, Offtopic)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185300)

I'm sure I'm missing something important but what's the relavence to this story?

Re:Rho (-1, Offtopic)

Oily Tuna (542581) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185344)

There is a secret message hidden in Rho's journal []

Re:Rho [ot] (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185364)


steganography ? (3, Insightful)

sh0rtie (455432) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185231)

so how is this any different than steg
where a message is hidden in noise (the image) then when the image (noise) is subtracted the message appears.

are we still trying to re-invent the wheel here or am i missing something ?

Re:steganography ? (3, Informative)

Account 10 (565119) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185255)

An image isn't noise. It is very organised data and can be recognised as such. (A) if you suspect steganography, then images, music, etc. are obvious targets to look for. (B) the non-randomness of the encrypted data is, allegedly [] , detectable behind the non-random image data.

Re:steganography ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185299)

From a mathematical point of view, i.e. chaos theory, any deviation (from the presented default) can be interpreted as 'noise', whether it is analog or digital. In this sense, I believe stego qualifies.

Re:steganography ? (0)

Reltuk (322801) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185369)

I have to disagree at a couple points. First of all, it's very possible to have a steganographic method which hides the hidden message in such a way that even with the stegoimage and the cover-image, the message cannot be retrieved (image here means can be a picture, or a sound, or a doesn't matter). Secondly, good cryptographic algorithms do (are supposed to) produce output which meets relatively rigorous psuedo-random standards. Third, and last, I would say this is steganography, since it is hidden a message in another message...there are currently accepted steganographic methods which use manipulated noise to transmit the message. I would consider noise a message, in that it takes information (even useless information), from one point to another.


Re:steganography ? (0)

Reltuk (322801) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185308)

Hi there...
I don't post must, so bear with me here...I'm kind of stupid. I'm doing a research/development segment on steganography and I just thought I could contribute something to your question. Steganography is the art of concealing a message (and it's existance) within another seemingly normal message. That means, not only are images used in steganography. Steganography has been around for well longer then cryptography (the first recorded cryptographic method was ceasar shifting letters 4 to the write to 'encode' a message. The first recorded steganographic instance is in greek mythology...they would write on wax tablets with wooden bases and someonen scraped the wax off, carved a message on the wood, and re-waxed the board so it would pass inspection). Steganography doesn't have to be in can be pin pricks on a typed page, invisible ink, microdots (an ingenious german invention in WWII which cramed the clarity of a typed page into the size of a typed period) or letter grilles. From my
understanding of the above technology it is nothing other then relatively elementary steganography. For clarification, digital steganography does not require 'cover-image escrow' as it's called. It's not always required that you subtract the original image from the stego-image in order to obtain a copy of the stego-message...some algorithms are key based, and some theories suggest adding the stego-message as digital image distortions which can be removed using digital image correction software, thus producing the original which can be subtracted for the noised image. Steganography doesn't always have to be used to hide a secret message in transport either. It's most forcused application now-a-days is that of digital watermarking to track the origin of something like an audio bit (humans cannot recognize very very close echos...) and images. Another common application is tamperproofing, so that data cannot be changed without someone realizing it.

Anyway...all I was really saying is that this is steganography and it's hardly a new concept. Embassy encrypted hardlines have done something very similar to this for years in which they transmit psuedo-random data across the line at all times so that when an encrypted message is sent, the enemy doesn't know (a good cryptographic protocol will produce a ciphertext which at least closely resembles a random set of information).


Re:steganography ? (2, Insightful)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185343)

Well, if you use encryption or steganography on a computer, you have to utilize digital techniques, which is timeconsuming. Performance drops.

If you merely have to superimpose two lightwaves to steganize (sp?) a message, it all goes in realtime no matter how much bandwidth the lightwave carries.
It's not a digital technique. It uses analog lightwaves.

So that technique can be used in e.g. optical fibres, so nobody can intercept messages by physically eavesdropping on the fibre.
I don't think it's intended for home computers. It sounds more like a simple way for telephone companies to protect all the data in optic fibres without going in and encrypting the individual IP packages and such.

Re:steganography ? (1)

diablovision (83618) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185411)

It's more like encryption with a one time pad. You aren't hiding the data, you're obfuscating it. That's what encryption is.

Seems like a waste of noise... (3, Interesting)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185232)

Maybe I'm completely off here, but if you're using noise interference, wouldn't that be sort of wasting bandwidth? This is a cool technology, I wonder if there would be a way to mask a signal and at the same time run multiple signals, so you could essentially split the information through a long pipe (like the laser) using the chaotic noise, and each would be able to be filtered out (at some sort of router) and sent to various places accordingly. Seems it would be much more efficient to carry information that way.

Re:Seems like a waste of noise... (2, Informative)

petrov (7314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185279)

You are completely off. They are just using different numbers to represent the data. The magnitude of the numbers is unchanged. Typically, they do the addition modulo some conveniant number to keep the signal in a preset range.


Re:Seems like a waste of noise... (1, Informative)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185285)

Using noise interference doesn't necessarily need any extra bandwidth.

Light consists of waves, and when two waves are placed on top of each other, they form a new wave that takes no more space or bandwidth than the first one.

Re:Seems like a waste of noise... (2, Insightful)

IsaacW (543020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185316)

This is true only if the two waves being added have the same frequency spectra, or if one of the waves is contained in the other in the frequency domain. If you add a 10 nanometer-wide signal centered at 700 nm to a 10 nanometer-wide signal centered at 710 nm, the resultant wave has a bandwidth of 20 nm.

This wave would take up more bandwidth than either of the other two.

