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
13.4 - Cypherpunks Projects
13.4.1. "What are Cypherpunks projects?"
- Always a key part--perhaps _the_ key part--of Cypherpunks
activity. "Cypherpunks write code." From work on PGP to
remailers to crypto toolkits to FOIA requests, and a bunch
of other things, Cypherpunks hack the system in various
- Matt Blaze's LEAF blower, Phil Karn's "swIPe" system, Peter
Wayner's articles....all are examples. (Many Cypherpunks
projects are also done, or primarily done, for other
reasons, so we cannot in all cases claim credit for this
13.4.2. Extensions to PGP
13.4.3. Spread of PGP and crypto in general.
- diskettes containing essays, programs
- ftp sites
- raves, conventions, gatherings
+ ideal Chaumian mix has certain properties
- latency to foil traffic analysis
- no records kept (hardware tamper-resistance, etc.)
- Cyperpunks remailers
- julf remailers
- flooding, because mail transmission costs are not borne
+ anonymity produces potential for abuses
- death threats, extortion
- Progress continues, with new features added. See the
discussion in the remailers section.
- hiding the existence of a message, for at least some amount
- security through obscurity
- invisible ink, microdots
- in case crypto is outawed, may be useful to avoid
- if enough people do it, increases the difficulty of
enforcing anti-crypto laws (all
- Stego: sumex-aim.stanford.edu
13.4.6. Anonymous Transaction Systems
13.4.7. Voice Encryption, Voice PGP
- Clipper, getting genie out of bottle
- CELP, compression, DSPs
- SoundBlaster approach...may not have enough processing
+ hardware vs. pure software
- newer Macs, including av Macs and System 7 Pro, have
+ Zimmermann's plans have been widely publicized, that he is
looking for donations, that he is seeking programming help,
- which does not bode well for seeing such a product from
- frankly, I expect it will come from someone else
- Eric Blossom is pursuing own hardware board, based on 2105
+ "Is anyone building encrypted telephones?"
+ Yes, several such projects are underway. Eric Blossom
even showed a
- PCB of one at a Cypherpunks meeting, using an
inexpensive DSP chip.
+ Software-only versions, with some compromises in speech
- probably, are also underway. Phil Zimmermann
described his progress at
+ the last Cypherpunks meeting.
- ("Software-only" can mean using off-the-shelf, widely-
+ boards like SoundBlasters.)
- And I know of at least two more such projects.
Whether any will
+ materialize is anyone's guess.
- And various hacks have already been done. NeXT users
- voicemail for years, and certain Macs now offer
+ Adding encryption is not a huge obstacle.
- A year ago, several Cypherpunks meeting sites around
the U.S. were
- linked over the Internet using DES encryption. The
sound quality was
- poor, for various reasons, and we turned off the DES
in a matter of
- minutes. Still, an encrypted audio conference call.
- What it is, how it works
- Chaum's complete 1988 "Journal of Cryptology" article is
available at the Cypherpunks archive site,
ftp.soda.csua.edu, in /pub/cypherpunks
+ Dining Cryptographers Protocols, aka "DC Nets"
+ "What is the Dining Cryptographers Problem, and why is it
+ This is dealt with in the main section, but here's
David Chaum's Abstract, from his 1988 paper"
- Abstract: "Keeping confidential who sends which
messages, in a world where any physical transmission
can be traced to its origin, seems impossible. The
solution presented here is unconditionally or
cryptographically secure, depending on whether it is
based on one-time-use keys or on public keys.
respectively. It can be adapted to address
efficiently a wide variety of practical
considerations." ["The Dining Cryptographers Problem:
Unconditional Sender and Recipient Untraceability,"
David Chaum, Journal of Cryptology, I, 1, 1988.]
- DC-nets have yet to be implemented, so far as I know,
but they represent a "purer" version of the physical
remailers we are all so familiar with now. Someday
they'll have have a major impact. (I'm a bigger fan of
this work than many seem to be, as there is little
discussion in sci.crypt and the like.)
+ "The Dining Cryptographers Problem: Unconditional Sender
and Recipient Untraceability," David Chaum, Journal of
Cryptology, I, 1, 1988.
- available courtesy of the Information Liberation Front
at the soda.csua.berkeley.edu site
- Abstract: "Keeping confidential who sends which
messages, in a world where any physical transmission
can be traced to its origin, seems impossible. The
solution presented here is unconditionally or
cryptographically secure, depending on whether it is
based on one-time-use keys or on public keys.
respectively. It can be adapted to address efficiently
a wide variety of practical considerations." ["The
Dining Cryptographers Problem: Unconditional Sender and
Recipient Untraceability," David Chaum, Journal of
Cryptology, I, 1, 1988.]
