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John Perry Barlow gave internet activists only half the mission they need.
"It was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, of all places, where John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996. That might have been an odd place for a poet and former Grateful Dead lyricist to pen a foundational document of internet activism, but it was also an apt one: Barlow’s manifesto, and the movement it undergirds, helped give us the dynamic—but also often deleteriously corporatized—internet we have today.

Barlow died on Wednesday at the age of 71. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the cyber civil liberties organization that he co-founded in 1990—where I used to work—shared in a blog post that he passed quietly in his sleep. He leaves us a legacy that has shaped the mission of the people fighting for the open internet. That mission is an incomplete one."



"I can’t help but ask what might have happened had the pioneers of the open web given us a different vision—one that paired the insistence that we must defend cyberspace with a concern for justice, human rights, and open creativity, and not primarily personal liberty. What kind of internet would we have today?"

[via:https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-252 ]
johnperrybarlow  individualism  californianideology  libertarianism  internet  web  online  2018  open  openness  creativity  liberty  cyberspace  justice  socialjustice  humanrights  race  racism  inclusion  inclusivity  openweb  aprilglaser  government  governance  law  eff  policy  corporatism  surveillance  edwardsnowden  nsa  netneutrality  sopa  pipa  fcc  privilege  power  prejudice 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Who Is Reality Winner?
"Those who criticize whistle-blowers often suggest that the offender ought to have followed a more “responsible” course — what Obama once called in his criticism of Snowden the “procedures and practices of the intelligence community.” There are reasons notorious leakers have stopped doing so, and those reasons involve a man named Thomas Drake. In 2002, Drake had concerns about a wasteful and unconstitutional $1 billion warrantless-wiretapping program later revealed to be among the worst and most expensive failures in the history of U.S. intelligence. He alerted the NSA’s general counsel, informed Diane Roark, a Republican staffer on the House Intelligence Committee in charge of NSA oversight, and, anonymously, informed congressional committees investigating the mistakes that led to 9/11. He alerted the inspector general of the Department of Defense, which launched an investigation. Colleagues warned him that he ought to stop. Eventually, the FBI raided Drake’s home and the Justice Department charged him with “willful retention of national defense information.” An assistant inspector general later claimed that the Pentagon was punishing Drake for whistle-blowing and had improperly destroyed material related to his defense. Drake lost his job, his pension, and his savings. His marriage fell apart. He now works at the Apple store in Bethesda, Maryland.

William Binney, a longtime NSA technical director, went to both the inspector general of the Department of Defense and Roark, with complaints about massive amounts of wasteful spending; the FBI raided his home, pointed a gun at him while he was in the shower, and revoked his security clearance. He was 63. (For good measure, they raided Roark’s house, too.)

Drake and Binney, among others, had attempted to work through the system, only to be retaliated against. But something shifted in 2010, when a 22-year-old private named Bradley Manning sent a trove of secrets straight to WikiLeaks. Snowden, 29, went to particular journalists he trusted (one of whom was Greenwald). These whistle-blowers spent far less time at their respective agencies or contractors and had considerably less faith that their superiors might be sensitive to their concerns. They were in their 20s, a time of great ideological foment for many intelligent people, and an age at which many are at their most ideologically rigid. Snowden and Manning were not career service people who had grown concerned with the way some work being done by colleagues violated the values of the institution in which they still believed, but newcomers — an IT contractor and a soldier — suddenly face-to-face with the whole system of American surveillance. And Snowden, in particular, knew exactly what happened to people who followed proper channels.

“The disclosure system, the whistle-blower system, the ability to bring wrongdoing and questions about policy, is fraught with corruption,” says Drake, who speaks mostly in a kind of outraged abstraction. “It does not protect the whistle-blower, the truth-teller. It’s designed to ferret them out and hammer them from within.”

For those inside the web of secrecy, that makes a bad mood on a bad day, a snap decision in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, potentially catastrophic."



"I didn’t want to see the river and think about satellites, just as I didn’t want to think about intimate conversations in Iran violated by linguists in Georgia, or sisterly banter on Facebook probed by prosecutors in Washington, so I thought about a story the family had told me, about a vacation to SeaWorld when Reality and Brittany were just girls. The Winners took in a show, watched sleek gray dolphins leap in unison, their sweet-sounding squeals elicited on command. Brittany was loving it. At which point her little sister — ever the explainer, ever the scold — declared that in captivity, the dolphins’ signals bounce crazily off the walls; their capacity for echolocation drives them mad. For Brittany, the show was ruined. It had been easier not to know what was hidden below the visible, beneath the bright surface of the cage."
realitywinner  2017  us  nsa  whistleblowers  chelseamanning  edwardsnoden  kerryhowley  military  airforce  languages  theintercept  glenngreenwald  corruption  surveillance 
december 2017 by robertogreco
How online citizenship is unsettling rights and identities | openDemocracy
"Citizenship law and how it is applied are worth watching, as litmus tests for wider democratic freedoms."



"Jus algoritmi is a term coined by John Cheney-Lippold to describe a new form of citizenship which is produced by the surveillance state, whose primary mode of operation, like other state forms before it, is control through identification and categorisation. Jus algoritmi – the right of the algorithm – refers to the increasing use of software to make judgements about an individual’s citizenship status, and thus to decide what rights they have, and what operations upon their person are permitted."



"Moment by moment, the citizenship assigned to us, and thus the rights we may claim and the laws we are subject to, are changing, subject to interrogation and processing. We have become effectively stateless, as the concrete rights we have been accustomed to flicker and shift with a moment’s (in)attention.

But in addition to showing us a new potential vector of oppression, Citizen Ex illustrates, in the same way that the internet itself illustrates political and social relationships, the distribution of identity and culture in our everyday online behaviour. The nation state has never been a sufficient container for identity, but our technology has caught up with our situation, illuminating the many and varied failures of historical models of citizenship to account for the myriad of ways in which people live, behave, and travel over the surface of the planet. This realisation and its representation are both important and potentially emancipatory, if we choose to follow its implications.

We live in a time of both mass migrations, caused by war, climate change, economic need and demographic shift, and of a shift in mass identification, as ever greater numbers of us form social bonds with other individuals and groups outside our physical locations and historical cultures. If we accept that both of these kinds of change are, if not caused by, at least widely facilitated by modern communication technologies – from social media to banking networks and military automation – then it follows that these technologies may also be deployed to produce new forms of interaction and subjectivity which better model the actual state of the world – and one which is more desirable to inhabit."



"It remains to be seen whether e-residency will benefit those with most to gain from reengineered citizenship, or, like so many other digital products, merely augment the agency of those who already have first-class rights.

As the example of NSA’s procedures for determining citizenship illustrate, contemporary networked interventions in the sphere of identity are typically top-down, state-led, authoritarian moves to control and discipline individual subjects. Their operational processes are opaque, and they are used against their subjects, reducing their agency. The same is true for most corporate systems, from Facebook to Google to smart gas and water meters and vehicle trackers, which abstract data from the subject for financial gain. The Estonian example shows that digital citizenship regimes can point towards post-national, post-geographic territories, while continuing to reproduce the forms of identity most conducive to contemporary capitalism and nationhood. The challenge is to transform the internet, and thus the world, from a place where identity is constantly surveilled, judged, and operationalised, to a place where we can act freely as citizens of a greater sphere of social relationships: from a space which is entirely a border zone to one which is truly borderless."
jamesbridle  2017  nationalism  politics  citizenship  estonia  digital  physical  demoracy  rights  jusalgoritmi  algorithms  nsa  migration  refugees  identity  borders  borderlessness  society  mobility  travel  digitalcitizenship 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Surveillance Self-Defense | Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications
"Modern technology has given those in power new abilities to eavesdrop and collect data on innocent people. Surveillance Self-Defense is EFF's guide to defending yourself and your friends from surveillance by using secure technology and developing careful practices.

Select an article from our index to learn about a tool or issue, or check out one of our playlists to take a guided tour through a new set of skills."

[See also:

"Worried about the NSA under Trump? Here's how to protect yourself: We don’t yet know Trump’s surveillance plans, but follow these guidelines if you think it’s better to be safe than sorry"
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/10/nsa-trump-protect-yourself

"Surveillance Self-Defense Against the Trump Administration"
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/12/surveillance-self-defense-against-the-trump-administration/

"A 70-Day Web Security Action Plan for Artists and Activists Under Siege"
https://medium.com/@TeacherC/90dayactionplan-ff86b1de6acb

"Surveillance and inaction"
https://phiffer.org/writing/surveillance-and-inaction/

CryptoParty
https://www.cryptoparty.in/

"Digital Security and Source Protection for Journalists – A Handbook"
http://susanemcgregor.com/digital-security/

"Don’t panic! Download “A First Look at Digital Security”"
https://www.accessnow.org/a-first-look-at-digital-security/

"Protecting Your Digital Life in 7 Easy Steps"
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/technology/personaltech/encryption-privacy.html

"The Source Guide to Defending Accounts Against Common Attacks"
https://source.opennews.org/en-US/guides/defending-accounts/ ]
eff  privacy  security  surveillance  howto  tutorials  technology  2016  nsa  onlinetoolkit  digital  internet  web  online 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Human Fear of Total Knowledge - The Atlantic
"Why infinite libraries are treated skeptically in the annals of science fiction and fantasy"



"Humanity’s great affection for the printed word notwithstanding, it’s clear now that books have been surpassed, at least insofar as what’s possible in terms of accessing and connecting information. One wonders what Borges, who died in 1986, might have thought of the internet, which has revolutionized our expectations about how human knowledge is stored and retrieved.

