1994-06-18 - Andy Grove on Clipper

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 305d4b388b3e2798fd987dff5c6d4d33cb46f80c7efcc947c5aef29bcfb612fa
Message ID: <199406181818.LAA22161@netcom4.netcom.com>
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UTC Datetime: 1994-06-18 18:18:15 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 18 Jun 94 11:18:15 PDT

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Sat, 18 Jun 94 11:18:15 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Andy Grove on Clipper
Message-ID: <199406181818.LAA22161@netcom4.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

In between the helocopter coverage of OJ, which looked like outtakes
from "Speed" in slo-mo, I happened to catch a repeat showing of the
"Larry King Live" discussion with Al Gore, Andy Grove, the head of the
FCC, and a journalist.

The transcript was posted here, so I won't try to check on the
details. Just my impressions, having worked with Grove.

I say impressions because its important we understand how views come
to be held, how strongly they are held, whether they can be changed,

In the case of Grove's comment that Clipper is just an extension into
the digital real of existing wiretap "rights," I think I can see why
he has this view--I don't agree with it, of course, but his view is
probably the dominant view. Something we need to understand. 

To wit,

* If asked whether digital transmission should "exempt" someone from
wiretaps, most people would say "No, of course not." (There are subtle
issues here, of course. More on this later.)

* If asked a different question, about whether users should be
compelled to use a government encryption and key escrow system, the
answer for most Americans is different: "No, of course not."
(Actually, same answer, different question.)

If I were trying to convince Grove of the "Cypherpunks position," I
would of course make these arguments about mandatory escrow, about the
parallels to "diary escrow" (after all, cops can search papers with
search warrants, so doesn't this mean that the digital age needs
"diary and papers escrow"?) and other such travesties.

I think it might take an hour of discussion, but eventually a light
bulb would go off in his head and he'd see that the price paid with
these "escrow" systems--especially if _mandatory_, as most of think is
the real agenda--is simply too high for a nominally free society to
put up with.

(I had these hour-long debates with Grove, Moore, and Barrett when I
was at Intel, and sometimes I won. Often I lost. I won't be having any
opportunities to argue the Clipper issue with them, of course.)

I'm citing this because it helps to explain the dichotomous reaction
to Clipper. If the question about Clipper is phrased as an issue of
privacy, do Americans have the right to keep conversations private,
etc., then the answer is overwhelmingly (80%, as in Time-CNN poll)
pro-privacy. If, however, the question is phrased in terms of
"legitimate law enforcement needs" and whether suspected terrorists
and pedophiles have a sacred right to use "fortress-like crypto," then
I suspect the answer will shift in the other direction rather

With egg all over their face on Clipper, I see the Administration now
launching a new campaign, a campaign being led by Donn Parker, Dorothy
Denning, Andy Grove, and others. In this campaign, the second approach
mentioned above will be dominant: a focus on pedophiles who "encrypt
their list of victims," a focus on "terrorists who form virtual
networks around the world," and a focus on "money launderers who use
crypto anarchy to spread their poison."

Their is little chance that we Cypherpunks will get the opportunity to
make our case in the public...the hour it might take me to convince
Grove, as an example, is about 59 minutes more than the "sound bite"
any of us will be given.

Is it hopeless? For public relations, probably yes. Fortunately, the
power of strong crypto lies in its use. The leverage effect.

As Phil Karn put it: "Don't get mad, get even. Write code."

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
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