Senate Puts Brakes on Big Brother

[from bOINGbOING:]

The Senate has voted to put the brakes on Total Information Awareness and the Dread Real Admiral Poindexter’s plan to spy on every American just in case someone does something suspicious. This is great news, and now we just need to make sure that the objections raised by the Senate stick.

By a voice vote, the Senate voted to ban funding for the Total Information Awareness program, under former national security adviser John Poindexter, until the Pentagon explains the program and assesses its impact on civil liberties.

Wow, actually stopping for a moment to consider American’s civil liberties? I’m shocked. How very non-post-911.

The Vultures are circling, waiting.

From Doc Searls weblog: Doc Searls

[]On Behalf Of Ivan Hoffman Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:42 AM
Subject: [cbp] ELDRED DECISION

Dear All:

As many of you by now no doubt have heard, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. Read “When Do Copyrights Expire?” on my site. Click on “Articles for Writers and Publishers.”

If you create or own copyright rights in intellectual property, then this decision is very much in your interest. Intellectual property is today’s means of production and the source of wealth in the world today. You just have to look at the top 10 richest people in the world to see that. A hundred years ago, the source of wealth might have been steel mills etc. Later, the source of wealth might have been real estate and the like. Today, the source of wealth is IP. Ownership of IP rights is essential if your goal is to be successful and wealthy. That is the reason I constantly stress the need to “own everything.”

All your dealings, all your contracts etc. should be with the view toward owning everything. You should also spend some time on my site on the link “Articles About Being an Entrepreneur.” And on that latter link, read “The Do It Yourself Publishing Lawyer,” “What Business Are You In?”, “Set To Fail” and “The Need for Vision” on my site. Click on “Articles About Being an Entrepreneur.”

Attorney at Law
Lawyering With Integrity
Internet Law, Publishing Law, Copyrights,
Trademarks, Fine Art Law,
Corporate Training and Online Education Law,
Web Design Law, Music Law.
*A 7 Times Award Winning Site.*

SERIOUS Product Placement

We consumers may have shot ourselves in the foot with the whole skip-through-the-commercials via PVRs thing. According to a piece in Friday’s NYTimes, advertisers, nervous over loss of eyeballs, are planning on putting the commercials right inside your fave TV shows. They’re floating a test balloon on the concept over at the WB (natch). It’ll be a weekly variety show aimed at a youth audience. Ads will appear on stage with singers and sponsored products will be worked into comedy bits.

Interestingly enough, this is TV coming full circle. The Ted Mack Amateur Hour (and other variety and game shows) used to do such things at the dawn of television. But then, working in blatant product advertising into the middle of a police drama or sitcom. THAT’S new. Wonder how they’ll handle it in sci-fi? “Look Captain, we’ve just uncovered an ancient Terran artifact. According to its markings, its a ‘Midas Muffler.’ I bet early 21st century Earthlings didn’t have to pay a lot for this.”

This is Your Freedom on Drugs

Tonight on NBC Nightly News, John Seigenthaler delivered the following news item without any further information or comment. This is basically verbatim:

“For the first time ever, Americans traveling outside the country will be required to provide details of their trip which will be checked against security databases.”

What the f**k does THAT mean? What security databases? How much detail? Checked for what? And by whom?

And how can something so completely Big Brother-esque be reported with a straight face, without any more information or further reporting?

Did Someone Say: “Slippery Slope?”

Paul Boutin has a piece on today’s Wired News about how cyber-security consultants to the Bush administration have identified open Wi-Fi networks as a possible terrorist/national security threat and that all such nets will need to be closed for our own protection. Sigh.

All I want for Christmas is a membership in the EFF and the ACLU.

“1984” Two Decades Off?

I knew that the ’80s were back in a big way, but who knew that 1984 (in the Orwellian sense) would be among the “retro” trends. “Total Information Awareness,” people, Big Brother by any other name, is HERE, or will be soon. Chris Matthews, on Jay Leno last night, said (giggling): “When you go to the video store to rent a film, you better make sure that it’s a film you’d show your grandmother.” What’s shockingly un-American about this picture? I’m ashamed and horrified for my country — and for all those freakin’ couch potatoes who don’t vote, don’t raise their voices, are more interested in who The Bachelor’s gonna pick than who’s gutting their civil liberties. Time to shore up the ol’ crypto.

Here’s a quote from a John Gilmore piece on the subject (via bOINGbOING):

The US government’s moves to impose totalitarian control in the last year (secret trials, enemies lists, massive domestic surveillance) are what some of the more paranoid among us have been expecting for years. I was particularly amused by last week’s comments from the Administration that it’ll be too hard to retrain the moral FBI agents who are so careful of our civil rights — so we’ll need a new domestic-spying agency that will have no compunctions about violating our civil rights and wasting our money by spying on innocent people…

Now’s a great time to deploy good working encryption, everywhere you can. Next month or next year may be too late. And even honest ISPs, banks, airlines (hah), etc, may be forced by law or by secret pressure to act as government spies. Make your security work end-to-end.

Those Crazy Canadians!

While I’m not Canadian, there are many things I’ve always respected about our neighbor to the north (or, as I like to call them, the 51st state) — they have a good human rights record, a good attitude about guns (see Michael Moore’s new film Bowling for Columbine) and they make a mean Cafe au Lait. But some things are not as good up there as down here in the good ol’ US of A, and here’s one example; the Copyright Board of Canada has proposed a tax on recordable media that would add $0.021 on every megabyte worth of digital media. That means $21 per gigabyte on hard-drive based MP3 players, and for something like the Lyra Jukebox, the tax alone would be $400 or more. Now, sure, that’s just those Canadian Dollars, not US Greenbacks, but that’s still alot of scratch to be paying the feds, even if they pay for your healthcare. Read the proposal at The Copyright Board (pdf).