“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. “
back when the first ipad came out, AT&T set up a system for purchasers of the 3G model to register their email addresses on the device. because they’re brainless turd-men, AT&T coded it in the worst way possible and left the system with such a massive security hole that anybody who cared could come along, change a number in a URL, and get customer data.
that’s really the extent of the security flaw. it’s not a case of serious hacking, there was no actual code exploitation in the traditional sense. literally just changing the string of numbers at the end of the URL would give you the email address of whichever person happened to be assigned to that string of numbers— that’s how poorly AT&T hammered their shit together. of course, somebody eventually noticed it and wrote a script to automate the process. functionally it was exactly the same as just typing new numbers by hand, except that it was a scrap of code doing it instead. the dude in question, notorious shitpile and obnoxious beardgoon “weev”, harvested a couple hundred thousand email addresses this way. not their passwords or contents, just the address itself.
after deliberation about what to do with the addresses he had harvested (including the idea of selling them to spammers, let’s not forget that weev sucks a lot), he decided to take the “noble” route and expose the security flaw to a journalist. now, years later, he’s going to prison for pointing out the security hole in the same way any number of “white hat” corporate-backed hackers might. what this means, among other things, is that at any given moment a legitimate “security researcher” can run afoul of a capricious district attorney or vengeful megacorporation, resulting in judicial harassment, draining of finances through legal costs, conviction and imprisonment, or worse.
weev is a crap dude (no really look him up) and i can’t stand him and he deserves to stub his toe really hard every day for the rest of his life, but he doesn’t deserve to go to jail just because AT&T got embarrassed over their half-assed coding. you don’t have to be a hacker to get caught up in the same way, and it’s worth thinking about while you’re out dicking around on the internet. the incredibly aggressive prosecution practices we’re seeing in cases like this don’t operate under any laws of logic or reason, with comparatively tiny actions by often well-meaning individuals being met with the full force of judicial authority for the sake of making a political point.
keep it in mind, allright? IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
All of this. And I’m giving serious thought to writing a browser extension that makes a picture of weev’s beard pop up on screen every time a girl types that she likes guys with beards, but still. As many other people have mentioned, also in the news today two guys raped an unconscious sixteen year old girl. They received a sentence only 43% as long as weev, even though weev only accessed publicly available data and didn’t actually harm a single person or thing aside from AT&T’s misplaced pride.
Or: 3-way date-rape - less than half as terrible as pointing out shitty coding, according to the US Justice system. I don’t doubt that here in the UK things would be much different, where also today our politicians finally responded to public disgust and outrage at tabloids acting as though they’re above the law by setting out new legally enforceable press guidelines that conveniently could also be used to prosecute and effectively censor tweeters and bloggers because yes that’s exactly what we wanted from all this you total evil motherfuckers.
Holy shit am I ever angry today.
People on the Internet feel much the same way about their own institution. It’s an institution that resists institutionalization. The Internet belongs to everyone and no one.
You should also compare the largely unfettered evolution of modern English with that of French, which (in France at least) is carefully moderated, shaped and pruned by L’Académie française in what most English people regard as a Canute-like attempt to stem the flow of loan-words into modern French (in part, because most of these loan-words are English, which the English find hilarious because the old rivalries never really go away). Is French better, stronger, and more relevant for this kind of control?
Once again, governments fuelled by a fear of their electorates and empowered by corporate influence are trying to steal our freedom. Our freedom to do whatever we want online so long as it doesn’t impair anyone else’s freedom. They want to pass laws, during closed-door sessions, to censor our freedom of expression. Thankfully, Google are throwing their substantial weight behind Liberty, but they need your help too. They’ve got a tiny little form for you to fill in to add your name to the list and show your support, plus the space to write something a bit longer if you want.
We need to get on this. All of us. There will always be an establishment that doesn’t like us having freedom of communication, so we’ve got to let them know that we won’t give it up without a fight. Please, add your name.
I felt the need to add a little more, too, so this is what I wrote:
History teaches us a very simple lesson about how societies organise themselves. Those that are led by a small number of people making decisions without accountability or transparency have less liberty and more abuse of power than those with more people involved in decision-making and more transparency. Compare a democracy with a dictatorship, and you can see this fundamental truth quite clearly.
The internet should not, MUST not become a feudal society, a class-based hierarchy offering preference to those with wealth, or a top-down dictatorship. It’s unsurprising that countries with poor human rights records would quite like that, but shocking that modern first world democracies would entertain, for even one second, the possibility of closed-door unaccountable legislative procedures. All ordinary internet users must stand together on this.
NO to undemocratic censorship. NO to opaque legislation. NO to any affront to the ordinary internet user’s freedom. I stand for liberty.
This presidential race is turning into a game of “did romney really just say that?”
*spoiler alert* the answer is always yes
For non-Brits, here’s a quick precis.
Nick Clegg, above, is leader of the Liberal Democrats. They’re Britain’s 3rd political party. The vote is generally split mainly between Labour (used to be left wing, have drifted closer to centre & alienated lots of voters in their quest to please rich party donors) and the Conservaties (AKA the Tories, who are right wing, like to pretend they’re centrists to catch swinging voters in elections, but then go right back to foaming at the mouth about poor people breathing their air).
And then there’s the Lib Dems.
In the 2010 general election Labour had pissed off a lot of their core voters, the Tories were pretending to soften their policies a bit, and the Lib Dems had Nick Clegg as party leader, who was seen as young and progressive. The party stood to have its best result ever, and finally become a proper force in British polictics.
