Luminous Animal's Journal
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Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 02:06 PM
Number of posts: 19,762
Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 02:06 PM
Number of posts: 19,762
Consider calls to single-purpose hotlines: NSA collection of our metadata means the government knows when we’ve called a rape hotline, a domestic violence hotline, an addiction hotline, or a support line for gay teens. Hotlines for whistleblowers in every agency are fair game, as are police hotlines for “anonymous” reports of crimes. Charities that make it possible to text a donation to a particular cause (say, Planned Parenthood) or political candidate or super PAC could reveal an enormous amount about our political activities. And calling patterns can reveal our religious beliefs (no calls on Sabbath? Heaps of calls on Christmas?) or new medical conditions. If, for instance, the government knows that, within an hour, we called an HIV testing service, then our doctor, and then our health insurance company, they may not “know” what was discussed, but anyone with common sense—even a government official—could probably figure it out.
But there’s more, says Felten: By analyzing our metadata over time, the government can separate the signal from the noise and use it to identify behavioral patterns. The government can determine whether someone is making lots of late-night calls to someone who isn’t his spouse, for example. When those calls cease, the government might reasonably conclude that the affair has ended. Metadata may reveal whether and how often someone calls her bookie or the American Civil Liberties Union or a defense attorney. And by analyzing the metadata of every American across a span of years, the NSA could learn almost as much about our health, our habits, our politics, and our relationships as it could by eavesdropping on our calls. It’s not the same thing, but the more data the government collects, the more the distinction between metadata and actual content disappears.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Sat Nov 23, 2013, 03:38 PM (3 replies)
Which side of history are you on?
Seventy of the world's leading human rights organisations have written to David Cameron to warn that the government's reaction to the mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden is leading to an erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms in the UK.
The coalition, which includes organisations from 40 countries, said it had become increasingly alarmed at the way the UK government had applied pressure on media groups covering the leaks and its use of national security concerns to close down important public interest debates.
"We have joined together as an international coalition because we believe that the United Kingdom government's response to the revelations of mass surveillance of digital communications is eroding fundamental human rights in the country," the letter states. "The government's response has been to condemn, rather than celebrate investigative journalism, which plays a crucial role in a healthy democratic society."
The intervention comes five months after the Guardian, and major media organisations in other countries, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, began disclosing details of the extent and reach of secret surveillance programmes run by Britain's eavesdropping centre, GCHQ, and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency. The revelations – now appearing in European media outlets – have sparked a huge debate on the scale and oversight of surveillance by the US and UK intelligence agencies.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Sun Nov 3, 2013, 10:42 PM (6 replies)
Bite on that NSA apologists...
In the special-election race that wrapped up last week, Mr. Booker campaigned on working across the aisle despite the bitter partisan divide in Washington. Drug policy could be one area where he finds some success, according to those who work in the field. He singled out Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian, as someone who sees eye-to-eye with him on the issue.
"I want to work with him," said Mr. Booker, about Mr. Paul, during an interview Tuesday at his campaign office in the city he led as mayor for seven years. "I take everybody in the Senate as sincere people who want to make a difference."
Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 12:56 AM (342 replies)
ystems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws. It requires stepping outside of one’s assigned organizational role. The chief executive is not in a better position to recognize systemic evil than is a middle level manager or, for that matter, an IT contractor. Recognizing systemic evil does not require rank or intelligence, just honesty of vision.
Persons of conscience who step outside their assigned organizational roles are not new. There are many famous earlier examples, including Daniel Ellsberg (the Pentagon Papers), John Kiriakou (of the Central Intelligence Agency) and several former N.S.A. employees, who blew the whistle on what they saw as an unconstitutional and immoral surveillance program (William Binney, Russ Tice and Thomas Drake, for example). But it seems that we are witnessing a new generation of whistleblowers and leakers, which we might call generation W (for the generation that came of age in the era WikiLeaks, and now the war on whistleblowing).
