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December 07, 2003

Lawlence Lessig's week in Tokyo

Prof. Lawlence Lessig visited Tokyo for a week. His days had been booked so much, everyday during the visit he spent whole day for symposiums and interviews day time then parties and meetings afterward. But I heard he had to deal with emails in the nights. I hope that now he is getting some rest in the airplain.

But while he was in Tokyo, UK's Economist magazine had an article that including Prof. Lessig's comment on anonymity and pseudonymity. It looks like a thread of debate ingnited. I wonder Larry's reply on Politech was afftected by this tight schedule of his visit. It's just a concern of my personal feelings but I think that fatigue affects how people think.

To me, Larry's reply "In my view, we will make no progress following path one, but that we would strongly advance privacy if we could advance path two." is problematic, or just confusing and not explaining enough. (that makes me go back to my concern above.)
Ah, that line was on the following of "What I said was that the trend in our laws was to destroy any privacy at all -- that the idiocy of Patriot Acts, etc., was effectively eliminating any form of privacy. There are two kinds of responses to this -- one to try to defend and build a system protecting absolute anonymity; the second is to build effective protections for pseudonymous life, which is shorthand for traceable transactions, but where the permission to trace is protected by something like a warrant requirement. I'm not saying the government should build these systems, but that they should be permitted and indeed encouraged."

I think that there's at least one thing we need to retain anonymity in networked society: electronic voting. In my view, voting cannot take traceable pseudonymity. It is unthinkable that every ballots traceable back to each voter if we retain democracy. And while network world is "all addressed space", which is equal to no-anonymity by default, anonymity (and pseudonymity) need to be artificially created. However, Larry didn't touch on this. Maybe we would see some more debate at upcoming Stanford conferece in March "Securing Privacy in the Internet Age".


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