1994-07-19 - Re: Federal Control of Financial Transactions

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From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: e1a4177803522a9e742bff723075ecc1c3d92bd93f8a6eb0ceb7815ada628fdc
Message ID: <199407191625.MAA16624@zork.tiac.net>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-07-19 16:27:34 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 09:27:34 PDT

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From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 09:27:34 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Federal Control of Financial Transactions
Message-ID: <199407191625.MAA16624@zork.tiac.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At  8:53 AM 7/19/94 -0400, Duncan Frissell wrote:

>Inefficient government monopolies create marvelous profit opportunities for
>markets to arbitrage the gap between cost and price.  In a highly efficient
>networked world, it will be very difficult for governments to compete.

Yeah. What he said.  Arachno-Capitalism, anyone?

You have to be careful to use the analytic methods of the present (modern
financial concepts, for instance), to make informed guesses about the
future.  If you don't, and your analysis is clouded with a belief in the
efficacy of command economies, you start to see totalarians behind every

I think Eric put his finger on it before when he said something about not
demonizing the NSA. They were just wrong, and they were going to lose this
fight because the technology was stacked against them. "Reality is not
optional", to quote Thomas Sowell.

While I've been watching this discussion about manditory identity, I keep
remembering a couple of things I read a while ago.

The first was Gerard K. O'Neill's book "2081". Gerry was the Princeton
physicist whose undergraduate physics class started the space colonization
craze of the late 70's. In "2081", O'Neill had posited a world where, among
other things, everyone had micro-transponders. The ultimate nightmare of
free people everywhere.  Yet it had it's advantages. You could pick up
something and walk out of a store, and since the store's receivers knew who
you were and what you took, the item would be deducted from your bank
account. Phone calls would be routed to follow you wherever you went. If a
crime is committed, you have an alaibi.

I'm pretty sure most of you have heard about Xerox PARC's work in this
regard. There was an article in Scientific American about it a couple of
years ago. I even saw that Olivetti has begun manufacturing the smart
badges (transponders) upon which the technology hinges.

I expect that strong cryptology is the way to make this technology work so
that a person's freedom and privacy is actually enhanced.

The other thing I remember reading was an old Esther Dyson (Freeman Dyson's
daughter...synchronicity!) quote about the necessity for some kind of law
which made personal information the property of the person whose
information it was.

Again, I expect strong crypto and market mechanisms will evolve together to
enforce that legal claim at some point.

Bob Hettinga

Robert Hettinga  (rah@shipwright.com) "There is no difference between someone
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