Just sent this to both my senators
Hello Senator [Boxer|Feinstein],
Please do not allow the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S 3414) to strip away privacy protections from US citizens. I strongly believe that individualized information (such as contents of emails) should require a search warrant for government agents to access. Surely we can find a way to enhance security of power plants and other critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks without violating the spirit of the 4th amendment!
I urge you to vote against amendments by Sen. John McCain (and others) that would strip privacy protections from the Cybersecurity Act. When companies do share information with the government as part of a cyber-security investigation, it should go to a civilian agency, and not to the NSA or other military departments. I do not believe it should be standard operating procedure for the US military to operate against American citizens on American soil.
I also urge you to vote for Franken-Paul amendment. Citizens should not be deprived of the right to seek legal action against companies that have violated their privacy.
The cybersecurity legislation you are considering this week has huge implications for privacy and civil liberties and I will be closely watching your votes.
(Please feel free to copy and send to your own senators!)
Information about the Cybersecurity Act here - it's basically the Senate version of CISPA, which passed the House already.
Most of the bill is entirely reasonable stuff about beefing up security standards at power plants and other places a malicious hacker could cause massive damage. The troubling part is that it overturns a lot of existing privacy law, and makes companies immune to prosecution for violating your privacy if they hand the data over to the NSA and/or military.
Cybersecurity Act defeated for now
The Cyber Security Act failed to get cloture and Congress is going on summer vacation, so it seems dead in the water for now.
This is a bit frustrating, as some of the stuff in that bill is good and needed; my preferred outcome would be for it to have been amended to remove the spying-on-citizens stuff and then passed. But I'll take any victory I can get.
I wish internet activists could take the credit for this one, but it seems the bill was really just the latest victim of standard Republican operating procedure since 2010 : automatically filibuster anything the Democrats want to do, no matter if it's good or bad, even if it's a policy Republicans suppor themselves! Because getting bills passed might make Obama look good, and stopping that is more important than national security. Barf.
Meanwhile the Democratic Party showed once again that it doesn't give a shit about civil liberties. With only a few exceptions (like my hero Ron Wyden of Oregon), Democrats supported the bill including its domestic spying provisions. Just as they were happy to renew the Patriot act and pass the NDAA with its indefinite-detention-without-trial provisions.
Both sides were already at the point of sticking completely unrelated poison-pill amendments (having to do with gun control and banning abortions in Washington DC) into the bill before it failed.
So, um, hooray for democracy?
I've been liking Google less and less lately.
Google collects enormous amounts of information about us. They build up detailed profiles of their users in order to better target advertising to us. If you do a Google search while logged into a GMail account, for instance, they associate your search terms -- and which results you clicked on! -- with your email identity. They can combine knowledge of your search behavior with knowledge of who you email, and the contents of all your email sent and recieved. If you go to YouTube, they know which videos you watch, and add them to this profile too. Anything you've said on Google Plus goes into the profile. If you use Google Maps, the profile has a good idea of places you've been.
Even if you're not logged into a Google account when doing searches, they still put a cookie on your computer so they know it's you next time you search - and they use this to build up a detailed, if anonymous, picture of your interests. But if you've got a Google Plus account under your real name, they know exactly who you are and everything you search for.
You can go here to see who Google thinks you are. How accurate are they at guessing your sex, age, and interests just from your search behavior? (There's also an opt-out button on that page.)
In case that's not creepy enough, Google also sends out the Street View vans to drive around taking pictures of your house when you're not home like a creepy stalker.
Then there's the Filter Bubble: Two people in the same country serching for the exact same search terms get different results, based on what Google thinks they would like, based on the profile Google has built up about them. There's a book about it by Eli Pariser, which he summarizes in his Ted talk.
Some of today's younger generation seems to have an attitude that "if it's not in Google results, it doesn't exist" (Sushu has told me about trying to teach these kids research skills.) It's dangerous to assume that Google is giving you objective, unbiased results even according to its own database, let alone to assume that the database is infalliable. Google has every financial incentive to show you not the most accurate information, not the information most beneficial to you, but the information that will keep you around looking at ads the longest.
It's gotten worse since Google started trying to customize your search results based on things your friends have liked, this "Search Plus Your World" thing. Yeah, you can turn it off, but it defaults on, and it makes search results worse by twiddling the rankings based on what my "friends" have clicked on. (or worse: some random dudes who aren't my friends, but Google thinks they are because they're in my GMail address book because we had a business transaction five years ago).