Wikipedia, a vast encyclopedia that is updated continuously by tens of thousands of volunteers, is often described as impressive and ambitious, which of course it is. But it’s also important to remember that mere decades ago it was technologically impossible. A century ago, the most ambitious compendia of human knowledge in the Western world was arguably the encyclopedia. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, as Denis Boyle writes in his new book about its history, was at the time “an inventory of the universe” practically a library all its own. Today, anyone with an internet connection has access to a staggering amount of human knowledge, more information than the thickest encyclopedias could ever have contained. Smartphones, from which people can summon answers by speaking aloud, are modern-day oracles.

No longer are encyclopedias and libraries the most ambitious ideas humans have for the collection and stewardship of knowledge. The expectation, increasingly, is that information ought not be collected in one place, but kept everywhere, so that it is accessible at all times. If the concept of an infinite book gave way to ideas for knowledge machines that now exist, today’s imagined future—with all-knowledgeable machines evolving into sentient computer minds—is more ambitious still. Ashby, the science fiction writer, gives the example of a concept explored in the film Minority Report. “Minority Report got a lot of attention for its gestural computing interface, which is lovely and delightful, but hidden in there is the idea of literally being able to page through someone's uploaded memories,” she told me.

And though brain uploading as a kind of immortality remains a beloved subject among transhumanists, today’s digital scholars are mostly fixated on figuring out how to store the seemingly endless troves of knowledge already swirling about online. These aspirations are complicated by the relative newness of web technology, and by the fact that the internet is disintegrating all the time, even as it grows. Groups like the Internet Archive are working furiously to capture data before it disappears, without any long-term infrastructure to speak of. Meanwhile, institutions like the Library of Congress are trying to figure out how the information that’s preserved ultimately ought to be organized. The hope is to reinvent the card catalogue, a system that’s already gone from analog to digital, and is now being reimagined for the semantic web.

The great paradox for those who seek to reconfigure the world’s knowledge systems, is that the real threat of information loss is occurring at a time when there seems to be no way to stop huge troves of personal data from being collected—by governments and by corporations. Like its fictional counterparts, today’s information utopia has its own sinister side.

(It’s understandable why, the journalist James Bamford has described the National Security Agency, as “an avatar of Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Library of Babel,’ a place where the collection of information is both infinite and monstrous, where all the world’s knowledge is stored, but every word is maddeningly scrambled in an unbreakable code.”)

But there is a check on all of this anxiety about information collection and Borgesian libraries. The threat that human knowledge will be lost—either through destruction, or by dilution due to sheer scale—is still the dominant cultural narrative about libraries, real and imagined. The Library of Alexandria, often described as a physical embodiment of the heart and mind of the ancient world, is so famous today in part because it was destroyed.

In The Book of Sand, Borges describes an infinite book that nearly drives the narrator mad before he resolves to get rid of it. “I thought of fire, but I feared that the burning of an infinite book might likewise prove infinite and suffocate the planet with smoke,” he writes. Instead, he opts to “hide a leaf in the forest” and sets off for the Argentine National Library with the bizarre volume.

“I went there and, slipping past a member of the staff and trying not to notice at what height or distance from the door, I lost the Book of Sand on one of the basement’s musty shelves.”"
libraries  borges  scifi  sciencefiction  2016  adriennelafrance  knowledge  fantasy  wikipedia  history  future  encycolpedias  nsa  jamesbamford 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Don't be a Stanford asshole | 48 hills
"Every new social wave to roll through San Francisco during its brief history has brought major disruption. Chinese immigrants were the targets of savage riots and official persecution. The hippies and gays of the 1960s and ‘70s sparked police crackdowns, street murders and assassinations. As I write in “Season of the Witch,” what we now call San Francisco values were not born with flowers in their hair, but howling, in blood and strife. But these new waves of human energy that poured into the city in the past not only triumphed, they made the city a more enchanted place. They breathed new life into a city whose foggy mystery and shimmering light demands such everyday magic. They made the food better, the nightlife more fabulous, the music more ecstatic, and the politics more epic. In the end, what will we be able to say about the tech invaders after they’ve had their way with San Francisco?

San Francisco’s new tech masters feel no need to justify themselves. They are absolutely certain that everything they touch turns to gold. They are, by definition, the future. But machines are not destiny, they’re just machines. Some bring social benefits, along with sky-high IPOs – and some don’t. As Leon Wieseltier recently wrote in the New York Times Book Review, “The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire…The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers.”

And yet the spirit of engineering is ascendant, and no place more so than Stanford and its urban outpost, San Francisco. On campuses like this one, the humanities departments are increasingly diminished by the reign of engineering and computer science. In a world such as this, rife with technologies and ideas “that flatten and shrink and chill the human subject,” Wieseltier observed, “the humanist is the dissenter.”

The humanities – the study and critical appreciation of the human enterprise – do not require a dose of the hard sciences to become more relevant, as the prophets of techno supremacy like to preach. It’s the other way around. Technology needs to be humanized. It’s not enough to create a cool app – you have to ask what it’s for, and whose needs it serves.

Are you going to create a software tool that lays off an entire industry, and replaces human interaction with bots? Or are you going to find ways to save the planet? And help liberate the human spirit?

Are you going to join America’s perpetual war machine and go to work for the CIA or NSA and spy on your fellow citizens? Or sign up with a Silicon Valley company that feeds private information to the government? Or — in the brave spirit of Edward Snowden — are you going to challenge that Orwellian system of thought control? You know, Snowden is the real-life version of Steve Job’s brave, young rebel – the one who threw that hammer through the Big Brother video screen.

This is what it comes down to…Are you interested in going public, or in serving the public – that’s the fundamental question a Stanford student has to ask these days. When I was in college, we had a saying – “You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.” Which one are you? A Stanford dick? Or are you different?"
culture  history  technology  siliconvalley  sanfrancisco  2015  davidtalbot  stanford  cia  nsa  surveillance 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Shoshanna Zuboff: Dark Google
"We witness the rise of a new absolute power. Google transfers its radical politics from cyberspace to reality. It will earn its money by knowing, manipulating, controlling the reality and cutting it into the tiniest pieces."



"If there is a single word to describe Google, it is „absolute.” The Britannica defines absolutism as a system in which „the ruling power is not subject to regularized challenge or check by any other agency.” In ordinary affairs, absolutism is a moral attitude in which values and principles are regarded as unchallengeable and universal. There is no relativism, context-dependence, or openness to change.

Six years ago I asked Eric Schmidt what corporate innovations Google was putting in place to ensure that its interests were aligned with its end users. Would it betray their trust? Back then his answer stunned me. He and Google’s founders control the super-voting class B stock. This allows them, he explained, to make decisions without regard to short-term pressure from Wall Street. Of course, it also insulates them from every other kind of influence. There was no wrestling with the creation of an inclusive, trustworthy, and transparent governance system. There was no struggle to institutionalize scrutiny and feedback. Instead Schmidt’s answer was the quintessence of absolutism: „trust me; I know best.” At that moment I knew I was in the presence of something new and dangerous whose effects reached beyond narrow economic contests and into the heart of everyday life."
ethics  google  surveillance  soshanazuboff  2014  business  politics  data  evil  bigdata  power  control  innovation  absolutism  ericschmidt  finance  capitalism  nsa  colonization  self-determination  reality  raykurzweil  europe 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Valley Of The Meatpuppets on Huffduffer
"The Valley of the Meatpuppets is an ethereal space where people, agents, thingbots, action heroes and big dogs coexist. In this new habitat, we are forming complex relationships with nebulous surveillance systems, machine intelligences and architectures of control, confronting questions about our freedom and capacity to act under invisible constraints."
anabjain  2014  dconstruct  dconstruct2014  bigdog  surveillance  machineintelligence  ai  artificialintelligence  technology  design  systesmthinking  individualism  privacy  future  wearable  wearables  nsa  complexity  googleglass  intenetofthings  control 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Everything Is Broken — The Message — Medium
"It was my exasperated acknowledgement that looking for good software to count on has been a losing battle. Written by people with either no time or no money, most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family. What we get is mostly terrible.

