Boing Boing 

100 years of gay shame

The highest court in Moscow has upheld a 100 year ban on gay pride parades.

The Coming Civil War Over General Purpose Computers

Last month, I gave a talk called "The Coming Civil War Over General Purpose Computing" at DEFCON, the Long Now, and Google. We're going to have a transcript with the slides on Monday, but in the meantime, here's a video of the Long Now version of the talk. Stewart Brand summarized it thus:

Doctorow framed the question this way: "Computers are everywhere. They are now something we put our whole bodies into---airplanes, cars---and something we put into our bodies---pacemakers, cochlear implants. They HAVE to be trustworthy."

Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override you: "I can’t let you do that, Dave." (Reference to the self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick’s film "2001." That time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides who can override whom?

The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.

Cory Doctorow: Coming War Against Your Computer Freedom

Civil rights implications of Big Data

An excellent editorial by Alistair Croll on the civil rights implications of Big Data contains a number of points I hadn't considered before, as well as great analysis of the way that the Big Data situation arrived:

“Personalization” is another word for discrimination. We’re not discriminating if we tailor things to you based on what we know about you — right? That’s just better service.

In one case, American Express used purchase history to adjust credit limits based on where a customer shopped, despite his excellent credit limit:

Johnson says his jaw dropped when he read one of the reasons American Express gave for lowering his credit limit: “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”

We’re seeing the start of this slippery slope everywhere from tailored credit-card limits like this one to car insurance based on driver profiles. In this regard, big data is a civil rights issue, but it’s one that society in general is ill-equipped to deal with.

We’re great at using taste to predict things about people. OKcupid’s 2010 blog post “The Real Stuff White People Like” showed just how easily we can use information to guess at race. It’s a real eye-opener (and the guys who wrote it didn’t include everything they learned — some of it was a bit too controversial). They simply looked at the words one group used which others didn’t often use. The result was a list of “trigger” words for a particular race or gender.

Big data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it (Thanks, Bruce!)

TrapWire: Wikileaks reveals ex-CIA agents running a face-recognition profiling company that surveils NYC subways, London stock exchange, Vegas casinos and more

Douglas sez:

Newly released WikiLeaks publications from the Stratfor leak reveal much about Trapwire, a multi-country surveillance network run by a private US company, Abraxas, led by ex-CIA operatives. The network operates in NYC subways, the London Stock Exchange, Las Vegas casinos, and more. It uses real-time video facial profiling and is linked to red-flag databases.

Here is a US GOV pdf diagramming its workings. Here is an RT article on the subject.

The WikiLeaks publications related to Trapwire are difficult to access now because WikiLeaks.org and many of its mirrors are under heavy DDOS attack. (Good time to donate!) However you can see the publications here via Tor.

Australian activist @Asher_Wolf is organizing a nonviolent campaign against Trapwire, including an effort to spam the network with creative false positives.

TrapWire: International Surveillance Coordination Network (Thanks, Douglas!)

Al Jazeera on the copyfight: it's about control over sharing without boundaries or regulations

James from the New America Foundation sez,

The latest Fault Lines documentary from Al Jazeera English is a must see. The piece argues that Internet policy debates - from copyright to cybersecurity - are about centralized control versus "the ability to share information across the world without traditional boundries or regulations."

My colleague Sascha Meinrath argues that these SOPA and Protect IP were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power and the documentary notes that these were "not about pirated entertainment but how do we live in the digital age and who gets to decide what we do." Sascha argues that these bills were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power.

The documentary wades into current cybersecurity debates and how they are fundamentally at odds with core conceptualizations of Internet freedom. Sascha argues that we are heading towards a world that requires a surveillance mechanism to support a locked down system where choice of applications, services, or speech is controlled. Clearly, the folks at Fault Lines understand what is at stake.

Fault Lines : Controlling the web (Thanks, James!)

Nine months and $76,000 later, UC Davis's Pepper-Spray Pike is fired

As Rob noted, Lt John Pike, the UC Davis campus cop who attained infamy by casually walking a line of student protesters, pepper-spraying them at point-blank range, has been fired. He has been on administrative leave since the incident since the incident last November, and the university has paid him over $76,000 of his $110,243.12 salary during that period.