Google. Seriously. If my friends like something, they'll tell me about it! They've probably already sent me the link. I don't need to Google it! I go to Google to find websites my friends haven't told me about yet. When I want another viewpoint, independent from what they like.
More and more of Google's results page is social widgets and advertisements while less and less is actual search results.
"Search Plus Your World" is one example of how hard Google is trying to push Google Plus. As I've said before, I think companies get to a certain size and they start thinking of their users as pawns in a strategic struggle against some other company. I don't know what's going on inside Google, but to me G+ looks like a project Google started to solve Google's problems (i.e. they're afraid of Facebook), not to solve user problems.
I wouldn't care, except that Google seems to be trying to integrate everything else they do with G+, to the detriment of their other products. They're tying all accounts to a single G+ account and demanding that the G+ account use your real name. My mom got burned by this recently; she's not a G+ user but she changed the password on her YouTube account and discovered to her surprise that it had also changed her GMail password. She didn't want that -- some Google exec did.
The Gmail redesign, which I hated so much, is another example. The change wasn't driven by what was best for GMail users, but by Google's desire to apply the G+ visual style to all of their other products.
I liked Google when they were a scrappy upstart search engine with a clean, simple interface and good results. They're not that company anymore. As one more example, one of the things Google used to say was "evil" was "paid inclusion"; now they're starting to embrace it.
I've finally decided to stop complaining and start doing something about it. I have decided to do without any Google services, either dropping them or replacing them with alternatives. Partly, this is an experiment: How dependent are we on Google, really? How hard is it to give them up?
Here's what I'm using already and what I'm still looking for:
|GMail||Fastmail service with Thunderbird client|
|Google Calendar||A paper calendar from Office Depot. It's very convenient, since I can access it without turning on my computer.|
|Picasa||Storing pictures on my hard drive and sharing them on this very website|
|YouTube||Vimeo, for uploading stuff.|
|Google Plus||If I ever feel the urge to use this, I will immediately turn off the computer and go outside.|
|Translate||Unfortunately Babelfish now redirects to Bing Translate, which is OK except its English to Chinese mode doesn't show Pinyin so it's kind of useless. Still looking for alternative.|
|Maps||Looking for alternative|
|GChat||Still using GChat (via Pidgin) for now, but I'm going to go back to my AIM account.|
|Google Docs||Etherpad used to be a great alternative, but then Google bought them. Wish I was making that up. Looking for alternative.|
Anybody got good suggestions for English-to-Chinese translation, a decent map service, or any of those other missing alternatives? I would love to hear about it.
How to vote when both parties are terrible?
What a depressing election. (Warning: giant rant ahead.)
We have one party which is dismantling civil liberties, is building a total surveillance police state, is intent on continuing to wage unwinnable wars, is thoroughly corrupted by lobbying, and is in thrall to big banks and other corporate interests.
The other party... is the Republicans.
Everything I just said about Democrats applies double to the GOP, plus as a bonus the GOP is run by racists, homophobes, and Christian supremacists. Or, at best, run by plutocrats willing to pander to all the prejudices of racists, homophobes, and Christian supremacists in order to decrease the marginal tax rate on their capital gains. The Republicans openly support torture and reject science and they're itching to start a war with Iran. They just get crazier and crazier every year; they now seem to have retreated entirely to some alternate universe based on Ayn Rand / Leviticus crossover fanfiction.
I care a lot about civil liberties, OK? They're kind of my main issue. And both parties are terrible on civil liberties. A lot of the stuff that made me so mad about the Bush administration - Guantanamo, the warrantless wiretapping, the Patriot act - is still going on under Obama. Guantanamo's still open, our government is still spying on us without warrants, we're still stuck in an endless war in Afghanistan, and the Democrat-controlled Senate was happy to renew the Patriot act and then one-up it with the NDAA.
I guess what this has taught me is that I was wrong to blame the erosion of civil liberties after 9/11 on Bush specifically. It's bigger than one president or even one party. It's endemic to the whole system. Obama either couldn't change it or he didn't want to.
Here's an article about how the Democrats have retreated on civil liberties in their 2012 platform. Meanwhile, the Obama administration just won a court challenge over his right to indefinitely detain citizens using the NDAA. The CIA is refusing to publicly admit the existence of the drone assassin program that they've publicly bragged about in the past!
