Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wikileaks to Sealand? I’m Dubious.

Sealand
The claim from this not-utterly-reliable source is that WikiLeaks to move servers offshore, maybe to Sealand.

I’m prepared to believe they are scouting for new locations, including maybe something ocean-based (although how you get adequate connectivity, I have to wonder), but I am quite dubious about the claim that they might go to “Sealand” the oil-derrick-based would-be micronation, since HavenCo I hear is basically collapsed. It would be interesting if it happened, though. For a good account of Sealand, see James Grimmelmann, Sealand , HavenCo, and the Rule of Law.

Meanwhile, count me in with the debunkers at Slashdot.

Posted in Law: International Law, Law: Internet Law | Leave a comment

Grrrr

Firefox has a new version out (again, already), FF 10.

But Scrapbook Plus hasn’t been updated for it (yet, once again).

It’s especially annoying that the new version boasts that “Most add-ons are now compatible with new versions of Firefox by default”. Yah, except one of the ones I depend on the most.

OK, I shouldn’t complain. It’s free, excellent, and a great gift to us all from its creator, ” haselnuss”. Thank you sir. Thank you enormously for all your hard work. Now hurry up already.

Posted in Software | Leave a comment

Humorless Border Police. Where Have I Seen That Before?

Twitter news: US bars friends over Twitter joke. Spotted via Slashdot.

US special agents monitoring Twitter spotted Leigh Van Bryan’s messages weeks before he left for a holiday in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged up Leigh as a potential threat when he posted a Twitter message to his pals ahead of his trip to Hollywood.

It read: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America”.

He was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy and said: “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p*ssing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!”

Agents even checked the pair’s cases for SPADES and suspected that Emily was to act as “lookout” while Leigh raided the film beauty’s tomb.

Serious note: I suppose once seized of the information about the first Tweet the decision to detain and question cannot be said to be absurd. The decision to jail and deport on the other hand does seem quite absurd.

And why are we spending the money to monitor all future UK tourists’ tweets? Obviously because we know that terrorists have a propensity to announce their plans on Twitter. In English. Stands to reason, really, given that Twitter is (or was) a tool used by revolutionaries….

Related: DHS’s Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative Update (Jan. 6, 2011)

Image from Negotiation is Over.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Right to Travel | 1 Comment

Why Aren’t Corporation-People Seen as Slaves?

If ‘corporations are people too’ and they can be bought and sold, does that raise a 13th Amendment Issue? Obviously it does not, since it has not, but the inquiry as to why motivates a forthcoming paper by Jack Balkin and Sandy Levinson. See Corporations and the Thirteenth Amendment for more.

It seems almost obligatory to mention the very amusing novel by Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin, The Unincorporated Man, which operates on the premise that society becomes organized on the principle that we are each a legal entity that raises capital by issuing shares in our future revenues — with the accompanying loss of important degrees of control over our fates if we don’t own a majority in ourselves. (One warning: I found the sequel, The Unincorporated War, to be an enormous disappointment. Not sure if I will read the next one.

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | Leave a comment

GOP Consigliere Anticipates Obama Impeachment in 2014

Poltical Animal may have changed hands — Ed Kilgore replaced Steve Benen — but it’s still essential reading. For example, the pointer to this amazing interview of GOP ur-lord Grover Norquist in which Norqist looks ahead happily to the impeachment — yes, impeachment — of President Obama in 2014 if he wins a second term.

Posted in Politics: Impeachments, Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Leave a comment

OWS and the National Conversation

Robert Paul Wolff, now a Grand Old Man, reflects on Occupy Wall Street,

… the Occupy Wall Street Movement has already won, since it has utterly changed the public conversation in America. The brilliant polemical device of defining the fundamtnal issue as a struggle between the 1% and the 99% — a definition that cannot, of course, withstand any sort of serious political and economic analysis — has thrust into the public space the issue of income and wealth inequality and the consequent power inequality. Precisely because the roots of this inequality lie so deeply embedded in the structure of capitalism, no laundry list of manageable reforms can address it. The refusal of the OWS movement to formulate such a list is strategically brilliant, and infuriating to those in Washington who would just like to know "what they want" so that a palliative deal can be struck.

The success of the movement is astonishing when one reflects on how small it is. I may be way off, but it seems to me that nation-wide there cannot have been many more than forty or fifty thousand active OWS participants. Now, this is a nation of roughly 330,000,000, so the movement has involved maybe fifteen one thousandths of one percent of the population. Any Sunday pro football game is probably watched by twice that many people in the stands.

Myself, I don’t think OWS has yet won quite as much as this suggests. OWS has moved the Overton window, but I think our national conversation on wealth and inequality is still not back to where it was in, say, the Great Society days. As of yet, there’s no sign taxes will regain the progressivity they had under Nixon or Reagan, not to mention Eisenhower.

Posted in 99% | Leave a comment

A Different View of the New Google Privacy Policies

I thought this post on the Google privacy changes by the uber libertarian technophile Technology Liberation Front was interesting, given that so much of what one reads is of the TIME TO FREAK OUT variety.

Key bits:

Although we have yet to see it play out in practice, this likely means that if you use Google services, the videos you play on YouTube may automatically be posted to your Google+ page. If you’ve logged an appointment in your Google calendar, Google may correlate the appointment time with your current location and local traffic conditions and send you an email advising you that you risk being late.

At the same time, if you’ve called in sick with the intention of going fishing, that visit to the nearby state park might show up your Google+ page, too.

The policy, however, will not include Google’s search engine, Google’s Chrome web browser, Google Wallet or Google Books.

arguable is the operative word. There indeed may be enough significant user backlash that Google backs off. In the last six months we’ve seen at least two instances of rapid market correction–Netflix’s decision not to go through with structurally separating mail and online video rental accounts and Bank of America’s reversal of its plan to charge online banking fees. Both occurred before the government could step in a provide its own (and no doubt clumsy) remedy.

Then again, there’s a significant body of research that suggests that, in spite of their own complaints, users may opt to accept greater benefits and convenience in exchange for more disclosure about their habits. With this mind, it will serve consumers best if companies like Google are allowed to experiment with the privacy paradox to find where actual boundaries are, rather than hamstringing potential innovation by pre-emptively and blindly setting them.

Posted in Internet, Law: Privacy | Leave a comment