1996-07-18 - Re: Gorelick testifies before Senate, unveils new executive order

Header Data

From: David Sternlight <david@sternlight.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: dd6afe5c75485ca5119a525e898617c7c6d7639bd810bb4b5555ed1ade323df8
Message ID: <v03007605ae13b9a0cd37@[]>
Reply To: <Pine.SUN.3.91.960717184531.7324A-100000@eff.org>
UTC Datetime: 1996-07-18 13:02:10 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 21:02:10 +0800

Raw message

From: David Sternlight <david@sternlight.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 21:02:10 +0800
To: Declan McCullagh <cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Gorelick testifies before Senate, unveils new executive order
In-Reply-To: <Pine.SUN.3.91.960717184531.7324A-100000@eff.org>
Message-ID: <v03007605ae13b9a0cd37@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 6:46 PM -0700 7/17/96, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 15:54:24 -0500
>From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
>To: fight-censorship+@andrew.cmu.edu
>Subject: Gorelick testifies before Senate, unveils new executive order
>Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified yesterday before Sen.
>Sam Nunn's cyberscare hearing (take #3), where she ranted about the
>evils of the Net and unveiled an executive order signed by the
>president on Monday.

<Remainder of purple prose omitted.>

Here's the problem in a nutshell: Everyone who has looked at our systems,
from Cliff Stoll on to blue ribbon scientific commissions, has come to the
conclusion that our society is vulnerable to willful sabotage from abroad,
ranging from information sabotage (hacking electronic financial
transactions) to physical sabotage (hacking power grid control computers to
cause widespread power failures leading to serious damage to people and
things; hacking the phone companies' computers, etc.). Some cases have
already been observed. The field has already got a name and lots of
publications. It's called "information warfare" and the government is
taking it VERY seriously.

Serious studies have shown that the kinds of protections to make the
systems we depend on robust against determined and malicious attackers (say
a terrorist government, or one bent on doing a lot of damage in retaliation
for one of our policies they don't like), have costs beyond the capability
of individual private sector actors. Your friendly neighborhood ISP, for
instance, probably can't affort the iron belt and steel suspenders needed
to make his system and its connectivity sabotage-proof, and so on. Even
cheap but clever solutions involving encryption in such systems require
standards and common practices across many institutions.

In such a case, where public benefits from government action greatly exceed
public (taxpayer) costs, and the private sector cannot (or will not) act
unaided, the classical basis for government action in the interests of the
citizenry exists. It's the economist's "lighthouse" argument.

The motivation has nothing to do with privacy, government snooping, or any
of the other things some get so excited about, though the solutions
certainly have side effects in those domains. The goal should be to
minimize the deleterious side-effects, not to throw out the baby with the
bath water.