Re:Seems like a waste of noise... (1, Informative)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185376)

Yes, I assume the two waves occupy the same portion of the spectrum, otherwise the whole idea of hiding the signal behind noise is wasted. The noise has to overlap the signal. The signal doesn't necessarily have to overlap the noise, though.

Cryptonomicon (2, Funny)

andfarm (534655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185257)

Is it just me, or can almost any post on ./ be linked eventually to _Cryptonomicon_? Anything, for that matter?

Or is it just that I'm studying World War II?

Re:Cryptonomicon (-1)

Profane Motherfucker (564659) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185291)

It's not so much that the typical bullshit *can* be linked to Cryptonomicon, but that it *is*. Aside from my remedial use of the obviously obtuse 'to be,' which ought be avoided whenever fucking possible, this is a self fulfilling affair. It used to be that Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the tits book for the attempted pithy reference of Hey I Read a Book, Where's My BookIt pizza. Buy now Cryp. is the in thing. It's a trendy little faux intelligencia meandering from wannabe assfucks.

The discourse on this motherfucker would be greatly improved if, instead of the usual bullshit computeresque stuff, fatass computer monkeys read _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence_ or Kuhn's _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_. That's some good shit. Those bitches are worth discussing.

Re:Cryptonomicon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185485)

sir, well said. and, how about Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid [] eh? yes. superior.

Re:Cryptonomicon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185524)

And, in conclusion: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

Oh, how I love it when people line up to take shots at me... especially here at slashdork.

They are remarkable only in the following ways: educated in the most narrow ways, they eschew the liberal arts... can't spell... and use MSware.

I am generalizing, and other options may apply... but most of you that post here are sadly lacking in way one or another and are certainly pseudo-intellectuals if indeed you consider yourself being intellectual.

I liked that book (1)

littlerubberfeet (453565) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185268)

Cryptonomicon was an amazing book, on par with Neuromancer. Hopefully though, testing will migrate from OC48 to something a wee bit cheaper, as most of us don't have $100 an hour to spend on that sort of connection. Cryptography is cool. IT has always been at the forefront of both theoretical mathematics and computer science.

Re:I liked that book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185487)

IT is for CS dropouts.

How is this different from (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185269)

a One Time Pad?

OTP: person a adds agreed upon random noise to the plaintext. person b subtracts the same random noise from the cyphertext.

This: person a adds agreed upon random noise to the singal. person b subtracts the same random noise from the encrypted signal.

Seems the only difference is what level of the stack you apply the OTP.

Re:How is this different from (2, Informative)

Account 10 (565119) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185281)

It is a OTP - It is a very fast and convenient way to make very good and non-interceptable OTPs

It is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185340)

This is One Time Pad and the similar story seems to be submitted almost every month on Slashdot. The idea is decades long, inpractical and safe.

Maybe someone should educate the people that choose story submissions so that they will start ignoring these stories about old things.

Re:It is not (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185384)

One Time Pad?
Does that mean an encryption key that is only used once?

Re:It is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185451)

yes, it only used once, but it is also non-repeating and as random as possible.

for example, you have a 25 character message. You pick 25 random characters and make it your one time pad. XOR the pad against the message and you have an unbreakable cyphertext.

It's unbreakable because the key could be anything. One 25 character key XORs the cyphertext to say 'go to the store and ... ', while a different key could decrypt to 'blow it out your ... '

Only use the key once and a cryptanalyst won't be able to get the key by comparing cyphertexts.

It's perfect. It's just very impractical because you have to have a key as large as the data to be encrypted, and you have to keep updating your keys all the time.

Re:It is not (1)

matguy (7927) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185529)

a string of text large enough... say the complete works of a given set of well published writers, add Shakespere, etc. as plain text strings and you gots yourself a big 'ol block of text. Then be creative, take every other word, and/or translate it to other languages on key words (Thus = italian, Thoust = Russian, etc.) plus send on inverted ascii (or shifted,) then encrypt it again. The same string of text could be used over and over as long as it's encrypted differently each time, or even just in a different order. When and encryption is only used as noise to make encryption how easy is that to break? Also the "noise" doesn't have to be decoded on the other end, just reproducable, meaning no need to worry about real time decryption, just synchronized encryption, and think of it this way too, that noise could be used as a timing agent, therefore relieving at least some of the timing and error checking overhead inherently needed in the line, meaning a possiblility of increased bandwidth. Now, I am just talking out of my ass about this for the most part, but it makes sense to me.

This isn't about the OTP (2, Informative)

dachshund (300733) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185565)

This is One Time Pad and the similar story seems to be submitted almost every month on Slashdot. The idea is decades long, inpractical and safe.

Yes, the actual encryption being performed is similar to a OTP. That's not the news here, though. The problem with OTPs has always been how to generate and distribute the pads. Typically, this requires transmission via some separate secure link (for instance, a courier), and leaves you with a limited amount of pad-- once you run out, you need to go through the whole rigamarole again.

This is a technique by which a key can be generated and distributed without that messy step. In the end, the data's basically being put through the same encryption process as one would use with a OTP, but it's being done with a random signal that's being generated on the fly over a wire between two geographically separated points, but is (ideally) still secure even if somebody eavesdrops.

Quantum cryptography is another example of a nifty concept that (in the end) relies on the old OTP technique. A random signal is generated and measured in two different places by measuring quantum characteristics of entangled particles. This is the cool part. Then that signal, which is truly random, can't be intercepted, and doesn't require a courier to deliver, is used as a OTP, which is the bread-and-butter part.

You might as well criticize a story on the development of fusion powered cars because the car still rests on old-fashioned wheels... which've been around for sooo many years.

I'm at a loss (-1)

Profane Motherfucker (564659) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185270)

In Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson wrote about Bell Labs' research into using static, or chaotic signals to mask communications. A message would be generated, then the signal masked in noise. Someone on the other end would subtract out the noise to get the signal.

