Daniel Ellsberg And Others Discuss The Serious Implications Of Wikileaks

from the public-discourse-on-private-infrastructure dept

I'm not often a huge fan of panel discussions, since it's tough to get together enough people who really have something interesting to say. However, I was definitely intrigued by the lineup at The Churchill Club's event last night, entitled: WikiLeaks: Why it Matters. Why it Doesn't? The headliner on the panel, was clearly Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, who has been quite vocal about the Wikileaks situation, and outspoken in his support for both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. However, the panel also included astute commentators on the modern tech, media and legal worlds: Clay Shirky, Jonathan Zittrain and Peter Thiel. This was clearly an A-list panel. The fifth member of the panel was Roy Singham, the founder and chair of ThoughtWorks, a company that sponsored the event -- which made me initially assume that he wouldn't have much interesting to say. This turned out to be wrong as he added quite a lot to the conversation. In fact, all five panelists added some valuable and thought-provoking insights.

What we got was a fascinating, nearly two-hour discussion, on a variety of issues related to Wikileaks, transparency, freedom of speech, politics and the law, which never got slow or boring. The event was streamed live, and the Churchill Club has promised to include the video on YouTube, so I'll post that video here as soon as it's up. While it's two hours long, I'd argue that it's well worth finding the time to watch the whole thing. I'd argue that Ellsberg's commentary is the highlight of the first hour, and Zittrain's commentary is the highlight of the second hour (in fact, I don't think he even spoke until almost an hour into the discussion). But the other three panelists all made some thought-provoking points as well.

Ellsberg kicked it off with a cogent analysis of the legal situation Wikileaks faces today. He noted that the US does not have an "Official Secrets Act," which would make revealing secrets illegal. In fact, he notes that while Congress passed one during the Clinton administration, President Clinton explicitly vetoed it. Instead, all we have is the Espionage Act, which is targeted at spies for foreign countries, not Americans leaking information to Americans. He points out that it's a huge stretch to make the Espionage Act cover leaking content, as it's clearly not designed to do that. However, he thinks that the Obama administration is going to try to do so, and he had an intriguing theory as to why. He notes that the Supreme Court has never actually tested the legality of criminal sanctions for leaking info, and that most previous Supreme Courts would have almost certainly rejected such an interpretation of the law. However, he's much less sure of the current Supreme Court, and he thinks the Obama administration is betting that the Supreme Court will back this questionable interpretation of the law.

He then explained his theory as to why Obama would do this, noting (fairly) that this is pure speculation on his part. He notes that despite all the talk about transparency that helped get President Obama voted into office, this administration has been much more secretive and involved in many more highly questionable acts than any previous administration. He noted that President Bush was involved in all sorts of questionable activities as well... but said that when push came to shove, President Bush was proud of his abuse of power, and happy to show it off when such stories leaked out. Obama, he feels, is actually quite embarrassed by his own abuse of power, and his response to such embarrassment is to try to keep stuff as secret as possible. It's as if he's declared war on whistleblowers who call attention to the things Obama is embarrassed about. Ellsberg notes that Obama has brought more indictments for leaking (five) than all other presidents (three) before. Thus, he's hoping that he can use the Espionage Act as a de facto Official Secrets Act, with which he can intimidate the press, and effectively force them to give up any leak sources to prevent future leaks. Abuse of power equals the quest for more secrecy.

Clay Shirky then spoke about the troubling nature of how we rely on the internet for public discourse, but that it's really privately owned, and how that puts tremendous pressure on guaranteeing that such speech will be in any way protected. He notes that, if you are looking to leak material, you should always leak it to an operation in a different country than the info is about, otherwise it makes it easy for the powers that be to pressure the private chokepoints to block the content. Peter Thiel then made an interesting point about the incredibly difficult position in which the heads of corporations are put in these situations. He notes that it's quite easy to say that you'd tell the government to take a hike if it called and said "stop hosting Wikileaks," but it's quite different to really be in that position. He claimed that the real issue is that the government simply has too much power, and that just by saying something, it can put tremendous pressure (much more than people realize) on companies to comply. He points out that the government has tremendous leverage, and mentions the stat that the average person "commits three felonies a day," and suggests that if the government wants, it can and will dig up such felonies to use against people. Thiel twice used the same joke that companies are to government like governments are to terrorists, claiming "we will never cave to terrorists/government... except in every single specific case."

