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Re: Remind me why we're so mad at Netscape

At 09:33 PM 12/2/95 -0500, Matt Blaze <[email protected]> wrote:
>Could someone please remind me what it is we're mad at Netscape about?
>As far as I can tell it's some combination of the following offenses:
>(a) - Jim Clark made a speech in which he revealed that he thought the
>government would be a player in determining the way cryptography ends
>up being deployed on the Internet.  He was quoted in the trade press,
>but it was unclear exactly which words were actually his.  Asked to
>clarify, he said that Netscape would implement mandatory government
>access across its product line only if required to by law, but he
>observed that things seem to be moving in that direction.  I share his
>pessimism, unfortunately, unless we find a way to shift the winds.

I give Netscape a lot of credit for the way they've handled things so far;
their US commercial version supports strong crypto (modulo a few bugs :-),
and interoperates with their free exportable version, which is itself
far stronger than a minimal 40-bit version could have been.
And they're adding secure email to the new version.
And (while they can't officially say this, of course) anybody overseas
can pirate the strong-crypto version if 40 bits aren't enough.

PGP gave anybody who wanted to do a bit of work the ability to
do trusted communications, but it's still not widely used because
it does take extra work; the most important things it's done have
been to raise public awareness and make it obvious to everybody
that the cat's out of the bag, which also pressured the government
into dealing with the issue.  Netscape is putting built-in strong crypto
in the hands of tens of millions of people; fait accompli like that
make it much harder for governments to impose stupid and offensive rules.

Maybe Netscape will come out with GAKed versions for export to nosy-governmented
countries like France and the US; as long as the main version has secure
communications, and they're open about how their crypto really works,
we can talk securely domestically, and other folks can pirate them to
use instead of GAKware.  If the government wants to pay extra to support
special hardware crypto modules for their own use, and the modules do GAK,
that's an internal problem (as long as we can subpoena their records.)
Of course, in case the main US versions ever have GAK as a default,
I do reserve the right to flame Netscape again :-)

>(d) Their stock price is very high, many times greater than their
>profits and physical assets would seem to justify.  I'm not sure I
>understand the implication here.  

I think it's that "Netscape is now in a financial position that pushes
them to care more about making some profits to justify their appallingly
high stock price so they're more likely to lose big bucks if
they don't sell out, and I should have bought it at $70..."

>Disclaimer: I'm employed full time by a soon-to-be-tri-vested major
>player in the military industrial complex, and us sellouts like to
>stick together.

Definitely.  Back when I was a tool of the military-industrial complex,
I was two floors down from Matt, in an RF-shielded room :-)

#				Thanks;  Bill
# Bill Stewart, Freelance Information Architect, [email protected]
# Phone +1-510-247-0663 Pager/Voicemail 1-408-787-1281

# Anybody notice that Microsoft's Wide Open Road ad has barbed-wire fences
# on both sides of the road?