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The internet has been under relentless attack from business interests and their proxies in Washington for about 15 years and from the intelligence community for about 25 years.

Some of it you just can't make up - I don't have a link but I remember senator Orrin Hatch, one of the more corrupt US senators, stating publicly that he wanted the ability to remotely "zap" (and thus physically destroy) computers that had been "shown" to have copyright infringing material on them. That was around 2003 give or take. The level of hatred for the openness of the internet in Washington is nearly all consuming. It's a natural institutional response - bureaucracies like closed systems. It isn't just a matter of business interests buying politicians.

On the commercial side - from the point of view of consumers who don't want to be thrown in jail for downloading music and have a reasonable expectation of being able to access any website on the internet - I'm not worried. The draconian stuff that continually gets pushed forward in bills written by industries trying to save the old artificial scarcity business models are now limited by the damage that would be done to internet megacorps (amazon, google, MS, Apple etc) - as the latter are now about equal with the former in terms of political influence. Even with this comical mission creep of the DHS shutting down piracy sites for Hollywood - this afternoon I was able to access all my usual torrent sites. It's a "drugs on the table" stage show. It does nothing for Hollywood.

Wikileaks maybe changes things a tiny bit in that there is going to be a little more military / state department / intelligence community pressure and success in going after individuals who threaten their own "business models."

JakeS posted a link on facebook (maybe here as well) that gets into the war / narrative that Assange is fighting. I recommend reading it. Up until now we've been mostly considering internet issues in terms of the dynamic between business interests, consumers, and elected officials; the wikileaks business centers around bureaucracies, the intelligence community, and the rights of citizens. Napster was to the former as wikileaks is to the latter - shutting down either means exactly nothing.

Also note that the NSA already has access to effectively ALL internet traffic. The time to declare the sky was falling in terms of privcy and free spech rights was when this came out in 2006. The wikileaks business is to me just a sign that the catalyst has finally crystallized. I'm surprised this didn't happen a decade ago, it was feasible then.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 09:29:56 PM EST
I should add to the NSA bit that this comes down to the same thing this always comes down to - make sure your government represents you and not itself.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 09:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very insightful commentary. I'd just add to the part about the government representing me: I'm not anywhere near normal, and I suspect most of the people populating Eurotrib and the like aren't either.

That's the mastodon in the public square: normal people are so easy to manipulate (Farmville, anyone?), AND aware/alert people who want their civil privileges (I don't call them "rights" anymore) are really so few in number relative to them asses that the democracy we've got is a miracle of jury-rigged responses to greed, as it is.

Our democracy is a few greedy people in power manipulating the masses against the intelligent few. Sounds snooty and elitist, but ain't that the way it goes...

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 01:23:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not agree that "normal" people are uninterested in privacy issues, but as everything it takes organisation and lots of hard work to reach a critical mass.

Ta take an example I was involved in, the FRA law

The FRA law (FRA-lagen in Swedish) is a Swedish legislative package that authorizes the state to warrantlessly wiretap all telephone and Internet traffic that crosses Sweden's borders. It was passed by the Parliament of Sweden on June 18, 2008, by a vote of 143 to 138 (with one delegate abstaining and 67 delegates not present)[1] and took effect on January 1, 2009.

It was proposed in 2006 and the Pirate Party campaigned against it in the election campaign, without much success.

In 2007 it was presented to parliament. The Pirate Party ran demonstrations together with all the youth organisations for the parties in parliament. Some media attention. The left party and the greens got the soc-dems to oppose it and in sprig 2007 it was minority tabled for a year.

In the spring of 2008 the Pirate Party continued to campaign against it, focusing on parliamentarians within the majority coalition that had opposed it in the election campaign. Without anything news media considered it uninteresting, but online the campaign got traction and with a month to the decision, fashion blogs and sports blog started to discuss it. Still uninteresting for the media.

On the day of the decision, 2000 people gathered outside parliament. This is a big demonstration in Swedish terms and did get media attention. Party whips ruled the day though, but in the months to come it remained one of the most discussed political questions.

So my impression is that people are in general interested, once the message is there and the organisation to carry it. Takes a lot of work though.

Turning opinion into policy is the next step, and our o so democratic systems are set up to prevent that, but that is another issue.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 10:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes it was a great comment.

ormondotvos:

Our democracy is a few greedy people in power manipulating the masses against the intelligent few. Sounds snooty and elitist

nice job of internalising the narrative!

what's unreal here is that you feel uncomfortable with  maybe being called elitist, (because you want the greatest good for the greatest number, which if you were elitist, would be a fine case of noblesse oblige, nothing dishonorable at all), when what better example of all the negative ascriptions of 'elite' could you possibly find than a few greedy people in power manipulating the masses against the intelligent?

recognise a double-bind? moral hostaging through semantics...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 11:13:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Melo - I recognize your point, but I've passed it. Quite frankly, I've long ago given up trying to educate them asses, and am just coasting. From the oldest discussions of democracy, it's been recognized that democracy doesn't work.

The USA is NOT a democracy, but a corporate oligarchy. (Islam wants a theocracy that might annoy these rulers.) Hence, War of Civilizations.

I think my first clue about this was a quote by Adlai Stevenson in response to someone in a crowd who yelled out "Mr. Stevenson, all of us intellectuals are with you!" and he quipped "But I need a majority"

Yes, I'm that old. And I've spent my life since then trying to prove him wrong. I haven't. We make much ado about the Chicago School of Economics and Leo Strauss, and his "Noble Lies" but he was right, I think.

Will the internet be shut down? No, but it will become "parlous ground" indeed for the outspoken. (Side note: I participated in Cointelpro in the late 60's, as a victim. They called employers and told them I was "under investigation by the FBI". I was informed of this by two employers, despite their being warned not to do so. Later, I retrieved my filed under FOIA, and sure enough, there it was.)

So maybe I'm cynical and realistic. The government run amok is not just theory to me. Incidentally, the Conspiracy as Governance is an excellent piece of thinking. Sorry if I ramble. It's a privilege of old age.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 6th, 2010 at 03:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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