1997-05-31 - Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy

Header Data

From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Message Hash: 7345438361fad7679036162d4c84aec4d7c95737ee947c6ffd678e9f3ad859db
Message ID: <v03007801afb61ffec219@[]>
Reply To: <v03007800afb5dc075d18@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-31 19:13:59 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 03:13:59 +0800

Raw message

From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 03:13:59 +0800
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <v03007800afb5dc075d18@[]>
Message-ID: <v03007801afb61ffec219@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Back to Tim's original point, I wonder if he knows
that the P-TRAK data that Lexis/Nexis said was
"public information" was actually taken from
credit reports collected and sold by TransUnion.
TU was able to sell the data because of a loophole
in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Sure, you post
to the net that's public, but a lot of data collection
is much more sleazy.

I'd also appreciate some comment/criticism on
the piece I did for Wired. My point was that
in countries where there are legal rights to
privacy it will be easier for technologies of privacy
to flourish. I gave as examples the fact that PRZ
was nearly indicted in the US while David Chaum
was being applauded by the European Commission
for building anonymous payment schemes. The OECD
crypto policy drafting experience confirmed my

Let me also try to explain how the simple-minded
First Amendment-privacy rights trade-off often
misses the point about privacy claims.  Consider
the article about Judge Bork's video viewing
habits back in 1987. Should Congress/the Courts
prevent City Paper from publishing the article?
Of course not. Could Congress/the Courts require
video record stores not to disclose customer
records without explict consent? You decide.

For the hardcore free market types, take a look
at Posner's *Economics of Justice.* There are
good economic reasons for privacy laws, e.g.
do you really want to negotiate with the telcos
on a case-by-case basis whether they can sell
the contents of your phonecalls?

To be clear, I do believe that there should be
laws to protect the right of privacy and that
there should be an office within the federal
government to advocate on behalf of privacy
interests. I also believe that if such an agency
had been established in 1991 when it was proposed,
it would have been much harder for the government
to push subsequently for digital telephony, Clipper,
GAK, etc.


