13. Activism and Projects


THE CYPHERNOMICON: Cypherpunks FAQ and More, Version 0.666, 1994-09-10, Copyright Timothy C. May. All rights reserved. See the detailed disclaimer. Use short sections under "fair use" provisions, with appropriate credit, but don't put your name on my words.

13.2. SUMMARY: Activism and Projects

13.2.1. Main Points

13.2.2. Connections to Other Sections

13.2.3. Where to Find Additional Information

13.2.4. Miscellaneous Comments

13.3. Activism is a Tough Job

13.3.1. "herding cats"

..trying to change the world through exhortation seems a particulary ineffective notion

13.3.2. There's always been a lot of wasted time and rhetoric

on the Cypherpunks list as various people tried to get others to follow their lead, to adopt their vision. (Nothing wrong with this, if done properly. If someone leads by example, or has a particularly compelling vision or plan, this may naturally happen. Too often, though, the situation was that someone's vague plans for a product were declared by them to be the standards that others should follow. Various schemes for digital money, in many forms and modes, has always been the prime example of this.)

13.3.3. This is related also to what Kevin Kelley calls "the fax effect."

When few people own fax machines, they're not of much use. Trying to get others to use the same tools one has is like trying to convince people to buy fax machines so that you can communicate by fax with them...it may happen, but probably for other reasons. (Happily, the interoperability of PGP provided a common communications medium that had been lacking with previous platform-specific cipher programs.)

13.3.4. Utopian schemes are also a tough sell.

Schemes about using digital money to make inflation impossible, schemes to collect taxes with anonymous systems, etc.

13.3.5. Harry Browne's "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" is well worth reading;

he advises against getting upset and frustrated that the world is not moving in the direction one would like.

13.4. Cypherpunks Projects

13.4.1. "What are Cypherpunks projects?"

13.4.2. Extensions to PGP

13.4.3. Spread of PGP and crypto in general.

13.4.4. Remailers

13.4.5. Steganography

13.4.6. Anonymous Transaction Systems

13.4.7. Voice Encryption, Voice PGP

13.4.8. DC-Nets

  1. Odd parity is impossible. Now the Cypherpunks agree that if one of them paid, he or she will SAY THE OPPOSITE of what they actually see. Remember, they don't announce what their coin turned up as, only whether it was the same or different as their neighbor. Suppose none of them paid, i.e., the NSA paid. Then they all report the truth and the parity is even (either 0 or 2 differences). They then know the NSA paid. Suppose one of them paid the bill. He reports the opposite of what he actually sees, and the parity is suddenly odd. That is, there is 1 difference reported. The Cypherpunks now know that one of them paid. But can they determine which one? Suppose you are one of the Cypherpunks and you know you didn't pay. One of the other two did. You either reported SAME or DIFFERENT, based on what your neighbor to the right (whose coin you can see) had. But you can't tell which of the other two is lying! (You can see you right-hand neighbor's coin, but you can't see the coin he sees to his right!) This all generalizes to any number of people. If none of them paid, the parity is even. If one of them paid, the parity is odd. But which one of them paid cannot be deduced. And it should be clear that each round can transmit a bit, e.g., "I paid" is a "1". The message "Attack at dawn" could thus be "sent" untraceably with multiple rounds of the protocol.
  1. With each round of this protocol, a single bit is transmitted. Sending a long message means many coin flips. Instead of coins and menus, the neighbors would exchange lists of random numbers (with the right partners, as per the protocol above, of course. Details are easy to figure out.)
  2. Since the lists are essentially one-time pads, the protocol is unconditionally secure, i.e., no assumptions are made about the difficulty of factoring large numbers or any other crypto assumptions.
  3. Participants in such a "DC-Net" (and here we are coming to the heart of the "crypto anarchy" idea) could exchange CD-ROMs or DATs, giving them enough "coin flips" for zillions of messages, all untraceable! The logistics are not simple, but one can imagine personal devices, like smart card or Apple "Newtons," that can handle these protocols (early applications may be for untraceable brainstorming comments, secure voting in corportate settings, etc.)
  4. The lists of random numbers (coin flips) can be generated with standard cryptographic methods, requiring only a key to be exchanged between the appropriate participants. This eliminates the need for the one-time pad, but means the method is now only cryptographically secure, which is often sufficient. (Don't think "only cryptographically secure" means insecure...the messages may remain encrypted for the next billion years)
  5. Collisions occur when multiple messages are sent at the same time. Various schemes can be devised to handle this, like backing off when you detect another sender (when even parity is seen instead of odd parity). In large systems this is likely to be a problem. Deliberate disruption, or spamming, is a major problem--a disruptor can shut down the DC-net by sending bits out. As with remailes, anonymity means freedom from detection. (Anonymous payments to send a message may help, but the details are murky to me.)
    • Uses

13.4.9. D-H sockets, UNIX, swIPe

13.4.10. Digital Money, Banks, Credit Unions

13.4.11. Data Havens

13.4.13. Matt Blaze, AT&T, various projects

13.4.14. Software Toolkits

13.5. Responses to Our Projects (Attacks, Challenges)

13.5.1. "What are the likely attitudes toward mainstream Cypherpunks projects, such as remailers, encryption, etc.?"

13.5.2. "What are the likely attitudes toward the more outre projects, such as digital money, crypto anarchy, data havens, and the like?"