Shirky pushed back on this point, noting that with a privately controlled internet, companies always have outs in their terms of service, that would let them dump any customer they don't like, and that was his main concern. However, Thiel got the better of Shirky in response by asking the audience how many people actually think Amazon dumped Wikileaks due to terms of service violations... or due to government pressure, and everyone agreed it was really government pressure. The terms of service issue is just an excuse to cover up the government pressure.

The discussion turned a bit to the players here, where Ellsberg noted that he has tremendous affinity for Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the cables to Wikileaks. Thankfully, the moderator pointed out that 2.5 million people had access to these documents -- a point that is often overlooked -- which suggests that others certainly could have leaked the info as well. Ellsberg also noted that he liked Julian Assange, though he believed Assange had made some mistakes -- but his real identification was with what Manning was going through, with politicians calling him a traitor and calling for his execution. History has mostly vindicated Ellsberg, but he notes that during the Pentagon Papers mess, it was not at all clear that would be the end result. Shirky tosses in a joke about how Assange is perfect for the press, in that he's "a monocle and a persian cat away from being a Bond villian," and notes how the NY Times put a massive attack piece on Assange on the front page at the same time as the first stories about the cable leaks -- and notes that no one did that with "Curveball," the source for Judith Miller's stories on WMDs in Iraq.

Ellsberg also notes that almost everything that Nixon got impeached for, through Presidential fiat, has now been declared legal -- something he finds very disturbing. He specifically calls out warrantless wiretapping (and later notes that Obama voted to give telcos retroactive immunity).

Later on (during the Q&A), Ellsberg made another salient point about Manning: According to international law, US officials are required to further investigate any claims of torture or any complicity in torture -- and Manning had tried to do that. As part of his job, he had discovered either that the US had tortured individuals, or handed them off to others to be tortured, and that was a violation of international law, which required him to investigate it. However, his superiors told him not to. Ellsberg's claim is that Manning was actually the only one who obeyed the law in this situation, and in exposing this issue, he was actually doing what the law required.

There was also a (slightly) heated debate between Zittrain and Thiel on the question of regulation. Thiel believed that less regulation would allow companies to act more independently of government, and Zittrain shot back that then you get situations like the BP oil rig. Thiel pointed out that the situations were entirely different. Zittrain summed it up by stating: "Who should I fear more: corporations or governments, because I just want to get my fears in order." That's actually a pretty good summary of much of the debate -- with the point being that both are issues, and focusing solely on one at the exclusion of the other would be a mistake.

Singham did a nice job talking about things like the massive abuse of gag orders on National Security Letters, and highlighted a group of librarians who stood up to the government, and noted Twitter's recent similar fight (though, he left out Nicholas Merrill who also stood up against a bogus gag order). However, Singham's most salient point was how Amazon's decision to shut down Wikileaks had much further reaching consequences than most people realized:
"What Amazon has done has totally set back the cloud computing movement."
As he pointed out, this move is making many individuals and companies think twice about using cloud computing -- especially if it involves servers based in the US or run by US companies. People haven't fully considered the ramifications of this.

Of course, I'd argue that Singham and the other panelists totally skipped over the other element of backlash here: the fact that much of this is spurring people into action to create distributed solutions that are more censorproof. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. If the response to this is to hold back a "cloud" system that is all about centralization, and instead promote a distributed cloud solution that has many fewer political and legal points of failure... that seems like it could be a good thing. Along those lines, Tim Bray pointed out that it was a bit disappointing that the panel was so US-focused, ignoring the fact that one of the key reasons why Wikileaks is still going strong is the fact that it's not in the US and can go elsewhere in the world. This is a really good point that was unfortunately not given any time at all in the discussion.

One other key thing that many people noted was lacking: no one on the panel was there to argue that Wikileaks was an unquestionably bad thing. Zittrain came the closest (but not that close) in suggesting that everyone had different roles to play, and that people like Senator Lieberman were simply using every power available him to make the case that Wikileaks was bad, suggesting this was his role to play, as it was others' roles to push back on that.

