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

Header Data

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Message Hash: f56031a9ac546b25eb9187e05ae561a6c5815848d6a100a587ebf77c786d35dc
Message ID: <v03102806afb650b3d40d@[]>
Reply To: <v03102805afb627d83acf@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-31 22:49:11 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 06:49:11 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 06:49:11 +0800
To: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <v03102805afb627d83acf@[]>
Message-ID: <v03102806afb650b3d40d@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 2:33 PM -0700 5/31/97, Marc Rotenberg wrote:

>It's an interesting argument. I don't agree, though
>you can certaintly try it. But more to the point of

Oh, I don't intend to "try it." The Supreme Court is far past ever
restoring basic constitutional rights. Instead of "trying it," better to
monkeywrench it.

>your original post, is the information that TransUnion
>sold to Lexis/Nexis for P-TRAK "public information"?
>If yes, what is private information?

It all depends on what was agreed to, tacitly or explicitly, in the process
of applying for and accepting a credit card. I seem to recall "agreeing to"
multiple pages of fine print about how and to whom information could be
disclosed. That most of us ignore such fine print is our problem....I don't
think there's been any allegation, even by you, Marc, that what Equifax is
doing with credit information is breaking either the contract or any
existing laws. You just want a new set of laws to do what contracts are
perfectly capable of doing. Those who want protection of information
disclosed to others should, of course, make such arrangements.

(And such arrangements are made all the time. Examples abound.)

That such arrangements for a "privacy card" are not easy to make is not an
issue for the law to meddle with. In fact, many of us think there's a
market for just such a "privacy card," and, absent meddling by government,
expect such a card to appear

>I agree that there are real threats to cyber freedom in Europe.
>I'm not saying otherwise. But my point is that anonymous remailers
>and the like will have a better future in countries that recognize
>a right of anonymity as opposed to those that don't.

Despite my dislike of most of what passes for the American system, I'll
take the protections of the First, augmented with the 1956 "anonymous
leafletting" Supreme case, over the "ad hoc" protections nearly all
Europeans have (or don't have).

>The question is what are you going to do with companies
>that won't let you buy a product unless you provide
>your True Name?

The answer to this is both simple and profound. You have heard the answer
many times, but you probably dismiss it as just libertarian rhetoric.

In any mutually uncoerced transaction, say between Alice and Bob, whether
Alice and Bob are individuals, groups, corporations, or whatever, each may
"ask for" various things. You can imagine some things to be asked for.

Either is free to decline the terms of the other and call off the transaction.

(I'm not a lawyer, but I believe this is covered in Contracts. Not meaning
to be snide, but it's essential that people realize _contracts_ are what we
are talking about here.)

So, were a company to refuse to sell me a product unless I provided my True
Name, I would decide just how important this issue is to me.  If it were of
compelling interest to me, I would walk away from the transaction.

(There is no "right" to buy something from someone.)

In reality, I cannot remember the last time a store demanded a True Name,
except when: a) credit (check or credit card or loan) was involved, or b)
the government demanded such a True Name.

The first situation is avoided by paying cash, using a deposit, etc.  The
second situation is not so easily avoided.

But I submit that the hypo of a company refusing to sell a product unless a
True Name is given is unlikely in the extreme, and is not any kind of
justification for a new set of so-called privacy laws which actually
interfere with other basic rights.

>One of the consequences of legal obligations on companies
>that collect personal information might be to encourage
>more payment anonymous, psuedo-anonymous payment schemes.
>Wouldn't that be a good result?

If privacy is important to an agent, make it part of the contractual
arrangement. Again, this is already done in a huge array of cases.

--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, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."