At 12:12 PM -0400 5/31/97, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>I'm now more awake than I was before, and a little less
>flippant, so let me try to respond to Marc's statement
>saying my summary of his "views on privacy below are
>just silly."
>The initial question has to be not how you protect rights,
>but how you define them. For example, we have a right
>to speak freely; there should be strict limits on
>government controls on free expression or the press.
>The state has unique powers of coercion. Similarly,
>there should be strict limits on government collection
>of personal data about its citizens.
>But transactional privacy is a different matter. Sure,
>we may generally agree that privacy is the famous
>"right to be left alone," but how does that extend to
>what happens when I make an affirmative choice to
>connect to a web site that might record some info
>about my visit -- as an alternative to charging me?
>Nobody's forcing me to visit that site. That's why
>I'm starting to come around to the idea that privacy
>is not a universal right but a preference. We need a
>market in privacy, not inflexible FTC rulemaking.
>Oh, and the much-touted European Privacy Directive has
>made it near-impossible to exchange employee
>information between branches of the same firm that are
>physically in different countries. Bad move,
>On Sat, 31 May 1997, Marc Rotenberg wrote:
>> People who are interested in why I am pro-individual freedom
>> but not anti-government should take a look a my piece in Wired
>> "Eurocrats Do Good Privacy." [4.05]
>> I spent a year working for a good crypto policy at the OECD.
>> During that time I watched European government officials
>> argue for constitutional freedoms and against key escrow,
>> while business representatives quietly backed the US
>> GAK plan. Welcome to the real world.
>> Marc.
>> Btw - Declan's summary of our views on privacy below are
>> just silly. Many of the greatest defenders of First Amendment
>> freedoms have also felt most strongly about the right of
>> privacy. The question is always how you protect rights.
>> Perhaps libertarians would do away with all laws that protect
>> personal freedoms. Bad call.
>>  At 3:21 AM -0400 5/31/97, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>> >Unfortunately, Tim is letting a rant get in the way of reality. A shame,
>> >really, for he's capable of better. Let me respond. I may not be very
>> >cordial. We lost tonight's soccer game (goddamn wimpy libertarians) and
>> >went to some cheezy Crystal City sports bar afterwards. I just got back
>> >home, and it's 3:20 am...
>> >
>> >Anyway, Rotenberg and EPIC are not the Uber Enemy. Rather, they disagree
>> >with cypherpunk and libertarian positions on some issues. So we have
>> >issue-by-issue alliances with them. Let's break it down:
>> >
>> >------------------------------
>> >CRYPTO: EPIC takes a purist civil liberties approach to crypto. They've
>> >been the ones criticizing the SAFE "crypto in crime" provisions. Did the
>> >latest VTW alert sent out today even mention that portion of the bill, let
>> >alone criticize it?
>> >
>> >ANONYMITY: No other group in DC is such a staunch supporter of online
>> >anonymity publicly, though look for something from Cato soon. In fact, I
>> >linked to EPIC's copy of the McIntyre decision for my Friday Netly piece.
>> >Many business groups don't like anonymity online -- hurts the marketeers.
>> >
>> >FREE SPEECH: EPIC is co-counsel in ACLU lawsuit against CDA. I believe
>> >they've said some of the anti-spam legislation is unconstitutional.
>> >
>> >FOIA: David Sobel does fabulous work snagging government documents the
>> >spooks don't want released.
>> >
>> >PRIVACY: EPIC wants more Federal involvement to protect privacy and a
>> >Federal Privacy Commission (or something similar). Lots of laws,
>> >bureaucracies. Though EPIC does realize there's a First Amendment; other
>> >privacy groups are even more aggressive. EPIC is of course on the side of
>> >libertarians when it comes to government violations of privacy.
>> >------------------------------
>> >
>> >From a libertarian perspective, EPIC is good on everything but privacy. On
>> >that they want Big Government solutions.
>> >
>> >But that doesn't mean we reject and condemn what they do on other issues.
>> >Do we reject Eagle Forum's anti-Clipper endorsement because they're a
>> >bunch of ultraconservative wackos? Do we reject the National Organization
>> >for Women's position on the CDA as bad because they're a bunch of
>> >ultraliberal wackos? How about the National Association of Broadcaster's
>> >amicus brief against the CDA? The Christian Coalition rejecting a national
>> >ID cards and numbers? Ralph Nader wanting open access to government
>> >databases?
>> >
>> >No. We don't. Instead, we address this issue by issue. EPIC and Rotenberg
>> >are not always, but are often, our allies.
>> >
>> >-Declan
>> >
>> >
>> >On Fri, 30 May 1997, Tim May wrote:
>> >
>> >>
>> >> I suppose I am developing a reputation amongst the Inside the Beltway
>> >> Rights Groups (tm) as a pain in the ass, but nearly everytime I see
>>one of
>> >> their chief spokeswonks giving a policy statement I realize they are "not
>> >> on my side."
>> >>
>> >> The latest quote is from Marc Rotenberg, on a CNN piece on spam and
>> >> anti-spam legislation, saying that what the legislators in Congress
>> >> need to look into is how the spammers develop their data bases.....
>> >>
>> >> Incredible. Does he propose investigations of private data gathering?
>> >> Perhaps search warrants served on those who take public postings and
>> >> construct data bases?
>> >>
>> >> Look, I'm annoyed by getting 5-10 "unwanted" spam messages a day. But I
>> >> realize the "spammers" are merely  taking publicly available (= legally
>> >> available, as 99.99% of all such information is) information and using
>> >> legal channels to contact me. I may not "like" it, but their behavior
>>is as
>> >> legal as someone calling me on the phone.
>> >>
>> >> (And ny nearly any measure of hassle factor, dashing to get to the phone
>> >> only to find it's a salesman selling something I don't want is worse than
>> >> any 20 unwanted e-mail messages.)
>> >>
>> >> So, Marc Rotenberg wants Congress to "look into" (= interfere with)
>> >> compilation and use of public information.
>> >>
>> >> These people are NOT our allies.
>> >>
>> >> --Tim May
>> >>
>> >> There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number
>>of laws.
>> >> Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
>> >>
>> >> Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
>> >> tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms,
>> >> W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information
>> >> Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
>> >> "National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> ==================================================================
>> Marc Rotenberg, director                *   +1 202 544 9240 (tel)
>> Electronic Privacy Information Center   *   +1 202 547 5482 (fax)
>> 666 Pennsylvania Ave., SE Suite 301     *   rotenberg@epic.org
>> Washington, DC 20003   USA              +   http://www.epic.org
>> ==================================================================