On 11th February, civil liberties groups and privacy rights folks are organising a global protest against mass surveillance. I’m still more than a little put out that the EFF’s event page doesn’t include anything in London. Right here in the most surveiled city on the planet, people are running a mass ‘Cryptoparty’ at the Free Word Centre at 7 pm. Find out how to re-privatise your privacy.
The Federal District Court of New Jersey convicted Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer of conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and identity theft for his part in exposing, via the Gawker website, a flaw in AT&T’s online security. The security hole allowed the e-mail addresses of iPad users to be revealed.
To the best of my knowledge, Gawker, AT&T and Apple have not been investigated or charged for their part in the data breach. Weev is one of the participants in Goatse Security, the group that informed Gawker of the issue. He has been sentenced to three years and five months in prison. His response:
“Yeah I expect I’m going to fucking prison. It’s a fucking travesty. But whatever, I am in a war. You don’t fucking get into a war and not expect to be a casualty. This is a fucking war-zone. I am a fucking scrapper. You fight, sometimes you die” – Andrew Auernheimer
via Asher Wolf
“Austerity is coming to the U.S.,” Asher Wolf points out in his blog post about Weev. “You can see it already in the crumbling infrastructure. … Weev and his ilk are not the enemy. The discord they surf – the chaos of a world of inconsistent values and hypocritical, corrupt governance – is within the fabric of everything we have grown up with. The abhorrent practice of locking up people who turn a mirror on corruption, insecurity and abuse is as useless as trying to stop the sun rising in the morning.”
Are you really thinking people like this aren’t going to win? Time is on their side. They are in it for one reason: To beat the other side. Punishment is a level up. The profiteers of the crumbling infrastructure need more events like 99% Spring and Earth Hour. It’s busy work for bored children. There’s activity and at the end people get that feel-good sensation and naughts been accomplished. These people are not going to bring your change. Why would they?
But then why would the United States military allow personnel to use something as fraught with security problems as an iPad? Multiple questions beg for attention in this case.
The judge in Weev’s case cited his lack of remorse in an especially harsh sentence for such an act. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “Weev is facing more than three years in prison because he pointed out that a company failed to protect its users’ data, even though his actions didn’t harm anyone.” I like the convicted man’s statement best: “I did this because I despised people I think are unjustly wealthy and wanted to embarrass them.” Remorse? What the hell for?
It’s the people who take an entire “fuck it all” attitude that get things done. At best, the rest of us are cheerleaders.
The day before yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death, and today we reach the decennial of the beginning of the Iraq war (the 2nd one). Time Magazine’s website has an impressive gallery of photojournalists’ own choices of best photos from the war in Iraq: A Decade of War in Iraq: The Images That Moved Them MostLightBox. I’ve always remembered this one (below) taken by Andrew Cutraro, because to me it summarized both how the world was increasingly view the U.S., and how many Americans, I suspect, longed to be viewed: So scary you don’t want to fuck with them. It didn’t work, and still doesn’t. Just like this photo shows: It’s all face paint and battery-operated hutzpah.
It’s a war that really hasn’t stopped in spite of what you may hear from the White House. While the U.S. conducted a comprehensive multi-decade hand-wringing over Vietnam, the Iraq war has largely been an event without introspection or remorse. That still only 53% of American recognize the Iraq war as the colossal failure it was is telling. It’s telling the world to look out.I don’t know how many websites I made or managed that included that little counter box, centered above, but for one reason or another, Iraq had to be somewhere occupying brain space from about 1991 on. Iraq was the factory floor of the military-industrial complex from the U.S. backed Iran-Iraq war up until the end of the the last U.S. Iraq war, and the purpose, as far as can be determined, was this.
“Why do traditional societies go to war?” Jared Diamond asked rhetorically in The World Until Yesterday. “We can try to answer this question in different ways. The most straightforward method is not to attempt to interpret people’s claimed or underlying motives, but to simply observe what sorts of benefits victorious societies gain from war.” Lowland tribes of Paupau, New Guinea, aside, this method scales up very nicely (see the image above, at left).
When the first President Bush started the first Iraq war I was a community college student just deciding on journalism and downloading a Freehand map of Iraq from the AP before a lot of people really understood they were already using the internet. When the second President Bush started his war, I’d since moved from the reporting line to the editing line in newspapers, and when the U.S. had made its occupation permanent by calling its base an embassy I’d long since left the news biz and the country. Iraq is America’s history for the last two and a half decades, and what a tiring, tedious and predictable one it was. It was the war of the supposedly digital native generation, and showed that awareness does not equal change. A TV war became an internet war. That’s not a huge shift: It’s still screens. What if people knew everything they needed to about an unjust situation, but couldn’t be bothered to do much anything about it? Screen staring — as a tactic — has yet to show it can produce substantial positive change; That’s what I’ve learned from the Iraq war, 10 years on.