1997-06-03 - Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy

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From: 3umoelle@informatik.uni-hamburg.de (Ulf =?ISO-8859-1?Q?M=F6ller?=)
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Message Hash: e7e40499abef9a40e16f2b33e10bcd86f98470849efbfcda4780f1600f9878d2
Message ID: <m0wZ2RU-0003bAC@ulf.mali.sub.org>
Reply To: <>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-03 23:05:18 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 07:05:18 +0800

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From: 3umoelle@informatik.uni-hamburg.de (Ulf =?ISO-8859-1?Q?M=F6ller?=)
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 07:05:18 +0800
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <m0wZ2RU-0003bAC@ulf.mali.sub.org>
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>German "dragnet investigations" and "pattern investigations" come to mind.
>The German BKA (the equivalent of the FBI) keeps a giant database that
>correlates "suspicious" behavior. [...]
>If you collect enough points, the feds come by to interrogate you.

This is a gross exaggeration.  "Pattern investigation" can be used to
investigate certain severe crimes that cannot be solved otherwise.  It
must be warranted by a judge, naming the patterns that the respective
committer is believed to match.  There have been three "pattern
investigations" ever, since the law was passed in 1991 (none of them

>It appears naive to claim that GAK could not happen under a Privacy
>Commissioner. It could and it will.

At least one German law professor argues that GAK is no problem if the
escrow agents are regularly inspected by the Privacy Commissioner.

The Privacy Commissioners on the other hand say that a crypto
regulation would be unconstitutional.

I agree that the existence of privacy officials will not prevent GAK.
But the constitutional protection of privacy should.  The German
privacy regulation is based on a decision of the Constitutional Court
which states that the citizen must be protected from an omniscient
state, and from omniscient business.  This decision clearly makes the
scenario you described above illegal.

The government draft of the Information and Communication Services Law
specifies that service providers "shall make it possible for the user
to use teleservices and to pay for them either anonymously or using a
pseudonym, insofar as this is technically possible and can be
reasonably expected".

The Bundesrat (Upper House) disagrees: "Users [...] can also be
information providers that e.g. post information to the Internet.
If these have a legal claim to use the service anonymously, they
will in future be able to commit crimes without having to fear to
be identified."

Others warn that failing to let the market decide will lead to
misinvestments, and that anonymous services will quickly be deployed
on a voluntary basis if there is a demand.

It's probably obvious which of these are right.  Nevertheless, I think
it is encouraging that the government accepts that anonymity has a
value. (They will never learn that sometimes it is better not to make
a law.)