In PGP, Phil Zimmerman, that clever little monkey, took a message, wrapped it with noise. At the other end, a receiver extracted the message from the noise. How the fuck is this shit different from public key encryption? Yeah, this shit is optical based, but what the fuck is the hoopla about? Is this hoopla?

On slashdot, I have a signal encoded in a bunch of fucking trash and FUD. I attempt on a daily basis to extract meaning from this scat. I'm totally fucking on the level here. Where the fuck is the alledged new paradigm with all this shit? Far too many twitfucks get an obscene amount of credit for clearly plagarized shit pulled from the steamy rectum of slashdot -- trite, base bullshit that has been said since the day this foetus hit the floor. But I digress with my fucked up rantings. I'm still curious about the previous shit.

This is a one time pad (3, Informative)

petrov (7314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185271)

This is essentially a one-time pad cipher where the pad is the length of the message and then (in the digital world) they XOR the pad with the message and send them both. For fiber optics, they probably do a similar transform, but instead of XOR they probably just a straight add, modulo some appropriate number.


No chaotic communication is *not* a one time pad. (4, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185346)

This form of chaotic synchronizing communication works by a dynamical systems property. It seems like magic but it is not really.

It relies on the effect of chaotic synchronization. That sort of amazing fact that even though you can have a dynamical system that is continuously unstable in 'some degrees of freedom' making up the chaotic system the combination system of transmitter and receiver can still be stable in the 'transverse' direciton to the synchronization manifold.

All communication systems work by synchronization whether implicitly or explicitly. Here you will explicitly have chaotic oscillators as both transmitters and receivers. Yes, radio is like this too, you have a linear oscillator in the transmitting tower and an oscillator in your RF circuit in your receiver and their electric fields will synchronize the receiver's oscillator to the transmitter.

The trick is how to add in modulation and demodulation that does not destabilize the system and still permit reconstruction of the transmitted information.

All chaotic systems essentially have some sort of nonlinear feedback. The trick that seems to work very frequently with optical dynamics is to mix in some of the transmitted signal coming over the channel with the self-regenerated system at the receiver. In previous work with fiber optic ring laser it really was literally mixing optical signals, in the thing I did it was mixing in electro-optic electrical feedback signals; more like mixing intensities.

It turns out that a fairly generic form of dynamics often seems to work.

I worked on this project from a theoretical modeling level with Jia-Ming Liu's group at UCLA.
(We're at UCSD not UCLA).

I'm not sure what this new work is about but in the version that I did there was no significant role for the dynamics or properties of the fiber optics in the creation of the chaos or the demodulation.

It will a very significant amount of engineering to make this fully practical and find all the good properties but that's true for every advance.

Re:No chaotic communication is *not* a one time pa (1, Interesting)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185432)

That is very interesting, mbkennel.

So you mean there is a chaotic system A at the sender's end, and another chaotic system B at the receiver's end, of the same type?

And that they would diverge if left to themselves, but are continously synchronized with each other, so both A and B generate approximately the same signal (the same "sequence of encryption keys", if this had been digital encryption).

And that an eavesdropper, with his own chaotic system C, cannot synchronize it with A and B?

Re:No chaotic communication is *not* a one time pa (3, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185573)

That's close enough for slashdot!

For communication it is one-way synchronization with unidirectional coupling, not the mutual coupling which is more well known in math and physics.

The important point is that the chaos and the 'keys' and the message can all be combined nonlinearly.

Eavesdropper C would need the same chaotic system with the same settings up to some tolerance. Notice that robustness to attack is thus inversely proportional to tolerance to mismatch.

The issue of security is not directly addressed by chaotic communication.

Chaos may be an opportunity to do things other than classical encipherment. It may be like CDMA spreading a signal over a wider frequency band. It may allow you to use cheaper devices or those running past their "normal" tolerance bounds if the requirement for linearity is no longer a factor. It may mean lots of different things; the general point is a greatly increased flexibility and the potential to try widely different kinds of transmission methods. Linear signal transmission is kind of boring, there's AM, FM and minor variations upon those.

However, it may be that some digital ciphers have properties similar to chaotic systems and people are starting to investigate this connection at a different level. that is more mathematics now than communications engineering.

Re:No chaotic communication is *not* a one time pa (1)

theseum (165950) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185563)

If I understand what you are saying, there wouldn't be a key at all with this form of encryption but instead the noise generated by the hardware would mask the communications, unless the reciever had the same hardware. However, isn't this essentially security by obscurity? If an attacker was able to figure out how your hardware worked, either by some sort of sophisticated analysis or by stealing the information, he would be able to decrypt all of your communications.

It would seem to me that this encryption is less useful then schemes which use one-way algorithms, such as public key cryptography. While these can be attacked by brute force, it is easy to make the encryption strong enough that brute-force is impractical even for a government. This leaves them vulnerable only to key-stealing which can be guarded against by regularly generating new keys.

So all in all, I am not sure I see the use in this. It might be useful for ubiquitous encryption because it adds no lag to the process do to it's unique relience on hardware, but I am not sure why ubiquitous encryption on the network level is useful, anyway. It might be useful for governments, but I doubt it for the reasons I gave above. I can't see any way it would be useful to cypherpunks and the like...

Anybody care to explain to me in more detail what this is useful for?

Re:No chaotic communication is *not* a one time pa (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185757)

If they can figure out how your hardware worked, this wouldn't necessarily let them decrypt your communications. If they can figure out the settings, well, you are screwed as much as if you left your keys somewhere insecure. However, it seems the only time they are vulnerable to that getting nicked is during the brief synch phase and it is not possible after that.