Software is so bad because it’s so complex, and because it’s trying to talk to other programs on the same computer, or over connections to other computers. Even your computer is kind of more than one computer, boxes within boxes, and each one of those computers is full of little programs trying to coordinate their actions and talk to each other. Computers have gotten incredibly complex, while people have remained the same gray mud with pretensions of godhood.

Your average piece-of-shit Windows desktop is so complex that no one person on Earth really knows what all of it is doing, or how.

Now imagine billions of little unknowable boxes within boxes constantly trying to talk and coordinate tasks at around the same time, sharing bits of data and passing commands around from the smallest little program to something huge, like a browser — that’s the internet. All of that has to happen nearly simultaneously and smoothly, or you throw a hissy fit because the shopping cart forgot about your movie tickets.

We often point out that the phone you mostly play casual games on and keep dropping in the toilet at bars is more powerful than all the computing we used to go to space for decades.

NASA had a huge staff of geniuses to understand and care for their software. Your phone has you.

Plus a system of automatic updates you keep putting off because you’re in the middle of Candy Crush Saga every time it asks.

Because of all this, security is terrible. Besides being riddled with annoying bugs and impossible dialogs, programs often have a special kind of hackable flaw called 0days by the security scene. No one can protect themselves from 0days. It’s their defining feature — 0 is the number of days you’ve had to deal with this form of attack. There are meh, not-so-terrible 0days, there are very bad 0days, and there are catastrophic 0days that hand the keys to the house to whomever strolls by. I promise that right now you are reading this on a device with all three types of 0days. “But, Quinn,” I can hear you say, “If no one knows about them how do you know I have them?” Because even okay software has to work with terrible software. The number of people whose job it is to make software secure can practically fit in a large bar, and I’ve watched them drink. It’s not comforting. It isn’t a matter of if you get owned, only a matter of when.

Look at it this way — every time you get a security update (seems almost daily on my Linux box), whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part of updates. People say “You should apply this, it’s a critical patch!” and leave off the “…because the developers fucked up so badly your children’s identities are probably being sold to the Estonian Mafia by smack addicted script kiddies right now.”



Recently an anonymous hacker wrote a script that took over embedded Linux devices. These owned computers scanned the whole rest of the internet and created a survey that told us more than we’d ever known about the shape of the internet. The little hacked boxes reported their data back (a full 10 TBs) and quietly deactivated the hack. It was a sweet and useful example of someone who hacked the planet to shit. If that malware had actually been malicious, we would have been so fucked.

This is because all computers are reliably this bad: the ones in
hospitals and governments and banks, the ones in your phone, the ones that control light switches and smart meters and air traffic control systems. Industrial computers that maintain infrastructure and manufacturing are even worse. I don’t know all the details, but those who do are the most alcoholic and nihilistic people in computer security. Another friend of mine accidentally shut down a factory with a malformed ping at the beginning of a pen test. For those of you who don’t know, a ping is just about the smallest request you can send to another computer on the network. It took them a day to turn everything back on.

Computer experts like to pretend they use a whole different, more awesome class of software that they understand, that is made of shiny mathematical perfection and whose interfaces happen to have been shat out of the business end of choleric donkey. This is a lie. The main form of security this offers is through obscurity — so few people can use this software that there’s no point in building tools to attack it. Unless, like the NSA, you want to take over sysadmins."



"When we tell you to apply updates we are not telling you to mend your ship. We are telling you to keep bailing before the water gets to your neck.

To step back a bit from this scene of horror and mayhem, let me say that things are better than they used to be. We have tools that we didn’t in the 1990s, like sandboxing, that keep the idiotically written programs where they can’t do as much harm. (Sandboxing keeps a program in an artificially small part of the computer, cutting it off from all the other little programs, or cleaning up anything it tries to do before anything else sees it.)

Certain whole classes of terrible bugs have been sent the way of smallpox. Security is taken more seriously than ever before, and there’s a network of people responding to malware around the clock. But they can’t really keep up. The ecosystem of these problems is so much bigger than it was even ten years ago that it’s hard to feel like we’re making progress.

People, as well, are broken.

“I trust you…” was my least favorite thing to hear from my sources in Anonymous. Inevitably it was followed by some piece of information they shouldn’t have been telling me. It is the most natural and human thing to share something personal with someone you are learning to trust. But in exasperation I kept trying to remind Anons they were connecting to a computer, relaying though countless servers, switches, routers, cables, wireless links, and finally to my highly targeted computer, before they were connecting to another human being. All of this was happening in the time it takes one person to draw in a deep, committal breath. It’s obvious to say, but bears repeating: humans were not built to think this way.

Everyone fails to use software correctly. Absolutely everyone, fucks up. OTR doesn’t encrypt until after the first message, a fact that leading security professionals and hackers subject to 20-country manhunts consistently forget. Managing all the encryption and decryption keys you need to keep your data safe across multiple devices, sites, and accounts is theoretically possible, in the same way performing an appendectomy on yourself is theoretically possible. This one guy did it once in Antarctica, why can’t you?

Every malware expert I know has lost track of what some file is, clicked on it to see, and then realized they’d executed some malware they were supposed to be examining. I know this because I did it once with a PDF I knew had something bad in it. My friends laughed at me, then all quietly confessed they’d done the same thing. If some of the best malware reversers around can’t keep track of their malicious files, what hope do your parents have against that e-card that is allegedly from you?"



"Security and privacy experts harangue the public about metadata and networked sharing, but keeping track of these things is about as natural as doing blood panels on yourself every morning, and about as easy. The risks on a societal level from giving up our privacy are terrible. Yet the consequences of not doing so on an individual basis are immediately crippling. The whole thing is a shitty battle of attrition between what we all want for ourselves and our families and the ways we need community to survive as humans — a Mexican stand off monetized by corporations and monitored by governments.

I live in this stuff, and I’m no better. Once when I had to step through a process to verify myself to a secretive source. I had to take a series of pictures showing my location and the date. I uploaded them, and was allowed to proceed with my interview. It turns out none of my verification had come through, because I’d failed to let the upload complete before nervously shutting down my computer. “Why did you let me through?” I asked the source. “Because only you would have been that stupid,” my source told me.

Touché.

But if I can’t do this, as a relatively well trained adult who pays attention to these issues all the damn time, what chance do people with real jobs and real lives have?

In the end, it’s culture that’s broken.

A few years ago, I went to several well respected people who work in privacy and security software and asked them a question.

First, I had to explain something:

“Most of the world does not have install privileges on the computer they are using.”
That is, most people using a computer in the world don’t own the computer they are using. Whether it’s in a cafe, or school, or work, for a huge portion of the world, installing a desktop application isn’t a straightforward option. Every week or two, I was being contacted by people desperate for better security and privacy options, and I would try to help them. I’d start, “Download th…” and then we’d stop. The next thing people would tell me they couldn’t install software on their computers. Usually this was because an IT department somewhere was limiting their rights as a part of managing a network. These people needed tools that worked with what they had access to, mostly a browser.

So the question I put to hackers… [more]
quinnnorton  privacy  security  software  2014  heartbleed  otr  libpurple  malware  computers  computing  networks  nsa  fbi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Our Comrade The Electron - Webstock Conference Talk
"Termen had good timing. Lenin was just about to launch a huge campaign under the curiously specific slogan:

COMMUNISM = SOVIET POWER + ELECTRIFICATION OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY

Why make such a big deal of electrification?

Well, Lenin had just led a Great Proletarian Revolution in a country without a proletariat, which is like making an omelette without any eggs. You can do it, but it raises questions. It's awkward.

Lenin needed a proletariat in a hurry, and the fastest way to do that was to electrify and industrialize the country.

But there was another, unstated reason for the campaign. Over the centuries, Russian peasants had become experts at passively resisting central authority. They relied on the villages of their enormous country being backward, dispersed, and very hard to get to.

Lenin knew that if he could get the peasants on the grid, it would consolidate his power. The process of electrifying the countryside would create cities, factories, and concentrate people around large construction projects. And once the peasantry was dependent on electric power, there would be no going back.

History does not record whether Lenin stroked a big white cat in his lap and laughed maniacally as he thought of this, so we must assume it happened."



"RANT

Technology concentrates power.

In the 90's, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.

But those days are gone. We've centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There's one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.

And there's the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).

Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.

But we've done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.

I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I'm not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.

When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you'd die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.

What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we've gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we're not even allowed to see.

The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.

And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today's web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people's real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.

What upsets me isn't that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said "hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let's make it". It happened because we couldn't be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let's take people's data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can't raise another round of venture funding we'll just slap Google ads on the thing.

"High five, Chad!"

"High five, bro!"

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?

Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!

I'm not saying these abuses aren't serious. But they're the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That's not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.