I'm a bit torn on whether or not the panel would have been better off with an anti-Wikileaks panelist. While it might have added more fireworks to the panel, I'd argue that the panel was plenty interesting as is, with lots of insightful points made and discussed. If there was someone on the panel who was anti-Wikileaks, most of the debate would have likely focused on the basic "Wikileaks good/Wikileaks bad" argument where neither side would have been convincing anyone who believed otherwise, and it would have diminished or drowned out completely the other more nuanced points that were made during the discussion.

All in all, I found the discussion to be fascinating to anyone interested in this subject. I wasn't quite sure what to expect going in, and I found that each of the panelists gave me something to think about -- often presenting things in a framework I hadn't really thought about. I didn't fully agree with any of the panelists on specific points, but all in all felt I learned a lot listening to the discussion, something that I rarely find to be true on panels. These notes only scratch the surface of what was said, so if you want to catch the whole thing, check out the video once it's available.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    I fell asleep before the end...

     

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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    That was a great write up, and I laughed out loud at the image as Assange as a monocle wearing, cat carrying Bond villain.

     

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    johnjac (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Can't wait

    for the video

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    So...

    ...did you tell them that we said hi?

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    "What Amazon has done has totally set back the cloud computing movement."

    Damn, I was going to send you the story I am writing on this. That one line totally obsoletes it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    A group of wikileaks apologists all egging each other on and kicking the usual opponents. Not a whole lot of new ground covered here.

    Actually, it makes me remember why I post here, because if everyone has the same opinion, there isn't much thinking going on. These guys set themselves up in one of the softest "panels" possible. Having at least one person on the panel who doesn't support wikileaks (or at least who isn't an outright fanboi) would have helped. This panel should have been called "Wikileaks: Why it matters, and why we love them all".

     

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    sidewinder, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    Koufax

    Outstanding article - how do we nominate you for a Koufax award?

     

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    Bruce Ediger (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    Re:

    We must have read different articles.

    I recommend you re-read Mike's commentary.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    We read the same articles. I disagree with TD on this one.

    Without having at least one critical mind on the panel, you have nothing that stops people from going way off into left field and making all sorts of assertions that aren't supported by facts, just by your fellow panelists.

    Example, the question of Amazon setting back cloud computing. It's amusing, but dishonest. Cloud computing doesn't mean "anything you want even if it's illegal" computing. A cloud (which is just a collection of servers facing forward as one) isn't any different from your own server or your own hosting account. Cloud doesn't magically make things legal.

    The whole question of Manning and torture is another red herring that would have been stopped pretty quickly. He isn't an expert in the field, there is no way for him to know exactly what is and what is not torture as per the Geneva convention, US law, and the law of the countries involved. Manning didn't obey the law, as the law doesn't require any individual to bypass the entire legal and military law system to investigate (stop fighting the war, quick, investigate now or you are breaking the law!). His duty is to report his findings to his superiors, and that is where it ends.

    Again, not having any critical people on the panel means that sputum like this can be put in public unchallenged, which is pretty much how these rumors and opinions get turned into "quasi-facts".

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    For once I have to agree with the AC. Its the same thing as RIAA panels never inviting Mike to come out and play. :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Cloud computing

    "Cloud computing doesn't mean 'anything you want even if it's illegal' computing."

    Right, so when the US government put together enough information to make the case to at least one judge willing to issue an order, then Amazon would scrutinize it carefully before shutting off their customer?

    But wait, that's not what happened.

    Sen. Lieberman's office made a phone call and Amazon put a bullet in the back of their customer no questions asked. Senators are reclining back in their leather chairs and calling out hits on websites. This is unbelievably bad any way you look at it.

     

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    TDR, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except that the evidence has proven again and again that the Wikileaks critics are overwhelmingly wrong in every way. So the panel's assertions stand.

     

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    Chosen Reject, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And by sputum you are referring to your comments about wikileaks' legality right?

    Amazon did set cloud computing back. Well, ultimately it was the government pressure that did it. Nonetheless, Amazon caved to that pressure and showed the world that a government can pressure a company and have legal content taken down and at the same time have that take down be attributed to a non-existent ToS violation rather than to the pressure from the government.

