giuliani time: policing the internet

From the 10.09.07 Republican Primary Debate in Michigan:

MATTHEWS: OK. Lets go to the police. How would you police the Internet culturally, Mr. Mayor?
GIULIANI: Pardon me?
MATTHEWS: How would you police the Internet culturally? You know, the whole question about the stuff that’s going on, predators, that sort of thing…
GIULIANI: Sure. I think it’s a very, very — I think it’s a…
MATTHEWS: How do we do it?
GIULIANI: I think it’s a new serious area of crime that’s emerging. I think that — first of all, let’s separate the economics from the safety and security like we have to do with the free trade agreements.
GIULIANI: But we should not tax the Internet. There are people who are proposing taxing the Internet. That would be a really, really big mistake.
We should police the Internet in that we make sure that child predators aren’t taking advantage of on the Internet, which they seem to be doing. There are a lot of good state and local law enforcement efforts in that regard.
I think a task force between the federal government and state and local governments in order to police it, to share information, to make sure it isn’t being misused, to make sure it’s protected.
I think working with — one of the businesses that I have some familiarity with is a business that I had some involvement with back and we sold it. But they attack from the outside into that systems in order to determine whether they can be penetrated. They also can set up protections against child predators, against pornography. Those are the kinds of things that we have to do.
It’s a new area and a growing area of law enforcement.
GIULIANI: And I think that there are — some of the task forces that have been developed have done some really good work in policing it.

field notes | union sq | 072707

I’ve finally gotten around to posting some footage from the Critical Mass at Union Square on 07.27.07. Below the fold you’ll find two videos and a slide show of pictures. The first video documents the organization of Critical Mass in Union Square North from 6:45 PM (15 minutes prior to their 7:00 PM scheduled meeting time) until 7:45. The second video documents an officer confronting a biker and the crowd’s reaction.

Video One: This footage documents the organization of Critical Mass in Union Square North from 6:45 PM (15 minutes prior to their 7:00 PM scheduled meeting time) until 7:45. This Critical Mass was organized by Times Up! with an appearance by the Reverend Billy. The hour-long footage has been sped-up so that the crowd’s movement over time within this space could be better realized for analytical purposes.

Video Two: An officer confronts a biker for failing to respond when spoken to (occurs in the left side of screen with downward movement). The crowd reacts by refocusing on the interaction and within minutes are surrounding the police and the biker. This video footage was originally 3 minutes in length. However, time has been manipulated – slowing the footage of the officer confronting the biker and speeding up the footage of the crowd reorganizing – to draw attention to the shifts in movement which occur in this space.

Photos from throughout the night:

privatizing txt

Its official – txt space is private space. From the ny times:

Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program…

legal experts said private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages…

So when will these laws be updated? net neutrality.

Update 09.27.07 @ 3:02 PM : : : From today’s ny times – “Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages“:

Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless last week rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program.

Of course the problem remains. While Naral is now being allowed to distribute their message, Verizon is still reserving the right to block text messages at their discretion…

Automated Targeting System


The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials…

Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department’s Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country….

The Automated Targeting System has been used to screen passengers since the mid-1990s, but the collection of data for it has been greatly expanded and automated since 2002, according to former DHS officials….

‘Automated targeting” sounds about as creepy as “automated intelligence profiling.” Its primarily the “automated” part that creeps me out the most, as if we are to believe such targeting or profiling is objective and rational – free of human influence.

global privacy standards

While browsing I came across this gem: “Google Calls for International Standards on Internet Privacy.” The article discusses Peter Fleischer’s (Google’s global privacy counsel) recent call for the development of international privacy standards. The article does a fairly good job at presenting the nuance of the privacy debate – summarizing Fleischer’s argument (that current “fragmentary international privacy laws” are burdensome to companies and harmful to citizens, thus a coherent set of minimum privacy standards should be established at a global level) while addressing Google’s mediocre privacy policies.