We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.

And now, of course, it's time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong."



"What I'm afraid of is the society we already live in. Where people like you and me, if we stay inside the lines, can enjoy lives of comfort and relative ease, but God help anyone who is declared out of bounds. Those people will feel the full might of the high-tech modern state.

Consider your neighbors across the Tasman, stewards of an empty continent, who have set up internment camps in the remotest parts of the Pacific for fear that a few thousand indigent people might come in on boats, take low-wage jobs, and thereby destroy their society.

Or the country I live in, where we have a bipartisan consensus that the only way to preserve our freedom is to fly remote controlled planes that occasionally drop bombs on children. It's straight out of Dostoevski.

Except Dostoevski needed a doorstop of a book to grapple with the question: “Is it ever acceptable for innocents to suffer for the greater good?” And the Americans, a more practical people, have answered that in two words: “Of course!”

Erika Hall in her talk yesterday wondered what Mao or Stalin could have done with the resources of the modern Internet. It's a good question. If you look at the history of the KGB or Stasi, they consumed enormous resources just maintaining and cross-referencing their mountains of paperwork. There's a throwaway line in Huxley's Brave New World where he mentions "800 cubic meters of card catalogs" in the eugenic baby factory. Imagine what Stalin could have done with a decent MySQL server.

We haven't seen yet what a truly bad government is capable of doing with modern information technology. What the good ones get up to is terrifying enough.

I'm not saying we can't have the fun next-generation Internet, where everyone wears stupid goggles and has profound conversations with their refrigerator. I'm just saying we can't slap it together like we've been doing so far and expect everything to work itself out.

The good news is, it's a design problem! You're all designers here - we can make it fun! We can build an Internet that's distributed, resilient, irritating to governments everywhere, and free in the best sense of the word, like we dreamed of in the 90's. But it will take effort and determination. It will mean scrapping permanent mass surveillance as a business model, which is going to hurt. It will mean pushing laws through a sclerotic legal system. There will have to be some nagging.

But if we don't design this Internet, if we just continue to build it out, then eventually it will attract some remarkable, visionary people. And we're not going to like them, and it's not going to matter."
internet  surveillance  technology  levsergeyevichtermen  theremin  electricity  power  control  wifi  intangibles  2014  maciejceglowski  physics  music  invention  malcolmgladwell  josephschillinger  rhythmicon  terpsitone  centralization  decentralization  cloud  google  facebook  us  government  policy  distributed  anonymity  ephemeral  ephemerality  tracking  georgeorwell  dystopia  nsa  nest  internetofthings  erikahall  design  buran  lenin  stalin  robertmoog  clararockmore  maciejcegłowski  iot  vladimirlenin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer | Mother Jones
[See also the follow-up Q&A on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1l9oud/iama_journalist_with_mother_jones_magazine_who/ ]

"Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? There's a cure for that."



"JOSEPH BONICIOLI mostly uses the same internet you and I do. He pays a service provider a monthly fee to get him online. But to talk to his friends and neighbors in Athens, Greece, he's also got something much weirder and more interesting: a private, parallel internet.

He and his fellow Athenians built it. They did so by linking up a set of rooftop wifi antennas to create a "mesh," a sort of bucket brigade that can pass along data and signals. It's actually faster than the Net we pay for: Data travels through the mesh at no less than 14 megabits a second, and up to 150 Mbs a second, about 30 times faster than the commercial pipeline I get at home. Bonicioli and the others can send messages, video chat, and trade huge files without ever appearing on the regular internet. And it's a pretty big group of people: Their Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network has more than 1,000 members, from Athens proper to nearby islands. Anyone can join for free by installing some equipment. "It's like a whole other web," Bonicioli told me recently. "It's our network, but it's also a playground."

Indeed, the mesh has become a major social hub. There are blogs, discussion forums, a Craigslist knockoff; they've held movie nights where one member streams a flick and hundreds tune in to watch. There's so much local culture that they even programmed their own mini-Google to help meshers find stuff. "It changes attitudes," Bonicioli says. "People start sharing a lot. They start getting to know someone next door—they find the same interests; they find someone to go out and talk with." People have fallen in love after meeting on the mesh.

The Athenians aren't alone. Scores of communities worldwide have been building these roll-your-own networks—often because a mesh can also be used as a cheap way to access the regular internet. But along the way people are discovering an intriguing upside: Their new digital spaces are autonomous and relatively safe from outside meddling. In an era when governments and corporations are increasingly tracking our online movements, the user-controlled networks are emerging as an almost subversive concept. "When you run your own network," Bonicioli explains, "nobody can shut it down."

THE INTERNET may seem amorphous, but it's at heart pretty physical. Its backbone is a huge array of fiber-optic, telephone, and TV cables that carry data from country to country. To gain access, you need someone to connect your house to that backbone. This is what's known as the "last mile" problem, and it's usually solved by large internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast. They buy access to the backbone and charge you for delivering the signal via telephone wires or cable lines. Most developed nations have plenty of ISPs, but in poor countries and rural areas, the last-mile problem still looms large. If providers don't think there's enough profit in household service, they either don't offer any or do it only at exorbitant rates.

Meshes evolved to tackle this problem. Consider the Spanish network Guifi, which took root in the early aughts as people got sick of waiting for their sclerotic telcos to wire the countryside. "In some places you can wait for 50 years and die and you're still waiting," jokes Guifi member Ramon Roca. The bandwidth-starved Spaniards attached long-range antennas to their wifi cards and pointed them at public hot spots like libraries. Some contributed new backbone connections by shelling out, individually or in groups, for expensive DSL links, while others dipped into the network for free. (Guifi is a complex stew of charity, free-riding, and cost-sharing.) To join the bucket brigade, all you had to do was add some hardware that allowed your computer's wifi hub to pass along the signal to anyone in your vicinity. Gradually, one hub at a time, Guifi grew into the world's largest mesh, with more than 21,000 members."

[For further exploration:
http://beforeitsnews.com/eu/2013/01/build-a-parallel-internet-avoid-control-2503606.html
http://igniteshow.com/videos/creating-grassroots-wi-fi-mesh-network-downtown-raleigh
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_community_network
https://www.wepay.com/donations/1129617243
http://www.dawn.com/news/1077527/anonymous-the-parallel-internet ]
internet  mesh  networks  privacy  2013  nsa  clivethompson  meshnetworks 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.  — Matter — Medium
"Resistance and surveillance: The design of today’s digital tools makes the two inseparable. And how to think about this is a real challenge. It’s said that generals always fight the last war. If so, we’re like those generals. Our understanding of the dangers of surveillance is filtered by our thinking about previous threats to our freedoms. But today’s war is different. We’re in a new kind of environment, one that requires a new kind of understanding."

[Update 3 March 2014: Kars Alfrink repsonds: http://tumblr.leapfrog.nl/post/78430061210/resistance-and-surveillance-the-design-of-todays

"OK, this is one of the best things I’ve read on Occupy Gezi Park in ages or probably ever. Last year I wrote up my thoughts on gameful design and the built environment in a chapter for The Gameful World and what emerged was mainly about legibility and resistance. This article describes in great detail both the workings and value of street protests and the mechanisms by which contemporary Western regimes (attempt to) control people. In my chapter I suggested that fuzzing, making oneself illegible, is the most effective strategy for resistance in this day and age. I think that is supported by what Zeynep Tufekci argues here." ]
surveillance  resistance  protest  nsa  2014  zeyneptufekci 
february 2014 by robertogreco
On the Outskirts of Crypto City: The Architecture of Surveillance | Creative Time Reports
"Amongst the banal office complexes of Fort Meade, Maryland, artist Ingrid Burrington investigated many of the private contractors that feed off of the National Security Agency surveillance empire and found what she calls "bland temples to the many demigods of an infinitely complicated cult.""
ingridburrington  nsa  surveillance  us  2014  architecture 
january 2014 by robertogreco
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"So what is TED exactly?

Perhaps it's the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough then the world will change. But this is not true, and that's the second problem.

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realization, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I'm sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are very complicated are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time –and the audience’s time— dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

Recently there was a bit of a dust up when TED Global sent out a note to TEDx organizers to not book speakers whose work spans the paranormal, the conspiratorial, New Age, quantum neuroenergy, etc: what is called Woo. Instead of these placebos, TEDx should instead curate talks that are imaginative but grounded in reality. In fairness, they took some heat, so their gesture should be acknowledged. A lot of people take TED very seriously, and might lend credence to specious ideas if stamped with TED credentials. "No" to placebo science and medicine.

But the corollaries of placebo science and placebo medicine are placebo politics and placebo innovation. On this point, TED has a long ways to go.

Perhaps the pinnacle of placebo politics and innovation was featured at TEDx San Diego in 2011. You’re familiar I assume with Kony2012, the social media campaign to stop war crimes in central Africa? What happened here? Evangelical Christian surfer Bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of Central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony’s still there. The end.