And when the Senate Intellignece Oversight committe asked the NSA how many Americans had been spied on, without warrants, under FISA, the NSA refused to comply, saying it would "violate the privacy" of citizens to say if they had been spied on or not. They refused a request from the Senate Intellignece Oversight committe, which you think would have the authority to, you know, oversee intelligence or something? Our shadow government seems to be sending the message that it no longer takes orders from mere elected officials.
How can we have a democracy (or even a republic) if voters are not allowed to know what the government, that supposedly represents them, is doing in their name?
How does a citizen vote to change a bad policy when both parties agree on continuing to support that policy?
There's simply no party to vote for if I want my country to stop killing Pakistani civilians as collateral damage from drone strikes. Or if I want the 4th amendment back, or if I want Habeas Corpus reinstated, or if I think the FBI should get a search warrant before wiretapping citizens, or if I want to close Guantanamo Bay, or if I want the government to stop wasting money imprisoning non-violent drug offenders, or if I think the people responsible for torturing prisoners of war should be prosecuted.
You can vote for a 3rd-party or fringe candidate; that sometimes works in a local election, but in a national election I'm not sure that actually accomplishes anything other than making yourself feel good. I wish third-parties were viable, but the structure of our voting system works against it; until we implement some kind of instant-runoff voting, third parties in national elections will continue to be spoilers and protest votes.
I've got a friend who was a volunteer for the Ron Paul campaign this year, claiming that Ron Paul is the only candidate who wanted to end the war, dismantle the surveillance state, and restore constitutional rights. And while Ron Paul does agree with me on some things, wants to go back on the gold standard, abolish all public education, and fucking repeal the Fourteenth Amendment. And he opposes the Civil Rights Act. Paul isn't pro-freedom; he just prefers tyranny to be implemented at the state level instead of the federal level. This is not even getting into the openly white-supremacist newsletters published under his name.
I look at Ron Paul and other third-party/fringe candidates and it's like, they will never have to seriously face the consequences of their policies, because there's no chance their policies will ever get enacted. They can go on feeling superior due to their ideological purity and never have to make the hard decisions that come with governing a country.
There's a Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin, not wanting to take a bath, screams that he refuses to compromise his principles. Later, in the bathtub, he muses that he doesn't need to compromise his principles, because they don't have the slightest bearing on what happens to him anyway.
Maybe we just need to lower our expectations of politics. John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." Mark Twain said "If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it."
Maybe the best we can hope for is to prevent the worse of two candidates from getting into office. In practice, that seems to be how most people vote anyway -- not voting for a candidate, but voting against the party they hate more.
I'm not saying we should give up on changing things. Rather, real change is a long, hard process that takes a heck of a lot more involvement, work, and sacrifice than just voting. Sometimes it even requires being willing to go to jail for your beliefs.
So if the parties are near equally bad on the main issues I care about, then I guess I should vote based on the issues where the parties do differ. For me the big one is Romney's desire to start a war with Iran. Or at least he repeatedly during the primaries that he wanted one; some say he was just pandering to the base and he didn't really mean it, but is there any reason to think Romney would get any better at resisting the warmongers in his party after being elected?
I don't think so. I think there's a real danger he would really do it, having learned absolutely nothing from the disastrous failure of our attempts to remake Afghanistan and Iraq. Tens of thousands could die in a conflict that might not even succeed in stopping their nuclear program, or even delaying it for more than a few years. Obama's policy of containing Iran's nuclear program with diplomatic and economic pressure, imperfect as it is, is probably the least bad option.
There's plenty of other things to hate: the fact that Romney is an elitist scumbag who sees half the country as parasites, that his economic plan ("cut the deficit by cutting taxes on the rich and raising military spending") makes not a lick of sense, and that he's happy to pander to racist birthers by gloating that "nobody's asking to see my birth certificate". (Yeah, because you're white, asshole.) At the same time, he's aspiring to be even worse than Obama on civil liberties, promising to "double Guantanamo".
So as unhappy as I am with Obama's civil liberties record, it's a very easy decision to support the unpalatable (Obama) over the disastrous (Romney), and I'm glad to see Obama pulling ahead in the polls.
Meanwhile, we should use methods other than voting to work for restoring civil liberties. Speaking of that, my representative Anna Eshoo is a cosponsor of HR 3702, the Due Process Guarantee Act, which would undo the indefinite-detention-without-trial provisions of the NDAA. It looks like there hasn't been much movement on it Maybe find out where your representative stands on it and encourage them to support it too? It may not have much of a chance but it's better than nothing.
