The FreeNet developers use lofty language, talking of `free speech' and so on, but I beleive that there is no greater threat to our democratic institutions in existence.
The FreeNet developers use lofty language, talking of `free speech' and so on, but I beleive that there is no greater threat to our democratic institutions in existence.
Should we have the freedom to yell `Fire!' in a crowded theater?
Should someone have the freedom to post documents on the internet claiming that you are a peodophile?
Should someone have the freedom to abort their own trial by publicising their own prior record?
When I asked these questions on a FreeNet mailing list everyone replied `yes!' These sort of shockingly simplistic views of freedom have in the past merely been a sign of a lack of common sense, but with the advent of FreeNet these views, held by the FreeNet developers, pose a serious risk to our democratic institutions.
There are many types of freedom, freedom of speech, freedom from violence, freedom from slander, and so on. In a democratic country we never have any of these freedoms completely, but we have procedures and institutions for deciding how to tradeoff one freedom against another. The most important aspect of these democratic institutions is that they allow all of us to argue about where the fulcrum of this balancing act should be placed, and then decide the issue collectively. FreeNet however does not allow any balance to be decided upon by society. It demands that every freedom be subservient to complete freedom of speech.
To take the third example above, FreeNet aims to provide a way for a criminal to publicise his prior record anonymously so that he can not only abort his own trial, but also avoid contempt charges because the posting can't be traced back to him.
To take the second example, a Britton was recently assaulted because he was wronly labeled as a peodophile. How can this man claim to have any freedom if all everyone beleives that he is a threat to their children? Currently there are ways to track down those who would malicously make such claims and punish them, but if they are untraceable, as the FreeNet developers beleive they should be, then how can you punish such people and deliver freedom to the rest of us?
The central aim of FreeNet is to place the internet outside of judicial control. That is, it aims to remove all sense of justice from the internet and take us all back to the wild west. If the internet becomes as important to our everyday lives as it appears it will then FreeNet is the most serious threat to democracy we've seen since the 1930's.
What then should we do? If we wish to destroy the threat of FreeNet then we need to use the democratic institutions we cherish to attack it. I would encourage everyone to loby their elected representatives to make them aware of the threat posed by this `advance' in technology so that, in democratic fashion, we can collectively decide how the threat should be dealt with.
Yes, Freenet takes an overly simplistic view of (freedom, the internet, everything). But perhaps that's the only way that we will ever get anywhere?
There are many countries using the internet, not all of them democratic. If you rely on government to regulate the freedoms online, you have the problem of picking one to do it. Most internet users, being American, believe the USA is the best suited for this job. Everone else, not being American, will likely disagree
So who makes the rules? I think the only sane way is to let to internet community make them. It is already happenning to some extent(can you say DeCSS?). Perhaps the only way to get to a final, 'safe' state, it has to first go through a lawless period. Just as the Wild West was a precursor to modern-day California, maybe Freenet will be a precursor to the global network where no one gets slandered without reason.
While I don't agree with everything they say, Freenet is something to counter the equally wrong attempts to forcefully 'sanitize' the internet. Hopefully they'll cancel each other out and leave us with something better.
why would anyone take a document they find floating around in an anonymous, unverifiable cache network as written truth? why would anyone even publish something there, given that anyone else can just republish a "more appealing" version and get the original flushed out of the server caches by popularity? seems more like scrawlings on bathroom walls than a threat to the free world.
why would anyone take a document they find floating around in an anonymous, unverifiable cache network as written truth? why would anyone even publish something there, given that anyone else can just republish a "more appealing" version and get the original flushed out of the server caches by popularity? seems more like scrawlings on bathroom walls than a threat to the free world.Why would anyone beat a person up beacuse an anonymous, unverifiable poster on a wall said he was a peodophile? Why would someone murder a man because his phone number was on a wall in a mens room? We're dealing with human beings here. The person who puts up a poster saying that you are a peodophile knowing it may lead to your death is just as guilty as the ones who commit murder. One of the cheif aims of freenet is untraceability, so there will be no means at all to trace such criminals. When people know they have a free hand they do whatever they please - witness the looting after the Rodney King riots.
On the wild west: Why on earth would we go back to that state of affairs when we know that democracy works well? It's not only the un-democratic countries that are threatened, the democratic ones are too.
