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newsweek oct 30 Levy digital cash article

a slick article by Steven Levy appears in the oct 30 Newsweek
mag (cover Farrakhan).

I'll let the ILF post it, but here are a few of the 

- covers mark twain bank going live with Chaumian "e-money"

- also a sidebar on Mondex..

- 1st virtual mentioned

- Bruce Sterlings "heavy weather" e-money dystopia

- Netscape flaw as example of the stakes

- US government get into the act?

- privacy concerns (EPIC Rotenberg quoted)

- "tax may be voluntary" --Barlow

- FinCEN worried about drug money

I didn't find any obvious errors or overhyped paranoia, so I commend
Levy on the article. it can be seen as a definite cypherpunk cap-feather.
Levy is doing a really great job IMHO. an editorial in an earlier issue
of newsweek about Rimm and pornography in cyberspace was dead bang on..

p.s. I'm very curious about the "information security" reference that
someone gave earlier, has there been any more information here about
that one?


also, my question about whether one loses the downloaded Chaumian bucks
if one's hard drive crashes was answered in the affirmative by Levy.
hoo boy, I think this could become one of the worst new urban legends
about losing money due to failed hardware/software. there is going to
be a lot of paranoia about this item. I'll bet virtually all digital
buck schemes will have to explicitly answer this question to a 
paranoid public: what happens if my computer crashes?

part of my motivation for querying about losing cash due to a hardware
failure was based on an interest in showing how the really "soft"
system of credit card purchasing that we have now, while considered 
lame by a lot of cypherpunks, often protects the consumer. remember,
Jane Sixpack is frequently locking her keys in a car. ecash that
can be lost or stolen just like real cash may not be as attractive
as say a credit card system whereby one can sometimes call up the
company and say afterwards, "I didn't really mean that".

cypherpunks should consider that one of the key things we think is
the strength of ecash--namely privacy-- may be a key area the
opposition to untracable cash transactions can tout as a weakness or

it seems to me that the very techniques that tends to enhance privacy also
tend to make the spending "more dangerous" in the sense that one
cannot backpedal or one can lose it, irretrievably, more easily.
for a public with the IQ of Joe and Jane Sixpack, this could be a 
serious concern. identification is key to helping people retrieve
lost or stolen checks, etc.

"have you ever locked your keys in your car? don't use digital ecash.
you might lose it and never get it back."

I suggest that Chaum definitely consider this a major aspect in his
marketing campaign. it could be a very serious soft spot in widespread
public acceptance of ecash. rumors could float, "ecash is dangerous
to the consumer". hopefully we can head this one off at the pass.

imho, the future will never see complete digital cash, or complete
identification. they are likely to mix a lot. however I think ecash
may become very respectable, and ultimately become far more common
than identified transactions are today.

but its really amazing how no serious alarm flags have been going off
in the legislative arena about digital cash. I suspect this is going
to become a white-hot public policy issue. if you thought the fights
over terrorism, wiretapping, or pornography laws were messy, just
wait until legislators pinpoint digital cash as the horseman of
the infocalypse. fireworks will fly. may you survive interesting times. <g>