    Mike even said he was torn on whether the panel could have been better had an anti-wikileaks person been present. It certainly would have been different, but I agree that I don't know if it would have been better. There is a time for a pro/anti panel and I think that could be a good thought provoking panel. The problem with pro/anti panels is that it can be very difficult to get into nuances the way you can with an all pro panel. At the same time, the problem with an all pro panel is that it is very easy to get into an orgy of high fives.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Example, the question of Amazon setting back cloud computing. It's amusing, but dishonest. Cloud computing doesn't mean "anything you want even if it's illegal" computing. A cloud (which is just a collection of servers facing forward as one) isn't any different from your own server or your own hosting account. Cloud doesn't magically make things legal."

    Wow, you completely missed the point. First, the govt. twisted the law to try to pin something, ANYTHING, on Wikileaks. Then they pressured Amazon into shutting them down as best they could. The reason this is going to chill the cloud is because they now realize that they are at the mercy of a third party and that our government is willing to pressure those third parties to shut off people they don't like. Since with any business they're data IS their business, this is going to worry people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Cloud computing

    If you knew or understood anything about hosting, you would know that most hosts will do exactly the same thing. Hosting is a business of serving a lot of customers, not just one. They have to make sure everyone is happy. One of the ways to do that is not to take on higher risk customers.

    Wikileaks is a high risk customer. At that time, the chance of a DDoS on wikileaks was high (had already happened indirectly) and could potentially cause problems for other users. Wikileaks is of marginal legality, at least in the US, so Amazon providing service and taking such as risk is a real issue.

    Had Slow Joe not called them, I am sure that they would have pulled the site down shortly thereafter anyway. It just wasn't in Amazon's benefit to host them in any manner.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Without having at least one critical mind on the panel, you have nothing that stops people from going way off into left field and making all sorts of assertions that aren't supported by facts, just by your fellow panelists.

    So you think that these people lose their intellectual integrity when an adversary isn't around?

    The whole question of Manning and torture is another red herring that would have been stopped pretty quickly. He isn't an expert in the field, there is no way for him to know exactly what is and what is not torture as per the Geneva convention, US law, and the law of the countries involved.

    Does it take an attorney to know that solitary confinement alone is torture?

    Manning didn't obey the law, as the law doesn't require any individual to bypass the entire legal and military law system to investigate (stop fighting the war, quick, investigate now or you are breaking the law!).

    Are you an expert in the field? How do you know exactly what is and is not his duty? Didn't you just state that you needed to be an attorney or an expert in the field to have an opinion on these sorts of matters?

    His duty is to report his findings to his superiors, and that is where it ends.

    I guess since you're not an attorney, you didn't know that it's perfectly legal for military personnel to leak information and documents to members of Congress.

    Ethically, of course, documents and information should be sent to where they'd do the most good, in the eyes of the whistle-blower.

    Manning, if he did leak those documents, is the definition of a whistle-blower. (And who better to know the definition of a whistle-blower than Daniel freaking Ellsberg?)

    Again, not having any critical people on the panel means that sputum like this can be put in public unchallenged, which is pretty much how these rumors and opinions get turned into "quasi-facts".

    Again, it's unlikely that these people lose their intellectual integrity when an adversary isn't around.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except that the RIAA panels are filled with people who are inherently dishonest and have no intellectual integrity. I don't think you could say the same about Mike Masnick and Daniel Ellsberg.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    I'm a technologist at a Wall Street firm. The government's pressure on Amazon, and Amazon's decision to cave, made it clear that a public cloud is not an option for us, even for applications that don't involve private data. It's easy to imagine a scenario where my firm is vilified, so the provider shuts off service. That moment completely changed the risk profile of public clouds -- it couples an operational risk to reputational risk.

    The upside is that it makes the risk so clear; I now have perfect example to present to senior management when they question spending on private infrastructure.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is, critical minds tend to be pro-Wikileaks, or at most be neutral in the issue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As I mentioned in another thread, it is very likely that Amazon would have shut them down pretty quickly anyway, because they have little interest to bring "heat" against their network for no reason.