Firefox to block third-party cookies: about time!
I just saw a thread on the Mozilla dev-privacy list about a new patch, to land in Firefox 22, which would block third-party cookies from sites that the user hasn't visited. It's being written by a guy from Stanford.
I'm hugely in favor of this change. At Mozilla I often argued in favor of blocking all third-party cookies, and just as often heard the objection that it would "break the Web". This more limited cookie blocking seems like a good compromise. A third-party cookie from a site you've never visited is almost by definition going to be a tracking cookie set by an advertising network in order to make ads follow you around the Web. (Like this ad for GRE prep services that I started seeing everywhere after I signed up to take the GRE.) If you've ever looked at a Collusion graph, these are exactly the cookies that make up the nefarious center of the spider-web.
So I'm extremely happy that we're going to start blocking them. There are some issues to work out, but today I dropped by the Mozilla office to talk to some of the privacy/security guys about how I can contribute to the patches to help make sure this happens.
In other Mozilla news, they just announced that they have deals with eighteen mobile carriers around the world to support the Firefox OS smart phones. So iOS and Android are going to have some real open-web-based competition soon. Congratulations, guys! This is huge.
Government whines that spying on citizens is too hard, demands new backdoors in internet software
Also wow is this a lot of depressing links to see in one go. You need to spread these things out. Also, possibly balance out your reading of depressing stuff with some positivity.
Hahahaha, nope! The depressing links are JUST BEGINNING!
Obama May Back F.B.I. Plan to Wiretap Web Users - NYTimes.com
The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders.
Lawfare - Susan Landau on Obama Administration’s New Wiretapping Proposal
On the face of it, the new FBI proposal to fine companies that don’t comply with wiretap orders seems eminently reasonable. If law enforcement satisfies the Wiretap Act requirements for a court order, surely the communications provider should deliver the goods... This view of wiretapping is mired in the 1960s, when each phone was on a wire from the phone company’s central office, and a wiretap consisted of a pair of alligator clips and a headset.
This proposal, if enacted, would essentially make it a crime to develop a secure communications technology. Software developers would be required to build in a back door for the government to spy on their users.
Also, notice the FBI's logic: unintended flaws of telephone tachnology (you could stick alligator clips on a phone line and hear what they were saying) used to make wiretapping easy, so we made laws restricting when it could be done. But oh no, improvements in communication technology have made wiretapping harder, so we demand that you replicate the flaws of the old phone system (at your own cost, for the FBI's benefit).
Of course, they're saying that they'd only use these backdoors with court approval... while at the same time, they're also arguing that they don't need court approval to read your e-mail!
DOJ: We don't need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats | CNET News
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don't need a search warrant to review Americans' e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal. Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they're not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail.
So the ACLU filed a Freedom of Informatoin Act request to the Justice Department to find out about the government's warrantless snooping, and...
Most Transparent Administration in History Releases Completely Redacted Document About Text Snooping - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Here's what they got back:
A memo header: “Guidance for the Minimization of Text
Messages over Dual-Function Cellular Telephones” and then 15
pages, completely blacked out.
Reminds me of that guy from the NSA who said they can't tell the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee (!) how many Americans they've spied on, because telling would "violate their privacy".
So, the government gets to know everything about what we're doing, but we don't get to know anything about what the government is doing. Hmmm. Sounds fair, right?
The whole idea of a representative democracy is that, in theory, if the citizens don't like what their representatives in government are doing, they can vote them out.
What happens to that when the citizens are not allowed to know what the government is doing in their name?
Happy 4th of July
I've been observing my internet news ban faithfully, but I would have to live in a cave not to have heard about Eric Snowden, leaker of the NSA phone-tapping program.
My first thought: Is anybody really surprised the NSA is recording all our calls? I mean, that's why the NSA was created, right? Or at least, that's what we all assumed? I guess Snowden just confirmed our suspicious with hard evidence?
Some people are asking "whistleblower or traitor?" This is a silly question. "Traitor" is just the word for whistleblowers the government doesn't like. I think Snowden is a hero for leaking this; I think the people have a right to know. But of COURSE the government is treating him as a traitor. How is this a surprise to anyone?
The government believes they need to know everything the people are doing, but we're not allowed to know anything about what they're doing.
Snowden spilled the beans, so they're going to hunt him down like a dog and imprison him as long as they want without charges or trial. Just like they did to Bradley Manning when he revealed too much about the scale of our government's atrocities in Iraq. It's evil, yes, it's unconstitutional, yes. What else do you expect from the US government anymore?
