Nonsense! The argument in favor of clipper had nothing whatever to do
with a “second” versus a “third wave world”! The claim that
supporters of clipper believe that “bureaucracies and other elites”
are “better able to make decisions than the average person” is sheer
absurdity, tantamount to arguing that the average citizen supports the
idea of a police force because he believes in the superiority of
“bureaucracies and other elites.” In fact, we deputize police to act
on the community’s behalf not because we believe in elites, but
because there is a job to be done and someone has to do it.

I won’t repeat here the arguments I’ve made elsewhere in favor of
clipper and the telecommunications act. But in brief, there are
criminals in the world and we need to fight them as effectively as we
can without jeopardizing the rights, principles and privileges on
which American life is based. Today most electronic text is
unencoded. If you want to read it and can figure out how to break
into a machine, nothing stands in your way. Under the clipper plan
electronic text would routinely have been encoded, and thereby vastly
harder to steal. The government’s right to spy on your communications
would have been exactly the same with clipper as they are today: nil,
unless a court can be persuaded that you’re involved in a felony. Of
course, selected agents of the government would have been empowered to
break and read the clipper code, whereas today, you can encode your
text in government-unreadable form if you choose. And under the
clipper standard you would ALSO have been able to encode your text in
government-unreadable form; your right to do so wouldn’t have been
altered in any way by the proposed clipper standard.


Return to the Magna Carta