This isn't quite my bag, but it seems this is essentially a OTP of possibly infinite length which doesn't require you to send the entire pad to the other guy. The only way to break a OTP(if it is truly random) is to have the OTP and the only way to get the OTP is steal it from one of the parties or if they reuse it. If the pad is infinite and random, all you can do is hope they have to resynch sometime and be waiting for it.

Am I missing something here... (0)

SuperPhly (800) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185272)

When talking about a digital signal, how is "noise" going to be the medium of "encryption". I mean reguardless of what "analog" noise you shove down the pipe, the digital signal still gets there right? Or are we talking about some other method?

Rudimentary question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185278)

This laser encryption technique is certainly cool, and it will likely be outlawed as a possible terrorist weapon.

The thing I've been thinking about lately is the march of technology. What has happened in the past couple years that has been especially noteworthy? Not much. Maybe digital photography, but everything else has simply been refinements of existing technologies (like this encryption scheme mentioned in the article).

Sure, everything gets better. But what is new? We seem to have stepped into a technological black hole where all we seem to discuss is the legalities of software construction and have stopped creating cool new technologies.

The internet is new. Digital photography is cool. I'm sure you could name a couple more things that you feel is really cool. However, how much more of the latest and greatest is merely just old but improved?

Are we at the the end of this technology branch?

have i seen this before? (1)

radoni (267396) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185286)

Isn't this an analouge to the way quantum encryption works? i.e. the forces that be in between source and destination interfere with the stream.

Is this quantum encryption's working model?

Re:have i seen this before? (2)

HiredMan (5546) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185433)

No, this is essentially a one time pad in which the "pad" is drawn from a random source both have access to. A neat idea if you can make it work.

QE is based on a handshake protocol in which I send you a message and you send me a confirmation and we use traded information to communicate. It's not THAT different than the current http model - and other models could be used - as I understand it. The different thing about QE is that it cannot be eavesdropped on.

Parties A and B handshake and Wil E. Crackor can listen as the communication stream goes past effectively snorting the information to be hacked at later by whatever means he has access to.

In a quantum event listening to the communication will change them so after we handshake if some one snorts the packets they arrive garbled on the other end. Hence any successful communication is a secure communication. Not easy or cheap to implement but the only method I know of that certifies security in process. If we can talk we are know to be the only one's listening.
Even with extra strong encryption there's not guarantee that some one who's listening doesn't have a copy and a way to break it - eventually.


Now it IS open to a "man in the middle attack" I THINK... but only if you have your own quantum generation device. ;)

Re:have i seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185643)

This is NOT quantum cryptography and doesnt provide the same level of security.

DMCA (4, Funny)

IsaacW (543020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185294)

Great... now the RIAA/MPAA will be breathing down our necks for bypassing "noise-based-encryption" protection schemes every time we shield an audio or network cable...

Security through obscurity (2, Interesting)

BillShatner (561370) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185295)

This just looks like another way to hide a needle in a haystack. I believe there would be a couple ways to get around this:

The voice module for some of the high end (25+ CD) Pioneer CD changers is able to hear your voice even if the music is blasting. It does this by taking the music that's playing and mixing it into the microphone preamp 180 degrees out of phase, cancelling out most of the music. This isn't perfect, but I've seen it work, and I'm sure it can be adapted to do the same thing here. In fact, any imperfections may even help, due to the fact that you can (probably) tune it and pick up the real signal out of the mess.

Brute force. How random is this random noise? If you can create a similar noise generator, all you have to do is filter out 80% of the crap, and you'll be able to grab the signal. It's like picking out the flashlight from a group of strobes. It's a PITA, but once you cover most of the strobes, you can see the flashlight.

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

AlbanySux (248858) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185349)

the randomness of the noise is what the method relies on. The more random the noise the hard er it is to remove. With the CD player, it KNOWS whats playing before you even hear it. If you are are sending light down some fiber the attacker only sees what looks like random noise going down the pipe. the need to know what was added to the stream to get back the real data. assuming the people developing this aren't idiots the noise should be quite random and there for hard to pick out. and it isn't like a flash light among stobes, its more like picking out random 0's and 1's from random 0's and 1's. If you know how a simple XOR cipher works, thats its.

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

BillShatner (561370) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185410)

Ok, I have a third way now.

Person 1 uses noise A to "encrypt" a message and send it to person 2. Person 3 intercepts this message, noise and all. Now if either person sends a message with this same noise through, person 3 would be at least get a fair idea what they were talking about in both messages. This is of course assuming that person 3 knows exactly when this specific communication is going to take place, and there isn't 5 billion different noises to chose from and actually used.

Knowing when the communication takes place shouldn't be that hard if person 3 is watching all the traffic and sees this unintelligble blob all of the sudden.

Another problem is being able to securely make sure only person 2 has all the different noise files.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Reltuk (322801) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185394)

This method is a steganographic method and a common misconception is that steganography is meant to replace cryptography (or the other way around since steg. was first :-p). That's not the case...they supplement eachother. If the information you're sending is encrypted with a strong encryption algorithm, nothing but a perfect extraction will be useful. The location of the embeded information in the noise can be key-based, which makes it harder to find. After extracting the information, the unencryption process is key-based as well. Currect cryptographic methods are developed so that if even one bit of the ciphertext changes, approximately half the bits in the unencrypted message change, which means none of this 'It's not perfect' or 80% is gonna work.


Re:Security through obscurity (1)

BillShatner (561370) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185422)

But this isn't being encrypted, just masked with noise. The data is still there in plain taxt, just hidden with a bunch of random data.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

metacell (523607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185447)

Well, for that to work, you have to know what signal is used to mask the original signal.

