Law in the Internet Society

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TWikiGuestSecondEssay 13 - 08 Dec 2019 - Main.SalmanAlmutawa
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On Freedom of Thought
 
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Is the idea of 'smart city' really smart?

-- By JayTongkak - 6 December 2019
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Before taking Professor Moglen’s course, I paid very little attention to my own digital footprint. I wasn’t doing anything criminal – I thought to myself – and so I had nothing to worry about. It did not occur to me what disturbing assumption went into the making of that statement. Namely, that it was Okay for my thoughts to be monitored, for I was a good citizen after all. What if, and only what if, one day I seized to be a good citizen in the eyes of the state? What, then?
 
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The creepy virtual doppelganger

As if the idea of 'smart' phone is not intrusive enough. During my thanksgiving weekend, I was watching an episode of Black Mirror called White Christmas. One little aspect in this episode that piqued my interest was the idea of smart home devices. The show symbolize the idea of data in smart cities that by inputing data in these devices, we create another artificial intelligence version of us and lock him/her up in the device, in order to best response to the needs of each individuals. That idea really creeps me out. It is true that in order to receive more convenience in each services, we need to give out more of our information. For example, for faster checkouts, we rely on the merchants to keep financial data. For the accuracy of the map application, we allow our geolocation to be traced and stored all the time. Our phones keep all the logs of our online activities. The phone knows where we often go during the weekend, what we usually order for takeouts, how often do we access different kinds of website. It really creates another virtual doppelganger version of us. Another solid and horrifying example would be Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant that is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. With the rise of popularity of Internet of Thing devices, our clones of us will be everywhere and can be viewed by everyone at this point.
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The Brits left my home country of Bahrain in 1971, only to be replaced by the Americans that same year. They operate a 7,000-man-strong Navy Base in a corner of Manama we’ve come to call American Alley. At school, my teachers were called Mrs. Ellsbury and Mr. Sipp. They taught me English and I’m sure they’d be happy to know that I made it to Columbia Law School. But what are they all doing in my country?
 
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How 'Smart' city is not smart

On top of that, I remember reading some articles on smart cities initiatives in Canada. The city was called Quayside, “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.” The idea was heavily criticized in the data privacy aspects both in the previous article and this one. In the light of Black Mirror and how my daily activities are stored on my phone, I feel uncomfortable about our society moving towards the idea of 'Smart' City. On a citizen perspective, it seems like a brilliant idea that we will get to live in a high-technology atmosphere where everything around us is automatic and responsive to our needs. On another hand, the idea of giving our identity and activity logs to a broader scale, to an entire city, rather than just our daily routines on the phone, is quite terrifying. All of our activities, indoor or outdoor, would be monitored and recorded. This idea also reminds me of the utopia in 1984 book/movie. The concept of being watched and monitored all day everyday seems to outweigh the little conveniences that come with the smart cities.
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Bahrain grew rich on oil with its discovery in 1931. But for decades, many of the locals complained of discrimination, high unemployment and inadequate housing. The year 2011 marked a year of significant political unrest in the country as protestors gathered in the historical Pearl Roundabout to demand greater political freedoms and economic justice. My classmate Zahra lost her father who was tortured to death in one of Bahrain’s prisons for his work in the demonstrations. Another classmate Sara didn’t see her father for 5 years as he was sent to jail for treating the wounds of injured protestors. What if, and only what if, one day I seized to be a good citizen in the eyes of the state? What, then?
 
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History will repeat itself

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That the struggle for justice to persons is a prerequisite to the freedom of thought ought to be self-evident. As Professor Moglen writes, “Because the recognition of individual possibility, to allow each to be what she and he can be, rests inherently upon the availability of knowledge; the perpetuation of ignorance is the beginning of slavery.”
 
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After decades of trusting all these tech companies with our data stored in the phone, we have seen too many incidents that prove that it is not a really smart idea to trust them. The first question to ask about smart city is not what benefits we will get from it, but rather, what we will lose. Who will get the hold of smart city data? How our data will be managed? It is even possible to opt-in or opt-out at that point? The impact of data breach will be even greater and wider because data of everyone in the city would be collected and affected. They would have no choice to chose not to use the device. Is the option for those wanting to opt-out not going out in the city at all or moving back to live in the woods? It is ironic how the idea of smart city wanting to establish inclusive society turns out to be exclusive society instead.Not to mention how valuable these data would be to the business companies. The selling of data would be even more complicated and troublesome.The data breach will still keep happening as long as there is value in these data. It seems like we have not learned from any of these data breach incidents but rather choose to move backwards instead. With the idea of smart city, so many law would become obsolete, the police would no longer care about search warrant under the Fourth Amendment because they can access to all information of us without even us knowing. The privacy laws would become meaningless. The FTC would not be able to prohibit against misrepresentation or deceptive practices at that point because we have not been informed of any privacy policy to begin with. Introducing smart city idea now while we are struggling to tackle with privacy issues at hands does not seem like a good idea. If anything, the plan should be carefully laid out even more to ensure that we will not face the same problems. Otherwise, the whole world will become a surveillance state like China.
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I have never written on this subject before, and I have always avoided talking about it. Maybe because I was too afraid to have an opinion of my own. But if I have to admit, having an opinion makes me feel alive. And my opinion is this: maybe one day my worldview will not be so aligned with that of the state. What, then?
 
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You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:
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I slowly began to regain my online privacy in the forms of anonymity, secrecy, and subsequently my autonomy. Google was the first to go. I switched completely to DuckDuckGo? , for it doesn’t track user activity and isn’t in the business of selling information to third parties. I deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. As the Cambridge Analytica whistle-blowers told us, these platforms maintain records of what you like, who your friends are, and even your very private conversations with others. They then sell that information to third parties with the intention of understanding how you think in ways that you yourself are not aware of.
 
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I still surf the internet, of course, and make use of its useful resources like Project Gutenberg and the Open Library. However, I do so more carefully. I operate a proxy server through Columbia’s computers such that my internet activity goes through Columbia before reaching a designated website and back. This way, the website can only see Columbia’s IP address rather than my own, thereby maintaining my anonymity online so far as possible.
 
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I do this not because I have anything to hide, but simply for the sake of being free to think as I please and do as I please so long I am hurting nobody in the process. Thus, the need to maintain privacy online, as I see it, is for three primary reasons. One, to not be persecuted for having a view which does not conform to that which the people in power possess. Two, to be able to actually form views of my own as opposed to being fed what is right and what is wrong and having my views formed thereunder. And three, simply for the sake of freedom of thought, for it is the most liberating of all the freedoms. As the famous song went, Die Gedanken sind frei; thoughts are free.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 12 - 07 Dec 2019 - Main.JayTongkak
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Internet and its effects on freedom of speech

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Is the idea of 'smart city' really smart?

 -- By JayTongkak - 6 December 2019
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The creepy virtual doppelganger

As if the idea of 'smart' phone is not intrusive enough. During my thanksgiving weekend, I was watching an episode of Black Mirror called White Christmas. One little aspect in this episode that piqued my interest was the idea of smart home devices. The show symbolize the idea of data in smart cities that by inputing data in these devices, we create another artificial intelligence version of us and lock him/her up in the device, in order to best response to the needs of each individuals. That idea really creeps me out. It is true that in order to receive more convenience in each services, we need to give out more of our information. For example, for faster checkouts, we rely on the merchants to keep financial data. For the accuracy of the map application, we allow our geolocation to be traced and stored all the time. Our phones keep all the logs of our online activities. The phone knows where we often go during the weekend, what we usually order for takeouts, how often do we access different kinds of website. It really creates another virtual doppelganger version of us. Another solid and horrifying example would be Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant that is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. With the rise of popularity of Internet of Thing devices, our clones of us will be everywhere and can be viewed by everyone at this point.
 
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Is the idea of 'smart city' really smart?

The creepy doppelganger

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How 'Smart' city is not smart

 
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During my thanksgiving weekend, I was watching an episode of Black Mirror called White Christmas. One little aspect in this episode that piqued my interest was the idea of smart home devices. The show symbolize the idea of data in smart cities that by inputing data in these devices, we create another artificial intelligence version of us and lock him/her up in the device, in order to best response to the needs of each individuals. That idea really creeps me out. It is true that in order to receive more convenience in each services, we need to give out more of our information. For example, for faster checkouts, we rely on the merchants to keep financial data. For the accuracy of the map application, we allow our geolocation to be traced and stored all the time. Our phones keep all the logs of our online activities. The phone knows where we often go during the weekend, what we usually order for takeouts, how often do we access different kinds of website. It really creates another virtual doppelganger version of us.
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On top of that, I remember reading some articles on smart cities initiatives in Canada. The city was called Quayside, “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.” The idea was heavily criticized in the data privacy aspects both in the previous article and this one. In the light of Black Mirror and how my daily activities are stored on my phone, I feel uncomfortable about our society moving towards the idea of 'Smart' City. On a citizen perspective, it seems like a brilliant idea that we will get to live in a high-technology atmosphere where everything around us is automatic and responsive to our needs. On another hand, the idea of giving our identity and activity logs to a broader scale, to an entire city, rather than just our daily routines on the phone, is quite terrifying. All of our activities, indoor or outdoor, would be monitored and recorded. This idea also reminds me of the utopia in 1984 book/movie. The concept of being watched and monitored all day everyday seems to outweigh the little conveniences that come with the smart cities.
 
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Idea of 'Smart' Cities

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History will repeat itself

 
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On top of that, I remember reading some articles on smart cities initiatives in Canada.
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After decades of trusting all these tech companies with our data stored in the phone, we have seen too many incidents that prove that it is not a really smart idea to trust them. The first question to ask about smart city is not what benefits we will get from it, but rather, what we will lose. Who will get the hold of smart city data? How our data will be managed? It is even possible to opt-in or opt-out at that point? The impact of data breach will be even greater and wider because data of everyone in the city would be collected and affected. They would have no choice to chose not to use the device. Is the option for those wanting to opt-out not going out in the city at all or moving back to live in the woods? It is ironic how the idea of smart city wanting to establish inclusive society turns out to be exclusive society instead.Not to mention how valuable these data would be to the business companies. The selling of data would be even more complicated and troublesome.The data breach will still keep happening as long as there is value in these data. It seems like we have not learned from any of these data breach incidents but rather choose to move backwards instead. With the idea of smart city, so many law would become obsolete, the police would no longer care about search warrant under the Fourth Amendment because they can access to all information of us without even us knowing. The privacy laws would become meaningless. The FTC would not be able to prohibit against misrepresentation or deceptive practices at that point because we have not been informed of any privacy policy to begin with. Introducing smart city idea now while we are struggling to tackle with privacy issues at hands does not seem like a good idea. If anything, the plan should be carefully laid out even more to ensure that we will not face the same problems. Otherwise, the whole world will become a surveillance state like China.
 