    I am guessing that Wikileaks got the account by remotely signing up, not actually dealing with anyone at Amazon, just going to their signup page and putting up the site. They were up for a very short period of time, hardly time for them to consider their options. Once contact about Wikileaks, Amazon chose to avoid heat that might be a negative for their company and for their other customers.

    It is not clear at this point if Amazon could have faced legal issues as a result of hosting. Certainly, they didn't need the heat. They made a choice. I don't think they wanted to end up sitting in front of a congressional panel live trying to explain their relationship with Wikileaks.

    Does that smack of jackbooted thugs? Yes. Too f-ing bad for Wikileaks on that one. They should have known better than try to host in the country they are attacking.

     

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    Johnny, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Ellsberg and Manning

    Can't wait to see the video, I always love to see Ellsberg speak. He is a well spoken, intelligent and ethical person.

    I can't help to think about Bradley Manning, who is certainly an intelligent young man with a conscience - and probably a fellow geek. Little by little he is being mentally destroyed by the US government, his future taken from him.

    The feeling of being powerless to stop his torture just pains me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, I would think that it is always better to have some opposition in the deal, it helps. What was proposed here (and by others) was to have a majority of the RIAA panel replaced by users (because there are more users than artists) which would have been totally meaningless.

    You don't even need an extreme person (far to the other side of the argument) just someone who sits closer to the middle and won't let the true BS float to the surface without being challenged.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

    Cloud computing

    Well, this situation showed the world that if you use "cloud computing", your content can be taken offline at the whim of the "cloud computing" provider. But most smart people already knew that.

    And for a user of cloud computing, being taken down is not even the worst scenario. It is quite easy to have a backup host ready to take over if needed (as The Pirate Bay did - how many times has it been taken down just to pop up again elsewhere in a few days or even hours?).

    A worse scenario is that your non-public content can be accessed (for instance, reading private messages between your users). An even worse scenario is that your content can be modified, for instance to spread malware or to subtly make it look like you wrote something you did not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They should have known better than try to host in the country they are attacking.

    Perhaps the problem was that they did not view themselves as "attacking" the USA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Ellsberg and Manning

    I can't help to think about Bradley Manning, who is certainly an intelligent young man with a conscience - and probably a fellow geek. Little by little he is being mentally destroyed by the US government, his future taken from him.

    You forgot to mention mom and apple pie. You have swallowed the marketing of this guy whole. Manning is a grunt who apparently wasn't very good at taking orders, and wasn't very good at keeping a secret. On the street, he would get the old "snitches get stitches" rule applied to his ass. People who leak huge amounts of classified information aren't exactly trust worthy, are they?

    Enjoy the pie.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Cloud computing doesn't mean "anything you want even if it's illegal" computing.

    Except nobody has yet pointed out how WikiLeaks breaks any law.

    Do you get the point now?

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Ellsberg and Manning

    Manning ... wasn't very good at keeping a secret.

    Then why hasnít he been actually charged with leaking any secrets?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Ellsberg and Manning

    Then where's the moral conscience of the USMJ? Oh waat, it got shot off in a war.

     

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    Some of my best friends are Anonymous Cowards, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    Yeah ok, anonymous coward "with an opinion". You're talking out of your ass. So don't complain when people mention you have bad breath.

     

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    Mark, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Amazon setting back cloud computing

    I think Mike's point is that since there've been no charges filed, nor court decision against WikiLeaks, to say that "Cloud computing doesn't mean 'anything you want even if it's illegal' computing" is misleading. "Innocent until proven guilty" is an important right in the US; when companies may decide their clients are guilty and levy punishment outside of the judicial system, this represents a risk to those clients. We might disagree on the likelihood and impact of the risk, but it's a risk nonetheless. Any smart individual or company makes risk assessments before decisions about e.g. where to host their website. How they classify the risk that Amazon/other cloud computing providers may deem your site's activities as illegal extra-judiciously determines how far centralized cloud computing is "set back."

    You might successfully argue that the risk is sufficiently minor as to not have a material impact on the rise of centralized cloud computing, but you didn't make that argument...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Ellsberg and Manning

    Your desperation is so cute, TAM.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Ellsberg and Manning

    You have a point: there are enough criminally violent sociopaths that have no regard for the rule of law out there that they pose a serious threat to Manning's physical well-being.

