Under pressure, NSA expresses regret about Security-Enhanced Linux

by Andy Oram

Related link: http://news.com.com/2100-1001-950083.html



A door is closing on the movements for information sharing and technology development for the public good. The Linux community warmly welcomed the National Security Agency (despite long-standing battles between the NSA and the hacker community over encryption) when it released
Security-Enhanced Linux,
one of the best things the U.S. government ever did for software. It seemed natural, despite the NSA's history, for the government to donate the results of research to the public.


But now, due to nebulous pressures from unnamed sources, the NSA is drawing back. About one-third of the way down this generally positive
article
about the promotion of Linux for government use,
an NSA director is quoted as saying "We received a lot of loud complaints regarding our efforts with SE Linux" and "we won't be doing anything like that again."


Microsoft is suspected, of course, but the lines of control remain hidden and unknown. The whole affair reeks of the kind of secrecy that is becoming the norm in our government, and that forces like the backers of the CBDTPA are trying to impose on digital technology as well.


Yesterday, Tim O'Reilly put up a weblog with the prescient title:
The Growing Politicization of Open Source.
The politicization goes much deeper and gets much nastier than he says there.


Openness is the promise for our future, but for a lot of powerful forces it is scary. A couple weeks ago, in widely reported remarks, the FBI warned that wireless networks were a security hazard. Of course, everyone in the networking field knows that security has to be improved in wireless protocols, but the FBI was going beyond this: they were raising alarms about the whole idea of a network that anybody could attach to anytime. They underscored this message a week or so later by threatening to prosecute anyone who logs into a wireless network from outside the organization.


What about organizations that provide wireless for free? Their interests get lost in the stampede toward control. Watch for further signs of the backlash .


Is there a backlash against free and open source software?


1 Comments

adamsj
2002-08-17 06:15:12
But exactly _what sort_ of regret?
The article indicates that release under the GPL was the cause, but do we know this to be true?


Is it possible the real reason is that releasing a secure version of Linux was considered bad for the NSA, which has as its mission making sure that nothing is too secure for them to break?