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We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the emptiness of the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
- Zachary Wolff, Twitter: To log or not to log: Is that the question? via the dialog
Wolff goes on to discuss the #NOLOGS policy being promoted by WikiLeaks and other groups concerned with publicy. I can’t say this is a concern for privacy since twitter messages are in general public.
MY bet is that #NOLOGS wont’ work, simply because there are so many organizations that are logging tweets through different means. It’s not just a matter of convincing the folks at Twitter to not log your tweets. If I can read them, for example, can’t I log them on my hard drive?
Birgitta Jonsdottir via The Guardian
Many of us who use the internet – be it to write emails, work or browse its growing landscape: mining for information, connecting with others or using it to organise ourselves in various groups of the like-minded – are not aware of that our behavior online is being monitored. Profiling has become a default with companies such as Google and Facebook. These companies have huge databases recording our every move within their environment, in order to groom advertising to our interests. For them, we are only consumers to push goods at, in order to sell ads through an increasingly sophisticated business model. For them, we are not regarded as citizens with civic rights.
This notion needs to change. No one really knew where we were heading a few years ago: neither we the users, nor the companies harvesting our personal information for profit. Very few of us imagined that governments that claim to be democratic would invade our online privacy with no regard to the fundamental rights we are supposed to have in the real world. We might look to China and other stereotypical totalitarian states and expect them to violate the free flow of information and our digital privacy, but not – surely? – our very own democratically elected governments.
What I have learned about my lack of rights in the last few months is of concern for everyone who uses the internet and calls for actions to raise people’s awareness about their legal rights and ways to improve legal guidelines about digital media, be it locally or globally. The problem – and the dilemma we are facing – is that there are no proper standards, no basic laws in place that deal with the fundamental question: are we to be treated as consumers or citizens online? There is no international charter that says we should have the same civic rights as we have in the offline world.
Jonsdottir goes on to make the obvious but chilling observation: if the web is controlled only by the user agreements we have with private companies, and not by the laws of our democratic governments, we are all at risk and our freedoms are abridged.
The problem lies not just in the possible conflict of interest we might have — do have — with Facebook and Google, but the unwillingness of governments to extend the rights we have fought for in the world into the web. The problem is that our governments don’t want to find solidarity with us: they want power to control us.
You can make a case that Wikileaks poses a real danger to the US government, and it is an edge case. But I believe that the US should still have to go through the courts to obtain search warrants even in cases like these.
The policies of the US government is one of the many reasons that changing the food system is incredibly hard. Here, newly leaked cables show that US officials have been working on behalf of US-based agribusiness to promote genetically engineered foods.
I am not afraid of frankenfoods becuase they are genetically engineered, per se. What I oppose is the creation of foods that are tailored to work in combination with other chemicals, like Monsanto’s RoundUp, or where tailored strains are introduced under patent, so farmers cannot grow and retain seeds. An behind all the monoculturism is the loss of landraces: strains of plants that have adapted to local conditions over millenia, but do not offer the profits that genetically engineered ones do.