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Fuhrman needed a digital pseudonym!

Before you folks jump on the "racist" Mark Fuhrman, think about the
"surveillance state" issues. While it was not any government organization
that taped Fuhrman's comments, there are some real issues involved in how
deeply and how far back we want to "mine" comments made by people. Some
real issues of privacy.

The Mark Fuhrmans of the future may be interested in using technologies to
protect their privacy, to give them "plausible deniability" should their
recorded words come back to haunt them.

Brief comments:

* This post is primarily about the role of pseudonyms, not the OJ trial or
the testimony/tapes involving Mark Fuhrman.

* And the issue of "mining" of ancient records, especially as technology
makes the recording of sounds, the taping of sights, and the archiving of
electronic messages so much easier.

* Those who think this is off-topic because it has nothing to do with
coding in C are hereby invited to hit the "D" key, or whatever passes for
it, right now.

Caveat: I've watched entirely too much of the OJ trial on CNN, as I sit
here at home and surf the Net every morning. It's easy to have the
television on, and the OJ trial has had many interesting twists. When the
stuff gets boring, I switch to music or perhaps to the financial network
CNBC. So, I've see nearly everything being talked about here.

Opinion on OJ: ***elided by Tim to head off debates about OJ's guilt or

(I state this to show my prejudices, not to start an "OJ debate" on this
list. Actually, I just elided (deleted) the opinion I had expressed, so as
not to inflame anyone here.)

What really bothers me, as it relates to the pro-privacy themes of this
list, is the reaching back many years to comments made by a witness--Mark
Fuhrman--to a screenplay writer. Because she kept audiotapes, going back 10
years, these comments may likely strongly influence the verdict in this
"trial of the century."

Anyone in favor of heading off the "surveillance society" should be alarmed
at this development. As tape recorders and video cameras proliferate,
comments may be compiled, taken out of context, and used as evidence.

(Who amongst us has not said "nigger"? Does it count if I am asking why the
rap group "Niggas with Attitude" chooses to label themselves as niggers? I
figure that if blacks routinely call themselves niggers and call folks like
me "honkies," then it's fair to call _them_ niggers. Not that I do this,
but I don't see the term as so horrifying as to cause a killer like OJ to
get off as this spectacle unfolds. Besides, it's become "permissable" for
black leaders to refer to New York City as "Hymietown" in a way that would
result in public stoning for a white to refer to a city as "Niggertown."
The old double standard.)

The point: Fuhrman should have used a pseudonym, should have taken steps to
protect his identity. Of course, in 1985 this would have been harder.

But have people given up the right to speak "for themselves" in private? If
there is no solid evidence that Fuhrman actually committed any crimes, but
only appeared to be puffing himself up, a la a Wambaugh wannabee, then why
are his "racist" and "sexist" comments deemed so important as to have
derailed the trial for the last couple of weeks?

I have said an awful lot of inflammatory things at Cypherpunks meetings, at
parties, in political discussions, and so forth. I don't claim that there
should be a law against people bringing these issues up, or even a law
against tape-recording various kinds of meetings. I just argue that we are
devolving into a surveillanc

To be sure, there are valid trial issues:

-- Did he misspeak, misremember, or lie when he said he had "never" used
the word "nigger" in the past 10 years? (I recall at the time, circa
Feb-March, thinking to myself "Oh, sure!," when he said he had not used the
word nigger in the past 10 years.)

-- If this is perjury, how does it affect other evidence? (I'm not a
lawyer, but I grok from the comments on CNN that this has to do with
whether his testimony was supportive of other evidence, "cumulative," and
related issues.)

-- Does this possible misspeaking, misremembering, or lying have anything
to do with whether he planted the bloody glove?

-- etc. There are various valid issues. Spending a few weeks on these
issues is another matter, though, IMHO. In my view, if I were the judge I'd
have forced this issue to be resolved in hours, not weeks.

Anyway, I am greatly disturbed by this "mining" of ancient comments, made
to a screenwriter.

Whether Fuhrman is a "racist" or not, this witch trial is a diversion from
the real issues.

And some real privacy issues are raised.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."