May 10th, 2012


Internet Freedom from What?


At the bottom, the elimination of spyware and the preservation of privacy for the consumer are critical goals if the Internet is to remain safe and reliable and credible. - Cliff Stearns

The House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). It now moves on to the Senate. The President has pledged to veto it in its current form. There is the usual hue and cry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, panicky tech bloggers and the robotic signing of petitions. However, what is missing is the outcry from the public over this like there was with SOPA/PIPA.

[Why is that?]

This law is intended to allow the private sector to exchange personal information collected from the publicly accessible networks with the government to mitigate alleged threats to the publicly accessible networks by individuals. It also allows the government to use this information as necessary for covert national security operations that defy oversight.

It still contains the same perceived flaws of SOPA/PIPA. It still smacks of a lack of Due Process, suppression of free speech rights and requires no judicial oversight. As a matter of fact, the only real oversight that this requires is from the business world. This is simple law enforcement, like SOPA/PIPA was supposed to be. Am I right?

So why is there such a lack of outrage on this bill? Why aren’t there shutdown threats or wailing and gnashing of teeth? Why isn’t the publicly accessible network community looking to protect the populace from the evil government? Why are publicly accessible network companies lauding and supporting this bill? Why is everyone expected to buy into the phrase “Just trust me”?

It seems this will allow the government and private sector to invade our privacy at will without justification. Since there is an air of stealthy activity, all this can be rationalized with a claim of national security. There are also provisions in the bill that will hold harmless these private sector entities from liability, should there be litigation resulting from erroneous or malicious information exchanged.

Be aware that the bill uses the language “cyber entities” instead of internet. Loosely defined, this could also include texting, Emails, mobile phones or land lines. This could be used to eventually bypass wiretapping laws.

According to The Washington Post, the House bill would impose no new rules on businesses, a Republican imperative. If a cyber threat is found, the reporting entity will not be required to take any action to mitigate or correct the offending exploit. The scale and reach of this threat will be decided entirely by the business entity to determine if this threat needs to be reported. There aren’t even any guidelines for a business or utility to determine a cyber threat.


Intellectual property is probably the most difficult property to protect. This is true whether that intellectual property is shared in the form of talent or performance with SOPA/PIPA; or it is your private intellectual property in the form of your own privacy with CISPA. The publicly accessible network has magnified this by making intellectual property more accessible, reproducible and portable.

At some point we have to determine who is going to be the gatekeepers of intellectual property when it has left our immediate care. We have to figure out who is most accountable to the American public. It has already become extremely apparent that we be wary of a private enterprise when their admitted mission is to use this intellectual property to maximize profit for their own gain. The publicly accessible network companies have shown no qualms about manipulating the public to suit their goals and will portray their own government as the adversary to do so.

Where do you want your most prized information taken and by whom?


Island on booze

The last few days were fun! (Flight attendant trainers' meeting in London, etc). UK is truly beautiful at this time of the year. Just after the endless fogs and rains and before the heat steps in, there's this shorty-shorty period when everything is green, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and the youth are thinking about silly things. And what's the thing that most Britons have been talking about these days? Austerity? France? The Olympics? Haha, NO. Booze! Specifically, the War on Booze: <-- Minimum alcohol price planned for England and Wales

A usual scene: it's shortly after midnight on Friday, and Cornmarket Str in central Oxford is teaming with youngsters in high mood. The bar-tender in one of the most popular local pubs has just rung the bell and the waiters are running around the tables, informing the customers they're about to close the pub soon and everyone should be having their last drink. The pub is really nice - old style, almost ancient moth-eaten wooden bar, and simple interior that probably hasn't been touched for centuries. You know, the typical English pub that stinks of old tablecloth and sour ale. It's one of the very few pubs in Oxford that have a permit to sell alcohol at this "late" hour (because 1 a.m. is considered late in UK, you know). Why? Because the licenses for selling alcohol past midnight are insanely expensive, and few pubs could afford it. The customers, mostly students, are gulping down their last pints, pouring the last shots of vodka into their throats, and jumping out of this murky hole. Stuff begins to stink, but the fun is just beginning. Classic scene. Curtains.

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