Is there any chance that we can stop the NSA? Realistically, I don't think so. The NSA clearly considers itself above the law and outside the authority of any of the mere elected branches of government. They think they can lie to congress; there are no consitutional checks and balances over them. Nobody watches the watchers. Even if there was a huge public movement in opposition to the NSA (and mostly I see people shrugging and moving on with their lives) who do you vote for to stop them? Where do you protest?
Some have tried to justify the wiretapping program by pointing out that it has caught criminals. Of course you catch more criminals by tapping everybody's phones. You would catch even more crimes than that if you stationed police officers in everyone's homes all the time. Better get on that right away! Consult the KGB and the Stasi for more great neighborhood crime-fighting tips.
But maybe we want to try not living in a police state. Yes, the founders were slave-owning hypocrites, but they had a few good ideas. They didn't want the king's spies and informers up in their business all the time, but they also knew that police would need to investigate crimes, so they made the compromise that the police have to show probable cause for suspicion before they search your house. It's called the fourth amendment, and I happen to think it's a very good compromise. Now and then our nation has even attempted to put it into practice, though since 9/11 they seem to have given up on the idea entirely.
The key point of the fourth amendment is that you have to be investigating a specific crime; you can't just spy on random people hoping to find something, anything illegal. Because when you do that, you can just about always find some excuse to arrest any person or group you don't like. That's how a police state finds and removes dissidents.
Having a crime rate above zero is the price of living in a free society. "Freedom isn't free", as they say, except that most people who say that are saying it to justify sacrificing ever more civil liberties to an illusion of security. "Freedom isn't free, so let's not have any", appears to be the unspoken motto of the total-surveillance apologists.
This Eric Snowden thing has gotten me wondering: what is the real difference between America, a supposedly "free" country, and the countries that we label "oppressive", like China and Saudi Arabia? I have heard that China considers the Snowden revelations "Christmas in June" since it gives them a massive propaganda boost -- they can now say "See? America is just a hypocrite; they're no different from us; spying on your citizens is just what every government does."
The things that are supposed to make America different are elections and the constitution. But elections, well... we get a choice every four years between two figureheads that have already been pre-screened and found acceptable by the entrenched moneyed interests and behind-the-scenes power blocs. We also elect people for Congress, but the laws are all written by lobbyists these days anyway.
And the Constitution? It means whatever nine unelected octogenarian lawyers say it means. If Scalia and friends think the Voting Rights Act is too hard on racists (yeah I heard about that too), they just need five votes to make white-supremacist voter-suppression tactics cool again. They can decide the government can take your house if it wants to build a shopping mall there (Kelo vs. New London). They can decide we're not allowed to limit the influence of money on politics, like, at all (Citizens United). Then they can make up a cute name like "originalism" for the philosophy of constitutional interpretation that just happens to support all of their policy preferences.
Why can the government tap our phones and imprison people without trial and assassinate people with drone strikes? It's not because they have legal justification (though they may invent one after the fact if pressed). It's not because the voters want it. It's because nobody's powerful enough to stop them. For all its self-serving propoganda about being land of the free and whatever, political power in America comes from the barrel of a gun just like political power anywhere else.
Every nation-state is an iron fist in a velvet glove. Maybe the only difference between America and say, Iran, is that our velvet glove tends to stay on a little longer than theirs. Threaten the US government's interests in any serious way -- like by leaking what they're really doing in the name of "protecting" us -- and the fist is quickly revealed.
What is blog?
I'm genuinely not sure what this website is for anymore. (That's one reason I've been blogging less.)
I started it almost ten years ago, to tell friends about my adventures, and to stake out a little piece of the internet as my own (and as a project to practice Perl, of all things).
But I'm emphatically not the same person I was ten years ago, and the internet is not the same thing it was ten years ago either.
In fact I don't really know who I am. As part of my narrative reconstruction, the purpose of this site, like everything else I do, is up for grabs.
One of my friends told me that he thinks of my website as "the blog" because it's the only site he reads with no fixed topic. I do range all over the place, don't I?
If I was trying to grow an audience, I would stick to one topic or a group of closely related topics. Gaming XOR politics XOR comics XOR travel photos.
But I'm not trying to get more readers. I had this weird conversation with Aza one time (I'm paraphrasing his side):
Aza: You should buy the domain "evilbrainjono.com" and point it at your site too.