In the end, the vote was split, and the Lib Dems had three options:
- Remain independent, and get to vote whichever way they pleased in parliament, thus essentially controlling all votes even though they technically weren’t in charge.
- Ally themselves with Labour, the party that was ideologically incredibly close to them, making a coalition government whose supporters saw eye to eye on most issues.
- Whore themselves out to the Tories, who were quite clearly opposed to Lib Dem ideology, just for a tiny sniff of power.
Guess which option Nick chose?
And when I say they whored themselves, I mean they utterly capitulated on every single one of their primary election promises and totally betrayed the trust of every single person who voted for them, blackening their name in the public consciousness and virtually guaranteeing that in the next election they’re going to lose dozens of seats in Parliament, being reduced to a fraction of the former influence and power that they’d slowly worked decades to build, and setting their cause back an incredibly long way.
It was maybe the dumbest move they could have made.
But Nick Clegg didn’t think he could be friends with the leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown.
Yes, that is what his decision hinged upon.
Britain has failed to recover from recession, libraries and community centres have been sold off cheap to developers, the NHS is in the worst state it’s ever been as Tory hawks try to carve it up and sell it to their rich friends against the wishes of most Britons, jobless figures have risen, the gap between rich and poor has increased, only the wealthy can afford higher education, the economy has stagnated, everything feels like it’s turning to shit, and it’s all because Nick Clegg couldn’t be fwends with Gordon Brown.
But hey, eighteen months later, he’s finally said “Sowwy” for ruining everything, lying to and betraying voters, and fucking everything up.
WELL THAT FIXES EVERYTHING NICK. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THAT.
Cash Offer of the Day: Hustler head honcho Larry Flynt took out a full page ad in today’s Washington Post, offering $1 million to anyone who could provide information about Mitt Romney’s tax returns or various other assets.
Larry clearly hasn’t been keeping up with the times, because the people who supposedly have such information only accept Bitcoins.
There he is! I just knew they must have one of them somewhere.
Heh, this is awesome. Those mad old bastards at the GOP have, amongst a raft of other Protecting American Americanism proposals (essentially, “No Gays, No Abortions, No Muslims, No Fat Chicks”), decided they really need to have a bug up their collective arse about making the internet “safer.”
What does that mean?
Well, making sure children can’t gamble, making sure children can’t meet Atheists online, making sure they can’t see naked people, making sure that someone thinks about the children won’t somebody think about the children?
I can sort of see their point. Really, no sarcasm, those are kind of fair and reasonable things exceeeeppppptttt…..
Except they’re obviously going to just go mad with the power if they get a sniff of it aren’t they? Ohhhhhh, those guys.
And I really really really think they should set their sights squarely on those awful pornographers for a start. Which, those of you who know me, might find kind of sort of out of character a bit. But no, no no no, not at all. Let me explain:
- The American porn industry is huge. Billions of dollars a year huge. Bigger than Hollywood. Bigger than all the sports franchises in the US combined. Bigger than their top TV broadcasters combined. Amazing. And this is a highly-connected tech-savvy industry too. Oh sure, you could take that giant on in a fight, but it’s gonna cost you a hell of a lot of money and if you’re successful then you put thousands of people out of work and shrink the American economy by billions of dollars. Hey, good luck with that.
- What do you think of when you picture a core GOP voter? Yup, it’s a guy. For a party that has so many policies that can be harmful to women, for a party that doesn’t even appear to understand women (“spastic tubes” and all that), it’s refreshing to see them spreading the love around a little bit. Because while some women like to sample some nudey pictures, pretty much all men have indulged. Oh I’m generalising, I’m not even bothering to cite a source, this isn’t a real debate and I’m not your real Dad! But I’m still totally right and you know it. Oh, hey politically dispossessed low-income blue-collar male, do you like internet porn and vote GOP because you don’t want the gays and the brown people to tell you how to live? Yes, yes you do, don’t you? I’d draw a Venn diagram of the prototypical GOP voters demographic, and people who like to download porn, but the two circles are perfectly aligned over one another, so it’d be a bit pointless.
- Other countries. Hello, yes America, the internet does not belong exclusively to you, so even if you manage to stop Americans making stuff you don’t like, there’s still another couple of hundred other countries in the world who you aren’t in charge of, and porn in Myanmar or Djibouti or Vanuatu or wherever is just as easy for Americans to access as naked pictures hosted in California. All you’ll do is shift that industry (and all the aforementioned billions of dollars) offshore.
I get why you want to regulate this industry GOP, I really do, but you have no idea what you’re doing, no idea of the magnitude of the task nor the massive negative impact your regulation would have on both the American economy and your popularity with voters.
So go ahead, take on that Sisyphean task, blow away your money and make people dislike you. I’m totally cool with that. Should keep you guys busy and out of power for a few years.
Quote of the Day: From the New York Times:
For most Europeans, almost nothing is more prized than their four to six weeks of guaranteed annual vacation leave. But it was not clear just how sacrosanct that time off was until Thursday, when Europe’s highest court ruled that workers who happened to get sick on vacation were legally entitled to take another vacation.
ATTENTION EUROPEANS, WE ONCE AGAIN HAVE REASON TO HAVE FAITH IN THE UNION.
The problem with progress is that it involves a disappearing act that institutions are afraid to pursue.