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Big Government and Big Data fighting over control of your online activities. Blockchain is the obvious alternative.

For many years, the EU has taken many small steps towards introducing an EU ID card: eIDAS. (Or at least a strict common EU standard for nationally issued ID cards.)

An ID card proving the holders identity is one thing. (However, a mandatory ID card as such is a very controversial concept in some member states.) One interesting point is if there is going to be a common personal EU identification number. Another is what information the cards chip will contain and how it is going to be used. No doubt, an EU ID card can be used as a very effective tool for various forms of Big Brotherism.

It is in the light of the EU slowly trying to introduce a common, mandatory ID card that various EU schemes should be scrutinised.

Last week some sites, e.g. Breitbart London ran this story: The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards »

Well, that might be a bit oversimplified. What the EU suggests is that it should be possible to use national (EU harmonised) ID cards to log into various online platforms instead of logging in using e.g. Facebook or Google. Thus giving you the possibility of being controlled by Big Government or Big Data.

Giving people a possibility to choose is a good idea, as such. But I’m not sure that I would like Big Government or Big Data to have the control over my online life.

And you should be very suspicious! The moment there is an established platform for online registration (or signing transactions) with an EU approved ID card – this system can be rolled out all over the place. For example, the EU would love to have a system where you have to use your ID card to be able to log on to the Internet. I have met several people in the EU apparatus promoting that idea.

But how should you go about if you don’t want nor Big Government or Big Data to be in control of your online activities?

Actually, it can be done quite easily – by using Blockchain technology, decentralised solutions, and open source software. Ideal, there should be a couple of different such ID providers, competing with each other over providing competent privacy protection.

(All of this might even be possible to achieve using the already existing Bitnation World Citizen ID.)

This can be one of those forks in the road of history: Do we want our online activities to be controlled by Big Government and Big Brother, by Big Data – or a decentralised system with a high level of security, respecting users right to privacy and controlled by no one?


• The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards »
• EU: Communication on Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe »


EU: Parliament just came out in favour of Snowden, open-source, encryption, digital freedom and anonymity

Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution called “Human rights and technology in third countries” (2014/2232(INI)).

This is just a resolution, not legislation, but very interesting nevertheless. The European Parliament…

3. Believes that the active complicity of certain EU Member States in the NSA’s mass surveillance of citizens and spying on political leaders, as revealed by Edward Snowden, has caused serious damage to the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy and has undermined global trust in the benefits of ICTs;

Shame on the Brits, French, Germans and Swedes. (And several others.)

6. Calls for the active development and dissemination of technologies that help protect human rights and facilitate people´s digital rights and freedoms as well as their security, and that promote best practices and appropriate legislative frameworks, while guaranteeing the security and integrity of personal data; urges, in particular, the EU and its Member States to promote the global use and development of open standards, and of free and open-source software and cryptographic technologies;

Nice. This is one we should remind the European Parliament about over and over again–when it tries to make decisions going in the other direction.

9. Urges the EU itself, and in particular the EEAS, to use encryption in its communications with human rights defenders, to avoid putting defenders at risk and to protect its own communications with outsiders from surveillance;

Welcome to the real world.

10. Calls on the EU to adopt free and open-source software, and to encourage other actors to do so, as such software provides for better security and for greater respect for human rights;

This is not the first time the EP makes such a statement. But real progress seems to be very slow.

14. Draws attention to the plight of whistleblowers and their supporters, including journalists, following their revelations of abusive surveillance practices in third countries; believes that such individuals should be considered human rights defenders and that, as such, they deserve the EU’s protection, as required under the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders; reiterates its call on the Commission and the Member States to examine thoroughly the possibility of granting whistleblowers international protection from prosecution;

65. Calls for the scope for international protection of whistleblowers to be extended, and encourages the Member States to table laws to protect whistleblowers;

Very nice. But still, no EU member state is prepared to grant Edward Snowden refuge or asylum.

19. Calls for the inclusion of clauses in all agreements with third countries that refer explicitly to the need to promote, guarantee and respect digital freedoms, net neutrality, uncensored and unrestricted access to the internet, privacy rights and the protection of data;

So, if the EU-US Trade Agreement (TTIP) will include copyright enforcement threatening digital freedom and privacy–the EP will vote no?

We must be sure to make a note of that one. And the next…

20. Urges the EU to counter the criminalisation of human rights defenders’ use of encryption, censorship-bypassing and privacy tools, by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and to challenge third-country governments that level such charges against human rights defenders;

21. Urges the EU to counter the criminalisation of the use of encryption, anti-censorship and privacy tools by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and by challenging third-country governments that criminalise such tools;

61. Calls for each individual to be entitled to encryption, and for the conditions needed to allow encryption to be created; takes the view that controls should be a matter for the end user, who will need the skills required to carry out such controls properly;

62. Calls for the introduction of ‘end to end’ encryption standards as a matter of course for all communication services, so as to make it more difficult for governments, intelligence agencies and surveillance bodies to read content;

As far as I can understand, the European Parliament just came out strongly against a ban on encryption.

27. Considers mass surveillance that is not justified by a heightened risk of terrorist attacks and threats to be in violation of the principles of necessity and proportionality, and, therefore, a violation of human rights;

63. Emphasises the special responsibility of government intelligence services to build trust, and calls for an end to mass surveillance; considers that the monitoring of European citizens through domestic and foreign intelligence services must be addressed and stopped;

So, what’s about EU member states continuing data retention?

40. Calls for the development of policies to regulate the sales of zero-day exploits and vulnerabilities to avoid their being used for cyber-attacks, or for unauthorised access to devices leading to human rights violations, without such regulations having a meaningful impact on academic and otherwise bona fide security research;

In your face, NSA…

45. Condemns the weakening and undermining of encryption protocols and products, particularly by intelligence services seeking to intercept encrypted communications;

…and the GCHQ.

46. Warns against the privatisation of law enforcement through internet companies and ISPs;

This ought to be seen as a clear warning not to go down that road in the TTIP.

49. Calls explicitly for the promotion of tools enabling the anonymous and/or pseudonymous use of the internet, and challenges the one-sided view that such tools serve only to allow criminal activities, and not to empower human rights activists beyond and within the EU;

Actually, I’m overwhelmed. But then again, this is not legislation.

However all of the above can be very useful as a reminder when the EU Commission and Council tries to get the Parliament to do the opposite. Or when the Parliament suddenly goes bananas on its own. (It frequently does. It surely will happen again very soon.)

The text as PDF »



Stallman on free software and free society

Legendary founder of the Free Software movement Richard Stallman at TEDxGeneva 2014.

In this talk Stallman describes how nonfree programs give companies control of their users and what users can do in order to recover control over their computing.