Re: Brin on Privacy

Wade Cherrington (
Mon, 9 Dec 1996 21:21:31 -0800 (PST)

If I may add my 2 cents worth, I feel a rant coming on...

>decay as the rich, mighty, and a techno-elite gain powers I can never hope
>to match. Faced with the inevitable futility of wearing armor plate, I ask
>to be armed with a light saber, for my own freedom and safety's sake.
>Every tyranny in history based its power first and foremost on denying
>outsiders the ability to see the in-group's machinations. We all
>instinctively fear this, and so each political wedge in society strives to
>deny secrecy to its foes, whom they perceive as scheming conspirators.

The only "in-group" I'm afraid of is the one that claims
to have the right to control my life by forcing me to pay taxes,
by telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body, my
property, my business, what I can't or cannot say...corporations
create things and then sells them to me.

>(Finney certainly feels this way about government agencies, for instance,
>and supports all the secrecy-denying tools we have imposed on bureaucrats,
>from the Freedom of Info act to open meetings laws, etc. He does not see
>this as denying them 'privacy', naturally. They are his enemies and don't
>deserve any!)
>Likewise, a person of the moderate left, who worries about conspiratorial
>oligarchs, might want similar windows into the secretive inner world of
>corporate management, where cheating and capricious abuses of power are
>rampant. Am I right in positing that Finney would defend to the

You mean like in major churches, large charitable organizations,
special interest groups and political parties both right and left? The
"moderate left" are just as selectively naive as you accuse Finney of being
when it comes to the power wielded by large organizations; the problem is
one of subsuming the rights
of the individual to the rights of a collective body due to political fiat;
the solution is de-politicizing all sectors of society, not to blindly wail
away against one example of abuse based on century-old teleological
Marxist rhetoric...

death the
>right of these lords of capital to evade scrutiny, even though
>conspiratorial aristocrats destroyed more freedom in history than
>bureaucrats ever have? Too bad, Ben. The recent Texaco Tapes scandal shows
>that the electronic light is starting to shine into boardrooms, as video
>cameras shine on cops, etc.

"Lords of Capital" - oh save me, they might spend money
or heaven forbid - create jobs!
Someone who violates my rights in committing a criminal
act is a criminal. I don't care if its you, a corporation,
or government. Governments proper role is watching for
criminal activities at all levels. Corporate abuse stems
from the fact that corporations are granted more power than
the individuals that comprise them through government-granted
charters and politically won favors.

>(In other words, the Transparent Society MAY happen without us having to do
>anything at all. It may be inevitable. But I tend to be suspicious of
>teleology, so let's continue.)
>Oddly enough, the only power center to be COOPERATIVE about increased
>openness has been the federal government, which yearly opens more of its
>deliberations and processes to public view, an irony the cypherpunks seem
>incapable of perceiving.

Is that why its illegal to export PGP? In Canada it has been until very
recently illegal to own a miniature satellite dish. There was a moratorium
of private fibre optic line installation. The CRTC attempted several times
to ban the use of
modems on private telephone lines. I've heard from severeal sources of 120
channels of satellite TV just "disappearing" (Jamming isn't such a lost
art). I'm not kidding
here folks, its damn scary, the threat is there and it isn't coming from your
neighborhood McDonalds or Walmart...

>Their inability to see the hypocritical dilemma of privacy fetishism (i.e.
>I get to look at my enemies but don't you DARE look at me!) is augmented by
>the silliness of their claim to be brave, lonely rebels... when in fact
>privacy fetishism is THE mass lemming political movement of the decade,
>with nearly every self-righteous voice of left, right, up, down and silly
>chanting the same rote mantra.
>In fact, they cannot cite a single example from human history in which
>freedom was enhanced by selling masks and chadors to the poor. But you
>point to ANY occasion when freedom increased in the world, and I'll show
>that it happened in direct correlation with increased ability by the masses
>to see what the mighty were doing. Zero percent versus 100 percent is
>pretty damn devastating. As a protection of freedom, secrecy is no match
>for transparency.
>Robin, I do not insist that these are the only choices. I maintain only
>that the mighty have a window of opportunity in which they MAY be able to
>set up barriers against light. Barriers that you and I cannot hope to
>match, no matter how many PGP programs the cypherpunks tout. WE
will live
>in glass houses, like it or not. All I am asking is whether we should act

Why would a major corporation, (assumes trends towards
decentralization suddenly grind to a halt), spend thousands
of dollars spying on me and you? How would it look to
the shareholders? How is it improving there profit margin?
What is stopping them from being caught? How could they
use that information harm you in a serious (legal) way?
A year or so ago McDonalds was sued for over a million
dollars because someone spilt some coffee purchased there all over herself.
I'm sure that same judge would look kindly on
legions of corporate spies breaking into peoples private
Yes, I can just imagine those MEGA-MULTINATIONAL-ZAIBATSU
corporations spending millions on cracking my firewalls,
my PGP-encoded e-mail, bugging my phonelines, and setting up surveillance
cameras to eke out my spending habits (uh-oh - that might give them the
knowledge they need to better tailor there products to my needs!!!, or I
guess if your cynical it would
only change there "marketing strategy"...) On the other hand, any IRS
bureaucrat would have nightmares about millions of people using untracable
e-cash. Further,
they possess the power not just of having access to better means of privacy,
but have the right to take it away from whomever they please, and have come
to having that power several times but were denied it by the supreme court
(Clipper, Exxon Bill). Libertarians like myself don't want to keep on
governments back because
were afraid they're doing something naughty, we want to watch them because
of the countless ways they might do what they have always done and
overstepped there

I've heard it all before when cars were invented, it was "only the rich"
that would
have them. When the TV was invented, it was "only the rich" that would have
them. When computers came out, it was only the biggest corporations that
would own them. All these
statements proved more or less true, but with one strange caveat - they were
only true for the most socialist states, and were spectacularily misproven
in the western (relatively) market economies. The same is true of new
privacy techniques. Yes, corporations might get these things before most of
us, they might get better
versions before us, but if you look at the type of privacy you had, before
and after the computer revolutions we're seeing today (despite how the
government tries to stop us),
you can only conclude we're all better off for it. (If you don't find the
very notion of individuals having strong privacy repulsive from the
outset...If so, I suggest you move to communist China, and I'm sorry you
couldn't have enjoyed life under Hitler)
Also interesting is that there are many examples of teenage hackers breaking
into huge corporations and banks; there's an entire subculture centered
around it. Yet I have
yet to see any consistent evidence for the the reverse...probably something
to do with corporations being too busy making money...

- Wade Cherrington