Sent: 06 October 2004 00:03
Subject: Re: USA ID card for federal employees and contractors
You are living in the past if you think that the functionality of modern
hardware is fundamentally more controllable than software.
You tilt at the wrong windmill. Technical capabilities can take
functionality where it will. Law constrains the commercial
trade in and sometimes the application of many if not most
is, I think, beyond dispute.
About the most that can be said here is that the law is often used in
attempts to constrain trade. In practice however the human instinct to
trade is so strong that this is rarely fully successful and is very
often a complete failure. The drugs trade is just one example of this.
And that is why the regulation of trade is far more successful than outright
prohibition, I'd guess that the increase in success in in some direct ratio
to the common with for any specific item.
I am afraid not - many trade regulations are not worth the paper they
are written on and are very widely flouted. Moreover the very
governments who are supposed to police these regulations are frequently
very well aware that they are being breached and simply turn a blind eye
I was involved in conducting a survey during the 1990s of the extent to
which different countries enforced the then in force regulations on
cryptographic export. It turned out that there were a vary large number
of companies and countries who did not pay even the slightest regard to
these regulations. And when the evidence for this was presented to the
governments concerned - including the UK government - not even a single
Trade regulations are, in general, only succesful when the important
producer and consumer nations involved believe in them. Trade
regulations that are designed to control the export of non-military
cryptography are a complete farce precisely because those nations who
are their strongest advocates are very well known for their complete
duplicity in seeking such constraints.
And it is regulation one is considering here and not prohibition (other than
is a particularly narrow sense).
At very best laws only constrain trade when (a) there is worldwide
agreement among producer and/or consumer countries on the law (or laws)
in question, and (b) these countries all implement and apply any such
law(s) with the same degree of determination and success.
You might think so but there in no universal truth there. From personal
knowledge, the French exercise some particular controls on certain items
through a licencing system. Of course, the control is not complete but by
observation, it *is* largely effective.
I suspect that the French are worst than most countries when it comes to
the selective application of international trade laws. No doubt there
are regulations that they see as in their national interests and in
which they invest policing effort.
That one country has some success with a few selected trade regulations
in which they have a national interest does nothing to change my view of
the ineffectiveness of any such regulations that might seek to control
the export of low end commercial routers that contain cryptography.
I will leave you to wallow in this quagmire as I don't have even the
slightest concern about it having any impact whatsoever on the sort of
encrypted P2P services that I envisage. I would be amused and truly
delighted were the UK government to decide that this is a way of
I would not claim that this thinking is original. Whether or not router
licencing coupled with a national regulation of some aspects of their design
comes to pass we shall find out in due course. You say you find such an idea
impossible. Me, well, I'd say it was odds-on. Of course regulations can be
flouted but not noticeably and within a legitimate mass market; it just does
This is only true in the sense of a defintion.