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Salon: Twilight of the crypto-geeks

Apr 13, 2000, 18:20 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ellen Ullman)

"These two events -- the programmers workshop and the passing of a federal data-privacy law -- are like the ends of a rope in a heatedly fought game of tug-of-war, a game that has been battled at CPF over the course of the conference's 10-year existence."

"In the past, the techno-believers ruled CFP. The programmers' vision of creation -- the lone geniuses -- prevailed over the data-privacy "bureaucrats" -- so hard to listen to, after all, with their thick foreign accents and their tedious, confusing laws."

"But something different happened this year. The flag in the middle of the tug-of-war rope moved. Two well-known technologists, known for their belief in working code and skepticism about the workings of law, stepped across the divide, moving, maybe despite themselves, toward a recognition of social and political realities. Two others, whose views have been more balanced, questioned libertarianism -- the limitations of a technocentric approach to the complicated questions of privacy and freedom. It was as if some tipping point had been reached, in which a critical mass of people involved in technology had suddenly looked up and found themselves to be older, grown-up, and in need of social supports -- grown-up like the Net itself."

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