1997-06-01 - Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy

Header Data

From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
To: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Message Hash: 90ff05106c4ff983cbda59b21ba127a7d828efaa03016461e7842417468eb2b8
Message ID: <v03007800afb738d67b0d@[]>
Reply To: <v03007800afb68a25627d@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-01 15:07:11 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 23:07:11 +0800

Raw message

From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 23:07:11 +0800
To: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <v03007800afb68a25627d@[]>
Message-ID: <v03007800afb738d67b0d@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 11:27 PM -0400 5/31/97, Tim May wrote:
>At 7:27 PM -0700 5/31/97, Marc Rotenberg wrote:
>One of the biggest problems with critics of libertarian theories is that
>they falsely claim libertarians believe that each and every action during
>each and every day by each and every agent involves complex contracts.
>What we are talking about here is whether there's a need for new laws to,
>using your specific example, stop companies from asking for personal

You argued that such safeguards were routiney found in freely
negotiated contracts. I responded that such safeguards were
more likely found in legal arrangements, industry standards,
and professional obligations.

>What libertarians, and hopefully other freedom-seeking people, would argue
>is that government should not be interjected into mutual negotiations if at
>all possible. This applies to Alice and Bob negotiating some transaction,
>and it applies to Alice and Safeway, and to Safeway and Apple.

Again, I don't disagree with the aspiration. We simply disagree
on how well it works on practice.

>Citing the straw man that libertarians believe every driver must negotiate
>a contract about how his brakes are to work has nothing to do with this
>basic point.

It has a lot to do with privacy standards on the net, the
role of markets, and the way safeguards will develop.

>As for the "rights of the people to use strong crypto," there are currently
>no restrictions *whatsoever* on crypto use. SAFE will, of course, add a
>criminalization angle to crypto use, which is a step in the wrong
>direction. Once the Legislature gets its hands on crypto use at all, the
>way is made easier for later extensions and clarifications of  the rules.
>Imagine the equivalent situation with free speech or religion: "No American
>may be denied access to the religious beliefs of his choosing, but the
>practice of non-Christian religious acts in connection with another crime
>will expose the pagan to a mandatory 5-year increase in imprisonment."

That's a fair criticism. EPIC and ACLU are still prepared to oppose SAFE.
For the record, EPIC was the group that opposed the criminaliation
provision, and organized (with the ACLU) the effort to change it. We
had a big problem with other DC groups who (a) didn't want to
even publicize the issue and (b) discouraged companies and
individuals from supporting our effort.

But I'm not thrilled about it, and I won't bullshit you that
it was some brilliant compromise. We did as much as we could.
We'll try to do more.

>A better tack is to take a rejectionist, no compromise stance toward any
>proposed legislation which would in any way limit or criminalize crypto
>use. Rely on the First Amendment.

We may still do this. And it's exactly what we did during the
debate on Digital Telephony.

>This would leave EPIC, VTW, CPSR, EFF, etc. with very little to do, of
>course, but that is as it should be.

IF NSA, FBI etc are going to being around, we'll be around. And who,
btw, do you think is going to bring those First Amendment cases to
protect Constitutional rights?

>But, then, I quit the NRA because they were too namby pamby about the
>Second Amendment. I place more faith in my assault rifles than I do in the
>criminals in D.C. McVeigh may have killed too many innocents, looking back
>on OKC, but he generally had the right idea about hitting the power centers
>of the police state.

You lost me on that one. I've lived in one of the highest crime
districts in the country. I've had handguns waved in my face. I've
seen children lying dead in the street from gunfine.  I have no
sympathy at all for the turret-hole view of the world.

But I accept your right to express your views and will defend
that right against any government that seeks to limit your

That is my view of what the First Amendment is about.

Marc Rotenberg.

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