1998-05-04 - A new Swiss banking novel

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From: Peter Swire <swire.1@osu.edu>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: cc64efce8e90bbf1c40e76d5ede8c351af99c2d374013ce89d4c368de1a1b852
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UTC Datetime: 1998-05-04 20:04:18 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 13:04:18 -0700 (PDT)

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From: Peter Swire <swire.1@osu.edu>
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 13:04:18 -0700 (PDT)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: A new Swiss banking novel
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	This weekend I finished reading a novel that talks about many of the
issues of interest to this group.  It's Christopher Reich, "Numbered
Account," Delacorte Press.  The  author was a real Swiss banker for a few
years.  Now he writes a pretty darn good suspense novel featuring how
numbered Swiss bank accounts work.  In the cryptography debates, the FBI
makes a big deal about how anonymous bank accounts can be used by drug
smugglers, money launderers, international arms merchants, and anti-Western
terrorists.  They're all here in the novel.  So are the U.S. government
agents -- a bit bumbling, thoroughly obnoxious and self-righteous, but also
genuinely concerned about stopping truly bad people.  Reich also talks a
bit about a new crypto system the bank develops for handling secret

	I think the book works pretty well as a story.  It also gives human faces
to the issues of bank secrecy, money laundering, and anonymous accounts. If
we are to find ways to have anonymity in cyberspace, we will have to
confront the bad things that anonymity can bring.

	I'd be interested to hear anyone else's reactions to the book.  More
generally, what do you say to well-intentioned people when they say the
following -- won't anonymous accounts contribute, at least a bit, to more
drug smuggling, arms smuggling, and international terrorism?

	[Please, no flames.  I am writing an academic article this summer on money
laundering and financial privacy.  Money laundering laws hold the potential
to choke off cryptography and financial privacy generally.  How can
supporters of privacy best answer back to the calls for stricter regulation?]

	Peter Swire

Prof. Peter Swire
Ohio State University 
College of Law
(614) 292-2547
http://www.osu.edu/units/law/swire.htm (includes draft book on European
Privacy Directive and Internet Privacy Page)