1993-03-03 - Future of anonymity (short-term vs. long-term)

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From: tribble@xanadu.com (E. Dean Tribble)
To: uunet!Athena.MIT.EDU!tytso@uunet.UU.NET
Message Hash: 83fbff656c47eea5b42c3be58322339e1bf459de18c5f1a6ae2789b38341ca7f
Message ID: <9303022349.AA26712@memexis.xanadu.com>
Reply To: <9303020248.AA26533@SOS>
UTC Datetime: 1993-03-03 09:29:30 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 3 Mar 93 01:29:30 PST

Raw message

From: tribble@xanadu.com (E. Dean Tribble)
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 93 01:29:30 PST
To: uunet!Athena.MIT.EDU!tytso@uunet.UU.NET
Subject: Future of anonymity (short-term vs. long-term)
In-Reply-To: <9303020248.AA26533@SOS>
Message-ID: <9303022349.AA26712@memexis.xanadu.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

			>There doesn't seem to be a lot of realism in these discussions, which is
			>really bothering me.  

People often mistake being a wet blanket and finding lots of
objections to thing with 'being realistic'.  Is that what you are
doing?  Otherwise, given how much work I see people doing to both
spread the ideas and to build tools, I can't imagine to what you are
referring.  People are building and deploying remailers, integrating
crypto stuff into mail programs, testing anonymity, writing
publilcations on teh subject, successfully suing government
organizations for privacy violations, working towards positive
reputation systems, etc.  Pretty damn good for people's spare time.
And certainly plenty 'realistic'.  Discussion of visions and long term
goals might qualify, but the grandiose visions we indulge in drive the
day-to-day improvements we make on the technology and ideas about
privacy that are available.

			What assumptions here do you disagree with?  If you are explicit,
			perhaps we can forge an agreement.

	 Well, let's see.... the most recent assumption I disagreed with was the
	 claim that we could implement full-fledged postive reputation filters,
	 complete with the use of RSA, and deploy it on the Usenet in some sort
	 of time-frame less than ten years out --- and even that is doubtful.
	 Look at how many sites are running B News, long after C news has been
	 out.  Anonymous remailers are here *today*.

I must have missed that message.  I looks like a munging together of
lots of separate things that are in the works, and that will integrate
in some reasonable way.  As I put together my thoughts for an answer
here, I realized that my summary of what's going on would better fit
in a separate message.  I'll send that later.

	 conspiracy theory, and have it posted so it looked like it came from 20
	 different pseudonyms, and it probably would be believed by a lot of

It would only be believed by people who tend to believe in that stuff.
The people that read home.ec.cooking will just look at a message like
that strangely and wonder what it has to do with cooking.  There
aren't many forums in which such a message is even appropriate.  In
the ones that are, I suspect acceptance would be slow for a sudden
flurry of anonymous postings :-)  Most of hte people who would believe
that kind of thing easily simply aren't on the net.

	 Fundamentally, however, there's the basic assumption that anarchy

I don't even think Tim May believes that :-)  I think the basic
assumption is that government rstriction of freedom and privacy is
*bad*.  There's almost certainly more agreement with that.  I
certainly can't htink of time when it was good...

	 necessarily believe in the Libertarian party --- however, complete and
	 total anarchy goes far beyond what I believe is a reasonable or
	 realistic way to run a society; that's basically a "might makes right"

Anarchy is just a bad word because it brings to mind the image of
utter lawlessness and destruction.  I certainly want all the things
typically (badly) supplied by the government:  health care, police,
fire, national defense, etc., I just don't think that we need the
gov't to provide them.  Any anarchy that I advocate has to support at
least the level of society we have now, and I certainly believe that
to be possible.

	 there are people who such militant anarchists that futher discussion

Labelling someone with a name, then insisting that it belongs to them
is hardly a useful style of argument.

	 How does that saying go?  "Don't bother trying to teach a pig to sing.
	 It just frustrates you, and annoys the pig."

This is just righteousness that is intended to put people down.  It
just prompts flaming and doesn't contribute to the discussion.

Finally, I would note that people are actively pursuing crypto stuff
for a variety of reasons.  I can disgree about philosophy and still
productively cooperate with people.  We contribute to each other's

What are your goals with respect to this stuff, and *what are you
doing* to pursue them?  You want more realism:  what are *your* plans?
Objecting to someone else's is easy.  Doing something is hard (that's
why I support other people doing something even if I don't quite agree
with them).