1994-04-20 - BlackNet–the Truth

Header Data

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 4c4d24272ef520cafdc007703b1b35df2088de5f885a37b546d30764b2cca8b6
Message ID: <199404200607.XAA07978@netcom9.netcom.com>
Reply To: <9404200040.AA10958@pilot.njin.net>
UTC Datetime: 1994-04-20 06:06:38 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 19 Apr 94 23:06:38 PDT

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 94 23:06:38 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: BlackNet--the Truth
In-Reply-To: <9404200040.AA10958@pilot.njin.net>
Message-ID: <199404200607.XAA07978@netcom9.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

One of several such questions or comments:

> Does anyone actually believe Blacknet exists this is about the umpteenth time
> I have heard about some kind of Blackmarket internet traders that are very had
> to find.  It sounds like something out of that Gibson book "Virtual Light"
> Reuben Halper

I don't have time right now to dig up my last couple of explanations
of this experiment, so let me summarize for the new folks.

I'm not enclosing the original BlackNet "prospectus" here, as it has
been circulated several times, including a posting to 100 newsgroups
by L. Detweiler a short time ago. If you simply _have_ to have it,
it's around. 

1. I authored BlackNet last summer, as an experiment, and as a "proof
of principle" for a discussion at a Palo Alto nanotechnology group.
Several list members were there.

2. Hence the emphasis on nanotechnology and the like. That was picked
so as to strike a resonant chord with the nannites.

3. I anonymously e-mailed copies to several people I expected to be in
attendance, so as to encourage some interest, and so they could see
how such things might really develop (black markets for nanotech
weapons and other developments). 

4. The numbers are real. I generated the BlackNet key, for the
<blacknet@cyberspace.nil> address, and I can of course read the
traffic posted to BlackNet. Communication is by anonymous pool (a la
Myron Cuperman's pools) or by posting anonymously into a
publically-readable group (same idea). If BlackNet were real, I would
of course not be admitting my connection to it.

(However, to reiterate: it is real in the sense that the "parts work."
That is, it is not just a Potemkin protocol.)

5. Somebody, not me, took his e-mail copy and anonymously e-mailed it
to the Cypherpunks list, around last August-September. It caused only
a minor stir. On the Extropians list, I also did a follow-up--this
time intentional--announcing that "BlackNet Investigations" was
announcing its anonymous dossier service. You can imagine the

(I confessed to this experiment a mere few days later, as it looked
like some were going along with the joke, adding their own comments
about being "shocked, simple shocked" at what they found in their
dossiers, while others were growing more and more worried. I think it
was Eric Hughes who dubbed this "guerilla ontology.")

6. From Cypherpunks, Detweiler posted it to more than a hundred
newsgroups, where the reaction was puzzled, confused, and angry. This
was largely the reason he finally had his colostate account yanked.

7. Since then, it continues to bounce around. Oak Ridge National Labs
was one of several places that had it (minus the PK block at the end)
and had warned their employeess to be "on the lookout" for it and for
evidence of theis kind of cyberespionage.

And so that's the story. 

--Tim May

(If you don't hear from me the next couple of days you can assume I
was taken away by the Men in Black to the Area 51 Surveillance Center,
or that I am off at the Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop.)