Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.
On its 25th birthday, Web creator Tim Berners-Lee calls for an online bill of rights. The Guardian, An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web.
Via the Web We Want:
March 12 2014 is the World Wide Web’s 25th Birthday. On this day in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee filed the memo that led to the creation of the Web.
To mark this occasion, Berners-Lee and two organisations close to him, the World Wide Web Foundation and the World Wide Web Consortium are inviting everyone, everywhere to wish the Web a happy birthday using #web25. They have also joined forces to create webat25.org, a site where a selection of global birthday greetings will be displayed and worldwide events to celebrate the anniversary will be publicised.
And back to The Guardian:
Berners-Lee has been an outspoken critic of the American and British spy agencies’ surveillance of citizens following the revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the light of what has emerged, he said, people were looking for an overhaul of how the security services were managed.
His views also echo across the technology industry, where there is particular anger about the efforts by the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ to undermine encryption and security tools – something many cybersecurity experts say has been counterproductive and undermined everyone’s security.
Principles of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity would be explored in the Magna Carta scheme. “These issues have crept up on us,” Berners-Lee said. “Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.”
The web constitution proposal should also examine the impact of copyright laws and the cultural-societal issues around the ethics of technology.
As The Guardian notes, “While regional regulation and cultural sensitivities would vary, Berners-Lee said he believed a shared document of principle could provide an international standard for the values of the open web.”
Bonus: Read Berners-Lee’s birthday announcement at WebAt25.org where he briefly outlines some challenges and opportunities for the next 25 years.
The NSA didn’t wake up and say, ‘Let’s just spy on everybody.’ They looked up and said, ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let’s get ourselves a copy.
Point, via The Guardian: The United Nations moved a step closer to calling for an end to excessive surveillance on Tuesday in a resolution that reaffirms the “human right to privacy” and calls for the UN’s human rights commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the impact of mass digital snooping.
Counterpoint, via Foreign Policy: The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.
Meantime, via Techrunch: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Blasts “Insidious, Chilling Effects” Of Online Surveillance, Says We Should Be Protecting Whistleblowers Like Snowden.
Google on Friday announced that it would soon be able to show users’ names, photos, ratings and comments in ads across the Web, endorsing marketers’ products.
"Facebook has been aggressively marketing social endorsements, which it calls sponsored stories. For example, if you post that you love McDonald’s new Mighty Wings on the chain’s Facebook page, McDonald’s could pay Facebook to broadcast your kind words to all your friends."
"Twitter also enables advertisers to show public tweets in their ads, but requires advertisers to get the permission of the original author of a message before using it in an ad."
Nothing to see here. This is just the natural movement of companies finding ways to monetize the personal information you give them. If you don’t want to be in an ad, don’t endorse products online.
FJP: To opt out of Google’s “shared endorsements,” head here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and uncheck the box.
Related: Citing lack of use of its universal privacy controls, Facebook announced earlier this week that it was doing away with them and instead asks Users to select privacy settings on a post by post basis.
The caveat, of course, is that when Facebook says only a few percent of its Users use something, we’re talking millions of people.
"I worry a lot about the outsourcing of email at a news organization. We only have two layers of protection, right? One is technological and one is legal," Angwin says. "So certainly our lawyers at a news organization are gonna fight to protect our emails. But, if they don’t fully control them technically, they can’t mount a very good argument.
“If Gmail is handling our emails, then we have to rely on them to mount our legal arguments,” she adds. “And that’s not a situation that news organizations have been in, in the past.”
To evaluate the nothing-to-hide argument, we should begin by looking at how its adherents understand privacy. Nearly every law or policy involving privacy depends upon a particular understanding of what privacy is. The way problems are conceived has a tremendous impact on the legal and policy solutions used to solve them. As the philosopher John Dewey observed, “A problem well put is half-solved.”
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on—the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
Ladar Levison, Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC, in an open letter to users.
Background: Lavabit is an encrypted email service that was reportedly used by Edward Snowden, among 350,000 other customers. The Guardian reports that the closure occurred after the company rejected “a court order for cooperation with the US government to participate in surveillance on its customers.”
Related: Lavabit isn’t alone. Silent Circle, a company that creates encrypted communication applications for text, phone and video, is preemptively shutting down its email service. In a notice to its customers, the company writes:
Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable.
However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.
Welcome to surveillance.