All quiet on the western front

Tim May timcmay at
Wed Jul 2 09:45:58 PDT 2003

On Wednesday, July 2, 2003, at 06:55  AM, Declan McCullagh wrote:

> Pretty quiet. I'm going through back messages now and only saw I think
> three from July 1.
> -Declan
> On Wed, Jul 02, 2003 at 02:04:28AM -0700, Bill Stewart wrote:
>> Is it really quiet in here, or does the fact that I've been
>> playing with procmail this evening have something to do with it?
>> 	Thanks; Bill

But things have been quiet for months now, except for occasional bursts  
of Unix-related security cruft.

I think it's related to "statism overload." And boredom. Things are  
objectively more statist and surveillance-oriented than when the Phil  
Zimmermann case and Clipper phone "energized a generation." But the  
reaction today is ho-hum. No emergency meetings, no guerilla  
activities. Hell, it's been months since I've seen any mention of a  
Cypherpunks meeting in the Bay Area. (A recurring problem for years,  
actually, since we stopped having meetings in a regular place. One  
never knows whether the next meeting will be at some coffee shop in  
Oakland or, ugh, at the Police Training Camp in San Francisco. In any  
case, driving 50 miles to Silicon Valley was a regular thing for me,  
but driving 100 miles to SF or Oakland is usually not in the cards for  
me. I haven't heard about any meetings since several months ago, so  
maybe they're not even happening up in SF or Berkeley, anyway.)

But things are quite a bit worse than they were in 1992. Which, I  
suppose, is good for bringing on the collision of armies, or recruiting  
new warriors. But maybe not, given the apathy.

Every day brings new reports of surveillance plans, suspensions of the  
Constitution, more statism.

I think people are anesthetized, a la the boiling frog, to the  
developing statism.

(Side note, worthy of a longer article: It may be literally a  
generational thing, as libertarianism tended to be. The anti-state  
"activists" of the 70s and 80s were influenced by the antiwar movement  
of the 60s, but were still somewhat libertarian. Many had read  
Heinlein, Rand, Rothbard, Hayek. The early Cypherpunks folks were  
generally conversant with the ideas, and receptive. I conjecture that  
the "new crop" is more into body piercings, skin art, and  
anti-globalism (when it comes to corporations and trade, but not when  
it comes to world government). In other words, Cypherpunks is like  
several other Baby Boom "degenerating research program.")

I would predict that things are getting more statist and are coming to  
some kind of head. Except, why bother making any predictions? Robert  
Hettinga would make some snarky comment about my track record for  
predictions and Duncan Frissell would gush about how things are more  
free than ever, that the Perpetual Tourist need not worry about  
surveillance, tracking, new laws, and restrictions on movement.

Here's just part of just today's harvest. I won't even call it  
"Brinworld," as many here do, as this kind of government surveillance  
has nothing in common with Brin's (misguided) idea of symmetrical  


--begin excerpt--

U.S. Develops Urban Surveillance System

Wed Jul  2, 1:46 AM ET

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -  Police can envision limited domestic uses for an urban  
surveillance system the Pentagon (news - web sites) is developing but  
doubt they could use the full system which is designed to track and  
analyze the movement of every vehicle in a city.

  Dubbed "Combat Zones That See," the project is intended to help the  
U.S. military protect troops and fight in cities overseas.

  Scientists and privacy experts say the unclassified technology also  
could easily be adapted to keep tabs on Americans.

  The project's centerpiece would be groundbreaking computer software  
capable of automatically identifying vehicles by size, color, shape and  
license tag, or drivers and passengers by face.

  The proposed software also would provide instant alerts after  
detecting a vehicle with a license plate on a watchlist, or search  
months of records to locate and compare vehicles spotted near terrorist  
attacks, according to interviews and contracting documents reviewed by  
The Associated Press.

  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which develops  
technologies for fighting 21st century wars, is overseeing the project.

  Scientists and privacy experts  who have seen face-recognition  
technology used at a Super Bowl and monitoring cameras in London  are  
concerned about the potential impact of the emerging DARPA technologies  
if they are applied to civilians by commercial or government agencies  
outside the Pentagon.

  "Government would have a reasonably good idea of where everyone is  
most of the time," said John Pike, a Global defense  

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list