dan on Thu, 5 Dec 2013 20:14:56 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Fwd: Stephen Foley: Bitcoin needs to learn from past e-currency

 On 12/05/2013 01:41 PM, Florian Cramer wrote:
 > (I also have my doubts that shifting identities really solves the
 > problem of reverse identification through computational analytics
 > as it only adds one layer of obfuscation. Live in a small remote
 > village, for example, and these means won't help because the one
 > person buying The New York Times in the local market will always be
 > identifiable no matter what Bitcoin address s/he'll use for payment.
 > You could argue that there's no anonymity of transactions in a
 > village anyway, but it becomes quite a different story if all those
 > transactions become world-readable on the Internet.)

No society, no people need rules against things which are impossible.
Today I observe a couple fornicating on a roof top in circumstances
where I can never know who the couple are.  Do they have privacy?
The answer is "no" if your definition of privacy is the absence of
observability.  The answer is "yes" if your definition of privacy
is the absence of identifiability.

Technical progress in image acquisition guarantees observability
pretty much everywhere now.  Those standoff biometrics are delivering
multi-factor identifiability at ever greater distances.  We will
soon live in a society where identity is not an assertion like "My
name is Dan," but rather an observable like "Sensors confirm that
is Dan."  With enough sensors, concentration camps don't need to
tatoo their inmates.  How many sensors are we installing in normal

If data kills both privacy as impossible-to-observe and privacy as
impossible-to-identify, then what might be an alternative?  If you
are an optimist or an apparatchik, then your answer will tend toward
rules of procedure administered by a government you trust or control.
If you are a pessimist or a hacker/maker, then your answer will
tend towards the operational, and your definition of a state of
privacy will be mine: the effective capacity to misrepresent yourself.

Misrepresentation is using disinformation to frustrate data fusion
on the part of whomever it is that is watching you.  Misrepresentation
means paying your therapist in cash under an assumed name.
Misrepresentation means arming yourself not at Walmart but in living
rooms.  Misrepresentation means swapping affinity cards at random
with like-minded folks.  Misrepresentation means keeping an inventory
of misconfigured webservers to proxy through.  Misrepresentation
means putting a motor-generator between you and the Smart Grid.
Misrepresentation means using Tor for no reason at all.  Misrepresentation
means hiding in plain sight when there is nowhere else to hide.
Misrepresentation means having not one digital identity that you
cherish, burnish, and protect, but having as many as you can.  Your
identity is not a question unless you work to make it be.

The Obama administration's issuance of a National Strategy for
Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is case-in-point; it "calls for
the development of interoperable technology standards and policies
-- an 'Identity Ecosystem' -- where individuals, organizations, and
underlying infrastructure -- such as routers and servers -- can be
authoritatively authenticated."  If you can trust a digital identity,
that is because it can't be faked.  Why does the government care
about this?  It cares because it wants to digitally deliver government
services and it wants attribution.  Is having a non-fake-able digital
identity for government services worth the registration of your
remaining secrets with that government?  Is there any real difference
between a system that permits easy, secure, identity-based services
and a surveillance system?  Do you trust those who hold surveillance
data on you over the long haul by which I mean the indefinite
retention of transactional data between government services and
you, the individual required to proffer a non-fake-able identity
to engage in those transactions?  If you are building authentication
systems today, then you are playing in this league.


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