Apparently this guy came up with a way to generate the *same* noise in two chaotic systems that are kept in sync with eachother -- so the noise (the "sequence of random numbers") isn't predetermined.


OC-48 (2, Funny)

ralian (127441) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185319)

Right. And as soon as I get an OC-48 connection, I'll implement this.

Isn't this a bit like 2048-bit encryption? Sure it's a good idea, but the technology requirements are a bit excessive.

Re:OC-48 (2)

Soko (17987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185445)

I can think of one instance where this would be very useful.

There are instances where a DRM plan calls for mirrored FibreChannel RAID sets at very remote locations via Dark Fibre. With the advent of the IP based FibreChannel spec 2048 bit encryption (or better) would be de-rigeure, I'd suspect. IP based FC is supposed to be cheaper and more cross platform since it uses a known, standard protocol that is the basis for the Internet. So, companies may want to send entire machine images through thier OC3 Internet pipe. Now, if you sent that essentially raw data through such hostile territory poorly protected, well, the rest is obvious.

For the masses - no. For the massive, yes.


Not the same as cryptonomicon. (4, Informative)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185325)

The encryption in cryptonomicon was a one time pad. The pad was implemented as a record, but the concept was the same. The fact that the conversation could only last as long as the record and each record was only used once is indicative.

But then, perhaps the lasers could be considered an infinite one-time pad? Of course, if anyone else is listening to the synchronisation codes, couldn't they themselves end up with a synched laser too?

As a form of encryption, this doesn't appear (to me) to be incredibly useful to the average person. It doesn't secure the communication, only the physical connection between the two points. However, it would work for keeping snooping foreign governments from listening in on international traffic on submarine cables. Or nasty pirates from splicing themselves into the cable TV network...

Didn't we see this somewhere before? (3, Funny)

Brendan Byrd (105387) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185407)

Oh yeah...Johnny Mnemonic! Yeah, when he was picking random images for the data to encrypt it. I find it strange that something from such a mediocre movie gets to actually be applied as technology. (Then again, the whole point of the movie was its neat ideas.)

Why didn't somebody think of this before?

Re:Didn't we see this somewhere before? (2)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185581)

The sad part here in the movie mention with no mention at all of the book. If he movie was so mediocre how come you know the scene so well? Did it cross your mind that the idea in the book was based off of an idea someone already had?

Re:Didn't we see this somewhere before? (1)

vena (318873) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185785)

completely offtopic here, but you deserve a big congrats.

your sig is the best i've ever seen :) vivo el peewee

Important Linux news (not a troll! check proofs!) (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185416)

I would like to bring to the attention of my fellow Slashdot readers some troubling news: Linux is being used by Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, and other terrorist organizations with equally cool sounding names as an affordable and powerful tool for purposes of recruitment, passing coded messages regarding planned terrorist operations, and other insidious purposes. I will attempt to show some of the more obvious proofs I have discovered to back up my arguments.

  • The presence of an Islamic calendar (cal-islam.elc) as included with the xemacs package. This calendar is likely being used for determining significant dates (such as September 11) for terrorist attacks.
  • The word "terror" is mentioned several times in the Linux kernel source code (svr4.c in the abi/svr4 directory). This file was written by Mike "Jagdis" whose name itself is an obvious Islamic reference to terrorism.
  • The phrase, "terrorist act" is actually present in drivers/char/ip2main.c.
  • There are several
    references to the WTC buildings, again in the Linux kernel source code (in the drivers/scsi directory).
  • The freetype code includes the file internal/tterrors.h -- an obvious reference to "international terrorism".
  • Various files in drivers/char and drivers/scsi refer to "religious disputes" and "religious issues" (likely, the issues between God fearing American christians and evil Islamic terror mongers).
  • The word "plane" (a reference to the tragic airplane hijackings of September 11th) appears in several places in the drivers/char/drm directory.
  • Various references to the words "evil", "destroy", "bomb", "warrior", and "hate" scattered in places too numerous to mention.
  • The word "hijack" appears in Documentation/kernel-docs.txt, and "hijacking" in drivers/char/ChangeLog, which is also an obvious suggestion for future attacks.
  • The file fs/jffs/intrep.c contains the phrase, "Might as well commit suicide", which is an obvious suggestion to would-be terrorists to
    commit suicide bombings.
  • One of the maintainers goes by the name, "Andreas Bombe", with the e-mail address, [mailto] . Obviously this is a hidden message indicating the next target for terrorist bombings is some place in Munich, Germany.
  • Take a look at the book cover [] of ``Professional Linux Programming'' and decide for yourself which of the 15 authors has obvious terrorist links.

I am sure I have only scratched the surface of this disturbing conspiracy. I strongly urge the Slashdot readership to support American companies such as Microsoft [] who only hire patriotic American citizens and to boycott any company which is involved with Linux (as they are directly supporting terrorists). I sincerely hope the CIA or FBI can look into the actions of
open source developers. People like Linus Torvalds should be taken into custody and have all assets seized.

Act now before it is too late!

Prediction: GPS encryption validation (1)

simetra (155655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185427)

Really, all encryption is open to decryption. What one thing is unique to any object? Its location. Say you incorporate a unique location key, and specify your destination's unique location key, a message key, and a confirmation key. You send your message... recipient is validated by GPS and given access to message key to generate request for confirmation key via satellite. Sure, nothing is 100%, but this type of system would likely be way, way less hackable than typical internet trasnmission.
Just a thought.

Re:Prediction: GPS encryption validation (1)

theseum (165950) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185577)

Wouldn't this system be easily spoofable? GPS doesn't assign unique keys to each physical location, it just broadcasts streams of data from several sources, using which the GPS device determines its location by triangulation. So there is no way to send a message that would only be readable from a certain physical location, because there is no information that a device would _need_ to be in that location to have.

