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FWD: Electronic Warfare (from the digitaliberty list)

Interesting (if a bit mild for this list) article from another list some of
you might be interested in (or already subscribed to)....

---- Forwarded Message ----

From: [email protected]
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 01:00:06 -0500
To: [email protected]
Subject:   digitaliberty V1 #13

digitaliberty             Tuesday, 31 October 1995      Volume 01 : Number 013

In this issue:

Electronic Warfare

See the end of the digest for information on subscribing to the Digitaliberty
or Digitaliberty-Digest mailing lists.


From: Bill Frezza (via RadioMail) <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 13:14:58 -0800
Subject: Test

This is a test. <sigh>


From: [email protected]
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 18:02:17 -0500
Subject: Electronic Warfare


Attached is a column that ran on the op-ed page of today's Communications
Week. I have agreed to do bi-weekly opinion pieces for them focussing on the
impact of technology on society, politics, and culture - all with a
DigitaLibertarian slant (of course). My hope is that this fiesty group can
keep me fed with grist for these pieces.

For anyone that lives in NYC, I will be carrying the DigitaLiberty banner on
a panel on digital commerce at the Multimedia Design conference at the Javits
center Friday 11/3 at 3:30pm. Stop by and say hello.



- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Although the flap over the Clinton administration's attempt to promote
escrowed-key encryption systems like Clipper has temporarily faded, the war
on electronic privacy continues.   As proceedings at the Fourth International
Conference on Money Laundering, Forfeiture, Asset Recovery, Offshore
Investments, the Pacific Rim, and International Financial Crimes reveal,
there has been no let up in our government's efforts to blockade the

No, you won't learn much from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times,
written by journalist-generalists who have no clue about where this
technology is heading.  The Feds have become so skilled at manipulating the
Old Media that stories about electronic privacy  invariably center on the
latest drug kingpin, pedophile, or domestic terrorist.  Attacking these
universally abhorred enemies of the people not only makes for good headlines
but keeps privacy advocates off balance as they are forced to defend abstract
rights using loathsome examples.  But if you tune in to the Cypherpunks
mailing list ([email protected]) you can get some excellent first hand
reports from the front.

In the relatively short period since the passage of the Bank Secrecy Act,
which, among other things, obliges banks to file Suspicious Activity Reports
on its customers, banks have become virtual deputies in the treasury
department's war on uncontrolled financial transactions.  And this war is
increasingly spilling into cyberspace.

The conference underscored the fact that, paradoxically, we are heading not
toward more specific and well defined transaction monitoring regulations, but
less.  How so?  The problem with making regulations precise is that what
software algorithms can define, other algorithms can evade.  Instead,
regulation by "raised eyebrow" is becoming the norm.  Federal bank examiners
have been given significant latitude to invoke draconian penalties against
uncooperative banks.  Because bank officers have few due-process protections
under this regime, it is no surprise that most of them have become sniveling
toadies.  The objective is to insure that banks "voluntarily" introduce even
more aggressive, unpredictable, and intrusive monitoring than the government
would ever dare mandate.  And to make sure nothing slips through the cracks,
human surveillance will be supplemented with artificial-intelligence agents
that can perform pattern analysis on the aggregate flow of electronic
transactions, flagging anything remotely suspicious.  George Orwell would be

Lest you think that all of this is motivated solely by the drug war,  a visit
to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
homepage (http://www.ustreas.gov/treasury/bureaus/fincen/facts.html) should
open your eyes.  This battle is not just about drug prohibition, a crime the
Treasury Department would have to invent if it didn't already exist.  The
real struggle is about the future of tax compliance, and it has you in its

A famous Revolutionary War era pamphleteer, writing under the pseudonym
"Brutus", perhaps said it best 200 years ago when he wrote - "The national
government through its taxing power will introduce itself into every corner
of the city and country.  It will take cognizance of the professional man in
his office or his study;  it will watch the merchant in his store;  it will
follow the mechanic to his shop and his work, and will haunt him in his
family and his bed;  it will be the constant companion to the industrious
farmer in his labour;  it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage;  and
finally it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.  To
all these different classes of people and in all these circumstances on which
it will attend them, the language in which it will address them will be GIVE!

What Brutus didn't know and what the cypherpunks foresee is that one day
strong encryption will make it impossible to spy on our activities in
cyberspace.  Heightened conflict is inevitable.  Expect the rhetoric to get a
lot hotter as the government spinmeisters labor to keep us focused on public
enemies while frantically trying to keep its hand in every citizens pocket
and its eyes on every bankbook. 

# # #

Bill Frezza is president at Wireless Computing Associates and co-founder of
the online forum DigitaLiberty.  The opinions expresses are his own. Frezza
can be reached at [email protected]


End of digitaliberty V1 #13

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