Category Archives: cyberlibertarianism

Code Is Not Speech

code is speech

Brief version Advocates understand the idea that “code is speech” to create an impenetrable legal shield around anything built of programming code. When they do this they misunderstand, or misrepresent, free speech law (and rights law in general), which rarely creates such impenetrable shields, the principles that underlie that law, and the ways those principles […]

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Are “Backdoors” Real or Virtual? The Logical Flaw in #AppleVsFBI

Apple Vs FBI protest

I’ve been working for quite a while on a longer piece about the argument that “backdoors make us less secure,” an article of faith among cryptographers, hackers and computer scientists that is adhered to with such condescension, vehemence (and at times, venom) that I can’t help but want to subject it to the closest scrutiny […]

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The Volkswagen Scandal: The DMCA Is Not the Problem and Open Source Is Not the Solution

VW Super Beetle (1972)

tl;dr The solution to the VW scandal is to empower regulators and make sure they have access to any and all parts of the systems they oversee. The solution is not to open up those systems to everyone. There is no “right to repair,” at least for individuals. Whether or not it deserves to be […]

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Encryption and Responsibility: A Note on Symphony

Typically, those of us concerned about the widespread use of encryption and anonymization technologies like Tor are depicted by crypto advocates as “anti-encryption” or “freedom haters” or “mind-murdering censors” or worse. Despite the level of detail these people can bring to technological matters, they often portray the political options as very stark: either “encryption” or […]

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Right Reaction and the Digital Humanities

UKIP

A while back, I had an encounter that struck me at the time, and continues to strike me, as perfectly emblematic of the Digital Humanities as an ideological formation. While it includes a kind of brutal incivility that I associate with much of the politics that persists very near the “nice” surface of DH (of […]

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Crowdforcing: When What I “Share” Is Yours

a crowd

Among the many default, background, often unexamined assumptions of the digital revolution is that sharing is good. A major part of the digital revolution in rhetoric is to repurpose existing language in ways that advantage the promoters of one scheme or another. It is no surprise that while it may well have been the case […]

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Tor, Technocracy, Democracy

freedom is slavery

As important as the technical issues regarding Tor are, at least as important—probably more important—is the political worldview that Tor promotes (as do other projects like it). While it is useful and relevant to talk about formations that capture large parts of the Tor community, like “geek culture” and “cypherpunks” and libertarianism and anarchism, one […]

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‘Is It Compromised?’ Is the Wrong Question about US Government Funding of Tor

cia dissemination of propaganda

In many ways, the most surprising thing about Yasha Levine’s powerful reporting on US government funding of Tor at Pando Daily has been the response to it. From the trolling attacks and ad hominem insults by apparently respectable, senior digital privacy activists and journalists, to repeated, climate-denialist-style “I’m rubber you’re glue”-type (or, as I like […]

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Wikipedia and the Oligarchy of Ignorance

wikipedia

In a recent story on Medium called “One Man’s Quest to Rid Wikipedia of Exactly One Grammatical Mistake: Meet the Ultimate WikiGnome,” Andrew McMillen tells the story of Wikipedia editor “Giraffedata”—beyond the world of Wikipedia, a software engineer named Bryan Henderson—who has edited thousands of Wikipedia pages to correct a single grammatical error and is […]

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Tor Is Not a “Fundamental Law of the Universe”

Tor for freedom

In what I consider a very welcome act of journalistic open-mindedness, Pando Daily recently published a piece by Quinn Norton that responded both to Yasha Levine’s excellent and necessary piece on the US Government’s funding of the Tor Project, and perhaps even more so his even more necessary piece on the amazing attacks his piece […]

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