Re: Brin on privacy

d.brin (
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 17:09:56 -0800

To: John K Clark <>
From: (d.brin)
Subject: Re: Brin on privacy

Mr. Clark, you have done it again. For a while, you seemed to be
discussing things like an adult, so I started answering this message and
got sucked in before realizing you had returned to form. After this,
please don't bother me again.

>Power exists in society (fortunately, I'd hate to live in a powerless world)
>and like matter, energy, information, and everything else in the Universe,
>it is not distributed evenly; after all, we've known for more than a century
>that the aether does not exist. Raging against power centers is like raging
>against electromagnetism.

Utter sophistry! With broad, sweeping, philosophical arm-wavings you
dismiss the great struggle of human civilization -- how to forge a society
that encourages all humans to both compete and cooperate in ways that
liberate us to achieve maximum creativity, success and happiness.
Throughout history, basic human nature made this seem hopeless, because
power centers routinely conspired and made coups for their own reproductive
benefit. But WE have shown that it is profoundly possible to encourage
human competitiveness within groundrules that prevent tyranny. The
contrast between contemporary America, which practices the accountability I
preach, and the AynRand scenario you propose, which leads to the feudalism
of every other human civilization, is like day and night.

>Let's forget about morality for a minute and talk a little about
>The government has shown that it is utterly incapable of stopping even
>something as concrete as an object from coming into the country, an object
>like hundreds of tons of cocaine or many thousands of tons of cannabis.
>Encryption is just Mathematics and PGP is not an object, it's a sequence of
>bits. If you can't even stop objects from entering the nation how on earth
>are you going to stop bits, bits that can be duplicated endlessly at no cost,
>bits that can be easily and very effectively hidden, bits that can make use
>of the new communication channels that open up daily to every part of the
>planet? Like it or not the world is changing, learn to live with it.

I have never said that I'd ban encryption. But aside from necessary
exceptions such as e-cash, grownups will leave it for paranoid little boys
to play with. Our sieves will note anonymous screamers and cull them from
the in-box. When ubiquitous cameras top every streetlamp, we will walk
under them unafraid, and use them to spot/identify Rand-ites shitting on
the sidewalk... and tell their mothers. Over the course of time, without
Singaporean lashings, people will behave better for one simple reason,
because girls and women understand accountability on a deep visceral level.
(Though adolescent males love deaming of a world in which they can shit on
sidewalks and get away with it.)

Women won't want to spend time around liars and secrecy-fetishists.

That is the world that's coming, so YOU learn to live with it!

>I'll make a deal with you, if you don't call "privacy" my mantra I won't call
>"accountability" yours.

I don't give a flying %^&$%^ if you call accountability my mantra. In the
present context, at the present time, it pretty well IS my slogan, since so
many beneficiaries of accountability have forgotten what it's done for
them. (I'd love to see you try to survive in any other culture. 95% of
the libertarians I know would be galley slaves within days.)

Re: using PGP to fight a tyranny, you say:
>First of all, I could communicate, send money, even sign contracts with my
>correspondents without them knowing my location or true name and without me
>knowing theirs,

I have never seen such profound naivete, or ignorance of how gestapos work.
You have absolutely no practical evidence to support this fantasy. The
KGB would have you in minutes.

but there's a broader issue here.
>You're postulating a nightmare 1984 type society, and I'm saying that recent
>advances in communication and encryption are the very things that will stop
>it from happening, long before things have degenerated to such a sorry state.

Secrecy on your part will have nothing whatsoever to do with stopping some
elite from establishing a dictatorship. Only accountability-in-advance can
do that. Again, you are wasting my time arm-waving so I will now get rude
and capitalize my point.


You cannot. You will not. Every case in which freedom thrived happened by
denying potential power centers their ability to conspire and make coups.
Dats the fack that repudiates every gesticulation and arm-waving

Now please leave me alone until you can back up this AynRand libertarian
drivel with even a single example. I'm a grownup and I have things to do.