13.5.3. "What kinds of attacks can we expect?"

13.6. Deploying Crypto

13.6.1. "How can Cypherpunks publicize crypto and PGP?"

13.6.2. "What are the Stumbling Blocks to Greater Use of Encryption (Cultural, Legal, Ethical)?"

13.6.3. Practical Issues

13.6.4. "How should projects and progress best be achieved?"

13.6.5. Crypto faces the complexity barrier that all technologies face

13.6.6. "How can we general and encryption in particular?

13.7. Political Action and Opposition

13.7.1. Strong political action is emerging on the Net

13.7.2. Cypherpunks and Lobbying Efforts

13.7.3. "How can nonlibertarians (liberals, for example) be convinced of the need for strong crypto?"

13.7.4. Tension Between Governments and Citizens

13.7.5. "How does the Cypherpunks group differ from lobbying groups like the EFF, CPSR, and EPIC?"

13.7.6. Why is government control of crypto so dangerous?

13.7.7. NSA's view of crypto advocates

13.7.8. EFF

13.7.9. "How can the use of cryptography be hidden?"

13.7.10. next Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference will be March 1995, San Francisco

13.7.11. Places to send messages to

13.7.12. Thesis: Crypto can become unstoppable if critical mass is reached

13.7.13. Keeping the crypto genie from being put in the bottle

13.7.14. Activism practicalities

13.8. The Battle Lines are Being Drawn

13.8.1. Clipper met with disdain and scorn, so now new strategies are being tried...

13.8.2. Strategies are shifting, Plan B is being hauled out

13.8.3. corporate leaders like Grove are being enlisted to make the Clipper case

13.8.4. Donn Parker is spreading panic about "anarchy" (similar to my own CA)

13.8.5. "What can be done in the face of moves to require national ID cards, use official public key registries, adhere to key escrow laws, etc?"

13.9. "What Could Make Crypto Use more Common?"

13.9.1. transparent use, like the fax machine, is the key

13.9.2. easier token-based key and/or physical metrics for security

13.9.3. major security scares, or fears over "back doors" by the government, may accelerate the conversion

13.9.4. insurance companies may demand encryption, for several reasons

13.9.5. Networks will get more complex and will make conventional security systems unacceptable

13.9.6. The revelations of surveillance and monitoring of citizens and corporations will serve to increase the use of encryption, at first by people with something to hide, and then by others. Cypherpunks are already helping by spreading the word of these situations.

13.9.7. for those in sensitive positions, the availability of new bugging methods will accelerate the conversion to secure systems based on encrypted telecommunications and the avoidance of voice-based systems

13.9.8. ordinary citizens are being threatened because of what they say on networks, causing them to adopt pseudonyms

13.9.9. "agents" that are able to retransmit material will make certain kinds of anonymous systems much easier to use

13.10. Deals, the EFF, and Digital Telephony Bill

13.10.1. The backroom deals in Washington are flying...

apparently the Administration got burned by the Clipper fiasco (which they could partly write-off as being a leftover from the Bush era) and is now trying to "work the issues" behind the scenes before unveiling new and wide-reaching programs. (Though at this writing, the Health Bill is looking mighty amateurish and seems ulikely to pass.)

13.10.2. We are not hearing about these "deals" in a timely way.

I first heard that a brand new, and "in the bag," deal was cooking when I was talking to a noted journalist. He told me that a new deal, cut between Congress, the telecom industry, and the EFF-type lobbying groups, was already a done deal and would be unveiled so. Sure enough, the New and Improved Digital Telephony II Bill appears a few weeks later and is said by EFF representatives to be unstoppable. [comments by S. McLandisht and others, comp.org.eff.talk, 1994-08]

13.10.3. Well, excuse me for reminding everyone that this country is allegedly still a democracy.

I know politics is done behinde closed doors, as I'm no naif, but deal-cutting like this deserves to be exposed and derided.

13.10.4. I've announced that I won't be renewing my EFF membership.

I don't expect them to fight all battles, to win all wars, but I sure as hell won't help pay for their backrooms deals with the telcos.

13.10.5. This may me in trouble with my remaining friends at the EFF,

but it's as if a lobbying groups in Germany saw the handwriting on the wall about the Final Solution, deemed it essentially unstoppable, and so sent their leaders to Berchtesgaden/Camp David to make sure that the death of the Jews was made as painless as possible. A kind of joint Administration/Telco/SS/IG Farben "compromise." While I don't equate Mitch, Jerry, Mike, Stanton, and others with Hitler's minions, I certainly do think the inside-the-Beltway dealmaking is truly disgusting.

13.10.6. Our freedoms are being sold out.

13.11. Loose ends

13.11.1. Deals, deals, deals!

13.11.2. using crypto to bypass laws on contacts and trade with other countries

13.11.3. Sun Tzu's "Art of War" has useful tips (more useful than "The Prince")

13.11.4. The flakiness of current systems...

13.11.5. "Are there dangers in being too paranoid?"

13.11.6. The immorality of U.S. boycotts and sanctions

13.11.7. The "reasonableness" trap

13.11.8. "How do we get agreement on protocols?"


Revision #1
Created 23 June 2022 03:56:07 by c0mmando
Updated 23 June 2022 03:57:57 by c0mmando