The Law vs Technology

This is old… but, very interesting to see what the original cypherpunks thought about these things…


Recently there’s been a great deal of discussion on this list about upcoming legislations (HR666 S314 etc.). Maybe it’s time to step back a little and look at the bigger picture. I’ve been assuming (perhaps incorrectly) for some time that most cypherpunks hold a belief somewhat like the following: There has never been a government that didn’t sooner or later try to reduce the freedom of its subjects and gain more control over them, and there probably never will be one.

Therefore, instead of trying to convince our current government not to try, we’ll develop the technology (e.g., remailers and ecash) that will make it impossible for the government to succeed. Efforts to influence the government (e.g., lobbying and propaganda) are important only in so far as to delay its attempted crackdown long enough for the technology to mature and come into wide use.

But even if you do not believe the above is true, think about it this way: If you have a certain amount of time to spend on advancing the cause of greater personal privacy (or freedom, or cryptoanarchy, or whatever), can you do it better by using the time to learn about cryptography and develop the tools to protect privacy, or by convincing your government not to invade your privacy? I argue that since there are many more people doing the former (EFF, CPSR, etc) than latter, that you’d be more effective if you spent the time on the former.

Wei Dai

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