You see, when inspiration becomes manipulation, inspiration becomes obfuscation. If you are not cynical you should be skeptical. You should be as skeptical of placebo politics as you are placebo medicine."



"E and Economics

A better 'E' in TED would stand for Economics, and the need for, yes imagining and designing, different systems of valuation, exchange, accounting of transaction externalites, financing of coordinated planning, etc. Because States plus Markets, States versus Markets, these are insufficient models, and our conversation is still stuck in Cold War gear.

Worse is when economics is debated like metaphysics, as if the reality of a system is merely a bad example of the ideal.

Communism in theory is an egalitarian utopia

Actually existing Communism meant ecological devastation, government spying, crappy cars and gulags

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing Capitalism means Walmart jobs, people living in sewers under Las Vegas, McMansions, Ryan Seacrest…plus —ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?

The most recent centuries have seen extraordinary accomplishments in improving quality of life. But the paradox is that the system we have now --whatever you want to call it-- is in the short term what makes the amazing new technologies possible, but in the long run it is also what suppresses their full flowering. Another economic architecture is prerequisite."



"As for one simple take away... I don't have one simple take away, one magic idea. That’s kind of the point. I will say that when and if the key problems facing our species were to be solved, then perhaps many of us in this room would be out of work (and perhaps in jail).

But it’s not as though there is a shortage of topics for serious discussion. We need a deeper conversation about the difference between digital cosmopolitanism and Cloud Feudalism (toward that, a queer history of computer science and Alan Turing’s birthday as holiday!)

I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomics and bronze age myths, but instead on something more… scalable.

TED today is not that.

Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be re-arranged and re-programmed. It’s not true.

“Innovation” that moves the pieces around and adds more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary, ...the only boundary left is our imagination.” Wrong.

If we really want transformation we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

Instead of dumbing down the future we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration," it's about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins

At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest things that make us feel good but which don’t work, and don’t invest things that don’t make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder and harder to feel good about not solving any problems.

In this case the placebo is worse than ineffective, it's harmful. It's diverts your interest, enthusiasm and outrage until it's absorbed into this black hole of affectation

Keep calm and carry on "innovating"... is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.

In the U.S. the right-wing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality... other constituencies have TED."

[Now posted at the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted ]
benjaminbratton  ted  tedxsandiego  2013  politics  technology  sandiego  lajolla  communism  capitalism  kony2012  geopolitics  drones  nsa  surveillance  innovation  ambiguity  contradiction  demystification  cynicism  skepticism  cloudfeudalism  digitalcosmopolitanism  via:javierarbona 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Covert Capital - Andrew Friedman - Paperback - University of California Press
"The capital of the U.S. Empire after World War II was not a city. It was an American suburb. In this innovative and timely history, Andrew Friedman chronicles how the CIA and other national security institutions created a U.S. imperial home front in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. In this covert capital, the suburban landscape provided a cover for the workings of U.S. imperial power, which shaped domestic suburban life. The Pentagon and the CIA built two of the largest office buildings in the country there during and after the war that anchored a new imperial culture and social world.

As the U.S. expanded its power abroad by developing roads, embassies, and villages, its subjects also arrived in the covert capital as real estate agents, homeowners, builders, and landscapers who constructed spaces and living monuments that both nurtured and critiqued postwar U.S. foreign policy. Tracing the relationships among American agents and the migrants from Vietnam, El Salvador, Iran, and elsewhere who settled in the southwestern suburbs of D.C., Friedman tells the story of a place that recasts ideas about U.S. immigration, citizenship, nationalism, global interconnection, and ethical responsibility from the post-WW2 period to the present. Opening a new window onto the intertwined history of the American suburbs and U.S. foreign policy, Covert Capital will also give readers a broad interdisciplinary and often surprising understanding of how U.S. domestic and global histories intersect in many contexts and at many scales."
nova  virginia  2013  books  via:javierarbona  andrewfriedman  toread  cia  nsa  government  us  history  immigration  citizenship  nationalism 
december 2013 by robertogreco
▶ They're Watching Us: So What? - YouTube
[link points to Ariel Dorfman segment]

"Streamed live on Nov 14, 2013
With James Bamford, Ariel Dorfman, Glenn Greenwald, Bruce Schneier

Is the same surveillance that is meant to protect us from danger also harming us?

Are the NSA programs Edward Snowden has revealed inhibiting the way we think, speak, create, and interact? And what about the parallel universe of private sector spying and data mining?

Join luminaries from the fields of literature, technology, media, and policy for a discussion of what we know—and don't yet know—about how surveillance is reshaping our public and private lives.

Presented by PEN American Center in partnership with the ACLU and the Center on National Security at Fordham Law."
via:taryn  chile  arieldorfman  glenngreenwald  jamesbamford  bruceschneier  surveillance  2013  nsa  pinochet  oppression 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Lighthouse: IMPROVING REALITY 2013 - FILMS
"HOW ARE ARTISTS, TECHNOLOGISTS & WRITERS SUBVERTING OUR NOTION OF REALITY?

Lighthouse's digital culture conference, Improving Reality, returned for a third year this September. Talks included tours through worlds that artists are growing rather than making, critical revelations of the systems and infrastructures that shape our world, and narratives of radical alternative futures.

We’ve collected together the videos of the days talks, and invite you to join us in the discussion on Twitter and Facebook, or in any way you’d like. Visit the relevant session to watch the videos, and find out more about the themes, issues and ideas up or discussion.

In between sessions were a set of Tiny Talks, interventions from artists and designers involved in Brighton Digital Festival.

Session 1. Revealing Reality
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-one

Social, political and technological infrastructures are the invisible “dark matter” which underlies contemporary life, influencing our environment and behaviour. This session explores how the spaces where we live, such as our cities, are being transformed by increasingly interlinked technological and architectural infrastructures. We will see how artists and designers are making these infrastructures visible, so that we may better understand and critique them.

Speakers: Timo Arnall, Keller Easterling and Frank Swain. Chair: Honor Harger.


Session 2. Re-imagining Reality
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-two

Our increasingly technologised world, with its attendant infrastructures, is in a constant state of flux. This session explores how artists, designers and writers are imagining how our infrastructures may evolve. We will learn what writers might reveal about our infrastructures, using tools such as design fiction. We will go on tours through worlds that artists are growing, rather than making, using new materials like synthetic biology and nanotechnology. And we’ll see how artists are imagining new realities using techniques from futurism and foresight.

Speakers: Paul Graham Raven, Maja Kuzmanovic, Tobias Revell and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. Chair: Simon Ings.


Session 3. Reality Check
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-three

The growing reach of technological infrastructures and engineered systems into our lives creates uneasy social and ethical challenges. The recent scandals relating to the NSA, the revelation of the PRISM surveillance programme, and the treatment of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, have revealed how fundamentally intertwined our civil liberties are with our technological infrastructures. These systems can both enable, and threaten, both our privacy and our security. Ubiquitous networked infrastructures create radical new creative opportunities for a coming generation of makers and users, whilst also presenting us with major social dilemmas. In this session we will look at the social and ethical questions which will shape our technological infrastructures in the future. We will examine algorithmic infrastructures, power dynamics, and ask, “whose reality we are trying to improve”.

Speakers: Farida Vis, Georgina Voss, Paula Le Dieu, and Justin Pickard. Chair: Scott Smith."
timoarnall  kellereasterling  frankswain  honorharger  paulgrahamraven  majakuzmanovic  tobiasrevell  alexandradaisy-ginsberg  simonings  faridavis  georginavoss  paulaledieu  justinpickard  scottsmitt  reality  art  systems  infrastructure  politics  technology  darkmatter  behavior  environment  architecture  2013  flux  change  nanotechnology  syntheticbiology  materials  futurism  ethics  surveillance  nsa  edwardsnowden  bradleymanning  civilliberties  security  privacy  algorithms  networks  ubiquitouscomputing  powerdynamics  towatch 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Thoreau 2.0 - XOXO Conference Talk
[video now here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eky5uKILXtM ]

"So what I had thought was a convenience [mobile phone and 24hr alerts] had actually been the foundation for a little pyramid of anxieties. It made me wonder what other stuff in my life was behaving that way."



"Surveying, at least, let him work outside and in the woods, but he was often working for people who wanted to cut down the forest he spent all his free time in.

There's a pernicious idea that comes out of startup culture called "fail fast". I've always been a big believer in failing slowly. When you're not in for the money, success doesn't come to you pre-labeled. It can look just like failure. Chasing money makes it easier, because then you can quantify success unambiguously. Otherwise, you may have a hard time telling the two apart.

You can work on a lot of projects, but you will only get a couple of opportunities to work on something long-term. So I would say pick those carefully, do things that are intrinsically rewarding, and be very loath to abandon them. And work that day job if you have to!"



