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Re: [freehaven-dev] Why Unpublishing Is Not Allowed

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "dmolnar" <dmolnar@hcs.harvard.edu>
To: <freehaven-dev@seul.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2000 8:01 PM
Subject: Re: [freehaven-dev] Why Unpublishing Is Not Allowed

> Well, part of this seems to go back to the discussion on ethics we began
> on Sunday. If we believe that all speech deserves to be free, then
> there doesn't seem to be any place for unpublishing. On the other hand it
> seems that if we want to restrict some kinds of data, then unpublishing
> becomes "worth something."

I'd come down on the side of unrestricted publication.  However, I believe
that unpublishing is still "worth something".

> Unfortunately, I think that nice dichotomy breaks down a bit if we allow 
> that people may have legitimate reasons for wanting to unpublish their own
> data. I think that's an arguable point; I'm not sure myself which way I'd
> go. 

I'd like to raise a point that may (or may not) have been addressed.  While
anonymity is important, it is not the cornerstone of free speech -- freedom
from censorship (not prosecution) is.  Presumably the reason some people
will use free haven is to ensure that their data cannot be removed by those
who disagree.  But not necessarily because they wish to remain anonymous.
DeCSS is possibly an example.  The author may want credit, but also wish
to ensure the plug isn't pulled on those distributing it.

However, in the same vein, if someone publishes a racist tomb "in their
youth" (under their real name) -- but later has a complete change of heart,
wishes to put a life of hate behind them, and wishes to erase their past
from prying eyes, what recourse have they?

Spoken speech can have the luxury of being transient, however, the danger
of the internet is that everything we "say" on the net has the potential of
inadvertant permanence.  Deja.com's usenet archive is one example.  This
is dangerous, and unfortunately, the status-quo.  Deja and other usenet
archivers honor a X-no-archive header -- but some sites are specifically
archiving X-no-archive posts (http://archives.mfn.org/).

The lack of ability to revoke a publication could be as much a threat to the
user as the other side of the coin -- the danger of keeping revocation keys.
From my perspective, the ability of an author to revoke a document borders
on a "right".

If an author publishes anonymously, and free haven works as advertised -- 
possesing revocation keys presents no danger.  Doubly so, if more than one
user's key is required for revocation.

> So it seems to me that we can have at least two parallel threads of
> discussion here 
> 1) technical benefits and drawbacks to various methods for
> unpublishing, such as we've had with Rivest's proposal and
> continued with Brett's message and Roger's response.
> 2) a mostly non-technical discussion as to whether we 
> want unpublishing at all, or do not want it. If we want it,
> under what circumstances do we want it? and how do we avoid
> a slippery slope? and what technical costs are we willing to
> pay for unpublishing if we want it? 

I agree with both of these.  Only I need to read Rivest's proposal.  :)