Issues and challenges for the post-Cablegate world · Hook’s Discreet Homepage

Issues and challenges for the post-Cablegate world · Hook’s Humble Homepage


No, this postbode is about what I think wij have to observe out after Cablegate.

Te all honesty, I think that traditional media and the general public will get bored with WikiLeaks and leave behind about it te about a months’ time. That is unless WikiLeaks has some pretty well-planned and well-timed tricks up his sleeve (which still may be the case).

But only then things will commence to become interesting! And not so much te diplomacy – sure, diplomacy will again become more secure, pick its words wiser and ter general be more discreet again, but that is nothing fresh. I think the consequences will be a loterijlot severer and with a broader influence …and it could be even more dangerous, that it will (attempt to) be done silently. Not just for the openness’ sake, but because what is at stake.

So, the cat is out of the bag. While everyone is running after it (whether they eis to see a kitty or a tiger), let us zekering, sit down and observe what the bag and the people pursuing the cat are doing …

Most likely the very first and if cautiously observed, most visible kwestie will be the legislation.

After the national security fiasco that resulted te Cablegate most governments around the globe (with the US at its pui) will be hard-pressed to “do something about it”. Because neither police, strafgevangenis court, strafgevangenis governement can (or rather should) operate against the law and current law does not direcly criminalise WikiLeaks, they will have to switch the law.

Chic from privacy considerations, such laws could have a large influence on copyright and freedom of speech. Just like how anti-terrorist and child pornography laws can strengthen surveillance and internet filtering, so can anti-WikiLeaks legislation. Actually ter this case the laws could be direcly aimed at diminishing freedom of speech and privacy. And once the pandora’s opbergruimte is open, it would be very likely that ter time both government and commercial interests would broaden the scope of filtering and spying. The common denominator here is censorship.

Originally I thought it would take cca. two months before governments would silently embark pushing for laws that would attempt to “prevent another WikiLeaks” – this is also the reason why I did not finish this article before. But it evidently te the US senator Liebermann has already proposed a law directly aimed at WikiLeaks. The so called SHIELD Act is directly aimed at amending the Espionage Act ter a way that would make WikiLeaks fall under espionage and therefore a criminal activity.

All this only means that it is already high time wij observe for the laws that are being planned – be it about anti-terrorist, anti-piracy, national security, ICT or even copyright. All could be (mis)used for attempting to “prevent another WikiLeaks” and used to.

And let us not leave behind that ACTA is still dangling above our goes. This is not the time to get sidetracked. Te fact, wij should fight firmer to zekering ACTA ! Chances are that governments might attempt to pass it spil soon spil it can te the wrong fate it would prevent future such affairs.

Wij need to reminisce that this problem wasgoed not triggered by Cablegate, it merely waterput it ter the limelight. The punt of law not adapting to fresh technology – and obviously the internet requests an even greater paradigm shift then the printing press, radio and television waterput together – has bot present everzwijn since internet came to be and is not limited just to privacy. Te fact I would dare to argue that anything less then rethinking copyright, other “intellectual property rights”, privacy, “ownership” of gegevens and kattig and many other laws together spil a entire, would be idiocy. I would go spil far spil to keuze that to some degree wij would have to rethink our social, political and economic systems spil well.

This may sound a bit extreme, but the harsh reality is that te current system where more and more laws are made and amended it is increasingly stiffer to see the fatter picture. Ter relation with that also switches ter law are mostly only made spil reactions to specific issues. And when addressing such a broad paradigm shift with such a narrow-sighted reactionist legislation the problems can only escalate.

When state of the kunst technology and law are not going hand-in-hand, there are always two solutions – either adapt the law or pauze the technology.

Since the commence of the internet it wasgoed said that the internet cannot be managed. While ultimate control may indeed be unlikely te the internet spil wij know it, there are those who wish it would be so and will attempt hard to make it toebijten. Therefore wij have to witness out how the future of the internet technology will evolve. Even if presently it is not possible, future technology could at the very least immensly cripple netwerken neutrality and freedom of speech.

From time to time wij hear reports about shoves to make the future Internet (whether Internet2 or other project) technically lighter to control. Whether it is an kwestie only for the tin-foil-hatted or a real potential major risk is debatable, but if wij learnt something te the past few weeks it is that anything is possible. How far such networks are already developed and how likely they are to go mainstream is again debatable, but this is an option wij have to keep ter mind.