You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 11 - 07 Dec 2019 - Main.JayTongkak
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How to protect your child from the internet

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My daughter's Christmas list

We as individuals interact with a number of online sites and services every day, which usually require an account to access, typically with a username and password. Depending on the required degree of assurance, the type of information collected might include verifiable email addresses or phone numbers, as well as signed credentials by which certified authorities can confer trust. In the online world we increasingly call on third-party providers, like Facebook, to “authenticate” us and enable us to interact with our service providers. The question is whether we should trust this authentication process.
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Internet and its effects on freedom of speech

 
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On one hand, it seems to be understandable why the authentication process shall exist. Through different channels, online and offline, private and public companies build up numerous identifiers for each single user. We become different persons in each channel, represented by an email ID, a customer login, etc. For a reliable authentication, the service provider will need to re-establish sufficient amount of information about the user.
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-- By JayTongkak - 6 December 2019
 
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Companies like Facebook has multiple data points about its users, potentially across various app. According to the Washington Postlink, Facebook aims to collect at least 98 data points for the purpose of ensuring that targeted ads are “useful and relevant.” This includes demographics like our age and ethnicity, our on-line activities such as the pages we like and the ads we click, and our device and location settings such as the brand of phone we use and our type of internet connection. In some cases, even offline data are being added to complete the picture. What Facebook is doing is to re-identify the fragmented online information and linking the data back to one unitary person that can be targeted, profiled, and surveilled. This in turn enables Facebook to more accurately determine the truth of information provided.
 
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I hear you, so what?

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Is the idea of 'smart city' really smart?

 
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With the increasing amount of authentication needed, the underlying assumption seems to be that everyone is trying to commit fraud. It suggests that the more transparent we are, the more trustworthy we are. This assumption puts forward the question of power over declaring us rightful or not.
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The creepy doppelganger

During my thanksgiving weekend, I was watching an episode of Black Mirror called White Christmas. One little aspect in this episode that piqued my interest was the idea of smart home devices. The show symbolize the idea of data in smart cities that by inputing data in these devices, we create another artificial intelligence version of us and lock him/her up in the device, in order to best response to the needs of each individuals. That idea really creeps me out. It is true that in order to receive more convenience in each services, we need to give out more of our information. For example, for faster checkouts, we rely on the merchants to keep financial data. For the accuracy of the map application, we allow our geolocation to be traced and stored all the time. Our phones keep all the logs of our online activities. The phone knows where we often go during the weekend, what we usually order for takeouts, how often do we access different kinds of website. It really creates another virtual doppelganger version of us.
 
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The ability to force individuals to justify their trustworthiness with high assurance, to whichever third parties may ask, is a position of true power. It is extremely dangerous to embed this power of defining standards and policies in a concentrated group of revenue-seeking organizations such as Facebook. If Facebook is not neutral enough, how long would it take until decisions are being taken to exclude individuals or groups, until information is being captured that can harm people and lead to repercussions, or until the right to have a passport would be too expensive for some citizens? And if they define the standards, who will control them? And how will competitors be able to enter the market?
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Idea of 'Smart' Cities

 
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During the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on the 17th of Julylink, Facebook’s crypto chief David Marcus, was asked if people who have been banned from Facebook’s social network like Milo Yiannopoulos and Louis Farrakhan would be allowed to use Libra. The answer was: “We haven’t written the policy yet,” indicating that the rules of entry will be written by Facebook. But what business does Facebook have in setting public policy anyway?
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On top of that, I remember reading some articles on smart cities initiatives in Canada.
 
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Markus was asked how Facebook will make money from Libra. Marcus said Facebook will benefit in two ways: First, the 90 million businesses on Facebook’s platform will be able to make transactions with one another. Marcus predicted the increased commerce on the platform would help small businesses expand and ultimately spend more money on Facebook ads. But more importantly, second, “Facebook would offer more services in partnerships with banks and other organizations, from which it would expect to make money.” This second business stream seems to be where Facebook will become the authentication provider for many more businesses.
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You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:
 
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Striving to be a GOOD mom

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In the offline world, identity is a sovereign right traditionally only controlled by governments. Handing this right over to a handful of selected private parties with a revenue-driven target could lead to biased decision-making and illegitimate sharing of information. Following the argument offered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezlink: if money is a social good, then we should finally determine that the right of individuals to establish and maintain multiple, unlinked identities is a social good. And a social good should be managed by all participants from the private and public sector, including the individuals themselves.
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Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 10 - 05 Dec 2019 - Main.EungyungEileenChoi
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Power Conferred with Authentication

Try to justify authentication

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How to protect your child from the internet

 
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My daughter's Christmas list

 We as individuals interact with a number of online sites and services every day, which usually require an account to access, typically with a username and password. Depending on the required degree of assurance, the type of information collected might include verifiable email addresses or phone numbers, as well as signed credentials by which certified authorities can confer trust. In the online world we increasingly call on third-party providers, like Facebook, to “authenticate” us and enable us to interact with our service providers. The question is whether we should trust this authentication process.

On one hand, it seems to be understandable why the authentication process shall exist. Through different channels, online and offline, private and public companies build up numerous identifiers for each single user. We become different persons in each channel, represented by an email ID, a customer login, etc. For a reliable authentication, the service provider will need to re-establish sufficient amount of information about the user.

Companies like Facebook has multiple data points about its users, potentially across various app. According to the Washington Postlink, Facebook aims to collect at least 98 data points for the purpose of ensuring that targeted ads are “useful and relevant.” This includes demographics like our age and ethnicity, our on-line activities such as the pages we like and the ads we click, and our device and location settings such as the brand of phone we use and our type of internet connection. In some cases, even offline data are being added to complete the picture. What Facebook is doing is to re-identify the fragmented online information and linking the data back to one unitary person that can be targeted, profiled, and surveilled. This in turn enables Facebook to more accurately determine the truth of information provided.

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Take a step back

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I hear you, so what?

 With the increasing amount of authentication needed, the underlying assumption seems to be that everyone is trying to commit fraud. It suggests that the more transparent we are, the more trustworthy we are. This assumption puts forward the question of power over declaring us rightful or not.
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 Markus was asked how Facebook will make money from Libra. Marcus said Facebook will benefit in two ways: First, the 90 million businesses on Facebook’s platform will be able to make transactions with one another. Marcus predicted the increased commerce on the platform would help small businesses expand and ultimately spend more money on Facebook ads. But more importantly, second, “Facebook would offer more services in partnerships with banks and other organizations, from which it would expect to make money.” This second business stream seems to be where Facebook will become the authentication provider for many more businesses.
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Solution, if any?

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Striving to be a GOOD mom

 In the offline world, identity is a sovereign right traditionally only controlled by governments. Handing this right over to a handful of selected private parties with a revenue-driven target could lead to biased decision-making and illegitimate sharing of information. Following the argument offered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezlink: if money is a social good, then we should finally determine that the right of individuals to establish and maintain multiple, unlinked identities is a social good. And a social good should be managed by all participants from the private and public sector, including the individuals themselves.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 9 - 04 Dec 2019 - Main.MengyiTu
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Jie Lin Nai
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Power Conferred with Authentication

 
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My Breakup With Google

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Try to justify authentication

 
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The biggest lesson I learnt from this course is just how little control I have over my own life – my privacy, my autonomy, my freedom. I have realized that I am so deeply entrenched in this network environment created by companies such as Google and Facebook that my freedoms have been slowly but surely chipped away, leaving me exposed and easily manipulated. Google turned from a company releasing useful products for my use to one that has ensnared me, and the internet as a whole, into its money-making, data gathering machine. Indeed, Google is pervasive in our digital lives in a manner no other corporation in the world has been. It is embedded everywhere. Personally, my laptop’s main browser is Google Chrome. My primary email is Gmail. My phone’s operating system is Android. To me (and for a lot others), Google is synonymous for search, maps, email, browsers, operating systems. Google has been recognized as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2006. What its global dominance means is that there are not many well-used alternatives, especially for the privacy minded. However, what this course taught me is that alternatives definitely do exist, if I am willing to look for it.
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We as individuals interact with a number of online sites and services every day, which usually require an account to access, typically with a username and password. Depending on the required degree of assurance, the type of information collected might include verifiable email addresses or phone numbers, as well as signed credentials by which certified authorities can confer trust. In the online world we increasingly call on third-party providers, like Facebook, to “authenticate” us and enable us to interact with our service providers. The question is whether we should trust this authentication process.
 
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On one hand, it seems to be understandable why the authentication process shall exist. Through different channels, online and offline, private and public companies build up numerous identifiers for each single user. We become different persons in each channel, represented by an email ID, a customer login, etc. For a reliable authentication, the service provider will need to re-establish sufficient amount of information about the user.
 
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Caveat

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Companies like Facebook has multiple data points about its users, potentially across various app. According to the Washington Postlink, Facebook aims to collect at least 98 data points for the purpose of ensuring that targeted ads are “useful and relevant.” This includes demographics like our age and ethnicity, our on-line activities such as the pages we like and the ads we click, and our device and location settings such as the brand of phone we use and our type of internet connection. In some cases, even offline data are being added to complete the picture. What Facebook is doing is to re-identify the fragmented online information and linking the data back to one unitary person that can be targeted, profiled, and surveilled. This in turn enables Facebook to more accurately determine the truth of information provided.
 
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BI have to admit – I am not a techie. My skills with a computer mostly extend to the Ctrl-Alt-Delete function and force-quitting applications. As such, one of the biggest challengers to my attempt to quite Google is the fact that most of the alternatives are not user friendly and seemed extremely daunting to me. Nevertheless, my first stage in regaining control over my privacy is to use alternatives that I can understand.
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Take a step back

 
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With the increasing amount of authentication needed, the underlying assumption seems to be that everyone is trying to commit fraud. It suggests that the more transparent we are, the more trustworthy we are. This assumption puts forward the question of power over declaring us rightful or not.
 