     

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    Ola Bini, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 4:04pm

    Panel is now available online

     

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    Drizzt, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    That moment completely changed the risk profile of public clouds

    I hope you technical guys didn't believe this. The only thing that has changed is, that Amazon was kind enough to show off early in the process of "cloudification" what an horrible idea that is. No "technologist" should have recommended any cloud services to his superiors or principals, ever, for any number of reasons, including loss of control over your data (maybe even amounting to legal problems who really owns the data, though this is probably more an issue for SaaS and PaaS deals), loss of service at a moments notice (not only for the reason Amazon used, but maybe your service provider goes bankrupt (in the latter case it might be difficult to get the latest state out of the cloud again, so you can relocate)), etc.

    The "risk profile" never changed, just the visibility of the attached risks.

    Cheers,
    Drizzt

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So you think that these people lose their intellectual integrity when an adversary isn't around?

    In absence of some sort of challenge, it is easy to convince yourself that your opinion is fact. They don't lose integrity, just perspective. You know, preaching to the choir sort of stuff.

    Does it take an attorney to know that solitary confinement alone is torture?

    See? You start with an attitude on this one. Solitary confinement is not considered torture. If it was, there would be literally thousand of people in federal prison in the US being tortured every day.

    Are you an expert in the field? How do you know exactly what is and is not his duty? Didn't you just state that you needed to be an attorney or an expert in the field to have an opinion on these sorts of matters?

    No, not an expert, just some experience in the area. In the military, you have only a few options in most areas, which is why the military generally works well. Command structure with few "outs". My point was that the speaker was refering to some legal obligation to report torture, without first establishing that there was any torture, and then not citing what law was calling for some action.

    Manning, if he did leak those documents, is the definition of a whistle-blower. (And who better to know the definition of a whistle-blower than Daniel freaking Ellsberg?)

    That remains to be seen. Considering that there are official(s) of a foreign government involved in Wikileaks, it isn't clear if this is some sort of whistleblowing or some sort of espionage deal. Clearly whistleblowing wouldn't need 250,000 documents. So it doesn't stick.

    Again, it's unlikely that these people lose their intellectual integrity when an adversary isn't around.

    Based on some of what is discussed on this panel, they were certainly given to opinion and wandering ideas rather than pure factual discussion. When nobody tells you that you have gone too far, how far is too far?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They don't lose integrity, just perspective. You know, preaching to the choir sort of stuff.

    Sure, in ordinary conversation, but in a publicized panel? I'd be careful about what I said if I were any of them.

    See? You start with an attitude on this one.

    What are you talking about?

    Solitary confinement is not considered torture.

    Yes, it is, by every country except ourselves and the countries that we censure for human rights abuses.

    If it was, there would be literally thousand of people in federal prison in the US being tortured every day.

    There are, which why why the UN wants to censure us for human rights abuses.

    No, not an expert, just some experience in the area.

    Which is why you were factually incorrect about what you said, then? Which is what you're saying that one of the panel speakers was? That's pretty hypocritical there.

    That remains to be seen.

    Yes, it does. Right along with who leaked the 250,000 documents.

    Considering that there are official(s) of a foreign government involved in Wikileaks, it isn't clear if this is some sort of whistleblowing or some sort of espionage deal.

    It also isn't clear if Bugs Bunny is involved, which is why conjecture like this isn't helpful.

    Clearly whistleblowing wouldn't need 250,000 documents. So it doesn't stick.

    Why not? The Pentagon Papers, which were leaked by whistle-blower Ellsberg, consisted of 47 volumes. Does the length of the document somehow invalidate the value of that leak?

    Anyway, those 250,000 documents have already shed light on quite a few important things, so I'd say that they're proven their value quite neatly.

    Based on some of what is discussed on this panel, they were certainly given to opinion and wandering ideas rather than pure factual discussion.

    The point of panels like these is to discuss what these speakers thought those facts meant, which absolutely means opinions and wandering ideas. That's the awesomeness of it.

