Six Lines

About Six Lines

Six Lines is a blog about computer security, digital privacy, and technology policy by Aaron Massey. The name and unifying theme of this blog come from the following quote:

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.”Cardinal Richelieu

Cardinal Richelieu was a power-hungry authoritarian who understood key elements of security and privacy. First, he recognized that small mistakes can result in big problems. This is particularly true in computer security and digital privacy where a simple programming error can have complex repercussions. Second, Richelieu knew that even honorable people attempting to do the right thing sometimes end up hurting their cause. Digital privacy proponents often suffer a similar fate. Third, Richelieu recognized the importance of political power to affect the lives of honest people. As politicians react to new technologies, understanding the effects of political power becomes more important to technologists.

My interest in computer security, digital privacy, and technology policy began simply as a fascination with technology. I am consistently amazed that even six lines of code in the hands of an expert can accomplish quite a lot of work. My interest broadened to include the political and ethical implications of technology after reading Database Nation as a student at Purdue. As an engineer and scientist, I approach politics with an open mind and a heavy reliance on data, reason, and logic. I favor small governments, free markets, peace, fiscal conservatism, and social liberalism. The Technology Liberation Front and Bottom-Up are blogs with similar technology policy interests.

Here at Six Lines, there are two basic types of posts. The first type of post is a relatively short blurb about an article of interest. My aim with these posts is to identify the interesting, compelling, or novel security and privacy stories and avoid the run-of-the-mill, average, or over-covered stories. I will not attempt to be comprehensive. If you are looking for a comprehensive technology news site, then I would recommend Slashdot or Ars Technica. The second type of post is a longer essay or book review on a particular topic. These posts will be preceded by a solid triangle pointing to the title (▶) and appear in the essay and book review categories respectively. My aim in these posts is to discuss over-arching concerns in computer security, digital privacy, and technology policy. This blog format is sometimes called the short-links-and-longer-articles format. Popular sites using this format include Daring Fireball and Kottke.

Since Six Lines is currently a one-man operation, you may want to know more about me. To that end, here is a paragraph that I use as a short bio for conferences and presentations:

My name is Aaron Massey. I am an Assistant Professor of Software Engineering at UMBC and the Co-Director of My research interests include computer security, privacy, software engineering, and regulatory compliance in software systems. I am a recipient of the Walter H. Wilkinson Graduate Research Ethics Fellowship and a recipient of a Google Policy Fellowship. Before coming to UMBC, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing. I earned a BS in Computer Engineering from Purdue University and an MS and PhD in Computer Science from North Carolina State University. I am a member of the ACM, IEEE, IAPP, and the USACM Public Policy Council.

All content posted on Six Lines represents my own personal opinion and not the opinion of any of my current or past employers.