Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Death Of Wikileaks And Future Of The Internet

Maureen Dowd
Dana Milbank
Peter Feaver
"George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna, just put her home in Baltimore on the market for $500,000. The real estate agent said, 'I just want to warn you that offers have gone way down ever since the economy was ruined by . . . someone.'" – Jimmy Fallon

"President Obama lit the national Christmas tree, a 40-foot Colorado Spruce. Republicans don't believe it's really from Colorado, and they want to see a birth certificate." – Jay Leno
"The annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia has been renamed The Holiday Village. And Santa's reindeer have now become Non-Denominational Venison... You have to be careful of political correctness this time of the year. You can't call them 'Santa's elves' anymore. They're 'undocumented little people.'" – Jay Leno

Last night on television I watched some guy say that we should forget about the law, someone should just go and shoot that guy. That guy being Julian Assange, founder of wikleaks. This debate is bringing out those with an authoritarian mind-set versus the wikifreaks... The neanderthals who run the Air Force are proving that they just don't get it, and are now blocking Internet sites that contain wikileak materials.: "When Air Force personnel on the service’s computer network try to view the Web sites of The Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, the German magazine Der Spiegel, the Spanish newspaper El PaĆ­s and the French newspaper Le Monde, as well as other sites that posted full confidential cables, the screen says “Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored,” according to an Air Force official whose access was blocked and who shared the screen warning with The Times. Violators are warned that they face punishment if they try to view classified material from unauthorized Web sites.

Some Air Force officials acknowledged that the steps taken might be in vain since many military personnel could gain access to the documents from home computers, despite admonishments from superiors not to read the cables without proper clearances." If I had leaked materials, I would want every single employee to know all about it, and make them read all of the material as a lesson to be learned so that it wouldn't happen again. Really, all that had to be done when designing the database was to not allow the files to be downloaded, make them read-only. I believe it entails clicking a couple of question boxes... Because of people's egos, in the government and private corporations many of the bigwigs like to have access to change information, and most of them haven't the faintest idea what they are doing, making the largest security breach due to the swelled heads of your bosses. The files that were downloaded and sent to wikileaks were sitting in the open, waiting for over two million people who had access to them and able to download copies. It's surprising that only one disgruntled private did the deed, when it could have been hundreds or thousands...

If it comes to an all-out war between governments and free spirits over the rights to the Internet, guess who will win? Less we forget: "... the fact is that the Web is privately held, despite how we may see it; every time we publish to Twitter or Facebook, we risk violating proprietary terms of service that may or may not be in accordance with the principles of free speech. A further implication is perhaps evidenced by WikiLeaks' experience with Amazon hosting: If you engage in speech that your government doesn’t like, they can enact pressure on private companies, which are well within their rights to shut you down." Ask the folks who have had their computers and hard drives confiscated because they were implicated in some crime, it doesn't even matter if you are innocent, the MAN will win every time and find a way to punish you in the process.

Julian Assange Down the Rabbithole...
John Noughton has written in al Jazeera that their are four implications towards the future of the Internet: "The first is that it represents the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the Net.

There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called 'liberal' democracies that are desperate to shut WikiLeaks down. Consider, for example, how the views of the US administration have changed in just a year. On January 21 last year, Hilary Clinton, US secretary of state, made a landmark speech about Internet freedom in Washington DC which many observers interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyberattack on Google.

"Information has never been so free", declared Mrs Clinton. "Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable."

She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had "defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity. The United States' belief in that truth is what brings me here today."

Secondly, the one thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they comprehensively expose the way political elites in Western democracies have been lying to their electorates. The leaks make it abundantly clear not just that the US-Anglo-European adventure in Afghanistan is doomed (because even the dogs in the street know that), but more importantly that the US and UK governments privately admit that too.

Thirdly, the attack of WikiLeaks ought to be a wake-up call for anyone who has rosy fantasies about whose side cloud computing providers are on. The 'Terms and Conditions' under which they provide both 'free' and paid-for services will always give them grounds for dropping your content if they deem it in their interests to do so. Put not your faith in cloud computing: it will one day rain on your parade.

Finally, what WikiLeaks is exposing is the way the Western democratic system has been hollowed out. In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent (the US and UK in not regulating their financial sectors); corrupt (Ireland, Italy; all other governments in relation to the arms trade) or recklessly militaristic (US and UK in Iraq) and yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way.

Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted in a really effective way, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger."

And they are trying their best to discredit Julian Assange and bring him to the US and put him in a jail cell here. Sweden has to prove to the British court that there is a justified reason to extradite him, yet there are no formal charges filed against him. They only want him for questioning that can't be done in Britain... So far the charges against him were from two prostitutes who claimed that during four nights of consensual sex, there was one act on the fourth night that was not, because the woman was asleep. Also, a condom may have broke.

If British authorities let him go to Sweden, it's then unlikely that he will make it. Instead, Sweden will acknowledge that the US has a larger claim on him and they will pack him off to Richmond, Virginia, where a secret grand jury is supposedly already meeting and going over some charges against him. The US has not filed any formal charges against him, and the Justice Department has declined to answer all questions so far... Ultimately, this story plays out like Revenge of the Nerds gone really wrong. I fear that Mr Assange will spend more time in jail than Manuel Noriega or any one of the Guantanamo inmates, as our country comes to resemble more and more some fascist state that is only happy when it is at war...

File charges? We don't need to file no stinking charges!

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