Call your Senator today and stop the Cyber Security Act of 2012: it legalizes spying on your email, chats, photos, social behavior, and location for any purpose


Tiffiny from champion SOPA-fighters Fight for the Future says:

This year, grassroots movements defeated SOPA in the US and ACTA in Europe. We might be able to make another bad-idea bill, CISPA, go down in flames too (or get the privacy protections we've been fighting for). CISPA-- which already passed the House -- would give government access to all your personal data with no restrictions on what they could do with it. The Senate version of CISPA, which is slightly better but could be made much, much worse is going to final vote today.

If you have a secret --

Or think it's creepy that the government listens in on your cell phone calls, knows your location right now, reads your emails, all without a warrant? A bill going to vote today in Congress would make all of this government spying legal.

Millions of us aren't aware of this bill or don't realize how far they go.

That's why we're sharing this link: doyouhaveasecret.org

We took some time to try to capture exactly what's so dangerous and disturbing about having secrets at all.

This year, grassroots movements defeated SOPA in the US and ACTA in Europe. We might be able to make another bad-idea bill go down in flames too (or get the privacy protections we've been fighting for).

This could be the year for internet freedom and the open internet to prevail above huge amounts of lobbying dollars. And racking up wins on SOPA, CISPA, ACTA -- that'd be unprecedented. Millions of people could help make that happen.

Do you have a secret? (Thanks, Tiffiniy)

Free at last (to talk in a very limited and constrained way about NSA crimes)

Hey, hooray, senators are finally legally allowed to mention the fact that the NSA has been breaking the law and spying on Americans! Freedom!

DC police chief issues extremely excellent guidelines on citizens taking pictures of cops


As part of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who was ordered to stop taking pictures by DC cops, DC chief of police Cathy Lanier has issued guidelines to her officers on citizen photography of police activities. They are extremely excellent guidelines, too, as Timothy Lee writes in Ars Technica:

"A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media," Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in "an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present."

Lanier says that if an officer sees an individual recording his or her actions, the officer may not use that as a basis to ask the citizen for ID, demand an explanation for the recording, deliberately obstruct the camera, or arrest the citizen. And she stresses that under no circumstances should the citizen be asked to stop recording.

That applies even in cases where the citizen is recording "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties." In that situation, she says, the officer may ask the person to move out of the way, but the officer "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."

She also notes that "a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed."

There is more, and it's all excellent. We have the good folks at the ACLU to thank for helping Mr Vorus win his settlement with the DC police.

DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy (Thanks, Ben!)

(Image: 12.MPDC.HorseMounted.SE.WDC.23March2012, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from perspective's photostream)

Olympics: the alien invaders that destroy our cities


(Image by Smuzz)

A topical message from our overlords

Police Tape: an ACLU mobile app to secretly record the police


Police Tape is an Android app from the American Civil Liberties Union that is designed to allow citizens to covertly record the police. When activated, it hides itself from casual inspection, and it has a mode that causes it to send its recording to an ACLU-operated server, protecting against police seizure and deletion.

Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police. Thanks to the generosity of app developer OpenWatch, the ACLU-NJ is providing Police Tape to the public free of charge.

The ACLU says that an iPhone version is "coming soon," though it remains to be seen whether something so potentially controversial passes muster with the App Store.

Police Tape

Declaration of Internet Freedom

I've signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a short, to-to-point manifesto for a free and open Internet. It's attracted some very august signatories, including Amnesty International, Hackers and Founders, Global Voices, Mozilla, the NY Tech Meetup, Personal Democracy, Fight for the Future, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Aaron Swartz and Jonathan Zittrain. You can sign it too, and talk about it here or on Reddit.

We stand for a free and open Internet.

We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:

* Expression: Don't censor the Internet.

* Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.

* Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.

* Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users' actions.

* Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

Declaration of Internet Freedom

EFF Pioneer Award nominations are open

Nominations are open for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual Pioneer Awards, which are given out "to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology." The nominations are open to the general public until August 6.

What does it take to be a Pioneer? There are no specific categories, but nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications. Their contributions may be technical, social, legal, academic, economic or cultural. This year’s pioneers will join an esteemed group of past award winners that includes World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, security expert Bruce Schneier, open source advocate Mozilla Foundation, and privacy rights activist Beth Givens.

