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Re: Black Cryptoanarchy (KKK, monopolies, contract killing)

(I can only respond very briefly to the excellent post Doug Cuttrell
has made....I'm trying to finish something by tonight in preparation
for tomorrow's Cypherpunks meeting in Mountain View.)

Doug has correctly figured out what strong crypto implies, and just
how badly it nukes the "liberal" view of society.

Like I said, I'll be brief, even telegraphic:

> I am trying to understand the arguments for these points of view... I
> consider myself to be extremely "liberal" in my political philosophy, and I
> have a lot of respect for the arguments of libertarians.  But I am

There's no time for any of us to write pro-libertarian essays here.
Plenty of books. Etc.

> to engage in racist hiring policies if that is their decision, but it seems
> clear that Tim May does hold this position, and I understand that this is
> in fact the classic libertarian position.  The argument seems to be that in
> a free society, natural cooperative processes will provide a form of
> "autoregulation" to discourage the widespread development of oppression of
> specific classes of individuals.

I never worry about whether my choices are "racist" or "sexist" or
"ageist" or "looksist" (a real term used here in Santa Cruz), etc.
They're just my choices. Nobody else's business. Of course, they don't
have to do business with me, either. Sounds fair to me. The original
meaning of "liberalism" (yes).

> There further seems to be an assumption that the tools of strong crypto
> will facilitate this system of checks and balances through natural
> cooperative processes.  I am not convinced.  Moreover, it seems to me that
> cryptoanarchy may in fact facilitate a new type of "mob rule".  For
> example, imagine the development of a multitude of secret "crypto-posse"

Yes, though I've called them "digilantes." Crypto Star Chambers.

> organizations.   Individuals could join any number of these secret
> societies, which might require some sort of dues payment for participancy.
> They might be fleeting in duration, forming spontaneously to achieve some
> specific aim (thus my term "posse").  Virtually everything about these
> organizations could be secret -- their size, power, and even their very
> existence.  Participating companies could secretly create trade monopolies.
> Organizations such as the KKK could accrue the financial support of large
> numbers of members to create strong social and economic pressures to
> oppress segments of the population in specific areas, yet the source of
> these pressures may be impossible to trace.

Yep. I call this the "Crypto Anarchy Principle":

The Crypto Anarchy Principle: Strong crypto permits unbreakable
encryption, unforgeable signatures, untraceable electronic messages,
and unlinkable pseudonomous identities. This ensures that some
transactions and communications can be entered into only
voluntarily. External force, law, and regulation cannot be
applied. This is "anarchy," in the sense of no outside rulers and
laws. Voluntary arrangements, back-stopped by voluntarily-arranged
institutions like escrow services, will be the only form of rule. This
is "crypto anarchy."

> Even apart from this, the availability of truly secure anonymity, strong
> encryption, and untraceable digital cash could allow contract killing to be
> an openly conducted business.  For example, an anonymous news post
> announces a public key which is to be used to encode a contract kill order,
> along with a digital cash payment.  The person placing the contract need
> only anonymously place the encrypted message in alt.test.  Perhaps it is
> even possible to make it impossible to tell that the message was encrypted
> with the contract killer's public key (the killer would have to attempt
> decryption of all similarly encoded messages on alt.test, but that might be
> quite feasible).  Thus it could be completely risk free for anyone to place
> a contract on anyone else.

Markets for assassinations--untraceable and unlinkable--have been a
topic of discussion for a long time. You'll find them explicitly
mentioned in my 1988 "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto."

Doug is to be congratulated for realizing the implications, if he
hadn't heard about them before. 

This topic has been written about by me, David Friedman, Robin Hanson,
Hal Finney, and others. A lot of stuff to consider. Not now.

> If there is a reason why these concerns are unfounded, I would very much
> appreciate hearing refutations.  I certainly don't want any of these
> possibilities to materialize, but I don't see any way around them in a
> completely "cryptoanarchic" society.

Can't be stopped. If strong crypto is allowed (and most of us don't
think even a police state could stop it at this point), then these
"voluntary associations" cannot be stopped. Hence.....

Welcome to the New Underworld Order!

(a term I have borrowed from Claire Sterling.)

--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."