The person who puts up a poster saying that you are a peodophile knowing it may lead to your death is just as guilty as the ones who commit murder.
There are many countries using the internet, not all of them democratic.... So who makes the rules? I think the only sane way is to let to internet community make them.
And allowing the "internet community" (whatever the hell that is) to make rules that influence every facet of our lives is a good idea?
...Maybe Freenet will be a precursor to the global network where no one gets slandered without reason.
Interesting comment: "slandered without reason." Slander is "the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another's reputation" (http://m-w.com/). So when is it okay to slander someone?
When someone goes before a court it is considered contempt to publicise the person's prior record because it is irrelevant to the guilt or innocence on the charges being considered. Doing so will usually abort the trial because it can bias the jury. FreeNet aims to make a heavilly used information retreival system that makes tracing posters impossible. This means that a criminal can use FreeNet to anonymously publicise his prior record and then apply for his trial to be aborted. The only way we can avoid having FreeNet cause gross miscarriages of justice like this is to limit the influence of the internet on our lives. Personally I would rather get rid of FreeNet and allow the rest of the internet develop freely.
Secondly, one of the stated aims of FreeNet is to place the internet outside of judicial control. Any section of society outside of judicial control innevitably becomes loaded with criminal activity. If we treasure justice then we must have a justice system that has power. This won't be acheived by FreeNet, it will be subverted by it.
The mafia and others already manipulate stock markets through chat rooms and cause significant loss to others because of it. Should we allow an internet platform that enables these people to screw the rest of us without any hope of tracing them? Mankind's ability to come up with new technologies is only surpassed by our ability to use those same inventions for unjust ends.
The internet has great potential to both help and harm mankind. Little of the former will be acheived if we allow the FreeNet developers to create a substrate for internet services that is completely beyond judicial controll.
you're trying desperately to conflate freedom of speech and freedom of activity across the board, and it simply doesn't wash. in some cases, speech acts are connected to the law. in many others they are not. it depends on the country, the speech act, and the particulars of the case. if you would like to ban a particular form of speech act, by all means you may lobby your local government. pass a law banning jurors from using freenet. pass a law banning people with suboptimal IQ and a tendancy to kill people based on rumors from using freenet. pass a law banning anything you think ought to be banned in particular, but I propose that banning freenet as a technology will work about as effectively as banning scrawlings on bathroom walls. i.e. not at all.
suggesting that the freenet developers will "place the internet outside of judicial control" is far too generous. laws govern land, goods (like network connections) and people, and the internet cannot change that fact. laws also have juristiction, and thus far the attempts to extend their juristiction into the net have been rather overzealous in revoking rights people have historically fought somewhat hard to get.
all the freenet developers can hope to ensure is that the concept of free speech is given a fighting chance in the laws which invariably do apply to online activity, like any other. if you've actually been paying attention to the rediculous losses of liberty various governments have proposed as "online content regulation" you might be more sympathetic to this goal.
this seems reasonable, given the way some censors would prefer the internet
I have been following the laws being passed, and Australia seems to get mentioned inordinately often. In the first case the state of NSW passed a perfectly sensible law that stated that it was unlawfull for a NSW resident to post on the internet anything that would be illegal in any other medium. It also said that to provide a means of content filtering for parents ISPs had to comply with any recomendations worked out by the minister in consultation with the industry. Hardly taking away our freedoms, it was just extending to the internet what was already in existence for other mediums.
The next big kerfufle was over the federal police asking for the law to be clarified so that they could get search warrants for computers as they already did for premises or to tap telephones.
Then came the latest one, the federal government passed a law saying that online publishers were bound by the same content rules as other publishers and required ISPs to make an effort to provide content filtering for parents.
In each case there were extreemely vocal kneejerk reactions saying that the law would cripple Australia's internet connections/ strip away our basic freedoms/dumm down the internet to a G rating, and yet despite all of the doomsaying what Australia has managed to acheive with these laws is a perfectly functioning internet that, unlike other countries, is within the jurisdiction of the appropriate powers.
Nothing is beyond our control, and nothing should be beyond the control of the judiciary.
