Category : privacy

War on spam

I’ve been fighting a war against spammers on this blog the last couple weeks, and I’ve been losing big time. Unfortunately, that means it’s time to turn on word verification. I have traditionally kept it easy to post here on EMP, even letting anonymous users comment, but now the spammers have left me with no choice but to mandate word verification (CAPTCHAs) and that users be logged in. This sucks and I wish I didn’t have to do it, but I’ve been getting hundreds of spam comments every day and that cannot be good for your experience, my sanity or this blog’s page rank.

Let me know if you think this new policy really sucks. Unfortunately, you’ll have to log in to Blogger/Google and pass a little visual test to do it.

12/18 Update: Okay, the spammers just made me look like a fool by spamming this very post. The word verification thing seems not to have affected them at all. It looks like I will have to crank up things even further. For the time being, comments are subject to moderation before they get posted. I will post your comment — no matter how stupid and offensive — as long as it’s not fucking spam.

I guess I should take it as a compliment that they feel this blog is worth targeting so intensely, but it’s really messing up the comment sections. I’m so tired of ugg boots and ed hardy spamming my blog! Talk about the wrong blog to peddle your douchey wares… Fuck off and die in a fire, spammers!!

The rest of you: Can you still post comments? Feel free to leave a test post and let me know if the hoops you have to jump through (log in, CAPTCHAS, moderation) are too onerous. I know it’s a pain and I’m sorry, but it seems to be necessary at this point. I will try to stay on top of things and approve legit comments quickly.

COINTELPRO is back

Dave Zirin at The Huffington Post was labelled a terrorist and a potential threat for going to anti-death penalty meetings.

I am “Dave Z.” This nickname was given by an undercover agent known to us as “Lucy.” She sat in our meetings of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, smiling and engaged, taking copious notes about actions deemed threatening by the Governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich. Our seditious crimes, as Lucy reported, involved such acts as planning to set up a table at the local farmer’s market and writing up a petition.

Our totalitarian government is not as keen on dissent as they would like you to believe. Sure, you can protest all you want… but you will be monitored.

COINTELPRO was the codename for activities related to spying on peaceful protesters during the 60s. Now there’s probably a new codename, but the plan remains the same. There are totalitarian elements in our government. These fascists seem to operate with near-total impunity; they are protected from On High; nobody can bring them to justice. Democracy is a myth used to control the masses. We live in Oligarchy.

The Florida company which makes implanted RFID chips is lobbying the US government to stick them under the skin of 1.4 million US soldiers. According to the DC Examiner, VeriChip is hoping to convince the Pentagon to allow them to insert the chips under the skin of the right arms of military personnel instead of the traditional dog tags.

Very creepy shit. Unfortunately, this is the type of thing the Bush administration loves. They would love to have real-time tracking of every soldier under their command. That would make war even more like a video game than it already is.

read more | digg story

Yes! Best news I’ve heard all day! Think Progress has the scoop:

Fox News reports a federal district court in Detroit has ruled that the Bush administration’s NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

Hell yeah!! I wonder what the neocons’ next move will be. The judge has issued an injunction (pdf) (I’m glad to see James Bamford is one of the plaintiffs).

Only problem is: How will we ever know for sure that they’ve stopped the program? We didn’t know when they started it — it was revealed only recently. What mechanism do we have for ensuring that the NSA doesn’t simply change the name of the program and ignore the judge’s order?

The NSA is a rogue agency. We need Congress to crack it wide open and see what it’s been hiding all these years.

Wired has pried open Door 641A and taken a good long look. Here is a document from whistle-blower Mark Klein (pdf) who previously worked for AT&T as a technician. He fears the secret room was splitting the fiber optic cables carrying our internet data and sending the other half to the NSA for monitoring. He figured the project started with the Total Information Awareness program, which was supposedly defunded. Well, now the NSA is holding our electronic leash. Boy, they sure do wish to control us, don’t they? What’s with the desperation on their part? The whole government spying deal was supposed to be a conspiracy theory…. one that just about everyone believed. Well, now it’s true and it has been revealed as such and it’s staring us right in the face.

What are we gonna do about it?

What could they possibly want such an enormous information-burden for? There’s no need to spy on ALL of us! The government already knows what risk factors to look for when it comes to identifying terrorists, criminals, revolutionaries, you name it. Why would they decide to cast the net so far and wide unless their goal was to criminalize all of us?

Do you know the best way to get a person to act like a criminal?

Treat them like one.

… That’s my suspicion anyway. You know, a firefighter only has a job when fires are burning. In the same way, a cop only has a job if there’s crime and a warrior only has a job if there’s a war on. Are you pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down?

