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Re: Regulatory Risks

Duncan asks
> So if the feds intend to regulate cyberspace, what specific sorts of
> regulations are possible at this point?
> Forget laws, what is *technically* and institutionally feasible?
> Can they just throw out TCP/IP and mandate X25?  Can TCP/IP be "tamed?" 
> How can they control private virtual networks that piggyback on the basic
> network structure?  

"Our chief weapon was surprise", and of course Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
The most effective thing they could do would be to deploy a digital
signature system that you _have_ to use to pay your company taxes
or file your individual tax returns on-line, and go from there
to requiring it for other business transactions with the government.
Subsidized servers, of course.  It's worked with Social Security Numbers,
and if they control on-line signatures for business, then they can
control access to the nets for a large fraction of the population.
Along with it, require that banks use the signatures for electronic banking,
which is a bit easier since banks are heavily regulated and the
Federal Reserve would probably be happy to help.
Besides, it gives the Post Office something to do in a post-paper world.

They obviously can't prevent piggyback networks, but they _can_ make
it economically infeasible for medium-large companies to run them.
For instance, declaring internet providers to be common carriers,
and doing a "digital telephony bill" to require them to use
IPng authentication on packets and traceable headers on news and
email systems, with the risk of de-licensing and confiscation
for non-conformists.  It's nice that the largest backbone provider
is now NOT the NSFnet, but a commercial provider (though I'd obviously
prefer AT&T  to Sprint+MCI :-), but they're still the Phone Company,
and could be forced to accept regulation.

Meanwhile, at the user end, the Enemy could start using confiscation
on any computers caught running remailers or encryption -
even if they can't stop us Nasty Evil Black-Marketeering K0deZ Dealers,
they could make it too risky to do at work or school,
which means your own money is on the line if you get caught
calculating in the Black Numbers.  I doubt they'll be able to
ban convicted lawbreakers from using computers entirely
for much longer (heck, I wouldn't be able to use my microwave
oven any more, much less drive my car), but they could still try.