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Re: Netscape gives in to key escrow


sameer wrote:

>        Bad. Very Bad. And I was almost starting to like 
>        Netscape.

Yes, bad. Yes, almost. Like a psychotic, Netscape has been teasing people with annoyingly buggy "betas," seeming to be well-intentioned, innocently clumsy, forgivable for its enthusiasm. Now the mask drops and we see the feral beast.

tcmay wrote:

> Jim Clark is actively working for the enemies of liberty and 
> freedom.

As usual, Tim states it concisely, even elegantly.

> I wonder what discussions Jim Clark has been having with the 
> Feds?

I can assure those who doubt this that Jim did not wake up one morning saying, "Gee, this security thing is just so-o-o-o big a nut to crack that we need to bump it upstairs to the Big Boys. Yeah! That's it! Uncle Sam will make the Internet safe for commerce! Boy, this is going to be a great day! Hey, Mom! Can I have a slice of your great apple pie for breakfast?  B-r-r-r!  It's brisk this morning! Mom, Where did you put my flag?"

With Netscape's sudden and surprising rise to prominence, its executives have no doubt been getting a crash course on what it's like to live in the world of people who take power and money VERY seriously. They've no doubt been disabused of childish notions and shown the glint of steely knives in the recesses of three-piece suits. No doubt more than one stomach plummeted to the sub-basement as they learned that Wonderland is populated by dark and deadly predators who don't just meekly make room for a new player.

Jim may not even be important enough to have been the one visited, but we can be sure someone was visited and explained some of the rules by which the full-contact professional game is played. What we are witnessing here is the loss of innocence, noticeable only because the time scale is so compressed by Netscape's explosive rise.

It's not even so much their caving that disgusts -- it's the hypocrisy. It's the lack of balls to say, "Guess what?  We got a most unusual visit by so-and-so who spoke unofficially for so-and-so, who wants us to know that we'll be toast if we push this issue of strong crypto."

It's as if someone you know suddenly takes up living with the creepy-crawlies in dark, damp places under rocks. One day you lift a rock and discover them there with some surprise, but instead of emerging or explaining, they say, "I like it here! This is the proper way to live!" and pull the rock back into place. It's not natural.

rjc wrote:

> What's the point? Surely Clark must realize that even if 
> Netscape adds key escrow to SSL/Secure Courier, it is still 
> possible to tunnel


> The genie is out of the bottle.

The Feds' approach to this kind of thing will be to make circumvention of escrow punishable by, say, a $10 million fine and 30 years in prison, with a teensy little provision that it doesn't matter how it comes to their attention.  That way, you not only run the risk that they find out by virtue of you having become a target of authorized eavesdropping, you run the risk that a, um, mistaken or, er, collateral eavesdrop reveals that your communications are circumventing escrow.

People in Montana and Nevada probably once thought the highway speed genie was out of the bottle, but all it took was fuel-shortage hype to enact a law effectively instituting a "national" speed limit, even though federal control of travel on roads outside federal reservations is wholly without constitutional authority.  

Most people have some contact with issues of cars, gasoline, speed, and fuel economy, yet there was barely a whimper. How likely is it that more than a few percent of the population will even grasp what is being done to them with key escrow and the PR flim-flam that will be used to spackle over the real issues?

jsw wrote:

> Please don't give up on us yet.

I have.  I'll reconsider when Jim reveals who inoculated him with GAK juice and when Netscape own up to how they caved and publicly disavow the position he advanced.

> All press accounts I've read so far have lots of stuff 
> attributed to Jim, but very little of it is actual quotes. 
> There appears to be lots of paraphrasing and interpretation 
> being done on the part of the reporters.  The impression that 
> I'm getting is that the press has blown a couple of small sound 
> bites way out of proportion.

Not to be overly dramatic, but this sounds like a non-policy German expatriate might have sounded in the late 1930's, trying to quell alarm over reports of atrocities filtering out of the Reich. It may be well-intentioned, but it's out of the loop.

> The infoworld article that covers the same speech only 
> devotes about 20% of the article to the key escrow topic, 
> and is similarly devoid of actual quotes.

This is the "turd in the punchbowl" principle, Jeff. Suppose your 
Presidential candidate sounded fine in 95% of his coverage, and only in 5% is he reported to advocate raising human children on farms for organ harvest? How big a turd does there have to be in the punchbowl before you will consider the punch unfit to drink? "Well, hell! There's only the ONE, and it's not even as big as the ice cubes!"  Right.

> I have not spoken to Jim about this, 


> and I did not hear the talk myself, 


> so I'm mostly reading between the lines here.  


> After I saw the story earlier today I started asking around 
> to see if the company had made any major policy shift in the 
> direction of GAK, and wasn't able to turn up anything.

So we're supposed to operate on the same blind faith you display. Right.

> My feelings about key escrow, which were echo'd by several 
> folks in management when I spoke to them today are...

Jeff, what you're revealing is a bit of confusion with respect to who runs the company. With all due respect, and taking your statements at face value without reading subterfuge into them, I believe you're in the dark, and positioned to get a hard lesson in real world corporate politics. Do you like your job? Do you have a mortgage? If this doesn't go down the way you think it's going, will YOU tell all?

> I don't want to go down in history as a facilitator of the 
> totalitarian state, and I don't think anyone else here does either.

Dark periods of history are full of well-intentioned people who, in the crunch, opted to save their own skins and facilitated whatever they were told to facilitate.

> ...and I hope everyone will judge us by what we do.

You can be sure of that. Meanwhile, if you really have principles, start taking names. Names, dates, places, things. If you're right, you can throw it all away later. If we're right, you'll have an opportunity to shed light on the process sometime down the road.

We Jurgar Din
(that will have to suffice: I do not yet live in a free country)

+"The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone. It is to the+
+vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no +
+election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now  +
+too late to retire from the contest." -Patrick Henry 1775 +

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