April 23, 2072
MALIBU–Spokespeople for celebrity activists Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston confirmed today that the longtime couple is currently anonymized and that the decryption keys have been lost or damaged. “Brad and Jennifer have always enjoyed mixing with the public,” explains a spokesperson for the couple. “They’re very down to earth that way. They had just turned on their anonymizers for a trip down to Pizza Bell to pick up some dinner. When they went to turn them off, they found that something had gone wrong. They’ve both remained encrypted for the past couple of weeks or so. We’re hopeful that the technical people will be able to recover the keys in due course.”
Pitt and Aniston both use recent versions of PGP-compliant anonymizing hardware sold by Oakley under the GygesTM brand. The Gyges system includes millions of self-replicating nanoMEMS that reside in the epidermis. The small machines each control a nanoscopic mirror. Networked by low-power RF connections, the MEMS form a giant neural net dedicated to anonymizing the wearer through control of the mirrors. Light striking the wearer is re-directed in a seemingly random fashion, disguising the wearer’s true appearance. Recent versions of Gyges have begun using distributed 65K-bit encryption of the “faÃ§ade” in order to thwart filter-enabled lenses and glasses.
“We’ve gotten quite used to seeing anonymized patrons,” notes Sally Okibuchi, manager of Sony’s New Fish Experience, a popular L.A. celebrity haunt. “It was disconcerting when they started to show up a few years ago, looking all blocky, like some kind of whistleblower or secret government witness or something. And those scrambled voices were a real hoot. But some of the newer anonymizers have a real sense of style, some of them are really beautiful.”
According to sources near the couple, Pitt and Aniston regularly used a beta patch to Gyges that enables “cross-keying,” or the sharing of keys between users and specially enabled HUD glasses through a proprietary PKI. Pitt and Aniston were known to use designer HUD glasses to enable them to see each other while they remained anonymized to the general public. Experts who have examined the couple hypothesize that a bug in the patch is causing their anonymizers to export the dynamically generated keys to the associated HUD glasses while deleting the local copy of the key, preventing the systems from decrypting the couple.
“It’s a real shame from our perspective,” notes AOL Studio Chief Marianne Asse. “Two of our most bankable stars have just plummeted in value. Sure, they can still see each other, but what about their obligations to us and to their public? Their contracts specifically require key escrow. They should have given us a copy of the key to hold in case of emergencies like this. They didn’t, and that has put them in default. According to contract, that grants us a right to use their likenesses digitally on stand-ins, and that’s probably where we’re headed.”
“There’s a good reason Jennifer and Brad didn’t trust the studio with their keys,” explains the couple’s spokesperson. “They’ve had trouble in the past with the studio leaking the keys to contracted paparazzi and poaching extra-contractual public appearances. We’re prepared to talk about exactly who has broken the contracts and when. The default clause specifies that AOL gets the right to digital likenesses only if Brad and Jennifer are substantially unable to perform their duties. Sure, their bodies and faces are anonymized and won’t show up right on camera, but their hair remains perfectly shootable. As long as they can shoot the hair, they’ve got their stars. The studio can digitally add their own likenesses to them. This ‘stand-in’ talk is just the studios trying to get out of paying the stars, and it’s not right.”
Though fans remain hopeful, encryption experts outside the Pitt-Aniston camp doubt that the couple can be decrypted. “This is an example of bad design and inadequate testing in a life-critical application,” notes one expert. “Getting them decrypted would require something like harnessing the quantum computational power of a body the size of the sun. They’re just not going to be cracked for centuries.”