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Nederlog


  November
7, 2013
Crisis: Berners-Lee, European law, questions, Google, Gore
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.











Sections
Introduction
  1. Tim Berners-Lee condemns spy agencies as heads face
       MPs

  2. NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance is violation of
       European law, report finds

  3. Mass surveillance: 10 key questions for UK intelligence
       agency chiefs

  4. Google engineer accuses NSA and GCHQ of subverting
       'judicial process'

  5. Al Gore: Snowden 'revealed evidence' of crimes against
       US constitution

  6. Personal: On anonymous lists
About ME/CFS

Introduction

There are today five crisis entries, as it happens all in the Guardian, and one personal entry (that is probably of little interest to most). Also, this Nederlog has been written earlier in the day than is usual.

1.  Tim Berners-Lee condemns spy agencies as heads face MPs

To start with, an article by Ed Pilkington in the Guardian on Berners-Lee:

This starts as follows:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a "full and frank public debate" over internetsurveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.

As the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSAEdward Snowden. contractor

In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed particular outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had weakened online security by cracking much of the online encryption on which hundreds of millions of users rely to guard data privacy.

Yes indeed - and let us note the critical points he makes (in my words):

  • The NSA and the GCHQ have far exceeded what they may be permitted to do, in part by lying to the public, and in part because:
  • the governments have given far too much freedom, trust and protection to these agencies, probably in part because they are uninformed themselves, know little about the internet and programming, and also in part because they would like to have a much easier life, for governors and governments.
  • Also, the tampering with encryption keyes is a great shame, and
  • this tampering based on totally inadequate notions of privacy and secrecy, that in fact totally invert the democratic norm that the government ought to be transparent, and is there to protect the rights on privacy of individuals and of firms.

Also (and now I quote again):

(..) Berners-Lee sees the news organisation and Snowden as having acted in the public interest.

"Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role in society. We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online – but any powerful agency needs checks and balances and, based on recent revelations, it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed," he said.

And the system has failed because there are hardly any checks or balances: Everything is done in secret; everything is "justified" by totally vague and very probably quite false claims about "terrorism"; and private data are being stolen in by the trillions.

There is considerably more, but I only quote the ending:

"Civilisation has to a certain extent depended on whistleblowers, and therefore you have to protect them," Berners-Lee said.

Quite so.

2. NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance is violation of European law, report finds

Next, an article by Andrew Rettman in the Guardian:
Yes indeed, though perhaps not quite as you thought. In any case, it starts like so:

The authors of a new study on mass-scale surveillance have accused the intelligence services of the US and EU countries of violating European law and urged the European parliament to take action.

Sergio Carrera, a Spanish jurist, and Francesco Ragazzi, a professor of international relations at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who co-wrote the paper, made the appeal for European action at a hearing in the EU parliament in Brussels on Thursday.

They said the US National Security Agency (NSA), the UK's GCHQ and equivalent bodies in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden had breached basic articles of the EU treaty, such as article 4.3 on "sincere co-operation", as well as privacy clauses in the EU charter of fundamental values and in the European charter of fundamental rights. 

Actually, I am not much concerned with "sincere co-operation", but I am much concerned with the broken privacy clauses and the European charter of fundamental rights - and besides, I have been saying this since June about Snowden's revelations, and since 2005 about "terrorism".

Also, they are quite clear:

They also noted that EU agencies such as the joint police body, Europol, and the EU foreign service's intelligence-sharing branch, IntCen, were in all likelihood using data "stolen" from European citizens.

"It's no longer credible to say the EU has no legal competence and should do nothing on this. Sorry, we don't think this is acceptable," Carrera said.

"We are witnessing a systematic breach of people's fundamental rights," he added.

Ragazzi said: "The bigger the crisis, the more the system of checks and balances should be reinforced. This is what distinguishes democracies from police states."

Quite so: My data are mine, and your data are yours, and spy agencies should not see them or investigate them, except for specific reasons, with a specific judge overseeing this, as the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution spelled this out, and quite clearly also.

The fact that these data now can be stolen by governmental spy agencies proves absolutely nothing
, except that governments cannot be trusted and should not work in secret, nor with secret courts.

3. Mass surveillance: 10 key questions for UK intelligence agency chiefs

Next, an article by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The heads of Britain's three intelligence agencies – whose identities were once regarded as top secret – will on Thursday give evidence before a parliamentary committee for the first time.

Sir Iain Lobban, the director of GCHQ, the MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, and the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, will face questions from the intelligence and security committee in a 90-minute session.

We do sincerely hope no terrorist will blow up these spies and spooks! It probably is a vain propaganda exercise they will be doing, also since the questions seem to be directed at them by their very good friend Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Then again, Nick Hopkins has 10 key questions about which he says

Critics fear the members of the committee will be too deferential. Here are 10 questions they could ask to ensure they are not:

These questions are good, as you can check out yourselves - but I do fear they will not be asked.

4.  Google engineer accuses NSA and GCHQ of subverting 'judicial process'

Next, an article by Charles Arthur in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

A British engineer who works on anti-hacking systems at Google has furiously accused the UK and US spying agencies of "industrial scale subversion of the judicial process" by tapping the company's internal networks.

