Re: Being Anonymous made illegal?

Date: Fri Mar 10 2000 - 13:07:17 MST

Dr. X writes:
> Our government (US) is trying to wipe all out all privacy on the net, and
> barely anyone is rasing an eyebrow. AOL has even jumped in to say they
> will help the federal police in any way to assure such a Big Brother
> surveillance system becomes a reality.
> This has got to be the most draconian proposal yet in the history of the
> net, and no one appears to be getting upset. What gives? Why is it I seem
> the only one very chilled by this prospect?

I think most people view these proposals as so outlandish that they are
unlikely to go anywhere. If the government actually tried to implement
them then there would be a big fight, I'm sure.

This report was prepared by law enforcement as a list of the "challenges"
they face due to new technology. And no doubt they're right, online
anonymity will make their jobs more difficult in some cases. There was
no input from civil liberties people, or net advocates at all. It was
just law enforcement creating their wish list.

The FBI has been pushing to restrict crypto for years, and they've never
gotten anywhere on it. In fact the restrictions have progressively been
softened. We're almost at the point today where crypto is completely
unrestricted as far as the U.S. is concerned. Neither the Democrats or
the Republicans have supported them on this issue.

The same thing is likely to happen with anonymity. The report was
greeted with jeers from the Republican side of the aisle, and there's no
way that Clinton/Gore is going to run with it either, it's exactly the
opposite of their ideological bias. (When these kinds of issues arise,
it's nice to have a Democratic administration, so the "loyal opposition"
is the side fighting the law enforcement proposals, while the Demo support
is lukewarm at best.)

And then consider the many technical obstacles which would arise in any
attempt to even define, let alone restrict, anonymity. Running remailers
is a voluntary effort. Essentially it's a matter of receiving a message
and resending it while not keeping records. Will they say that every
person is required by law to keep records on any piece of information they
receive, if they retransmit that information in some form? There's no
way they could get people to accept that kind of Draconian, Big Brother

In short, the FBI may wish the world was such that they could keep
tabs on everything everyone does. This report expresses that wish.
But it isn't going to happen.


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