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Re: anonymity + untraceable digital money = potential problems



> > From: ALAN DORN HETZEL JR <[email protected]>
> > Dear Group,
> > I believe that I see a potential serious problem with they onset of
> > truly unbreakable anonymous communication combined with untraceable
> > digital cash.
> > The problem is that crimes such as blackmail and extortion would become
> > absolutely impossible to defend against.  Kidnapping for ransome would
> > get a LOT easier.

Yes, some criminals would find blackmail, extortion, and kidnapping easier.
But others would find it harder.  Just think about who's most likely to
demand half your salary and threaten you with violence if you don't pay,
or take your house and not give it back unless you tell them the name they want,
or throw you in a locked room and not let you out until you pay ransom?
That's right!  It's the *government*!

I may not be as much of an anarchist as Perry, or maybe just more trusting :-),
but I'd still feel a lot more secure if the government didn't know how much
money I make and where to get it if they feel like taking it,
and couldn't read my mail and accuse me of corresponding with known
ANARCHISTS AND DRUG USERS AND FOREIGN NATIONALS AND MUNITIONS DEALERS
(obviously I must be conspiring with them since I didn't turn them in)
and quite frankly I'd like to be able to discuss different medicinal and
recreational products with people without having to worry that they'll
knock on my door one night and tear my house apart looking for things that
aren't there, or things that were legal when I bought them but aren't now,
and I'd like to be able to discuss interesting software without them coming
and stealing my wife's home business laptop and laser printer 
because they couldn't find the disk drive on my VT-100 clone.  

I'm not paranoid, but I have friends who are :-), and I'd like to be able to
talk to them on the phone without us worrying about wiretappers.
And I have friends of friends who come from other countries, and maybe their
papers aren't in order, and they don't want to go back to places where the
governments are less concerned about human rights than our benevolent 
Immigration and Naturalization Service, or maybe they just like it here.

And the lack of anonymous communication hasn't stopped the Mafia from
burning down restaurants here in New Jersey or up in Rochester;
it just means they've got to invest some of their profits in bribing cops.
My friend's brother didn't get an anonymous postal-mail message,
he got a visit from two big ugly guys he didn't know who told him how much
protection would cost.

On the other hand, my reading of Chaum's digicash paper makes it look like
marked digicash may be possible, if the original account-holder wants to
reveal the numbers and can trace the connection from the recipient's bank
back to their bank, so kidnappers will still need money-launderers,
though money-laundering will be easier.
(Blackmailers still can get revenge by revealing their secrets, but at least
you'll be able to be anonymous when you do some of the stupid things you
could get blackmailed for :-)

				Bill Stewart, [email protected]