politics

Five things I plan to do in 2007

This is sort of a New Year's resolution... In no particular order:

  1. Write a book.
  2. Learn at least one new programming language.
  3. Donate money to (or become member of) either the EFF, the FSF, the CCC, or another similarly important organization.
  4. Make use of my rights as a citizen and write letters to elected politicians, urging them to promote certain topics/issues/laws (privacy, democracy, transparency) and to combat others (software patents, voting computers, data retention, mass surveillance and lots more comes to mind).
  5. Work on and support selected Free Software projects in my spare time, especially projects which are of a greater importance to the Free Software movement (or the Free Culture movement; or freedom; or privacy; or anonymity; or democracy) than the 158th IRC client or the 276th tetris clone. Some examples: LinuxBIOS, Nouveau, Tor, Gnash, and Democracy Player to name just a few projects. General motto: Choose your battles!

Oh, and one more thing: Do the most important duty as a citizen of any democratic country — help to save democracy by killing voting computers.

Yeah, so that makes six things I plan to do in 2007. Sue me.

Irrepressible.info - an Amnesty International campaign against Internet censorship

Let me take a quick break from all the technical posts to turn to a more political topic for a minute.

Amnesty International has recently started the Irrepressible.info campaign against Internet censorship, which promotes freedom of information and expression, as well as human rights:

Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.
The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression. Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer, is launching a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress.

There are many ways you can help, e.g. by

  • Signing the pledge on Internet freedom. So far, more than 16.000 people have already signed (in the first few days). In November, the results of the pledge will be presented to governments and companies attending a UN conference to discuss the future of the Internet. The more people sign the pledge, the clearer the message will be they will get from the people (us).
  • Undermine censorship "by publishing irrepressible fragments of censored material on your own site. The more people take part, the more we can defeat unwarranted censorship and create an unstoppable network of protest". The small box on the right contains a random selection of such material. You can easily add such a box to your website via simple cut'n'pasting.

Btw, the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has an interesting (Flash-based) Internet Filtering Map, showing where in the world information is filtered/censored at which level...

Fore more information, you might also want to read this BBC NEWS article.

And finally, here's the whole text of the pledge. Repeat after me:

I believe the Internet should be a force for
political freedom, not repression. People have
the right to seek and receive information and to
express their peaceful beliefs online without
fear or interference.
I call on governments to stop the unwarranted
restriction of freedom of expression on the
Internet – and on companies to stop helping them do it.

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Voilà! In                                                       view, a humble
 vaudevillian                                                  veteran, cast 
  vicariously as both                                         victim and
   villain by the                                            vicissitudes of Fate. This 
    visage, no mere                                         veneer of
     vanity, is a                                          vestige of the
      vox populi, now                                     vacant,
       vanished, as the once                             vital
        voice of the                                    verisimilitude now
         venerates what they once                      vilified. However, this 
          valorous                                    visitation of a bygone
           vexation stands                           vivified, and has
            vowed to                                vanquish these 
             venal and                             virulent                   Remember, remember the 5th of November
              vermin                              vanguarding
               vice and                          vouchsafing the
                violently                       vicious and
                 voracious                     violation of
                  volition. The only          verdict is 
                   vengeance; a              vendetta held as a 
                    votive, not in          vain, for the
                     value and             veracity of such shall one day
                      vindicate the       vigilant and the
                       virtuous.         Verily, this 
                        vichyssoise of  verbiage 
                         veers most    verbose
                          vis-à-vis an introduction,
                           and so it is my
                            very good honor
                             to meet you
                              and you may
                               call me
                                  V.

Yes, I've seen V for Vendetta today. Very impressing movie, highly recommended! Makes you start to think...

The new German digital identity card, and what the government plans to do with your data...

What kind of sick joke is this? The German government seems to want to sell the personal information of 80 million German citizens to interested companies.

They wanted to introduce a new digital identity card with biometric data and possibly also an RFID chip on it for quite a while now (you know, all those evil terrorists out there, blah blah blah). And now they dream about selling the data records stored on that card for 40-50 cents per record to interested companies? WTF?

I don't think I have to elaborate on the abuse-potential this can have, and on what this means for the privacy of all 80 million citizens affected...

The above article and also another article are a bit fuzzy on the exact details so we'll have to wait until more info is published/leaked, but this is definately an alarming trend/discussion...

(via Anarchaia, Fefe, netzpolitik.org)

Al Gore Speech on Unlawful Wiretapping, Imprisonment, and Torture by US President Bush

Al Gore

Al Gore, former vice president of the US, has given a very, very interesting and impressing speech on Martin Luther King Day a few days ago.

He states very clearly a huge number of (unlawful, illegal, or immoral) things the current US president Bush and/or his administration have done. For example:

  • illegal wiretapping of American citizens
  • illegal imprisonment of American (and other) citizens
  • illegal torture by the CIA
  • illegal kidnapping of people
  • suppression of free speech by threatening NASA scientists
  • and lots more

A quote of Al Gore, from a small Reuters summary of the speech:

We still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently.

Transscripts are available from The Raw Story and the Washington Post, and there's also a full audio recording of the speech (MP3, 48 MB).

Although I'm not very political usually (or at least I don't write too much about it), this is really something I highly recommend listening to. I cannot imagine why a president of a democratic country can still be in charge, after all these things have become publically known...

(via Tim Pritlove)

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