I was privileged to receive the Pioneer Award in 2007, an honor that remains one of my proudest.

Pioneer Award Nominations Are Now Open

Internet freedom activists arrested/detained after Internet freedom conferences

James Losey from the New America Foundation sez, "I noticed a pattern of people getting arrested, detained, or sentenced following Internet Freedom conferences. The timing is coincidental, but its a poignant reminder of the risks people face when pushing back against unjust authority and fighting for basic rights."

In late October 2011, Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger, was arrested as he returned from the Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference. The charge: inciting violence toward the military during riots on Oct. 9, 2011. He was released nearly two months later. That same month, Jacob Appelbaum, a core member of the Tor Project who has also volunteered with Wikileaks, was detained in Iceland after speaking at the Internet and Democratic Change, an event sponsored by the Swedish government.

And just last month, Thai blogger Chiranuch Premchaiporn, aka Jiew, went from a speaking engagement at Google’s Internet at Liberty conference in Washington to a sentencing hearing. She faced up to 20 years in prison because comments posted on her website by readers were deemed insulting to the king. In the end, she was fined the equivalent of $630 and received an eight-month suspended sentence.

Why Do So Many Bloggers Get Arrested After Internet Freedom Conferences? (Thanks, James!)

Farcical wishlist from Canada's copyright/pharma lobby: warrantless search, Canadian SOPA, jail time for downloaders, public subsidy of copyright enforcement

Michael Geist sez,

The Canadian intellectual property's lead lobby group, the Canadian IP Council (which represent the music, movie, software and pharma industries) released a new policy document yesterday that identifies its legislative priorities for the coming years. Anyone hoping that the SOPA protests, the European backlash against ACTA, and the imminent passage of Canadian copyright reform might moderate the lobby group demands will be sorely disappointed. The report is the most extremist IP policy document ever released in Canada, calling for the implementation of ACTA, SOPA-style rules including website blocking and stopping search queries from resolving, liability for advertisers and payment companies, massive surveillance at the border and through delivery channels including searching through individual packages without court oversight, and spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars on private enforcement.

I have a long post on the report, focusing on the case it makes for addressing counterfeiting concerns in Canada and on the resulting recommendations. The recommendations are divided into five main groups:

1. Introduce a Canadian SOPA

2. ACTA Implementation

3. New Search Powers Without Court Oversight

4. The Criminalization of Intellectual Property

5. Massive Increase in Public Spending Creating an IP Enforcement Subsidy

The IP Lobby's Post-Bill C-11 Playbook: ACTA, SOPA, Warrantless Search and the Criminalization of IP

Russian unlicensed protest fines increased 15,000 percent

In Russia, where there have been many outbreaks of protest since Vladimir Putin and his cronies stole won another election, the fine for protesting without a permit has been increased 15,000 percent to 300,000 Rubles. The 2010 average wage was 21,192 Rubles/month. How very Quebec-eqsue.

Google now warning people whose Gmail has been targetted by suspected state-sponsored spies


Google believes that it can distinguish run-of-the-mill hack-attacks on Gmail accounts from state-sponsored spies trying to gain access to dissidents' email. When it detects the latter, it will display a warning for the legitimate owner to see, "We believe that state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer." The warning comes with a link to instructions for improving your password security.

You might ask how we know this activity is state-sponsored. We can’t go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors, but our detailed analysis—as well as victim reports—strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored.

Security warnings for suspected state-sponsored attacks (via Wired)

Quebec cops kettle and mass-arrest demonstrators


In the Globe and Mail a Canadian Press report by Nelson Wyatt on the mass-kettling and arrest of protesters in Montreal last night. A long-running and hard-fought student strike over tuition hikes led to the passage of a shameful law that limits the rights of protesters. Quebeckers are out in force to protest this law, and often in sympathy with the students' demands. The police have responded with "kettling," the tactic of cordoning off a large area and declaring the resulting space to be a civil-rights-free zone, such that anyone caught inside is arbitrarily detained without access to shelter, food, health services, or toilets. (Above, a photo of Montreal police pepper-spraying demonstrators at a march last week).

Riot officers stood impassively around the corralled demonstrators, feet planted and batons clutched in gloved hands. On a nearby street, a Quebec provincial police officer was seen snapping a rod topped with the flag of the hardcore anti-capitalist Black Bloc and tossing it between two parked cars.

