Archive | July, 2016

Libertarian Presidential candidate: Pardon for Snowden, Manning and others

The U.S.’s most popular third-party presidential candidate says he would “consider” pardoning the highest profile convicts of computer-related crimes in the country, including Chelsea Manning, Ross Ulbricht, and Jeremy Hammond.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, also reiterated his possible willingness to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency analyst who gave a cache of agency documents to journalists in 2013. Snowden currently resides in Russia, which granted him temporary asylum after the U.S. charged him with violating the Espionage Act.

Vocativ: Gary Johnson: I’d Consider Pardoning Snowden, Manning »


European Data Protection Supervisor: Ban encryption backdoors

According to TechDirt, a report from European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Giovanni Buttarelli argues for a ban on encryption backdoors.


But that is not all…

The new rules should also clearly allow users to use end-to-end encryption (without ‘backdoors’) to protect their electronic communications.

Decryption, reverse engineering or monitoring of communications protected by encryption should be prohibited.

That is taking the issue far. Very far. Maybe so far as to kill the report altogether in the EU institutions.

I cannot imagine politicians prohibiting all forms of attempted decryption, under all circumstances. Europol would go bananas. The EPP and S&D groups in the European Parliament would never accept it. And I imagine the Commission would never put forward such a proposal.

Just focusing on banning backdoors, however, is a totally different issue – that might stand a fair chance to become EU policy.

Then we have this…

In this context the EDPS also recommends that the Commission consider measures to encourage development of technical standards on encryption…

This could be understood as the EU encouraging encryption in general. That would be a good thing. Or as if the EU should take some sort of control over the development of encryption. That would be really bad.

Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of parts of this report.

But, at least, this is a clear stand against backdoors – from an EU data protection bigwig.


TechDirt: EU Data Protection Official Says Revised Privacy Laws Should Ban Backdooring Encryption »


EDRi: Three steps to end freedom of expression

It is quite clear that removal of material online is a restriction on fundamental rights. It is quite clear that the safeguards in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU are being willfully ignored:

EU Charter: Article 52.1:

Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.

EDRi: Three steps to end freedom of expression »


Can you trust Twitter?

Twitter lit up Friday night with allegations that it tried to suppress news that secret-leaking website Wikileaks exposed thousands of emails obtained from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

Friday afternoon, users noted, “#DNCLeaks” was trending, with more than 250,000 tweets about it on the platform. By Friday evening, it vanished completely from the site’s “trending” bar for at least 20 minutes. It returned as “#DNCLeak” after users erupted, though it was too late to quell their rage.

Twitter accused of suppressing DNC Wikileaks story »


Government using private sector censorship for political objectives

Censorship is censorship. If you block someone from speaking freely or delete people’s content from the Internet you do censor them.

But there are different sorts of censorship.

One is when the government silences opposition, controversial voices or whatever. That is, in general terms, a violation of freedom of speech and our civil rights. That should not be accepted in a democratic society.

Another form of censorship is when Twitter censors Milo Yiannopolous, when Google censor artist Dennis Cooper or when Facebook is accused of downgrading news depending on political affiliations.

These are private companies and they choose to whom they want to provide their services. This is clearly stated in these companies voluminous terms and conditions.

So, OK – social media giants can censor people (and ideas). But should they?

The fact that Google, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter can censor people in a legally »correct« way in no way should protect them from being criticized for doing so.

And they should be criticized! Especially as their dominance on the social media scene is almost total. Their actions have political consequences. And they might very well have a political agenda.

(As a libertarian I run into this issue a lot. Just because I dislike something, I do not have the desire or right to outlaw it. But still, as a consumer, user or concerned citizen I am free to criticize e.g. censorship – and to loudly point out its risks and problems.)

But recently the lines are getting blurred. As I have pointed out in previous blog posts, governments (most recently the EU) are teaming up with major social media players to use the latter’s legal framework to silence voices that politicians dislike. Thus circumventing the legal system and the rule of law – and moving government censorship out of democratic control.

This is a serious, mounting problem.



Will the banning of @nero mark the »Peak Twitter« moment?

Twitter banning Milo Yiannopolous is a story with interesting dimensions.

Yiannopolous is very entertaining. He’s got some points. And he often provokes some interesting reactions.

Yiannopolous also is a loudmouth and a troll. He doesn’t really give a shit. And sometimes his opinions are rather disturbing.

The banning might very well have marked a »Peak Twitter« moment.

The party is over. I think this might cause immense damage to Twitters image and trademark. Twitter just isn’t as exciting anymore.

One interesting point of view is that this is not about free speech. Twitter is a private company. We have all agreed to their terms & conditions. Twitter can do whatever they want.

But this can, and should not shield Twitter from criticism. As a Twitter user, I am very disgruntled over the banning of @nero.

And this might actually be about free speech after all. Didn’t the EU just agree with Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to remove »radicalising« and »hateful« content? And isn’t that just a way to circumvent the rule of law when it comes to freedom of speech?

It’s just like when US authorities couldn’t find any legal ways to stop Wikileaks. So they got Paypal, Master Card, and the banks to cut off the funding. Extrajudicial proceedings, indeed.

Then, again, this affair might stimulate and accelerate the development of new social media platforms that are distributed, decentralised and impossible to censor.

Or the opposite – people moving to closed forums for the like-minded.

But Twitter as a »safe space«? That sounds boring.


• Twitter’s Stalinist Unpersoning of Gay Provocateur Milo Yiannopolous »
• I’m With The Banned »


Meanwhile, in France…

“The State of Emergency in France has been extended until January. In reaction to violence shaking the country and with the presidential election of 2017 only a few months away, political leaders are indulging an ignominious orgy of security-driven policy. Not satisfied with merely prolonging the state of emergency, lawmakers have also amended the 2015 Intelligence Act passed last year to legalize domestic mass surveillance.”

La Quadrature du Net » French State of Emergency: Overbidding Mass Surveillance »