John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Thu, 12 Mar 1998 21:53:51 -0800 (PST)


"den Otter" <otter@globalxs.nl> Thu, 12 Mar 1998 Wrote:

>I'd rather have a caning than a year in jail btw

Me too, but I'm not a 82 year old 89 pound grandmother.

>First of all I think that revenge is a valid reason to punish too.
>Why not?

I can't tell you why anymore than I can tell you why life is better than

>Example: a lion kills a member of a group of humans. Unlike dumb
>herbivores (for example) they likely won't just accept the loss and
>go on, but they'll want to punish that lion

No, if they're really intelligent they won't want to punish the lion, they'll
want to kill it. Time wasted in causing the lion more pain before they kill
it could be better spent looking for food or dealing with other dangerous lions.

>As a kind of compromise you could consider freezing executed
>criminals as a standard practice.

Not with my money! I'm amazed, I thought you were tough on crime. Another
thing I was amazed at is when you included slander as a crime worthy of
punishment. In the first place I don't want the government or anybody else to
get into the truth determining business, I'd rather do that myself, in the
second place, if you don't like the sound I make with my mouth then make some
sounds of your own to contradict them.

>Full agreement here! Cameras and microphones all over as far as
>I'm concerned (all public spaces like streets, parks, malls,
>tunnels etc.), all with interlocking fields of view. Some highly
>visible, some hidden. Also cops should have small personal
>cameras & listening devices on their clothing and on their gun
>(to be auto- activated whenever the gun is drawn). Personal
>cams etc. should be highly recommended to private citizens too.
>The images are automatically send to various central databanks
>with either completely free or highly monitored access, and
>local copies (near the cam/audio device itself) are kept too
>(and can be downloaded into the general databanks at designated
>points (or via your PC or whatever). Everything is auto-dated
>for later reference. Of course all certified recordings have
>full power of evidence in a court of law.

That sounds a lot like Science Fiction writer David Brin's fist non fiction
book called "The Transparent Society", I don't know it it's been published
yet. Brin advocates a world where nobody, not the President not the lowest
bum, could have any secrets. Cameras would be everywhere and be available to
all at any time, also, all files and records of any sort would be open to
anybody who wanted to read them. You would know all of my deep dark secrets
but I would know all of yours, the police could spy on you all they want but
you could spy on the police as well.

Mr. Brin's idea is not going to work, and I politely explained to him why, at
that point a totally unexpected phenomena occurred, Mr. Brin went non linear.
In the interest of fairness I should tell you that Mr. Brin is not one of my
favorite people and when his big budget movie flopped spectacularly last
Christmas I felt a tinge of joy at his misfortune, but at least I had the
good grace to be ashamed of myself. By the way, I never read "The Postman" or
saw the movie and probably never will, but "the Holnists" are in it and I'd
be interested if anybody knows what they (it?) are, I have a hunch it's
something pretty nasty because Brin compared me to them and I'm quite sure
he wasn't trying to give me a compliment.

Anyway, as I told Mr. Brin, I personally find his idea repulsive but that's
irrelevant because it's not going to happen. Brin's world is inherently
unstable, so discussing its merits is like talking about if it would be fun
to live in a world where the second law of thermodynamics worked backward.
If nobody in the world has secrets except me, that means I know all about the
marketing plans and product development of your company but you know nothing
about mine, that gives my company an advantage, it will grow and so will the
privacy meme. On the other hand, if I tell all and have no secrets but
everybody else has secrets, then it is my company will be at a disadvantage
and shrink, and so will the transparency meme.

Brin's assuming that by some black magic everyone can tell if I'm using
cryptography, but in actuality, the fact that I have a secret is a secret.
There are ways of putting information in a form so that it's useful to me and
nobody else, or if I prefer, I can make it useful to you and me and nobody
else. There are ways I can prove that I have a certain piece of secret
information without giving you the slightest clue as to what that information
is. There are ways of using DC nets so that you not only don't know what I'm
saying you don't even know who I'm talking to. There are ways of using
Steganography so you not only don't know who I'm talking to, you don't even
know I'm talking.

What about cameras, if I can see what you're typing cryptography does no good.

Well, Brin generously granted us privacy in the bedroom and bathroom (what a
swell guy) and that's all I'd need.

OK, just for that you can't have privacy even there.

Then I'd find the camera in my bedroom, splice into the video line, and play
back a recording of me reading the Bible, saluting the flag, marching around
the bed in time to martial music and generally being a good little boy. Now I
can do what I want.

But cameras can be very small nowadays, how will you find it?

I'll just go down to Big Brother's Ministry Of Truth and ask.

They'll see you splice into the line.

There are far too many cameras for somebody to be watching all of them all of
the time, I'll do it when nobody is watching.

How will you know when nobody is watching?

I'll ask.

What if they make recordings?

Now that I have a little privacy I'll take my time, hack into the system and
alter the recording. This only has to be done one time by one person because
now I'm in a position to help my friends.

How will you know how to get around network security?

I'll ask.

What if there is a secret camera you don't know about?

Then I'm in trouble, but Big Brother is in worse trouble. Think of the
scandal! Big Brother, the very apostle of transparency has a secret, what
other secrets does he have? How can anybody ever trust him again?

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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