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Nederlog


  December
10, 2013
Crisis: Digital Rights, Surveillance, Snowden, Kim Jong-un, Corporations, 6 months
  "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. International bill of digital rights: call from 500 writers
       around the world

  2. State surveillance of personal data: what is the society
       we wish to protect?

  3. Response to the Snowden revelations: the seven-month
       itch

  4. Kim Jong-un's uncle vanishes from documentary
       footage - in pictures

  5.
New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal
  6. After half a year of following Snowden and Greenwald
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This is another crisis item, but it is a little bit special, and I return to this in item 6: It is for me now half a year that I have been mostly following Snowden and Greenwald and things relating to the NSA, the GCHQ etc. in Nederlog. I will probably be doing less of this, not because it isn't important, but because it is too journalistic for my tastes, takes a lot of time and energy, while nothing depends on my continuing.

Apart from that, this is mostly a crisis item: the first two items are dedicated to 500 writers who wrote a good petition; the third to the Guardian's staff, who reckon it took 7 months since they knew about Snowden; the fourth to modern Stalinism in North-Korea, where the truth gets manipulated just as it was under Stalin in Russia; and the fifth item is not an article but a TYT video on the TIPP.

1. International bill of digital rights: call from 500 writers around the world

To start with, a good letter - a petition - to the UN by 500 writers:

Here is the beginning, including the title:

A stand for democracy in a digital age

In recent months, the extent of mass surveillance has become common knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your mobile device, your email, your social networking and internet searches. It can follow your political leanings and activities and, in partnership with internet corporations, it collects and stores your data, and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour.

The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested.

This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes.

A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.

Indeed, I agree - although I should say I am myself not a strong proponent of "democracy", and believe it is in part responsible for the present sad state of the world. I would rather have this formulated in terms of "an open and free society", but since I know the term "democracy" is for many convertible with that, I have no strong objections. [2]

Next there is this:

* Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.

* Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs, the presumption of innocence.

* Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused.

* Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.

Yes indeed: Quite so. Again, I might have written "voids" instead of "violates", but that is a very minor issue. What is not a minor issue, is that surveillance is theft, and theft without any quotation marks. The people who are doing this are thieves, of the most despicable kind, who want to subject you to their dominance, for their ends, according to their tastes - and you should not even know they are there, spying on you.

And here is the last part of the petition:

WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people to determine, as democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.

WE CALL ON ALL STATES AND CORPORATIONS to respect these rights.

WE CALL ON ALL CITIZENS to stand up and defend these rights.

WE CALL ON THE UNITED NATIONS to acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an international bill of digital rights.

WE CALL ON GOVERNMENTS to sign and adhere to such a convention.

Signed by more than 500 writers from around the world

Yes, again: quite so. Meanwhile, I have copied the whole petition, but this is because I regard it as a good document, and as one of the important things that Snowden (and his allies, like Greenwald and Assange) have reached, in half a year.

2. State surveillance of personal data: what is the society we wish to protect?

Next, an article by Tom Stoppard, who is one of the signers of the above petition, in the Guardian:

Actually, I think the previous letter is better and clearer, but then Stoppard signed it. Also, in the present letter he does ask some good questions:

How much do we owe each other? How much of our very self, our individuality, our privacy, our subjective and autonomous freedom to live as utterly unique human beings, is up for grabs on the say so of whoever is making the rules for the group, not withstanding that the rulemakers have been validated by all of us?

It is no light matter to put in jeopardy a single life when it is the very singularity of each life which underpins the idea of a just society. But it appears to me that our masters are in the grip of the delusionary nightmare of completeness: the complete annihilation of every rogue bacillus.

In fact, the answers to the first paragraph are that (1) the rulemakers have not been validated by all of us - and those of the GCHQ and the NSA have not been validated by any of us; (2) indeed the present rulers pretend that whatever happens in society is "up for grabs on the say so of whoever is making the rules for the group" - which is grossly false and wholly invalid.

As to the second paragraph: I fear the governments and spymasters are not "in the grip of the delusionary nightmare of completeness" and I am certain they are not surveilling everyone "because of terrorism". I think they are getting what they want to get: an authoritarian police-state, where the masters of the corporations and the governments are all, and the population counts for nought.

3.  Response to the Snowden revelations: the seven-month itch

Next, an editorial by the Guardian, on this topic:

This starts by taking us back to where matters stood 7 months ago, which is in May of 2013:

Back then, mainstream politics still tiptoed respectfully around the agencies, such as America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ, in the national security field. This was partly because they felt this was the proper patriotic course, partly because, fearful of terrorism, citizens seemed willing to trust the agencies to protect them from harm, and partly because they simply didn't know much about what the agencies were actually up to. It was another world.

I agree, although it also is my guess that the last reason - "because they simply didn't know much about what the agencies were actually up to" - is the most important.

That is, I believe that if the electorate had been asked, politely, and with adequate information about what their consent would imply, whether their data and metadata could go to the NSA or the GCHQ, only a very small percentage would have agreed.

Seven months later, there are significant changes:

The questions of privacy, surveillance, accountability and proportionality raised can no longer be brushed aside by the traditional invocation of national security. This has made Mr Snowden himself a globally significant figure (and now the Guardian readers' person of the year).

Actually, "the traditional invocations of national security" were false from - at least - the start of this century: "National security" has totally changed, and indeed has become Stasi-like, when it decided to pick up everything anyone does on the internet, and indeed decided to attempt to control the internet.

Next, there is this week:

This week the world of the internet – an invention that has liberated, delighted and connected mankind more extraordinarily than any other in history – has been forced to respond to what Mr Snowden unleashed. Facing a crisis about the potential collapse of data privacy, and also no doubt with some consequential commercial uncertainties, some of the world's leading tech companies – with a combined market value of $1.4 trillion – have banded together to demand sweeping new controls.

Yes. I agree this may be important, but I also note this response was more dictated by the profit motive - they risk loosing billions or trillions of dollars, mostly because the NSA has weakened or circumvented the encryption of the data they are supposed to protect - than it was because they care about privacy, although that also enters.

After some qualifications, this is what the editorial makes of the initiative of some of the most important internet corporations:

It is time, they say, for governments to address the practices and laws regulating state surveillance of individuals and access to their information. Limits must be codified. A legal framework should apply. Relations between the tech companies and governments here should be transparent. The new settlement must be global.

Yes - and let's note that at present there are no codified limits; there is no legal framework (except for an ad hoc secretive one, that works as a rubber stamp of approval); there is not the least transparency of the relations between companies and governments (for these depend on secret documents issued by secret courts); and there are no global settlements other than a free for all, to do as they please, and not to be controlled by anyone if the player is the NSA or GCHQ.

The ending - and there is considerably more - is:

We have come a very long way in seven months. But there is further to go.

In fact, I do not know, and I do not know because so far none of the very necessary changes have been made, though I agree there is considerably more clarity about what the NSA and the GCHQ and others are up to and have done.

So I would conclude that there is very much further to go: All there is at present is some quite revealing documentation of the gigantic thefts committed by the NSA and the GCHQ, and a number of interesting documents about the needed changes. But there are no real changes. As yet.

4.  Kim Jong-un's uncle vanishes from documentary footage - in pictures

Next, an item from the Guardian, where no source is given, perhaps because it mostly consists of photographs:
I list it here to show that the Stalinist past is still present in North Korea, and indeed may also arrive soon in the United States and England, simply because the secret services in these countries have far outdone the Stasi, and power that is available generally is abused, especially if it is secret power.

5. New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal

Next, a video item by The Young Turks. This takes 10 minutes and 10 seconds, but is a good explanation of what is involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

Note that this is what Obama and Kerry want. That is - and I quote:

TPP01

Which is to say: The free market without any protection by any law, and with all conflicts decided by a privately run "international court", that does not depend on any state, and cannot be appealed to by the public.

For more, see the video, that gives a clear explanation.

6. After half a year of following Snowden and Greenwald

Finally, today it is six months ago I became aware of Edward Snowden's existence, and decided to try to follow his case, the NSA, the GCHQ and related issues in the context of my crisis series (that exists since September 1, 2008: Here are two indexes, that both need to be updated: index 1 and index 2: These list about 2/3rds, together)

Here is a link to the file of half a year ago:

I think that was all quite well seen, as indeed was my file from nearly a year ago, which is here, that was also written with hardly any knowledge of Greenwald:
And I will return to the last file, but not today. For today I have just this, which I repeat from the beginning:

It is for me now half a year that I have been mostly following Snowden and Greenwald and things relating to the NSA, the GCHQ etc. in Nederlog. I will probably be doing less of this, not because it is isn't important, but because it is too journalistic for my tastes, takes a lot of time and energy, while nothing depends on my continuing.

But I do not yet know how or when I am going to lessen this, indeed in part because I do not know what is going to happen. You'll have to find out, as I will.

---------------------------------
P.S. Dec 11, 2013: Corrected a few mistakes.
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.)

[2] I am not a proponent of democracy, understood as: any adult, barring a few because of legal issues, gets one vote to cast in elections for his or her representatives, all regardless of education, age, conduct, or intelligence.
My reasons are that most who thus got the vote cannot judge the issues or the persons they are voting on, and are generally deceived by precisely the types who should not represent them, to elect them as their representatives.
For me that is irrational, and indeed I have never voted in any election since I do not need to vote legally, which in Holland was in 1971. This also means for me - as George Carlin stressed - that I bear no responsibility for the idiotic leaders and their policies that have been elected by the conformists, indeed generally without any rational reason whatever.

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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