John Gilmore explains why spying for "the right reasons" is still wrong


#1

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#2

Innocent citizens go to prison all the time, from neighborhood
blacks to medical marijuana gardeners to Tommy Chong and Martha
Stewart

Civil rights and drug stuff (which I suppose falls under that civil rights banner) I expect the EFF to support. But I'm a little confused where its interest is in defending insider trading.

Does it think Stewart was set up, or just has some fundamental objection, like "any investment, throwing your support behind a company, is a type of speech, and should be protected?"


#3
Find me a senior federal official anywhere who has ever lost their job over major malfeasance like wiretapping, torture, kidnapping, indefinite imprisonment, assassination, or malicious use of power

That just goes to show how honest and trustworthy the US government is. [/sarcasm]


#4

Was it insider trading that she was jailed for or a subsequent cover-up, I can't recall, and I know I could search, but I shan't.


#5

Yeah, I think you're on the right track. Looked her up, and apparently she was only busted for lying to the feds.

So, same question, different deets: the EFF thinks making false statements to government agents shouldn't be a crime?

I'm a big EFF fan, just a little confused why Gilmore has Stewart ready to pull out of his "great injustices" folder.


#6

Spying has risks and benefits. Spying on Syria to figure out how much sarin they produced: low risk, high reward. Spying on 300 million Americans: high risk, low reward. When risk is discounted entirely, then of course all spying seems to make sense to those doing the spying.


#7

Gilmore's stance, just like his position on open relays, is a classic ivory tower proclamation unlikely to change behavior in the trenches.

Spying on potential enemies outside your legal and economic control is appropriate and responsible statecraft that can (and has) saved millions of lives, and things more important than lives, as Master Sun pointed out over 2000 years ago. Spying on your citizenry is a different matter... that should be done by elderly neighborhood busybodies, and not by the state.


#8

I've been kind of hoping to see something like Roger Barkan's article in defense of the NSA. It doesn't really change my opinion about the NSA in general, but it's useful to remember that the majority of NSA employees are not mustache-twirlingly evil and really do believe that what they're doing is right.

Hell, it's a huge organization, and one that keeps secrets by definition. Maybe John Gilmore Roger Barkan's particular corner of the NSA actually is run in a conscientious, respectful fashion. The people doing the shady stuff aren't going to let the rank and file know what they're up to if they can avoid it, and the system is set up to make it easy for them to avoid it.


#9

I've been kind of hoping to see something like this. It doesn't really change my opinion about the NSA in general, but it's useful to remember that the majority of NSA employees are not mustache-twirlingly evil and really do believe that what they're doing is right.Hell, it's a huge organization, and one that keeps secrets by definition. Maybe John Gilmore's particular corner of the NSA actually is run in a conscientious, respectful fashion.

I'm perplexed by your comment. On the one hand it seems like you believe that Gilmore works for the NSA. On the other hand, it's completely obvious that he doesn't and I have no idea how you could possibly think that after reading his post.


#10

Dissemination of radical technologies will increase exponentially. The only way to stop people from making death weapons, in the long run, is through radical transparency. I think its good to fight for privacy in the short run, but eventually we will all ask for it to protect ourselves. The better fight is FOR FREEDOM, not against surveillance. Freedom to do sex and drugs is what 99% of people want to hide.


#11

I have to disagree. I feel that an important freedom is privacy. And that has nothing to do with drugs and/or sex, specifically. When I vote, there is a curtain for a reason. I don't have to divulge what side I am on. When I complain about policies to family, firends, whomever, the government shouldn't have access to that. It is way too easy to stifle organized protests and to dig up dirt and make life difficult for someone who dissents.

Further, I'd rather have more money and energy directed towards things that harm people on a daily basis. What about actually staffing the FDA? What about actually financing decent healthcare. Yes, it is scarey to think that you can be harmed or killed by terrorism, but statistically, that is much less likely to hurt you than bad food, harmful chemicals and not being able to afford adequate medical services.

Further, the people who spy are just that, people. The spies are no more highly evolved than the rest of the schlubs. The more people who are involved, the more likely you will see thieves, deranged individuals out for revenge or mentally unstable people who have access to sensitive data.

I would like to receive packages from Amazon, or where ever else I feel like shopping, without having the grubby hands of carriers or the government on my products. Another hand on something is one more chance for that item to be tampered with.

That terrorizes me more than the thought of attacks in my life on a daily ordinary basis.


#12

Even organizations that are inherently evil have components of people who are not. Look at the Nazis. Not everyone is Germany had the rancid thoughts and ideology of leaders, but that doesn't mean that by having some people who aren't terrible that the evil is somehow abated or canceled out.


#13

Absolutely correct. Privacy is an important freedom, for its own sake. Given a choice between cameras watching my every move when I walk down the street, ostensibly to deter or catch the mugger who could possibly accost me, and freely walking down the street unobserved...I prefer the latter choice.


#14

Hey! You get a curtain!?


#15

Mexican migrant workers? Does he actually mean ILLEGAL ALIENS? Because if so than yeah they should be found and deported because they're CRIMINALS! Martha Stewart...is a criminal. So what's John trying to say here? That certain criminals and crimes are ok, but only he's qualified to decide what they are? Hey everyone let's just pick and choose what laws we want to follow and which ones we don't. I'm sure that'll work out well for society. Think I'm gonna' go out and rob a bank because I don't think armed robbery laws should apply to me.


#16

I seem to be linking Milgram a lot. OK, I'll give it a rest for a while.


#17

You should listen to the Radiolab episode that discusses the Milgram experiment and its misinterpretation: http://www.radiolab.org/story/180092-the-bad-show/


#18

Sorry, I meant to say Roger Barkan, the NSA mathematician whose article Gilmore was responding to. I've edited my original post to reflect that, and make it clearer which article I was talking about.


#19

Certainly. I'm not defending the NSA at all. I just think that it's important to understand the motivations of the enemy's rank and file as well as their leaders.


#20

I'll give it a shot, thanks!

Edit 2013-11-11: Finally got the time to listen & agree it was worth it; thanks again! I thought the idea that "everybody gets Milgram's results wrong" was a bit overstated, but the show overall was a good piece to get people thinking more clearly about it.