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The drumbeat against anonymity continues....
In addition to the articles and editorials, I'm seeing articles
slamming anonymity and pseudoanonymity (we need a better word!) in
See the latest RISKS Digest (16.79, available on Usenet in the group
comp.risks) for a couple of articles of interest. One is about the
Singapore plans for an automatic vehicle intentification (AVI) system
to implement "road pricing" on congested roads. Phil Agre's article
makes some good points, and mentions using digital cash to avoid the
Big Brother problems, but notes that Singapore is not seriously
The real "drumbeat" article is about cellular phone fraud and
toll-free number fraud. Actaully, a couple of related articles.
(Everyone should at least skim "RISKS.")
Anonymity is cited as a problem. But this misses the point, that the
real problem is lack of a proper payment model. As David Chaum points
out, there are really only two basic payment approaches: transfer of
something of value or an account-based transfer. Cash or barter are
examples of the first, checks or credit card payments are examples of
the second (though each has some wrinkles). Digital cash, when online
cleared, behaves mostly like real cash.
The phone companies that are complaining about fraud have inadequately
arranged for security and need to adopt a mode that fixes this. Since
physical money can't be fed into the slots of a handheld cell phone (or
at least can't then be delivered to the service owner!), the solution
has traditionally been an account-based payment system. (Accounts can
also be better protected against fraud by having PINs, etc.)
What about telephone calling cards? I don't recall the details well
enough to know if they could be used on handheld units. Maybe they
could be used.
This could eventually be a market for digital cash. (If fraud is a
serious-enough problem, costing enough, then a service which could
lower costs by using digital cash could make market inroads.)
What we need to watch out for are proposals to limit anonymity, to
mandate national ID cards, so as to somehow limit such cases of fraud.
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
| 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.
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