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First Steps

Chrome Switching my default browser did not prove difficult. I already had Mozilla Firefox installed from the last technology project from the course, and realized that it could do everything that Chrome did for me – with the added advantage of protecting my privacy.
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The ability to force individuals to justify their trustworthiness with high assurance, to whichever third parties may ask, is a position of true power. It is extremely dangerous to embed this power of defining standards and policies in a concentrated group of revenue-seeking organizations such as Facebook. If Facebook is not neutral enough, how long would it take until decisions are being taken to exclude individuals or groups, until information is being captured that can harm people and lead to repercussions, or until the right to have a passport would be too expensive for some citizens? And if they define the standards, who will control them? And how will competitors be able to enter the market?
 
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Search Engines Switching a search engine was easy once I started looking. DuckDuckGo? emerged as a good alternative, as a search engine that prioritized protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. It does not profile its users and shows the same search results for a given search term. Setting this as my default search engine was simple yet impactful. For example, a search of “Avengers: Endgame” on the Google search engine first showed me that it can be purchased from Google Play and YouTube? for $4.99. The same search on DuckDuckGo? pulled up a short snippet from Wikipedia. Disregarding the declared Ad for Disney+, the first link was of IMDb – the same link was placed 3rd on Google. By switching to DuckDuckGo? , I am no longer victim to Google’s prioritization of its results and bias towards its own products.
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During the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on the 17th of Julylink, Facebook’s crypto chief David Marcus, was asked if people who have been banned from Facebook’s social network like Milo Yiannopoulos and Louis Farrakhan would be allowed to use Libra. The answer was: “We haven’t written the policy yet,” indicating that the rules of entry will be written by Facebook. But what business does Facebook have in setting public policy anyway?
 
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Google Maps Switching to a different map provider was also easy – I already had alternatives such as CityMapper? downloaded onto my phone. I also promptly deleted the data Google Timeline had about my movements, and turned off my location history. However, what proved difficult was shutting down my use of Google Maps entirely. Because car services such as Lyft and Uber relied on Google Maps, I could not disable/ delete it entirely from my phone, as that prevented my use of such car services that I rely on to get around.
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Markus was asked how Facebook will make money from Libra. Marcus said Facebook will benefit in two ways: First, the 90 million businesses on Facebook’s platform will be able to make transactions with one another. Marcus predicted the increased commerce on the platform would help small businesses expand and ultimately spend more money on Facebook ads. But more importantly, second, “Facebook would offer more services in partnerships with banks and other organizations, from which it would expect to make money.” This second business stream seems to be where Facebook will become the authentication provider for many more businesses.
 
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The Tricky Bits

Gmail Attempting to switch out of Gmail proved to be difficult, as my Gmail has been my main email address. Looking for an alternative that could truly address my privacy concerns was tricky, as I did not want to merely switch from one tech giant to another, such as Yahoo Mail. To this end, an alternative for Gmail was to use ProtonMail? , an end-to-end encrypted email service founded in Switzerland, a country known for its strong privacy laws. However, the free version only gave me 500MB of storage space, a feature that would be insufficient if I were to consider this my main address. Even using the GPG Keychain would be limited in the long-run, seeing as it only has a 30 day free trial. This made me realize that Google’s email service could be free because it is actively monetizing our data. In order for an email alternative to be viable without monetizing its users’ data, most had to charge a fee. As a student, the thought of having to commit to a paid email account has me uneasy, even as it helps to ensure my privacy in my emails.
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Solution, if any?

 
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The Biggest Challenge: My Phone

Yet, despite all my little efforts above, my attempts at taking back my privacy and identity prove futile with my Samsung S8, equipped with Google apps. Researching for options to changing my operating system was technically difficult, as it required deeper technical knowledge and effort than just simply deleting applications. This is compounded by the fact that the smartphone industry has become a literal duopoly with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Even Mozilla’s Firefox OS is no longer maintained. To this end, I found the next best option of Lineage OS, which is a privacy minded, open source version of Android that can be installed without Google services or Apps. This would cement my break-up with Google, with a de-Googling of my Samsung S8. Unfortunately, Lineage OS does not have an official OS released for Samsung S8. While its community contributions have developed LineageOS for the S8, my lack of technical knowledge and confidence has prevented me from proceeding. Hopefully, by my second draft, I would have learnt the steps to replacing the Android OS with Lineage OS.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, with my main Google tools switched out/ disabled, I only feel a sense of liberation. My dependence on a single company for so many services is a form of enslavement, especially when my data and privacy is the currency. Taking back control of my data gives me great comfort and power, making the effort worthwhile.
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In the offline world, identity is a sovereign right traditionally only controlled by governments. Handing this right over to a handful of selected private parties with a revenue-driven target could lead to biased decision-making and illegitimate sharing of information. Following the argument offered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezlink: if money is a social good, then we should finally determine that the right of individuals to establish and maintain multiple, unlinked identities is a social good. And a social good should be managed by all participants from the private and public sector, including the individuals themselves.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 8 - 03 Dec 2019 - Main.JieLin
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Maya Uchima
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Jie Lin Nai
 
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Bitcoin: The Illusion of Anonymity

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My Breakup With Google

 
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The biggest lesson I learnt from this course is just how little control I have over my own life – my privacy, my autonomy, my freedom. I have realized that I am so deeply entrenched in this network environment created by companies such as Google and Facebook that my freedoms have been slowly but surely chipped away, leaving me exposed and easily manipulated. Google turned from a company releasing useful products for my use to one that has ensnared me, and the internet as a whole, into its money-making, data gathering machine. Indeed, Google is pervasive in our digital lives in a manner no other corporation in the world has been. It is embedded everywhere. Personally, my laptop’s main browser is Google Chrome. My primary email is Gmail. My phone’s operating system is Android. To me (and for a lot others), Google is synonymous for search, maps, email, browsers, operating systems. Google has been recognized as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2006. What its global dominance means is that there are not many well-used alternatives, especially for the privacy minded. However, what this course taught me is that alternatives definitely do exist, if I am willing to look for it.
 
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How the Illusion Started

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Caveat

 
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Bitcoin, whose market cap surpassed a quarter of a million dollars this year, has long given its users a sense of security that their transactions are “anonymous” because of its elimination of a centralized bank, or any trusted third party. Users of Bitcoin seek anonymity, not because they want to deal in illegal activity (although there are plenty of criminals turning to digital currencies to hide transactions) but because they desire privacy and security in knowing that they control the release of personal data and their spending history. In the Bitcoin network, instead of having a general overseer who holds all the information, people can check a “public ledger” that records every exchange made and is available for the public to see. With this lack in monitoring and regulation traditionally done by banks, people have assumed that their activity is untraceable to them and completely anonymous. This isn’t so great a stretch of the imagination, as, although every transaction is recorded in the “public ledger,” the only immediately identifiable characteristic of the exchange is the pseudonym attached to the wallets transacting. No personal information is attached to these wallets and none is needed to set one up.
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BI have to admit – I am not a techie. My skills with a computer mostly extend to the Ctrl-Alt-Delete function and force-quitting applications. As such, one of the biggest challengers to my attempt to quite Google is the fact that most of the alternatives are not user friendly and seemed extremely daunting to me. Nevertheless, my first stage in regaining control over my privacy is to use alternatives that I can understand.
 
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Breaking the Trance

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First Steps

Chrome Switching my default browser did not prove difficult. I already had Mozilla Firefox installed from the last technology project from the course, and realized that it could do everything that Chrome did for me – with the added advantage of protecting my privacy.
 
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Any user of Bitcoin who has had to buy Bitcoin would know that one must use an online exchange, such as Coinbase. When creating an account on this site, a user must enter all government standard KYC and AML information including social name, security number, government issued identification, address, and phone number. This would immediately call into question the “anonymity” of a currency if this kind of data must be input to buy it. Even with more complex strategies, wherein a user could buy Bitcoin (providing all the above information) and place it into a wallet (which does not contain any personal information) and then transfer those funds to a second wallet, adding a buffer between the online exchange transaction and the second wallet, the impediment is slight. If one wished to trace a single bitcoin back to the online exchange, it is easy to do so by looking through the public ledger. Every transaction in the history of Bitcoin is logged in and searchable. The second wallet’s Bitcoin would be traced back to the initial wallet and then to the online exchange. This sounds eerily like the trusted third party system that Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies today, sought to avoid and banish in the past. It is now up to the online exchange to securely protect its users’ personal data. Just because there is no easily identifiable information attached to these transactions once the Bitcoin has entered the wallet, there are still ways to figure out who does what on the Bitcoin network. There have been major busts by law enforcement cracking down on individuals using Bitcoin to engage in criminal activity. Companies such as Chainalysis use analytical tools to measure activity on the network and flag suspicious exchanges. Once they have located a shady transaction, they can log all of its actions and can correlate this activity with real world actions an individual has taken. For example, by watching the timing of the transactions of a particular wallet, investigators can match those times with periods where a suspected individual is online or can find emails that provide evidence pointing to the completion of a transaction (“just sent you the money”). Although seemingly circumstantial, the analysis can cover enough details that the evidence can pinpoint a single person. In the takedown of the Silk Road, investigators used a combination of server insecurities as well as old-school investigative techniques to link the founder of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, to the TOR server handling the activities on the site. They searched Ulbricht’s emails and facebook account for clues and used PEN registers to collect routing data to correlate Ulbricht’s online activity.
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Search Engines Switching a search engine was easy once I started looking. DuckDuckGo? emerged as a good alternative, as a search engine that prioritized protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. It does not profile its users and shows the same search results for a given search term. Setting this as my default search engine was simple yet impactful. For example, a search of “Avengers: Endgame” on the Google search engine first showed me that it can be purchased from Google Play and YouTube? for $4.99. The same search on DuckDuckGo? pulled up a short snippet from Wikipedia. Disregarding the declared Ad for Disney+, the first link was of IMDb – the same link was placed 3rd on Google. By switching to DuckDuckGo? , I am no longer victim to Google’s prioritization of its results and bias towards its own products.
 