    If it's just about facts, then they can issue a bulleted press release and not waste our time reading it out loud. These guys aren't exactly voice actors, you know.

    When nobody tells you that you have gone too far, how far is too far?

    When nobody has come up with an actual objection to a statement, how can you claim that it's too far?

     

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  37.  
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    Reine (profile), Jan 21st, 2011 @ 12:00am

    Cloud computing dead already ?

    As pointed out in other comments the most important in what seems to be an interessting discussion is

    "What Amazon has done has totally set back the cloud computing movement."

    BUT even more important is the twitter thing where they demand information of a members account. How can I now trust an american company to hold the data of my company ?

    I personally think cloud services is a good thing and a nice way to cut costs and gain flexibillity. But theese doubts might set back the development.

     

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  38.  
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    velox (profile), Jan 21st, 2011 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You still missed the point, and you didn't address DH's comment.

    It's not a question of whether Amazon would have found other reasons to cut Wikileaks off.
    The point is -- The obvious intervention by the government is going to scare off other customers who may have heretofore been prepared to spend considerable resources on cloud computing.
    That can't be good for Amazon's business in the long run.

    If this isn't clear enough for you, then read some of the other threads.,

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Jan 21st, 2011 @ 6:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Does it take an attorney to know that solitary confinement alone is torture?

    Let me bring up what some will very likely dub a "clearly biased piece". I just came across it, and it at least adds a touch of historical background. http://www.truth-out.org/bradley-manning-and-case-against-solitary-confinement66626

    >> Didn't you just state that you needed to be an attorney or an expert in the field to have an opinion on these sorts of matters?

    And despite that claim the other commenter made, I don't think the Geneva Convention applies only to lawyers.

    There is probably at least a little bit of truth in one of the major themes of that movie .. umm... can't remember the name right now... well, I'm sure the other commenter couldn't handle the truth .. I mean.. wouldn't recognize that lowly human beings without rank aren't absolved of their responsibilities over judging the right and wrong of some things.

    >> > making all sorts of assertions that aren't supported by facts

    I will look forward to the TD discussion on that video in order to see what those with differing opinions will present as facts.

    >> it's unlikely that these people lose their intellectual integrity

    I agree with the other commenter that a panel can lack perspective, but that doesn't mean more would be gained in any specific case simply by throwing in someone who disagrees strongly. In particular, we should seek those with opposing views who have a track record of arguing convincingly. Everyone has an opinion, but it helps if people can rise to the challenge that will present itself during such a panel.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Jan 21st, 2011 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re:

    But for non-private data, a large hosting firm like Amazon probably seemed like a good risk.

    Part of the problem is that you lose the "innocent until proven guilty" standard. This obviously is undesirable.

    We need to pressure for law changes that make it more difficult for companies to be disconnected.

    I would not put all blame on the government. Yes, they represent a lot of potential business (gained or lost) and as pointed out have tremendous leverage in other ways (eg, to strengthen enforcement on anyone that doesn't go along); however, I suspect Amazon recognizes the threat something like Wikileaks poses to a large firm like themselves. When profits come first, whistle-blowing potential is possibly not far behind.

     

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  41.  
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    TheOldFart (profile), Jan 21st, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ...to say that it sets back *US based* cloud computing. It's a boost for offshore hosted cloud computing.

    A Russian or Chinese company would have found it a point of pride to tell Lieberman to piss up a rope if he had called them and told them they should shut down Wikileaks. In fact, I'd be willing to bet they would have made a point of citing the US Constitution as a reason they should *not* shut it down.

    Having fascist senators referred back to the Constitution on a periodic basis seems like a "good thing (tm)" in my book... since they don't seem to be able to find it on their own.

    (and no, I'm not a teabagger, I'm just one of those Constitution respecting flaming progressives that Faux News warns about... and I despise Lieberman)

     

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  42.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 21st, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    My point was that they filled it with people from one side of the isle, not both. Also RIAA = Lawyer = Can tell no truth, is a given and basically didn't need to be said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    youtube broadcast available

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMzEdkiz5tY

     

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  44.  
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    mhenriday (profile), Jan 23rd, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Thanks for this well-written article, Mike -

    I very much look forward to seeing the video !... Henri

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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