Well, as you know, I got in a bit of a mess over my BT password. All sorted now.
One of the reasons for choosing BT was to avail myself of the 3 million free WiFi hotspots it offers (and yes, when available in the right place, it’s a very, very good service). But, oh, those passwords again. My new BT account password didn’t work with BT WiFi. Nor was my BT account username recognised by BT WiFi.
So I contacted support. Let’s not go into all those recorded messages advising you to check their website for a solution to your problem (which is, of course, that you cannot check their website). No matter. Persist. There is a human being at the end of the monologue. He may not be in the same country, and he is almost certainly difficult to understand – but he exists and is polite so long as you don’t venture off the hymn sheet.
Turns out I needed a BT email address which I didn’t have. It’s OK, he said, I’ll give you one now. Which he did. And your password, he said, is…
Whoa, I said. Couldn’t you mail it to me? No. What about email, and I’ll change it as soon as I get it? No. What about security, I asked? This is secure, he said. What about eavesdropping, I said? It’s not possible, he said. This is secure.
OK. He didn’t actually know he was talking to me over a VoIP phone which I had on speaker in a crowded – but quiet – room. But, well…
This, he said, is your secure password: paris123.
Umm. If you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because our local terrorist or his file-sharing brother sniffed the details and used my account before I changed my brand new secure password.
Well, first the serious bit. Kudos to Ecuador for having more balls to stand up to the bull of Cameron than Cameron has to stand up to Obama. We thought Blair was a poodle to Bush; Cameron is no different to Obama. And if you think I’m extreme, please read this analysis from a retired diplomat: America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally. It’s enough to make you ashamed of your own country.
The less serious bit, marginally, is the effect of Twitter on the nation’s literature. Consider this official statement on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It’s a bit terse. Terse comes from its short sentences. Short sentences are punchy. They get straight to the point. No frills. Now consider the Foreign Office twitter feed (@foreignoffice):
It’s the same statement in four neat, self-contained chunks. British foreign policy is now clearly designed to suit the requirements of Twitter. God, please help us all. However, I’d just like to point out to Mr Hague that if the author had written “Under UK law” rather than “Under our law”, he/she would have freed the 140th character for the full stop at the end of the third tweet down. Accuracy is all. I am available.
But then, it seems that the FO cares nothing about international law; so why should it bother about grammatical laws?
Yes, you’re right, they’re all aging fuddy-duddies. But that’s not the answer. You can choose from any of the following correct answers:
- they’re all multi-millionaires
- they’ve all written an open letter to prime minister David Cameron
- they all want to remodel the internet to suit themselves
Their letter includes this:
Illegal activity online must be pushed to the margins…
The simplest way to ensure this would be to implement swiftly the long overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.
Let’s look at this.
implement swiftly the long overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010
That is, start the three strikes graduated response to frighten UK citizens into doing what we want: which is to support a broken business model in order to carry on making our fortunes even bigger.
ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part
That is, get ISPs to block sites we don’t like; get search engines to censor links we don’t like; and prevent advertisers advertising things we don’t like.
The problem here is this. Those things they don’t like are mostly (but far from entirely) already illegal. We have laws (even without the Digital Economy Act) that can be used against illegal things. But what these people want is to become the arbiters of the law – they wish to tell the courts what is illegal rather than have the courts decide. And they don’t care how many innocent people are hurt or disrupted in the process.
Yesterday, TorrentFreak published an overview of the rightsholders’ leaked strategy. On cyberlockers, for example, they want sites that do not comply with their own infringing-content removal criteria, to be shut down. Megaupload is a good example. It didn’t remove infringing copyright fast enough for the rightsholders – so in conjunction with the FBI it was taken down. Who cares about the thousands of legal users with thousands of legally stored documents? Certainly not the rightsholders.
Frankly, if it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious. Daltrey made a fortune by talking about his generation. That generation was young and dynamic and rebellious. Now he has abandoned the young and the rebellious in favour of the rich and staid. Cowell has put his name to the statement, “To continue to create world-beating creative content…” This is Simon Cowell. The same Simon Cowell who has sucked creativity out of the music industry by concentrating on pre-packaged, good-looking pretty boys and girls who can do nothing but recycle cover versions of old music. Creativity? All of these people want to stamp out creativity and concentrate increasing their own – nobody else’s – fortunes.
You and me and the internet generation are the enemy; and you and me must be made to conform to an internet made in their own image.
Just as a quick aside, I long ago became sick of the over-commercialisation of the Olympics. Months ago I realised that the only thing I would follow would be the football – until they left out Beckham.
That man has done more for the good name of sport in general and the Olympics in particular than anyone else I know. Leaving him out of the GB football team is a slap in the face for selfless sportsmanship. This is not what the Olympic spirit should mean.
These Olympics now mean nothing – it is just an ego-boost for government and a commercial opportunity for business. And as ever it is the people who are being fleeced; and genuine sportsmanship ignored.
What sort of third world, tin pot organization doesn’t carry hardware backups in this always on interconnected world?
BT. Thousands of users in the Exeter/Newton Abbot area have been without a broadband connection for more than 20 hours. Current status: awaiting delivery of hardware; expected fix in 4 hours.
Being without Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and access to the newswires makes me realise how sad I have become.
Is it time that Townsend got a life?
Yes; but without the internet I don’t know where to look.
Posted by phone – with great difficulty and annoyance.
Neelie Kroes has invited business to help make the internet a safer place for children.
