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posted by Blackmoore on Friday December 05 2014, @06:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the room-101 dept.

Julian Assange writes in an op-ed in the NYT that we are living in a surveillance society where totalitarian surveillance is embodied in our governments and embedded in our economy, in our mundane uses of technology and in our everyday interactions. Companies like Google and Facebook are in the same business as the U.S. government’s National Security Agency says Assange and their business model is the industrial destruction of privacy. This destruction of privacy widens the existing power imbalance between the ruling factions and everyone else, leaving “the outlook for subject peoples and oppressed classes,” as Orwell wrote, “still more hopeless.”

According to Assange, the very concept of the Internet — a single, global, homogenous network that enmeshes the world — is the essence of a surveillance state. "The Internet was built in a surveillance-friendly way because governments and serious players in the commercial Internet wanted it that way. There were alternatives at every step of the way. They were ignored." But if there is a “democratic weapon,” that “gives claws to the weak” in George Orwell's words, it is cryptography. "It is cheap to produce: cryptographic software can be written on a home computer. It is even cheaper to spread: software can be copied in a way that physical objects cannot. But it is also insuperable — the mathematics at the heart of modern cryptography are sound, and can withstand the might of a superpower." It is too early to say whether the “democratizing” or the “tyrannical” side of the Internet will eventually win out says Assange. "But acknowledging them — and perceiving them as the field of struggle — is the first step toward acting effectively."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by sigma on Friday December 05 2014, @07:02AM

    by sigma (1225) on Friday December 05 2014, @07:02AM (#122859)

    This is a direct outcome of the rampant and toxic corporatisation of society in America. The rest of the world needs to ostracise the USA until they bring their government and corporations back under control.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Gravis on Friday December 05 2014, @07:44AM

      by Gravis (4596) on Friday December 05 2014, @07:44AM (#122863)

      The rest of the world needs to ostracise the USA until they bring their government and corporations back under control.

      that won't work because the USA is deeply incorporated into societies on a global scale. US Banks managed hurt the global economy greatly all on their own, do you think cutting out the USA completely will be better? one thing is for sure, China will not do anything that does not benefit them directly. also, there are also a good bit of nations (leaders, not the people) that find the level of surveillance we have as something to aspire to rather than something to avoid.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @12:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @12:12PM (#122898)

      Are you saying that corporatization of society only happens in the US?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Friday December 05 2014, @01:07PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday December 05 2014, @01:07PM (#122908)

      The rest of the world needs to ostracise the USA until they bring their government and corporations back under control.

      Right problem, but wrong solution. The rest of the world turning against America would only accelerate the slide into fascism, because the fears of the people are so easily exploited. In Serbia in 1999, president and war criminal Slobodan Milosovec [wikipedia.org] was unpopular and barely clinging to power, until NATO started bombing. The Serbia rallied behind him. An external enemy only reinforces a tyrant's position, which is why the US government blathers about "terrorism" every ten seconds.

      A better solution would be internal reform through the democratic process. Some may scoff at that possibility but it has worked before: women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, the Freedom of Information Act. I'm coming to the belief that dropping out of the political process because it's too corrupt is *exactly* what the corrupt officials and their corporate patrons want you to do. To quit, to give up, and to naysay any grassroots political movement to discourage it before it can start. Cynicism serves the oppressor.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by cykros on Friday December 05 2014, @02:32PM

        by cykros (989) on Friday December 05 2014, @02:32PM (#122921)

        I'd have to agree about dropping out of the process being somewhat counterproductive. In my experience, the push to do so seems to come as a response to the rallyers urging people to get out and vote, slap some stickers on your car, and then go back to your day to day, and frankly, that's not really much better either.

        Get out, campaign for change, vote for change, and after election day, continue to serve as an agent of change. Either one of the extremes on its own simply serves the status quo. Oh, right, and for the love of god, vote for what you want, not against what you fear.

        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday December 05 2014, @05:14PM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Friday December 05 2014, @05:14PM (#122969) Journal

          Do realize that stepping outside your allotted role makes you are a terrorist in the eyes of the government, and once you are branded as such, you can be tortured, black bagged, and/or disappeared.

      • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Friday December 05 2014, @04:01PM

        by rts008 (3001) on Friday December 05 2014, @04:01PM (#122948)

        The only real solution is getting money out of politics, not making it easier to buy congresscritters as is currently in fashion.

        I've been throwing my support behind http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com], and they are actually starting to show positive results.(not because of my support:)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @06:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @06:03PM (#122981)

      When does Europe plan on fixing the toxic governmentization of their society?

