Category Archives: Computers and Internet

Net Neutrality – A Victory

Finally, some good news! At least in the US of A 🙂 It’s probably coming to the EU soon and then, hopefully, the whole world. Remember how I went on and on about it before? (I know, I know, I get stuck in my ways.)

Well, finally, the FCC approved net neutrality rules and reclassified broadband as a utility (such as electricity and water). The whole set of regulations has not yet been released, and there is already a conspiracy brewing up about it, but I’ll try to stay positive for now, and enjoy this victory, knowing it is not the end, but only a small step in a really long road…
net neutrality

2015…

A new year has begun. A bit strange if you ask me. 2015 sounds so far into the future, but it’s not. It’s right here. It’s here and it’s nothing like we imagined it would be when we were kids. I thought for sure that by now we’d have flying cars and go on to space vacations regularly (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s what we were promised, right?).

What sort of future did we get instead? Is it fun walking around carrying a smartphone sharing your location and private life with anyone willing to listen? I don’t know. I do it too. It’s kinda sad though. All that technology, all that potential, and what is ultimately used for is marketing. To get us to buy more stuff we don’t really need.

I think we can do better. Humanity deserves more than that. I mean we slave away at meaningless jobs, trying to get more money to buy things we don’t really need… wait, is that from fight club? Well, almost. It went something like this “We buy things we don’t need with money, we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”. I guess the point remains: why am I still quoting a 20-year old novel, a 15-year old movie? Why do we still live in a world where money is god? Why, even after (or during) the recession, did we not get it? Why slave away for other people? For faceless corporations, for greedy CEOs, why do we keep making excuses for them? Maybe we just like being peasants working for the king. It’s sort of always been this way, it just had different names over the centuries.

Peasant vs King

I’ll fight it for as long as I can. I am not a slave, I am not a peasant, I’m definitely not working so that the greedy people “on top” can make more money. I commit to making the world a better place. Through my work, through the technology we are so lucky to have, and through any other action that can actually help. I do not believe in collecting “likes”, I believe in studying, learning, sharing (in a good way), and acting in an organised calculated manner. But knowledge comes first.

It may be simple, but it is what I plan to do this year.

I Instagram, therefore I am

We all need validation. We all need to believe we matter. We fear death, we’d like to think we’ll somehow live forever. But deep down we know it’s not happening. One day, very soon in the cosmic sense of things, we will be dead. And soon enough everyone we have ever known, everyone who has ever known us, will be dead too. Gone forever, with any memory of us also gone. And we’ll be forgotten. As if we never existed. As if we never mattered. And this thought scares us. We all like to think somehow the memory of us will live forever. After all we still remember poets, painters, scientists and all sorts of people who somehow mattered, who made a difference and have been immortalized one way or another. Why can’t that be us? We take no chances these days. We create profiles for ourselves in websites such as Facebook, we take pictures of ourselves and our surroundings and we write in blogs (such as this one) making sure we’ll be remembered. After all, after I’m gone I would have left behind a legacy: pictures, blog posts, movie reviews and a very elaborate Facebook profile that will probably leave a trace in the web for a long time to come.

We have mostly lost any faith in any sort of God, we are all educated and no longer believe in fairy tales of the past. And this new realization brings back a very real and very dark threat: non-existence. We have always existed, we don’t know how to not exist. The thought scares us. And with heaven no longer being an option, we try to find ways to convince ourselves we matter. We know our cosmic insignificance and we fear what we already know is true: we do not matter, we will not exist forever and whatever we do, we will be forgotten. But that’s what life is. A very short time we get to spend in this universe. It’s a wonderful feeling and yes, we are lucky to be alive. You can try to understand life (the universe and everything) but don’t try so hard to live forever; chances are you’re not gonna make it.

A sad day

Back in 2007, I discovered about Net Neutrality and posted about it in this blog post. That was 7 years ago. Since then, we heard more and more about it in the news and finally arrived to today. Sadly, it’s as good as dead. The first hit is Netflix (oh Netflix, how I loved you before this, should I cancel my subscription now?). Read a good report about it here http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/02/23/comcasts-deal-with-netflix-makes-network-neutrality-obsolete/

Image

The day we fight back

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.

https://thedaywefightback.org/

A Manifesto for the Truth

This article by Edward Snowden was published Sunday in Der Spiegel.

In a very short time, the world has learned much about unaccountable secret agencies and about sometimes illegal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public. While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem in need of global solutions.

Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, they also threaten freedom of speech and open societies. The existence of spy technology should not determine policy. We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit monitoring programs and protect human rights.

Society can only understand and control these problems through an open, respectful and informed debate. At first, some governments feeling embarrassed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented campaign of persecution to suppress this debate. They intimidated journalists and criminalized publishing the truth. At this point, the public was not yet able to evaluate the benefits of the revelations. They relied on their governments to decide correctly.

Today we know that this was a mistake and that such action does not serve the public interest. The debate which they wanted to prevent will now take place in countries around the world. And instead of doing harm, the societal benefits of this new public knowledge is now clear, since reforms are now proposed in the form of increased oversight and new legislation.

Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime.

Translated by Martin Eriksson. This text was written by Edward Snowden on November 1, 2013 in Moscow. It was sent to SPIEGEL staff over an encrypted channel.