- Note that the initials "D.C." have several related
meanings: Dining Cryptographers, Digital Cash/DigiCash,
and David Chaum. Coincidence?
+ Informal Explanation
- Note: I've posted this explanation, and variants,
several times since I first wrote it in mid-1992. In
fact, I first posted it on the "Extropians" mailing
list, as "Cypherpunks" did not then exist.
- Three Cypherpunks are having dinner, perhaps in Palo
Alto. Their waiter tells them that their bill has
already been paid, either by the NSA or by one of them.
The waiter won't say more. The Cypherpunks wish to know
whether one of them paid, or the NSA paid. But they
don't want to be impolite and force the Cypherpunk
payer to 'fess up, so they carry out this protocol (or
Each Cypherpunk flips a fair coin behind a menu placed
upright between himself and the Cypherpunk on his
right. The coin is visible to himself AND to the
Cypherpunk on his left. Each Cypherpunk can see his own
coin and the coin to his right. (STOP RIGHT HERE!
Please take the time to make a sketch of the situation
I've described. If you lost it here, all that follows
will be a blur. It's too bad the state of the Net today
cannot support figures and diagrams easily.)
Each Cypherpunk then states out loud whether the two
coins he can see are the SAME or are DIFFERENT, e.g.,
"Heads-Tails" means DIFFERENT, and so forth. For now,
assume the Cypherpunks are truthful. A little bit of
thinking shows that the total number of "DIFFERENCES"
must be either 0 (the coins all came up the same), or
2. 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
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
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.
- The "Crypto Ouija Board": I explain this to people as a
kind of ouija board. A message, like "I paid" or a more
interesting "Transfer funds from.....," just "emerges"
out of the group, with no means of knowing where it
came from. Truly astounding.
+ Problems and Pitfalls
- In Chaum's paper, the explanation above is given
quickly, in a few pages. The _rest_ of the paper is
then devoted to dealing with the many "gotchas" and
attacks that come up and that must be dealt with before
the DC protocol is even remotely possible. I think all
those interested in protocol design should read this
paper, and the follow-on papers by Bos, Pfitzmann,
etc., as object lessons for dealing with complex crypto
+ The Problems:
- 1. Collusion. Obviously the Cypherpunks can collude
to deduce the payer. This is best dealt with by
creating multiple subcircuits (groups doing the
protocol amongst themselves). Lots more stuff here.
Chaum devotes most of the paper to these kind of
issues and their solutions.
2. 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.)
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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)
6. 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
- * Untraceable mail. Useful for avoiding censorship, for
avoiding lawsuits, and for all kinds of crypto anarchy
- * Fully anonymous bulletin boards, with no traceability
of postings or responses. Illegal materials can be
offered for sale (my 1987 canonical example, which
freaked out a few people: "Stealth bomber blueprints
for sale. Post highest offer and include public key.").
Think for a few minutes about this and you'll see the
- * Decentralized nexus of activity. Since messages
"emerge" (a la the ouija board metaphor), there is no
central posting area. Nothing for the government to
shut down, complete deniability by the participants.
- * Only you know who your a partners are....in any given
circuit. And you can be in as many circuits as you
wish. (Payments can be made to others, to create a
profit motive. I won't deal with this issue, or with
the issue of how reputations are handled, here.)
- It should be clear that DC-nets offer some amazing
opportunities. They have not been implemented at all, and
have received almost no attention compared to ordinary
Cypherpunks remailers. Why is this? The programming
complexity (and the underlying cryptographic primitives
that are needed) seems to be the key. Several groups have
announced plans to imlement some form of DC-net, but
nothing has appeared.