<p> Anonymous speech is sometimes the only true freedom of speech we can have, particularly in the context of a democracy when discussion of controversial ideas is essential to the well-being of the community. Anonymous speech is often one of the first rights to go when a fascist government seeks to quell dissent, because when any utterance can be traced to it's origin, anyone expressing opinions which those in power dislike is easy enough to pick up, disappear, torture or kill. <p> Outside of politics, anonymous speech is also critical to protect those who need to speak out against a wrong, or bring something to light. What if the company you work for is doing something dastardly, dumping toxic waste, failing to maintain a safe workplace, or bribing congressmen. Without anonymous speech you risk your job, your family's well-being, and in some cases your life. For every example you have of someone being attacked for anonymous slander on a bathroom wall or on Usenet, there are a dozen cases where anonymous speech has saved a victim. Whether it's anonymous tips about child abuse, the ability to call a suicide hotline without worrying about your identity being revealed, or the ability to spread a message about the crimes your government is committing, there are cases when maintaining the secrecy of your identity is crucial. <p> It's true that anonymity goes both ways and can be abused. Your suggestion that these should be regulated by judicial control and judged by the laws of a democracy puts too much faith in both the legal system, and the magical incantation of "democracy". Democracies work by the tyranny of the majority, minority views will often, if not always, be seen as unfit for anonymous speech. Whether it's neo-nazis, or corporate whistle-blowers, a judicial and legal system firmly in the hands of those in power is NO way to decide who gets to speak anonymously. <p> The Freenet solution is to make anonymity guaranteed thru technology. Indeed, this does put it beyond the control of the "democratic institution we cherish", and for good reason. The same democratic institutions which you suggest regulate who gets to speak anonymously are the very ones that many people are speaking out against under the protection of anonymity. <p> Reactionary views such as mettws were a dime a dozen, often they came from establishments of power like Harvard, or the military/industrial complex. Those in power use the same arguments mettw has. Much like the FBI using "cyber-terrorist, pedophiles and hackers" as their magic incantation to infringe further upon the rights of U.S. citizens, those afraid of losing control will do whatever they can to keep their grip, often using the democratic institutions of their society to tighten it. Fear is their tool. <p> The underpinning of any democracy is freedom of speech, and in an oppressive society that often means anonymous speech. Remember that Freenet is not just for those of you in the so called "enlightened democracies" it is also for those in much more dire straits, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leon, China, Indonesia, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Kozovo, Chechnya, Iran, and Russia. <p>
You ask Should we have the freedom to yell `Fire!' in a crowded theater?
In the Freenet context, that means "Should we have the freedom to induce life-threatening mass hysteria?"
And the answer is that you could not do it anonymously since anonymous claims carry insufficient credibility. From stock manipulations to incitement to violence, the net has been an utter failure in this regard. (Shucks...)
You ask Should someone have the freedom to post documents on the internet claiming that you are a peodophile?
And if someone uses Freenet to do that, so what? Idiots have been doing that on Usenet for years, with or without remailers. Nobody as yet has been arrested because of Internet pedophilia libel.
Should someone have the freedom to abort their own trial by publicising their own prior record?
Even if a defendant did, it would be of no avail. If anything, that would prevent a defendant from successfully getting a mistrial.
FreeNet is a technological experiment to give people a way to hold their own against the government. I think FreeNet is a wonderful proof of concept that shows that we, as hackers, can make the world a better place. Should you have the freedom to shout "Fire!" in a theatre? No, but the government does not rip out your tongue when you enter the theatre -- instead, whoever yells "Fire!" is charged in a court of law. It is the police's job to find evidence against him. So it should be in the area of technology and communication: we need to be able to do things. If something illegal is done, the govenment should arrest whoever is doing illegal things -- but that's the government's problem. Personally, I want the freedom to share files with my friends without anyone snooping. Especially in this day and age, where most governments in the so-called democratic world are ruled, in effect, by big corporations, I think the citizens should have some form of protection.
The careful reader of the random mass of data which is the Internet uses much of it as hinting, not as fact. If an anonymous person suggests that some public official is accepting bribes and suggests how one could verify that fact, the moderately bright reader will try to verify the allegation rather than accept it as fact.
Most FUD about anonymous free speech, and this article certainly seems to fall in that category, is motivated by a very real fear that intellectual property law in its current form will not survive a collision with high-bandwidth, broadly-disseminated anonymous speech. It may not, but I have trouble seeing that as a bad thing. Current IP law provides strong value to entities with indefinite lifespans and strong capitalization (i.e., large corporations) and weak value to the creators of IP or the public (the two groups it was intended to favor).