Neelie Kroes is an unelected un-mandated official of an undemocratic organization that, in her latest words, wants to change the internet into something she wants.
Microsoft is in charge of ‘notice and takedown’.
Microsoft is the organization demanding more takedowns from Google than any other organization – nearly half a million in the last month.
Facebook is in charge of privacy settings.
Jesus wept. Need I say anything else? Facebook? Privacy? Really?
You couldn’t make it up. And of course I haven’t. But it really isn’t a laughing matter. Joe McNamee of EDRi presents a chilling discussion on how these ‘making the internet safe for our kids’ arguments will first be accepted (we all agree with ‘hang-a-pedophile-a-day’), but then will slowly morph into anti-copying, anti-terrorist, freedom-destroying net regulations under the control of our political masters and their business partners.
The very idea that the government should use £billions of our money to spy on us, when millions of Brits are without work, our roads are crumbling, our schools leaking and our schoolkids without adequate books, is simply obscene.
The idea that a democratic government is even contemplating a blanket and secretive monitoring system that requires no judicial oversight is abhorrent.
So, what is the solution?
There is a scary place. It’s called the Dark Net. It’s the hidden part of the internet. I don’t go there, because its full of unpleasant things. But there’s an even scarier place. It’s called the United Kingdom.
But, “because everyone (all Internet traffic) connected to the TOR Network is anonymous, there is not currently a way to trace the origin of the website. As such no other investigative leads exist,” said the FBI about the Dark Net in response to an FoI request.
There are, of course, other forces patrolling the Dark Net. Anonymous is on a hunt to find and expose pedophile sites; but I’m happy to accept that. The FBI finds it hard to patrol the Dark Net; Anonymous does not. But since I’m beginning to trust Anonymous more than I trust our government, I suspect the solution will be for us all to move to the Dark Net under the protection of Anonymous rather than stay in the open under the eyes of Theresa May.
If you haven’t broken the law, you’ve got nothing to worry about, they keep telling us.
But it’s because I haven’t broken the law, they’ve got no bloody right to spy on me.
I hope the TOR website is braced for a million hits from the UK when the new draft Communications Bill is published today. I hope these free VPNs remain free, and we get a few more to boot. I hope Tesco keeps selling those very cheap throwaway SIMs. I hope Rick Falkvinge is the next President of the European Commission.
And I hope we get more and more and more proxies for more and more and more destinations. (The UK Pirate Party’s Pirate Bay proxy still works, by the way.)
I am not a criminal. Not yet anyway. I would like to tell the world, however, that my government’s illegal and unjustified theft of my personal liberty seems to be determined to make me one. The only current growth in the UK is the length of David Cameron’s nose.
The justification that all governments give for their increasingly draconian efforts to censor and monitor the average Joe is always the same: to fight terrorism. Apart from physical terrorists, they offer us the ‘information terrorists’: Anonymous, Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, The Pirate Bay and their ilk. Well, here are four quotes that are worth considering.
The first is from Christopher Doyon (Commander X) currently believed to be in Canada on the run from the FBI:
Information terrorist” – what a funny concept. That you could terrorize someone with information. But who’s terrorized? Is it the common people reading the newspaper and learning what their government is doing in their name? They’re not terrorized – they’re perfectly satisfied with that situation. It’s the people trying to hide these secrets, who are trying to hide these crimes. The funny thing is every email database that I’ve ever been a part of stealing, from President. Assad to Stratfor security, every email database, every single one has had crimes in it. Not one time that I’ve broken into a corporation or a government, and found their emails and thought, “Oh my God, these people are perfectly innocent people, I made a mistake.”
The second is from Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Pirate Party:
It is universally agreed that Albert Einstein was a genius, and he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results.” So why, exactly, does the UK Government and David Cameron expect the results to be any different when heading down this path than that of North Korea, who censors everything?
The third is from the last remaining freedom fighter in the House of Commons, David Davis, speaking about Cameron’s proposed ‘Communications Bill’:
I took advice from experts. I asked them a simple question: “If you were a terrorist, how would you avoid this scrutiny?” I stopped them when they got to the fifth method. It is pretty straightforward: for terrorists, everything from proxy servers to one-off mobile phones means that such scrutiny is easy to avoid. For criminals, it is also easy and quite cheap to avoid. However, for ordinary citizens, that scrutiny is not easy and cheap to avoid. We will therefore create something, which some Ministers said will cost £2 billion—the London School of Economics suggests that it will cost £12 billion—that will not be effective against terrorism, but constitutes general-purpose surveillance of the entire nation.
The last flashed by me on Twitter. Sadly I didn’t record it, but it has stayed in my mind. It was in one of the Anonymous accounts. It was words to the effect:
You should always remember two things about censorship. 1. You can always get round it. 2. We will show you how.
It’s a strange, sad and worrying state of affairs. Governments cannot succeed in their stated aim: to use surveillance and censorship to fight the real terrorists. All they will do is turn the average Joe who values his freedom and liberty into an information terrorist – which is a misnomer. But I haven’t answered my own initial question: why are they doing this? When you examine what motivates a politician, it always comes down to the same thing: power. Politicians want the power to enforce their own opinions. They believe they are right and everybody else is wrong and we need to be made to do what they think is best for us, for them, for their paymasters – whoever. Government is, by its nature, a refuge for megalomania. Power is exerted and maintained by control. Information is the enemy of control. It has to be curtailed: they have no choice, it is in their DNA. And we have no choice but to fight it. It should be in our DNA.