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Re: What is the EFF doing exactly?



Stanton McCandlish <[email protected]> writes on cpunks:
> Adam Back <[email protected]> typed:
> >
> > No.  But I too am rather suprised to hear an EFF board member
> > apparently speaking against free speech.  OK, so maybe she was
> > mis-quoted so I wait for her rebuttal, but nope, she basically to my
> > reading reiterates nothing but negative opinions on free speech and
> > anonymity.
> >
> > Tim's quotes of her CFP speech further demonstrates her leanings.
> 
> I've talked to her personally about this.  She's not thinking along those 
> lines, she just perceives a potential problem in the 
> accountability/ethics area, and is wondering how that can be solved, 

it can't,

> if it can be solved, and what the price of such a solution is.

the price for removing anonymity is the price of loosing strongly free
speech (you know real free speech, as opposed to `free speech' where
you can say what you want provided you provide your ID up front to the
thought police, just in case at some future date you say something
that someone somewhere in some region of the world finds mildly
objectionable).  The draconian measures necessary to even start also
involve GAK, outlawing of non-GAKed crypto, placing import
restrictions on crypto (I saw Freeh quoted as saying that restricting
crypto imports may be necessary recently, something I predicted some
years ago) draconian thought police laws, and so on.

It's quite simple to envisage: place yourself in the position of the
overzealous law enforcement type, imagine you are tasked with
elminating encryption, free speech on the internet, anonymity.  So
what're you going do?  First thing you might notice is that pretty
near everyone is against you.  So you work up a few four horseman
scare stories, try to squelch all the first ammendment based
challenges in the courts, do a few oblique trade-offs with companies
exchanging key escrow for more bits, maybe blow up a few airplanes,
and federal buildings and blame it on `militias', and the Internet.
Rant about the Internet at each opportunity whether has anything to do
with it or not (did the perps even know anyone with internet access,
do they have a distant cousin who does, there must be an angle
somewhere, or heck who cares, just shout about the Internet anyway,
no one'll notice it's nothing to do with it).  You realise that you're
going to have to get pretty mean to actually stamp out free speech for
all these people with a quaint wish to uphold the constitution, and
protect their freedoms.  Russia just about managed it for a while but
they shot about 1 in 10 people in the process, they had licenses to
own a photocopier, a typewriter, samples had to be provided to the
KGB.

> Honest, she's not *advocating* restrictions on anonymity, just
> asking if any are necessary, 

no, they are not

> in who's opinion, 

mine, most cpunks, yours? the rest of the EFF board?

> with what rationale, at what cost, and by what mechanism.

rationale above: the alternative loss of freedoms is too costly, look
at Singapore's example.

> > Lets put it this way: if Louis Freeh offered to be an EFF board
> > member, would you take him on board?  If he seemed quite
> 
> Highly unlikely.  Who gets to be a boardmember is decided by a board vote.
> Freeh's anti-freedom history, and his obnoxious nature would, in my 
> guesstimate, give him less that a .0000000000001% chance of ever making 
> it onto the EFF board. And that's being nice. :)
> 
> Dyson has no such history, and does have a history of careful thought 
> (even if disagreed with by quite a few people) about networks, online 
> commerce, negative effects of regulation, and civil liberties issues.
> More the former 3 than the latter 1.  

So it seems.  If she has little to say on civil liberties, perhaps she
should refrain.  William Geiger <[email protected]> corrected me in
this thread, his reading is that Dyson's interview was not a personal
interview, she was being interviewd _as_ an EFF board member, she just
chose to make a personal statement in it.  If this is the case I
submit the correct comment on her part would have been that the EFF
had no current position on the topic.

> > pro-anonymity, and free speech, and later turned out to be having 
> > doubts, would you keep him?
> 
> I'll generalize that to "if you had any boardmember who expressed doubts 
> about the value of free speech and privacy, would the board keep them?"
> I think not. But Esther's taken no such position. She's asking questions 
> about the mechanics of a system, and the effects of the system on society.  
> These are valid questions.  It'd be helpful to see some short 
> Cypherpunks-generated answers, if they are available.  Stuff about 
> reputational systems, etc.  

Personally I think I'm better at coding, than constructing convincing
arguments.  But for what it's worth here's a few.  I doubt they are
news to you, but since you kind of asked:

Tim's cyphernomicon isn't short but should be a required reading, IMO.

The US constitutional protections for free speech?

The Singaporean demonstration of the alternative?

The principle of having laws against crimes, not against the potential
means of comitting crimes.  You know, you can't carry a knife, why
not?  Because you might commit a crime.  So why not wait see if you do
commit a crime.  You could just as easily stab someone with a screw
driver, so what now, outlaw carrying of screw drivers, have permits to
carry a screw driver?  Sad fact is you can probably get successfully
prosecuted for carrying a screw driver if you can't demonstrate a need
to carry one already.  You see where this line of reasoning heads.  It
is ultimately useless to make it illegal for people to have any means
to commit crimes.  Crimes with victims are already illegal, we don't
need anymore laws, we've got way too many already.  If someone goes
out and murders someone, the police attempt to catch the murderer to
prevent further murders.  We don't need dumb laws outlawing cars (so
the guy can't drive away from the scene?), knives, guns, the internet
(in case he plots to off someone), the phone system in case he uses
that, pay phones in case he uses one of those, what comes next, you
know?  Several things which were proposed in jest by cypherpunks which
were thought too outlandish to be next in line for banning, were
actually seriously proposed and even implemented.  It never ceases to
amaze me the things the law enforcement types think up.

Perhaps when the technology is up to it we ought to just implant a CCD
chip behind newborn's eyeballs, and have a life escrow system to just
record ever last second of everyones existance just in case they have
the urge to drive over 55, or not divulge their true name, social
security number, address etc. in a casual electronic conversation.

> Just to be clear: There is no disagreement on the board, or the staff, of 
> EFF that anonymity is a vital component of privacy. 

yay :-)

Now all you need to do is have an official policy that says so, so
that board members who are less clear on the subject, can quote that
policy rather than discussing their own opinions :-)

Guess I've said all that I can on this sub-thread, so I'll leave you
to continue with important EFF work, trying to knock down all those
son of CDAs the individual states are even now crafting,

Adam
--
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