Law in the Internet Society

Why Freedom of Thought Requires Free Media

(And Why Free Media Require Free Software)

In this talk, I tried to explain the relationship between developments in media and the privacy issues we have been discussing. Media that watch you watching "content" are unlike the broadcast media of the 20th century. My analysis is partial, of course. Many important points are undiscussed. I leave them to you here.

I was just wondering if you could expand on what "Pretty Good Privacy" did? I am especially interested in the circumstances/reasons that the US government threatened to prosecute Mr. Zimmerman for his actions.

Thank you - Matt Cashia

-- MatthewGriffinCashia - 26 Nov 2012

1. I was wondering why the extension of the data storage period (to five years) regarding persons who are not suspected of any crime has not yet been challenged in a court (I guess for violation of the due process clause). Do you think the extension (as long as it is not based on a formal statute) might be upheld by any court of law in the United States?

2. The intended criminalization of visiting djihadist websites in France would not be the first occurrence of restricting the freedom to read (or to think) in post-World War II Western Europe. In certain European countries, owning a copy of certain specific types of files on one’s computer constitutes in itself a felony, apparently intended to destroy the market for these items – e.g. pictures representing pedophile acts or images glorifying the violent killing of persons. Do you think these statutes should be repealed altogether (as they are inconsistent with freedom of opinion) or do you thinks some limits are acceptable to freedom of opinion, but they should not be extended to the mere visiting of websites?

-- PeterLing - 27 Nov 2012

It was very depressing to hear that the 'media that watches you' can even delete books from your Kindle device. That was sad news for me.In addition:

1. I am also interested in Peter's question, above.

2. In the context of listening to this speech, and our other class discussions, it has been interesting to observe peoples' reactions to Facebook's proposed new data use policy which they circulated to all Facebook users in the past few weeks. There has been a general sense of unease and discomfit (resulting in odd FB posts where people employ fake legalese in an effort to protect their 'rights'.) However, once again, it is unclear whether this will be translated to people leaving Facebook or changing their behavior in any way. I have read through the proposed new data use policy and it is worth noting that their policy in respect to capturing information about you when you visit other websites does not appear to 'change' at all under the proposed guidelines (as referred to in Professor Moglen's speech). In both the current and proposed versions, it is clear that Facebook will collect this information: the devil you know (or sort of know), is the same as the proposed devil! For those interested, the proposed version reads: "We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you're on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID. Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of - and improve the quality of - ads.

-- GillianWhite - 29 Nov 2012

You mentioned the desire for business to have the masses go into debt. Is it possible to stop the spread of this control of thought in a capitalist system? Or does there have to be a fundamental change in the dominant forms of government in society?

Would more emphasis on teaching computer literacy in public schools, in terms of being able to program, make a positive difference? We’ve talked about and you also mentioned in the video that convenience is a factor in why people choose to use certain programs- might enabling more young people to program proficiently help eliminate that incentive to use non-free software?

Since this is our last class meeting, I was wondering if we could discuss how we can contribute to preventing the spread of ignorance and preserve/expand freedom in the network.

-- AdithyaMani - 30 Nov 2012

I would also be interested in your thoughts - from the perspective of freedom of media - on the ongoing debate regarding internet governance and the proposed "takeover" of internet governance by the ITU or a similar international organization.

-- PeterLing - 04 Dec 2012

When companies like Facebook, Google and other successful tech companies first start they’re worried about building a company based around their original idea and begin to worry about monetization later. Things like building a better search engine or creating a social network sound like good ideas. However as these companies turn towards ways to monetize the original good idea it seems inevitable that most turn to advertising.

A dominant driver behind many of the privacy-destroying activities on the web (tracking etc.) seems to be the need to monetize web services and websites, primarily through targeted advertising. If advertising hadn’t become the primary way that websites generate income do you think that the level of tracking that has become the norm would have become as extensive? Google and Facebook may be amongst the worst offenders when it comes to tracking but there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently nefarious behind their founding ideas.

While the government’s motivation to track citizens is a very thing from a company’s desire to make money the outcome is the same with respect to tracking. Apart from an outright ban on companies or the government engaging in tracking activities do you think if there were a way for companies to evolve their business models, through more reliance on subscription-based users etc., away from the reliance on advertising – thus the need to track users – that tracking of users by companies would begin to abate?

-- JohnStewart - 05 Dec 2012

You mentioned in the talk, and in our class discussions, that: "Ours are the last generation of human brains that will be formed without contact with the net. From here on out, every human brain, by two generations from now every single human brain, will be formed from early life in direct connection to the network."

You also said that this is the reason why securing Internet privacy is more important at this time than it ever was before. Can you go into a little more detail about what you mean by brains formed "in direct connection to the network"? and how securing private browsing and communication will affect that?

-- JasonPyke - 06 Dec 2012



Webs Webs

r8 - 06 Dec 2012 - 20:00:24 - JasonPyke
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