Police on horseback also provided reinforcement as officers sorted out the crowd.

Emmanuel Hessler, an independent filmmaker who had been following the march for a few blocks, said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press from inside the police encirclement that he was surprised by the action, saying, “Suddenly, there were police all around us.”

While the crowd waited to be led away one by one to be handcuffed and sent for processing at a police operational centre – a procedure expected to take several hours – a man started reading poetry and the crowd hushed to listen. Someone else sang a folk song. At one point a woman called out the phone number of a lawyer which the mob took up as a chant.

Mr. Hessler, 30, was able to tweet to friends, “We are about to get cuffed and off in a bus. Don’t know what happens after. Wish me luck.”

Some demonstrators who had escaped the police cordon continued to march elsewhere while others milled about beyond the police lines and cheered as buses took the detainees away.

400 arrested as Montreal police kettle demonstrators (Thanks, Mom!)

(Image: IMG_6450, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 79393030@N04's photostream)

Sealed evidence from the Byron Sonne trial

Denise Balkisoon, who did a great job covering the Byron Sonne trial writes, "If you're not tired of G20 hacker/accused bomber Byron Sonne yet, the details of his pre-trial are now no longer under publication ban. I'm doing two posts on Open File with details, this is the first. Includes the police statement as to why they lied about his jaywalking to get his ID: 'If he didn't do anything wrong, why wouldn't he give me his name?,' said officer Euane Simon. 'An ordinary person would not be that defensive.'

Sonne, of course, was Toronto's "G20 hacker," a security expert whose life was destroyed by Toronto cops and the Canadian prosecutor when he pointed out the stupidity of the $1.2B G20 security theater.

Witness: Officer Irvin Albrecht, forensic identification officer
Albrecht presented videos and photos from the search of Sonne’s then-home at 58 Elderwood Drive. He noted, among other things, “computer hacker convention passes” on lanyards. He also noted a “suspected homemade detonator,” a device that figured highly in Sonne’s two denials of bail.

“How was that identified as such?” asked Peter Copeland, another of Sonne’s lawyers.

Albrecht said that he identified the “detonator” during his initial walk through the scene with a Sergeant Gibson. He also “came across similar looking items” in his later reading.

Later, Gavin Edison of the Centre for Forensic Sciences identified the “suspected homemade detonator” as a thermocouple, otherwise known as a fancy thermometer.

Witness: Corporal Richard Plume, RCMP
Searched Sonne’s parents cottage in Midland. He turned the compressed air “potato cannons” that earned Sonne a dangerous weapons charge over to the Guns and Gangs task force. Plume and others shot wadded up paper towels out of the cannons in the Guns and Gangs parking lot.

What we couldn't say about the Byron Sonne trial, Part I (Thanks, Denise!)

Judge suspends US law that provided for indefinite detention without trial


U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest has issued a preliminary injunction against the clause in the National Defense Authorization Act that gave the administration the power to arrest people and hold them indefinitely, without a trial, if they were believed to support terrorism. She dismissed the government's arguments in support of the clause (NDAA §1021), which were just a rephrasing of Obama's bullshit, georgebushian signing statement, which consisted of "Nothing to see here" and "I'm a good guy, don't worry about it."

"This court is acutely aware that preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with great caution," she wrote. "However, it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights. As set forth above, this court has found that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits regarding their constitutional claim and it therefore has a responsibility to insure that the public's constitutional rights are protected."

In a phone conference, the plaintiffs' attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer hailed what they called a "complete victory." "America is more free today than it was yesterday due to the courageous and righteous and very sound ruling by Judge Forrest," Mayer said. "I think this is a hugely significant development... I think it's also a testament to the courage of the plaintiffs here."

One of those plaintiffs, O'Brien, was also jubilant in a separate interview.

"I am extremely happy right now, and what I'm most happy about it is that this ruling has given me trust," O'Brien said, "Trust is the foundation of just and stable governments, and this ruling gives me hope that we can restore trust in the foundations of government."

Judge Blocks Controversial NDAA (via Reddit)

(Image: NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from worldcantwait's photostream)

Space Hijackers create Official Protesters programme for the London 2012 Olympics


Leah sez,

Bespoke troublemakers, the Space Hijackers, have announced that they are the Official Protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games. To this end, they've launched a site where you can register for tickets for the official protests. They have also outlined the top ten reasons why the Olympics are worth protesting against.

A spokesperson said "accept no imitation, we are the Official Protesters. We shall be taking steps to ensure no unauthorised protest occurs around the London 2012 Olympic Games".

The Space Hijackers stress that LOCOG, the IoC and the ODA should expect protest wherever Olympic legislation and regulation is applicable and enforced. An international network of Olympic protesters have partnered under the Protest London 2012 umbrella and are planning as invasive a campaign as the Olympic Games themselves. However, only those groups authorised by the Official Protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be allowed to express dissent.

Disclaimer: "Official Protesters", "Official Protester", "Official Protest", "Protest", "The Space Hijackers", "Space Hijackers", "Spacehijackers", "Space", "Hijacker" and "Hijackers" are protected under trademark and copyright. Unauthorised use without express written consent from the Official Protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Some background: as part of its campaign to win the games, the UK promised the International Olympic Committee that it would extend extraordinary privileges to it and its corporate partners. It's a criminal offense to use "London" and "2012" or "2012" and "Games" in a commercial context without authorisation. Yes, criminal: you can go to gaol for putting up a pub signboard that says "Watch the Olympic Games here today!" Parliament's Olympic lickspittles also delivered a law that gives the cops the power to enter your private home and remove anti-Olympics posters. And there are 10,000 private security guards on-site who insist that you're not allowed to stand on public land and take pictures, despite assurances from the government and police that they've been trained and briefed.

Here's an earlier Space Hijackers action: "Life Neutral" certification for arms dealers.

Official Protests for the London 2012 Olympics (Thanks, Leah!)

YA legal thriller about civics and the US judicial system

Joel sez, "'Wainwright for the People' is a young adult book for ages 10 and up that teaches basic civics, with a focus on our judicial system, in the form of a legal thriller, accompanied by Student and Teacher Guides, made available as a free download under a Creative Commons license. Co-written by a former Assistant District Attorney and a former high school English Teacher, Wainwright for the People builds on the tradition of using literature to educate. Ten years after No Child Left Behind left civics instruction behind, 'Wainwright for the People' will offer schools a way to use an exciting story to teach students about our fundamental rights and system of justice."

Gideon Wainwright is suspended from school when he takes the fall for pulling a fire alarm while breaking up a bully attack. Forced to intern for his Assistant District Attorney mother while under suspension, Gideon is thrust into the middle of an investigation that seems just a little too close to his troubles at school. Gideon’s adventure propels him through the justice system as he, and readers, learn the fundamental concepts behind the Bill of Rights and our legal system.

Co-written by a former Assistant District Attorney (Joel) and a former high school English Teacher (Stacey), Wainwright for the People builds on the tradition of using literature to educate, in the same way To Kill a Mockingbird forced us to confront racism. Joel regular speaks to middle schools on Law Day and Constitution Day about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our system of justice. In need of a story to engage kids and provide a context in which learning can flourish, Joel sketched out the ideas for Wainwright based on his real life experiences as an A.D.A. in the Bronx...

American Bar Association Publishing has agreed to publish the story of Wainwright for the People upon completion. The manuscript is due in October of 2012. By the end of this year the curriculum will be developed. Publication is expected in March of 2013.

Consistent with ABA Publishing’s practices, no advance has been offered. In addition, because Wainwright for the People is way outside the ABA’s normal catalog of law books, marketing will largely be our responsibility. ABA has encouraged our Kickstarter campaign and generously donated the ePub edition of Wainwright for a reward, but it will be through our own efforts that Wainwright will get into the hot little hands of student readers.

Wainwright for the People (Thanks, Joel!)

Stuff that isn't obviously torture if you're a US gov't official

Courtesy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a list of "things that government officials could do to an American citizen and still claim later that they didn't know they were "torturing" that citizen."

