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Re: Crypto's Role in Evil?

I agree with the points Jon Lasser makes, whether or not we have the same
political point of view.

At 8:37 PM 10/9/95, Jon Lasser wrote:

>I'm not a libertarian, or an anarcho-capitalist.  I do, however, support
>rapid deployment, without restrictions, of strong crypto.  Here's why:
>(1) It is impossible to stop these technologies; someone on the list
>recently reminded us that a bright fourteen year old could reproduce the
>basic functionality of PGP in a brief period of time.  The mathematics
>of, say, RSA, are fairly basic.  I think it's unreasonable to outlaw
>multiplication of prime numbers, don't you?

I agree with this, but we have to be careful. Consider this parallel:

"It is impossible to stop people from having high-power sniper rifles.
Anyone can shoot people from afar with relative safety. I think it's
unreasonable to outlaw use of high power rifles for assassinations, don't

(I'm not making an argument for gun control, just citing a parallel--one of
many I can think of--where just because something is easy to circumvent
does not mean that it shouldn't be outlawed.)

>(2) While these technologies allow people to violate the law, I have
>enough faith in humanity to believe that civilization won't collapse as a
>result.  There have always been criminals, and there have always been
>revolutionaries.  Only recently has "The State" been able to supress
>these forces without maintaining a physical presence.  Crypto merely
>returns us to that default.

Agreed. Although it does allow certain new markets to be efficiently
developed that could not develop otherwise.

>(3) These technologies also allow honest, law-abiding citizens to protect
>themselves from criminals, both within and outside the government.
>Industrial espionage can be defeated through strong crypto, for example.
>J. Edgar Hoover would have been powerless to harass Martin Luther King,
>jr. had MLK had access to strong crypto.

This is a good point to stress.

--Tim May

Views here are not the views of my Internet Service Provider or Government.
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."