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Ian Clarke and Freenet in the Crosshairs 493

EMIce writes "John Markoff of the New York Times writes of Ian, "Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared. ... Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes." Wasn't freenet originally about dissent? Mr. Markoff appears to be re-writing a history that he probably only knows through a handful of lexis-nexis searches." Update: 08/01 18:32 GMT by T : Ian Clarke wrote to point out his comment posted to the story which lays out the actual subject of his Defcon talk.
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Ian Clarke and Freenet in the Crosshairs

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  • Notable quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:04PM (#13214542)
    "The classic use for Freenet would be for a group of political dissidents in China, or even in the United States."


    Because the United States and China are so similar when it comes to oppressing free speech and jailing political dissidents. It's clearly impossible in the US to criticize the government, or even have imagery of the president with a bullet hole in his head on the tob banner of your web site [].

    If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

    (Note: traveling to Afghanistan, training in Taliban camps, and planning to blow up buildings in downtown Chicago with radiological dirty bombs is not "free speech".)

    If you're looking for trampling of free speech, you needn't look to the government; you need only look no further than our own academic institutions [].
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:15PM (#13214651)
    Arguably, free speech is best protected by getting tools like this out in the wild before they're needed.

    The refusal of the secret service to allow demonstrations anywhere near the president ( "free speech zones" ) and the recent raids on server farms hosting indymedia websites could be described as state-sponsored restrictions of free speech.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:16PM (#13214660)
    A problem Freenet faces is highlighted by the Scientology debate -- and I don't mean if Tom Cruise is right for Katie Holmes.

    In order to accurately discuss Scientology you need access to documents they claim are copyrighted and sell only at extornist prices. Open informed discussion brings lawsuits.

    Yet free speech via Freenet brings charges that it is just a method used to violate copyrights.

    How do you reconcile these two, divergent views?

  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:18PM (#13214681)

    The writeup isn't confusing...the article itself is, and purposefully so.

    From TFA:
    While Freenet attracted wide attention as a potentially disruptive force when he introduced it in 2000, it proved more difficult to use than file-sharing programs like Grokster and Napster, and did not achieve the impact that he envisioned.

    Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes.
    In the second sentence, Mr. Markoff insinuated that the original purpose of Freenet wasn't to protect political opponents of repressive regimes, when in fact Freenet's stated purpose was always, and still is, to combat censorship.

    In other words, Mr Markoff is intentionally distorting established history for his own ends, but given his history, that's not too surprising.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#13214716)

    "So anyone have any anecdotal examples of were Freenet has actually helped any Dissidents?"

    That's a tough one, since the absence of evidence is the entire point of the system.

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#13214724) Journal
    It's clearly impossible in the US to criticize the government

    That depends. Is your wife a CIA agent?
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rolan ( 20257 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:35PM (#13214851) Homepage Journal
    The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against government or government officials.

    None of which are forms of speech protected by the Constitution.
  • by Linus Torvaalds ( 876626 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:42PM (#13214910)

    ...shame the facts don't agree with it.

    From the Wayback Machine archive of May 2000 []:

    Freenet is a peer-to-peer network designed to allow the distribution of information over the Internet in an efficient manner, without fear of censorship.

    Another page from the Wayback Machine []:

    Freenet implements free speech, nothing more. It won't encourage or enable criminal behavior that wouldn't have happened without it, and it might actually help us better understand and deal with criminals. While our hope is that people under oppressive governments can use Freenet to describe their plight without retribution, it is also possible for a terrorist to publish on Freenet why he chose to bomb a building or hijack a plane.

    Freenet's political goal isn't revisionist history. Implying that it's intended for copyright infringement is.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:49PM (#13214963)
    Wait, what?

    Since when does our Constitution apply to citizens of other countries?

    Select parts of the constitution only apply to citizens. Otherwise, everyone is entitled to the rights specified in the constitution (right to trial by jury, court appointed lawyer, etc.) The constitution is not merely a document defining the powers of the government, but a document on human rights that ALL PEOPE ARE ENTITLED TO. Hell, it took the country another 150+ years to fully realize it.

    Since when does it apply to POW's?
    Wait, I thought they weren't POWs but Unlawful Combatants. At least that's what Dubya's saying so they don't get coverage under the Geneva convention. Which means they're criminals arrested by the US and thus subject to the laws regarding our legal system.

    Nobody is going to search your library records.
    We don't know this, now do we? Nor can we know since they can't legally speak about such incidents!

    The only one who's painting a malformed picture is you, tainted with a rosy color.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <[xptical] [at] []> on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:49PM (#13214964)
    You know, things like that used to piss me off. Then someone laid it out for me.

    If you have a group, say the Republicans, trying to have a meeting. Then another group, say PETA, wants to protest. The city says that PETA can have a protest, but it must be a few blocks away from the Republicans.

    What right to peacibly assemble has been infringed?


    The guys at PETA want to disrupt the Republican's right to assemble. Not the other way around. By seperating the groups, everyone can assemble and no one has their rights removed; either by the government or by each other.

    Now, you can be an anarchast and claim that anyone should be able to assemble at anytime, but that'd just lead to chaos. The Republicans would be trying to talk while the PETA guys are yelling. The PETA guys would get their asses stomped by the Republican rednecks. Someone would kill a dog or eat a steak just for show. It'd be terrible.