- software vs. hardware,
- Yanek Martinson, Strick, Austin group, Rishab
- IMO, this is an ideal project for testing the efficacy of
software toolkits. The primitives needed, including bit
commitment, synchronization, and collusion handling, are
severe tests of crypto systems. On the downside, I doubt
that even the Pfaltzmans or Bos has pulled off a running
13.4.9. D-H sockets, UNIX, swIPe
- Matt Blaze, John I. (did coding), Phil Karn, Perry
Metzger, etc. are the main folks involved
- evolved from "mobile IP," with radio links, routing
- virtual networks
- putting encryption in at the IP level, transparently
- bypassing national borders
- at soda site
+ swIPe system, for routing packets
- end to end, gateways, links, Mach, SunOS
13.4.10. Digital Money, Banks, Credit Unions
- Magic Money
- Digital Bank
- "Open Encrypted Books"
- not easy to do...laws, regulations, expertise in banking
- technical flaws, issues in digital money
+ several approaches
- tokens, stamps, coupons
- anonymity-protected transactions
13.4.11. Data Havens
+ financial info, credit reports
- bypassing local jurisdictions, time limits, arcane rules
- insider trading
- technical, scientific, patents
- crypto information (recursively enough)
- need not be any known location....distributed in
- One of the most commercially interesting applications.
13.4.12. Related Technologies
- Evolutionary Systems
- Virtual Reality and Cyberspace
+ Computer Security
+ Kerberos, Gnu, passwords
- recent controversy
- demon installed to watch packets
- Cygnus will release it for free
+ Van Eck, HERF, EMP
- Once Cypherpunk project proposed early on was the
duplication of certain NSA capabilities to monitor
electronic communications. This involves "van Eck"
radiation (RF) emitted by the CRTs and other electronics
+ Probably for several reasons, this has not been pursued,
at least not publically.
- difficulty in finding targets of opportunity
- not a very CPish project!
13.4.13. Matt Blaze, AT&T, various projects
+ a different model of trust...multiple universes
- not heierarchical interfaces, but mistrust of interfaces
- where to put encryption, where to mistrust, etc.
+ wants crypto at lowest level that is possible
- almost everything should be mistrusted
- every mistrusted interface shoud be cryptographically
+ "black pages"---support for cryptographic communication
- "pages of color"
- a collection of network services that identiy and deliver
security information as needed....keys, who he trusts,
+ front end: high-level API for security requirements
- like DNS? caching models?
- trusted local agent....
+ "people not even born yet" (backup tapes of Internet
- tapes stored in mountains, access by much more powerful
+ "Crytptographic File System" (CFS)
- file encryption
- no single DES mode appears to be adequate...a mix of
+ swIPe system, for routing packets
- end to end, gateways, links, Mach, SunOS
13.4.14. Software Toolkits
+ Henry Strickland's TCL-based toolkit for crypto
- other Cypherpunks, including Hal Finney and Marianne
Mueller, have expressed good opinions of TCL and TCL-TK
- Pr0duct Cypher's toolkit
- C++ Class Libraries
- VMX, Visual Basic, Visual C++
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.?"
- Reaction has already been largely favorable. Journalists
such as Steven Levy, Kevin Kelly, John Markoff, and Julian
Dibbell have written favorably. Reaction of people I have
talked to has also been mostly favorable.
13.5.2. "What are the likely attitudes toward the more outre
projects, such as digital money, crypto anarchy, data havens,
and the like?"
- Consternation is often met. People are frightened.
- The journalists who have written about these things (those
mentioned above) have gotten beyond the initial reaction
and seem genuinely intrigued by the changes that are
13.5.3. "What kinds of _attacks_ can we expect?"
+ Depends on the projects, but some general sorts of attacks
are likely. Some have already occurred. Examples:
* flooding of remailers, denial of service attacks--to
swamp systems and force remailers to reconsider
- this is fixed (mostly) with "digital postage" (if
postage covers costs, and generates a profit, then the
more the better)
* deliberately illegal or malicicious messages, such as
- designed to put legal and sysop pressures on the
- several remailers have been attacked this way, or at
least have had these messages
- source-blocking sometimes works, though not of course
if another remailer is first used (many issues here)
* prosecution for content of posts
+ copyright violations
- e.g., forwarding ClariNet articles through Hal
Finney's remailer got Brad Templeton to write warning
letters to Hal
- ITAR violations, Trading with the Enemy Act
- espionage, sedition, treason
- corporate secrets,
- These attacks will test the commitment and courage of
remailer or anonymizing service operators
13.6 - Deploying Crypto
13.6.1. "How can Cypherpunks publicize crypto and PGP?"
- articles, editorials, radio shows, talking with friends
- The Net itself is probably the best place to publicize the
problems with Clipper and key escrow. The Net played a
major role--perhaps the dominant role--in generating scorn
for Clipper. In many way the themes debated here on the Net
have tremendous influence on media reaction, on editorials,
on organizational reactions, and of course on the opinion
of technical folks. News spreads quickly, zillions of
theories are aired and debated, and consensus tends to
- raves, Draper
- Libertarian Party, anarchists...