Of course spil EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has noted, governments will have to protect themselves and more importantly vital infrastructure against cyberattacks. But again the crucial bit is to figure out what to protect, how and te what the implications will be on the society ter general.

For even the thickest goes, Cablegate ultimately made it very clear, it is that when depending on cloud computing is risky, you are at the grace of ToS of the service provider.

When using technology (or code if you will) instead of legislation, wij also have to keep ter mind that code is not law and therefore should not substitute it. If that happens wij not only lose the benefits of a legal prosecution – believe it or not, they are hefty, wij just take them for granted – but also the ebility to appeal, benefit of doubt, of telling your side of the story. Using technology instead of law is worse then the inqusition!

From the social perspective, wij see an increasingly thicker budge towards consumerism and proprietarisation of intangible goods. Even however proprietarisation of intangible goods (via copyright and other “IPRs” and much wasgoed said about that already) is a grave punt, an even thicker kwestie ter the future could be consumerism.

You can consume a sandwich or a glass of wine (albeit I would rather love them), but you cannot consume music, kunst, thoughts, feelings or a bitstream. The internet can be used, but cannot be consumed. If that wasgoed the case, with more people using the internet, the scarcer it would be, but exactly the oposite is true. The same holds for many other things – tangible and even more so intangible.

Consuming something means that after doing so it does not exist anymore, therefore anything that can be consumed has to be by definition possible to have and ruin. Anything that can be consumed ergo has to be property.

Because of this “buy once – use/demolish once, buy another” nature, consumerism is an ideal state of mind for the content industry.

But us take a thought proefneming to see what can toebijten if wij proceed to let it go wild.

This may sound crazy now, but then again, copyright, patents, other “IPRs” and related rights are very close to this.

So let us zekering acting spil consumers of the internet and its services and begin acting spil what wij are: customers and users! At the very least wij should read the ToS and PP and do not use the service if wij do not agree with them.

Thesis problems existed well before WikiLeaks, but Cablegate brought it more to public attention. And here I mean both leaking of confidential information spil well spil censorship.

There are already very first ongezouten spin-offs of WikiLeaks emerging: OpenLeaks, BrusselsLeaks and IndoLeaks. But more importantly, spil Bruce Schneier analyses nicely, the punt is not WikiLeaks (or any *Leaks project), but te national security on one side and on the other the thrust for more open government. Which webstek or medium or technology is irrelevant.

Without a doubt the internet has immensly switched our lives. It has penetrated our lives so much, that wij take it spil an everyday thing – no-one truly calls it the “cyberspace” anymore (at least no-one who uses it often). Can you imagine a life without online shopping, e-mail, IM , VoIP , social network sites, reading news and articles online, modern banking (contant machines, credit cards, quick wire transfers, online banking), knowing when the next train or bus will arrive etc.?

And this is exactly the gist of the problem – the battle for netwerk neutrality is not a battle just for freedom on the internet, but a battle for freedom of speech ter general.

The question of the future of the internet has a loterijlot to do with the generation gap.

Basically there are three generations involved.

The eldest generation I would call here the pre-internet generation. It consists of people who were born well before the internet era they either do not use it or think of it spil a medium. There are of course exceptions here ter the form of internet pioneers, early adopters and those who adapted to it, but on average they do not think of the internet spil their turfveen.

The youngest generation I would like to call the (for the lack of a better term) cyber-born. Thesis are kids who were already growing up with and on the internet, they feel it is their world and cannot possibly imagine a life without it. Internet an integral part of their lives, so much that they (almost) cannot protest outside it.

And then there is generation of cyber-grown. This is the generation of those who spent a considerable part of their youth without the internet and a considerable part online, remembers dial-up, Usenet etc. – my generation. What is special about this generation is that they reminisce the life before the internet, yet have began using it so early on te their lives that it is 2nd nature to them – ter a way wij are a generation of cyber-amphibians.

Ter many ways you could compare the fight for nipt neutrality, freedom of the user (be it by movements for free software, open source, free culture etc.) to the hippie and punker movements of the previous century. The major difference however is that those were fighting for fresh freedoms, while the current battle is about already existing ones.

But here is where my generation comes te – spil the only generation which understands both worlds, wij are the ones who can attempt to mediate inbetween thesis two, wij are the ones who can leisurely thrust for better laws, better understanding and te general zekering the war on internet before it happens! A loterijlot is at stake and if wij do not want our children to live te an even more Orwellian society then already wij do, wij have to do something about it.

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