It wouldn’t be the first time; politicians are known to create problems so they have something to solve… after the election… assuming they are elected. And if they aren’t, why solve it? Why not create problems for your opponent? Then he does the same thing for you. Pretty soon, while you’re squabbling like dogs, the public is drowning in a sea of problems that you were supposed to solve, not create!

That’s how we get the super-bad problems like the War on Drugs problem. The problem of the fact that demagogues and idiots made a war on drug-users, is far worse than the problem of simple drug use and abuse. The War on Terror is similar in that it will never end, it is not intended to end, and even though war has been declared on an object (drugs) or tactic (terrorism), the things that suffer most in the war are people — mostly innocent bystanders in a war between shadowy groups who both fight and support each other. The collateral damage is mostly the result of people getting caught in the middle of those two groups (the government and the criminals) and paying the ultimate price in a war that did not need to be fought.

We are ruled by a political class that rule us as if they were kings, walking amongst the mere mortal peasants. They are sheltered from the world’s injustices and deprivations. They are inducted into a society of the well-to-do because there is no other social class for which they are fit. They have never really grown up, and so we peasants must suffer through the elite’s tiresome games, such as the war on drugs and the supposed war on terror, which seem to be much more of a war on the people. Another thing both of these demagogic wars have in common is that they are designed to erode our freedoms and our privacy by justifying it with the old saw, “need the tools to catch the bad guys.” Cops and Robbers for adults. Innocents are arrested so that the cops can have their fun. Meanwhile the criminals get away with it. The justice system spits them back out on the streets. After all, we’d have to lay off cops if there was no crime. The cycle goes on endlessly. Meanwhile, the rest of us are caught in the middle of this evil maelstrom, rocked about on waves of uncertainty and strife.

They’re building a system of control, people! Wake up before it’s too late!! They want to include all of us in their little game! Run and hide if you want, but they can still catch you; they have the technology. Fiber optic splitters to steal our communications, and televisions to assure us that it’s alright, no need to worry….

[szghk]

bszzzzzzshshh! |/<>\| [crackle]

[wavy lines]…. you are feeling…. sleepy. Content. Open. Let us in…..

Things are fine. We’re here to protect you… from the terrorists. The terrorists hate your freedom. They’re coming for you; only we can protect you from an enemy that exists all around you. Any one of your neighbors could be a spy or a terrorist or a commie, or even Irish. Be sure to turn them in at your local FBI office.

We’re listening anyway, so you might as well.

Coming up next, a pitbull dances with a lobster and a hyena! Wait ’til you see this!. ., After these messages.–

Schneier on Privacy

Wired has an article by Bruce Schneier on the topic of surveillance and privacy. He makes the argument that NSA spying is tyranny and that privacy is such a basic human need that the framers of the Constitution & Bill of Rights didn’t think there would be a need to spell it out beyond the language of the 4th amendment.

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It’s intrinsic to the concept of liberty.

I want to be the master of my domain, but it appears that George Bush would prefer to be master of my domain (and his). Isn’t it ironic that a guy who is supposedly so concerned with the plight of those poor, downtrodden Iraqis, is quickly – nay, desperately - building a fascist state far more frightening and controlling than anything Saddam ever had? How strange. It’s almost as if every justification for invading Iraq was a lie. But that couldn’t be true? The mainstream media still treats him like a president, worshipfully talking about his every decision as if it was delivered from on high. Certainly they would treat him like that if it turned out he was a tyrannical psychopath bent on world domination through control of oil supply (and oil routes). Unless the media is in on the plan….

This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And it’s our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives.

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that’s why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

Yes, he basically called Bush as bad as Saddam. While that may not be the case (yet), it’s not for lack of trying. Don’t fool yourself into thinking Bush shares the democratic ideals that he so often claims to defend. No, Bush is a fascist to his core, just like Saddam. There’s no rule that says that just because you were born in America that you automatically believe in freedom and democracy. Everyone believes in freedom…for themselves. Whether they believe in freedom for everyone else is a completely different question. Bush’s NSA spying plan is a slap in the face of 300 million Americans and the ideals of Libery, Freedom and Democracy for which thousands of men and women have died throughout American history. He has made a mockery of our democratic traditions while relentlessly expanding the power of the presidency by making Congress nothing more than a rubber stamp parliament. He’s let his corporate buddies run wild, with lobbyists writing laws and lawmakers not even reading them before voting in favor of them. He’s launched wars of conquest and invasion. He’s started spying programs that violate the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. This man is a menace. He should be impeached immediately, and imprisoned thereafter.

Such a man deserves death for his crimes. There are others, you know. We’ve only scratched the surface of this administration’s malfeasance.