  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @07:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @07:05AM (#122860)

    i hope they like my pee pee drinking videos

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @08:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @08:12PM (#123014)

      I will just leave this here then

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-4BFfdGufo [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @12:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @12:18PM (#122900)

    In case you don't want to follow the links, Assange is basically saying that he's essentially been out of the spotlight ever since that Snowden fella so he feels the need to write an article about how the Internet is made up of computers all connected together in a manner that suggests some kind of virtual "web" of sorts, and large corporations have an interest in finding out as much about you as they can so they can market stuff to you. I know, it is all shocking and hard hitting observations, but I'm sure it will rocket him back into Internet stardom. Maybe he's trying to sell a movie script about his life living in an embassy.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Pav on Friday December 05 2014, @04:56PM

      by Pav (114) on Friday December 05 2014, @04:56PM (#122966)

      We in the tech community have been hammered by these kinds of messages for decades, but this is the New York Times... Joe Sixpack needs this stuff in front of him. If Assange can get a few hundred words in print then good on him.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by hemocyanin on Friday December 05 2014, @05:16PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Friday December 05 2014, @05:16PM (#122970) Journal

      You must be the requisite hired government shill designed to distract people from the message.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @07:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05 2014, @07:52PM (#123008)

        You caught me. I am. In fact, EVERYONE who doesn't bow low and kiss Assange's ring and Snowden's ass is a government shill. But I do take comfort knowing that I am not a rapist.

        It is even worse than that. It turns out you were right all along and that EVERYONE who doesn't agree with you and where you choose to draw your line that divides all existence into a binary decision tree of good/evil (or moral/immoral, if you prefer), is a shill of some sort.

        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Saturday December 06 2014, @01:50AM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday December 06 2014, @01:50AM (#123080) Journal

          If you aren't a shill, then your an idiot. You could be paid to spout that crap and instead you do it for free?? crimeny!

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06 2014, @02:52PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06 2014, @02:52PM (#123209)

            I'm sorry I am obviously not on the side of Good and Righteousness as you. I will strive to improve my moral well being by fully embracing and following your doctrine. Even now I am working hard to suppress the last vestiges of original thought and opinion. Ah, there. I think I have removed all remnants of nuance from my thinking.

            As a token of peace between us, what say we get ourselves a cup of joe and go hang outside of a Planned Parenthood and inform all the women walking in that they are amoral whores. We'll make a day out of it and we'll get to feel that warm, cuddly boost of self-righteousness that one gets when they get to cast judgement from their tower of moral certaintude.

            This feels great! I'm looking forwarding to mod-bomb any jerk who casts Julian and Eddie in a less than saintly light.

  • (Score: 2) by pnkwarhall on Friday December 05 2014, @05:32PM

    by pnkwarhall (4558) on Friday December 05 2014, @05:32PM (#122971)

    FTFA:

    It is too early to say whether the “democratizing” or the “tyrannical” side of the Internet will eventually win out. But acknowledging them — and perceiving them as the field of struggle — is the first step toward acting effectively.

    And yet even the more strident critics of NSA surveillance do not appear to be calling for an end to Google and Facebook.

    These two points are the fundamentals of the theme/discussion I frequent Soylent News for.

    The Internet and corporations have become intimately enmeshed, even as the world has whole-heartedly and seemingly non-critically embraced the "gift" of the Internet. Point 1 is that this fact is an incredibly important fulcrum for judging the evolution and contribution-to-humanity of the Internet -- and making decisions about how to proceed. Point 2 is that our vaunted "free market" outlook (in USA and other Capitalism-embracing states) has apparently blinded our society to the transfer of power from nation-states to corporations. When the cat is away, the mice will play.

    --
    Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
  • (Score: 2) by zeigerpuppy on Friday December 05 2014, @07:20PM

    by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Friday December 05 2014, @07:20PM (#122999)

    I would argue against the premise that it's easy to write encryption software. With the standards having been tweaked to their benefit by the NSA, it's also hard to trust most encryption software (apart from those that are easily understood, like rot13).
    The logical extension of Assange's argument is that we need structural change in the Internet.
    The two most potent changes for average users would probably be:
    1) better control over outgoing data build into the OS level (most people have no idea what a firewall is and are intimidated by the trade off in function). This could be much better implemented, maybe even anonomised properly.
    2) DNS reform. A safer system of DNS could help to secure Internet comms while also reducing the power of the TLD registrars, or the Name Tsars as I prefer to call them.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday December 08 2014, @03:55PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday December 08 2014, @03:55PM (#123751) Journal

      1) better control over outgoing data build into the OS level (most people have no idea what a firewall is and are intimidated by the trade off in function). This could be much better implemented, maybe even anonomised properly.

      A very good idea...but I don't think it will work. How do you enforce it? "[Program X] would like access to the internet [Allow] [Deny]" -- great, so now the malicious entity just names their virus "WindowsAdvancedUpdater.exe". So you need the binary signed, so you can verify that it is what it claims to be. "[Program X] from [Verified corporation Y]...." Now this is beginning to look like what already exits on mobile. And that may be part of the solution -- easier to add it to mobile and hope casual desktop use dies than to get Microsoft to do something right for once ;) But still, that already exists and it doesn't work. Sometimes I try to explain to people why I use Cyanogenmod on my phone for example, and the Privacy Guard feature is a big thing for me. So I'll start out with "You know when you install a new app and it gives you the list of permissions it requires?" Usually the response is "...wait, what?". People don't even see it. And these are largely my co-workers. Software developers. (Well, Java coders at least ;) If we can't even get developers to pay attention to the most basic security information, what hope do we have with the rest of the world? The other option is to simply reject unsigned or unverified software, but then we enter a world where you can't write software without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a license. Which sounds even worse.

      Would love to hear some better ideas if you've got any though.