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Re: Unicorn suit

[This note was written in response to a note from Black Unicorn to me.
He suggested at the end that I could copy the Cypherpunks list on it,
so I have done so. However, I've deleted some of his points, and since
he did not post his note to the list, some context may be unclear.
That's life.]

I'm responding, but only to a few points. Thanks for your comments. 

I won't repeat my points, so no comment just means that.

> I thought I would reply in person, and off the list because your's is an 
> opinion which in my mind carries with it a great deal of forethough and 
> is deserving of much respect.

Feel free to post your response (what I'm replying to here) to the
list as a whole. Yes, it's long. But it's of more relevance to our
world than most of the stuff that gets posted, especially the endless
forwardings of Chaum's announcement, for example.

> I feel we are in many ways alike in the way we approach problems (I hope 
> you will take this as a compliment :)  ) and in some ways we are akin in 
> politics. 

Maybe yes, maybe no. I have no hesitation in advocating the collapse
of central governments, as you know. Central governments of both the
left and the right have killed hundreds of millions of people, so the
"dangers" of anarchy look comparatively mild to me.

> I doubt even tmp is "entirely" anonymous.  Anyone with a reputation is to 
> some degree non-anonymous.

Of course we all know who he is, for many reasons. 

> I post anonymously to keep my real name out of common circulation.  This 
> is particularly true of the "scholarly" postings I make.  I do not want 
> these attributed to me in the circles in which I travel.  At the same 
> time, I take a casual approach to my identity.  There are those on the 
> list who know me in person, and I don't feel threatened by this.  It is 
> merely a buffer for an entirely seperate set of endeavors (business v. 
> academic pleasure if you like).  I have never made extreme efforts to 
> remain entirely unassociated with my real name to friends.  Such is not 
> the case to business associates.

If enough people know that Black Unicorn = Fritz Foobar, then the
linkage can be made and the "damage" done. As others have said, you
apparently have some uptight customers. That's not my problem, or
anyone else's who makes the normal kind of comments on the Net. (Tmp
goes beyond normal, but if your lawsuit was centered around the
"damages" aspect, then potentially nearly any of our opinions could be
"damaging" because of your overly sensitive European customers. That's
not right.)

> In my case an old law school classmate of mine asked for my help on the 
> net.  (Usenet in particular, along with PGP).  Clearly this fell under 
> the "personal relationship" which my anonymous posting was never intended 
> to protect against.
> After watching the posting war between myself and tmp, said friend faxed 
> copies (unwittingly with newsprint looking text) with attributation to 
> make the reference clear to a mutual associate who unfortunately tended more
> to the "business" side of relationships.

I'd say you have some sleazy friends, then. For them to fax off copies
of what they think of as rants is bad enough, but for one of your
contacts to then "alert" the others is mind-boggling.

> > Black Unicorn has certainly made postings that I think are strongly in
> > line with the ideas I call "crypto anarchist." Does my saying this
> > constitute some kind of libel on Black Unicorn, should this posting
> > somehow make it back to the Black Forest or someplace like that?
> No.  You are speaking a truth.  My ideas do fall in line with your 
> definition of cryptoanarchy.  They do not however make me a radical 
> anarchist bent on the destruction of nations as tmp alleged.

Tmp was just using a label. I'll admit the semi-forgery was not
kosher, though these semi-forgeries are transparent to anyone who
looks at the headers.

But calling you an anarchist bent on the destruction of nations is
acceptable characterization in a political debate. If I say Bill
Clinton wants to destroy the health care system, this is normal
political rhetoric. If Detweiler calls me a Satanist, so what?

("What if your customers were Moral Majority Christians?" you might
ask. Then I'd say that all one has to do is tell one's customers the
truth. Under no circumstances can the 'damage" caused by tmp's kind of
free spech be considered assault. I'm a free speech absolutist. That
the comments tmp made came in a heated forum for such political debate
makes it all the more wrong for a lawsuit.)

> I've been on the list for some time now, lurking then posting when I had 
> a feel for who read it, and where it went.  I never felt threatened by my 
> presence on the list, and never did it occur to me that anyone on the 
> list could or would "out" me to my business associates.

Even if they do, so what? Not to sound angry here, but suppose I
speculated that Black Unicorn = Fritz Foobar? Would the "damage" that
ensued be my fault? I just don't get it.

That the Cypherpunks list is not public--except when it gets gatewayed
to Usenet, as has happened a few times--is little protection. If I
cite your views--but don't quote them verbatim--in a forum where your
Swiss customers see them somehwo, have *I* committed a crime or tort?

Not in my view, though the law may think so. (I still say it's free
speech, even if "damaging." Many things are damaging...negative book
reviews, unflattering opinions, etc. Sadly, the American legal sytem
is moving toward allowing these "damages" to be the basis for suits.)

> rumor mill this is not the case.  I would not be HAPPY if my business 
> associates saw my posts on cypherpunks, but I would be (and was) much more 
> upset if they saw only the accusatory rants of tmp.

The proper and normal response to accusatory rants is to answer them. 

Are you calling for limits on "accusatory rants"? The Founding Fathers
would not be amused.

> The real difficulty in these affairs is that not to file a suit is often 
> more damning than anything.

I think your reputation would have no lasting damage done to it by
ordinary speech. Even so, Detweiler's rants are clearly broad-brushed
insults, which courts should not regulate.

Your uptight Swiss clients should be taught not be believe everything
they read. 

> A settlement is vindication enough in my case.

Except that Detweiler's "apology" was obvious satire, almost identical
to the "apology" he posted to the Cypherpunks last December. He is
likely now planning a much more massive assault on you and his other
perceived enemies....a campaign of fabricating quotes, arguing with
himself via different pseudonyms, etc.

And now that he knows your uptight Swiss customers are so sensitive, he
will probably try to find ways to let them know about your "anarchist"

If he's as smart as I think he is, he'll use the network of remailers.
He'll also try to fabricate quotes that make you seem like a truly
vicious money launderer, perhaps with insinuations that your furniture
business is a cover for drug trafficking. (If I were Detweiler,
licking my wounds, plotting revenge, that's what I'd do.)

If this happens, as I predict it will, your recourse will be to either
try to force the remailer operators to produce the logs (so you'll
have somebody to sue), to sue the remailer operators per se (which
will become a test of common carriage, unless they back down),
or--best of all--to tell your Swiss customers that bizarre rants are
the outcome of a society which tolerates free speeech and that they
should ignore all posts allegedly written by you unless the posts are
coming from your site, or, better, have been digitally signed by you.

As Nat Henthoff says, "sunlight is the best disinfectant." 

> I know often you do not respond to mail.... I hope you will drop me a 
> note on this one however.
> Also feel free to post this mail to the list if you like.  The only reason I 
> didn't cc: it was to the extent that my reply sounded like a personal 
> discussion.

OK, I just saw your last paragraph as I was wrapping this up. I'll add
the Cypherpunks list to the distribution. It may be long, but these
issues are at least as important as much of what gets posted.

--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."