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Hackers Conference--Crypto Session

Glenn Tenney, chairman of the Hackers Conference, has asked me to help
put together the crypto session at the Conference next week (6-8
November, Lake Tahoe). I of course agreed....our correspondence is
attached below. Sorry if I left off your name in my comments to Glenn
...it seems sometimes that nearly everyone I know has some interest in
crypology, privacy, cyberspace, AND is going to Hackers! For those not
going to Hackers this year, I'd still like your inputs, and I'll write
up some kind of update after it's over, so you'll get some feedback on
your ideas.

This growing interest in cryptology and the protection of
privacy--fanned by the availability of PGP 2.0, the books and articles
on hackers and crackdowns by the Feds, the activities of the EFF and
CPSR, and by our very own "Cypherpunks" crypto group--should make for
an extremely interesting time at Hackers this year.

Just about every year at Hackers there's a de facto theme. One year it
was hypertext (and Xanadu got started when John Walker of Autodesk met
Ted Nelson, Mark Miller, Roger Gregory, and others at Hackers in
1987), another year it was multimedia. Last year it was effectively
the EFF, and so on. My hunch is that this year the de facto theme
_could_ turn out to be crypto tools and digital protection of privacy.

In addition to our session, there will be discussions of wireless
communication, the work of the EFF, and a Sunday discussion of these
critical issues. These will all fit nicely with our own session.

Our session is in "prime time," mid-Saturday afternoon, tentatively
(you all know how schedules change!), and is one of the "no
competitors" tracks, so attendance should be very high. Accordingly,
some premium should be placed on organization, to maximize the
information flow. Too many people for the "circle discussion" that
worked so well at last year's nanotechnology session (run by Ted
Kaehler), so we need to figure out a good format.

So give me your inputs! (Also, I think we should get togther
informally Friday to bounce ideas around, the better to make the
session on Saturday richer and more exciting. I'll let you know in the
next several days what we decide, and where we'll meet.)

* What topics need to be discussed the most? 

* What format? Panel discussion? A series of mini-lectures on the
various topics? Free-for-all discussion? (Remember that we'll probably
be in a big room, with perhaps as many as 100-150 attendees.)

* Some ideas for topics (which I'll add to as people make

- A very brief review of modern cryptology (very brief because we need
to move on quickly to the juicy stuff), including snapshot summaries
of encryption, RSA (but no number theory!), anonymous mail, digital
cash, etc. (Too many crypto panels spend the entire time bringing
people up to speed on what prime numbers are, on how one-time pads are
used, and so on. I favor giving people a good glimpse of the
"exciting" stuff--anonymous mail, digital pseudonyms, information
markets, dining cryptographers protocols, etc.--and then letting them
go back and fill in the background. Give 'em a glimpse of the Promised

- The uses of digital remailers to protect privacy, and progress on
building them (a brief summary)

- Possible summary of the "Crypto Anarchy Game" we've been
experimenting with here in our Cypherpunks group (Note: we could
describe it briefly and then invite folks to play it later that
evening, perhaps around midnight)

- PGP 2.0...what it is, how to get it, and how to use it

- Proposed legislation for trapdoors in telephone equipment, and the
possibility that crypto keys may be placed under strict controls (a la
my recent post on Dorothy Denning's latest trial balloon)

- What we can do about these trends, what we as hackers can do to
protect our privacy. Things like: deploying encrypted e-mail as
quickly as possible, using digital pseuodonyms, deploying "mixes,"
arguing for basic constitutional protections, etc.

Ideally, people will get so worked up and excited that the rest of the
Conference will be buzzing about these issues!

Here's Glenn's message to me and my acceptance:

> > Considering your keen interest in cryptography, I was
> > wondering if you could have your arm twisted to help
> > pull together the crypto session for the conference?
> > 
> > It should be fairly easy...  Let's see, Eric Hughes will
> > be there, as will a couple of guys from BellCore (Sternetta
> > and ... ??? ). 
> > 
> > If so, plesae let me know and I'll pass on some more names.
> > 
> > Thanks much.
> > Glenn Tenney

> Of course I'll help. Anything needed, including what you suggest.
> I'm in regular contact with Eric Hughes, John Gilmore, Fen LaBalme,
> Hugh Daniel, Keith Henson, and others. I also know Stu Haber, from
> Bellcore...if he could speak briefly about digital timestamping of
> documents (and Internet mail applicaitions) that would be timely.
> So I'll so whatever I can.
> BTW, I'll forward my latest posting from sci.crypt about proposals to
> require all crypto keys to be registered with the government! That,
> alone, is worth of a "hacker politics" discussion at Hackers.
> --Tim (408-688-5409)

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
[email protected]       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP 2.0 and MailSafe keys by arrangement.