The US is taking a giant shit on all of us, and our rights. And we are letting them. This is a nation that is currently led by extremists who inherited the job from a crazily compromised administration.
I previously wrote in All The Presidents’ Messes:
“In my lifetime the American people have elected Nixon (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Ford (by accident), Carter (Iranian Revolution & Iran Hostage debacle), Reagan (Funded the Taliban / Iran-Contra Affair / Nicaragua / El Salvador / Guatemala), Bush the First (Gulf War I), Clinton (Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti / Israel-Palestine / Ethnic Wars in Europe – Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims / Kosovo & Albania), Bush the Second (Iraq / Afghanistan), Obama (IRANDEAL, global appeasement, the relatively unopposed rise of ISIS, and the disintegration of Syria and Libya and Egypt as a result of US Foreign Policy failures) and now Trump.”
All US policy decisions and their side-effects, one way or the other, cascade down into our European democracies. In the current climate that should worry you.
Privacy Is An Absolute Right
I am interested in Privacy. The abuse of Privacy (1) has far more fundamental negative effects than might seem to be the case at first glance.
I am an advocate for the right of every citizen to a private life, the preservation of civil liberties, and the defence of other hard won rights. Technology or rather its unfettered deployment is the single biggest threat to our personal freedoms and by extension to the proper administration of justice.
And so I write about it. Sometimes the writing is a bit technical but most of the time it’s referencing the technical results of other peoples work to support my arguments (which I always acknowledge – most important that is)
Technology facilitated developments have created new tools for the State, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Agencies to monitor not just person’s of interest but everyone (2). Software industry greed and software developer naivety is also driving an assault on our personal privacy and security (3).
These phenomena have already resulted in wholesale abuses (4) of habeas corpus, an alteration of the perception of what constitutes a fair trial, have worn down the right to silence of a suspect, made the avoidance of self-incrimination almost impossible, made illegal searches and seizures (5) acceptable, and encroached on the ability of defendants to construct a proper defence.
Recently, Graham Cluley (@gcluley) posted a clarification of a definition on Twitter – “It’s always bugged me how people say “Innocent until proven guilty”. It’s “Innocent *unless* proven guilty” folks.” – that is worth thinking about in an age of trial by media and JTC-as-a-Service (JTC – Jumping to Conclusions a.k.a Fake News).
In parallel with this there is an increasing trend of “ordinary” crimes being tried in “extra-ordinary” courts, tribunals, or military courts. The checks and balances that used to notionally counter the power of the state and where the actions of government could be publicly scrutinized has almost ceased to effectively exist.
Surveillance politics, the rise of extremists on the left and the right, religious fanaticism, the re-emergence of censorship and even actual talk of “blasphemy laws” in the parliaments of Western democracies leaves one bewildered. How will we fare when even newer technologies such as VRSN, and AI with even greater capacity to embed themselves in our lives begin to mature from the novel stage into the deployment stage?
What will be the effect of kinematic fingerprinting, emotion detection (6), psychographic profiling (7), and thought extraction (8) on the right to privacy and basic freedoms. These are questions and concerns that get lost in the rush to innovate. Software companies and developers have a responsibility but they do not exercise it very often.
What are the ethics? What are the acceptable limits? What are the unforeseen by-products?
The US Has Claimed “Absolute Privilege”
The US is the bully on the block and its “bitch” friends the UK (9), Canada, New Zealand (10), & Australia (11) just follow its lead or actively facilitate them.
The opacity of US laws (12) and SIGINT collection methods is an abuse of the rights of every defendant that comes in front of their Courts. Increasingly, that is just about anybody that they can lay their hands on, from anywhere (13).
The election of Trump just solidified my view that the world has turned upside down and it seems that taking action to reverse the trend of the normalisation of the abnormal (14) is a Sisyphean task and just seems to encourage the buggers (15).
The US position on most of these matters is ephemeral – not just on data protection (16) – and US national interest, national security, or just plain duplicity (17) governs their agenda.
There is so much abuse of power by the US that it is impossible to keep tabs. These things used to matter (18). These things used to enrage us (19). The US has led a race to the bottom on so many fronts that the rest of the world seems to be suffering from bad news fatigue (20) and has zoned out (21).
It is individuals and NGO’s now that are the gatekeepers of our rights and the ones that hold governments to account and increasingly they are being marginalized.
(1) Anonymous Chronic; 21st Nov 2016; NSA, GCHQ, The Five Eyes Handing Ireland Cyber-Security Opportunity; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(2) Anonymous Chronic; 21st Nov 2016; Mass Surveillance & The Oxford Comma Analogy; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(3) Anonymous Chronic; 21st Nov 2016; Software Industry Greed is Driving the Assault on our Privacy & Security; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(4) Kim Zetter; 26th Oct 2017; The Most Controversial Hacking Cases of the Past Decade; Wired
(5) Andy Greenberg; 10th Oct 2014; Judge Rejects Defense That FBI Illegally Hacked Silk Road – On A Technicality; Wired
(6) Anonymous Chronic; 3rd Jan 2017; Orwell 4.0: The Stealth Advance of Kinematic Fingerprinting & Emotion Detection for Mass Manipulation; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(7) Anonymous Chronic; 4th Feb 2017; Is Kosinski “Tesla” to Nix’s “Marconi” for Big Data Psychographic Profiling?;AirGap Anonymity Collective
(8) Ian Johnston; 18th Apr 2017; Device that can literally read your mind invented by scientists; Independent
(9) Anonymous Chronic; 30th Nov 2016; My Privacy Lobotomy or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the IP Act; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(10) Anonymous Chronic; 3rd Nov 2016; Overwatch – The Five Eyes Espionage Alliance; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(11) Anonymous Chronic; 21st Nov 2016; Australia Is A Proxy War for the Five Eyes & Also Hogwarts; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(12) American Civil Liberties Union & Human Rights Watch; 21st Nov 2016; Joint letter to European Commission on EU-US Privacy Shield; Human Right Watch)
(13) Tom O’Connor; 6th Jul 2017; Russia Accuses US of Hunting and Kidnapping Its Citizens After Latest Arrests; Newsweek
(14) Anonymous Chronic; 29th Jan 2017; Take Action To Reverse The Present Trend Of The Normalisation of the Abnormal; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(15) Anonymous Chronic; 2nd Dec 2016; Silencing the Canary & The Key Powers & Reach of The IPA; AirGap Anonymity Collective
(16) Mary Carolan; 10th Mar 2017; Max Schrems claims US data privacy protections ‘ephemeral’; The Irish Times
(17) Shelley Moore Capito – United States Senator for West Virginia; 2nd Jul 2017; Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017; https://www.capito.senate.gov/
(18) Adam Taylor; 23rd Apr 2015; The U.S. keeps killing Americans in drone strikes, mostly by accident; The Washington Post
(19) HRW; 9th Dec 2014; USA and Torture: A History of Hypocrisy; Human Rights Watch
(20) Shannon Sexton; 30th Aug 2016; Five Ways to Avoid ‘Bad-News Fatigue’ and Stay Compassionately Engaged; Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
(21) Susanne Babbel Ph.D.; 4th Jul 2012; Compassion Fatigue; Psychology Today