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Google Maps Switching to a different map provider was also easy – I already had alternatives such as CityMapper? downloaded onto my phone. I also promptly deleted the data Google Timeline had about my movements, and turned off my location history. However, what proved difficult was shutting down my use of Google Maps entirely. Because car services such as Lyft and Uber relied on Google Maps, I could not disable/ delete it entirely from my phone, as that prevented my use of such car services that I rely on to get around.
 
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Is Anonymity Even Possible?

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The Tricky Bits

Gmail Attempting to switch out of Gmail proved to be difficult, as my Gmail has been my main email address. Looking for an alternative that could truly address my privacy concerns was tricky, as I did not want to merely switch from one tech giant to another, such as Yahoo Mail. To this end, an alternative for Gmail was to use ProtonMail? , an end-to-end encrypted email service founded in Switzerland, a country known for its strong privacy laws. However, the free version only gave me 500MB of storage space, a feature that would be insufficient if I were to consider this my main address. Even using the GPG Keychain would be limited in the long-run, seeing as it only has a 30 day free trial. This made me realize that Google’s email service could be free because it is actively monetizing our data. In order for an email alternative to be viable without monetizing its users’ data, most had to charge a fee. As a student, the thought of having to commit to a paid email account has me uneasy, even as it helps to ensure my privacy in my emails.
 
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Bitcoin may not have concurred the issue of anonymity, and may have even replicated the bank system that its users sought to skirt. What of other currencies? Is anonymity in the digital realm even attainable? Two digital currencies, ZCash and Monero, seem to be the leaders of the pack in achieving anonymity on a blockchain currency. “Zero knowledge proofs” separate the transactions from the people who make them so no one can reverse engineer where the funds come from by reviewing the blockchain. The public ledger reveals different information and no longer discloses which wallet sends or receives what. All that is shown is whether or not the funds were transferred in a positive or negative fashion- not even how much was transferred. Although there are benefits to being able to trace a fund back to its roots, if the higher priority for a user is in its anonymity, Bitcoin may not be the answer.
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The Biggest Challenge: My Phone

Yet, despite all my little efforts above, my attempts at taking back my privacy and identity prove futile with my Samsung S8, equipped with Google apps. Researching for options to changing my operating system was technically difficult, as it required deeper technical knowledge and effort than just simply deleting applications. This is compounded by the fact that the smartphone industry has become a literal duopoly with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Even Mozilla’s Firefox OS is no longer maintained. To this end, I found the next best option of Lineage OS, which is a privacy minded, open source version of Android that can be installed without Google services or Apps. This would cement my break-up with Google, with a de-Googling of my Samsung S8. Unfortunately, Lineage OS does not have an official OS released for Samsung S8. While its community contributions have developed LineageOS for the S8, my lack of technical knowledge and confidence has prevented me from proceeding. Hopefully, by my second draft, I would have learnt the steps to replacing the Android OS with Lineage OS.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, with my main Google tools switched out/ disabled, I only feel a sense of liberation. My dependence on a single company for so many services is a form of enslavement, especially when my data and privacy is the currency. Taking back control of my data gives me great comfort and power, making the effort worthwhile.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 7 - 06 Mar 2018 - Main.TravisMcMillian
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Maya Uchima

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 6 - 23 Dec 2017 - Main.MayaUchima
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Introduction

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Maya Uchima
 
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It is easy to be misled by the FCC’s recent announcement that is will be restoring internet freedom. Apparently, this new policy direction will lead to rapid Internet growth, openness, and freedom. In class, one thing I learned was how the proposed destruction of network neutrality should really be better understood as allowing discriminatory routing because it more accurately describes the problem with a non-neutral internet.
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Bitcoin: The Illusion of Anonymity

 
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Our class discussion on carriage regulation of the FCC’s announcement also prompted me to reconsider the reasons why I believe in non-discriminatory routing. This essay will consider three of the most common arguments made in favor of the FCC’s position, and attempt a rebuttal and defense of non-discriminatory routing.
 
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Incentivizing Network Investment

The main slated benefit arising out of the FCC’s decision is “restoring a favorable climate for network investment”. This argument is premised on the idea that the prior structure with its ‘utility–like’ rules did not sufficiently encourage investment into upgrading the network infrastructure. Now, buoyed by the potential to monetize the pipes and switches in ways broadband providers could never do before, as the argument goes, they have every incentive to invest in the network: to improve bandwidth, reach and speed.

Better Access

A further ancillary benefit to this anticipated investment is “closing the digital divide”. This argument is based on the logic that further investment into network architecture will improve access to the internet, particularly in rural areas. In such areas, broadband providers cannot improve its service offering because of limited growth in demand for internet connectivity, as compared to urban areas where more investment has landed. The access argument had particular persuasiveness in India, during the time Free Basic Internet was proposed, because of the talk of some 800 million people potentially getting connected to some form of the internet.

More innovation online

A third anticipated positive outcome from the FCC’s decision is “spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers”. The logic underpinning this argument is that having more freedom with respect to pricing and service provision terms will lead broadband providers to develop innovative solutions: for example, a more efficient way to move 4K video data packets, if they can charge more for such provision. Hence, the end result might leave consumers with greater optionality. Like many, I too can see the potential for broad-based positive change when the FCC frames its decision in such rosy terms. In reality, however, there are many problems related to discriminatory routing practices that will now be considered.

Rebutting the attracting investment argument

Addressing the inducement of investment, I think fact that the FCC needed to essentially lay down a red carpet to the ISPs to make network investment speaks volumes about the existing market structure and condition of regulatory capture. Firstly, it is surprising that given the essential nature of internet services in today’s world, investment to improve its provision or quality is so hard to come by. When firms lack incentives to invest, often it is a sign of lack of competition in the market. The broadband provision market is in exactly that predicament – with last mile provision being essentially a collection of local monopolies. Secondly, the fact that the FCC commissioners are essentially promoting the ISPs interests with this decision suggests regulatory capture, where the regulators are functionally in bed with the companies they are obligated to regulate. The real problem, a lack of sufficient network investment, therefore shouldn’t be solved by essentially paying the ISPs to invest; perhaps the cost of investment in network architecture should be subsidized by the government, or entirely funded by them, similar to funding for road or transport infrastructure investment.

Rebutting the access argument

Regarding access, again while the slated network investments could theoretically improve access in poorly connected areas, in reality, improving access is far from the real aim of discriminatory routing. If anything, the access gains are incidental to the real motive: monetizing the browsing patterns of internet users. It is interesting that major platform companies are also against the FCC’s decision because it seems a potential challenger to the current dominance by Google and Facebook of the online advertising industry.

Rebutting the innovation argument

The underlying motive of monetizing browsing patterns also explains why ditching network neutrality will crush innovation. We usually perceive innovators or disruptors to an industry to be new market entrants, who have figured out radically new ways to perform a task or provide a service. Under these new rules, companies in this mold will face an almighty task of breaking into the platform company market or any ‘e-commerce’ sector which has an incumbent already. They will be forced to pay for play under paid prioritization schemes; preferential arrangements between huge market incumbents and ISPs will effectively price out competitors who cannot afford these premiums. As the CEO of Reddit said, “If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers” in every sector of the market online.

A 'principled' approach to 'network neuttrality'

Having rebutted the clearly misrepresented benefits of discriminatory routing, it is important to provide an alternative. The fact remains that, as the reason for abandoning the term of net neutrality demonstrates, there is already non-neutral service provision, because ISPs already do traffic management. In order to ensure Quality of Service, ISPs frequently alter the route of packets. The phttp://...https://www.eff.org/issues/net-neutrality][“discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services”]].
 
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In other words, what we really need is certain principles to guide ISPs routing practices. For example, I think ISPs should be prohibited from conducting behavioral advertising based on users browsing patterns. This is because unlike Google or Facebook, it is incredibly hard to work around the ISP and avoid that data collection. Whatever you do online, your gateway to internet access is still based on access to a nhttp://...s.lse.ac.uk/67362/7/Murray_Principled%20approach_2016.pdf][Murray and Audiebert]] describe a ‘principled approach’ to network neutrality, whereby ideas like respecting privacy and freedom of expression are the guiding principles of traffic management, not maximizing profit through fast lanes.
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How the Illusion Started

 
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Another important principle that should guide ISPs routing practices is transparency. In this regard, the FCC seems absolutely right to focus on that principle. But transparency should supplement not replace rules banning discriminatory routing. We should know how traffic management is being done so that for example there are no chilling effects to freedom of expression based on people’s right to consume certain content being affected by paid prioritization.
>
>
Bitcoin, whose market cap surpassed a quarter of a million dollars this year, has long given its users a sense of security that their transactions are “anonymous” because of its elimination of a centralized bank, or any trusted third party. Users of Bitcoin seek anonymity, not because they want to deal in illegal activity (although there are plenty of criminals turning to digital currencies to hide transactions) but because they desire privacy and security in knowing that they control the release of personal data and their spending history. In the Bitcoin network, instead of having a general overseer who holds all the information, people can check a “public ledger” that records every exchange made and is available for the public to see. With this lack in monitoring and regulation traditionally done by banks, people have assumed that their activity is untraceable to them and completely anonymous. This isn’t so great a stretch of the imagination, as, although every transaction is recorded in the “public ledger,” the only immediately identifiable characteristic of the exchange is the pseudonym attached to the wallets transacting. No personal information is attached to these wallets and none is needed to set one up.
 
