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Conspiracies and "Ciphergroupies"
At 5:57 PM 8/10/95, John Young wrote:
> I respect the view that sound crypto requires skeptical
> review and testing outside closed rooms. Conspiracies live
> or die by the same process. Crypto would die if there was
> no belief in conspiracies.
> Conspiracy theory drives the cypherpunk agenda, I surmised
> from the welcoming statement. Note the caution about "S1,"
> and any other crypto offering.
I think a better, and less loaded, tern than "conspiracies" is "threat models."
It has always been important to many of us that the policies and plans of
potential threats be discussed, analyzed, etc. Thus, our recurring focus on
the activities of the NSA, GCHQ, FinCEN, and so on. For example, all folks
on this list should almost certainly read "The Puzzle Palace," even though
it does not _directly_ help with the latest project in writing code.
And like Orlin Grabbe, whose "End of Money" article I posted a pointer to
last winter, I closely follow the recent developments involving the
intelligence agencies, the plans to limit crypto, etc.
(By the way, it was my close following of the NSA and related
organizations, and my monitoring of what Dorothy Denning was saying, that
led to my "A Trial Balloon to Ban Crypto?" article in this group and in
sci.crypt three years ago. This warning, which generated much discussion on
sci.crypt and here, prepared us for the Clipper announcement six months
Is this wasted time? Shouldn't I be using my time to write Trumpet
Winsocks--whatever they are!--for WinCypherHyperPhone?
Well, we all decide what our interests are, and exhortations by others that
we are not working on what is "really" important are not very useful. There
are probably a dozen different sorts of interests here, ranging from a
bunch of folks interested in popularizing crypto to several law professors
and lawyers interested in legal aspects to Internet programming experts.
Even some pure mathematicians. Even some novices.
> Perry's sharp statements on the urgent need for crypto
> deployment are motivated, it seems to me, by a view of a
> believable, if not wholly proveable, threat that crypto is
> believed to counter. I choose to believe him; Orlin's got my
> skeptical interest -- put up or shut up -- and he's not out
> of line.
Perry is Perry. He has certainly written his share of rants and "off-topic"
posts, as have we all. Literally thousands of his posts over the past 3
years reside on my disk drives, and certainly until recently most of them
were not about writing code.
Ironically, just a few weeks ago, Perry was sharply criticizing me for my
"Crisis Overload" post and was urging me to join him in a serious lobbying
effort to undermine the Grassley bill. I declined, thinking it unlikely to
succeed and preferring to concentrate on my other project (including a new
release of SmalltalkAgents, just arrived). When I preferred to work on more
technical things than launching a grassroots political campaign, he got
abusive and insulting in e-mail and I told him I would no longer accept
this sort of abuse. You may recall he chose to post this private message
here in public, without of course the messages that preceeded this (and
without my permission, needless to say).
Again, Perry is Perry.
People work on what interests them. It is nice for Perry, and maybe for all
of us if his efforts work out, that he has thrown himself into this new
programming project, but it is wrong for him to automatically dismiss the
interests and efforts of others.
There's also a certain "control freak" attitude that creeps into this list
(and other lists, of course) at times, wherein people say that their
current interest is vastly more important than anything else and that
anyone who does not drop their frivolous other interests and begin work
immediately on the One True Project are fools and knaves, and are probably
secretly working for the NSA! (:-}).
People should write about what interests them. Those who wish to program,
should program. Those who wish to explore number theory, should explore
number theory. And so on.
Attempting to control what gets posted on this list is pointless. If you
don't like a particular topic, or an author, use filters and kill files.
This can be done in many ways, including mail programs, procmail, and even
the "MailWeir" service that Harry Hawk offers. And many people dump the
list traffic into local newsgroups, allowing threadified reading. Also,
various digestified versions of the list exist--Eric Blossom has one.
Insulting people as "ciphergroupies" because they are not working on one's
current interest seems needlessly counterproductive.
Just my views. If you don't like 'em, ignore them or filter them. That's
the Cypherpunk way of doing things.
Special note: My ISP has changed its domain name from "sensemedia.net" to
"got.net" (as in "got milk?"), so I have to again ask you all to bear with
me and use my new e-mail address, "[email protected]".
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] (Got net?) | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-728-0152 | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Corralitos, CA | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."