Author And Former Covert CIA Operative Barry Eisler On Why You Should Support Techdirt

from the if-he-says-it,-you-should-do-it... dept

Our crowdfunding campaign to support our coverage of the encryption fight continues, and following on EFF director Cindy Cohn's post on why you should support Techdirt, this week we have former CIA covert operative and current author Barry Eisler -- an occasional Techdirt contributor whose thriller novel NSA surveillance overreach is a must read -- has also shared his thoughts.

Help Techdirt Cut Through The Confusion In The Crypto Fight

When I want to quickly and thoroughly understand an emerging topic in intellectual property, privacy, or governmental overreach—whether as a concerned citizen, or as a novelist researching a story, or both—my first stop is Techdirt. It's not just that their coverage of these topics is so original and insightful—though it always is. It's also that their worldview is so refreshingly nonpartisan, by which I mean they not only don't care, but actually seem not to be aware, of what political, financial, or corporate interests their truth-telling might offend.

The government's current attempt to dragoon Apple into subverting the encryption that keeps its users' data private is a premier example. There is no more important issue facing our information-age society than encryption. If encryption is strong, we can have the same feeling of security about our online lives—what we say, who we associate with, where we go, what we're thinking, etc.—that we do in our physical lives.

If, on the other hand, the government succeeds in forcing Apple to weaken the mechanisms by which its customers keep their communications and information private, those new weaknesses will be exploitable not just by the American government, but also by America's adversaries—including online criminal groups and hackers. And we will have accepted a precedent by which the government can force a private company to divert its engineering efforts to government-ordered ends (pause for a moment to marvel that people who self-identify as "small government" conservatives actually want this to happen). It's hard to know which would be worse—the process, or the outcome.

In short: there's only one thing that might redress the increasing imbalance between what the government knows about us and what we know about the government: ubiquitous strong encryption. Laws are what the government shall not do. Encryption is what the government cannot do.

This is why the government is currently going to such drastic lengths to try to render encryption impotent. And naturally, it's relying on fear and ignorance to help get the job done.

I know of no better weapon against that fear and ignorance than Techdirt—a critical resource for clear thinking, accurate information, and evidence-based arguments fatal to propaganda. I hope you'll join me in supporting their ongoing efforts. After all, the various politicians all scrambling to become president aren't going to help us solve this mess. In fact, as Techdirt itself has chronicled, they're a huge part of the problem.

Help Techdirt Cut Through The Confusion In The Crypto Fight
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Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: barry eisler, crowdfunding, techdirt


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 12:49pm

    Thanks!

    Thank you, Barry Eisler, for sharing your thoughts with us.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 1:04pm

    After all, the various politicians all scrambling to become president aren't going to help us solve this mess.

    Yet no president would stand for the constitution can be elected.

    We are past the point of no return ladies and gents... the fight was lost the moment we let Bush create DHS/TSA, the Patriot Act, and began to run scared every time someone mentions the word terrorism.

    I plan on sitting here and watching all the people burn in the fire they built in a frenzy for safety.

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

  • icon
    Carl (profile), 9 Mar 2016 @ 2:03pm

    Barry is the Best

    My son read every Barry Eisler book before he was 18. Barry inspired him to apply to Cornell (Barry's AM), and he even updated the Cornell Alumni Wikipedia page with Barry's name. Barry is the best. Keep up the good work.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 4:20pm

    HEY YOU! YES, YOU, LIVING IN YOUR MOTHER'S BASEMENT!

    ASK YOURSELF IF TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Do you hate the government?

    Do you agree that more privacy is always better, no matter what, and there's no need to even consider any other possibility?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Do you hate copyright?

    Do you blindly accept that any and all beliefs about the benefits of copyright must be the product of unnamed "legacy" lobbyists?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Do you understand the All Writs Act?

    Do you want someone who doesn't understand it, but who will regurgitate what others have said about it (so long as it's bad for the government's position), to explain it to you?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Do you remember SOPA?

    Do you want someone to call every little thing that's suggested to fight online piracy "SOPA," even if it's not?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Do you like to give away your hard-earned money?

    Do you want to give that money to a company that can't earn enough money from it's own "new" business model, even though it insists that everyone else should be using "new" business models?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    Don't you just hate experts?

    Wouldn't you prefer an extremely biased novice explaining complex issues to you like they're black and white and super simple?

    THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

    STOP THINKING, AND START DONATING. WE NEED YOUR MONEY TO PROVE THAT WE'RE SUCCESSFUL. SURE, WE CAN'T PAY OUR OWN BILLS. BUT THIS IS THE INTERNET, AND WHAT WE'RE DOING IS FRESH AND NEW. WE DO IT ON A COMPUTER, ON THE INTERNET, AND THAT'S SPECIAL, BECAUSE REASONS.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      It's amazing how much dedication and effort can be made towards generating ten times the voluminousness you usually put out and still amount to a massive pile of nothing.

      DMCAed.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 5:03pm

        Re: Re:

        HEY, TECHDIRT READERS!

        Do you think quantity is more important than quality?

        Do you just hate it when someone takes the time to understand an issue before offering an unwavering opinion of it?

        THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

        Are you insecure?

        Do you hate it when someone says something you disagree with so much that you'd rather hide them from view rather than address anything that they say on the merits?

        THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

        Do you hate controversy?

        Do you prefer to be spoon-fed one side of a complex topic by someone who runs away whenever challenged to back up anything that they say?

        THEN TECHDIRT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

        Do you hate to think for yourself?

        Would you rather a band of nitwits who understand just enough to be dangerous but not enough to delve deeply into any issue just tell you what you want to hear?

        THEN TECHDIRT IS MOST DEFINITELY FOR YOU!

        WE DODGE ALL CRITICISM, HIDING IT AWAY LIKE IT DOESN'T EXIST, SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. GIVE US YOUR MONEY NOW. WE REALLY NEED IT SINCE WE CAN'T MAKE OUR OWN. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE LITTLE DETAILS. WE DON'T. EVERYTHING IS SIMPLE. EVERYTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE. PAY US NOW. WE REALLY, REALLY NEED THE HELP.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 5:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I've seen what you consider to be quality, controversy and criticism. It's not very flattering, to say the least. In fact, it's pretty telling that this is the alternative option of standards you aspire to.

          Never mind the fact that MPAA emails all but admit that shoving SOPA into other laws, and the usual trolls regularly posting here that what didn't get passed in SOPA is being shoved in without oversight or scrutiny and constantly gloating about it. So, pretty much every law is getting turned into SOPA.

          Your option is to give away hard-earned money to Mitch Bainwol. Screw that.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Whatever (profile), 9 Mar 2016 @ 5:19pm

    I have to say considering Techdirt is posting stuff like this:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160308/16465433841/apple-might-be-forced-to-reveal-share-ip hone-unlocking-code-widely.shtml

    I am thinking that the goal is to CREATE confusion and not to cut through it. It's almost on the level of throw all the shit at the wall and hope something sticks, looking for an angle to move forward with.

    I don't see any confusion being cut. It's more of a smoke machine effect for the moment.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 11:38pm

      Re:

      "I am thinking that the goal is to CREATE confusion" What is so confusing is how your head hole throws diuretic shit out constantly yet you do not dehydrate.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 3:37am

      Re:

      I don't see any confusion

      Do you have unicorns and ponies in your little rosy, perfect and despotic world? Are you the high Füher in that world?

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Whatever (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re:

        Umm, read the whole sentence idiot.

        "I don't see any confusion being cut."

        The claim is that giving Mike an extra pay packet will somehow cut through all the misinformation and suddenly there will be total clarity. Yet (as I showed in the linked article) it seems that Techdirt is adding more and more confusion to the topic.

        Perhaps you need to learn to read all the way to the end of a sentence, and not just stopping in the middle.

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

        • icon
          klaus (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 10:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Yet (as I showed in the linked article) it seems that Techdirt is adding more and more confusion to the topic."

          I don't see the confusion, only further information on the issue. Also, Mike did not author that article, Kenneth Rashbaum & Liberty McAteer from Barton LLP did.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 8:02am

    average_joe and Whatever just hate it when due process is enforced.

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

  • icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 17 Mar 2016 @ 8:01am

    In short: there's only one thing that might redress the increasing imbalance between what the government knows about us and what we know about the government: ubiquitous strong encryption. Laws are what the government shall not do. Encryption is what the government cannot do.

    This seems interestingly parallel to a thought I've had for some time in a different context:

    Copyright law is about restricting what you're allowed to do.

    DRM is about restricting what you're able to do.

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


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