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Re: "why privacy" revisited



Much as I agree with the point that privacy is desirable, I find the
"market efficiency" arguments unpersuasive, at least as presented below:

At 1:01 PM +0000 3/22/97, Adam Back wrote:

>You requested an argument couched market economic terms as to why
>reduced privacy might be a bad idea for the market efficiency.
>Consider:
>
>Less privacy is a bad thing in market economics terms, because as
>privacy takes a downwards spiral, which leads to ever increasing
>government intervention, increasing sizes of governments, fascism,
>etc. the free market economy will go to hell.  Poverty, and food
>shortages will result, a la the former USSR, which is slowly
>recovering from the decline caused by statist, facist policies.  We on
>the other hand, absent pressure from outside government, law
>enforcement and secret services circles are collectively headed into
>that fascist driven downward spiral.in economics.

Or, since we all understand perfectly well that *credit cards* and *checks*
and other forms of *electronic payment* are not private in the way cash is,
Adam's argument could read as follows:

"Using credit cards and checks is a bad thing in market economics terms,
because as privacy takes a downwards spiral, which leads to ever increasing
government intervention, increasing sizes of governments, fascism, etc. the
free market economy will go to hell.  Poverty, and food shortages will
result, a la the former USSR, which is slowly recovering from the decline
caused by statist, facist policies.  We on the other hand, absent pressure
from outside government, law enforcement and secret services circles are
collectively headed into that fascist driven downward spiral.in economics."

In other words, I submit the fallacy of this comment, that traceable
payment schemes such as credit cards and checks have _not_ destroyed the
U.S. and Western economies as evidence that Adam's thesis is incorrect.

(One might point to the correlation between increased credit and check
instruments over the past 50 years and the rise of government spending, but
such a correlation would not, in any reasonable view, be causative. I'll
elaborate on this if there's real interest.)


--Tim May

(I'm not arguing against privacy. I just don't see the validity of some of
the attempts to "prove" that privacy enhances markets (whatever that means)
and that non-privacy undermines markets. Such arguments are mostly
unpersuasive and depend strongly on assumptions and interpretations and
selective admission of facts.)

Just say "No" to "Big Brother Inside"
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:----
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  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."