Churchill and Roosevelt (1)

Shook (75517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185430)

Churchill and Roosevelt did this to communicate during WWII. They each had a phone setup [] where 2 identical records containing random noise was played along with their conversations, and the analog circuitry subracted the noise on each end.

You can still see Churchill's phone at the Cabinet War Rooms in London. I don't know if Roosevelt's phone is in a museum or not.

Was this the thing mentioned in Cryptonomicon? I can't remember.

Sigsaly was digital, not analog (1)

mgw1181 (214961) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185521)

You are correct in that the records were one time pads containing random noise, but Sigsaly was digital, not analog.

NSA Paper []
/. story []

quantum cryptography? (1)

blitz77 (518316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185436)

Hmmm, how bout instead of using optical cryptography how bout using the photons for quantum cryptography?

How would this compare to quantum crypto? (1)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185443)

How would this compare to quantum crypto? It seems like if you know the circuits, you could build another and then try to sync it, so it probably isn't near as strong the quantum stuff.

Slashdot (2, Funny)

Sivar (316343) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185512)

Taco will be in a very difficult situation at his work if they remove unrestricted internet access...

Nulls. (3, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185543)

This technique is actually very old, though it wasn't used bit by bit. You're inserting null terms into the cypher stream. Prior to modern cryptological methods nulls were fairly popular, but the technique has fallen into disuse because of its increasing the message size, and because 1:1 stream cyphers are SO much more convenient. Besides, the new cryptosystems are unbreakable, right? Right?

Even having a small multiple of nulls to significant elements increases the complexity of calculation exponentially. For example, a 1:1 proportion of null bits in 512-bit blocks. The result is a 1024-bit blocked key stream. You can't do any sort of intelligent analysis of the stream unless you can figure out which bits are significant, and there are 2^512 possible permutations of significant and garbage bits for each block.

err... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185549)

> The result is a 1024-bit blocked key stream.

Key stream? Duhhhhh... data stream.

Pointless, actually... (2, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185607)

One of the classic mistakes is creating your own cryptographic algorithm when perfectly good ones will suffice.

AES/Rijndael is FAST in hardware, a $10 FPGA can do counter mode encryption, fully key agile, at 1.3 Gbps. Why create an algorithm dependant on chaotic laser behavior when you know that you can get cheap encryption which is secure in available hardware.

Re:Pointless, actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185792)

AES/Rijndael is FAST in hardware, a $10 FPGA

$10 barely buys any kind of FPGA, let alone something that could fit that kind of a crypto core. You're talking tens of thousands of gates - a chip of that size will run you at least $100.

random noise (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3185615)

There's a couple things to be aware of in this system. First, it does not increase the amount of information sent. Here's an example:

Here's the message: 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1
Here's the noise : 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0
Then XOR them : 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1

Notice that the message does not get any longer by encrypting it. As long as you know the noise, then you can take the XORed result and find the original message.

Another problem is that a lot of noise isn't really random. If the noise isn't random, then the message can be decrypted. For example, if there is a tendency for the noise to have a pattern or there are long series of 0's, the original message can be decripted without the "noise key". Very few physical processes are actually random (not hits on a website, not sunspots). One of them that is random is radioactive decay.

A wee bit self defeating (2)

gnovos (447128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185679)

It stands to reason that if some data needs to be transfered from point A to point B to get the synchronization started, then that data needs to be secured. How do you secure that without a SECOND set of codes, which also need to be secured, ad infinitum. Of course, you could just physically deliver the codes, but if you are doing that, you could just physically deliver the secret messages you wanted to send in the first place, right? As cool as I think this is, it still doesn't seem to be enough.

Not that new an idea (1)

nephorm (464234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185682)

Really, it's just a One-time-pad. If you want to create one time pad security without all the hassle, you use a high-order Linear Feedback Shift Registers.

I've had "Optical Cryptography" for ages (2)

CarrotLord (161788) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185684)

Just change the ModeLines line in your XF86Config to a series of random numbers...


NEFAC meeting (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185707)

The 5th semi-annual conference of the NorthEastern Federation of
Anarcho-Communists was held in Baltimore, MD from Friday, February 22 to
Sunday the 24. Well over 50 people were in attendance at the conference
which saw a significant expansion of NEFAC's membership as well as a
conscious move to develop a serious long-term strategy centered around
strategic interventions in concrete areas of the class struggle.
The membership of NEFAC has now expanded to include 8 member collectives
and 5 supporter collectives. The member collectives are Sabate (Boston),
Roundhouse (Baltimore), Tute Nere (DC), Sophia Perovskaya (Boston),
Barricada (Boston), Quebec City Local Union, the Montreal Local Union, and
La Bete Noir (Montreal). Supporter collectives are Freyheyt (Toronto), RASH
(Montreal), De Cleyre (Philadelphia), Facing Reality (Montreal), and Thomas
Payne Park (New York). To these can be added numerous new individual
adhesions as both members and supporters.
The most significant development of the conference was the conscious
decision to move out of the "activist crisis" mode (summit-hopping and
reactive politics) and begin developing a campaign of concerted, long-term
interventions in specific areas of the class struggle. After a lengthy
discussion regarding what areas to prioritize, it was decided to create
three separate caucuses around the issues of housing/gentrification,
anti-poverty work, and workplace struggles. The caucuses are to brainstorm
on these issues and develop proposals for concrete federation wide
interventions in the future.
These issues were chosen as they are issues which affect the daily lives of
working people, and thus provide anarchists with an opportunity to conduct
struggles which relate to the day to day life of people, serving as gateways
to radicalization and a broader rejection of the system as a whole and the
building of a revolutionary dual power.
The next significant development was the creation of a permanent women's
caucus to deal with issues relating to gender and patriarchy both within the
federation structure, as well as within our organizing and activity. This
came following small group discussions around the issues of race and gender,
an activity and form of discussion that we hope to see continued at future
Furthermore, the conference designated Barricada as the International
Secretariat collective, as well as the official agitational monthly of NEFAC
. There was also a speakers bureau created (to be managed by Roundhouse), a
Warchest fund (by Sophia Perovskaya), a working group to re-write the aims
and principles, and endorsement of the Festival del Pueblo in Boston, the
regional mobilization against the G8 in Ottawa, and mobilizations against
the IMF/WB in Washington DC in October.
People overwhelmingly felt that it was a productive and inspiring
conference, which was also marked by a direct action in conjunction with
ACORN (see Direct Actions Takes Out the Trash article), and marked an
important step forward in the development of NEFAC as a stable and mature
federation with a clear political program and revolutionary strategy.