"The best piece of advice Thoreau ever got was from Emerson, who told him to keep a journal. And Thoreau did, for decades, using it as a personal diary, a record of his botanical and scientific observations, and a kind of staging ground for his serious writing. He would go back and mine it years later for passages to use in his work.

I don't think everyone needs to keep a literary journal, but I think it's vital to keep a work diary, for three reasons:

First, because it's the only honest record of what you're thinking at the time. Your memory will lie to you, almost immediately, about what you thought was going to happen on any given day. The only way you can trust it is to write down your state of mind - what you're worried about, what you expect will happen. And then over time you can go back and look for patterns of thought that you might want to fix. Maybe you're always too optimistic, or maybe you choose to work with toxic people, or chronically underestimate what things will cost. Writing it down will help you understand your mental habits, and correct for them.

Second, a work diary helps you track what you're actually doing. It's easy to get lost in the weeds from day to day, but are you ever spending time working on the things you think are most important? Thoreau was mistrustful of trivia the same way he mistrusted complexity, its capacity to take over our lives and push out what we value. An honest work record will tell you what you actually did, and what you spent your time thinking about.

Finally, and most importantly, writing things down captures the details that you only glean from experience. The one thing separating me from the high-IQ theoreticians on a message board is the fact that I've actually been running a bookmarking site for four years. Experience is priceless, you can't get it except by doing it, so you want to be sure not to fritter any of it away, and document the details as they happen.

They can come in useful later in the most surprising circumstances."



"It's not our job, Thoreau argues, to fix the world. We may not have the time for that. But we can't cooperate with injustice. If the law compels us to do something wrong, we have to break that law.

This doctrine of non-cooperation with civil authority would have a powerful effect on Gandhi and Martin Luther King."



"I've come to believe that it's time for us to take a stand, and refuse to cooperate with this apparatus of secrecy. We've already seen Lavabit, in an act of great moral courage, throw away ten years of hard work rather than acquiesce to blanket monitoring of its users. But the fact that Lavar wasn't even able to give the reasons for shutting his project down, that we had to infer them from his silence, demonstrates the problem.

If anyone is going to refuse to cooperate, it is going to be small independent projects, not large corporations. "The rich man—not to make any invidious comparison—is always sold to the institution which makes him rich"."



"We should commit to giving legal, financial and moral support to anyone who refuses to obey gag order, or publishes a National Security Letter. The secrecy exists because the programs it cloaks can't withstand the light of day. One good, timely push will break them.

Whether or not you agree with me, I would urge you to read Thoreau's essay, and decide for yourself: where do you draw the line? What will it take to make you stop cooperating?"



"So Thoreau had all these people, mostly women, who silently enabled the life he thought he was heroically living for himself.

But a gentler, more generous way to look at it is this. If you live a life by your own lights, and follow your principles, maybe once in a while someone will come and bring you a basket of donuts. And it's okay to eat the donuts! They're delicious!

Thoreau said about his two years at Walden:
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Thoreau wrote this never having tasted any of traditional forms of success. He was thinking of a different, more fundamental kind of success, one that I wish for myself, and earnestly wish for all of you."
maciejceglowski  2013  xoxo  pinboard  philosophy  life  resistance  failure  success  money  protest  nsa  prism  ethics  law  legal  thoreau  maciejcegłowski 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Snowden leaks: the real take-home - Charlie's Diary
"The big government/civil service agencies are old. They're products of the 20th century, and they are used to running their human resources and internal security processes as if they're still living in the days of the "job for life" culture; potential spooks-to-be were tapped early (often while at school or university), vetted, then given a safe sinecure along with regular monitoring to ensure they stayed on the straight-and-narrow all the way to the gold watch and pension. Because that's how we all used to work, at least if we were civil servants or white collar paper pushers back in the 1950s.

But things don't work that way any more. A huge and unmentionable side-effect of the neoliberal backlash of the 1970s was the deregulation of labour markets and the deliberate destruction of the job for life culture, partly as a lever for dislodging unionism and the taproots of left-wing power in the west (yes, it was explicit class war by the rich against the workers), and partly because a liquid labour market made entrepreneurial innovation and corporate restructuring easier (I love these capitalist euphemisms: I swear they'd find a use for "final solution" as well, if only some naughty, bad people hadn't rendered that clause taboo two-thirds of a century ago)."



"We human beings are primates. We have a deeply ingrained set of cultural and interpersonal behavioural rules which we violate only at social cost. One of these rules, essential for a tribal organism, is bilaterality: loyalty is a two-way street. (Another is hierarchicality: yield to the boss.) Such rules are not iron-bound or immutable — we're not robots — but our new hive superorganism employers don't obey them instinctively, and apes and monkeys and hominids tend to revert to tit for tat quite easily when unsure of their relative status. Perceived slights result in retaliation, and blundering, human-blind organizations can slight or bruise an employee's ego without even noticing. And slighted or bruised employees who lack instinctive loyalty because the culture they come from has spent generations systematically destroying social hierarchies and undermining their sense of belonging are much more likely to start thinking the unthinkable.

Edward Snowden is 30: he was born in 1983. Generation Y started in 1980-82. I think he's a sign of things to come.

PS: Bradley Manning is 25."
culture  employment  society  2013  charliestross  loyalty  genx  geny  generationy  millennials  edwardsnowden  government  intelligence  nsa  generations  neoliberalism  economics  hierarchy  behavior  work  policy  politics  bradleymanning  security 
august 2013 by robertogreco
NSA-Proof Your Email! Consider your Man Card Re-Issued. Never be Afraid Again. — Weird Future — Medium
"The watchword is self-reliance. They’re coming to take what’s yours, so you’d better be ready. Federate your email, buy a generator, make sure you’ve got good locks, and for God’s sake, carry a handgun. There are monsters in the streets and some idiot is arming them.

But how to defend against the errors of the masses unwilling to take care of themselves? Every message in my outbox is in some fool’s inbox; plain as day, as if I’d sent it straight to PRISM myself. NSA-proof? Not without a massive shift of collective action undertaken by a society of people who’ve spent the past decade or so dumping as many photos, feelings, and fantasies online as time and bandwidth would allow. Why not? I certainly did. It’s nice to have friends."



"These are, after all, ecological problems. And when you find yourself in a flood zone, or a wildfire warning area, or tornado country, self-reliance only goes so far. No amount of preparation will protect you if you find yourself staring at an onrushing column of smoke and all your neighbours built their houses with kindling. No amount of home renovation will fix the water if, somewhere upriver, some monster with an obligation to protect shareholder interests is filling the streams with mercury.

Even the Unabomber, holed up in his cabin in remotest Montana, couldn’t help but see passenger jets criss-crossing the sky."



"“There’s a second half to the prison’s design and no one seems to remember this. The second half is that the prisoners are isolated from one another. If they could coordinate, those few lonely bastards in the tower wouldn’t stand a chance. But their clients are kept separated and when the hammer comes down on one of them, all the rest can’t help but think ‘at least it wasn’t me’.”

She was close now, uncomfortably so. The urge to flee was overwhelming.

“That’s where the real power of the panopticon lies. It is spread around the circumference in the cell of every inmate. It’s like Disney. ‘Don’t worry little Dumbo, the power of surveillance was in you all along.’

“But how are you advising one another, in the face of our mounting influence? You’re writing Instructables about how to mask your personal digital fingerprint and telling yourselves that our victims had it coming because they didn’t take basic steps.

“So while we’re consolidating our strength, you idiots are all coaching one another into joint construction of solitary confinement.”"



"My hosts found me hours later in the marina’s bar, working my way through the fourth in a series of tall drinks with plenty of ice.

I said nothing about my encounter in the showroom. What was there to tell? That I’d had a conversation with my own paranoid delusions? That the security state had personified itself to lecture me about a french philosopher who’d died in 1984?

No. That was craziness, best left to the memory banks. The security state isn’t a person, it’s people. There’s so many of them and they’ve been given leave to take so many liberties that they’ve managed to become the environment. Like a demented terraforming project, they’re sucking down our communications and we’re breathing their air.

This is an ecological disaster and it demands an ecological response. We shouldn’t be protecting ourselves. We should be protecting each other.

My hosts were in fine spirits. The shopping trip had been a success and the boxes they had in tow carried the promise of excellent reclining. Good reclining is crucial in cottage country."
civics  security  privacy  timmaly  2013  canon  community  activism  collectivism  nsa  edwardsnowden  surveillance  internet  web  online  storytelling  panopticon  indivisualism  self-reliance 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Next Time, Pay Attention. | Quinn Said
"When the extra-judicial harassment of drug addicts began, in the 80s, or even back in the 60s, no one cared. “Ew, they’re drug addicts.”

