Fair cryptosystems and methods of use

- Bankers Trust Company
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Claims

1. A method, using a public-key cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users suspected of unlawful activities while protecting the privacy of law-abiding users, wherein each user is assigned a pair of matching secret and public keys, comprising the steps of:

breaking each user's secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information enabling the trustees to verify that the pieces of information include shares of a secret key of some given public key; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user suspected of unlawful activity to enable the entity to attempt reconstruction of the secret key for monitoring communications to the suspect user.

2. The method as described in claim 1 wherein the predetermined entity is a government agency and the predetermined request is a court order.

3. The method as described in claim 1 wherein the identity of the suspect user is known to the trustees.

4. The method as described in claim 1 wherein the identity of the suspect user is unknown to the trustees.

5. The method as described in claim 1 further including the step of:

characterizing the suspect user's activities as unlawful if the entity is unable to monitor the suspect user's communications.

6. The method as described in claim 1 wherein less than all of the shares of the suspect user's secret key are required to be revealed in order to reconstruct the secret key.

7. The method as described in claim 1 wherein the shares are revealed to the entity upon the predetermined request.

8. The method as described in claim 1 wherein a given minority of trustees are unable to reconstruct the secret key.

9. The method as described in claim 1 wherein each trustee can verify that the pieces of information provided include a share of the secret key without interaction with any other trustee.

10. A method, using a public-key cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users suspected of unlawful activities while protecting the privacy of law-abiding users, wherein each user is assigned a pair of matching secret and public keys, comprising the steps of:

breaking each user's secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information that include shares of a secret key of some give public key.Iadd., trustees being distinct from the predetermined entity,.Iaddend.; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of auser suspected of unlawful activity to enable the entity to reconstruct the secret key and monitor communications to the suspect user.

12. The method as described in claim 11 further including the step of:

characterizing the suspect user's activities as unlawful if the entity is unable to monitor the suspect user's communications.

13. The method as described in claim 11 wherein a given minority of trustees are unable to reconstruct the secret key.

14. The method as described in claim 11 wherein each trustee can verify that the pieces of information provided include a share of the secret key without interaction with any other trustee.

15. A method, using a cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users suspected of unlawful activities while protecting the privacy of law-abiding users, wherein a group of users has a secret key, comprising the steps of:

breaking the secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information that include shares of the secret key.Iadd., trustees being distinct from the predetermined entity.Iaddend.; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user suspected of unlawful activity to enable the entity to reconstruct the secret key and monitor communications to the suspect user.

16. The method as described in claim 15 further including the step of:

characterizing the suspect user's activities as unlawful if the entity is unable to monitor the suspect user's communications.

17. The method as described in claim 15 wherein a given minority of trustees are unable to reconstruct the secret key.

18. The method as described in claim 15 wherein each trustee can verify that the pieces of information provided include a share of the secret key without interaction with any other trustee..Iadd.19. A method, using a public-key cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users, wherein each user is assigned a pair of matching secret and public keys, comprising the steps of:

breaking each user's secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information enabling the trustees to verify that the pieces of information include shares of a secret key of some given public key; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user to enable the entity to attempt reconstruction of the

secret key for monitoring communications to the user..Iaddend..Iadd.20. The method of claim 19, for monitoring communications of certain users while protecting the privacy of other users..Iaddend..Iadd.21. A method, using a public-key cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communication of users, wherein each user is assigned a pair of matching secret and public keys, comprising the steps of:

breaking each user's secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information that include shares of a secret key of some given public key, trustees being distinct from the predetermined entity; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user to enable the entity to reconstruct the secret key and monitor communications to the user..Iaddend..Iadd.22. The method of claim 21, for monitoring communications of certain users while protecting

the privacy of other users..Iaddend..Iadd.23. A method, using a public-key cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users, comprising the steps of:

verifiably secret sharing each user's secret key with a plurality of trustees so that each trustee can verify that the share received is part of a secret key of some public key; and
upon a predetermined request, having at least some of the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user to enable the entity to reconstruct the secret key and monitor communications to the user..Iaddend..Iadd.24. The method of claim 23, for monitoring communications of certain users while protecting the privacy of other users..Iaddend..Iadd.25. A method, using a cryptosystem, for enabling a predetermined entity to monitor communications of users, wherein a group of users has a secret key, comprising the steps of:
breaking the secret key into shares;
providing trustees pieces of information that include shares of the secret key, trustees being distinct from the predetermined entity; and
upon a predetermined request, having the trustees reveal the shares of the secret key of a user to enable the entity to reconstruct the secret key

and monitor communications to the user..Iaddend..Iadd.26. The method of claim 23, for monitoring communications of certain users while protecting the privacy of other users..Iaddend.

Referenced Cited

U.S. Patent Documents

4375579 March 1, 1983 Davida et al.
4933970 June 12, 1990 Shamir
5005200 April 2, 1991 Fischer
5018196 May 21, 1991 Takaragi et al.
5136643 August 4, 1992 Fischer
5150411 September 22, 1992 Maurer

Patent History

Patent number: RE35808
Type: Grant
Filed: Sep 12, 1995
Date of Patent: May 26, 1998
Assignee: Bankers Trust Company (New York, NY)
Inventor: Silvio Micali (Brookline, MA)
Primary Examiner: David C. Cain
Law Firm: Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Application Number: 8/526,977

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Public Key (380/30); 380/23; 380/25
International Classification: H04K 100;