Barricada: North America's
Only Revolutionary Anarchist Monthly Magazine
Support Us...Subscribe!
(15$ for 6 months)
PO Box 73
Boston MA 02133

Yugoslavia After Milosevic: what next? (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185723)

"Yugoslavia After Milosevic: what next?"

US imperialist hypocrisy and double standards have probably reached their peak during these last few weeks. The mass media treated the world to the spectacle of mobs destroying the Yugoslav parliament and attacking the offices of several Yugoslav left wing parties, hailing these events as "a great triumph of democracy" and other such nonsense. Meanwhile, the leader of the "free world," murderer of refugees and bomber of aspirin factories, Bill Clinton laid praise upon himself and fellow war-monger Secretary of state Madeleine Albright (ever notice how eerily physically similar she is to Maggie Thatcher?). We were all supposed to celebrate seeing magazine covers and newspapers with glorious headlines such as "free at last," while Clinton and company claimed that this was proof that the waging of war against a civilian population and the bombing of a country back to the middle ages is in fact the way to "work towards democracy." But since when has the US been interested in democracy?

The answer is, quite simply, never. Those who have doubts can ask the people of Latin America about the US' "democratic values." They will tell you about the US sponsorship of the Contras to fight against the Sandinista Liberation Movement in Nicaragua. Or of the brutal military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, who took tens of thousands of lives and how they were sponsored and trained by the US military. Or better yet, of the CIA sponsorship of strikes and sabotage against the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende and the references made to Allende's election by at the time Secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Kissinger could not have summed up the US' appreciation of the concept of democracy any better when he said, "I don't see why we should let a country go red just because it's people don't know how to vote." Of course, how often does one hear the argument that, "that was all in the past and a consequence of the cold war, etc, etc."

So let me present you with a more recent example. Last week, as the hoopla about an elected statesman (true, those in power controlled the election, but where does the class in power not do so?) being overthrown by mobs began to die down, two men, Faisal al-Biloowi and Ayish al-Faridia, hijacked a plane headed to Heathrow airport from the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh. After the hijacked plane landed in Baghdad, with no injuries and no violence of any kind (which is not what can be said of the events in Belgrade), the hijackers stated that they committed the hijacking in order to draw attention to "human rights abuses, corruption, and unemployment" in Saudi Arabia. They also stated that they wanted to be free to choose their own leaders and that "the time of kings and monarchies is over." One would assume that the US, being the great defender of democracy that it claims to be, would make at least a mild gesture towards these, however unfortunately reformist, freedom fighters. Instead, as Saudi Arabia works to extradite them and hand them a certain death sentence, the penalty for hijacking in Saudi Arabia, the US has remained shockingly quiet.

Why is this? Because the United States is simply not interested in democracy. It is a plundering economic imperialist interested in economic gain, at the expense of people, lives, and yes, even it's own twisted brand of bourgeois democracy. The fact is, Saudi Arabia has natural resources, in this case oil, and allows the US to use place military bases on it's territory, hence, democracy is irrelevant. The same is true of Algeria, Turkey, Colombia, and other such dictatorships (yes, dictatorships, regardless of what sort of mock elections they may have periodically) around the world. Unfortunately for what is left of the Yugoslav federation, it has no such natural resources to offer the US.

In view of this it has to accept "democracy." For when the US and its allies say "democracy" what they mean is neo-liberalism. They mean privatization, which was not occurring in Yugoslavia, and subsequent layoffs. They mean the eating away of basic social services and most importantly they mean the surrendering of a nation's economy and a people's culture to economic imperialism aimed at exploiting them and robbing them of their cultural identity. For the US, freedom and democracy means a McDonalds on every avenue and a policeman on every corner.

Of course, no one will argue that Milosevic was a war criminal (although no worse than Clinton or Blair) and a tyrant. And we should be the last to condemn "revolutions" and other popular movements. However, one must look at the consequences of such events. The truth remains that Milosevic, despite his many, many negative qualities, represented one of the last bastions of European resistance to the expansion of western neo-liberalism. Now that he is out of power, or almost, the coast is clear for pro-US puppets, such as Kostunica, to open the doors to the rape of Yugoslavia. Indeed, the west wasted no time in announcing aid and investment, which conveniently means the reconstruction of everything NATO bombed into oblivion a a year ago.

Revolutions and popular movements are great and positive events, not to mention the burning of parliaments, but they are not exempt from the political context of the rest of the world. The Yugoslav students and workers who participated in the storming of parliament may have been well intentioned, just as their counterparts who torn down the Berlin wall were. However, just as is the case in the ex-Eastern bloc, they have been fed lies about western "democracy" and what lies ahead is unfortunately likely to be the same thing discovered by those in the ex-Eastern bloc, namely hunger, unemployment, and misery. It is the same people who ten years ago tore down the wall who are now saying that they would not have done it had they known what was to come, and that they are trying to undo their mistake by voting for the parties of old. It should surprise nobody if this scenario is repeated in Yugoslavia in the years to come. Democracy, real, people's democracy that is, is only appealing on a full stomach. There is no freedom without economic freedom, as they are inseparable. It is only a matter of time before the people of Yugoslavia join the millions of others across the world who have already come to this realization and again choose to do their history as fighters honor by resisting theirs, and the worlds, neo liberal aggressors.

