All quiet on the western front
timcmay at got.net
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.
> 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
(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
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 Security.org defense
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