We filled our prisons with young blacks and latinos destroyed by the drug trade, sent our Vietnam vets there, our crack addicts and tweekers. We got used to not caring about them. We hired police and taught them it didn’t matter what they did to those people and their communities.

When the extra-judicial harassment of Arabs began, in the 90s and then many times worse after 9/11, it was, we said, to be expected. “Well, they’re Arabs.”

On a few occasions, I stood outside in a protest of Arab registration in America where a still unknown number of men went into DHS offices, and never came home. We all watched the surveillance and intimidation of Muslim and Arab communities in America, the UK and Europe and said to those governments, it’s ok, because those communities have extremists.

Now the extra-judicial harassment of journalists has begun. And a bunch of folks are saying “How could this happen?”

You’ve been letting it happen and grow for 50 years. Congratulations on noticing. Now do something about it, because you’re next."
quinnnorton  2013  nsa  edwardsnowden  warondrugs  society  activism  history  hegemony  politics  us  terrorism  profiling  harassment  rights  abuseofpower  journalism  glenngreenwald  dhs 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Photocopying Michelle Obama's Diary, Just in Case - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic
"Barack Obama's analogy about washing dishes doesn't capture the NSA controversy nearly as well as this one."



"President Obama settled on a surprising analogy last week while explaining his theory of the NSA surveillance controversy to reporters. "The question is how do we make the American people more comfortable?" he said. "If I tell Michelle that I did the dishes -- now, granted, in the White House, I don't do the dishes that much -- and she's a little skeptical, well, I'd like her to trust me, but maybe I need to bring her back and show her the dishes and not just have her take my word for it."

The analogy has been widely panned, and for good reason. Almost as soon as I heard it, I thought of a different analogy that does a much better job of capturing the actual issues at play.

Let's stick with Barack and Michelle's home life -- but instead of dirty dishes, they're at odds over personal privacy. See, Barack snuck into Michelle's closet one day, dug through her belongings until he found her diary, and photocopied it. Then he replaced the original, locked the copy in his desk, and didn't think about it much until she found out months later and furiously confronted him.

"What? You stole my diary?"

"No Michelle, I didn't 'steal' it. But I am going to find a cage for whoever told you that I photocopied it.""

[See also: "The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama's Presidency"
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/the-surveillance-speech-a-low-point-in-barack-obamas-presidency/278565/ ]

"His tone on Friday was inappropriately dismissive, while the substance was misleading at best and mendacious at worst."
barackobama  surveillance  2013  nsa  data  privacy  internet 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Ecuadorian Library — Geek Empire — Medium
"Cablegate merely kicked the kneecap of the archaic and semi-useless US State Department. But Edward Snowden just strolled out of the Moscow airport, with his Wikileaks personal escort, one month after ripping the pants off the National Security Agency.

You see, as it happens, a good half of my essay “The Blast Shack” was about the basic problem of the NSA. Here was the takeaway from that essay back in 2010:
One minute’s thought would reveal that a vast, opaque electronic spy outfit like the National Security Agency is exceedingly dangerous to democracy. Really, it is. The NSA clearly violates all kinds of elementary principles of constitutional design. The NSA is the very antithesis of transparency, and accountability, and free elections, and free expression, and separation of powers ― in other words, the NSA is a kind of giant, grown-up, anti-Wikileaks. And it always has been. And we’re used to that. We pay no mind.
Well, dear readers, nowadays we do pay that some mind. Yes, that was then, while this is now.


So, I no longer feel that leaden discontent and those grave misgivings that I felt in 2010. The situation now is frankly exhilarating. It no longer has that look-and-feel of the Edgar Allen Poe House of Usher. This scene is straight outta Nikolai Gogol.

This is the kind of comedic situation that Russians find hilarious. I mean, sure it’s plenty bad and all that, PRISM, XKeyScore, show trials, surveillance, threats to what’s left of journalism, sure, I get all that, I’m properly concerned. None of that stops it from being hilarious.

Few geopolitical situations can ever give the Russians a full, free, rib-busting belly laugh. This one sure does.

If Snowden had gotten things his own way, he’d be writing earnest op-ed editorials in Hong Kong now, in English, while dining on Kung Pao Chicken. It’s some darkly modern act of crooked fate that has directed Edward Snowden to Moscow, arriving there as the NSA’s Solzhenitsyn, the up-tempo, digital version of a conscience-driven dissident defector.

But Snowden sure is a dissident defector, and boy is he ever. Americans don’t even know how to think about characters like Snowden — the American Great and the Good are blundering around on the public stage like blacked-out drunks, blithering self-contradictory rubbish. It’s all “gosh he’s such a liar” and “give us back our sinister felon,” all while trying to swat down the jets of South American presidents.

These thumb-fingered acts of totalitarian comedy are entirely familiar to anybody who has read Russian literature. The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

The Russians, by contrast, know all about dissidents like Snowden. The Russians have always had lots of Snowdens, heaps. They know that Snowden is one of these high-minded, conscience-stricken, act-on-principle characters who is a total pain in the ass.

Modern Russia is run entirely by spies. It’s class rule by the “siloviki,” it’s Putin’s “managed democracy.” That’s the end game for civil society when elections mean little or nothing, and intelligence services own the media, and also the oil. And that’s groovy, sure, it’s working out for them.

When you’re a professional spy hierarch, there are few things more annoying than these conscience-stricken Winston Smith characters, moodily scribbling in their notebooks, all about how there might be hope found in the proles somehow. They’re a drag."



"But Snowden sure is a dissident defector, and boy is he ever. Americans don’t even know how to think about characters like Snowden — the American Great and the Good are blundering around on the public stage like blacked-out drunks, blithering self-contradictory rubbish. It’s all “gosh he’s such a liar” and “give us back our sinister felon,” all while trying to swat down the jets of South American presidents.

These thumb-fingered acts of totalitarian comedy are entirely familiar to anybody who has read Russian literature. The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

The Russians, by contrast, know all about dissidents like Snowden. The Russians have always had lots of Snowdens, heaps. They know that Snowden is one of these high-minded, conscience-stricken, act-on-principle characters who is a total pain in the ass.

Modern Russia is run entirely by spies. It’s class rule by the “siloviki,” it’s Putin’s “managed democracy.” That’s the end game for civil society when elections mean little or nothing, and intelligence services own the media, and also the oil. And that’s groovy, sure, it’s working out for them.

When you’re a professional spy hierarch, there are few things more annoying than these conscience-stricken Winston Smith characters, moodily scribbling in their notebooks, all about how there might be hope found in the proles somehow. They’re a drag."

[See also the response by Cory Doctorow: http://boingboing.net/2013/08/05/how-sterlings-the-ecuadori.html ]

[And this related NPR segment: "Classic Russian Literature Sheds Light On Putin’s Russia" http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/05/10/putin-chekhov-dostoyevsky ]

[Something else that comes to mind:
The recent revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden were fascinating. But they - and all the reactions to them - had one enormous assumption at their heart.

That the spies know what they are doing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER ]
politics  wikileaks  nsa  spying  brucesterling  gogol  nikolaigogol  edwardsnowden  russia  cablegate  authority  democracy  hierarchy  power  control  lies  bradleymanning  secrecy  julianassange  cypherpunks 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Information Consumerism: The Price of Hypocrisy - Überwachung - FAZ
"In as much as the Snowden affair has forced us to confront these issues, it’s been a good thing for democracy. Let’s face it: most of us would rather not think about the ethical implications of smart toothbrushes or the hypocrisy involved in Western rhetoric towards Iran or the genuflection that more and more European leaders show in front of Silicon Valley and its awful, brain-damaging language, the Siliconese. The least we can do is to acknowledge that the crisis is much deeper and that it stems from intellectual causes as much as from legal ones. Information consumerism, like its older sibling energy consumerism, is a much more dangerous threat to democracy than the NSA."
edwardsnowden  2013  evgenymorozov  ethics  technology  nsa  informationconsumerism  consumerism  hypocrisy  piracy  politics  morality  economics  civics  citizenship  markets  capitalism  law  legal  internetofthings  internet  web  freedom  iot 
july 2013 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] verb impostors
"what would it mean for the Library of Congress to run Parallel Flickr or something like it? What would it mean for the Library not simply archive its own photos (which, I'll grant you, would be a bit of a circular argument) but to find all the other users who've ever interacted with their photos and – as an opt-in – offer to archive their photos as well. What if you extended that offer to all the contacts of those people as well?

It means that although the Library hasn't quite figured out how to archive all of Flickr but it can start to capture the context, and the people, who have crossed paths with the Library's photos.

But there's an important twist in this: That for as long as Flickr's login service can be considered reliable and trustworthy the Library pledges to honour the permissions model of those photos. And the moment there is any question about permissions any photos that aren't already public go dark and the so-called 70-year clock kicks in. At the end of those 70 years all of those public are placed in to the public domain.