+ conferences and trade shows
- Arsen Ray Arachelian passed out diskettes at PC Expo
13.6.2. "What are the Stumbling Blocks to Greater Use of Encryption
(Cultural, Legal, Ethical)?"
+ "It's too hard to use"
- multiple protocols (just consider how hard it is to
actually send encrypted messages between people today)
- the need to remember a password or passphrase
+ "It's too much trouble"
- the argument being that people will not bother to use
- partly because they don't think anything will happen to
+ "What have you got to hide?"
- e.g.,, imagine some comments I'd have gotten at Intel had
I encrypted everything
- and governments tend to view encryption as ipso facto
proof that illegalities are being committed: drugs, money
laundering, tax evasion
- recall the "forfeiture" controversy
- BTW, anonymous systems are essentially the ultimate merit
system (in the obvious sense) and so fly in the face of the
"hiring by the numbers" de facto quota systems now
creeeping in to so many areas of life....there may be rules
requiring all business dealings to keep track of the sex,
race, and "ability group" (I'm kidding, I hope) of their
employees and their consultants
+ Courts Are Falling Behind, Are Overcrowded, and Can't Deal
Adequately with New Issues-Such as Encryption and Cryonics
- which raises the issue of the "Science Court" again
- and migration to private adjudication
- scenario: any trials that are being decided in 1998-9
will have to have been started in 1996 and based on
technology and decisions of around 1994
+ Government is taking various steps to limit the use of
encryption and secure communication
- some attempts have failed (S.266), some have been
shelved, and almost none have yet been tested in the
- see the other sections...
13.6.3. Practical Issues
- Bypassing Laws
13.6.4. "How should projects and progress best be achieved?"
- This is a tough one, one we've been grappling with for a
couple of years now. Lots of approaches.
- Writing code
- I have to say that there's one syndrome we can probably do
w,the Frustrated Cyperpunks Syndrome. Manifested by someone
flaming the list for not jumping in to join them on their
(usually) half-baked scheme to build a digital bank, or
write a book, or whatever. "You guys just don't care!" is
the usual cry. Often these flamers end up leaving the list.
- Geography may play a role, as folks in otherwise-isolated
areas seem to get more attached to their ideas and then get
angry when the list as a whole does not adopt them (this is
my impression, at least).
13.6.5. Crypto faces the complexity barrier that all technologies
- Life has gotten more complicated in some ways, simpler in
other ways (we don't have to think about cooking, about
shoeing the horses, about the weather, etc.). Crypto is
currently fairly complicated, especially if multiple
paradigms are used (encryption, signing, money, etc.).
- As a personal note, I'm practically drowning in a.c.
adaptors and power cords for computers, laser printers,
VCRs, camcorders, portable stereos, laptop computers,
guitars, etc. Everything with a rechargeable battery has to
be charged, but not overcharged, and not allowed to run-
down...I forgot to plug in my old Powerbook 100 for a
couple of months, and the lead-acid batteries went out on
me. Personally, I'm drowning in this crap.
- I mention this only because I sense a backlash
coming...people will say "screw it" to new technology that
actually complicates their lives more than it simplifies
their lives. "Crypto tweaks" who like to fool around with
"creating a client" in order to play with digital cash will
continue to do so, but 99% of the sought-after users won't.
(A nation that can't--or won't--set its VCR clock will
hardly embrace the complexities of digital cash. Unless
things change, and use becomes as easy as using an ATM.)
13.6.6. "How can we get more people to worry about security in
general and encryption in particular?"
- Fact is, most people never think about real security. Safe
manufacturers have said that improvements in safes were
driven by insurance rates. A direct incentive to spend more
money to improve security (cost of better safe < cost of
higher insurance rate).
Right now there is almost no economic incentive for people
to worry about PIN security, about protecting their files,
etc. (Banks eat the costs and pass them on...any bank which
tried to save a few bucks in losses by requiring 10-digit
PINs--which people would *write down* anyway!--would lose
customers. Holograms and pictures on bank cards are
happening because the costs have dropped enough.)
Personally, my main interests is in ensuring the Feds don't
tell me I can't have as much security as I want to buy. I
don't share the concern quoted above that we have to find
ways to give other people security.
- Others disagree with my nonchalance, pointing out that
getting lots of other people to use crypto makes it easier
for those who already protect themselves. I agree, I just
don't focus on missionary work.
