Harknell's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the the-importance-of-a-free-and-open-internet dept

Hi Everyone, my name is James Harknell and I, along with my wife Onezumi, run the lifestyle blog Onezumiverse.com, have a new haunted attraction web series, and run a yearly internet focused convention called Intervention (which Mike graciously allowed us to post about last year). As you can expect from all of what we do, we have a very vested interest in making sure that the internet remains free and open. I’ve been a long time reader of Techdirt because it is one of the best places to quickly find information and analysis on the current (and sadly extended future) issues that could take this freedom and openness from us all. With this in mind I do find it a bit strange to pick my “favorite” posts in regard to this (in much the same way as “liking” a Facebook post about something unfortunate), but I’ll point out the posts this week that affected me the most.

One of the biggest threats to the internet comes from trying to apply legacy rules to what is a brand new medium and method for communication. There is an unfortunate ongoing attempt by different groups to bind and shackle online sites by misunderstanding the rules that are in play, such as what was reported on in regard to the new lawsuit against Yelp by a group of reviewers. The internet has enabled a very wide range of participation by people who previously would never have been able to have their voices heard. In some cases, this is through services that allow for aggregating content from a wide range of users, such as reviews. The important element is this is elective — if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to. If you feel a benefit from freely adding your opinion online then that’s a personal choice. To then retroactively define what work you freely did as “slavery” is absurd. While the service benefits from your actions, you also benefited by exposure, experience, or the joy of seeing your words appear online. You can always make your own service since it’s obviously so easy (so why don’t we see that too often?)

It’s also always interesting to see how those in control often don’t realize that they in fact don’t control as much as they’d like, in this case the UK’s David Cameron who is now threatening to clamp down on The Guardian over it’s Snowden releases. Exactly how shutting down a “local paper” will somehow prevent worldwide release of information is obviously not clear, or why they would imagine that this could work. The scary thing is that this will obviously prompt them to consider even more repressive methods to attempt to control the information they don’t want revealed, thus killing the internet itself.

At the same time it’s also somewhat depressing to realize that the outrage being expressed by non-US countries is really just a cover for what is now a worldwide level of hypocrisy about spying and the desire for population control among our world governments.

To continue the problem — if the NSA can spy on Google and Yahoo, what can regular citizens and online artists do to protect their privacy and work? It’s alarming how quickly things seem to be degenerating into a totalitarian minded world view by our (and most other) governments. It’s also enlightening to know that those in control literally don’t seem to understand why this is a concern. Of course it’s pretty obvious they hate when their own secrets get out, but their righteous belief in their own authority means they are Right (with a capital R), and we are all criminals or traitors just waiting to act. They can’t even really bother to try to cover it up any more.

Some of the only glimmers of hope come from the fact that the big tech firms have suddenly realized that they need to be more active about the situation or they will be dumped by their users for betraying their trust.

It really feels like we are in a very precarious time–it’s only through continued vigilance that we can stand up to these threats to our freedoms. I know I’ll be following Techdirt and other sources to see what I can do to help continue the fight, I hope you will too.

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Comments on “Harknell's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week”

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Anonymous Coward says:

although i agree totally with your comments about Cameron in the UK,what is so shameful about what he is doing seems to have come about by this unerring desire to do whatever the USA tells him! does he really think that if serious shit hit fan, the USA would come galloping across the Atlantic, like the cavalry over the hill to rescue the poor settlers from the Indian attack? if that’s the case, i would suggest he think again because the first concern and the last concern as well as all concerns in between would be for the USA!
as for anything else he is trying to do, he has obviously forgotten or is completely ignoring what his actions on censoring and banning are akin to. i am sure that, if this were to have happened 70years ago, he would have been one of those opposed to the events in Germany, under Hitler. i am therefore somewhat surprised at why he is following similar courses now, especially over the freedom of the press.
as for that, i agree that what the reporters etc did, are doing is disgraceful, but he is simply extending censorship to areas that he wants to be able to protect the rich and famous. i would like to know what it is that he is so afraid of and so afraid of anyone else finding out. the UK is supposed to be a democratic country, believing in freedom and privacy, as well as freedom of the press. that last part i thought referred to reporting, though. maybe the trips to China and finding out how the government there is managing to stifle all the people, without stopping too much in the way of innovation etc has rubbed off enough for him to want to try to bring it into play in the UK? i can imagine a ‘Tiananmen Square’ like incident in Trafalgar Square. it would go down like a lead balloon! but maybe that sort of serious incident is what is needed to get the bone idle British off their couches and into some sort of action to claim the country back from a prime Minister and Government that are following the ‘Corporate’ line, whilst ignoring the people !

Anonymous Coward says:

The NSA infiltrating companies networks should raise alarm bells to all business, specially those that are not BFF’s with the US government and are under their rule.

It means they are tapping all of those delicious secrets too and could use those to empower rivals or bring others down.

Someone believes this is beneath Mike Roger and company?

Anonymous Coward says:

Was Costas Tsalikidis a wannaby whistleblower?

I read that one of the companies spying for GCHQ/NSA was Vodafone, and that an unnamed telco had been helpful in the recent Spain spying.


That sounds like Vodafone Spain, because the others named don’t have a big presence in Spain.

If you recall in 2004, Vodafone Greece were found to have tapped the phones of prominent Greek politicians. Their chief engineer hanged himself, supposedly because he didn’t detect the hack.


But now we find that Vodafone may not have been hacked at all, rather it may be company policy to spy for GCHQ & NSA. So we have this death of Costas Tsalikidis now with more question marks over it.

Imagine if you found out that your company worked for a foreign spying agency? Imagine if you threatened to expose them and you were killed to shut you up.

Merkels phone tap began in 2002, meaning that 2004 would be the right time to discover this policy of bugging European allies.
[Vodafone recently bought Kable Deutschland BTW.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, it was 2002

Digging into the IEEE timeline, it was end of 2002 that the surveillance software was delivered to Vodafone.

Markels phone was tapped in 2002. When

It’s just too much of a coincidence here.
Look at the July 2005 entries where Vodafone destroys the visitors book for one of their data centers and upgrades a server eliminating the logs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Was Costas Tsalikidis a wannaby whistleblower?

The more I dig, the more I don’t like what I see.


“The country’s government last month announced, to general surprise, that Vodafone’s facilities had been used by ‘persons unknown’ to tap calls from BEFORE the 2004 Athens Olympics to March 2005. Among the 160-odd people whose conversations were listened to were Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, several of his cabinet ministers, the heads of the armed forces and Olympic security officials.” (my emphasis)

The head of the secret service in Greece was spied on:

The phones directed to 3 aerials and the spy was inside that area (triangle covers US and UK embassies and Sweden again).

This doesn’t sound consistent with the claim that European spy agencies did the spying. If Greece spy agency was involved, why spy on them?

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