1997-06-02 - Re: e$: Beltway piglets and other barnyard animals

Header Data

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: Robert Hettinga <cypherpunks@algebra.com
Message Hash: 9f7bfb784908c1ae0c65cb4f38aba03933bb870695c0bddc2e3f6b598d0c0550
Message ID: <v03102802afb7ceba955c@[]>
Reply To: <v03007800afb6766f6f7f@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-02 02:18:07 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 10:18:07 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 10:18:07 +0800
To: Robert Hettinga <cypherpunks@algebra.com
Subject: Re: e$: Beltway piglets and other barnyard animals
In-Reply-To: <v03007800afb6766f6f7f@[]>
Message-ID: <v03102802afb7ceba955c@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 5:01 PM -0700 6/1/97, Robert Hettinga wrote:
>At 9:05 pm -0400 on 5/31/97, Marc Rotenberg wrote:
>> Keep me posted. If legislation is threatening a good technical
>> solution, I'll be the first to blow the whistle.

If you want Marc R. to read your message, you really should cc: him on it.
I don't think he's subscribed to the Cypherpunks list (though I could be
wrong). I am adding him back on as a cc: to this message (I would've cc:ed
him on my original "Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy" message a few days ago,
had I known he would join in the discussion later).

>The actual contribution of Mr. Rotenberg and his organization to the cause
>of freedom on the net, in this country, and around the world, can be found
>precisely in a competant analysis of above bit of semantic nonsense. That
>is, it is nil, if not negative.

Actually, I plan to take Marc at his word if such a situation comes up and
EPIC is still involved in such lobbying.

For starters, the "all e-mail must have a valid return address" legislation
already being proposed (I know of bills by Barbara Murkowski of Alaska, and
Denny Smith of Oregon; there may be others) is not only "anti-liberty," in
the libertarian sense, and in the Supreme Court sense (McIntyre), it is
also a *disincentive* to various digital technologies. It would put
remailers in the U.S. out of business (we think, though it depends on the
precise language of what a "return address" really means...employment for
entire floors of lawyers at the Internet Regulatory Commission, no doubt).

Likewise, EPIC can and should announce that it will not support SAFE if any
form of criminalization language remains.

We would not find it acceptable to have a law which encouraged the
placement of microphones and cameras in private homes, "voluntarily," but
which then said "Anyone who does not participate in the Voluntary Safe
Surveillance Program and who is found to have committed a crime furthered
by the failure to volunteer shall be subjected to additional imprisonment
of at least 5 years."

This is what the criminalization of crypto is all about. It is not, as is
so often suggested, analogous to "use of a gun" in a crime, nor to "use of
the public mails." It is much closer to the examples I cite, language and
religion, than to use of a publicly-regulated monopoly like the telephones
or the mail. The gun situation is presumably related to the threat of
bodily harm...I'm not saying I agree with "use a gun, go to prison"
sentencing enhancements, but a stronger case can be made than for "use a
cipher, go to prison.

So, Marc can immediately prove the honesty of his point by:

a. denouncing any "return address" requirements and refusing to cooperate
with any Congressthing who espouses such wrong-headed ideas

b. denounce SAFE if it has any hint whatsoever of criminalization of crypto

(Or of any of the (apparent) language about technical review panels
deciding on exports...this is, to many of us, a code phrase indicating that
SAFE will by no means make export of arbitrarily unbreakable ciphers an
automatic process.)

As I've said in other essays on SAFE, all that is needed to accomplish the
goals of SAFE--the PR goals of SAFE, not the current language!--is this

"Computer software shall have the same status as any other written
material: it shall not be subject to any laws regarding possession, sale,
or export."

Come to think of it, the First Amendment already states that Congress shall
make no law. As for exports, the First has been applied to show that
Congress cannot decide which books, magazines, movies, etc., may be
exported. (And the Bernstein and Junger cases may soon consolidate the
status of this interpretation for software.)

So what do we even need SAFE for? Why give them any hooks, any "use of
crypto in furtherance of a crime" language?

>Given his past outrageous failures, and his persistant attempts to waste
>whatever reputation he now has left, remarks like the above finally prove
>the trust people had for him and the organizations he has run was
>completely misplaced. A reputation, I might add, literally *donated* to him
>by thousands of people and companies, who all believed in and trusted him
>*personally* to keep the Uncle Sam the Inquisitor out of their lives on the
>net. He has now squandered all of it with the demonstrable cluelessness
>found in the above bit of self-serving emeticism.

