web analytics

Protecting our Freedom

Written By: - Date published: 1:27 pm, January 19th, 2015 - 7 comments
Categories: internet, uk politics - Tags: , ,

So I’ve been at an open source (programming) conference last week.  Lots of learning, it’s been great.

But my best lecture was a key-note speech from Columbian University Law Prof Eben Moglen.

He was looking at the future of the internet, and whether society’s nervous system is working for the data-miners or the people.

And from David Cameron’s comments last Monday it’s clear which side the UK PM’s on.  Fortunately his coalition partners are giving him short shrift, because he’s clearly missing something when he says he’s defending freedom with such thoughts as: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we [the British government] cannot read?”

Yup, he wants the UK government to be monitoring all communication.

That terrifies me.  Fortunately even the right-wing Spectator newspaper was calling him out on it, saying it would make UK like Russia and China.

And there was great irony in the leaked release of a secret report from UK/US cybersecurity agencies on Friday saying that the West was vulnerable because of a lack of the encryption that David Cameron wants rid of.  Our networks are too open to attack from China, Russia and criminals.  We need more encryption and secure messaging, not less.

Eben Moglen pointed out that 75 years ago we sacrificed 10s of millions of lives to prevent us having to live in a state that monitored everything we do and say – we called that totalitarianism.  We’re not calling for that now, although some hackers have paid the ultimate price in some countries and Edward Snowden is in exile.  Rather, we need to stand up to our governments, and the likes of the programmers he was talking to need to make sure they build the tools to keep us safe from surveillance.  We should not sell out our privacy to the likes of facebook for convenience, nor should we give it up to the NSA and GCSB to combat “terror”.

Yes, bad people will use freedom to do bad things – they always have.  But the number of people killed by atrocities per capita is probably the lowest it’s ever been – even if we hear much more about the 2000 dead in Nigeria or 17 dead in France (in disproportionate amounts) or the latest US drone attack.

And most of the acts of terror aren’t planned on the internet – ISIS and Boko Haram can just talk between their commanders in their own territory, and the western violence has been by lone wolves or brothers who’ll be talking offline.  So why spy on everyone else, and why insist that all of us are unprotected from criminals or hostile governments?

While I was hearing on the radio the oxymoron that “terror [definition: extreme fear] is our greatest fear”, it’s not logical to give into it and give away our freedoms and rights to somehow “combat” it.

Lose those freedoms and it will be very hard to get it back.

As Anthony’s found street art had it: Future generations will not forgive your apathy.

7 comments on “Protecting our Freedom ”

  1. lprent 1

    I thought that Cameron was being a complete idiot when he said that. We definitely need more encryption, not less.

    As this initiative states

    Ideally, every time you visit a website, that connection should happen over a secure HTTPS connection so nobody can snoop on your surfing habits when you are using a public network at a coffee shop or at the airport. But in reality, most smaller websites don’t offer these kind of secure connections because getting the kind of digital public-key certificate that makes HTTPS connections work involves a rather annoying and manual process. They also typically don’t come cheap.

    It doesn’t have to be like that, though. Starting soon, Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust and researchers at the University of Michigan are working through the Internet Security Research Group to create a new certificate authority to offer these digital certificates for free to anybody who owns a web domain. The “Let’s Encrypt” group will launch this service next summer.

    Currently, the EFF writes today, “HTTPS (and other uses of TLS/SSL) is dependent on a horrifyingly complex and often structurally dysfunctional bureaucracy for authentication.”

    The Let’s Encrypt project aims to make getting certificates not just free, but also as easy as possible.

    We actually have a certificate for this site. However it was something that I didn’t transfer across when I did the server shuffle on Dec 17th.

    I’m considering changing the site to be https only because that is a whole lot easier than having it part http and part https. I just have to test the loadings first.

    • Murray Rawshark 1.1

      At least some Swiss financial institutions have been using quantum encryption for years now. I think it’s probably still very expensive, but it is safe.

