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Cryptography and trust

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Cryptography and trust play an increasing role in how governments act in the digital world. In this speech, importance of trust in building digital government services as well as relationships between cryptography and trust are explored

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Cryptography and trust

  1. 1. Cryptography and trust Andres Kütt Information System Authority, chief architect June 9, 2015
  2. 2. In this speech • Thoughts on digital government • Trust and digital government • Cryptography and trust
  3. 3. Thoughts on digital government
  4. 4. We should talk about digital-embracing government, not e-government E-government implies a separation between the “e“ and the government while the point is to embed digital into all aspects of governance
  5. 5. I speak for Estonia but suspect wider applicability The strategic choices we face are fundamental in nature
  6. 6. Digital government is useful • It makes plain old economic sense • Provided it is used as a change enabler rather than a bolt-on • Corporations have been doing kaizen, six-σ and lean for decades, why not governments? • In Estonia we are seeing tangible, substantial and sustainable profitability of digital government • It makes social sense • Faster feedback enabled by technology allows for more flexible and agile society • Emerging social structures are highly efficient and clearly valuable
  7. 7. Digital government is unavoidable • Estonia cannot afford not to gain the benefits described • Too high prime minister per capita ratio • Geographic location on the edge of everything • All the demographic ailments of the western world • Few options but to embrace digital change • Provide the services or face someone else providing them for you • Globalisation and technology are inexorably shifting the concepts of “state“ and “government“ • To have a chance, Estonia must change the game
  8. 8. Trust as an enabler
  9. 9. Trust enables digital government Digital government assumes a level of trust between parties • Digital world cannot be perceived directly • Electronic vs. physical voting • Complexity levels have grown beyond our cognitive abilities • Therefore technology must be trusted to behave in a certain way • Complexity is still an issue: how deep is that rabbit-hole? • This is a serious issue with using the public cloud • Contactless interaction requires trust in identification mechanisms • On the internet, everybody assumes you are a dog • Bi-directional mapping between a person and a portfolio of their rights and obligations
  10. 10. Trust enables digital ecosystems A digital ecosystem requires its parties to be able to digitally trust each other • Digital government brings value as part of an ecosystem, not by itself • To cooperate, trust is required between • agencies on local, European and global level • government agencies and corporations • citizens and other stakeholders A digital ecosystem cannot be limited to a single country
  11. 11. Trust is a fragile property of a complex system Lack of trust leads to less reasons to trust and vice versa. Small actions can trigger important consequences
  12. 12. Sacrificing trust means loosing digital government Balancing tactical wins against strategic consequences is non-trivial
  13. 13. Cryptography and trust
  14. 14. Cryptography is firstly about math and then about technology Technology makes math practical but is not that useful in itself
  15. 15. To enable trust, cryptography must be trustworthy We can mostly rely on math but not necessarily on technology
  16. 16. And technology is effectively out of control There is no way to prevent people from implementing mathematics. Think Bitcoin
  17. 17. Time is rapidly becoming a factor in trusting cryptography Estonia has ten years worth of legacy digital signatures getting weaker by the minute
  18. 18. Summary • Digital governance is desirable but depends on trust • Cryptography can help provide trust if it is trustworthy itself • Digital ecosystems span borders and share trust
  19. 19. Thank you! Andres Kütt