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FW: rules of engagement (fwd)

> From:	Adam Back [SMTP:[email protected]]
> Clearly I think one should be able to say wtf one wants to, and in
> general I endeavor to do just that.  But I am suggesting that
> cypherpunks individually stear clear of grey areas, such as say
> creative tax minimisation, Duncan Frissel style "it's not illegal to
> do blah with social security numbers", Tim May style "I've got X
> number of now illegal armament Y", (unless you also have the money for
> good lawyers) and so on, whether technically legal or not, as one
> would be taking above average risks in doing so, because governments
> are watching this list, and a number of it's subscribers.

I agree with Adam on sticking to legally achievable goals-- or at least
legally achievable without needing unlimited funds to feed the army 
of lawyers that will be needed to keep you and your cohorts out of prison.
To me that would include the realm of projects related to strong crypto,
electronic cash, anonymity and privacy-- vague as those topics may be.

That said... I was at the meeting in July with Jim when Toto showed up.
It was my first attendance at an Austin Cpunk meeting and I was looking
forward to working on some great projects with some hopefully great
local folks.  To me Toto showing up was simply a very interesting road
sign (or graffiti) on the path to achieving pragmatic, long-living
"cypherpunks write code" projects the first of which was to be
the Crypto Conference that we were hoping to host and that we were
discussing at that meeting with members of EF Texas.  BTW: Whatever
happended to the Classified Ad project??

Jim fought for that but it fell apart when the focus of the conference was 
was moved by another local group to a non-crypto topic.  We took the
synergies from the remains of conference project and started work on a
Cypherpunks meta-web-archive this time with a joint effort by myself, some
fellow programmers and the Austin Cpunks.  This project as well started
strong out of the gates but lost steam around the first corner.  In part
it was due to looming, work related project deadlines-- as far as I
know none involved in the local projects are retired, Austin hitech
fatcats (yet).  But mostly this last project and the local meetings
halted I think due to Jim's relating to the group the events that were
happening with him regarding Toto.

I think the really sad thing here is not that we didn't rise up as a
group to stop the government's inquiries of Jim with regards to the
Toto case but simply that we individually offered very limited support
directly to Jim himself.  And from speaking with Jim and reading his
emails it appears that the support was in the form of a referral to
lawyers (who apparently were not ready to do any _pro bono_ work) and an
apology from myself for lack of offer of assistance when it became obvious
to me that the long standing local group had not offered assistance.

I think Jim did a great job with the local group and it's truly a sad
indictment against the relationships we had (or thought we had) in the
group where our "sponsor" is put in a spotlight for acting as a primary
for the group that we're supposedly active in and there's no show of
support...  Again, not with intent to support Toto, or thwart government
inquiries, but just to check to see how Jim's doing under the strain of
possible government scrutiny.

Anyhow the local group does look to be dead.  I'd still like to get group
coding projects and the like accomplished while I'm in Austin and suspect
they will still happen and hopefully with Jim and some of the other local
folks involved.  But I don't think there will be an "Austin Cpunk" group
after this.  I'd be glad to have someone prove me wrong.

That's my $0.02 on the events of the past few months.... Now back to


Carlos Macedo Gomes
[email protected]
a Navigo farmer