Public Key (c)

We had a snowstorm, a mighty one, and when it passed I found our outhouse roof had been blown off. The next day Hannah and I went out to fix it. She caught a cold and was sick for two days and then I caught it and was sick for three. She took care of me. I took care of her.

After that the weather began to improve. The days were above freezing. Then the nights. Spring was coming to Lesotho. If I stayed much longer I would have been in-country an entire year. I knew I wouldn’t make it. I was almost ready to go.

It got to the point where I felt comfortable with what I was studying. I had only the most basic understanding of how the things worked. That was all I needed. I wasn’t trying to write a virus or hack a mainframe or any other flight of cyberpunk fancy. I just wanted to send a couple eMails and not end up in jail because of it.

I was in a somewhat unusual position in regards data security. I couldn’t encrypt my data. I wanted my data seen by as many people as possible, not as few. I just wanted to limit the data which I was making available. Nothing could relate to my location. I needed to make sure that even the most dedicated experts could not trace the message back to me.

To ensure this I would make sure that my words were bounced through half a hundred different computers, all over the world, over a period of days. I had under twenty messages to send out. I’d send out all of them at once, to minimize my personal exposure to the operation. Each message would keep bouncing around the world, moving from one relay to another at random intervals, until the appointed time came. Then it would go on to its recipients: first major news outlets, then half an hour later to YouTube. So the first message they received would come from a laptop in San Francisco, the next a server in Cairo, the next an anonymizer in Joburg, and the like. I had no idea where the messages would go. I had no idea whose computers they would pass through. But I was reasonably sure that nobody else would either. And very sure that nobody would be able to trace the messages back to Lesotho and to me.

Very well, then. What would I send?

The first thing, sent without delay, would be an anonymized email to Luc. It would ask him, pretty please, to act on my behalf in trying to get me legal protection. I said I wasn’t comfortable contacting him thereafter, but if he made data publicly available I could view it. If he wanted to communicate with me, I said, he could figure something out. Like Woodward and the flower pot. Except hopefully HTML-5 compliant.

Three days later, the first video would go out.

Two days later would be the next video, along with a statement of facts that proved I was who I claimed to be.

Two days later the next video, and my story.

After that the videos would continue at regular intervals. Hopefully by the time two weeks had passed I’d manage to change some minds. Or at least find some people willing to represent me. Or at least, not gotten people even more pissed at me than they were already.

If two weeks passed and I saw nothing but public outcry and calls for blood – well, hell, I could always go back to hiding. But Hannah couldn’t. I couldn’t ask her. I wouldn’t let her. So I’d have to hope that I was persuasive in my pleas. I’d have to hope that people would listen to what was right.

I’d only have one chance. I did my best.

It didn’t seem like much. Not for near three months worth of work. It was simple, I thought. Elegant. To-the-point. But it was what it was. I begged the mountains around me that it would do.

We had been in our hermitage for eighty days and a day. We stepped back, Hannah and I, and spent the whole day hiking in the melting snow. It was dark by the time we returned to our home, and we went to bed without thinking about our work. In the morning, fresh-minded, we reviewed the plan. We could find no fault with it, none at least that we could correct. We slept on it, again, but when we woke there was nothing. It was as likely to succeed as we could make it. Start to finish, it was what we would do.

It was seven days to the next jeep. They would find us gone. We packed what we needed, dressed as warmly as we could, and left another home behind us. It was just another part of my journey, our journey. One way or another it would be the last.

I took Hannah in my arms and held her tight. We kissed deeply, and dropped our hands. We wouldn’t see each other for a little while. God willing. God only knew. She turned west, down the canyon, down towards the road and the towns of the lowlands. I turned east, up the mountain, up to the high plain, up to the barren lands above.

I started walking.



~ by davekov on 28 March 2011.

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