Discussing the recent Google/DoubleClick merger and fears that it will “aggregate too much consumer data in the hands of one company,” the article notes:

Google, under investigation for violating global privacy standards, is calling for international privacy standards,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a critic of the DoubleClick merger. “It’s somewhat like someone being caught for speeding saying there should be a public policy to regulate speeding.

Fleischer’s argument, in its entirety, can be found here. His point that data should be given the same consideration as other global flows in the informational age – namely copyrights, airplanes and pandemics – is certainly worth entertaining.

In today’s inter-connected world, no one country and no one national law by itself can address the global issues of copyright or airplane safety or influenza pandemics. It is time that the most globalised and transportable commodity in the world today, data, was given similar treatment.

Global standards which recognize the right to privacy as a basic human right in the informational age is certainly needed. Additionally, I would argue that the mass collection and aggregation of consumer data should be public record – whether assembled by the State or commerce, information on the public should be public information. Current standards at Google and Microsoft is to anonymize consumer data after 18 months. Once anoymized why not make these data sets public record?

In citing the APEC Privacy Framework, which “suggests that privacy legislation should be primarily aimed at preventing harm to individuals from the wrongful collection and misuse of their information,” Fleischer suggests that the “preventing harm” principle be applied to the proposed global privacy standards. But as the washingtonpost article points out, a focus on “preventing harm” is different than a focus on “privacy as a right.” Whereas a focus on “preventing harm” burdens consumers with the responsibility to prove they have been harmed, a focus on “privacy as a right” implies preventative policies that ensure a consumer or citizen’s right to privacy is not violated. How does a consumer prove they have been harmed let alone prove that their privacy has been violated?

I’m with Fliescher when he says:

Data is flowing across the Internet and across the globe. That’s the reality. The early initiatives to create global privacy standards have become more urgent and more necessary than ever. We must face the challenge together.

But looking at the recent NSA wiretapping fiasco which has allowed the illegal surveillance of innocent citizens, precisely because those spied on have no means to prove they were spied on, alarms me. We know telecommunication companies like at&t participated in government surveillance but because no consumer has yet to demonstrate harm – or even that they specifically were spied on – the surveillance program remains. In my opinion, any global privacy standard must – at a minimum -include the right to privacy.

Geosniff (v.)

From Jonathon Keats, Wired 15.09:

To search the web by location, delivering regionally pertinent information to users and regionally pertinent users to advertisers.

Connectile Dysfunction (CD)

“You know the feeling” the empathic male voiceover announces, “you can’t take care of business the way others do.” You can’t, because you have what’s called “Connectile Dysfunction” or “CD” which the voiceover explains as “a condition caused by inadequate broadband coverage.” The denizens of New Orleans know this feeling all too well, that is to say they “can’t take care of business the way others do.” When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city’s communicative infrastructure was badly damaged except for a wireless network covering the downtown business district and the French Quarter.

This wireless network, originally implemented to support surveillance cameras in the area, was quickly repurposed by emergency personnel in the wake of the hurricane and later converted by the city into a free public Wi-Fi service. BellSouth is now challenging the legality of this public cyberspace, a lifeline that the city intends to make part of its “indigenous infrastructure.” Thanks to powerful corporate interests, Louisiana state laws ban the free distribution of broadband services and while New Orleans was able to circumvent these laws because of its declared state of emergency that state of emergency has now been lifted. The denizens of New Orleans battle a bad bout of Connectile Dysfunction.“The cure” for CD, our empathic male voiceover informs us, is “Sprint Mobile Broadband” because “it works in twice the cities as Cingular’s Broadband Connect so you can be you again.” At $49.99 a month (not including the startup and hardware costs), this advertisement doesn’t appear to remedy the situation so New Orleans can be New Orleans again

young people: victims, criminals… red herring

While reading Walter Lippmann’s “A Preface to Politics” my attention was mainly drawn to his discussion of the red herring. The red herring — a metaphor used to describe the obfuscation of, or distraction from, a particular object(ive) — is portrayed by Lippmann (1913, p261) as both “pest” and “benefit,” as a political maneuver which can be employed as “a matter of misrepresentation and spite” or as an “honest attempt to enlarge the scope of politics.” Having just given a presentation at the University of Surrey, which discussed the role of young people as both red herring and cultural innovators in current ‘debates’ over cyberspatial regulation, I took my unexpected discovery of Lippmann’s red herring analysis as sign of synchronicity.