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In a way, this process of reflection for me re-iterates the class discussions about how network neutrality debates are about allocating power, and it is clear the deck has been stacked against internet users. My conclusion of this short reflection reaches the same sense I left that class with, that somehow the FCC made a huge mistake in prioritizing who it protects, a mistake other regulators like TRAI in India, did not make. And while they may clothe the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the dangers of the FCC’s action are no longer lost on me.
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Breaking the Trance

Any user of Bitcoin who has had to buy Bitcoin would know that one must use an online exchange, such as Coinbase. When creating an account on this site, a user must enter all government standard KYC and AML information including social name, security number, government issued identification, address, and phone number. This would immediately call into question the “anonymity” of a currency if this kind of data must be input to buy it. Even with more complex strategies, wherein a user could buy Bitcoin (providing all the above information) and place it into a wallet (which does not contain any personal information) and then transfer those funds to a second wallet, adding a buffer between the online exchange transaction and the second wallet, the impediment is slight. If one wished to trace a single bitcoin back to the online exchange, it is easy to do so by looking through the public ledger. Every transaction in the history of Bitcoin is logged in and searchable. The second wallet’s Bitcoin would be traced back to the initial wallet and then to the online exchange. This sounds eerily like the trusted third party system that Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies today, sought to avoid and banish in the past. It is now up to the online exchange to securely protect its users’ personal data. Just because there is no easily identifiable information attached to these transactions once the Bitcoin has entered the wallet, there are still ways to figure out who does what on the Bitcoin network. There have been major busts by law enforcement cracking down on individuals using Bitcoin to engage in criminal activity. Companies such as Chainalysis use analytical tools to measure activity on the network and flag suspicious exchanges. Once they have located a shady transaction, they can log all of its actions and can correlate this activity with real world actions an individual has taken. For example, by watching the timing of the transactions of a particular wallet, investigators can match those times with periods where a suspected individual is online or can find emails that provide evidence pointing to the completion of a transaction (“just sent you the money”). Although seemingly circumstantial, the analysis can cover enough details that the evidence can pinpoint a single person. In the takedown of the Silk Road, investigators used a combination of server insecurities as well as old-school investigative techniques to link the founder of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, to the TOR server handling the activities on the site. They searched Ulbricht’s emails and facebook account for clues and used PEN registers to collect routing data to correlate Ulbricht’s online activity.

Is Anonymity Even Possible?

Bitcoin may not have concurred the issue of anonymity, and may have even replicated the bank system that its users sought to skirt. What of other currencies? Is anonymity in the digital realm even attainable? Two digital currencies, ZCash and Monero, seem to be the leaders of the pack in achieving anonymity on a blockchain currency. “Zero knowledge proofs” separate the transactions from the people who make them so no one can reverse engineer where the funds come from by reviewing the blockchain. The public ledger reveals different information and no longer discloses which wallet sends or receives what. All that is shown is whether or not the funds were transferred in a positive or negative fashion- not even how much was transferred. Although there are benefits to being able to trace a fund back to its roots, if the higher priority for a user is in its anonymity, Bitcoin may not be the answer.


TWikiGuestSecondEssay 5 - 22 Dec 2017 - Main.RohanGeorge1
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Introduction

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When we talk about technological innovation and the value a new piece of technology adds to society, the most common concept brought to the table is efficiency. Students learning their first programming language are immediately taught that the run-time of algorithms and the space utilized are the two defining factors of optimal code for any given situation. We want to expend minimal time and minimal effort for the sake of maximum results. In today’s neoliberal society, the business landscape is not defined by multiple values. Rather, it holds only one value paramount – efficiency. With technology’s rapid advancements, we are achieving gains in efficiency too quickly. The pleasure centers in our brains are addicted to progress, and our appetites have been rewarded again and again with tangible gains in efficiency through the advancement of technology. Our obsession with efficiency and convenience has pushed us to focus blindly on advancing efficiency at the expense of all other values.
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It is easy to be misled by the FCC’s recent announcement that is will be restoring internet freedom. Apparently, this new policy direction will lead to rapid Internet growth, openness, and freedom. In class, one thing I learned was how the proposed destruction of network neutrality should really be better understood as allowing discriminatory routing because it more accurately describes the problem with a non-neutral internet.
 
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Eschewing Human Connection

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Our class discussion on carriage regulation of the FCC’s announcement also prompted me to reconsider the reasons why I believe in non-discriminatory routing. This essay will consider three of the most common arguments made in favor of the FCC’s position, and attempt a rebuttal and defense of non-discriminatory routing.
 
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Once upon a time, kids ran around yards and biked around the block with their friends after school. Time spent playing with kids was gradually replaced with hours talking on the phone with friends, which still facilitated some level of human connection. By 1999, phone calls were replaced with email, games, and surfing the internet in other ways. Email emphasizes the convenience of getting to respond to things on your own time. The kid is not forced into interaction in the same way that phone calls and in-person interactions demand. Instant gratification in the form of web games, too, is too convenient – we can click a few buttons and the thing we want is right there. Other activities such as physical exercise, enjoying real snow, playing with friends seem to require too much effort by comparison. The crazy convenience of technology taps into our laziest urges and makes other options seem far less appealing, even if these other options would eventually bring far more long-term gratification.
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Incentivizing Network Investment

The main slated benefit arising out of the FCC’s decision is “restoring a favorable climate for network investment”. This argument is premised on the idea that the prior structure with its ‘utility–like’ rules did not sufficiently encourage investment into upgrading the network infrastructure. Now, buoyed by the potential to monetize the pipes and switches in ways broadband providers could never do before, as the argument goes, they have every incentive to invest in the network: to improve bandwidth, reach and speed.

Better Access

A further ancillary benefit to this anticipated investment is “closing the digital divide”. This argument is based on the logic that further investment into network architecture will improve access to the internet, particularly in rural areas. In such areas, broadband providers cannot improve its service offering because of limited growth in demand for internet connectivity, as compared to urban areas where more investment has landed. The access argument had particular persuasiveness in India, during the time Free Basic Internet was proposed, because of the talk of some 800 million people potentially getting connected to some form of the internet.

More innovation online

A third anticipated positive outcome from the FCC’s decision is “spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers”. The logic underpinning this argument is that having more freedom with respect to pricing and service provision terms will lead broadband providers to develop innovative solutions: for example, a more efficient way to move 4K video data packets, if they can charge more for such provision. Hence, the end result might leave consumers with greater optionality. Like many, I too can see the potential for broad-based positive change when the FCC frames its decision in such rosy terms. In reality, however, there are many problems related to discriminatory routing practices that will now be considered.

Rebutting the attracting investment argument

Addressing the inducement of investment, I think fact that the FCC needed to essentially lay down a red carpet to the ISPs to make network investment speaks volumes about the existing market structure and condition of regulatory capture. Firstly, it is surprising that given the essential nature of internet services in today’s world, investment to improve its provision or quality is so hard to come by. When firms lack incentives to invest, often it is a sign of lack of competition in the market. The broadband provision market is in exactly that predicament – with last mile provision being essentially a collection of local monopolies. Secondly, the fact that the FCC commissioners are essentially promoting the ISPs interests with this decision suggests regulatory capture, where the regulators are functionally in bed with the companies they are obligated to regulate. The real problem, a lack of sufficient network investment, therefore shouldn’t be solved by essentially paying the ISPs to invest; perhaps the cost of investment in network architecture should be subsidized by the government, or entirely funded by them, similar to funding for road or transport infrastructure investment.

Rebutting the access argument

Regarding access, again while the slated network investments could theoretically improve access in poorly connected areas, in reality, improving access is far from the real aim of discriminatory routing. If anything, the access gains are incidental to the real motive: monetizing the browsing patterns of internet users. It is interesting that major platform companies are also against the FCC’s decision because it seems a potential challenger to the current dominance by Google and Facebook of the online advertising industry.

Rebutting the innovation argument

The underlying motive of monetizing browsing patterns also explains why ditching network neutrality will crush innovation. We usually perceive innovators or disruptors to an industry to be new market entrants, who have figured out radically new ways to perform a task or provide a service. Under these new rules, companies in this mold will face an almighty task of breaking into the platform company market or any ‘e-commerce’ sector which has an incumbent already. They will be forced to pay for play under paid prioritization schemes; preferential arrangements between huge market incumbents and ISPs will effectively price out competitors who cannot afford these premiums. As the CEO of Reddit said, “If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers” in every sector of the market online.

A 'principled' approach to 'network neuttrality'

Having rebutted the clearly misrepresented benefits of discriminatory routing, it is important to provide an alternative. The fact remains that, as the reason for abandoning the term of net neutrality demonstrates, there is already non-neutral service provision, because ISPs already do traffic management. In order to ensure Quality of Service, ISPs frequently alter the route of packets. The phttp://...https://www.eff.org/issues/net-neutrality][“discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services”]].
 
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Information Overload

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In other words, what we really need is certain principles to guide ISPs routing practices. For example, I think ISPs should be prohibited from conducting behavioral advertising based on users browsing patterns. This is because unlike Google or Facebook, it is incredibly hard to work around the ISP and avoid that data collection. Whatever you do online, your gateway to internet access is still based on access to a nhttp://...s.lse.ac.uk/67362/7/Murray_Principled%20approach_2016.pdf][Murray and Audiebert]] describe a ‘principled approach’ to network neutrality, whereby ideas like respecting privacy and freedom of expression are the guiding principles of traffic management, not maximizing profit through fast lanes.
 
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In 2002, Angela Lewis in a First Monday article observed “I also find that there is a tendency for some people - and children in particular - to view any information coming from the computer as having an intrinsic worth above other sources (e.g. books) specifically because it is online, and therefore somehow more current or valuable.” The information that comes to us from the mediums of greatest efficiency (internet sources) is now prioritized as carrying the most accuracy and importance. Never mind the reputation of the sources or the thoroughness of the fact-checking – we want our information now, and we hold the fastest, most current sources to be the best.
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Another important principle that should guide ISPs routing practices is transparency. In this regard, the FCC seems absolutely right to focus on that principle. But transparency should supplement not replace rules banning discriminatory routing. We should know how traffic management is being done so that for example there are no chilling effects to freedom of expression based on people’s right to consume certain content being affected by paid prioritization.
 
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The problem with this is not the individual pieces of information themselves. The internet is home to a vast amount of truth, and it is incredible that these truths are now available to us at our fingertips. The difficulty at hand is now our lack of ability and motivation to separate truth from falsehood. Lewis speaks of cyber-overload – the phenomenon of having an over-supply of information. The human attention span cannot handle sifting through the expanse of information in front of us. It is more appealing and immediately gratifying to consume new information rather than to go through the pains of fact-checking the old. The internet offers an unprecedented opportunity for people to publish whatever bits of information they desire, and they may choose from any number of sites from which to publish that do not bother to check the accuracy of such information.