There's a explicit contract here which is that the Library promises to preserve the permissions model in the present in exchange for a person gifting that present to the future. My hunch is that people would be lined up around the block to participate."

Finally because Parallel Flickr goes out of its way to mirror both the ID and URL structure of Flickr itself if means that two separate instances can be easily merged. What that means is that two institutions can each tackle the problem of archiving something the size of Flickr in managable bites, separately with an institutional focus, and merge their work as time and circumstances permit and to try and think through what it means to re-grow a network that big organically.

But some time around 2008 the then-and-current head of the NSA asked, reasonably enough it should be added, "Why can’t we collect all the signals all the time?" and so now we have among many others like it the Utah Data Center located just across the field from the Thanksgiving Point Butterfly Garden and Golf Club in Bluffdale Utah. This is, we're told, where all the signals will live.

I mention this because it exposes a fairly uncomfortable new reality for those of us in the cultural heritage "business": That we are starting to share more in common with agencies like the NSA than anyone quite knows how to conceptualize."



"So, how did we get here? I think we're still trying to figure this out but I can point to a couple of likely suspects.

The first is simply that consumer-grade technology leap-frogged the cultural heritage sector's ability to fund-raise and hire third-party contractors. That the NSA or any organization (see also: Google) is able to operate at this scale is impressive but it's not like they've made a jet pack. …

Which brings us to second suspect: A legal and political framework known as Unitary Executive Theory. Unitary Executive Theory is part of the long-running debate about the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch and it's a position that basically says: The legislature is fine however the executive can still do whatever it wants. … "



"If you hold to a particularly tree-hugger-ish and wooly-eyed world-view, as I do, that says we should finding ways to give voice to the oppressed or the otherwise simply ignored, to write a history whose tapestry is richer than simply the voices of the victors then the internet, and all the technology that we've built to support it, does a better job of furthering that ideal than anything that has come before it.

Historically we have equated the cost of inclusion with notability. This just doesn't hold anymore in a world cheap and fast computing power."



"So maybe this is what I think the challenge is going forward: To debate and advance a rhetoric, a measure against which we might be judged and challenged, that aims not to deny the future but simply to protect the present from itself. We are in, and have been living in for a while now, one of those "between two bus stops" moments and I don't have an answer to the problem I think we need to understand that it exists and that it's not going to go away on its own."
aaronstraupcope  2013  flickr  parallelflickr  loc  libraryofcongress  archives  privacy  nsa  inclusion  museums  collections  future  present  law  legal  internet  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Drone as Privacy Catalyst - Stanford Law Review
"Daniel Solove has argued that the proper metaphor for contemporary privacy violations is not the Big Brother of Orwell’s 1984, but the inscrutable courts of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.[11] I agree, and believe that the lack of a coherent mental model of privacy harm helps account for the lag between the advancement of technology and privacy law. There is no story, no vivid and specific instance of a paradigmatic privacy violation in a digital universe, upon which citizens and lawmakers can premise their concern.

Drones and other robots have the potential to restore that mental model. They represent the cold, technological embodiment of observation. Unlike, say, NSA network surveillance or commercial data brokerage, government or industry surveillance of the populace with drones would be visible and highly salient. People would feel observed, regardless of how or whether the information was actually used. The resulting backlash could force us to reexamine not merely the use of drones to observe, but the doctrines that today permit this use."
drones  privacy  law  legal  robots  danielsolove  mryancalo  nsa  technology  surveillance  bigbrother  1984  georgeorwell  government  industry  data 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Opt out of PRISM, the NSA’s global data surveillance program - PRISM Break
"Opt out of PRISM, the NSA’s global data surveillance program. Stop reporting your online activities to the American government with these free alternatives to proprietary software."
opensource  privacy  software  prism  nsa 
june 2013 by robertogreco
DEMILIT: The Dark Matter of the Security State
"The everyday of the security state is an always emerging rabble. What’s actually going on behind the scenes would not be terribly surprising, truth be told. It is the business of surveillance, run as a giant institution, with hierarchies and command chains, jealousies and dirty tricks, dry-erase boards, office rules, and sworn allegiances and company barbecues. One could take the approach of measuring stuff in purely physical forms: How many miles of fiber optic does the NSA require? How many teraflop-bytes of data storage? How many Sharpies? How many cubicles; how many codenames—how much of all this stuff? In the end, one would gets an almost infinite and Borgesian infographic—but an infographic nonetheless.

Meanwhile, what are the common extensions of the NSA and the rest of the security state: the next-door neighbor that makes a trust app on a laptop in their garage and licenses it to the government? What are the very particular machinations—the NSA jokes, for instance? Where are the mom-and-pop shops that devise a few lines of code? Who are the otherwise unemployed Hollywood or New York actors, screenwriters, producers, and gaffers that make an NSA recruitment video? Who installs the internet wiretaps, and where do they buy their lunch? Where does the paralegal grab drinks with the data analyst, and what banal intimacies do they share with the bartender?

Snowden (and others before him) revealed a certain “globality” to the NSA. But it is with a whole, vast array of human relationships, transactions, and negotiations with which the security apparatus wraps the world several times over. There seems to be a certain shared pleasure pulsating through the networks, as if delighting in the publicness of their own transgressions—which makes the Snowden revelations something quasi-theatrical; another hedonistic chance to show state power by disciplining him. This flow would be the actual “dark matter” that a salivating agency like DARPA could never boil down into a business requisition. Through the tendrils of this mesh, furthermore, flow the very constructs like “bravery” and “justice,” repeated as mantra, like a glue that bonds the intersections—words that are lobbed against those who poke out of the darkness. Snowden did his part, but it is never enough. Now it’s time to start."
2013  demilit  nsa  edwardsnowden  journalism  security  us  global  darkmatter  darpa  flow  cia  surveillance 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Banality of Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil’ - NYTimes.com
"The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal. But this isn’t a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances."



"Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture — a decent, humane and playful culture — has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency."



"The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism. This is the principal thesis in my book, “Cypherpunks.” But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in “repressive autocracies” in “targeting their citizens,” they also say governments in “open” democracies will see it as “a gift” enabling them to “better respond to citizen and customer concerns.” In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the “good” societies closer to the “bad” ones."



"This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing. “What Lockheed Martin was to the 20th century,” they tell us, “technology and cybersecurity companies will be to the 21st.” Without even understanding how, they have updated and seamlessly implemented George Orwell’s prophecy. If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces — forever. Zealots of the cult of consumer technology will find little to inspire them here, not that they ever seem to need it. But this is essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view of one simple imperative: Know your enemy."
don'tbeevil  google  ericschmidt  jaredcohen  julianassange  2013  technocracy  technology  government  surveillance  democracy  imperialism  colonialism  economics  californianideology  china  us  statedepartment  privacy  authoritarianism  googleglass  future  power  centralization  society  good  evil  nsa 
june 2013 by robertogreco
After September 11: What We Still Don’t Know by David Cole | The New York Review of Books
"How much are we spending on counterterrorism efforts? According to Admiral (Ret.) Dennis Blair, who served as director of national intelligence under both Bush and Obama, the United States today spends about $80 billion a year, not including expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan (which of course dwarf that sum).1 Generous estimates of the strength of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Blair reports, put them at between three thousand and five thousand men. That means we are spending between $16 million and $27 million per year on each potential terrorist. As several administration officials have told me, one consequence is that in government meetings, the people representing security interests vastly outnumber those who might speak for protecting individual liberties. As a result, civil liberties will continue to be at risk for a long time to come…"

"The rule of law may be tenacious when it is supported, but violations of it that go unaccounted corrode its very foundation."
9/11  waronterror  priorities  policy  civilliberties  us  georgewbush  politics  economics  money  spending  barackobama  torture  democracy  constitution  resistance  ruleoflaw  liberty  law  freedom  citizenship  equality  dueprocess  fairprocess  justice  margaretmead  history  dignity  terrorism  learnedhand  guantanamo  security  military  patriotact  nsa  cia  lawenforcement  lawlessness  war  iraq  afghanistan  alqaeda  2011  via:preoccupations 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Salon.com News | Exposing Bush's historic abuse of power
"Salon has uncovered new evidence of post-9/11 spying on Americans. Obtained documents point to a potential investigation of the White House that could rival Watergate."
via:regine  politics  law  surveillance  power  crime  database  corruption  datamining  abuse  georgewbush  panopticon  NSA 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Get My FBI File
"This web site helps you generate the letters you need to send to the FBI to get a copy of your own FBI file. We can help you get your files from other "three-letter agencies" (CIA, NSA, DIA, ...) too. It's quick, it's easy, and best of all, it's free!"
FBI  government  identity  surveillance  information  documentation  FOIA  NSA  DIA  freedom  personal  legal  privacy  research  security  history 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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