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Curious that the Wired article by +Rebecca MacKinnon on Internet freedom and the SOPA smackdown and all appears to be available on Wired UK but not Wired in the US... Maybe it's just that the publishing calendars are out of sync? :)
 
This is why we're here

The Internet Freedom Movement was established to protest the creeping advance of a #surveillance society funded by our tax monies for the enrichment of the military-industrial complexes of our nations.

The continuing backlash against the global erosion of our civil and digital rights has resulted in a global solution via global activism.

We must not let down our guard

Activists in the United States killed the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have imposed censorship on website operators in the name of protecting copyright. Protests against internet censorship and surveillance are mounting around the globe. The next step is to get more innovative and organised in demanding our digital rights and liberties.

Protests from people all over the world via online petitions and comments on the social media networks helped too. They are an incredibly powerful tool and in an election year popularity on social networks is integral to the candidates' success. This is why they have accounts here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. It's where we go to chat to our friends and they want us to be their friends and followers too.

We must maintain momentum

On the net we have yet to fully exploit our power as customers and users — letting firms know through co-ordinated global action that there will be consequences if they fail to heed our concerns.

Lobbying by special interest groups frighten our governments with exaggerated scenarios of impending doom then offer to sell them solutions: extend IP rights and increase surveillance on their own populations, but our representatives are in power because we the people voted them into office. And we can vote them out again.

We have to remind them

The only legitimate purpose of government and technology is to serve people — not the other way around.

The Internet Freedom Movement is dedicated to the ongoing struggle for digital rights for everybody. We need can't do it alone and need your help. Sharing our posts brings them to the attention of people who have circled you. +1s make them more popular. To date, nearly eleven and a half thousand people have circled us. That's a lot of reach, but we need more. If you haven't yet circled the Internet Freedom Movement, do it today, and be sure to share our posts when they come up in your stream.

As a popular retailer's slogan goes, "Every little helps."

Read + Share + Spread the word = Encourage more people to join the fight for our digital rights. Activism works.
A global struggle for control of the internet is under way, and at stake is nothing less than civil liberties, privacy and democracy itself
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Shava Nerad's profile photoSterling Wright's profile photo
10 comments
 
I would appreciate examples being offered for what constitutes acceptable "surveillance" online for the sake of security and exercising the law, and what is considered too intrusive and a breach of civil rights.

My sense is that it does not matter one bit who looks at what I do online. What does matter is how that information is acted upon by another in a manner that causes me harm or loss.

Perhaps it is not the act of watching that needs to be curtailed, only what the watchers can do with the information they glean? It seems reasonable to me that the same laws which assure civility and curtail crime in the physical world, should also apply to the digital one.

I am open to and interested in hearing arguments that clarify this point.
 
+Sterling Wright -- getting warrants for wiretaps and surveillance that are done through due process makes a good start. That has gone completely by in the last few years. I'd invite you to look at what the PATRIOT Act and CALEA and other recent regulations and laws have done to shred due process.

I was a bit pissy about the state of things at the turn of this century -- the "war on drugs" was being used as an excuse for a lot of idiotic things. And of course, anything having to do with the Internet, someone trots out "think of the children!" and people tend to entirely forget about anything having to do with adult civil liberties at all.

But things have gone dramatically down hill on and off line since 9/11. Take a perusal of the aclu.org and eff.org web sites, and you can see the sorts of things we're up against. No warrants, gag orders preventing people from discussing charges made against them, or the seizures of evidence from their companies without legitimate warrants, detaining travelers for hours (messing up their travel badly) and seizing their electronics for evidence due to their political and nonprofit affiliations, tapping the Friends Service Committee (that's the quakers -- pacifists) phones under the rules that cover terrorist suspect groups...

It's gotten pretty stoopid.
 
Thanks, Shava.

I don't think one should ever let down one's guard regarding a loss of democratic freedoms. However, I suppose I have less of a knee-jerk concern for those being under threat here in the US than some because:

A. I have been in countries that truly have repressive regimes, and I know that the US is absolutely nowhere near, not even on the same field or moving even remotely in the same direction, as these. Clearly not.

B. I am not doing anything interesting enough to make the over-worked security folks really bother with me. Honestly, they don't give a sh*t about you unless you are trying to bring down the government or cavorting with those who wish to. In which case, one deserves to be looked into.

C. Were I doing something wrong, then I would expect to potentially run into the law. This is the risk one must be willing to take.

D. There actually are genuine threats that are more invasive than threats of the past and easier to execute on; these really do need to be uncovered if at all possible.

E. Most -- frankly all -- of the abuse that I have been targeted with has come at the hands of cyber creeps, not government. I truly wish greater surveillance by the authorities would have ferreted out these sleaze balls before they had a chance to reach my door. Anything I can do to help disable those types, I will do.

As far as interactions in the western democracies go: In general, I have found that it is often the least civil people who scream the loudest about alleged breaches of their civil rights. I am not sure how to account for this, but I have noticed the trend.

I am not referring to you, Shava, and I am sure there are others for whom this generalization does not hold true.
 
