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Re: Los Angeles Times article on Helsingius and anon.penet.fi (fwd)

Mike Godwin on E.Dyson:
[please note that I'm just a conduit here; direct replies accordingly]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 3 Sep 1996 02:17:12 -0700
>From: Mike Godwin <[email protected]>
To: Michael Froomkin <[email protected]>,
    Mike Godwin <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Los Angeles Times article on Helsingius and anon.penet.fi (fwd)

Esther had written:

>Now, speaking personally: I believe there are trade-offs -- which is what I
>told the LA Times.  I assume I was quoted accurately (although the word
>"enforce" is awkward), but out of context.   Anonymity can be dangerous --
>as can traceability, especially in/by repressive regimes.  Therefore I would
>favor allowing anonymity -- with some form of traceability only under terms
>considerably stronger than what are generally required for a wiretap.
>Anyone who seriously needs anonymity because of a repressive government is
>likely to use a foreign (outside whatever jurisdiction he fears) server, so
>that this is not a matter of "local" laws.  The tracer would have to pass
>through what I hope would be tighter hoops than we have now.

This is surely a reasonable statement for Esther to have made, even though
connotatively it may seem to have an anti-anonymity thrust to it. Who can
dispute that individual freedom (of any sort) entails the potential that
someone will use that freedom badly, and that the greater the freedom the
greater the theoretical potential for harm?

The civil-libertarian argument can't be any naive denial of this sort of
analysis -- instead, it has to something that acknowledges the truth of the
principle, yet simultaneously denies the inference that the principle,
standing alone, amounts to a case for limiting that freedom. One way to do
so is to argue  that the theoretical threat is outweighed by the benefits
both to society and to individuals. Another is to point out that there
seems to be no evidence that the theoretical problem has transmuted itself
into a real one.

You may feel free to forward this.


Law Professor Volokh Errs In Slate Article About Communications Decency Act.
    Set your browser to the following URL to read a critique of the
    Slate article by EFF's Mike Godwin and MIT's Hal Abelson:

      Mike Godwin, EFF Staff Counsel, can be reached at [email protected]
                   or at his office, 510-548-3290.