Maybe it's time for a change, and anything that speeds the process along is probably a good thing. Let's see if we can't live with effective, powerful free speech.
It is already fairly easy to create anonymous postings. There are open servers on Usenet which can be used to post anonymous information, and a great deal of illicit data (e.g. the warez groups) is posted there. Over on Slashdot any Anonymous Coward can make a posting with the knowledge that only a warrant is going to get at Slashdot's Web logs, if they even bother to keep them that long. And then there are anonymising web servers which act as a cut-out.
None of the disasters predicted in this document have come to pass as a result.
The only difference that Freenet makes to the anonymity issue is that anonymous posting and download become easy instead of hard. At present these things require technical knowledge. Freenet will make them automatic. It also adds plausible deniability when illicit data is found on your Freenet server, but that is a separate issue.
I don't see Freenet as being a problem here. People being assulted and killed due to whats said on Freenet? Well, it takes some crazy lunatic to go out and do this. And it will happen. But it can already happen through many other forms of media, on and off the internet. There _will_ be nutcases, and there _will_ be knee-jerks from society, but by trying to control what information you get out to people to cull this kind of behaviour isn't fixing the problem, its simply trying to hide it.
Plus, you might find that if too many "false cases" of say, child abuser details are posted to freenet, people will stop believing it.
I don't like the idea of people being beaten up due to some anonymous posting on the Internet, but we choose to live in a society, we choose to embrace its good sides, so we have to deal with its bad sides, and not just sweep it under the rug.
despite all of the doomsaying what Australia has managed to acheive with these laws is a perfectly functioning internet that, unlike other countries, is within the jurisdiction of the appropriate powers.
What Australia has essentially done is ignore these laws. How can middle-sized ISPs (for example, iiNet or Chariot, each with many tens of thousands of dialins) police what every user does? Ridiculous! How can any small (one-man or two-man band) ISP afford filters that work and the time and man-power to keep those filters updated? Ridiculous! And treated appropriately.
A point that you don't make is that these ISP are theoretically required to filter not only traffic from their sites, but traffic to their site (to dialin users, for example, or ssh/telnet/citrix/vnc visitors). Not only is a 100% perfect filter unworkable, but even trying is either or both of costly and inefficient.
The australian laws require no such thing. ISPs are not responsible for the content on their sites. People can complain to the ABA and if they decide that the site needs to be refered to the censorship board then and only then does the ISP need to temporarily close the site untill the censors reach a decision. An ISP is not liably for the material hosted on their sites and can only be prosecuted if they fail to temporarily close a site untill a censorship board ruling is made or fail to close a site should the censors give an X or RC classification.
Furthermore the ISP is not required to filter anything. They are required to make available to their customers filtering software such a NetNanny, which the customer is under no obligation to use. If someone makes a complaint to the ABA about an overseas website then it is not the problem of the ISPs. The law merely sets up a procedure for the ABA to make a formal complaint to the relevant country.
Under the current system it is possible to trace people who commit crimes through the internet. Oftentimes it's not easy, but it can be done. The most important part of my article, which everyone here seems to be missing, is that FreeNet aims to make such tracing impossible. Everyone is getting their knickers in a knot over the three examples I gave, but you really need to have more confidence in our ability to exhibit creativity in criminal behaviour. The uses to which FreeNet will be put will multiply greatly, and the number of criminal uses to which it will be put will grow just a quickly. The one design goal of FreeNet to which I object is the strong anonymity (and hence untraceability) feature.
Everyone uses the undemocratic countries as an excuse for these features but at the same time give no regard to what affect they will have on the democratic ones. The European countries and america all managed to gain democracy through mere pigheaded determination and bravery. Africans/Asians/South Americans are capable of exactly the same sort of bravery that Europeans are and indeed are already succeeding. Their fights are by no means over, but fate has already cast its die for democracy.
My chief concern about anonymous systems such as FreeNet is that they could theoretically provide an awesome infrastructure for the remote command-and-control of computer virii or other malicious systems that automatically attack and control mass numbers of vulnerable systems.