- For those so inclined, point out to people how vulnerable
their files are, how the NSA can monitor the Net, and so
on. All the usual scare stories.
13.7 - Political Action and Opposition
13.7.1. Strong political action is emerging on the Net
- right-wing conspiracy theorists, like Linda Thompson
+ Net has rapid response to news events (Waco, Tienenmen,
- with stories often used by media (lots of reporters on
Net, easy to cull for references, Net has recently become
- Aryan Nation in Cyberspace
- (These developments bother many people I mention them to.
Nothing can be done about who uses strong crypto. And most
fasicst/racist situations are made worse by state
sponsorship--apartheid laws, Hitler's Germany, Pol Pot's
killing fields, all were examples of the state enforcing
racist or genocidal laws. The unbreakable crypto that the
Aryan Nation gets is more than offset by the gains
elsewhere, and the undermining of central authority.)
- shows the need for strong crypto...else governments will
infiltrate and monitor these political groups
13.7.2. Cypherpunks and Lobbying Efforts
+ "Why don't Cypherpunks have a lobbying effort?"
+ we're not "centered" near Washington, D.C., which seems
to be an essential thing (as with EFF, ACLU, EPIC, CPSR,
- D.C. Cypherpunks once volunteered (April, 1993) to make
this their special focus, but not much has been heard
since. (To be fair to them, political lobbying is
pretty far-removed from most Cypherpunks interests.)
- no budget, no staff, no office
+ "herding cats" + no financial stakes = why we don't do
+ it's very hard to coordinate dozens of free-thinking,
opinionated, smart people, especially when there's no
whip hand, no financial incentive, no way to force them
- I'm obviously not advocating such force, just noting a
truism of systems
+ "Should Cypherpunks advocate breaking laws to achieve
- "My game is to get cryptography available to all, without
violating the law. This mean fighting Clipper, fighting
idiotic export restraints, getting the government to
change it's stance on cryptography, through arguements
and letter pointing out the problems ... This means
writing or promoting strong cryptography....By violating
the law, you give them the chance to brand you
"criminal," and ignore/encourage others to ignore what
you have to say." [Bob Snyder, 4-28-94]
13.7.3. "How can nonlibertarians (liberals, for example) be convinced
of the need for strong crypto?"
- "For liberals, I would examine some pet cause and examine
the consequences of that cause becoming "illegal." For
instance, if your friends are "pro choice," you might ask
them what they would do if the right to lifers outlawed
abortion. Would they think it was wrong for a rape victim
to get an abortion just because it was illegal? How would
they feel about an abortion "underground railroad"
organized via a network of "stations" coordinated via the
Internet using "illegal encryption"? Or would they trust
Clipper in such a situation?
"Everyone in America is passionate about something. Such
passion usually dispenses with mere legalism, when it comes
to what the believer feels is a question of fundamental
right and wrong. Hit them with an argument that addresses
their passion. Craft a pro-crypto argument that helps
preserve the object of that passion." [Sandy Sandfort, 1994-
13.7.4. Tension Between Governments and Citizens
- governments want more monitoring...big antennas to snoop on
- people who protect themselves are sometimes viewed with
+ Americans have generally been of two minds about privacy:
- None of your damn business, a man's home is his
castle..rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, Calvinism
- What have you got to hide? Snooping on neighbors
+ These conflicting views are held simultaneously, almost
like a tensor that is not resolvable to some resultant
- this dichotomy cuts through legal decisions as well
13.7.5. "How does the Cypherpunks group differ from lobbying groups
like the EFF, CPSR, and EPIC?"
- We're more disorganized (anarchic), with no central office,
no staff, no formal charter, etc.
- And the political agenda of the aforementioned groups is
often at odds with personal liberty. (support by them for
public access programs, subsidies, restrictions on
- We're also a more radical group in nearly every way, with
various flavors of political extremism strongly
represented. Mostly anarcho-capitalists and strong
libertarians, and many "no compromises" privacy advocates.
(As usual, my apologies to any Maoists or the like who
don't feel comfortable being lumped in with the
libertarians....if you're out there, you're not speaking
up.) In any case, the house of Cypherpunks has many rooms.
- We were called "Crypto Rebels" in Steven Levy's "Wired"
article (issue 1.2, early 1993). We can represent a
_radical alternative_ to the Beltway lawyers that dominate
EFF, EPIC, etc. No need to compromise on things like
Clipper, Software Key Escrow, Digital Telephony, and the
NII. But, of course, no input to the legislative process.
