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Comparing encryption to airbags: both hurt the public

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 07:38:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: Declan McCullagh <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Comparing encryption to airbags: both hurt the public

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 09:48:53 -0400
From: Julie DeFalco <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Airbags

Actually, the similarity between airbags and encryption is a good
comparison.  The public will be hurt by encryption controls, just as the
public has been hurt by airbags.

A few facts: Airbags were promoted by Joan Claybrook in the 1970s and 1980s
as a wonderful technology which worked for everybody from large males to
little children.  She claimed that they would save thousands and thousands
of lives each year, and that they would work for unbelted occupants.
Claybrook even pressured the manufacturers to use the technologies which she
now condemns today (don't get me started on Claybrook's mendacity on the
airbag issue.  She is a flat-out liar).

Well, while airbags have indeed saved some people who otherwise would have
died, they have not worked nearly as well as promised.  They specifically
hurt the weakest people in our society -- small children, short women, and
the elderly. They add about six hundred dollars to the price of new cars,
which encourages poorer people to keep older, possibly less safe cars
longer.  Now Claybrook even claims that airbags would work better if people
weren't "out of position" -- i.e. if they were wearing seatbelts, even
though the entire point of airbags was to provide "passive restraints"
because people didn't wear seatbelts.

Encryption controls will, like airbags, be far more dangerous to the public
than currently promoted.  And once given the power, it will be pretty
difficult, if not impossible, to take it away from government agencies.
Even with airbags documented as killing people, the government won't let us
have the choice whether to have them in the car at all.  The biggest
concession the government will make is allowing car companies to include an
on-off switch. This is why CEI will soon publish directions on our website
on how to dismantle your own airbags (well, as soon as we square away the
legal stuff).

Ciao! Julie

Julie DeFalco
Policy Analyst
Competitive Enterprise Institute
1001 Connecticut Ave., NW
Suite 1250
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-1010
Fax: (202) 331-0640