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Making the World Safe for Steganography
I agree with Tim's suggestion that it would be good if steganography
and cryptography tools were widely available, especially in light of
the government's obvious hostility towards cryptography.
But I can't agree that these tools will be sufficient to bring about
Tim's concept of "crypto anarchy", of "libertaria in cyberspace". If
we really want to achieve these goals I think it will be necessary to
take political action. Technology alone will not be enough.
After all, even today techniques exist which would in principle allow
a digital cash system to develop. Yet no such system exists. There
needs to be an infrastructure, a network of bankers, sellers, users, and
other participants. All this will take time to develop even in the best
But if the government is actively fighting such technology, I don't
see how Tim's proposed subterfuges with DAT's and CD's are going to be
enough to overcome this additional barrier. Without the ability to
publically negotiate the tricky issues of standards and contracts, I
don't see how a financial infrastructure of the sophistication needed
for digital cash could arise.
As another example, suppose the government banned non-Clipper cryptography.
Despite the brave comments of some, I think it would be very hard
to overcome such a ban. Look at the problems PGP has had, faced merely
with the relatively weak threat of patent suits (patents which have not,
to my knowledge, been tested in court). PGP is constantly being taken off
FTP sites based just on letters from the patent holders. Even Tim himself
suggested some time back that Cypherpunks should rethink support for PGP
given the patent situation. Imagine how much worse it would be if the
government actually could put people in jail for using PGP.
My main point is that we cannot rely on the technology to save us. A
concerted government effort could, in my opinion, stifle the growth of
individual liberties that cryptography may offer. Clipper is just one
battle in this longer war. We can't afford to fall victim to a smug
confidence that victory will inevitably be ours. If we get to the point
that steganography is the only way to communicate privately, we will have