Mitt Romney — former Governor of Massachusetts and current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination — has been noted for his upbeat, gee-whiz campaign style, channeling 1950s nostalgia and a return to the “good ol’ days.” A recent campaign ad titled “Ocean” (which caught my eye on c-span the other day) puts “the children” front and center. With imagery of children playing in the ocean, Mitt’s voice informs the public of his desire “to clean up the waters in which our children have been swimming.” Way to go Mitt!!! As a former Bostonian I’ve waited a long time for you to come around on environmental issues, so how do we clean up all the pollutants which permeate the waters in which our children have been swimming? What’s that Mitt – with censorship…?

Ah yes, pornography. Of course Mitt doesn’t want to actually “clean up” the waters in which our children swim, he just wants to “clean up” the media – to hell with the real water! Quoting a Peggy Noonan article (article here) written after the Columbine shootings, Mitt warns about the media “cesspool” in which our children are swimming and and states his intent “to keep pornography from coming up on their computers.” Hardly an instant of “enlarging the scope of politics” this use of young people as red herring serves as a distraction from the issues of media censorship and government surveillance and instead misrepresents them as a simple matter of protecting our children. Additionally, this discourse portrays young people as helpless victims who need to be saved — demoralizing their sense of agency — in order to rationalize an erosion of the public’s civil liberties. While Mitt’s commercial is just one example from a single presidential candidate, this discourse has been frequently employed by both media (such as NBC’s To Catch A Predator or Time Magazine’s “Cyberporn” issue) and the state to command the public’s attention. Look no further than the U.S. Attorney General and FBI Director’s recent argument that Google must turn over all emails, internet traffic records and internet search data to the government in order to battle the national threat of child pornography.Laying the civil liberties argument aside (for the moment), this “save the children!” harangue is having a chilling affect on childhood, particularly within youth spaces such as the home and the school. As Cindi Katz (2007) has argued, a sense of ontological insecurity is being socially reproduced in both parenting practices and childhood, transforming the home into a reflection of the state and thus normalizing the process of surveillance during childhood. Torin Monahan (2006) adds, that such practices — particularly within schools — portray young people as either “victims or criminals” who must be “protected or controlled.


But such a duality presents a false choice since neither option portrays the young person as a “citizen” who could actually be “engaged.” Either through processes of protection or control, agency is removed from the young person and feeds a citizenry that is either dependent on the state to filter its information, or one that is subjected to consistent “risk management” by the state. Under both conditions, a sense of ontological fear and insecurity is promoted, surveillance is normalized, and political disengagement becomes standardized. What was that about cleaning up the water Mitt???

Rather than using young people as a political ploy to prevent a real debate over the role of commerce and the state in surveillance and censorship, perhaps we should be engaging young people in the debate. After all, if they are the ones swimming in this “water” wouldn’t their input provide some much needed first-hand experience? Its seems to me that engaging young people as participants (not as victims or as criminals) in this “debate” would only serve to enlarge its scope and legitimate its outcome. What say you Mitt?

to catch a predator

Back in 2002, a school system in Tennessee paid Edutech Inc. a reported $131,590 to install CCTV surveillance cameras in its 7 schools. In at least one of these schools, the cameras were installed in the locker rooms. The recordings of 10-14 year-old boys and girls, which were produced from this covert surveillance, were stored on an unprotected computer which was accessible and were indeed accessed from outside and inside the school via the internet. Thus in their attempt to “save the children” one school’s careless surveillance actually produced and distributed child pornography. As one angry parent noted “It’s the parents’ position that no one … has the right to photograph their children getting undressed and no one has the right to make those images accessible over the Internet.”

“keep prying eyes off your computer”

3M commercial for a computer ‘privacy filter,’ observed on TV.

:: sent wirelessly via blackberry

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