Last week, Dr. Joseph Bonneau learned that he had won the NSA’s first annual “Science of Security (SoS) Competition.” The competition, which aims to honor the best “scientific papers about national security” as a way to strengthen NSA collaboration with researchers in academia, honored Bonneau for his paper on the nature of passwords.
And how did Bonneau respond to being honored by the NSA? By expressing, in an honest and bittersweet blog post, his revulsion at what the NSA has become:
On a personal note, I’d be remiss not to mention my conflicted feelings about winning the award given what we know about the NSA’s widespread collection of private communications and what remains unknown about oversight over the agency’s operations. Like many in the community of cryptographers and security engineers, I’m sad that we haven’t better informed the public about the inherent dangers and questionable utility of mass surveillance. And like many American citizens I’m ashamed we’ve let our politicians sneak the country down this path.
In accepting the award I don’t condone the NSA’s surveillance. Simply put, I don’t think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form.