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Re: What is the EFF doing exactly?

At 3:41 AM 9/4/96, Jon Lebkowsky wrote:

>The terms "responsibility" and "accountability" are misused, which is
>unfortunate, since I think we'd all argue in favor of taking responsibility
>for our speech/actions in a positive sense. The negative is in asking me to
>sacrifice my freedom because some few behave irresponsibly. This is like
>setting an illogical default, assuming that it's a preventive, but it
>prevents nothing.

Well, I've written a lot (or forwarded a lot) on various aspects of this issue.

Both terms are _overloaded_, probably to the point of not even being useful
terms for this debate. Everyone comes in to the debate with their notions
of what "responsible" speech is, what "accountability" entails, etc.

Having said this, and not knowing how your (or anyone else's) definitions
relate to mine, I simply don't agree that I have to take responsibility for
all of my speech/actions. I can think of many cases where I have elected to
use untraceable anonymity, as many others have, so those are direct
counterexamples to your point, thus disproving your "I think we'd all argue
in favor of taking responsibility" point.

(A vast number of other points worthy of discussion. I am happy to hear
from at least two EFF "insiders" that this issue is being discussed within
EFF as we speak. It's about time. Anonymity is a whole lot more than just
about "anonymous posts" from "Mr. Anonymous." The issue hits on issues of
True Names, speech licenses, escrow, legality of remailers, business vs.
personal speech, etc.)

>Getting beyond this discussion of EFF, has any global entity discussed
>making remailers illegal?

By "global entity" do you mean the U.N., or the Borg? The G7 issued a
typically vague statement about cracking down on terrorist
communications...this could be construed as the beginnings of an assault on
Cypherpunkish sorts of things. Too soon to tell.

The Church of Scientology (the same group which favorable quotes Esther
Dyson's concerns about anonymity and dangerous speech) has of course been
targetting remailers for a long time. Not in getting them outlawed, but in
getting them to to divulge names and logs. This has the effect of harassing
remailers, and causing some to discontinue them...probably a desired
effect. Julf's shutdown of Penet they probably are dancing a jig over (but
the last laugh will be when users transition to a world-wide, distributed,
robust network of Cypherpunks-style remailers).

Within the U.S. there are few ways remailers could be shut down, in terms
of legal action. The various Supreme Court cases have been discussed many

I suspect the Digital Telephony Act could be invoked to demand that ISPs
make their systems wiretappable: then, if the presence of a remailer
defeats this wire-tappability, the ISP could force the remailer off.

(I'm not an expert, but I believe DT doesn't apply to computer bulletin
boards and ISPs, only to phone systems. But as Internet telephony spreads,
and any ISP may also be a de facto phone system, couldn't the language of
DT be extended to cover ISPs? This is something I worried about at the time
the EFF helped give us Digital Telephony.)

If legislation passes that makes carrying and producing identification
mandatory (and this could happen by either the immigration or
anti-terrorism route, or both), and if the Postal Service succeeds in
getting accepted their scheme to require positive identification of all
letter and package senders, then the same sorts of laws could be used to
require that all e-mail messages have a True Name attached.

Poof, there go the remailers.

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Licensed Ontologist         | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."