- But there's often an advantage to having a much more
radical, purist body out in the wings, making the
"rejectionist" case and holding the inner circle folks to a
tougher standard of behavior.
- And of course there's the omnipresent difference that we
tend to favor direct action through technology over
13.7.6. Why is government control of crypto so dangerous?
+ dangers of government monopoly on crypto and sigs
- can "revoke your existence"
- no place to escape to (historically an important social
13.7.7. NSA's view of crypto advocates
- "I said to somebody once, this is the revenge of people
who couldn't go to Woodstock because they had too much trig
homework. It's a kind of romanticism about privacy and the
kind of, you know, "you won't get my crypto key until you
pry it from my dead cold fingers" kind of stuff. I have to
say, you know, I kind of find it endearing." [Stuart Baker,
counsel, NSA, CFP '94]
+ How to Join
- $40, get form from many places, EFFector Online,
+ EFFector Online
- ftp.eff.org, pub/EFF/Newsletters/EFFector
+ Open Platform
- National Information Infrastructure
13.7.9. "How can the use of cryptography be hidden?"
- microdots, invisible ink
- where even the existence of a coded message gets one shot
+ Methods for Hiding the Mere Existence of Encrypted Data
+ in contrast to the oft-cited point (made by crypto
purists) that one must assume the opponent has full
access to the cryptotext, some fragments of decrypted
plaintext, and to the algorithm itself, i.e., assume the
- a condition I think is practically absurd and
- assumes infinite intercept power (same assumption of
infinite computer power would make all systems besides
one-time pads breakable)
- in reality, hiding the existence and form of an
encrypted message is important
+ this will be all the more so as legal challenges to
crypto are mounted...the proposed ban on encrypted
telecom (with $10K per day fine), various governmental
- RICO and other broad brush ploys may make people very
careful about revealing that they are even using
encryption (regardless of how secure the keys are)
+ steganography, the science of hiding the existence of
- secret inks
- thwarting traffic analysis
- LSB method
+ Packing data into audio tapes (LSB of DAT)
+ LSB of DAT: a 2GB audio DAT will allow more than 100
megabytes in the LSBs
- less if algorithms are used to shape the spectrum to
make it look even more like noise
- but can also use the higher bits, too (since a real-
world recording will have noise reaching up to
perhaps the 3rd or 4th bit)
+ will manufacturers investigate "dithering" circuits?
(a la fat zero?)
- but the race will still be on
+ Digital video will offer even more storage space (larger
- DVI, etc.
- HDTV by late 1990s
+ Messages can be put into GIFF, TIFF image files (or even
- using the LSB method, with a 1024 x 1024 grey scale
image holding 64KB in the LSB plane alone
- with error correction, noise shaping, etc., still at
- scenario: already being used to transmit message
through international fax and image transmissions
+ The Old "Two Plaintexts" Ploy
- one decoding produces "Having a nice time. Wish you
- other decoding, of the same raw bits, produces "The
last submarine left this morning."
- any legal order to produce the key generates the first
+ authorities can never prove-save for torture or an
informant-that another message exists
- unless there are somehow signs that the encrypted
message is somehow "inefficiently encrypted,
suggesting the use of a dual plaintext pair method"
(or somesuch spookspeak)
- again, certain purist argue that such issues (which are
related to the old "How do you know when to stop?"
question) are misleading, that one must assume the
opponent has nearly complete access to everything
except the actual key, that any scheme to combine
multiple systems is no better than what is gotten as a
result of the combination itself
- and just the overall bandwidth of data...
13.7.10. next Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference will be March
1995, San Francisco
13.7.11. Places to send messages to
- firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: I support HR 3627
- email@example.com, Subject: I support hearings on Clipper
13.7.12. Thesis: Crypto can become unstoppable if critical mass is
- analogy: the Net...too scattered, too many countries, too
many degrees of freedom
- so scattered that attempts to outlaw strong crypto will be
futile...no bottlenecks, no "mountain passes" (in a race to
the pass, beyond which the expansion cannot be halted
except by extremely repressive means)
13.7.13. Keeping the crypto genie from being put in the bottle
- (though some claim the genie was never _in_ the bottle,
- ensuring that enough people are using it, and that the Net
is using it
- a _threshold_, a point of no return
13.7.14. Activism practicalities
+ "Why don't we buy advertising time like Perot did?"