Bob actually makes me appear charitable toward Marc!

I agree with Bob that EPIC, CDT, VTW, EFF, CPSR, and the other alphabet
soup players are just plain old lobbyists, pure and simple. Who they are
lobbying _for_ has never been clear to me, despite their public statements
and charters.

Being a rejectionist, I don't see the point of dealing with Congress. The
usual view is that "If you don't get involved, things will be even worse."
I'm not convinced of this. It's often better to not lend them any support,
not lend them any technical expertise, and devote all energies to
undermining and challenging their actions later.

And helping them draft legislation only feeds the process.

I think it was George Carlin who said, "If you think you're part of the
solution, you're part of the problem."

>Tim May has said it here before, but it bears repeating. The way a
>"lobbyist" stays in business is to threaten an otherwise innocent group of
>people with the power of real or imagined legislative coersion. The
>"constituents" then pay extortion to the legislature in the form of
>outright campaign contributions through a political action comittee, or by
>showing up at "voluntary" fundraisers on behalf of collusionary
>legislators, or through soft-dollar labor ("research", for instance) that

(good explanation of D.C. politics elided)

Every one of the 535+ Congresscritters has a large staff (dozens? multiple
dozens?), whose purpose is to feed the machine.

As Bob notes, when funds gets low the legislators can threaten legislation.
They may even convince themselves its a good idea. And they have various
other contributors and pressure groups jockeying for laws and favors.

It's all very nearly hopeless.

And the cancer has spread nationwide. Just in my local community there are
half a dozen jurisdictions, several "City Halls," multiple police forces
(overlapping in territory covered), hundreds of new and byzantine rules
every month, more fees, more inspectors, etc. As but one example, we're
drilling a new well to replace our old well....the County wants $1000 to
send a guy out to nod his head and initial our request--and with no
guarantee they'll approve the well. More fees are needed for that. This is
just plain robbery, though pro-government folks would likely say it is some
kind of "pay as you go" reform (as in "We have a 6-story County
Administration Building and 753 people on the payroll to pay for...so why
shouldn't we extort a grand from you to help pay for it?").

There are so many laws it's impossible to know which laws I'm breaking. I
carry a Benchmade AFCK folding knife clipped to my pants pocket. In Santa
Cruz proper the law says that such a knife is considered "concealed" if
clipped so that only the clip shows, whereas in Santa Cruz County, outside
the city limits (though maybe the laws just cancel out inside?) the
interpretation allows knives to be carried in pockets. And in some other
local areas, the clip doesn't have to be visible. (And in some places, a
knife worn "openly" is considered "brandishment.") Further, violations of
these confusing  and often contradictory knife laws are _felonies_, not
misdemeanors (the felony status of knife law violations, where gun
violations are often misdemeanors, is said by experts in rec.knives and in
my gun magazines to come from the time when "niggers and spics" carried
switchblades, concealed knives, dirks, buckle knives, etc., while
"gentlemen" carried derringers and small revolvers for protection...so the
law came down hard on the knife-carrying spics and niggers and the heritage
is with us today.

It's getting to where I need a CD-ROM  and GPS mounted in my truck telling
me: "You are about to cross into the jurisdiction of Burgville, California.
The following items are illegal and must be disposed of or moved to a
locked container: ..."

This explosion of rules, statutes, licenses, laws, regulations, and
limitations is being fed by the multiple City Councils, Boards of
Supervisors, County Commissioners, City Managers, and hordes of burrowcrats
(sic, and sick, too) infesting the multi-story "government" buildings in
every small town and county. Not to mention entire cities devoted to
lawmaking, like Sacramento, Albany, Washington, etc.

The simple question to ask is this: Why do we need several thousand
rule-generating and lobbyist-seeking governments? Why do we need
governments at the neighborhood level, the township level, the city level,
the county level, the state level, and the national level? (And the
meta-national level, with the U.N, World Court, OECD, etc.)

I could comment more on Bob's other points, but I think you all get the

Things are way out of control. Not because of any intrinsic evilness on the
part of the bureaucrats, but just for purely systemic reasons. This has to
change, and it can't be changed from within....the rules won't allow it.
The  change has to come from outside, probably from some severe jolts
applied to the system.

No, I don't mean blowing up Washington, or even a few buildings. Much as I
might like to see D.C. vaporized, such jolts are not what I am thinking of.

Undermining the institutions of government with strong crypto is one of the
jolts. There are others.

--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."