Law in the Internet Society
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Day in the Life If I Told Everyone "F*** you"

-- By BrandonRosenberg - 13 Oct 2023

I wake up to my alarm clock, chiming in the classic "beep beep beep" manner. Though it bugs me, my choices of noise are restricted by the increasing infrequency of alarms with no more functionality than making said sound at the proper time of day. The alarm clocks these days, for those who don't use their smartphones, often require internet connectivity and location tracking so they can tell you about the weather or local news. If I knew how to program, I could probably find a way to input a more relaxing sound of my choice, but that is outside of my skill set.

I head to the lobby of my building and gather the newspaper waiting for me. I read through it as I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee. After I finish, I walk out of my building and see the people on their morning commutes, heading downtown to their offices. Unfortunately, I will not be joining them, as my position as a junior associate was given to a candidate much more responsive and willing to submit to the firm's draconian work monitoring systems. A pity.

I walk north to campus and watch as the students walk absentmindedly to their morning classes. They swipe into their respective buildings, logging their entrance in some database and walk past the abundance of cameras likely equipped with AI surveillance algorithms. I had been one of them, until I failed out. It wasn't a result of poor effort or brains, but because I vehemently refused to use the student monitoring system "Canvas" and had been unable to access assignments necessary for my courses. Some professors, such as Professor Moglen, were willing to work with me on getting my work done outside of the usual processes, but most saw it as too much effort and gave me no options in the matter. As a result, I was unable to get enough credits to finish my degree. After all, Professor Moglen only teaches so many classes. After my morning walk, I turned back around and headed home.

There, I did some reading and wrote about how screwed we were as a society. Unfortunately, my research abilities were significantly slighted by the constant account-making requirements of many services. Making fake accounts could only get me so far. With what I could scrape up, I finished my essay titled "Don't You See Where We're Headed" and sent it off to a litany of major newspapers and blog sites. I figured I'd have more luck with the latter. I don't know why I do it anymore. At first it was to show my girlfriend I was staying busy, but she had left me. I thought about the last things she said to me, "You only talk to me on your terms! Why can't I call or text YOU when I need to talk!" Ever since I had stopped carrying a cell phone she and many of my old friends had decided it was too much of a process to carry out our communications that involved no voicemail or "Imessage". People really like the blue text.

After a quick nap, I made dinner, ate it, then opened my book to pass the time before I could call it a night. When I eventually laid down to drift off, I reflected on my day. Was it worth it, I thought? Sure, I was morally honest with myself and stood to my values. But what had it cost me? My job, my degree, my girlfriend, my friends. Sure, I could potentially serve to be the inspiration for a few others out there to wake up to the surveillance state we have found ourselves in. But was I happy? Would there be enough people like me out there to make a difference? I hoped so. If not, had I thrown it all away for nothing?

--+ The Next Morning

After waking up from this nightmare I remembered that this was not my life. I had not said "F*** You" to anyone, not exactly. What I had done was slowly disengage from certain avoidable elements, on my terms. Sure, I have to use Canvas to access my assignments, but I can do it over a browser that does not send all of my search history to the lowest bidder. Sure, I had to swipe in to my school and my office space, but I could use a metro card to get there instead of tapping my credit card and giving OMNI access to my daily travel schedule.

The question of how I can go only part of the way in regards to principles was not first raised by technology. I had faced a similar dilemma when considering my religious beliefs. For a long time, I believed that religion (for me Judaism) was a binary. You either were a true believer and therefore were bound to the various rules set by your deity, or you did not believe and lived how you please. For this reason, I avoided looking into any sort of evidence of the divine. After all, I like how I live and didn't want to change it all if I were to believe entirely the religious texts of my people. However, I was able to find a middle ground where I could remain tied to the religion on my terms. If I wanted to eat something "forbidden", I determined that I could do so while still maintaining the culture and traditions that accompany my religion, even if technically in violation. As related to modern technologies, which I can still believe are a serious problem to our freedom, sometimes you need to bite the forbidden fruit to maintain the lifestyle you want. And, in both Judaism and freedom from the absolute grip of technology, you need to be off your phone once a week.

I paragraphed the text, because as a reader, let alone editor, I found myself unable to cope with the relentlessness otherwise. Pardon my disruption of the Joycean stream of consciousness, which you are free to reassemble, of course.

Precisely because this is law school, narratives in which it is impossible to be effectual and have principles are of limited use. We need the draft in which having principles and making compromises are both parts of the ways in which we are lawyers, precisely because we can give effect to our principles. Otherwise we are office workers.

There are many ways I can think of to write 1,000 words about how to deal effectively, as a student trying to push back against technologies of unfreedom at school, with aspects of the system (like Canvas, or surveilled e-readings) or more systematically, by adapting your technology so as to give you more leverage There is an X, such that X% of the stuff you don't like can be avoided without having to make costly refusals. There is a Y, such that Y amount of knowledge would be gained in the course of learning how to subdue X% of your privacy problems that would leave you substantially more learned and effective overall, and more capable of shaping your life in practice and the world so as to add Z to the X% as you go.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


Webs Webs

r3 - 22 Dec 2023 - 20:52:02 - BrandonRosenberg
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM