[discuss] Blogpost: So What Do We Do Now? Living in a Post-Snowden World

Nigel Hickson nigel.hickson at icann.org
Thu Jan 2 23:07:09 UTC 2014


Good evening; I found this interesting but factually incorrect concerning
ICANN (your paragraph re surveillance).



On 1/2/14 4:24 PM, "michael gurstein" <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:

>Blogpost (with links):
>So, What Do We Do Now? Living in a Post-Snowden World
>Michael Gurstein
>As the avalanche of Snowden revelations resumes after it's brief
>organizational regrouping and holiday hiatus a few learnings and even more
>direct and pertinent questions are starting to emerge.
>Evegeny Morozov in an otherwise interesting piece in the Financial Times
>surely incorrect in his bald statement that "Snowden now faces a growing
>wave of surveillance fatigue among the public".  The emotion isn't
>"surveillance fatigue" but rather shell shock at the revelations as they
>keep coming, in wave after uncomfortable wave.  The first reaction of
>was shock (and awe), the second was a feeling of anger and rising
>resistance; but as the revelations have kept coming, each one more
>disturbing than the last; but now shifting from pointing to quantity of
>surveillance (everything, everyone, everywhere, forever), to quality (from
>metadata to communications content to networking to instantaneous
>full-spectrum profiling).  The emotion is now-what on earth can we do-this
>is impossible, democracy or even any form of popular sovereignty is at
>immediate risk, but what on earth can we do?
>The techies who started off shocked and appalled and over-all angry (at
>feeling personally and professionally betrayed) and vowing (or at least
>those whose organizational or corporate affiliations didn't leave them
>irretrievably compromised) vowed to fight back and there were heated
>discussions in various tech forums of various technical strategies for
>turning the surveillance tide.
>But the revelations have just kept on coming and the tech community like
>everyone else recognizes the scope and depth and ultimately overwhelming
>power of an agency with access to the full might and resources of the
>richest, most powerful country on earth led by a President who himself
>to be either in thrall of the surveillance machine or indentured to it for
>reasons we may never know. They, now equally stand blinded by the
>of a headlong careening tank, are recognizing with appalled
>self-incriminations what a horror they have allowed and contributed to
>Quite clearly technical solutions won't work (or at least won't scale) if
>the dominant power doesn't want it to work, and anyway who would trust
>anti-surveillance solutions were working after all we know of how the
>corporate sector and the tech community has been (willingly or or no)
>brought in as semi-aware co-conspirators.
>And by now, it appears reasonably evident (based on the overall
>to doing anything much by the political masterclass in DC and elsewhere)
>and down the decision tree and including its FiveEyes handmaidens, that
>decisions have been made not only that resistance measures won't be
>to work but that they will be actively resisted and "attacked" with all
>forces and resources that have already gone into building the existing
>Even the corporate sector (US) has become extremely uneasy at the damage
>that has and is being done to their reputation for trustworthiness and
>reliability and with that damage would appear to be escalating costs and
>Even the cyber-libertarian pro-US chorus has gone silent - recognizing as
>they had no choice but to do, the most fundamental of contradictions
>freedom and surveillance. Some of course, are opting for the. "but your
>are worse" argument (but without having any idea of whether there is any
>'your' as in "your guys" anywhere to speak of). Is anybody anywhere
>in Fox News fantasies) coming to the support of Russia or China or Saudi
>Arabia as an alternative in all of this.
>And of course, the cyber crowd has spent the last 20 years systematically
>denigrating and tossing rocks into the spokes of any regulatory or
>governance vehicle that might, however remotely, be able to mount a
>framework that could tame the surveillance juggernaut.So, at the end of
>day who is there to call when there is an existential threat to the very
>foundation of Western values and democratic processes. Ghost Busters? Even
>they seem too busy warding off other threats from "real" aliens to the
>existential well-being of the Western world.
>The international community might, just might be able to do something, if
>they were to gang up on the US (as seemed possible, if only briefly,
>following President Rousseff's speech to the UN General Assembly). But as
>"saner heads" and diplomats are coming into the game that seems to be
>into the dusty hallways of the UN, likely never to be heard from again.
>There is still some hope from President Rousseff's meeting in Brazil in
>April but the apparent lacklustre interest from other of the world's
>- they themselves presumably being compromised up the yin yang and in
>hearts having as little interest in retaining even the possibility of a
>functioning democracy as those Stasi folks in the NSA and surrounds;
>alongside the ceding of a co-management role in the conference to ICANN,
>itself a potentially compromised player in the global Internet governance
>(if not directly surveillance) game; leaves the responsibility of making
>effective case on behalf of global democracy to Civil Society and the
>Technical Community both of which themselves have yet to have fully (or in
>most instances even partially) redeemed themselves let alone publicly
>their back on their full-throated (and deeply misguided) alliance with the
>US and its allies in the "Internet Freedom" crusade at the 2012 Internet
>Governance Forum and the World Conference on International
>Telecommunications (WCIT); this "crusade" in retrospect seemingly at least
>circumstantially to have been a tactic to ensure that all possible
>opposition to Internet mass surveillance was made either unlikely or
>Let's be clear. We are talking about the future of the world as we have
>to believe it might be-democratic, with freedom of expression and of
>thought, with an openness to popularly initiated and supported change,
>increasing accountability and transparency of the governors to the
>where governmental as other action is responsive to the rule of law and
>the other things that the various Western government sponsored training
>programs in democracy go on about at such considerable length. Whether it
>will become a version of Orwell's 1984 (some already think we are over
>Whether we will live in a world where one country and its 5 allies have
>access to all worthwhile information which allows them to control any
>possibility of dissent (even before it happens), control the inputs into
>outputs from elections or any form of political campaign, control
>markets and bank accounts, control the behaviour of individuals and
>ultimately groups and that's for starters-those are things we can
>interpolate based on what we know, not as would surely be more realistic,
>interpolating from what else we can foresee-these guys as we all know,
>access to effectively unlimited financial resources and the brainpower
>goes with it.
>Most certainly this is not Lenin's question "What is to be done" which was
>rhetorical (he already knew very well what had to be done and had the will
>to find (seize) and apply the resources to do it).  No, our question is
>more problematic-we don't know what to do, and we clearly don't have the
>will or the resources to do it even if we knew what the solution was.
>Over it all of course, there is the reality that the possibility of
>concerted action is foreclosed on by the rather surprising political
>identification with and ultimately support for the surveillance apparatus
>the centre-left and right-both evidently gaining too many benefits from
>status quo to even contemplate rocking the boat even in the service of the
>democracy to which they so loudly and regularly pledge allegiance.
>It appears that it is only at the fringes on the right and on the left
>of course, among those who have an inkling of the reality and significance
>of what is going on-most notably the technical community) that there is
>real alarm and desire to do something . anything that might work.  But
>here, the right is too deeply enthralled by the logic of their position to
>even contemplate alternatives (governmental based) that might work. And
>left is too weakened after vicious assaults over the last decade to launch
>any worthwhile opposition.
>So what are we to do.
>discuss mailing list
>discuss at 1net.org
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