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Jim Clark, "Mr. Bubble"


Alex Strasheim, 12/2/95, 6:53 PM:

>I don't expect Netscape, as a corporate citizen, to engage in civil
>disobedience.  But I hope that Netscape will take seriously its obligation
>to protect the rights of citizens. 

      I do. I regard the capacity to do so as crucial, and I regard the
fact that you *don't* expect them to as very telling. As has been pointed
out extensively, the chances that he'll manage to hang on to his
soft-earned cash until he can sell out are a long shot--unless he takes a
stand against GAK. Governmental policy on the subject of crypto has relied
upon secrecy, obscurity, and above all terrorizing individuals; the gov't
would be extremely reluctant to throw the book Netscape, given its
symbolic significance in the market. And even if it did, Clark's future
would be assured--maybe after he got out of Club Fed, but assured
      Let me be clear: if Clark and Netscape said "We're implementing and
releasing a version with a key length we support," crypto policy would be
the lead story on the evening news--and the gov't would lose. The only
question is how fast. 

>The decison that Netscpae is faced with now is a big one.  It's going to 
>have widespread and long lasting consequences for privacy and civil 
>liberties all over the world.  When you look at what's going to happen on 
>the ground, it's probably as important as a major decision by the Supreme 
>>We understand that government officials in this country and elsewhere are 
>putting pressure on Netscape.  But you should understand that the public 
>is overwhelmingly in favor of universal access to strong crypto.  This is 
>a democracy, after all, and the FBI and NSA still work for the people.  
>If you need help standing up for what's right, you'll get it.  Take your 
>case to the public, and you'll be suprised at the response you'll get.

      You set forth all these silly generalities as though they suggest
that NS's best bet--for Clark, for itself, for the public--is to go along
with US policy? Bullshit. Their best bet is to use their golden-boy status
to sucker punch the gov't.

>Why not say:
>        1       Netscape will follow all laws and regulations.
>        2       The current rules are forcing Netscape to choose
>                between providing reasonable levels of privacy
>                to its customers and competing in the international
>                marketplace.
>        3       Netscape feels the rules should be changed to make
>                this choice unnecessary.

      Bah. Why not:

      1     Make illegal software available by FTP
      2     Explain it's doing so because ITAR is bullshit
      3     Face the gov't down in the press and in the courts 

>If you make that argument publicly, you'll get widespread support from the
>business communitity and the general public.  And if it turns out that we
>can't win, you can always fall back on selling totalitarian-friendly

      If NS did this, they'd win BIG.
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