The media’s desire to psychoanalyze members of generation W is natural enough. They want to know why these people are acting in a way that they, members of the corporate media, would not. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; if there are psychological motivations for whistleblowing, leaking and hacktivism, there are likewise psychological motivations for closing ranks with the power structure within a system — in this case a system in which corporate media plays an important role. Similarly it is possible that the system itself is sick, even though the actors within the organization are behaving in accord with organizational etiquette and respecting the internal bonds of trust.
Just as Hannah Arendt saw that the combined action of loyal managers can give rise to unspeakable systemic evil, so too generation W has seen that complicity within the surveillance state can give rise to evil as well — not the horrific evil that Eichmann’s bureaucratic efficiency brought us, but still an Orwellian future that must be avoided at all costs.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Sep 16, 2013, 10:40 AM (1 replies)
Absolutely well worth reading and bookmarking.
Every couple of years, mainstream media hacks pretend to have just discovered libertarianism as some sort of radical, new and dynamic force in American politics. It’s a rehash that goes back decades, and hacks love it because it’s easy to write, and because it’s such a non-threatening “radical” politics (unlike radical left politics, which threatens the rich). The latest version involves a summer-long pundit debate in the pages of the New York Times, Reason magazine and elsewhere over so-called “libertarian populism.” It doesn’t really matter whose arguments prevail, so long as no one questions where libertarianism came from or why we’re defining libertarianism as anything but a big business public relations campaign, the winner in this debate is Libertarianism.
Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman. Back in 1950, the House of Representatives held hearings on illegal lobbying activities and exposed both Friedman and the earliest libertarian think-tank outfit as a front for business lobbyists. Those hearings have been largely forgotten, in part because we’re too busy arguing over the finer points of “libertarian populism.”
Milton Friedman. In his early days, before millions were spent on burnishing his reputation, Friedman worked as a business lobby shill, a propagandist who would say whatever he was paid to say. That's the story we need to revisit to get to the bottom of the modern American libertarian "movement," to see what it's really all about. We need to take a trip back to the post-war years, and to the largely forgotten Buchanan Committee hearings on illegal lobbying activities, led by a pro-labor Democrat from Pennsylvania, Frank Buchanan.
What the Buchanan Committee discovered was that in 1946, Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public. They also discovered that a lobbying outfit which is today credited by libertarians as the movement’s first think-tank — the Foundation for Economic Education — was itself a big business PR project backed by the largest corporations and lobbying fronts in the country.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 08:10 PM (8 replies)
This is a fantastic article written by Tunisian activist Sami Ben Gharbia
Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring
What we call the Arab Spring was the result of many seemingly small things, butterfly effects. One of them was a courageous woman named Chelsea Manning. If the U.S. will take 35 years from Chelsea Manning’s life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships.
For me, it all started in mid-October of 2010, with a direct message on Twitter from a good friend of mine. He belonged to a circle of digital activists with whom I worked closely with for years on many advocacy projects in the Arab World, from anti-censorship strategies and campaigns to building and training non-violent protests movements. In that DM he urgently asked me to speak over encryption with him. After one single OTR chat session, he sent me an encrypted zip file containing a trove of around 400 texts files organized in about 15 folders. All the folders were named after Arab countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain, etc. I didn’t know what was in them. He told me just before ending the chat session: do something with them, I trust you and trust your knowledge and judgment.
At that time I was based in Berlin, after having to flee my home in Tunisia 13 years before to avoid becoming a political prisoner. I had a position as Advocacy Director at Global Voices, a non-profit that supported international citizen media. That gave me the freedom to choose where I lived; I just needed a laptop and a good Internet connection. I’d also co-founded nawaat.org seven years earlier, a collective political blog focused on Tunisia, and censored in Tunisia by the government of Ben Ali.
