Memme: Crypto=Bullet Proof Vests

Tim May tcmay at
Wed Aug 13 19:42:04 PDT 1997

Careful with this argument!

At 1:44 PM -0700 8/13/97, Ray Arachelian wrote:
>I came up with this while on a bio break....
>ITAR classifies crypto as munitions, but this is the same thing as telling
>someone who wishes to travel to a warring country that they may not buy a
>bullet proof vest, but they may buy an vest that will stop pebbles being
>thrown at them.  This is equivalently reasoned that such vests could be
>used to rob banks and the theives could get away from the police - but how
>many bank theives have you known that were shot by the cops and not caught
>by other means?

Better be careful with this analogy. In fact, armor of various sorts is
clearly a defense item, and is often on the list of restricted items. For
example, Chobham and reactive tank armor was strictly controlled.

Now we may think crypto should be freely exportable, but comparing it to
armor could backfire.

Personally, I think Cypherpunks should concentrate on making crypto
ubiquitous in the United States, and monkeywrench "by any means available"
any plans to restrict in any way the use of strong crypto within the U.S.

Let the rest of the world get crypto through the leaky sieve that is the U.
S. border, or roll their own, or whatever. As for Netscape and Microsoft
and RSADSI getting export approvals, I'll start worrying about their
interests when they start sending me a monthly paycheck, or put me on
retainer, or given me a few thousands shares as part of a stock option.

How Cypherpunks got effectively hijacked or diverted into fretting about
exports is a mystery to me.

>The recent bills thrown around in congress are attempting to do the
>equivalent of outlawing bullet proof vests, and only allowing pebble proof
>vests to be sold, or bullet proof vests that can be pierced by police.
>Would you want your kid to wear a vest that can be pierced by police fire?
>Maybe a stray bullet aimed at a drug dealer hitting your kid?   Or maybe a
>criminal getting their hands on the same type of ammo and shooting your
>kid?  We need our kids to wear Strong Bullet Proof vests!

By the way, there are already laws in place limiting "cop killer bullets,"
and some restrictions are already in place for limiting body armor (the
preferred name for "bullet proof vests").

"For law enforcement use only" is the label used.

So I'd be careful with all of these munitions and armor analogies. The
First Amendment arguments are much stronger and less ambiguous.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay at  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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