+ This and similar points come up in nearly all political
discussions (I'm seeing in also in talk.politics.guns).
The main reasons it doesn't happen are:
- ads cost a lot of money
- casual folks rarely have this kind of money to spend
- "herding cats" comes to mind, i.e., it's nearly
impossible to coordinate the interests of people to
gather money, set up ad campaigns, etc.
- In my view, a waste of efforts. The changes I want won't
come through a series of ads that are just fingers in the
dike. (More cynically, Americans are getting the government
they've been squealing for. My interest is in bypassing
their avarice and repression, not in changing their minds.)
- Others feel differently, from posts made to the list.
Practically speaking, though, organized political activity
is difficult to achieve with the anarchic nonstructure of
the Cypherpunks group. Good luck!
13.8 - The Battle Lines are Being Drawn
13.8.1. Clipper met with disdain and scorn, so now new strategies are
13.8.2. Strategies are shifting, Plan B is being hauled out
- fear, uncertainty, and doubt
- fears about terrorists, pornographers, pedophiles, money
13.8.3. corporate leaders like Grove are being enlisted to make the
13.8.4. Donn Parker is spreading panic about "anarchy" (similar to my
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?"
- This is the most important question we face.
- Short of leaving the country (but for where?) or living a
subsistence-level lifestyle below the radar screens of the
surveillance state, what can be done?
+ Some possibilities, not necessarily good ones:
+ civil disobedience
- mutilation of cards, "accidental erasure," etc.
- forgeries of cards...probably not feasible (we understand
about digital sigs)
- creation of large black markets...still doesn't cover
everything, such as water, electricity, driver's
licenses, etc....just too many things for a black market
- lobby against these moves...but it appears the momentum
is too strong in the other direction
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
- thumbprint readers
- tokens attached to employee badges
- rings, watches, etc. that carry most of key (with several
bits remembered, and a strict "three strikes and you're
13.9.3. major security scares, or fears over "back doors" by the
government, may accelerate the conversion
- all it may take are a couple of very large scandals
13.9.4. insurance companies may demand encryption, for several
- to protect against theft, loss, etc.
- to provide better control against viruses and other
modifications which expose the companies they ensure to
- same argument cited by safe makers: when insurance
companies demanded better safes, that's when customers
bought them (and not before)
13.9.5. Networks will get more complex and will make conventional
security systems unacceptable
- "Fortress" product of Los Altos Technologies
- too many ways for others to see passwords being given to a
remote host, e.g., with wireless LANs (which will
- ZKIPS especially in networks, where the chances of seeing a
password being transmitted are much greater (an obvious
point that is not much discussed)
- the whole explosion in bandwidth
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.
- a snowballing effect
- and various government agencies will themselves use
encryption to protect their files and their privacy
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
- lawsuits, ordinary threats, concerns about how their
employers will react (many employers may adopt rules
limiting the speech of their employees, largely because of
concerns they'll get sued)
+ and some database providers are providing cross-indexed
lists of who has posted to what boards-this is freely
available information, but it is not expected by people
that their postings will live forever
- some may see this as extortion
- but any proposed laws are unlikely to succeed
- so, as usual, the solution is for people to protect
themselves via technological means
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!
- pressures by Administration...software key escrow, digital
telephony, cable regulation
+ and suppliers need government support on legislation,
benefits, spectrum allocation, etc
- reports that Microsoft is lobbying intensively to gain
control of big chunks of spectrum...could fit with cable
set-top box negotiations, Teledesic, SKE, etc.
- EFF even participates in some of these deals. Being "inside
the Beltway" has this kind of effect, where one is either a
"player" or a "non-player." (This is my interpretation of
how power corrupts all groups that enter the Beltway.)
Shmoozing and a desire to help.
13.11.2. using crypto to bypass laws on contacts and trade with other
- one day it's illegal to have contact with China, the next
day it's encouraged
+ one day it's legal to have contact with Haiti, the next day
there's an embargo (and in the case of Haiti, the economic
effects fall on on the poor--the tens of thousands fleeing
are not fleeing the rulers, but the poverty made worse by
- (The military rulers are just the usual thugs, but
they're not "our" thugs, for reasons of history. Aristide
would almost certainly be as bad, being a Marxist priest.
Thus, I consider the breakin of the embargo to be a
morally good thing to do.
- who's to say why Haiti is suddenly to be shunned? By force
of law, no less!
