Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why I am afraid

The Single Best Overview of What the Surveillance State Does With Our Private Data

Oct 9 2013, 6:00 AM ET

Even though the people being spied on are often totally innocent, the government stores their information for a very long time.

The U.S. surveillance debate is constantly distorted by the fact that national-security officials hide, obscure, and distort so much of what they do. Occasionally a journalist is able to expand the store of publicly available information, most recently thanks to Edward Snowden's indispensable NSA leaks. But even public information about government surveillance and data retention is difficult to convey to a mass audience. It involves multiple federal agencies with overlapping roles. The relevant laws and rules are complicated, jargon is ubiquitous, and surveillance advocates often don't play fair: They use words in ways that bear little relation to their generally accepted meaning, make technically accurate statements that are highly misleading, and even outright lie, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did before Congress.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Twitter Facebook and Questions with Unintended Consequences

Last night I worked very late, so late that I fell asleep at my desk. I found myself walking into a huge building by the sea, a convention center.  Admission was free, inside there were many rooms.  On the doors there were what appeared to be subjects of interest: Politics, Business, Poetry, Religion, Internet Services, Sustainability, Global Warming, etc. I entered one that appealed to me.  In it I found thousands of people standing elbow to elbow, people of all sizes and colors, speaking many languages, but English for the most part, many with interestingly English-as-second-language sentence structures and words. Their attires reflected the world, and activities and lifestyles ranging from poets to explorers to programmers to marketing consultants to business managers and entrepreneurs just starting new internet ventures. Those you could single out from the raggedy clothes and visible optimism and excitement in their faces.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When the lights go out

Groklaw announced its own termination as a blog, another light going out following Lavabit and others.  I can't speak for Lavabit, which I never used because I never thought that my banal communications needed hiding.  Only occasionally I read Groklaw, but from my limited use its existence was proof that the web is not just for porno, lightweight thinking and Facebook chatter.  It was insightful and interesting, in its own way as TED conferences are.  It made me think.

In its closing post it made me think, a lot. I could feel the pain of its author Pamela Jones, her bewilderment at what we have become as a nation and where we are going, how we are losing our basic right to be left alone, the psychological independence of solitude.