1995-07-13 - Crisis Overload (re Electronic Racketeering)

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From: tcmay@sensemedia.net (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: ed8fe69b2a1a4a75244e7335b987676f2069a10d07005cb5b9e022c9add5b2f0
Message ID: <ac2aab2c0b021004b5fe@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1995-07-13 18:07:33 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 13 Jul 95 11:07:33 PDT

Raw message

From: tcmay@sensemedia.net (Timothy C. May)
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 95 11:07:33 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Crisis Overload (re Electronic Racketeering)
Message-ID: <ac2aab2c0b021004b5fe@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Folks, I'm not going to exhort you to fight this latest travesty, to send
angry letters to your senators and representatives.

Every couple of months there's been a new legislative attack on what were
once basic American freedoms. (Sorry to focus on America. I'm sure you
folks in the liberty-loving paradises of, say, Germany, are gloating over
our hand-wringing.)

We're losing the war. We can send in donations to the NRA and EFF, offer
our support to the ACLU and EPIC, but the tide just keeps rolling in,
washing away our efforts. The full-time lawmakers in D.C. can proliferate
new repressive laws much faster than we can fight them.

Our focus on this list has been on crypto, and crypto is finally coming
under the massive assault we knew would come from the earliest rumblings
several years ago about "key escrow." Clipper was the warning shot, the
current "War on the Internet" (fed by scare stories and hysteria) is part
of the propaganda war, and now this bipartisan bill to expand the RICO Act
to include any non-GAK implementation of crypto is the nail in the coffin.

No wonder Stu Baker and Ron Lee were so smug at the last CFP.

Ordinary lobbying is probably a lost cause. The EFF tried to "work with"
the government (Administration, Congress) on the Digital Telephony Bill,
and got rolled (in the opinion of many, even in the governing circles of

This latest assault is probably unstoppable. The co-sponsorship by Sen.
Leahy, once seen as an ally of the EFF (recall the attempts to get the
Leahy alternative to Exon adopted), and the enthusiastic support of
Republicans, Democrats, and the intelligence community means that GAK is

Oh, and the use of RICO and "conspiracy" in such a central way fulfills
Whit Diffie's prediction of a few years ago that the main way crypto will
be controlled is through such laws, by spreading fear, uncertainty, and
doubt amongst users and corporations. Make the corporations so paranoid
that they'll crack down on employees, adopt GAK methods, and freeze out the
"street corner user" of crypto.

(If the only users of PGP and other non-GAK tools are fringe groups and
underground communities, then the main goals will have been achieved. The
public use of PGP will have been squelched, the public use of anonymous
cash will have been suppressed, and the social control goals will have been
achieved. )

I think it's time to abandon all lobbying efforts...they don't appear to be
working, and the government is proliferating new laws faster than we can
fight them.

The only hope is to more rapidly deploy crypto, to reach the "point of no
return." Optimistically, we may already be there (the views expressed by
many of us). Pessimistically, the application of RICO laws and civil
forfeiture could put any of us who advocate crypto use and evasion of the
new laws into a precarious position.

This is enough to say for now.

Suffice it to say I view the latest Grassley proposed legislation to be the
culmination of the past several years worth of anti-liberty legislation. A
much bigger threat than Clipper.

In fact, it's what many of us saw implicit in Clipper.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@sensemedia.net   | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-728-0152           | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Corralitos, CA         | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."