Sterling, I honor that you have been abused. But this is like saying, "Since I have been mugged, I approve of the cops apprehending randoms off the street because they look like they might commit violence to people like me." And I suspect that isn't what you mean. Is it?

You would want them to have reasonable cause to search, not do sweeps of anyone they want to, for no reason, or reasons like, "We don't like that the Friends Service Committee are liberal scum, so we are going to harass them under clauses that allow us to wiretap terrorists, even though no one on a first or second glance is going to believe for a moment that FSC are terrorists."

The current system is so lacking in oversight, so untransparent, so lacking in due process, that the people who bothered you are lost in these great amazing sweeping projects that DHS and other agencies have put together to sweep up listening and filtering on these grand scales, where every bit of information is stored for future reference that is accessible to common data streams on common carriers, basically. So basically, anything you say can and will be used against you.

In Massachusetts, it's illegal for a cop to record your voice in a public place without informing you, because voice recording is old tech, and we were ahead of that case in the courts back in the 70s.

But it's not illegal for the feds to record your voice or email as it transits AT&T or whatever carrier, or to record your location data from your cell as you travel (or for local law enforcement to requisition it without warrant after the fact).

If you want to live in as close as we come to a perfectly safe society where these things are enforced, I invite you to move to Singapore. But this is the United States, where these things have always been based on personal liberties, and that "don't tread on me" thing, where the assumption is that most people aren't breaking the law and it's none of the government's business to monitor them like a police state.

We have, in fact, generally used the term "police state" for this kind of monitoring -- the gestapo, the stasi, and so on -- to characterize what America has over countries we don't want to be like. What makes us free. There are places in the world that have that kind of goosestep, but this has NEVER been that place, despite eruptions like the Red Scare and McCarthy and various immigration hysteria over the years. We've always recovered.

I just hope that hold true on this blip too.

But yes, if you want to avoid this, Singapore I understand is very nice this time of year. They can probably use more English as a Foreign Language faculty at the very least, and have some great universities, and you have good credentials for it. You might really groove on how they have things planned out there.

Freedom and trauma recovery are not a good mix for some people. If your first priority is to have people take care of you and keep you safe (and I will argue, at least online, that that's an illusion crafted to control rather than protect the majority of people -- and generalizes to offline as well -- search "security theater" -- or any of my work regarding the non-binary value of the term "safety" and neurotransmitters) you probably just shouldn't even be online.

The Internet is not safe space, and for anyone clever and motivated, just about any security can be subverted. (I'd say "any security at all" but I haven't seen every sort of security.)

The way you secure cyberspace is the way it was designed to be secured from initial design -- by minimizing loss. By designing for segmentation in case of attack (which is how this entire network was designed, after all). By having good backups. By having thick skin. By having good diplomatic skills. By having good moderation tools, to some extent, but understanding that a clever social engineer will get around them. By meditating and accepting the losses you take, and moving to the next step in the plan.

Pragmatically, although yes, you can catch criminals and block them and remove vulnerabilities -- rarely can you actually apprehend and jail and punish them in this brave new world. We will never, in the US, jail the legendary "chinese hacker" because those are foreign nationals who work for the PRC government for the most part, and may as well be special forces. Our courts are hardly set up to understand how to try and convict bullies in our schools, where there are witnesses to physical harm -- how will they accommodate online bullies where the judges have no concept really how to examine evidence?

The people gathering all this warrantless evidence are, perforce, acting as vigilantes because they know we are not fit or kitted out to execute any kind of justice -- what they want or what you want, or what anyone wants. The law is not caught up. The law, really, for the most part, is still stuck in the 60s -- and the law enforcement and spy agencies and various are really enjoying the freedom they have at the moment due to drugs and terrorism threats to make it up as they go along (well, most of them -- there are individuals in those groups who are existentially horrified and terrified for our country).

Essentially, the rule of law has broken down -- it's a classic "who will watch the watchers" situation. And if you feel safer, I can tell you, your feeling is sorely misplaced. You should feel less safe. Some of those agents out there, freed of the restraint of the Constitution, are following their own agendas under the cover of a lack of oversight.

There is so much money involved too. Follow the money... Sigh...

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/227507-wyden-very-concerned-about-privacy-impact-of-white-house-backed-cyber-bill

Note that these bills not only allow the companies to share info with the government but with each other, despite privacy policies.
 
Like I said, I guess I don't care if people are listening to me, because I don't have anything to hide. But I know that is not the issue here, at least not entirely. I would fight bloody tooth and nail if courts began to use these digital sweeps to arrest people for sexual orientation, or not liking state flags, or something like this. Which could happen, and we must remain vigilant over this type of potential threat to our civil freedoms emerging. I do not disagree.

However, going back to my initial comment, perhaps it is not the "listening" itself that is the problem, rather, what one is able to do with whatever has been "heard." I don't see how automated scanning of online exchanges by keyword driven machines causes a problem. Nothing even gets pulled for human analysis unless "red flags" are marked by the machines, and nothing gets done with those "red flags" unless the keywords -- or whatever patterning the machines are keying on -- appears to represent a potential threat when taken in context. So, maybe legislation should focus on what types of information can be scanned for and how that information can be used, rather than attempting to prevent the scanning at all?