  2. aerobubble 2

    Since the state collects all information, its impertive that we use encryption, but this makes the ability of the state to protect nullified. Rather needs a compromise. That we all use different degrees of encryption intensity, since they only really need the meta data. So if we all use softer, deencryptable in a reasonable time, then terrorists would select the heavy encryption and so stick out…
    …oh… …that wont work because terrorists would ue one time pads.

    No, even meta data collection is too authoritarian, since itx like the poll tax on steroids, they know where you are, who you know, etc, and so can tax you immediately, change traffic lights, delay you train, push a document into the hands of a job interviwer.

    No the problem is the secrecy, if we knew who was watching us, and we had recipical access then it would be easier. i.e hire spies that are willing to be watch by thegeneral pubic 23/7 and let them access our meta data in private, thus you have the trust.

    • Murray Rawshark 2.1

      If you don’t use the best encryption you can get, you run the risk of having your bank account emptied, among other things. There are other ways to catch criminals besides the Stasi approach. Law enforcement is often just bloody lazy.

  3. BassGuy 3

    I was talking about this with friends at work today, and the question came up “What can we do?”

    I’m of the opinion that technical solutions are only short term solutions, encrypted email, SMS, https, and so forth, until the law is changed to stop us using encryption.

    Simply writing to our MPs and various representatives won’t help much, either, if I am to judge by borderline hysteria that was “the Internet is Skynet.” We need something more effective. But what?

    The parties in favour of banning encryption already have the ear of the Prime Minister and our elected representatives, and they’ll put forward the usual “Won’t somebody think of the children?” arguments. “We won’t find the terrorists if they have encryption! We won’t get convictions if bad guys encrypt their hard drives and phones!”

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s just too bad. Security services need to do their jobs, not rely on making the rest of us weaker so they only need to grep a chat log while sitting in an air conditioned office.

    Is there anything that can we do to keep ourselves from falling into this lazy spy’s totalitarian trap?

  4. tracey 4

    Cameron gets more criticised than Key… Yet they say the same things.

    • adam 4.1

      I’m glad you said that Tracey – I thought I was going a bit nuts thinking the same thing.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Environment Court Judge appointed
    Prudence Steven QC, barrister of Christchurch has been appointed as an Environment Judge and District Court Judge to serve in Christchurch, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Steven has been a barrister sole since 2008, practising in resource management and local government / public law.    She was appointed a Queen’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Government moves on climate promises
    The Government is delivering on its first tranche of election promises to take action on climate change with a raft of measures that will help meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target, create new jobs and boost innovation. “This will be an ongoing area of action but we are moving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Jump starting research careers
    The Government is investing up to $10 million to support 30 of the country’s top early-career researchers to develop their research skills. “The pandemic has had widespread impacts across the science system, including the research workforce. After completing their PhD, researchers often travel overseas to gain experience but in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Project protects jobs and nature
    A Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19 Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “This $500,000 project will save ten local jobs by deploying workers from Discover Waitomo into nature-based jobs. They will be undertaking local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Minister Shaw speaks with U.S. Presidential Envoy John Kerry
    Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw spoke yesterday with President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Kerry this morning about the urgency with which our governments must confront the climate emergency. I am grateful to him and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today announced three diplomatic appointments: Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai   Poland “New Zealand’s relationship with Poland is built on enduring personal, economic and historical connections. Poland is also an important ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Major redevelopment of Wainuiomata High School underway
    Work begins today at Wainuiomata High School to ensure buildings and teaching spaces are fit for purpose, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Minister joined principal Janette Melrose and board chair Lynda Koia to kick off demolition for the project, which is worth close to $40 million, as the site ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New expert group appointed to advise Government on Oranga Tamariki
    A skilled and experienced group of people have been named as the newly established Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board by Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis today. The Board will provide independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki: relationships with families, whānau, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihōpai Rūnaka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago