1993-02-28 - A Modest Proposal

Header Data

From: Eric Hughes <hughes@soda.berkeley.edu>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 576c7e4f4d5a7157850eb819860f3dce6604e97a1a1886ccbfa636d9aa76e841
Message ID: <9302281950.AA17286@soda.berkeley.edu>
Reply To: <9302280259.AA20523@longs.lance.colostate.edu>
UTC Datetime: 1993-02-28 19:54:03 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 28 Feb 93 11:54:03 PST

Raw message

From: Eric Hughes <hughes@soda.berkeley.edu>
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 93 11:54:03 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: A Modest Proposal
In-Reply-To: <9302280259.AA20523@longs.lance.colostate.edu>
Message-ID: <9302281950.AA17286@soda.berkeley.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

I wrote:
>The only perfectly unambiguous position is that every use is a
>legitimate use.

and then L.D. wrote:
>Once again I'm very seriously disturbed at the sentiments presented by
>some eminent members of this list.  I believe in free speech perhaps as
>rabidly as the next guy, but many of the most rabid advocates recognize
>that there are limitations on `freedom'.  


I make no claim above as to the propriety of an unambiguous position,
merely that there is one and only one completely clear position.
(There is another, that no use is legitimate, and we here conveniently
ignore that one :-)

The consequences of unambiguity must affect our discussions of this
matter.  If we desire unambiguity, then there is no need to
distinguish between uses.  If, however, the unambiguous solution is
not desirable, then there must be decisions made about propriety.  As
with every other question of power, the real question is

	"_Who_ decides propriety?"

The questions "What are significant criteria?", "When is the decision
made?", and others are all subordinate to the question "Who decides?"
Roughly speaking, there are three situations regarding anonymous
communication: the sender, the carrier, and the receiver.  In each of
these, we can examine what decisions they are _able_ to make.

As sender, I can choose who I present myself as, whom I send to to,
what carriers I want, and what I want to say.  As carrier, I can
choose whom to accept messages from, whom to send them to, what
content I am willing to pass.  As receiver, I can choose what carriers
to receive messages from, and from whom to accept mail.

>Anybody here that thinks that an anonymous service can act something
>like a Unix pipe that just passes the raw stuff through forever
>unhindered and uninterrupted is seriously deluding himself.

Well, an anonymous service _can_ do just that.  Whether or not the
rest of the world continues to communicate with them is a separate
question, an important question in the short run to be sure.

Acknowledgement that a procedure is an exigency does not make that
procedure desirable of itself.  All differential carriage based on
content is censorship.  I acknowledge the exigency of certain forms of
censorship in currently deployed anonymous systems.

Nonetheless, I will never desire censorship for its own sake and I
will also fight to remove the conditions which make censorship exigent
in the first place.

The problem is, who decides what is exigent?  We can either answer
that question, or change the world so that we never need ask it.

I decline to respond to the essay by Mr. D. Lewdud.