who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. 'The Dream of Internet
Freedom is Dying,' Warns Top
Civil Liberties Attorney
2. Stop Watching Them: Federal
Unwarranted Cell Phone Tracking
3. Medical Privacy Under
Threat in the Age of Big Data
A Quiz for the West's Great Free Speech Advocates and
Supporters of Anjem Choudary's Arrest
This is a Nederlog of Friday August 7, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 4 items with 4
dotted links: Item 1
is about an article that - correctly - says the internet is dying, and
I agree (and list some of my own proposals, that probably will not
followed); item 2 is about a decision
of a US court
that upheld the Fourth Amendment; item 3
is a not
so good article about "medical privacy", which to the best of my
knowledge is, in Holland at least, a thing of the past; and item 4 is about an article by Glenn
shows that the current Western style for free speech - you are free to
say what you please, as long as you please the government - is not quite
as free as the
governments say it is, and I connect this with an example from "The
Dream of Internet Freedom is Dying,' Warns Top Civil Liberties Attorney
article of today
is by Lauren McCauley on Commom Dreams:
This starts as
"The dream of Internet
freedom is... dying," said attorney and civil liberties expert Jennifer
Granick during her keynote
speech before a major computer security conference in Las Vegas on
Granick, formally the
civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and now
the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and
Society, was addressing some of the world's foremost technology experts
attending the annual Black Hat information security event this week.
regulation, and globalization," Granick said,
have wrought havoc on a space once thought of as "a world that would
leave behind the shackles of age, of race, of gender, of class, even of
The dream is dying, she
said, because "we’ve prioritized things like security, online civility,
user interface, and intellectual property interests above freedom and
openness." And governments, for their part, have capitalized on the
fear of "the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: terrorists, pedophiles,
drug dealers, and money launderers" to push for even more regulation
and control, she added.
agree, and indeed called for making a new internet - in 2009.
Here is a part of it (and the rest is here):
A new internet is needed + 3 special reasons why
It seems to me highly desirable to split up the internet
as is in a commercial net and a public net, with the commercial
players, the advertisers, the commercial-Flash-on-you-pukers, and
indeed also all that is commercial and more or less decent and
justified, from banking to plumbing, on one net, and non-commercial
content, varying from private persons websites, to schools and
universities, the Wikipedia and much other educational matter (Stanford
Encyclopedia, Victorian Net, Perseus, you name it...), on another net.
In fact, the split
between commercial and non-commercial can be drawn quite easily, while
allowing for overlaps: It is mostly that between open en hidden source
and apart from that depends on whether makers of web-content want to
cash in on advertisments and/or have web-pages in order to support a
And here are three final arguments:
First - it is and ought to be
public and open: the internet has grown out of the efforts of
private persons and people working at universities, and indeed out of
what was from the beginning open source - Microsoft jumped in only for
the money, and since then attempted to redesign it for its own needs.
Second - it makes solid sense:,
the split I advocate - into a WWW and a WCW, to reduce it to acronyms -
corresponds quite closely to a manifold split of the following kind
open source - hidden source
educational - profit-oriented
Third - it may save the public
Seeing what is happening to the classical papers
(getting extinct fast, to be replaced by Foxnews and the like, at least
for the masses) and to the media (mostly moronified to please the
masses of pinheads and the smart-alecks who live off these pinheads),
this could be an excellent means to regain something like the classic
media, but on the net:
Make the media - in part, for there is also place
for commercial media, but I am talking in fact of the major public
benefits of real quality papers, produced by highly competent and
trained journalists, preferably with a university education - into
educational institutions, somewhat like universities are (in
Europe), that is, mostly funded by public money and on a BBC-model
This seems to me the best way to go, to preserve the
quality media, albeit in a new form; to give the internet back to the
public, who created it in the first place; and to clearly separate what
is commercial from what is not, and should not have to compete with,
crowded out, or suffocated by, commercial players with private ends and
megabucks of money.
And I know the above is a brief argument, that may be
butressed and countered in quite a few ways, but it seems to me the only
way I know of to keep the internet public, educational, open source
and for and by private individuals, and also to retain quality
journalism and quality media in the interest of all.
Also (to return to the original
I am not alone :
Late last month,
Snowden himself made a direct
plea to technologists to build a new Internet specifically for the
Meanwhile, the U.S.
government continues to push for expanded surveillance capabilities,
such as with the Cybersecurity
Information Sharing Act (CISA) currently making
its way through congress, which would allow companies to share
personal user information with the government if there is a so-called
Then again, I also
must admit I am now a lot more skeptical than I was in 2009.
That is, more
precisely: I am still strongly in favor of it, but I live in a
world which is presently strongly for the rich and also strongly
democratized, especially for the IQs up to 100 (which covers
half of mankind) since currently everyone with any opinion on anything
can utter these opinions on the internet, quite anonymously also, at
other normal users, and more or less as offensive, stupid, and dogmatic
as he or she pleases, and indeed it seems very many do so
(judging by comments and twitters).
democratic half (the majority, at least together with the
and conmen who exploit them) doesn't seem to care much for being spied
on from all directions, varying from commercial spying to governmental
spying, because they are certain that they "didn't do anything
wrong" and "therefore" are safe (and also they quite like the ads they
get, in exchange for their total privacy, or so it seems).
Hence, and summing up: While it is quite feasible, I take it
that now it is quite unlikely to happen, simply because both
the rich and the stupid half are against it, and since the majority
wants a manipulated single internet where the rich can spy on anyone
(and send personalized ads in reward), and the government can spy on
anyone, and where no one who has an IQ of maximally 100 or an
above a million a year will be harmed, I take it there will remain just
one net for all, were it only because the truly intelligent are always
in a small minority.
If so, it is a very
great pity, but it will be a real, if manipulated, democratic
decision of the majority. 
There is also this:
Granick also took
on the undisclosed rules which supposedly enable much of the
government's spying activities. "We need to get rid of secret law. We
have secret law in this country and it is an abomination in the face of
democracy," Granick proclaimed,
to much applause.
In the future, she
further warned, Internet users won't be aware of the "secret"
software-driven decisions directly impacting their rights and privacy.
"Software will decide
whether a car runs over you or off a bridge," she said. "Things will
happen and no one will really know why."
"The Internet will become
a lot more like TV and a lot less like the global conversation we
envisioned 20 years ago," Granick said, concluding that if this is the
case, "we need to get ready to smash it apart to make something better."
Again, I agree, but I am
afraid it is too late, and that the forces that want a single,
manipulable, advertised, government-controlled internet for the
democratic majority of the stupid and the rich, are simply too strong
and too rich, and besides lack a real conscience.
But OK - we will find out.
2. Stop Watching Them: Federal Court Squashes
The next article is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
In what civil liberties
groups hope will lead to an end of unchecked cell phone tracking of
U.S. residents, a federal court of appeals has ruled that law
enforcement agencies cannot obtain a person’s historical cell phone
location information from cell phone companies without a legal warrant
signed by a judge.
In a decision that is
likely to propel the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 4th Circuit
of Appeals on Wednesday ruled the practice of tracking individuals
using information stored on a person's phone or within a company's
database system without court approval is an unconstitutional violation
of the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and
I say! A US court
that applies the Bill of Rights and the Fourth Amendment correctly!
But yes, I quite agree, though I understand this is indeed not
the common legal opinion in the USA:
Nathan Freed Wessler, a
staff attorney with the ACLU, called the opinion "a full-throated
defense of Fourth Amendment privacy rights in the digital age."
In previously heard
challenges, the two other appeals courts which reviewed the issue—both
the 5th and 11th Circuits—ruled differently than the 4th Circuit as
they took the side of government lawyers who argued that cell phone
users should have no expectation of privacy when their cell phone data
is already in the hands of their phone company.
But as Wessler explains,
the historic legal idea of the "third party doctrine" should no longer
apply in an era when our phones can reveal so much about our personal
lives. "Cell phone location records can reveal some of the most private
details about our lives by showing where we go and who we spend time
with. Requiring a warrant for access to this information is an
important protection against unjustified government intrusions."
Well... although I
agree with Wessler's argument, I also recall that the Fourth Amendment
does not merely apply "in an era when our phones can reveal so much about our
The Fourth Amendment
- and here it is:
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment to the US Constitution
simply insists that no
one shall be investigated - searched, materials taken - without
probable cause, signed by a judge, that also should list which
are to be seized.
I quite agree
with that, and this does not refer to "an era when our phones can reveal so much
about our personal lives". Instead it insists, quite
correctly, that no one's private data are to be seized,
inspected, read or stored, except if there
is a probable cause that he or she has broken the law.
There probably will
be more on this legal decision, since the probability is that it will
be judged by the Supreme Court.
3. Medical Privacy Under Threat in the Age of
The next article is by Farai Chideya on The Intercept:
I should start by saying
that I think that the theme is quite important, but I did not
this article. But here is one part of it:
Medical privacy is
a high-stakes game, in both human and financial terms, given the
growing multibillion-dollar legal market for anonymized medical data.
IMS Health Holdings, for example, acquires data from pharmacies and
sells it to biotech and pharmaceutical firms. After looking into its
filing to become a public company, ProPublica found IMS’s “revenues in
2012 reached $2.4 billion, about 60 percent of it from selling such
information.” Medical data-mining firms claim that this is all harmless
because the data is truly anonymous, but their case is not airtight by
any means. For example, Latanya Sweeney of Harvard’s Data Privacy Lab
bought commercially available data and de-anonymized it by
cross-referencing the dates of medical events with local news events
and public records. She found that a man publicly identified as a
missing person was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had attempted
suicide, for example.
I know of this because
some years ago (circa 2011) there was a considerable hullabaloo in
Holland about the privacy of medical data, in part because the health
insurances wanted to couple and search the records doctors keep, all
"with the best intentions", according to them.
Since then (I took part a little bit, back then) I have not heard much
and indeed it seems as if the NSA and the GCHQ know everything about
so I will assume something similar is the case in Holland:
In fact, the health-insurances know everything about your health and
your doctor, and they sell these data to anyone who is willing to
pay their price, and the only way you can escape this - it
seems, for as usual the patients are not told anything - is by not
getting ill or by not going to a doctor.
But yes, this is a guess, although one with reasonable evidence.
A Quiz for the West's Great Free Speech Advocates and Supporters of
Anjem Choudary's Arrest
The final article today
Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows
As we all know ever since
the inspiring parade in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attack,
“free speech” is a cherished and sacred right in the west even for the
most provocative and controversial views (of course, if “free speech”
does not allow expression of the most
provocative and controversial views, then, by definition, it does
not exist). But yesterday in the UK, the British-born Muslim
extremist Anjem Choudary, who has a long history of spouting
noxious views, was
arrested on charges of “inviting support” for ISIS based on
statements he made in “individual lectures which were subsequently
This arrest has
predictably produced the odd spectacle of those who just
months ago were parading around as
free speech crusaders now cheering the arrest of someone for ideas
he expressed in a lecture. That simply shows what was obvious
all along: that for many participants, the Charlie Hebdo “free
speech” orgies were all about celebrating and demanding protection for
ideas that they like (ones that castigate Islam and anger Muslims), not
actual principles of free speech (having the Paris march led by scores
of world leaders who frequently imprison those with unpopular
views was the perfect symbol).
Yes, precisely: It seems as
if the real model for "free speech" in the West these days is
along the following lines: You are free to say what you please
as our fine government agrees; you risk (secret) persecution (legal or
otherwise) in case what you please does not please our free and
democratic government. (And remember: the secret services of our fine
free and democratic governments
know everything about you, even though you do not know anything
Glenn Greenwald continues:
I saw yesterday from those defending Choudary’s arrest was that
“advocacy of violence” or “incitement to violence” is something
different than speech, and can thus be legitimately punished, including
with prison. With this standard in mind, I offer a few examples of
statements and would like to know whether it should be legal to express
them or whether one should be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for
Hussein is a major threat and has WMD, and we should use all our might
to invade Iraq, bomb the country, take it over, and kill him and his
is absolutely right to use drones even though he’s killing innocent
people. In fact, we should use more drones to kill more people. Even if
it means having civilians and children die, the need to wipe out The
Terrorists requires we use more violence now, no matter how many
innocent Muslims will die from it!
He gives quite a few other
examples, which you can check out by clicking the last dotted link, but
I have yet another example, which I owe to my communist background .
Here is the end of Marx and
Engels's "The Communist Manifesto" (first published in February 1848):
In short, the Communists
everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing
social and political order of things.
In all these movements,
they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property
question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
Finally, they labour
everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all
The Communists disdain to
conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can
be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social
conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a
world to win.
Working Men of All
In case you do not
get my point:
Isn't it clear that
according to the modern approach of
"free speech" - speech is free as long as it agrees to what the
government says - what communists
Marx and Engels said is an obvious example of terrorism? And
how dared they threaten the democratic governments of their days with "the forcible overthrow of all existing social
In fact, of course, I
agree with Glenn Greenwald, but it is an interesting fact that
it seems as if Marx and Engels - of 1848 - were "terrorists" according
to modern "free speech" notions, and might very well have been arrested
these days in England.
You may protest that I am not an egalitarian, and indeed you are right:
I do not believe everyone is the equal of Goebbels and Hitler,
or of Einstein and Von Neumann; and I do believe that the truly
creative and the truly intelligent are and always have
been a small minority (rather like those who become soccer
stars, though - perhaps - a tiny bit more intelligent).
And the reason I am so explicit about this is that I have studied at
the University of Amsterdam, where nearly everyone who worked
studied there between 1971 and 1995, claimed that they
"everyone knows that everyone is of equal value", whereas I - who is
son and grandson of communist resistance fighters, with a knighted
father - and who was about the only one who publicly denied
that everyone is
of equal value to Goebbels and to Einstein, was removed briefly before
being able to take my M.A. in philosophy from the faculty of
philosophy, because I was supposed to be, according to at least 16
academically employed pseudo-philosophers, "a fascist" and "a
terrorist", in May of 1988 (when I was invited to speak in public, and
did so, and in fact only asked questions).
So...anyone may protest my opinions, but unless your father and
grandfather were arrested by the SS, tortured, and convicted to the
concentration-camp as "political terrorists", and you yourself
shown that you are able to stand up by yourself and protest
popular idiocy and bullshit, also when you risk being heavily
sanctioned, I will not take you seriously.
Also, I don't think any Dutchman will protest, and I do not know of anyone
(except my brother) who
has a background in the Dutch resistance (to the Nazis) that is
stronger or as strong as mine is.
brief: Both of my parents were communists for more than forty years;
both were in the communist resistance against the Nazis; my father's
father was a communist; my mother's parents were anarchists; and both
my father and his father were arrested in June of 1941 and convicted to
the concentration camp, where my grandfather was murdered.
I was the first in my family who could study (my parents and
grandparents were more than intelligent enough to study, but there
simply was no money), while I gave up communism in 1970, when I was
(and legally not yet an adult, then: I became a legal adult in 1971).
Also, I should add that what I disagreed with was very much
more the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin than the moral example of
my parents: I never disagreed with my parents' moral norms, and
indeed we had
no big disagreements about my giving up communism, although they were
not happy about it.