] While I agree that in principle this is possible, I'm
] not terribly worried by it. I think it would be
] extrordinarily expensive to deploy and maintain... I may have
] some more to say about this later.
Lets discuss this...
1. Asynchronous internet access:
Already occurred. I've been complaining about this for years. I have a DSL connection with a static IP and I pay through the nose for "real" internet access in a colo facility. I think this is a real problem. I think it can be solved, but it will take real market pressure from a really hot service that people want to host themselves. Even surmountable barriers chill speech.
Yes, sort of. I've been warning about this for years. I think it works for software. I don't think it will work for content. The only way for DRM to work is with things like the DMCA... The future here is uncertain, but certain to be contentious (putting it mildly).
3. Micropayments: I don't see this as a technical problem. If people wanted this, then they would build something reasonable out of what they already have. Its a prisoners dilemma. You WILL get better sites when you decide to pay for them. When I imagine how cool MemeStreams would be by now if I could feed myself while working on it I almost want to cry. But it doesn't happen because everybody expects somebody else to pay. There has to be a massive social movement to encourage people to willingly donate cash to small websites before these changes will start to happen, and when it happens it won't matter what the technology is. People used to pay for online services in the early 90's... I think that all this free stuff is mostly a product of the bubble. It will probably change eventually... I think he has the basic economics right. Some WAP networks currently cut checks to content providers based on the amount of traffic they collect. The billing will be managed such that end users see a flat rate... However, I might be wrong here. He might be wrong. The social movement might not happen. People like free stuff, and prisoner's dilemmas are powerful things...
4. Personal Certs: Already here, but no one really uses them. A geek idea that has never gained traction. I think this needs an application moreso then better tech. Spam white-listing might end up being the killer app for personal certs. Fortunately we don't NEED certs to solve that problem. There will be alternative solutions available, and they are actually more likely to be adopted because the personal Cert option is more costly. Its a maybe situation. If people start banning remailers from publishing we're in a lot of trouble.
5. The end of anonymous speech: This, again, will be a social rather then technical phenomenon. On the one hand, I am amazed to see the end of anonymous mail. That is something I would never have predicted. I think its a really bad idea. On the other hand, I think the reason that people accept that is because the Internet is where the anonymous happens today. Again, attacks on this are fundamental attacks on democracy.
Its probably worth pointing out that copyright is the new censorship, and its just as effective as some of these tools. Watch what Diebold is doing. There is no legal basis for shutting down the leaked emails, but they are having success anyway.
I believe there needs to be punitive damages for frivolous IP suits against people engaged in first amendment activity.
6. The end of anonymous browsing: Basically, this has been tried already, and it has failed. Consumers DID not stand for this. This did not happen. It could happen in the future, but it won't. You'll decide when to reveal your identity to things you are reading.
Basically, the sum of all of this is that in general, he is right. I think that we are moving toward this future. There are a lot of forces that are aligned toward this now... the media industry, the computer industry, the telecom industry, the government... They are pushing very hard toward this cypher dystopia, and they are going to make significant progress.
However, there are serious checks against this. People DO want to protect their privacy. People DO like to use open source software and shareware and will continue to do so. DRM doesn't actually work. Certificates don't actually work either (have certificates solved the security problems with ActiveX)?
Ultimately, this is why its important to fight the DMCA, the SDMCA, the Diebolds, the RIAAs.... This is the future we're going to get if we aren't vigilant about it.
This is why its important that Verisign not be allowed to be the solve unilateral governor of the .com and .net tlds, as Verisign will be the ones who get to decide if you are allowed to transmit on the "secure" internet or not.
This is also why it is important that we be prepared to deploy alternative systems if this system does not meet our needs. The internets power comes from empowerment. Its Ebay and google that drive this stuff, not amazon and cnn. You didn't learn computers so you could get books and broadcast news. You had both those things before. An internet that isn't free isn't an internet. So we build something else... We build fidonet again if need be. It was effective.
If we don't allow ourselves to be locked into the mindset that we have to operate within the parameters of the existing system then we have nothing to fear from this.
RE: The Digital Imprimatur