Most of these types of attacks have had a limited life span because sooner or later, virus checkers or other automated tools come to the rescue. But if the virii writers could then implement counter-measures and efficiently distribute them to existing infected systems, we could have a rapid escalation of the situation and things could get really wierd.
Basically, we could have a DoS on the whole Internet.
I'm sure this will probably happen sooner or later. Almost completely anonymous systems such as FreeNet might allow it to happen sooner. If it did happen, then it would probably be necessary to tear out all the existing FreeNet servers and replace them with something that logged the traffic in order to identify the source or the virus and/or shut it off. That could take quite some time.
Apart from that though, I like the idea of anonymity. Full anonymity just might not be really workable though...
"The FreeNet developers use lofty language, talking of `free speech' and so on, but I beleive that there is no greater threat to our democratic institutions in existence."
Mmm, I doubt you do believe that, but anyway I don't think FreeNet's the issue anyway.
FreeNet is a channel full of non-veryfiable information. As such information that comes out of it has the same credibility and power as common gossip. As for the use of this channel for criminal activity or as means of communication for criminals. Well, there's plenty of ways to communicate already (and securely). Law-enforcing organisations will just have to find a way to deal with that. And they will. Society will only accept so much damage (socially or material/economically). If levels of criminal activity go up high enough, people will want measures and will accept more big-brother-like activitities from said law-enforcers. A balance will be struck.
The same goes for international crime. If the problem is severe enough, different countries (or rather the crime-fighters) will get together.
And allowing the "internet community" (whatever the hell that is) to make rules that influence every facet of our lives is a good idea?
My definition of the "internet community" is everyone who uses the internet. I was too general; I meant that the internet community should make decisions about the internet, not about 'domestic affairs' in the individual countries.
From nixnut's diary:
The internet-community making rules? Does that community exist? If it does, can it ever agree on any rules? Can it ever enforce them? A fourfold no I think.You're right, it can't agree, not completely. It will be a democracy in that only the most popular rules will be prevalent. And those rules will keep changing. They will vary from place to place, day to day, site to site. However, take a look around right now. There's already a code of acceptable behavior(Don't SHOUT, etc), which is usually followed. It was adopted through general practice, not through legislation. Something similar might happen in other areas.
Those in power use the same arguments mettw has. Much like the FBI using "cyber-terrorist, pedophiles and hackers" as their magic incantation to infringe further upon the rights of U.S. citizens...
What worries me most is when the FBI decides that the internet is theirs to control. I have a hard time believing that they will _only_ infringe upon the rights of American citizens. If they have the legal right to read/filter any email passing through an American server, that immediately infringes on the rights of any non-americans whose email gets routed through that server. Before anyone flames me, I'll point out that I likey don't have an accurate idea of what the FBI can and can't do. This is purely speculation.
The person who puts up a poster saying that you are a peodophile knowing it may lead to your death is just as guilty as the ones who commit murder.1. Defamation of character is in no way equivalent to murder. Making a case that posting defamatory documents causes a murder is going to be very difficult. At worst it may be criminally negligent, but you didn't pull the trigger.
Re: Against FreeNet:
Freedom of speech is a very good, but very dangerous thing. As pointed out, we are always dealing with people, and people, or at least a big part of them, are morons. (Just think, they're the average user who calls tech-support b/c they didn't click the ok-button and now don't know what to do.) While I'm convinced that most of those morons are not evil(tm), some are. And some are just really moronic morons. That's why we have to be careful with freedom.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for freedom of speech and all, but these campains to have every pedophile who has been convicted and released "brandmarked" by announcing their whereabouts (so that worried parents can "better take care of their children"), will lead to violence based on prejudices. That person, even if (s)he was guilty, was convicted and has sentenced his/her time according to the laws and should afterwards have the same opportunities to lead a life on their own as everybody else. Oh, and don't say "Well, imagine you're the parent who has a child-abuser move in next door". I can't imagine that and I'm sure I wold not make a rational decision. But I'm getting OT here.
Another, maybe the most important point (that has been been already, but can not be stressed enough) is that the internet!=USA. It's the whole wide world talking. One can not make laws for all of them, just because one thinks that your personal opinion of how things should be regulated is the right thing(tm).