I went out with my laptop and sat on the terrace of Morena cafe in the anti-establishment and counterculture neighborhood Kreuzberg. By then, I was one of a handful of people on the planet who had access to this sensitive dataset. I jumped into Tunisia’s folder, opened the first file and lit a cigarette, then the second file, the third, and the rest of the thirty files related to my country, with almost the same number of cigarettes. It was the Wikileaks U.S. State Department Cables, widely known as Cablegate, with all the political scandals, nepotism, and corruption of the disgraced Ben Ali regime. I didn’t have time to read the other Arab countries’ files. I knew I had in front of me a valuable set of documents that could be turned into action. This is what we were looking for during the last decade of strategizing and theorizing about citizen dissent media, diaspora media, exiled media, digital activism: the ability to inform and transform. This was momentum.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Wed Aug 28, 2013, 01:24 PM (5 replies)
JF: Why are you so confidant the world’s best code breakers can’t break the encryption in seized computers?
GG: Because I have read the documents of the world’s best code breakers, and they have talked about their inability to crack certain types of encryption.
JF: How do you think history will remember this whole affair? It is still unfolding but nonetheless, a lot has already gone down. What is Glenn Greenwald’s prediction on the historic legacy of all this?
GG: I think this will be the time the world realizes that the US and its closest allies are trying to build a surveillance system that has as its primary objective the elimination of privacy globally, by which I mean that everyone’s communications electronically will be collected, stored, analyzed and monitored by the US government.
I think it will be seen as the moment that the United States showed its true face to the world in terms of attacks on journalism and their desire to punish anyone who brings transparency.
JF: What precautions would you give to the average internet user vis-a-vis encryption?
GG: I think encryption is vital; I hope that people will use encryption in every way possible. It helps prevent intervening in their private communications, and they should definitely start using encryption.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 12:21 PM (203 replies)
“It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.”
This need, Ford went on to explain, was “…the thing people talk about when they talk about nicer-sounding things like ‘the wisdom of crowds’ or ‘cognitive surplus.’”
Ford, in his funny and slightly cynical way, was identifying a quality so profound to the Internet its people usually didn’t even realize it was new. This idea that participation was more important than qualification, that what made your opinion important was that you had an opinion. This was a new thing in the world, with its own magic. The Why-Wasn’t-I-Consulted faction showed up as open source and free software. It was there when bloggers took on the hoary greats of the news business. It powered Wikipedia, which shocked the world by doing better than anything the old world of accredited expertise could do. The un-consulted could not only appear as a creative force; they could appear as critique, suddenly coalescing into an Anonymous DDOS, or a street protest. They began to make their demands known, from Spain to Cairo to New York, talking across borders and ideological divides, creating distributed media, and above all, having opinions on things.
In January of 2011, Tunisians were exercising their need to be consulted with a word: “Dégage!” Meaning, roughly, “Get out!”, directed at Ben Ali from Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts and most importantly, hundreds of thousands of human voices on the street.
If this is democracy, it is a democracy the world has never known. A kind of kudzu of democracy, small, tenacious, and demanding its way into every crack of the edifices of the old world.
“Why wasn’t I consulted?” is the fundamental question of post-network democracy, and the fundamental question of the Internet, to which the state mechanisms have so far replied: “Who the hell do you think you are?”
Posted by Luminous Animal | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 12:45 AM (6 replies)
The Times’s involvement in the story also brings into sharp relief a second question: Whether carrying classified documents across national borders can be an act of journalism. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin recently compared David Miranda, Greenwald’s partner, to a “drug mule” for having sought to bring a thumb drive with classified documents from Brazil into the United Kingdom; British officials detained Miranda and confiscated data he was carrying.
Now the Times or an agent for the paper, too, appears to have carried digital files from the United Kingdom across international lines into the United States. Discussions of how to partner on the documents were carried out in person between top Guardian editors and Times executive editor Jill Abramson, all of whom declined to comment on the movement of documents. But it appears likely that someone at one of the two papers physically carried a drive with Snowden’s GCHQ leaks from London to New York or Washington
Posted by Luminous Animal | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 04:00 PM (18 replies)