The convenience of the internet has also lead people to forget that the world contains a vast amount of information still inaccessible through the web. They have deemed this information too inconvenient to access, and therefore they will not bother learning from these sources. With these mediums of immense convenience and efficiency, it is no wonder that our baseline expectations of efficiency have drastically increased. When it comes to retrieving and analyzing information, we have no patience for taking extra steps to ensure we are learning truths.

Fake News and Facebook

Lewis’s article was written in 2002, more than a decade before the 2016 election. She had not been exposed to the news divide that happens on facebook today, nor did she see the massive influx of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton-related “fake news” articles. Even so, as early as 2002, she cautioned “We cannot assume that just because we found some information on the Internet, that it somehow makes it automatically real, right or a sound source of knowledge. Web sites are designed to sell a message to us as potential consumers of a point of view, a product or a concept - it is more a marketing than an information age in that respect.” Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms have honed in on what news we agree with and show us only that. Macedonian teenagers have discovered that if they write articles with incendiary headlines and completely false events, they can earn a ridiculous amount of money through foot traffic on their webpages because their articles are shared on facebook. The “fake news” phenomenon highlights the fact that many people encountering quite shocking news don’t even bother to do a cursory google search anymore – they will simply take the information as true.

Conclusion

Our society’s increasing obsession with efficiency, spurred on by the conveniences of the internet, has led us to ignore other aspects of our lives that carry importance. We think this increasing efficiency has lead us to have more control over our time. After all, if more tasks can be done in less time, doesn’t that mean we have more time for leisure and more freedom to do what we want? Ironically, that is the opposite of what has happened. We have become addicts of and slaves to the maximization of efficiency. Our lives revolve around answering text messages as soon as possible and running programs as soon as they have loaded.

>
>
In a way, this process of reflection for me re-iterates the class discussions about how network neutrality debates are about allocating power, and it is clear the deck has been stacked against internet users. My conclusion of this short reflection reaches the same sense I left that class with, that somehow the FCC made a huge mistake in prioritizing who it protects, a mistake other regulators like TRAI in India, did not make. And while they may clothe the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the dangers of the FCC’s action are no longer lost on me.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 4 - 11 Dec 2016 - Main.LauraZhang
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Introduction

 
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It was not a long time ago when we thought of the internet as a place to remain anonymous. Our social media accounts offered ways of masking our identities with weird nicknames. We could fill the gaps with false information and yet nobody could say anything, because we thought nobody could find out who we were, where we lived, which school we were going to or what was the next thing we would more likely to buy online. Today net is the place where anonymity is dead. In contrast, people work on finding ways to hide their profiles, preferences, likes an dislikes while browsing in the internet. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter paved the way for this "de-anonymization" and it seems like there is no turning back.
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When we talk about technological innovation and the value a new piece of technology adds to society, the most common concept brought to the table is efficiency. Students learning their first programming language are immediately taught that the run-time of algorithms and the space utilized are the two defining factors of optimal code for any given situation. We want to expend minimal time and minimal effort for the sake of maximum results. In today’s neoliberal society, the business landscape is not defined by multiple values. Rather, it holds only one value paramount – efficiency. With technology’s rapid advancements, we are achieving gains in efficiency too quickly. The pleasure centers in our brains are addicted to progress, and our appetites have been rewarded again and again with tangible gains in efficiency through the advancement of technology. Our obsession with efficiency and convenience has pushed us to focus blindly on advancing efficiency at the expense of all other values.
 
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When the net knows your pregnancy before you do
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Eschewing Human Connection

 
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In 2014, Princeton sociologist, Janet Vertesi run a test to see whether it was possible to hide her pregnancy from the internet. She told every family member not to contact her about it through any technological means. Maybe shutting down her social media accounts would have made it easier, but she wanted to see the possibility to remain anonymous while she was actually online. Despite the warnings, one of her relatives sent her a private Facebook message, assuming it could not be traced down by the data-mining technology. She immediately deleted the message and "unfriended" that relative as she was aware that Facebook could also collect data through private messages.
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Once upon a time, kids ran around yards and biked around the block with their friends after school. Time spent playing with kids was gradually replaced with hours talking on the phone with friends, which still facilitated some level of human connection. By 1999, phone calls were replaced with email, games, and surfing the internet in other ways. Email emphasizes the convenience of getting to respond to things on your own time. The kid is not forced into interaction in the same way that phone calls and in-person interactions demand. Instant gratification in the form of web games, too, is too convenient – we can click a few buttons and the thing we want is right there. Other activities such as physical exercise, enjoying real snow, playing with friends seem to require too much effort by comparison. The crazy convenience of technology taps into our laziest urges and makes other options seem far less appealing, even if these other options would eventually bring far more long-term gratification.
 
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She made her purchases with cash and also did not buy anything with her credit card online. Instead, she created an alternative mail account, did the shopping with pre-paid gift cards and sent it to a shared locker of Amazon. She even bought prenatal vitamins in cash, so as to make sure that no one could even relate the idea of her getting pregnant sooner or later. However, her efforts to remain anonymous made her look like a criminal. When she wanted to continue shopping with a pre-paid card she was warned by Rite Aid that if the transaction excessed a certain amount, they would report it to the authorities.
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Information Overload

 
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Vertesi's ultimate aim in this project is to show that our personal lives are monetized and monitored, yet we often take it for granted. On to that account, in an age of constant surveillance, how is privacy structured? Is it possible to hide from big data or is it possible to fool it? These questions are too broad to answer and concerns a wide range of disciplines, but proposing the idea of living in a digital panopticon where anonymity is disappeared, would be one way to start thinking about them. Given the broad analysis on surveillance regimes by scholars like Foucault and recent findings on "de-anonymization"; I will try to show that opting-out is not possible.
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In 2002, Angela Lewis in a First Monday article observed “I also find that there is a tendency for some people - and children in particular - to view any information coming from the computer as having an intrinsic worth above other sources (e.g. books) specifically because it is online, and therefore somehow more current or valuable.” The information that comes to us from the mediums of greatest efficiency (internet sources) is now prioritized as carrying the most accuracy and importance. Never mind the reputation of the sources or the thoroughness of the fact-checking – we want our information now, and we hold the fastest, most current sources to be the best.
 
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Digital Panopticon and Anonymity
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The problem with this is not the individual pieces of information themselves. The internet is home to a vast amount of truth, and it is incredible that these truths are now available to us at our fingertips. The difficulty at hand is now our lack of ability and motivation to separate truth from falsehood. Lewis speaks of cyber-overload – the phenomenon of having an over-supply of information. The human attention span cannot handle sifting through the expanse of information in front of us. It is more appealing and immediately gratifying to consume new information rather than to go through the pains of fact-checking the old. The internet offers an unprecedented opportunity for people to publish whatever bits of information they desire, and they may choose from any number of sites from which to publish that do not bother to check the accuracy of such information.
 
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Weber's iron cage proposes the idea that in modern times rationalization and bureaucratization create institutions that seek maximum efficiency. Foucault advocates a parallel theory with panopticon that dehumanization is a result of advance forms of technologies and disciplines. Rationalization, for Foucault, is the pursuit of controlling human life with constant surveillance and calculation. Therefore, as rationalization occupies every aspect of human life, technology becomes capable of producing more pervasive means of control.
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The convenience of the internet has also lead people to forget that the world contains a vast amount of information still inaccessible through the web. They have deemed this information too inconvenient to access, and therefore they will not bother learning from these sources. With these mediums of immense convenience and efficiency, it is no wonder that our baseline expectations of efficiency have drastically increased. When it comes to retrieving and analyzing information, we have no patience for taking extra steps to ensure we are learning truths.
 
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The panopticon of today is the internet, as it constantly observes behavior, exerts its power over it and commodifies human attention. The net violates the boundaries of private sphere and through conscious or unconscious participation it collects tremendous amounts of data to ensure market efficiency. However, assuring efficacy and privacy simultaneously are at odds with each other. One of them should take over the other if one wants to survive. As in the case of Vertesi, the internet had to find out about her pregnancy, since a pregnant women is worth three times more than an ordinary individual. The reason is, a future mother is highly valuable if she needs to buy diapers, because it will affect her long-term consumption patterns. Vertesi could only hide her secret for 7 months until Target and American Baby Life managed to find out about her situation, but realized that isolation efforts were time consuming and could even be risky.
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Fake News and Facebook

 
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The Illusion of Privacy
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Lewis’s article was written in 2002, more than a decade before the 2016 election. She had not been exposed to the news divide that happens on facebook today, nor did she see the massive influx of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton-related “fake news” articles. Even so, as early as 2002, she cautioned “We cannot assume that just because we found some information on the Internet, that it somehow makes it automatically real, right or a sound source of knowledge. Web sites are designed to sell a message to us as potential consumers of a point of view, a product or a concept - it is more a marketing than an information age in that respect.” Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms have honed in on what news we agree with and show us only that. Macedonian teenagers have discovered that if they write articles with incendiary headlines and completely false events, they can earn a ridiculous amount of money through foot traffic on their webpages because their articles are shared on facebook. The “fake news” phenomenon highlights the fact that many people encountering quite shocking news don’t even bother to do a cursory google search anymore – they will simply take the information as true.
 
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The participant in the net continuously leaves his digital footprints behind and the net makes sure that every photo, mail, video is attributed to its source whether the source wants it or not. Even though users try to mask their information somehow, technologies often find new ways to "de-anonymize" every single data. As the law professor Ohm states; "...the re-identification science makes the claims of privacy an illusion as by mixing and matching several sources of data, it is possible to reach the private...almost all information can be personal when combined with enough numbers of relevant data...". Therefore, the net has conquered our personal sphere and it is not possible to guarantee privacy for its users as merging various data sources can destroy the barriers of privacy.
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Conclusion

 
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Conclusion

The internet overall repurposes the understanding of privacy and redistributes it in order to capitalize and modify behaviour for profit. Digital platforms that are connecting us electronically provide several spaces for all sorts of transactions in order to know who says what and where. It is alarming in the sense that it challenges notions of privacy, freedom and trust. We should be aware that anything we do on the net will never cease to exist. The technology of today is worrisome and regulators need to implement more efficient policies that weight harm against benefit and privacy against efficacy.