Prolonged isolation; Deprivation of light; Exposure to prolonged periods of light and/or darkness; Extreme variations in temperature; Sleep adjustment; Threats of severe physical abuse; Death threats; Administration of psychotropic drugs; Shackling and manacling for hours at a time; Use of "stress" positions; Noxious fumes that caused pain to eyes and nose; Withholding of any mattress, pillow, sheet or blanket; Forced grooming; Suspension of showers; Removal of religious items; Constant surveillance; Incommunicado detention, including denial of all contact with family and legal counsel for a 21-month period; Interference with religious observance; and Denial of medical care for serious and potentially life-threatening ailments, including chest pain and difficulty breathing, as well as for treatment of the chronic, extreme pain caused by being forced to endure stress positions, resulting in severe and continuing mental and physical harm, pain, and profound disruption of the senses and personality.

Lowering the Bar explains:

The legal issue was whether John Yoo should be entitled to "qualified immunity" in a case brought by Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen detained as an "enemy combatant." "Qualified immunity" is a doctrine that bars claims against government officials if, at the time they acted, it was not "sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he or she was doing violated the plaintiff's rights." The idea is to try to preserve some freedom of action for officials who have to act in areas where the law may not always be clear. If it applies, no lawsuit.

So, next question: do you think a "reasonable official" in 2001-03, when John Yoo was in the government, should have understood that doing those things to an American citizen -- one who, by the way, had not been convicted of or even charged with a crime -- violated that citizen's rights?

Would the Last Civil Right in America Please Remember to Close the Door on Its Way Out?

School-issue laptop fitted with anti-social-networking censorship/surveillance software that operates off school networks, too

Laptops issued to students by the Portland, Maine school boards will come with censorware that watches all their clicks and attempts to prevent them from visiting social media sites, even when working from home or other non-school premises, and even after school hours. Tom Bell's article in the Kennebec Journal quotes Peter Eglinton, chief operating officer, stating that this is a legal requirement. He's almost certainly incorrect; the law in question states that school networks must be filtered as a condition of receiving federal funding, but doesn't explicitly extend this to school-issued laptops used on non-school networks.

By taking this aggressive approach to censorship and surveillance of its student body, I fear that the Portland school board is compromising its students' network and media literacy, ensuring that they can't be supervised and mentored through positive use of the Internet services most widely used by their cohort. I also believe that close, continuous surveillance of students' network activity, with the concomitant prohibition on the use of privacy tools, sends absolutely the wrong message about how to manage your private information online. How can students learn to use technology to prevent their personal information from leaking out online if we spy on everything they do and punish them if they try to stop us?

There is debate nationally about whether schools should integrate social media in the classrooms, said Rebecca Randall, vice president of education programs for Common Sense Media, based in San Francisco. She said she is not aware of any school district that has blocked access to social media sites from school computers that are used at home.

She said the debate over filtering policies can be summed up into two approaches: the "walled playground" or the "open sandbox."

Her organization advocates the latter approach, allowing broad access and teaching children how to safely navigate the Internet.

"Simply shielding students from social media is not going to stop them from seeing it," she said, because teenagers will have access to unfiltered Internet on home computers and other devices, such as smartphones and tablets. "We have a saying: 'You can't always cover kids' eyes. You have to teach them how to see it.' "

While federal law requires school districts to take measures like creating an Internet safety policy and blocking sexually explicit content, there is no requirement that social media sites be blocked, said Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, based in Maryland.

Portland school district to beef up online filters

America's decade of reverse-nation-building at home

In Sunday's NYT, EL Doctorow (no relation) with a remarkable polemic on how the USA has spent the past 12 years dismantling any justification for "American Execptionalism" with a series of domestic and international foolishnesses, evils, and crimes.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.

Unexceptionalism: A Primer

Last chance for Hackers on Planet Earth EFF-benefit tix

Aestetix sez, "For the past month, the Hackers On Planet Earth conference by 2600 Magazine has been raising money for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The internet would be a scary place without them around, so HOPE is donating 10% of the entire ticket sales for the month of April to the EFF. It's been a fantastic month, and yet it's almost over, so if you want to be part of this awesome effort, buy your ticket before Monday."

Consent of the Networked: indispensable, levelheaded explanation of how technology can make us free, or take away our liberty

I've just finished Rebecca MacKinnon's Consent of the Networked, and now I'm kicking myself for letting it languish in my review pile for as long as I did. It is an absolutely indispensable account of the way that technology both serves freedom and removes it. MacKinnon is co-founder of the Global Voices project, and a director of the Global Network Initiative, and is one of the best-informed, clearest commentators on issues of networks and freedom from a truly global perspective.

MacKinnon does a fantastic job of tying her theory and analysis to real-world stories. She illustrates how governments are figuring out how to use networks to take freedom away, to control debate, to find and crush dissent. She shows how Internet corporations -- even the ones with a good track-record on protecting their users -- are prone to cooperating with the worst, most repressive instincts of governments (including supposedly liberal western governments).

But she also describes how technology contributes to freedom, and how savvy use of technology, combined with activism in the realm of Internet governance, lawmaking, and corporate affairs can turn technology into a force for liberation, accountability and freedom. She teases out the good and the bad of technology, working from recent examples like the Arab Spring uprisings, and names names and cites facts and figures when it comes to companies and governments who worked to undo the liberating power of technology.

Most of all, MacKinnon lays out a roadmap for tipping the technological balance towards freedom. She describes how diverse groups, including ones she works with, provide opportunities for all of us to work for positive change, in our capacity as citizens, employees of corporations, members of government, and as clued-in techies.

MacKinnon is a realist, but never a cynic, and provides a much-needed straight-shooting, levelheaded account of how the Internet changes power-relationships. This book should be read by anyone who cares about freedom today and in the decades to come.

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom

Official book site

EFF's hacker mailing list

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched its Coders' Rights List, a new mailing list for hackery subjects:

Sign up today to get the latest news on computer security law, upcoming events with EFF lawyers, discounts on infosec conferences like BlackHat, SOURCE, HOPE, and open source software events, and even get a jump on EFF's third annual D(EFF)CONtest coming in May! Your information is never sold, swapped, or shared.

Brian Wood's DMZ: a critical look back


As the final volume of Brian Wood's brilliant anti-war graphic novel DMZ nears publication, Dominic Umile looks back on the series' 72 issue run of political allegory and all the ways that it used the device of fiction to make trenchant comic on the real world. DMZ is a story about the "State of Exception" that the American establishment declared after 9/11, a period when human rights, civil liberty, economic sanity, and the constitution all play second-fiddle to the all-consuming war on terror. Like the best allegories, it works first and best as a story in its own right, but it is also an important comment on the world we live in.

In DMZ #8, Matty Roth reviews a series of New York Times newspapers to reconstruct a timeline of the book’s war. Burchielli’s panels are nearly blacked-out. It’s as if Roth is squatting on a darkened stage: Nothing behind him is discernible outside of more yellowed newspapers, each slugged with copy that’s painfully close to our own real-life headlines. Brian Wood’s chief character is despondent and sounds like many of us do today in the era of Occupy Wall Street, hostilities in Afghanistan, the Obama administration’s drone campaign, and rampant corruption plaguing state and federal government, all amid an ever-theatric run-up to another presidential election.

Even as DMZ had another 64 issues and more than five years to go, Roth’s thoughts are rendered with an undeniable degree of both prescience and finality: “I never paid attention to politics. Never seemed to be a point. Politics happened the way it happened regardless of what anyone thought or did. So why bother?”

A "System" of Torture?: 'DMZ's' Argument Through Comment, and Comics

Privacy-first ISP raising money for online services that can't and won't fink you out to spy agencies

Jon sez, "Nicholas Merrill, who previously first challenged the expansion of the National Secret Letter in the Patriot Act, is working on building a ISP infrastructure based on privacy. Help him raise funds on IndieGogo." Here's Declan McCullagh on CNet:

"The idea that we are working on is to not be capable of complying" with requests from the FBI for stored e-mail and similar demands, Merrill says.

A 1994 federal law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act was highly controversial when it was enacted because it required telecommunications carriers to configure their networks for easy wiretappability by the FBI. But even CALEA says that ISPs "shall not be responsible for decrypting" communications if they don't possess "the information necessary to decrypt."

Translation: make sure your customers own their data and only they can decrypt it.

Merrill has formed an advisory board with members including Sascha Meinrath from the New America Foundation; former NSA technical director Brian Snow; and Jacob Appelbaum from the Tor Project.

Merrill's looking to raise $1M on IndieGogo; he got his first $28,000 overnight, and has 64 days to go. I just kicked in a hundred bucks.

This Internet provider pledges to put your privacy first. Always. (Thanks, Jon!)