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

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From: Paul Bradley <paul@fatmans.demon.co.uk>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Message Hash: c0019734fcecf5cd27c37001a64634883e128cf322f04656b59b9e9a722d8a77
Message ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970531215301.196A-100000@fatmans.demon.co.uk>
Reply To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970531090958.6950A-100000@well.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-01 01:01:31 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 09:01:31 +0800

Raw message

From: Paul Bradley <paul@fatmans.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 09:01:31 +0800
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970531090958.6950A-100000@well.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970531215301.196A-100000@fatmans.demon.co.uk>
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> 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.

This really depends how you look on the concept of government as a whole. 
I personally, as an anarchist, see this as a redundant argument however I 
think this point needs adressing. 
On government collection of data about citizens: If you favour a 
minarchist system of government and can envisage a government which 
commited no act of agression against its citizens, I do not see why you 
would be bothered about the government collecting data on citizens.

Certainly government collection of data on citizens can allow restrictive 
and totalitarian governments such as those currently seen in the US and 
nearly all of Europe to fuck citizens over at will: Information is power.
However, the whole point of cryptography is to protect information using 
mathematics, laws are not sufficient, nor indeed would they be the right 
solution. If you do support a system in which there is an entity that can 
be defined as the government, then it is your duty to keep private data 
you do not want them to know out of their hands. If information is freely 
available then you cannot expect to regulate or restrict its use by 

> But transactional privacy is a different matter. Sure,
> we may generally agree that privacy is the famous
> "right to be left alone," 

There is no such right. No-one forces you to submit your name and address 
to a company so it can be passed on and put of junk mail lists etc... You 
personally have to bear the responsibility of keeping information out of 
the hands of those you do not want to posess it. 

> > 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.

This is at best a flawed analysis of the situation, at worst a dangerous 
manifestation of the "there should be a law" mentality.

There is no such thing as a right to privacy, if you make information 
available you have to expect people to make use of it. As long as no-one 
forces you to make such information available you have no-one to blame 
for "misuse" of that information apart from yourself.

All true law within anarchist, and indeed much minarchist belief derives 
from the non agression principle, by making use of freely available 
information about you I do not initiate violence against you, therefore I 
am guilty of no crime.

Sure it is unpleasant to have your privacy violated, but it is your own 
choice whether you allow information to become available or not.

        Datacomms Technologies data security
       Paul Bradley, Paul@fatmans.demon.co.uk
  Paul@crypto.uk.eu.org, Paul@cryptography.uk.eu.org    
      Email for PGP public key, ID: FC76DA85
     "Don`t forget to mount a scratch monkey"