"China Before the WTO" (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3185729)

"China Before the WTO"

One of the defining features of Chinese society at the turn of the century is the deepening urban/rural split. The big Chinese cities are now part of the first world: huge skyscrapers fill the skyline and are being built at a furious rate, there is a constant ringing from cell phones, gated communities spring up out of farm land on the outskirts of the cities, and the latest fashion is sold on every street. In the countryside, where 75% of the population lives, life is getting tougher and unemployment is growing.

In the late 1970's, the Chinese reforms under Deng Xiaoping began in the countryside by dismantling the collectives and allowing households to take responsibility for growing food on leased plots. Under such a system rural incomes grew rapidly, and, in the late 1980's and 1990's, reform moved on to the urban industries. It is only in the last few years that state industries have had to deal with the pressures of competition. Huge layoffs have been the primary way for these industries to become profitable; still, many have gone bankrupt. It has only been by maintaining a national growth rate of around 8% that many of these urban industrial laborers have been given new jobs, although many remain unemployed. The nature of their jobs has also changed. The old state industries guaranteed one a job for life, health care, schooling for one's children, and housing. These sectors of society are increasingly being privatized and most jobs offer little assistance. Many of the urban unemployed have been given make-work jobs with low pay and no benefits. And most new urban jobs are being created by private and foreign investment.

At the same time the rural economy has stagnated. Rural enterprises had grown in number in the 1980's, soaking up much of the excess rural labor. But as capitalist valorization plays an increasingly important role in decision making, these state supported enterprises have been failing at a very high rate, and only about one quarter of surplus agricultural laborers are finding employment in rural enterprises at the moment. In addition, there is little private and almost no foreign investment in rural areas. In the 1990's, it is the rural unemployed who have grown the fastest (the rural unemployed is estimated at around 130 million).

Yet the state seems to fear urban unrest the most, and, in order to keep the cities stable, it restricts the movement of rural unemployed into the cities. Internal migration is for the most part illegal: one needs a residence permit to live in a city. The state also raised the price of train tickets significantly in order to stem the tide of the rural poor. The status of being illegal immigrants in one's own country has only increased the precariousness of the rural poor, and, at the same time, it has produced a huge reserve of cheap labor. Most of the sweatshops that produce goods for export are filled with such laborers, mostly rural women.

These changes in Chinese society are due to the leadership's decision to bring the Chinese economy under the reign of capitalist valorization. Since 1992, the Chinese government has moved to make Chinese industry competitive on the world market. One of the more significant moves to insert the economy into the global regime of value was the 1994 devaluation of the Chinese currency. This devaluation is one of the primary causes of the 1997 Asian economic crisis, as it made the labor costs of smaller Asian nations less competitive thus hurting their investment. The increase in foreign investment in China (almost all in the coastal cities) has been extremely important in soaking up unemployed labor, but it hasn't been enough. To deal with this problem the government has also rapidly increased its spending on infrastructure. Yet again, most of this investment has been on the coast in the big cities. The government has also tried to spur domestic (urban) consumer spending, giving urban workers two weeks of extra holidays to spend money and lowering the interest rate and raising the taxes on savings accounts. But the famous untapped consumer market of China isn't what it is purported to be. There is very little consumer spending in the countryside where the majority of Chinese live, and urban spending has been much less than hoped for.

Another milestone in China's move to become fully part of global capitalism will be its entry into the WTO (probably in the Fall). Yet this will only compound the rural problems, as membership in the WTO will particularly hurt the rural population. China's agricultural goods aren't competitive on the world market. With WTO entry, cheaper agricultural goods will enter China's cities from abroad, and rural incomes, which are already stagnating, will probably drop. The state is making a lot of noise about increasing rural investment, but such investment is much more difficult than urban investment due, in part, to the small scale of farming in China.

Meanwhile, Chinese society is becoming much less stable. There are now thousands of protests a year in China. Most of these are by workers who haven't been paid or have been laid off. A year ago, the largest of these protests took place in a northeastern mining town. The mine was closed, putting the whole town out of work. This caused three days of riots, which included the burning of police cars and were only put down by the army. Rural riots have also taken place, many over water tights in the increasingly drought prone north. Farmers have even attacked gated communities on the edge of Beijing that had taken their land. Yet these outbursts haven't been able to build into any sort of movement. The Chinese government doesn't allow any autonomous organization. Nor does it allow independent publications to exist. When China recently signed UN covenants on human and social rights, it specifically excluded the sections that allowed for autonomous unions and free association. It is such organization that the Chinese government is most afraid of.

Under such circumstances, the Party has had to recreate its image and build a new ideological foundation. According to a new formulation by Party Chairman Jiang Zemin, the Party should first represent "the development needs of the most advanced forces of production." The Party is now more open about the fact that it has more in common with the budding capitalist class in China than with the workers. Both the government and many of the new capitalists see democracy as a chaotic force in China. The fostering of nationalism has also helped keep the Party in firm control. This is the prime reason for China's spending so much to get picked as the site for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Many questions remain: Will the Chinese state be able to contain the discontent that is generated by the insertion of Chinese society into the global capitalist regime of value? Will such discontent find effective means of organization and action? And, how can we act in solidarity with such struggles?
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