The Human Stain

The world turns and changes,
but one thing does not change.
In all my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of good and evil.

-T.S. Eliot

I re-rented _Der Untergang_ from the video store last night. I’ve seen it twice before but this was the first time I was able to watch it end-to-end. What does that have to do with morals or information security? To summarize, the Nazis worked out their own moral code and then enacted and followed through with it. These morals weren’t adopted overnight. Instead, they were gradually *accepted* over the course of years. In one chilling scene, Goebbels, regarding the German people, states: “They gave us a mandate, and now their little throats are being cut.”

Recent incidents between large U.S. companies and oppresive governments have raised some interesting moral questions. History has shown us that man-made morals can lead to the deprecation of human rights. The time to stop the logical conclusion of a faulty moral system is during the CREATION of the moral system. We are the builders and policy enforcers of much of the Internet. Given this, our actions (or inactions) are actively shaping what will become the *working* moral code. With respect to Human Rights, many security researchers are contributing their time and efforts (their mandate) to enhancing the Human Rights of oppressed individuals (TOR, for example). Some of us are doing nothing.

One of Google’s 10 Philosophical tenets states: “You can make money without doing evil”. That’s true, but it doesn’t really imply anything. Better would have been: “We will strive to only do good”. The choice to do evil or good is an individual one. As security professionals, we are in a position to take actions which will do more than just pad our wallets. We are a vocal and highly visible group. We *can* make a difference. If you don’t already have one, consider investing your time or resources to a Human Rights project.

!Dmitry

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