    Seperating the groups does not mean that anyone's right to speech has been removed.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VP ( 32928 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:03PM (#13215117)
    Both of your statements are untrue and outdated - even the article you link to is an year old. There are much newer sources of information (based on testimonies under oath in front of a Grand Jury). Wilson's wife brought him in the CIA for a meeting - that is what her involvement was. She had neither the power, nor the influence to "approve trips to Africa". And the reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium, that were to be investigated, were not for 1998, but from this century.

    I guess it would be too much to ask, since you linked to the Washington Post page, that you would read the Senate's "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assemssment on Iraq []" or at least its Conclusions [] - after all, they are linked off that same page...

    For your edification, here is a small excerpt:

    The assessment that "Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear program" was not supported by the intelligence provided to the committee.
  • by radish ( 98371 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:51PM (#13215630) Homepage
    They must have some evidence

    It's nice to see you have such blind trust in the government. My god man - wake up.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:54PM (#13215653) Journal

    1. I didn't know we were only talking about Bush.

    I referenced Bush because he's the one who is setting up the "Free Speech Zones" that we were discussing. This is where anyone who would make him look bad on television is confined (i.e. those who would boo him, those who would wave banners where the cameras could see, etc.) Anyone wanting to assasinate him is, allowing for sanity, not going to make themselves part of this group. They'll make themselves part of the flag-waving, cheering crowds who are aloud in media range of the president.

    As to integrating into a huge mob of people? Absurd! You pull out a gun in the midst of a crowd of protestors, point it at the president and see how quickly you get mobbed and flattened. And if you did, see how quickly you can run away through that "huge mob" you describe. And you see all those coppers who are positioned to keep order? Do you see where they're keeping order? That's right - they're paying special attention to the protesting people, as they always do.

    Trying to use a mob of protestors as cover for an assasination is only a hinderance compared to not using them.

    The only scenario in which a mob will be a benefit to an assasination, is when it's a mob of people who all want to assasinate the president. And if that's the case, it ain't assasination you're dealing with. It's an intifada.

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VP ( 32928 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:05PM (#13215769)
    Nice back-pedalling :-). It is not true that she "approved" the trip, and that is what you said. It is true that she was involved, but that is not what I was repsonding to.

    So now, the whole Iraq issue is that they violated the UN Security Council resolutions? Oh my, how did I miss that?

    Of course Iraq was violating the post-Gulf War resolutions. The reason given to go to war, however, was to prevent an existing and immediate threat of materializing. Wilson's trip was to investigate a specific report, not whether Iraq had tried to buy uranium at some time in general.

    As for impropriety, this is always determined by the power and decision making structures involving the participants. Was Valerie Plame the person who initiated the trip? Did she make the decision who will go on that trip? Was she in the position to make that decision? AFAIK, the answer of all three questions is "No."

    As to the childish reasoning that she only got involved because the White House wanted to discredit Wilson's article, why does the administration have a need to discredit the truth? (BTW, this is where the Senate's report is relevant - even with Iraq's violations of the UN resolutions, there was, and is no evidence that they did anything with their nuclear program). Even if you really believe that it was simply incompetence not to know about the rules regarding CIA operatives' identities (i.e. always assume it is secret, unless specifically told otherwise), it is still criminal incompetence.

    To get back to the original issue - "outing" Valerie Plame was a goivernment retaliation against a published article. Whether it was to discredit the author, to ruin his wife's carrier, or to endanger her life, it doesn't matter - it is still a free speach issue, especially since the intelligence supports the aformentioned article.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:11PM (#13215831)
    If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

    You say you'd love to hear it, but deep down, you don't want to hear it at all.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:32PM (#13216024) Homepage Journal
    The question is when does free speech go to far?
    Someone complained that about the preventing protests too close to the president. How do they feel on limiting how close protesters can be to abortion clinics? Another talks about how valuable hiding you identity is when you speak but how do they feel about Microsoft funding studies about Linux? I have seen people post that allowing kiddie porn is a price they are willing to pay for free speech. If I had the home address and phone number of someone that was unpopular on Slashdot should I have the right to post it? Should I have the right to lie about them?
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:51PM (#13216223)
    They must have some evidence...
    Don't you remember Richard Jewel []? The FBI spent a couple months smearing him in the national media because they had some evicence that he was a domestic terrorist, the Olympic Park Bomber. Turns out the FBI was totally wrong - it was Eric Rudolph. Oops, sorry!

    Here is the FBI's evidence against Richard Jewel:

    One acquaintance described Jewell as ``an adrenaline junkie'' who craved action, and another said that Jewell expressed hope he would be ``right in the middle of it'' if police were needed during the Games.

    A former law enforcement colleague - also unnamed in the documents - told the FBI Jewell was ``blackballed'' from police work because of his troubled record, and speculated Jewell might have seen Olympic heroism as a way of getting another police job.

    I remember believing our leadership "must have some evidence" of WMD in Iraq!
  • by PhucYuew ( 899891 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @03:31PM (#13216573)
    The constitution is not merely a document defining the powers of the government, but a document on human rights that ALL PEOPE ARE ENTITLED TO.

    I can't believe I have to bother pointing this out, but Civil Rights and Human Rights are very -- repeat very different beasts...

    The Constitution lays out our Civil Rights or our Civil Liberties -- it makes no assertions of human rights, and as such, is meant to only apply to citizens of this Republic!

    Human rights, while more basic and less extensive, are supposed to apply to all...but try telling that to China. When you're back, if you make it, make sure you tell /. what it's like staring down the barrel of a rifle...

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas