The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Director Cindy Cohn was in the UK for the launch of the Snooper's Charter (AKA the Draft Communications Data Bill), and she provides some much-needed global context on the totalitarian slide of the United Kingdom.
This isn’t the first time that an Executive has seized the general authority to search through the private communications and papers without individualized suspicion. To the contrary, the United States was founded in large part on the rejection of “general warrants” – papers that gave the Executive (then the King) unchecked power to search colonial Americans without cause. The Fourth Amendment was adopted in part to stop these “hated writs” and to make sure that searches of the papers of Americans required a probable cause showing to a court. Indeed, John Adams noted that “the child Independence was born,” when Boston merchants unsuccessfully sued to stop these unchecked powers, then being used by British customs inspectors seeking to stamp out smuggling.
The current warrantless surveillance programs on both sides of the Atlantic return us to the policies of King George III only with a digital boost. In both, our daily digital “papers” — including intimate information such as who we are communicating with, what websites we visit (which of course includes what we’re reading) and our locations as we travel around with our cell phones — are collected and subjected to some sort of datamining. Then we’re apparently supposed to trust that no one in government will ever misuse this information, that the massive amounts of information about us won’t be subject to leak or attack, and that whatever subsequent measures are put into place to government access to it by various government agencies will be sufficient to protect our privacy and ensure due process, fairness and security.
UK Mass Surveillance Bill: The Return of a Bad Idea
A reminder: the Open Rights Group is running national workshops on how to talk to your MP about this, and there's a petition you can sign.
In Medusa’s Web, fantasy grandmaster Tim Powers presents us with another of his amazing secret histories, this one of Rudolph Valentino. In this guest editorial, Powers — author of many of Boing Boing’s favorite novels, including the World Fantasy Award winning Last Call, Hide Me Among the Graves, and Dinner at Deviant’s Palace — explains the genesis of his latest book, and takes us with him for his field-research.
Vulture presents a lengthy (and very funny) annotated history of “100 jokes that shaped modern comedy,” with embedded audio (and sometimes video) of the jokes themselves, going all the way back to 1906’s Nobody by Bert Williams — transferred from wax cylinder to shellac disc to Youtube.
Jo Walton (previously) is one of science fiction’s great talents, a writer who blends beautiful insight about human beings and their frailties and failings without ever losing sight of their nobility and aspirations.
Remember back to the time when people thought java was just a hip way to talk about coffee? Or you vaguely remembered from geography class that it’s an island in the South Pacific? We’ve come a long way since then and now that we’ve rocket blasted into the tech future, you’re going to need to […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]