Mike Hearn, who says he worked for two years on the networks that replicate Google data between its different computing centres, says that "GCHQ [the British surveillance centre] turns out to be even worse than the NSA [the US National Security Agency]". He added that he joined an American colleague, Brandon Downey, "in issuing a giant fuck you to the people [at the NSA and GCHQ] who made these slides".

Yes indeed. There is considerably more in the article.

5. Al Gore: Snowden 'revealed evidence' of crimes against US constitution

To end today's selections, here is an article by Adam Gabbatt in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Former US vice-president Al Gore has described the activities of the National Security Agency as "outrageous" and "completely unacceptable" and said whistleblower Edward Snowden has "revealed evidence" of crimes against the US constitution.

Gore, speaking Tuesday night at McGill University in Montreal, said he was in favour of using surveillance to ensure national security, but Snowden's revelations showed that those measures had gone too far.

Quite so. Also, there is this (next to more) as per the title:

Asked about Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose revelations have been reported extensively by the Guardian, Gore said the leaks had revealed uncovered unconstitutional practices.

"He has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States," Gore said.

Yes, indeed! That is what Snowden did, and therefore he gets persecuted by the government who committed or facilitated these crimes.

6.
Personal: On anonymous lists

Finally for today, a little personal reflection on anonymous lists, like those used by ME/CFS-patients, as also seems to be the norm on the internet. (The following is probably not interesting in case you are not afflicted by ME/CFS.)

To start with, I agree that in the case of ME/CFS-patients, there are respectable reasons why many want to use an alias, and these are that if one uses one's own real name, bureaucrats may use what one says against one.

Then again, and while I also use an alias, my own reasons are quite different from those of others:

I have - twenty or more years ago, for several years - opposed illegal drugs  dealers (for drugs are illegal in Holland) who were then protected by Amsterdam's mayor Van Thijn, and who were indeed permitted personally by mayor Van Thijn to deal from the bottom floor of the house I lived in, without him ever asking me or anyone else who lived there, and who were also protected by the aldermen and policemen of Amsterdam, in spite of the fact that they threatened to murder me, five times in all, "if you do anything we don't like".

Besides, I could not act
against them because I was ill, and they made me gravely ill, especially because the drugscorrupted Amsterdam police refused to register any complaint whatsoever, and kept refusing to do anything for me even after the dealers had been arrested with several kilos of heroin and cocaine: I was told I could leave the country if I didn't like it (while the person who told me so knew I was an invalid and could not leave the country).

Also, I have a large site, and I can fairly easily be found by anyone who wants to act legally against me - which is what the drugsdealers do not want, and indeed what no one wanted since 1996, since when I have internet, and this also includes the drugscorrupted Amsterdam mayors, aldermen, policemen, ombudsmen etc. for the whole story has been on line since 2001 (mostly in Dutch).

And since this drugsdealing has been going on for 25 years now, in which each year at least 10 Billion euros only in soft drugs (marijuana and hashish) have been turned over in Holland - I am quoting the numbers from the parliamentary Van Traa report, of 1996 - I think by far the most probable reason is that the mayors, aldermen, ombudsmen, policemen and municipal lawyers who acted for the dealers, and against me, all of them, repeatedly, have been drugscorrupted, and have subsidized their own incomes with a percentage. (I have no proof, but this is by far the best explanation for what happened in my life: I am now for 25 years much more ill than I was before, because I protested against the illegal dealing of illegal drugs that were protected by all of Amsterdam's mayors, aldermen, policemen, ombudsmen and bureaucrats. And 250 Billion euros  - 10 Billion a year - is indeed an enormous amount of money, that in Holland is systematically not named in the press, that usually avoids naming either drugs or dealers, even though legalizing drugs would make an enormous amount of money in tax.)

To turn to anonymous lists, by which I mean lists on which the vast majority uses an alias:

I have been and am since at least 12 years a member of several programmers' lists, that varied in anonymity, in that some members were there with their real names, and some were not, and the proportions varied with the lists, and also in time. And I am still a member of these lists, because no one ever bothers or bothered me there, and there also are rarely quarrels among members, and if there are these usually are small and quickly settled, while the members are normally also more intelligent than the average is.

I have been for almost half a year a member of Phoenix Rising, which I then left, because I had too often run into discriminatory bullshit, directed both against myself and against intelligent others,
usually for totally nonsensical reasons, that in fact seemed to be largely due to the fact that ordinary men and women, once they have an alias, think anything can be said about and to anyone, because they cannot be found: the complete loss of all personal responsibility - which then often gets used to make everyone behave as a regular ordinary person, or to be discriminated till they leave.

Judging after the fact, it was a mistake of me to become a member of Phoenix Rising (and also of ME-forums, where I was for three months).

I joined because I thought, mistakenly, there was a new opening to investigate the cause of ME; because I thought I might do something that might help some, as a highly gifted psychologist (mistake: ordinary people want no help, at least not of the form I can give); and because I also misjudged both the level of persons and the influence of anonymity: I believed they were more intelligent than they were, nearly all, and I had not believed anonymity voids the bounds of reason and/or ordinary politeness for so many, and to such an extent.

But I have meanwhile learned it. And I will never do it again. Promise!

 

---------------------------------
Note

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1. 1979:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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