Re: EFF Defends Liberties in High-Tech World

Anick Jesdanun wrote:

>> Today, after expanding into such areas as intellectual property and >> moving its headquarters twice along with its focus, the EFF is >> re-emphasizing its roots of trying to limit government surveillance of >> electronic communications, while keeping a lookout for emerging >> threats even as the Internet and digital technologies become >> mainstream. > As a citizen, I have mixed feelings about the work of both the ACLU > and EFF. > We must remember that Constitutional and legal rights are relative. > My right to do something might impact your rights of protection. In > short, we don't have the "free speech right" to yell fire in a crowded > theatre and there are many examples of that. > When it comes to gray areas of rights, I think the public interest > must be carefully considered. I value my privacy and naturally and I > don't want the govt listening in to my telephone calls or Internet > activity. But on the other hand, I don't want terrorists blowing up a > building or transport that I or my loved ones happen to be in. > During WW II the U.S. Government locked up Japanese-Americans in > California out of fear for sabotage and espionage. In hindsight most > see that as a big mistake, because those people were loyal Americans > (and many were citizens) and because the lockup was motiviated for > selfish reasons -- other California farmers disliked the Japanese and > wanted to get rid of them. > However, Japanese in Hawaii -- who ironically were not interned -- had > supplied vital information to Japan that assisted with the Pearl > Harbor attack. > In the newsgroup, many people cite EFF concernrs for new > security controls in entertainment media and are very upset about such > new controls. In reading the comments, it seems to be they're upset > since they won't be able to copy freely anymore rather than the > controls themselves. I don't like controls either but I can > understand the desire of the entertainment industry to stop the > massive piracy that is going on and stealing legitimate revenue from > them. (That people dislike the industry is not a valid reason to deny > them revenue by illegal piracy.) > I frankly don't know what the balance should be. It's a tough > decision. The U.S. and other countries DO have bitter enemies out to > murder us; that's a fact. Our very open country allows enemies to > come in easily or even be home grown. Now, I don't want school > officials reading every kid's personal email and diary to see if > another Columbine is in the making, but I don't want another Columbine > either. I don't want the Feds reading our remails, but I don't want > another 9/11 either. > [public replies please]

The use of external threat to destroy internal freedom is not new to our time. My favorite quote on the subject is:

"Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

- Hermann Goering, Nazi Reich Marshall

I dare to hope that in a democracy Goering may yet be proven wrong. It is the freedom of the press that prevents our leaders from concealing their excesses from us. Now we must use our votes to make ourselves heard while we yet can. Spain under Franco and Argentina under Pinochet were reportedly both rather safe places for anyone who kept their mouth shut about politics.

Tom Horne

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin

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Thomas Daniel Horne
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