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a foot here, a foot there -- pretty soon your mouth is *really* full (was: Re:Netscape, Corporations, and GAK Support)

At 11:36 AM 11/30/95, Timothy C. May wrote:

>It's possible that Jim Clark--whose quotations I have not yet seen denied
>by Netscape--is merely naive on matters of mandated key escrow. It's
>possible that he hasn't given it much thought.

I watched him in acquisition mode once upon a time and I rather doubt this:
I imagine that he's giving this considerable thought (he has the time while
counting stacks of shares on his bed every night ;), watching this space
and letting the "petty officers" navigate through this reef for now. His
statements so far indicate nothing more to me than that he's just playing
his cards very close for now so as not to alienate anyone: this is what a
captain should be expected to do when the waters are potentially this
"dangerous." Why would/should he chop the Feds off at the knees until he
knows exactly which way _their_ smoke blows? They're still trying to figure
out what the hell we're up to, and if we can manage to stay ahead of their
lumbering giants (Freeh, et alia), it'll pretty much stay that way for a
long time.

Anyway, no policy statements coming from Netscape NOW can be a reliable
indicator of where they're going to be -- even in a year -- on crypto
policy or on the internal development. All we're seeing for the forseeable
future is trial balloons and other strategic positioning. I bet Jim's read
the Book of Five Rings...

> It's also possible that he
>sincerely is supportive of plans for Big Brother to have an "escrowed" copy
>of our conversations, diaries, travel plans, etc.

Jim may "appear" a tad "hawkish," but he's no dope. Look, a 70% share, even
with momentum behind it, can slim down mighty fast with bad choices and
lots of fast dogs at his heels and he knows it. Let me put it this way:
"the higher they sell, the faster they drop."

Tim, you're absolutely right that speaking out NOW (and directly at him) is
the surest way for him and others to have data on which to base their
future decisions. If there are other solutions for modules Netscape intends
to provide (like...NS2.0's Mail module + GAK vs a c-neutral Eudora with an
optional MOSS translation plug-in), then he'll lose market share
proportional to how much we scream about it in public (I'm doing daily
vocal exercises, just in case ;). If he makes enough bad choices, like
throwing his full weight behind GAK and other atrocities, he'll end up like
DigiCash *would* if they kept/keep the bank protocol hidden. I just refuse
to believe he hates his work that much. At the worst, I see a special
"gaak" version for the Feds, but I sure as hell wouldn't buy it (and I
bought my copy of Netscape).

It would be nice to hear from him here directly, though. One can only
tolerate so much pussyfooting around before one becomes snippy.


"I prefer a _real_ whorehouse to The Theatre." --Dorothy Parker