Sometime back in the late 80's and into the 90's, I ended up matching an international "profile" for reasons I still do not know to this day. I think it may have been because I was a super young girl backpacking alone in Europe with extremely short hair during the time when the European terror groups, that were super active in the 70's, remained a lingering problem. Or maybe I just unwittingly spoke to someone problematic in a train station somewhere at some point. Who knows. But, it took ten years, my entire 20s, for me to be able to cross an international border without being pulled out of the line and searched. I was even taken off a Greyhound bus and denied entrance into Canada, taken off a domestic flight and put through security again, an unable to enter the US for 24 hours after returning from S.E. Asia.

Sure, this was all a hassle, and I am sure actual criminals were passing on either side of me while the authorities busied themselves unnecessarily with my searches. But there was never anything to find, I had never done anything to merit concern that I knew of. Yes, I was wrongfully swept up due to an erroneous "profile" mistakenly applied to me. Somebody f-ed up. But it didn't ruin my life! And I never had any legal problems stemming from this. Nor did I feel that my civil rights had been violated. Of course, I was not an innocent thrown into Guantanamo without charge for multiple years or wrongfully executed, as Carlos DeLuna apparently was in Texas. (Texas scares me). So, yes, there are horrible abuses and miscarriages of justice. But, let's try to maintain perspective.

I know the security services have some profoundly incompetent, sexist and racist yahoos lurking in their ranks and acting like "vigilantes." I have met them. These people are a menace. I know this. And surely we need better controls over institutional "cultures" and protections against these abusive hires, but they are not the majority. And, these "bullies with a badge" are a separate issue from the digital "listening" programs.

As far as companies selling my information to other companies so that ads can be targeted to me-- really, who cares??? I never even read online ads, I don't even see them. And even if I did, nobody can force me to buy anything. So, what is the problem?
 
This court ruling, reported by AP two hours ago, has bearing on this discussion


Federal judge: Terror law violates 1st Amendment
By LARRY NEUMEISTER | Associated Press – 2 hrs 8 mins ago


NEW YORK (AP) — A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a "chilling impact on First Amendment rights." She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who "substantially" or "directly" provides "support" to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.

"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so," the judge said.
She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that "may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.

"That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects," Forrest wrote.

She called the fears of journalists in particular real and reasonable, citing testimony at a March hearing by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Christopher Hedges, who has interviewed al-Qaida members, conversed with members of the Taliban during speaking engagements overseas and reported on 17 groups named on a list prepared by the State Department of known terrorist organizations. He testified that the law has led him to consider altering speeches where members of al-Qaida or the Taliban might be present.

Hedges called Forrest's ruling "a tremendous step forward for the restoration of due process and the rule of law."
He said: "Ever since the law has come out, and because the law is so amorphous, the problem is you're not sure what you can say, what you can do and what context you can have."

Hedges was among seven individuals and one organization that challenged the law with a January lawsuit. The National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law in December, allowing for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. Wednesday's ruling does not affect another part of the law that enables the United States to indefinitely detain members of terrorist organizations, and the judge said the government has other legal authority it can use to detain those who support terrorists.

A message left Wednesday with a spokeswoman for government lawyers was not immediately returned.
Bruce Afran, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, called the ruling a "great victory for free speech."

"She's held that the government cannot subject people to indefinite imprisonment for engaging in speech, journalism or advocacy, regardless of how unpopular those ideas might be to some people," he said.
Attorney Carl Mayer, speaking for plaintiffs at oral arguments earlier this year, had noted that even President Barack Obama expressed reservations about certain aspects of the bill when he signed it into law.

After the ruling, Mayer called on the Obama administration to drop its decision to enforce the law. He also called on Congress to change it "to make it the law of the land that U.S. citizens are entitled to trial by jury. They are not subject to military detention, policing and tribunals, all the things we fought a revolution to make sure would never happen in this land."

The government had argued that the law did not change the practices of the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to sue.
In March, the judge seemed sympathetic to the government's arguments until she asked a government attorney if he could assure the plaintiffs that they would not face detention under the law for their work.

She wrote Wednesday that the failure of the government to make such a representation required her to assume that government takes the position that the law covers "a wide swath of expressive and associational conduct."
 
The problem is not the ads, but the correlation of data. So, you may have nothing to hide, but say a future employer felt that consorting with cypherpunks and radicals (e.g. me) meant you were somehow suspect, and declined to hire you.

Would you feel badly about it? You don't know what some other paranoid idiot will decide is important - even critical to your future.

Remember the famous lament, "they came for the jews...". You think there is no threat to you; you have nothing to hide. Others have felt like that.

 
Shava, are you a radical? Should I "de-friend" you? ;-)
 
+Sterling Wright I have been called worse things than a radical. ;) My roots aren't showing though (that is what radical means after all -- "at the roots!"). I stopped bothering to dye my hair years ago. I let it go gray -- my picture is a few years old...:)
 
Well, I like the "radical" you. :-) Me, I'm just disruptive.
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