Me: But it's not a commercial operation, so that's the wrong TLD.
Aza: Who cares? It'll help more people find your site.
Me: Who says I want more people to find my site?
Then he looked at me like I had just told him the average human has six legs.
For pepole following the Silicon valley script, of course, all internet activity is competition over the scarce resource of attention. It makes sense if eyeballs on your website is how you make money, from selling products or ad space.
But for me there's no advantage, and many drawbacks, to gaining more readers. The one time a post of mine "went viral" it was "Everybody Hates Firefox Updates", and that was a terrible experience I never want to repeat. Something I had intented only for a few regular blog readers got out of my control. Anonymous trolls twisted my words around to justify things I don't agree with at all. It hurt people I care about. It might have permanently destroyed some relationships. Meanwhile my website kept going down under the traffic and my server hosting costs went through the roof. Because what I write here is usually only read by a few people, I foolishly thought that pattern would continue with anything I write here.
When I write a rant, it's because I'm trying to work through something mentally. Writing is a way of making myself think deeply about a topic, and publishing it to the web is a way of getting some closure so my brain can move on to other thoughts.
Having a lot of strangers read my rant does not help with any of that stuff. It's an active hindrance. If I know a lot of people are going to read something by me, then I have to start worrying about whether my words are going to be used to hurt somebody. In the extreme case, I have to start talking like a politician. That's the exact opposite of doing honest exploratory writing on a topic.
If too much audience defeats my very reason for writing, then I really shouldn't be posting rants on the public Web, especially not under my real name. I should be doing it under a pseudonym, and friends-locked.
Why did I ever use my real name to begin with? I think ten years ago I must have had some weird idea that it was more honorable to use my real name, to show I had nothing to hide, or something. That seems really naiive, now. Also, it's a privilege not everybody has. I've heard way too many stories about women and non-white people being the target of horrible internet harassment just for daring to be themselves and put an opinion online. Pseudonyms aren't about having something to hide; they're about defending yourself from a fucked-up, hostile culture. Which is why I strongly disagree with real-names-only policies, like the one at Google Plus.
This brings me to my other point, which is that the Internet is a much scarier place than it used to be (or maybe I'm just more aware of the dangers.)
It's just not the same now that we know that security and privacy on the internet are illusions -- everything's been subverted and compromised and wiretapped by a gang of criminals. Blogging under a pseudonym won't protect you from an enemy that can commandeer ISPs and plant backdoors in encryption algorithms and force your email provider to betray you.
PJ's final post, about how the chilling effects of the NSA's dragnet are forcing her to shut down, is one of the saddest things I've read lately; it's also the sign of the times:
I'm really sorry that it's so. I loved doing Groklaw, and I believe we really made a significant contribution. But even that turns out to be less than we thought, or less than I hoped for, anyway. My hope was always to show you that there is beauty and safety in the rule of law, that civilization actually depends on it. How quaint.
If you have to stay on the Internet, my research indicates that the short term safety from surveillance, to the degree that is even possible, is to use a service like Kolab for email, which is located in Switzerland, and hence is under different laws than the US, laws which attempt to afford more privacy to citizens.
My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it's possible. I'm just an ordinary person. But I really know, after all my research and some serious thinking things through, that I can't stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I've always been a private person. That's why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours.
Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world's economy would collapse, I suppose. I can't really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over.
"For me, the Internet is over". I kind of feel that way too. I wonder whether it's worth engaging with the internet at all, beyond maybe some minimalistic e-mail exchanges used to arrange face-to-face meetings.
I wanted the internet to be a decentralizing force, a fronteir with room for everybody. Maybe it was that, for a little while. But now it feels more like a panoptic prison, built to centralize power even more in the hands of a few elite corporations and government bodies that want to own everything we think and say.
The reasons I haven't abandoned the internet yet are, first, because I'm already pretty lonely and doing that would make me even lonelier; and second, if I make a song or a comic or a game or something I want a way to share that. Which brings me back to my original topic: what is this blog for?
I could loosely classify all my posts into:
- rants (which I only want select people to read)
- adventures (things like travel photos that only my friends and family would care about)
- works (thing I make, that I want to spread as widely as possible).
Since I have different readerships in mind, those three things might belong on totally separate websites under separate pseudonyms.
Anyway, readers! I haven't yet asked what you think. Why do you read my weird topicless weblog? What's in it for you? Would you be sad if I shut down? What would you like me to write about more?