Just my $0.02
Mettw, you completely misrepresent the Australian BSA legislation. It has harmed Australia, and will continue to do the same whilst some clueless git in the ABA tries to censor the Internet (such as the infamous newsgroup takedown notice at one small ISP with a leaf-node newserver... I had a good laugh at that).
I work in a major telco as a contractor on next generation data services. This telco is investing a large quantity of money in making an infrastructure that would be world class in terms of both bandwidth and new services through 2005-2010 (yes, we're working that far ahead).
But we're unlikely to do some forms of service delivery or offering peer to peer services (initially, at least) partially because of the amazing incompetence of Senator Alston's department and the Senator himself (in my humble opinion - and that's a political comment). They fundamentally do not understand the Internet, nor how censorship and breakage can be worked around no matter if you're a multi-national or even a single citizen unit. So streaming media and many 1-1 types of services will likely be offered from international locations to be safe from stupid laws.
This one project, through legal uncertainties and a few other issues, will cost Australia in both intellectual property development, major capex (high 7 figures $USD), and on going development, growth and of course Australian Internet user experience, which continue to feel slow and stuttery because all the really interesting stuff will be happening overseas on the other end of a really congested 200 ms+ pipe or 700+ ms satellite link. This telco is one of the four or five companies capable of delivering this sort of bandwidth all over Australia. Who will suffer from a narrowing of service delivery? That's right, Australians. Again.
We are working on stuff that will allow large quantities of things like TV or HDTV quality unicast/narrowcast streaming media or allowing the rapid deployment of nationwide digital video phones and immersive online gaming options - but Australia will not (yet) have these things because of the current uncertainties.
What would happen if a X rated opensource game with hooks for the appropriate immersive attachments came out and used a standard DirectPlay server to provide the entertainment, and we received a takedown notice. Would we be required to kill all DirectPlay services? That's how 99% of the takedown notices I've seen are laid out - they are overly broad and attack the wrong things. legal would say kill that service, and we would. All the attachment happy users would have to do is to point their NG browsers to a US based DirectPlay service, and guess what, the BSA is proven ineffectual again!
Back to the BSA, and the daily ongoing and irreparable harm it is doing... ISP's in general, do absolutely nothing until they have a takedown notice. ISP's who sign up for the IIA Code of Practice are basically immune from prosecution as long as they don't egegriously disobey a takedown notice, which can be obviated by getting the client to put a AVS in place and maybe toning it down until the sex looks simulated rather than being "real". In addition, the ISP's only have to advise their clients of the existance of filtering products, and they do not have to provide them or provide differentiated services, although many do provide trial versions of censorware with sign-up CD's.
The BSA takedown procedures have been absolutely ineffectual (and minimal in number - 27 is a figure for the first six months of operation, out of how many pages?). Please go to http://teenager.com.au. This is an Australian site, hosted now in the US. If the manager of this site was less interested in hard core and left the AVS in place, he would have been in compliance with the BSA. But now Australian ISP's (and thus their customers) foot a greater bill for interconnect fees directly because of the BSA.
The BSA is chillingly reminiscent of the thought police and is remarkably free of balances. FoI requests are routinely ignored and delayed. Classifications and takedowns are secret until FoI requests are successful (or not) - unlike ANY other medium.
The Internet is treated as if it is not a publication but a broadcast, which by simple and obvious definition (and use) it is not.
The BSA legislation shows how deeply the people drafting it did not understand the technology they seek to control, and how little regard they have for people's fundamental freedoms. In Australia, we have no freedom of speech, except in political matters, and that's only one High Court decision and a small amount of common law since then.
If you value your freedom, you have to resist the removal of it at every turn. The BSA is bad legislation and it has harmed our reputation, and of my friends, at least four sets are prepared to try the US for a while due to the lack of real innovation now happening.
Coupled with the ASIO tapping legislation, you must treat all comms as being tapped, because they generally could be. Start using ssh with damn big keys. Start encrypting all your private mail with PGP with damn big keys (1024 bit doesn't cut it anymore). Demand 128 bit SSL access to all your favorite sites. Demand an encrypted IPv6 tunnel to your ISP. Use strong IPsec - always. Make the buggers work hard to see your boring little life in gory detail. ISP's are not implementing IPv6 because "there is no customer demand". Demand it! Everyone has a desire to run a private life, and the BSA and the ASIO legislation are nothing to be admired or emulated as they strip away what was left of the illusion of privacy. Unlike Scott McNealy, who says "Privacy? There's no privacy, get used to it", I prefer not to do so.