References

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/428150/what-facebook-knows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUDwyBYbWjM

http://www.shoshanazuboff.com/books/in-the-age-of-the-smart-machine/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2014/04/29/you-can-hide-your-pregnancy-online-but-youll-feel-like-a-criminal/#1de3a74a36c4

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/09/your-secrets-live-online-in-databases-of-ruin/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/06/15/data-mining-ceo-says-he-pays-for-burgers-in-cash-to-avoid-junk-food-purchases-being-tracked/#6d7599ad36a0

http://www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/under/110597under-wayner.html

>
>
Our society’s increasing obsession with efficiency, spurred on by the conveniences of the internet, has led us to ignore other aspects of our lives that carry importance. We think this increasing efficiency has lead us to have more control over our time. After all, if more tasks can be done in less time, doesn’t that mean we have more time for leisure and more freedom to do what we want? Ironically, that is the opposite of what has happened. We have become addicts of and slaves to the maximization of efficiency. Our lives revolve around answering text messages as soon as possible and running programs as soon as they have loaded.

TWikiGuestSecondEssay 3 - 08 Dec 2016 - Main.MerveKirmaci
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*Everything That Can Be Shared for Free, Should be Shared For Free*
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Intro
 
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Technology is blurring the line of property laws. A teenager can easily send a copy of the song of her favorite artist to her friends; college students can download copies of textbooks for free; anyone can distribute the newest Hollywood movies on the internet. Publishers and movie distributors do not seem to be able defend their property rights in books, music and movies, despite their efforts in lobbying the authorities in China, Korea and United States to enforce the laws.
>
>
It was not a long time ago when we thought of the internet as a place to remain anonymous. Our social media accounts offered ways of masking our identities with weird nicknames. We could fill the gaps with false information and yet nobody could say anything, because we thought nobody could find out who we were, where we lived, which school we were going to or what was the next thing we would more likely to buy online. Today net is the place where anonymity is dead. In contrast, people work on finding ways to hide their profiles, preferences, likes an dislikes while browsing in the internet. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter paved the way for this "de-anonymization" and it seems like there is no turning back.
 
Changed:
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<
As the technology makes book, music and movies extremely accessible, copyright and the patent laws turn into hurdles on the road to the democratization of access to knowledge. Knowledge sharing on the internet, for the first time in the human history, reduces the costs of learning to zero.
>
>
When the net knows your pregnancy before you do
 
Changed:
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Before the Sui Dynasty in ancient China, the selection of officers were done through Chaju (recommendations for offices). A prerequisite of office appointments is to be knowledgeable of the Confucius Classics (Liujing). Even though there were only six books to be mastered, the books were written on bamboos, which makes books expensive to maintain and to reproduce. Only a handful of prestigious families had the resources to teach their children about the classics, which, in return, ensure all important positions were taken by these families. These families arranged marriages among themselves, established the monopoly of power for over a thousand years. To give an example of how powerful these families were, Emperor Tangwenzong once asked his chancellor to marry his granddaughter to the crown prince. The chancellor rejected and married his granddaughter to a man of the Cui family. The Emperor sighed “my family has possessed the crown for 200 years, and still cannot not match the families of Cui and Lu.”
>
>
In 2014, Princeton sociologist, Janet Vertesi run a test to see whether it was possible to hide her pregnancy from the internet. She told every family member not to contact her about it through any technological means. Maybe shutting down her social media accounts would have made it easier, but she wanted to see the possibility to remain anonymous while she was actually online. Despite the warnings, one of her relatives sent her a private Facebook message, assuming it could not be traced down by the data-mining technology. She immediately deleted the message and "unfriended" that relative as she was aware that Facebook could also collect data through private messages.
 
Changed:
<
<
What came to destroy the monopoly was the invention of paper. Full rooms of bamboo books were replaced by paper copies that could be easily transported and transferred. Papers were also cheap to produce. Any landowners who were able to feed their families, could afford to educate their children. Offices started to be filled by people of poor upbringing. The few families that had dictated the politics for over a thousand years were forgotten.
>
>
She made her purchases with cash and also did not buy anything with her credit card online. Instead, she created an alternative mail account, did the shopping with pre-paid gift cards and sent it to a shared locker of Amazon. She even bought prenatal vitamins in cash, so as to make sure that no one could even relate the idea of her getting pregnant sooner or later. However, her efforts to remain anonymous made her look like a criminal. When she wanted to continue shopping with a pre-paid card she was warned by Rite Aid that if the transaction excessed a certain amount, they would report it to the authorities.
 
Changed:
<
<
Now comes the age that knowledge costs zero. So close we are to free sharing of knowledge through digital copies and online lectures, yet we let copyrights stand in the way. Property is the sole and despotic dominion over a thing. Personal property rules were developed over a long period of time for legitimate reasons. Land was the most important form of property. Property rights solve the problem of common property. When a community owns a forest, individuals have incentives to take as must as he can from the land. By doing so, he externalize most of the costs, and obtain all the benefits. If everyone does that in the community, the resources will be depleted quickly, and the future generations’ interest will be harm. This concern does not apply to knowledge. Sharing knowledge does not diminish the knowledge or deprive the future generations’ ability to access knowledge. Sharing knowledge actually creates more knowledge and makes knowledge more accessible to future generations.
>
>
Vertesi's ultimate aim in this project is to show that our personal lives are monetized and monitored, yet we often take it for granted. On to that account, in an age of constant surveillance, how is privacy structured? Is it possible to hide from big data or is it possible to fool it? These questions are too broad to answer and concerns a wide range of disciplines, but proposing the idea of living in a digital panopticon where anonymity is disappeared, would be one way to start thinking about them. Given the broad analysis on surveillance regimes by scholars like Foucault and recent findings on "de-anonymization"; I will try to show that opting-out is not possible.
 
Changed:
<
<
Property rights give the owner the sole discretion to price his property. The presumption is that people are rational, and the market will function to ensure efficient distribution of resources. This theory only works if resources are scarce, so that resource can be possessed by the people who value it the most. Knowledge lacks the nature of scarcity. When knowledge can be distributed at cost at zero, any distribution will be efficient. The owner of intellectual property should not have the right to price knowledge however he wants.
>
>
Digital Panopticon and Anonymity
 
Changed:
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Property rights are in rem rights. For example, when a property has an owner, you only need to contract with the owner in order to receive the permission to build a dam. Otherwise, you have to contract with everyone on this land to build the dam. In contrast, one’s use of knowledge does not affect another’s ability to use the knowledge. You do not need to contract with everyone in the world to use some knowledge in exclusion of other users. Hence, there should be no in rem rights in intellectual property.
>
>
Weber's iron cage proposes the idea that in modern times rationalization and bureaucratization create institutions that seek maximum efficiency. Foucault advocates a parallel theory with panopticon that dehumanization is a result of advance forms of technologies and disciplines. Rationalization, for Foucault, is the pursuit of controlling human life with constant surveillance and calculation. Therefore, as rationalization occupies every aspect of human life, technology becomes capable of producing more pervasive means of control.
 
Changed:
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<
In order for anything to constitute property, it must be scarce. Intellectual property lacks the nature of scarcity, and property rights should not apply. The argument that absence of protection of intellectual property will discourage people from creating can be addressed in two parts. First, there is no evidence that people lacked the incentive to create when there was no intellectual property laws. Second, even if we want to encourage people to create by making such creation profitable, the court is perfectly capable of using liability rule to price any creation. If the Delaware court is capable of determining what price is fair for a stock, courts are capable of deciding what price is fair for a book.
>
>
The panopticon of today is the internet, as it constantly observes behavior, exerts its power over it and commodifies human attention. The net violates the boundaries of private sphere and through conscious or unconscious participation it collects tremendous amounts of data to ensure market efficiency. However, assuring efficacy and privacy simultaneously are at odds with each other. One of them should take over the other if one wants to survive. As in the case of Vertesi, the internet had to find out about her pregnancy, since a pregnant women is worth three times more than an ordinary individual. The reason is, a future mother is highly valuable if she needs to buy diapers, because it will affect her long-term consumption patterns. Vertesi could only hide her secret for 7 months until Target and American Baby Life managed to find out about her situation, but realized that isolation efforts were time consuming and could even be risky.
 
Deleted:
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The history of China showed that the power was dispersed after the access of knowledge became dispersed. First time in human history, the powerful and the privileged are losing control of who should be educated and how. As the cost of knowledge sharing approximates zero, intellectual property laws become the only way to artificially inflate the price of education to prevent access to knowledge for free, for all, and forever. Everything that can be shared for free, should be shared for free.
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Added:
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The Illusion of Privacy

The participant in the net continuously leaves his digital footprints behind and the net makes sure that every photo, mail, video is attributed to its source whether the source wants it or not. Even though users try to mask their information somehow, technologies often find new ways to "de-anonymize" every single data. As the law professor Ohm states; "...the re-identification science makes the claims of privacy an illusion as by mixing and matching several sources of data, it is possible to reach the private...almost all information can be personal when combined with enough numbers of relevant data...". Therefore, the net has conquered our personal sphere and it is not possible to guarantee privacy for its users as merging various data sources can destroy the barriers of privacy.

Conclusion

The internet overall repurposes the understanding of privacy and redistributes it in order to capitalize and modify behaviour for profit. Digital platforms that are connecting us electronically provide several spaces for all sorts of transactions in order to know who says what and where. It is alarming in the sense that it challenges notions of privacy, freedom and trust. We should be aware that anything we do on the net will never cease to exist. The technology of today is worrisome and regulators need to implement more efficient policies that weight harm against benefit and privacy against efficacy.

References

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/428150/what-facebook-knows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUDwyBYbWjM

http://www.shoshanazuboff.com/books/in-the-age-of-the-smart-machine/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2014/04/29/you-can-hide-your-pregnancy-online-but-youll-feel-like-a-criminal/#1de3a74a36c4

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/09/your-secrets-live-online-in-databases-of-ruin/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/06/15/data-mining-ceo-says-he-pays-for-burgers-in-cash-to-avoid-junk-food-purchases-being-tracked/#6d7599ad36a0

http://www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/under/110597under-wayner.html


TWikiGuestSecondEssay 2 - 16 Dec 2015 - Main.LianchenLiu
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-- StephenHorton - 29 Dec 2014
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Technology is blurring the line of property laws. A teenager can easily send a copy of the song of her favorite artist to her friends; college students can download copies of textbooks for free; anyone can distribute the newest Hollywood movies on the internet. Publishers and movie distributors do not seem to be able defend their property rights in books, music and movies, despite their efforts in lobbying the authorities in China, Korea and United States to enforce the laws.
 
