1996-02-23 - Let the Snake Oil Flow

Header Data

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 97e86d2adafae1c87547c2c08c469a060bc542d5fa07f50daa0b4fdf35dbc089
Message ID: <ad5232581a02100494c9@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1996-02-23 00:55:25 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 08:55:25 +0800

Raw message

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 08:55:25 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Let the Snake Oil Flow
Message-ID: <ad5232581a02100494c9@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

There have been several purveyors of (potential) snake oil here.
Predictably, critics have been drawn into "trying to break" these allegedly
strong systems. Some of the purveyors are even saying things like
[paraphrased, but with charming misspellings emulated]:

"See, even the smarty-pants Cyphurpunks are unabble to brake ouir system!
Our virtuel one-time pad, which converts 10 randumly picked bits into 1000
or 10,000 or even a bazillion!, by our patented processo of "entropy
enhancemate," has defeated even immacarthy and metzger. Our system rulez!"

And so it goes....

Predictably, others are asking/expecting "the Cypherpunks" to break their
systems. Just as predictably, many of us are patiently (and impatiently)
explaining that breakages cost money and resources. And so the "developers"
gleefully respond that this proves the "Cyperpunks" [sic] are helpless
before their software.

Well, it seems to me that letting some real snake oil out there could be a
Good Thing. Being the Neo-Calvinist Darwinist that I am, I set that anyone
who puts valuable information into "PowerPads" and "Stream-of-Consciousness
Ciphers" pretty much deserves what he or she gets. I am not losing any
sleep that Snake Oil Enterprises is hyping a conceptually flawed system.

A few highly publicized failures could be educational, and ultimately help
to strengthen the Net. You don't get better bridges without some
highly-visible bridge collapses. Raises consumer awareness of what good
design really is.

Personally, I'm much more worried about the behind-the-scenes goings on
with key escrow, the pressures being applied to Netscape, Lotus, Microsoft,
TIS, etc., than I am in Yet Another Clueless Crypto Product (tm).

--Tim May

Boycott "Big Brother Inside" software!
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, we know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839 - 1  | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."