Is this the Australia that you want? It's certainly not the Australia that I grew up in.
Be doubleplusgood people.
The hyperbolic language in this article make me wonder if it's a troll, but that's fine if it is, trolls make for good discussions.
There's a lot to respond to here, but the part that has me most intrigued is:
...how can you punish such people and deliver freedom to the rest of us?...The central aim of FreeNet is to place the internet outside of judicial control. That is, it aims to remove all sense of justice from the inter net and take us all back to the wild west. If the internet becomes as important to our everyday lives as it appears it will then FreeNet is the most serious thr eat to democracy we've seen since the 1930's.
This implies that freedom is something that someone or something else delivers unto an individual or a society.
A lot of people believe that that is not the case. Freedom is something an individual has, from the start, that can be exercised. Other things (the individual's state of mind; other people, groups, governments) often, either by deliberate action or inaction or accidental action or inaction, restrict that freedom. In that context freedom is something much more nebulous and large than being able to say whatever you want or do whatever you want.
Freenet is only a tool that has the potential for enhancing freedom for some people. There have been a lot of such tools throughout history and they all come with risks and costs. Printing press. Cars. Labor Unions. Democracy. Guns. Copyright. Property. The list is huge.
I think, though, that we can have some faith that human society has the ability to adapt to new tools and make the best use of them. I think that expanding the toolbox of freedom is simply a good thing.
Yes, it is entirely likely that some bad things are going to happen as the result of the presence of Freenet. Are those things going to be more than a drop in the historical bucket, I doubt it. Instead as people become aware of Freenet as a tool, additional tools that help to manage it will become available as well. For example, I suspect that the presence of Freenet will be one of the things that encourages people to use cryptographic signatures. Reputations will be attached to those signatures (even if the signatures cannot be attached to a human identity) and the "he said, she said" stuff that mettw is so concerned with will not be as much of a problem. Will it take some time for that to be widespread? Yes. Will there be a gap during which something bad happens? Yes. That's a cost. We can either sit still and do nothing or move into the future and adapt.
I think Mettw and several others are touching on, but not directly saying, the real problem I see with FreeNet. FreeNet is basically a technological manifestation of a general political view held by a lot of hackers - Libertarianism: The idea that we don't need a big government to make laws that in any way restrict our freedoms. Personally, I find this outlook flawed. I do agree that we should have protection of all of our fundamental freedoms (as defined by the traditon of Western Liberalism, begining with Locke). I believe that government's role should be to provide a framework within which we can enjoy these freedoms. Any government that ignores the freedom of its people, or the consitutional function of the government, as approved by the people, is invalid, and should be replaced. Of course, I live in the USA, and am lucky that my government does recognize its place, for the most part.
The problem with libertarianism is that it is much too "every man for himself" - libertarians fight to protect their rights, not the community's. I think that we can all agree that rights are not given to us by government. Government's role is to protect these rights. If you have a problem with the government, address it. Don't make a (technological) solution that works for you, and leaves everyone else that doesn't have access to it out cold. If you genuinely care about privacy, or freedom or speech, and feel as though your rights are being infringed upon, do something political about it. Otherwise you are whining, and won't be taken seriously by the general public.
The idea of government is to provide standardization to rules. A "rule of law" means that the same rule applies to everyone in the same way. That is a good thing. It is foolish to try and claim that "well, everyone will basically do the right thing, and agree on some basic things." People won't. People are pretty greedy and self-interested, and will take advantage of loopholes whenever they can. So, if you think about defamation issue, or pedophilia, or viruses, you are going to find that people WILL abuse it if there are no laws. Why else do we have contracts instead of just taking people's word? Because otherwise people end up getting hurt. FreeNet, in aiming to be outside of governmental control, will quickly realize that this is the case.
Also, I really have little respect for anonymous speech. If you have something that is important and earth-shattering, attach your name to it. The reason that western countries have free speech is that we are allowed to say something and not be persecuted for it. However, anonymous speech is just a way to lose accountability for actions. That is not a healthy, community-building way of being. For example, look at what happened to K5 - someone spamming anonymously ruined the service for everyone. Yes, the community had a set of "general rules of ettiquite that everyone will follow", but someone decided to take advantage, and killed the site.