13.11.3. Sun Tzu's "Art of War" has useful tips (more useful than "The
- work with lowliest
- sabotage good name of enemy
- spread money around
- I think the events of the past year, including...
13.11.4. The flakiness of current systems...
- The current crypto infrastructure is fairly flaky, though
the distributed web-of-trust model is better than some
centralized system, of coure. What I mean is that many
aspects are slow, creaky, and conducive to errors.
- In the area of digital cash, what we have now is not even
as advanced as was seen with real money in Sumerian times!
(And I wouldn't trust the e-mail "message in a bottle"
approach for any nontrivial financial transactions.)
- Something's got to change. The NII/Superhighway/Infobahn
people have plans, but their plans are not likely to mesh
well with ours. A challenge for us to consider.
13.11.5. "Are there dangers in being too paranoid?"
+ As Eric Hughes put it, "paranoia is cryptography's
- "The effect of paranoia is self-delusion of the following
form--that one's possible explanations are skewed toward
malicious attacks, by individuals, that one has the
technical knowledge to anticipate. This skewing creates
an inefficient allocation of mental energy, it tends
toward the personal, downplaying the possibility of
technical error, and it begins to close off examination
of technicalities not fully understood.
"Those who resist paranoia will become better at
cryptography than those who do not, all other things
being equal. Cryptography is about epistemology, that
is, assurances of truth, and only secondarily about
ontology, that is, what actually is true. The goal of
cryptography is to create an accurate confidence that a
system is private and secure. In order to create that
confidence, the system must actually be secure, but
security is not sufficient. There must be confidence
thatthe way by which this security becomes to be believed
is robust and immune to delusion.
"Paranoia creates delusion. As a direct and fundamental
result, it makes one worse at cryptography. At the
outside best, it makes one slower, as the misallocation
of attention leads one down false trails. Who has the
excess brainpower for that waste? Certainly not I. At
the worst, paranoia makes one completely ineffective, not
only in technical means but even more so in the social
context in which cryptography is necessarily relevant."
[Eric Hughes, 1994-05-14]
+ King Alfred Plan, blacks
- plans to round up 20 million blacks
- RFK, links to LAPD, Western Goals, Birch, KKK
- RFA #9, 23, 38
+ organized crime situation, perhaps intelligence
- damaging to blacks, psychological
13.11.6. The immorality of U.S. boycotts and sanctions
- as with Haiti, where a standard and comparatively benign
and harmless military dictatorship is being opposed, we are
using force to interfere with trade, food shipments,
financial dealings, etc.
- invasion of countries that have not attacked other
countries...a major new escalation of U.S. militarism
- crypto will facillitate means of underming imperialism
13.11.7. The "reasonableness" trap
- making a reasonable thing into a mandatory thing
- this applies to what Cypherpunks should ever be prepared to
+ An example: A restaurant offers to replace dropped items
(dropped on the floor, literally) for free...a reasonable
thing to offer customers (something I see frequently). So
why not make it the law? Because then the reasonable
discretion of the restaurant owner would be lost, and some
customers could "game against" (exploit the letter of the
law) the system. Even threaten lawsuits.
- (And libertarians know that "my house, my rules" applies
to restaurants and other businesses, absent a contract
spelling exceptions out.)
- A more serious example is when restaurants (again) find it
"reasonable" to hire various sorts of qualified people.
What may be "reasonable" is one thing, but too often the
government decides to _formalize_ this and takes away the
right to choose. (In my opinion, no person or group has any
"right" to a job unless the employer freely offers it. Yes,
this could included discrimination against various groups.
Yes, we may dislike this. But the freedom to choose is a
much more basic right than achieving some ideal of equality
- And when "reasonableness" is enforced by law, the game-
playing increases. In effect, some discretion is needed to
reject claims that are based on gaming. Markets naturally
work this way, as no "basic rights" or contracts are being
- Fortunately, strong crypto makes this nonsense impossible.
Perforce, people will engage in contracts only voluntarily.
13.11.8. "How do we get agreement on protocols?"
- Give this idea up immediately! Agreement to behave in
certain ways is almost never possible.
- Is this an indictment of anarchy?
- No, because the way agreement is sort of reached is through
standards or examplars that people can get behind. Thus, we
don't get "consensus" in advance on the taste of Coca
Cola...somebody offers Coke for sale and then the rest is
- PGP is a more relevant example. The examplar is on a "take
it or leave it" basis, with minor improvements made by
others, but within the basic format.