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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Elonis v. United States on December 1, 2014, which has opened up a debate about the issue of free speech on the Internet. In that case, defendant Anthony Elonis posted violent rap lyrics about murdering his wife on Facebook. He was prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), which states that “[w]hoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” In this essay, I review Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence and evaluate the merits of Elonis’s argument.
>
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As the technology makes book, music and movies extremely accessible, copyright and the patent laws turn into hurdles on the road to the democratization of access to knowledge. Knowledge sharing on the internet, for the first time in the human history, reduces the costs of learning to zero.
 
Added:
>
>
Before the Sui Dynasty in ancient China, the selection of officers were done through Chaju (recommendations for offices). A prerequisite of office appointments is to be knowledgeable of the Confucius Classics (Liujing). Even though there were only six books to be mastered, the books were written on bamboos, which makes books expensive to maintain and to reproduce. Only a handful of prestigious families had the resources to teach their children about the classics, which, in return, ensure all important positions were taken by these families. These families arranged marriages among themselves, established the monopoly of power for over a thousand years. To give an example of how powerful these families were, Emperor Tangwenzong once asked his chancellor to marry his granddaughter to the crown prince. The chancellor rejected and married his granddaughter to a man of the Cui family. The Emperor sighed “my family has possessed the crown for 200 years, and still cannot not match the families of Cui and Lu.”
 
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Supreme Court First Amendment Jurisprudence

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What came to destroy the monopoly was the invention of paper. Full rooms of bamboo books were replaced by paper copies that could be easily transported and transferred. Papers were also cheap to produce. Any landowners who were able to feed their families, could afford to educate their children. Offices started to be filled by people of poor upbringing. The few families that had dictated the politics for over a thousand years were forgotten.
 
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It is clear that the First Amendment does not provide unlimited protection for all things spoken, written, or otherwise expressed. For instance, in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), Justice Holmes, writing for the majority, famously wrote, “[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic… The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” Schenck remains a driving principle behind free speech jurisprudence, but was limited in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). That case held that it is an infringement of First Amendment speech rights to punish speech unless the speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Id. at 447.
>
>
Now comes the age that knowledge costs zero. So close we are to free sharing of knowledge through digital copies and online lectures, yet we let copyrights stand in the way. Property is the sole and despotic dominion over a thing. Personal property rules were developed over a long period of time for legitimate reasons. Land was the most important form of property. Property rights solve the problem of common property. When a community owns a forest, individuals have incentives to take as must as he can from the land. By doing so, he externalize most of the costs, and obtain all the benefits. If everyone does that in the community, the resources will be depleted quickly, and the future generations’ interest will be harm. This concern does not apply to knowledge. Sharing knowledge does not diminish the knowledge or deprive the future generations’ ability to access knowledge. Sharing knowledge actually creates more knowledge and makes knowledge more accessible to future generations.
 
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However, the Supreme Court has said that, along with incitement speech, government may impinge on speech that constitutes a “true threat.” In Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003), the majority held that “[t]rue threats encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” Id. at 359 (internal quotation marks omitted).
>
>
Property rights give the owner the sole discretion to price his property. The presumption is that people are rational, and the market will function to ensure efficient distribution of resources. This theory only works if resources are scarce, so that resource can be possessed by the people who value it the most. Knowledge lacks the nature of scarcity. When knowledge can be distributed at cost at zero, any distribution will be efficient. The owner of intellectual property should not have the right to price knowledge however he wants.
 
Added:
>
>
Property rights are in rem rights. For example, when a property has an owner, you only need to contract with the owner in order to receive the permission to build a dam. Otherwise, you have to contract with everyone on this land to build the dam. In contrast, one’s use of knowledge does not affect another’s ability to use the knowledge. You do not need to contract with everyone in the world to use some knowledge in exclusion of other users. Hence, there should be no in rem rights in intellectual property.
 
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Elonis’s Case

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In order for anything to constitute property, it must be scarce. Intellectual property lacks the nature of scarcity, and property rights should not apply. The argument that absence of protection of intellectual property will discourage people from creating can be addressed in two parts. First, there is no evidence that people lacked the incentive to create when there was no intellectual property laws. Second, even if we want to encourage people to create by making such creation profitable, the court is perfectly capable of using liability rule to price any creation. If the Delaware court is capable of determining what price is fair for a stock, courts are capable of deciding what price is fair for a book.
 
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Elonis’s case turns on the application of the true threat doctrine. As is apparent, the definition from Virginia v. Black leaves something to be desired in terms of clarity. Elonis is arguing that the federal statute he was prosecuted under requires the government to prove his subjective intent to threaten. The government, on the other hand, maintains that proof of subjective intent is next to impossible to prove and would swallow the true threat exception altogether. Rather, they argue that they only must prove that a reasonable person would regard Elonis’s speech as threatening.

The former position is the correct one. Our legal system has required substantive intent for criminal liability since the beginning of our common law tradition, rather than simple negligence. See e.g., Holmes, The Common Law (1881). Moreover, when a criminal statute implicates a constitutional right, we must allow for a certain margin of error, if you will, in order to avoid a chilling effect on protected speech. People may choose to forgo making protected speech because they are concerned that they may find themselves on the other side of the contours of protection. Democracy thrives on differences of opinion and public discourse, so allowing for an adequate margin of error is preferable as an imprecise means to a desired end.

Substantively, Elonis’s statements were abhorrent and no one is defending the statements themselves. But, it is when we disagree with a speaker’s viewpoint that the civil liberties that this country was founded on are most crucial. Moreover, while it may seem like violent language like Elonis’s has no value whatsoever, as was suggested by Justice Scalia in oral arguments, infringing on Elonis’s right to express himself in this case will have far-reaching consequences on art speech (even if reasonable people disagree about whether statements like the ones in this case could ever be considered art) and political speech. As was pointed out by the Supreme Court itself, “[t]he language of the political arena,” in particular, “is often vituperative, abusive, and inexact,” and “may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705, 708 (1969).

Furthermore, speech on the Internet should be particularly threatening in order t justify government censorship. The Internet was founded on the idea of dissemination of information and is inherently the primary vehicle of democracy in this country: “[t]hrough the use of chat rooms, any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same individual can become a pamphleteer.” Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997). The Supreme Court has had trouble adapting to 21st Century technology, but even without understanding the architecture of the Net, it is easy to see the value in allowing speech to remain largely unfettered in a context where anyone in the world can communicate with anyone else.

A subjective intent requirement, as argued for by Elonis, is necessary to protect First Amendment rights in general, and Internet speech in particular.

 
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The history of China showed that the power was dispersed after the access of knowledge became dispersed. First time in human history, the powerful and the privileged are losing control of who should be educated and how. As the cost of knowledge sharing approximates zero, intellectual property laws become the only way to artificially inflate the price of education to prevent access to knowledge for free, for all, and forever. Everything that can be shared for free, should be shared for free.
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-- StephenHorton - 29 Dec 2014

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Elonis v. United States on December 1, 2014, which has opened up a debate about the issue of free speech on the Internet. In that case, defendant Anthony Elonis posted violent rap lyrics about murdering his wife on Facebook. He was prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), which states that “[w]hoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” In this essay, I review Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence and evaluate the merits of Elonis’s argument.

Supreme Court First Amendment Jurisprudence

It is clear that the First Amendment does not provide unlimited protection for all things spoken, written, or otherwise expressed. For instance, in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), Justice Holmes, writing for the majority, famously wrote, “[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic… The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” Schenck remains a driving principle behind free speech jurisprudence, but was limited in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). That case held that it is an infringement of First Amendment speech rights to punish speech unless the speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Id. at 447.

However, the Supreme Court has said that, along with incitement speech, government may impinge on speech that constitutes a “true threat.” In Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003), the majority held that “[t]rue threats encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” Id. at 359 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Elonis’s Case

Elonis’s case turns on the application of the true threat doctrine. As is apparent, the definition from Virginia v. Black leaves something to be desired in terms of clarity. Elonis is arguing that the federal statute he was prosecuted under requires the government to prove his subjective intent to threaten. The government, on the other hand, maintains that proof of subjective intent is next to impossible to prove and would swallow the true threat exception altogether. Rather, they argue that they only must prove that a reasonable person would regard Elonis’s speech as threatening.

The former position is the correct one. Our legal system has required substantive intent for criminal liability since the beginning of our common law tradition, rather than simple negligence. See e.g., Holmes, The Common Law (1881). Moreover, when a criminal statute implicates a constitutional right, we must allow for a certain margin of error, if you will, in order to avoid a chilling effect on protected speech. People may choose to forgo making protected speech because they are concerned that they may find themselves on the other side of the contours of protection. Democracy thrives on differences of opinion and public discourse, so allowing for an adequate margin of error is preferable as an imprecise means to a desired end.

Substantively, Elonis’s statements were abhorrent and no one is defending the statements themselves. But, it is when we disagree with a speaker’s viewpoint that the civil liberties that this country was founded on are most crucial. Moreover, while it may seem like violent language like Elonis’s has no value whatsoever, as was suggested by Justice Scalia in oral arguments, infringing on Elonis’s right to express himself in this case will have far-reaching consequences on art speech (even if reasonable people disagree about whether statements like the ones in this case could ever be considered art) and political speech. As was pointed out by the Supreme Court itself, “[t]he language of the political arena,” in particular, “is often vituperative, abusive, and inexact,” and “may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705, 708 (1969).

Furthermore, speech on the Internet should be particularly threatening in order t justify government censorship. The Internet was founded on the idea of dissemination of information and is inherently the primary vehicle of democracy in this country: “[t]hrough the use of chat rooms, any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same individual can become a pamphleteer.” Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997). The Supreme Court has had trouble adapting to 21st Century technology, but even without understanding the architecture of the Net, it is easy to see the value in allowing speech to remain largely unfettered in a context where anyone in the world can communicate with anyone else.

A subjective intent requirement, as argued for by Elonis, is necessary to protect First Amendment rights in general, and Internet speech in particular.

 
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