Category Archives: Liberty

John Quarterman on Mapping Spam and Politics (audio)

At a meeting on a completely different subject, I was interviewed about Here's the audio, and here's the blurb they supplied:

John S. Quarterman, long time Internet denizen, wrote one of the seminal books about networking prior to the commercialization of the Internet. He co-founded the first Internet consulting firm in Texas (TIC) in 1986, and co-founded one of the first ISPs in Austin (Zilker Internet Park, since sold to Jump Point). He was a founder of TISPA, the Texas ISP Association. Quarterman was born and raised in Lowndes County, where he married his wife Gretchen. They live on the same land where he grew up, and participate in local community and government.

Quarterman took some time during Georgia River Network's Weekend for Rivers to speak with the Nonprofit Snapshot about spam-mapping and small town politics.

More about Elinor Ostrom's Nobel-prize-winning work on organizing the commons, and how that applies to

The water organization has since been incorporated as the Georgia non-profit WWALS Watershed Coalition:

WWALS is an advocacy organization working for watershed conservation of the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems watershed in south Georgia and north Florida through awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen advocacy.


Our Friend Unfairly Maligned in London’s Court

Many of you are concerned as am I about our friend who has been hauled into court in London and unfairly maligned for the “crime” of distributing some government communications that he got from an anonymous source. I know our friend also has been a bit playful out of wedlock, and even had a son that way, but I don’t see what that has to do with the matter at hand.

Our friend represented his agency in the matter of procuring and forwarding the communications “as a public act, dealing with the public correspondence of public men.” His accusers were having none of it:

Into what companies will the fabricator of this iniquity hereafter go with an unembarrassed face, or with any semblance of the honest intrepidity of virtue? Men will watch him with a jealous eye &em; they will hide their papers from him, and lock up their escritoires. Having hitherto aspired after fame by his writings, he will henceforth esteem it a libel to be called a man of letters
His accusers made him out to be a vindictive destroyer of public confidence. He had “forfeited all the respect of societies and of men” and was not a gentleman, rather a common thief.

I am happy to hear our friend has been released by the court in London, although two days later he was fired from his job as deputy postmaster general of North America. Continue reading

Liberty vs. Control (Not Privacy vs. Security)

secretsandlies.jpg Bruce Schneier hits the nail on the head:
If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass im migration into the former East Germany and modern-day China. While it’s true th at police states like those have less street crime, no one argues that their ci tizens are fundamentally more secure.

We’ve been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often — in debate s on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and poli tical rhetoric — that most of us don’t even question the fundamental dichotomy .

But it’s a false one.

Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don’t have to accep t less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm a nd a tall fence.

What Our Top Spy Doesn’t Get: Security and Privacy Aren’t Opposites, Bruce Schneier, Wired, 01.24.08 | 12:00 PM

There’s more, all well worth reading.

Here’s the gist:

The debate isn’t security versus privacy. It’s liberty versus control.

You can see it in comments by government officials: “Privacy no longer can mean anonymity,” says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligen ce. “Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.” Did you catch that? You’re expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who — presumabl y — get to decide how much of it you deserve. That’s what loss of liberty look s like.

Haven’t we lost enough already?


Liability Waiver?

Speciality Insurance Blog points out that liability waivers, while increasingly popular, may not protect governmental entities from gross negligence claims.

That doesn’t stop governmental entities from using them even in the grossest cases:

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq , by George W. Bush, The White House, 17 July 2007

You’ve got to admire the chutzpah of promulgating a blatantly unconstitutional directive (see Fourth Amendment) and ending it with a liability waiver.

And there’s always suppressing the evidence, as in FEMA trailers outgassing formaldehyde.

Risk management includes watching what’s going on.


TSA Transparency?

Bruce Schneier examines the notorious sippy cup incident in which a mother was told she couldn’t take a cup of water for her infant through airport security, and gets right to the point:
Why is it that we all — myself included — believe these stories? Why are we so quick to assume that the TSA is a bunch of jack-booted thugs, officious and arbitrary and drunk with power?

TSA and the Sippy Cup Incident, Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, 18 June 2007

Yes, why is that? Continue reading

Liberty vs. Control

ben.jpg Bruce Schneier reviews a paper about data mining, which unfortunately includes the phrase “the Security-Liberty Debate” in its title. He reiterates that liberty is security.
It’s a liberty vs. control debate.

Data Mining and the Security-Liberty Debate, by Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, June 12, 2007

Remember, this opinion is backed up by research. Continue reading