One very hard, and unfortunate thing to realize is that people really aren't that nice and good. Given an opportunity, people will try and take advantage of any given situation. Not everyone has the same lofty ideals that you might have. Faith is a wonderful concept, but it really hurts when you are wrong. We need real rules to protect real people. Do you live in an oppressive society? Rather than just having a bit of essentially stolen freedom while on your computer, become politically active, and work to change things. Do you live in the US, and want to maintain your right to free speech? Then realize that you are accountable for what you say. That is the price of freedom.
Do you live in an oppressive society? Rather than just having a bit of essentially stolen freedom while on your computer, become politically active, and work to change things.
That's a rather limited view of oppression, don't you think? In some situations only by having access to anonymous or pseudonymous expression is someone able to become politically active. Trying this:
have something that is important and earth-shattering, attach your name to it.
can disable your argument or in some situations get you killed. Where's your hope for experience change then? It's gone! You're dead!
I don't see how my view of oppressive societies is narrow. I never really defined them, so I am about as broad as you can be. However, I recognize that it is the case in some places that if you speak out, you get killed. That is obviously not a good thing. However, I strongly doubt that many of those countries have much internet access to speak of, let alone phones, or running water, so FreeNet access isn't much of an issue. That is beside the point though. Your concern is that if you speak out with your name attached, you can be killed, or in some way harmed. You are absolutely right. But, anything that is really politically charged is going to require some kind of source identification for it to be taken seriously. Any revolution in the past few hundred years that lead to anything worth notice was not done by a bunch of anonymous individuals - it was done by people that were brave enough to stand by their words. If you are in a country that is so utterly oppressive that you simply cannot speak out, you work through organizations whose purpose is to get a basic level of respect for human rights. The UN and Amnesty International come to mind. If you are worried about people intercepting your messages and whatnot, use cryptography. I have no problem with that. It validates who actually wrote the message. But hiding behind anonymity does nothing. It is easier to speak out that way, but you pay the price for your comfort - nothing will happen. The only people that actually gain something from anonymity are those who want to harm others - they can cause harm, and not be held accountable.
The federal law has nothing to do with datacasting. Under pressure from the industry Alston finally got off his arse and declared that datacasting is not broadcasting and won't be covered by broadcasting laws. There's an extroadinary bias in everything reported on Hacker news sites - Slashdot reported the industry hasling Alston for a decision on datacasting as Autralia is going to treat datacasting as broadcasting. When, a week later, Alston gave them his ruling Slashdot was curiously silent on the issue. There is a tendency in hacker circles to dream up censorship conspiracies which, to my mind, are not realy different to jewish bankers/yellow hordes/reds under the bed/...
Australia seems to be doing quite nicely to me and I'm no more likely to use massive keys on my emails because of tapping laws then I am to scramble my telephone calls because the same law applies to telephones. Sure there are problems with the laws such as the ABA and having to close a site before a classification, but Australia is not going to drift into third world status because of something as stupid as that.
All through the late 80's early 90's we kept on hearing from nuts who whinged that Australia was going to go down the toilet if we weren't more like the asian tiger economies. After the cash crisis and meltdown those people have mysteriously stoped recomending that we become more like asian countries. Now we have a lot of nuts who keep on whinging that Australia is going to go down the toilet if we don't become more like America. The rest of the world can go to hell, Australia can afford to do whatever it likes because it's near impossible to screw up a country as fortunate as ours.
It seem to me, (not sure of that), that there is a notation system, in
For a given informations, people seeing it are able to give it a note.
So i bet that disinformations like X persons is a pedophil or X stuff is "whatever"
without any proof will just be underrated, and nobody will read it.
I should hope we don't attack and outlaw everything we are afraid of
I think Ryan Muldoon is mistaken when he says the price of anonymity is that no one will take your comments seriously. Sensible people take statements of fact seriously after the said statements are proven true. Here in the US, for example, no one with any sense takes the statements of politicians and used car salesmen terribly seriously, despite their identities being quite solidly attributed.
Make provably true statements and people will take you seriously. Very little proof of anything can be found on the Internet, but people here frequently point their readers in the direction of useful things. And for repeat business, a trusted (in several senses) public key works wonders....
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