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Let's Encrypt, EFF and San Francisco

25.05.2016, in { letsencrypt, life }

TLDR: Took a week off, jumped to SF to work on Let’s Encrypt with the Electronic Frontier Foundation!

Let’s Encrypt

For quite some time now I’ve been contributing code to Let’s Encrypt and more specifically Certbot. For those of you who never heard of it - Let’s Encrypt is an automated CA that securely validates domain ownership and offers FREE certificates.

Keys ?

Letsencrypt developers are mainly from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Linux Foundation (under the guise of the ISRG). I mostly worked with the EFF folks.

On Thursday [19/5/16] a launch party was held at a bar in San Francisco for Letsencrypt, where all the involved parties gathered and celebrated it.

I was invited, but flying halfway across the world [I’m based in Israel] just for a party didn’t seem reasonable. Luckily, Peter said something about working on Letsencrypt from EFF offices.

So I took a week off and booked a flight to San Francisco :)

The EFF

I settled in Jacob’s office (thanks btw!) and worked closely with Peter, Noah and Brad. Working in person is so much more productive than on IRC. I learned a lot!

I was very curious to see how the EFF works from the inside. I kind of sneaked into a weekly EFF status meeting. It didn’t disappoint. Everyone - the activists, developers, lawyers and graphic designers were very enthusiastic and seemed to have a strong sense of purpose.

Also, I had a talk with EFF’s international director, Danny, about a new, horrible, legislative initiative in Israel, that aims to compel internet providers to reveal which users are downloading pirated content. I actually need to get back to him with more information on this.

The EFF is such an incredibly inspiring institution. I hope that someday little Israel would have something of its sort.

San Francisco

Other things I did in SF:

  • Stayed in a shady hostel (it self signs a torproject.org cert).
  • Observed the Bay to Breakers finish line - it was so funny.
  • Attended the Stupid Hackathon and the Noisebridge hackerspace.
  • Had beer and chocolate with EFF and ISRG folks in Dolores Park and Dandelion Chocolate.
  • Found an awesome outside workout gym (with dips, pullup bars and even rings!) by the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Attended a roguelike event, after which I had a very insightful discussion with J.C. Jones about how authentication and encryption on the web shouldn’t be entwined. A web server should be able to offer encryption to its clients without authentication (having a valid signature on its cert).

Summary

This had been an extraordinary week for me. I’ve met tons of interesting people and learned so many new things. It was a great experience!