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No time for "politics as usual"--comments *against* a lobbying focus

Robert Michael Hoff writes:

> While I agree that the cypherpunk list is too fragmented and informal to
> pass off as a coherent lobbying group, there remains a very deep need to get
> information out to the "general public" (read as, "people who might have
> heard about something the NSA is doing, but don't quite remember what....")
> Lets face it.  For all the successful lobbying EFF and CSPR and individuals
> have done, upwards of 75% of the population won't recognize the word Clipper.
> This needs to change, since the NSA depends on the masses to be uninformed
> for Clipper to become reality.  Press kits and making the cypherpunk label
> known are steps in the right direction, but we need to go more directly to
> the people.  And sadly, probably the most successful way to stimulate debate
> and educate in the United States is best demonstrated by...

I wish you luck on your creation of this public relations campaign,
the financing and production of a "Harry and Louise" (??...I never saw
it) television campaign, etc.

Just don't call your campaign "Cypherpunks," as you don't speak for

I'm not trying to sound snippy and testy here. If you and the others
who are advocating an aggressive media and public education campaign
can raise the money, get the stuff produced, and so forth, then more
power to you.

But it ain't a Cypherpunks thing. So don't call it that. Cypherpunks
write code, as Eric Hughes says. Or as Phil Karn has expanded on
wonderfully: "Don't get mad, get even--write code."

As we've discussed, this doesn't mean that writing C or Perl is the
only valid thing to do, or that all Cypherpunks activity revolves
around this. Rather, it recogizes that fact that the coming changes
that center around strong crypto will be most influenced by actual
tools, capabilities, digital banks, message pools, reputation servers,
data havens, and the like, more so than by "public opinion." And
several groups _already_ exist to lobby, located in Washington and
staffed by lawyers, media relations people, fund-raisers, etc. (A new
one, "EPIC," just got launched with much hoopla this past week.)

They have what we don't have: a centralized band of "public policy"
types, a budget, offices, etc. And we have what they _don't_ have:
hackers and crypto experts, subversive folks willing to violate export
laws, guerilla activists, etc. But you knew that.

> "Harry and Louise"
> You know, that annoying commercial the insurance industry ran?  That Bill
> was concerned enough about to parody?  It's time the Clipper debate got
> one too.  Mind you, we'd keep ours factual and non-sensational, but interesting
> enough to catch the eye of Joe and Mary Blow at the dinner table.

This comes up every few months. Pray tell, just where will the
multi-million dollar budget to finance this series of ads come from?
(The last such "proposal" was that the Cyherpunks buy a series of
30-minute "infomercials" to educate the public. Several minor flaws:

a. such infomercials would be tuned-out by 97% of the population
("Look, Marge, it's a commercial about the dangers of Capstone and the
benefits of free use of RSA and Diffie-Hellman key exchange!")

(the subject is mostly too complicated for public debate, except at
the level of public opinion about the overall concept, where the
Time/CNN already has us way out ahead at 80% opposed to Clipper.)

b. call up a few t.v. shows and find out the ad rates, locally and
nationally. Then you'll see why the insurance business can run ads
like this, but a band of Cypherpunks can't. (Unless you and your
friends plan to pay for it yourselves. And don't make vague noises
about "fund-raisers.")

c. Clipper is primarily and Executive Branch issue. Doesn't mean it
won't be derailed, and our views are helping in some small way. But
it's not something that has to pass through Congress. (Digital
Telephony is another matter.)

d. whatever we spend, proponents can also spend. And both NSA and AT&T
have deep pockets (I've never seen an NSA ad, but they can funnel the
money into other places).

e. finally, it *still* wouldn't be a Cypherpunks thing....we have no
voting system, no rulers, no bylaws, no nothing.

> their rules: who dominates public debate wins, not who's right.  And the
> anti-Clipper movement needs to quit the discussion-group mode and move into
> action.  Very, very soon.

Yeah, work on code!

A better use of some raised cash--which you are berating us for not
raising--would be to finance Phil Zimmermann's "Pretty Good Voice
Privacy," or the similar efforts of others (described here in several
recent posts).

The technological leverage obtainable this way is what has made the
current strong crypto issue arise. This is the stunning power of
hackers and Samizdat publishers and offshore financial markets...it
changes the equation.

It ain't politics as usual.

--Tim May

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: 2^859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."