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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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  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:13PM (#13214633) Journal
    >If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

    Your post is very dismissive, on the basis that free speech is decently protected in the US. But I think one goal of Freenet is to protect the anonymity and privacy of information providers that use it. Free speech by itself does not do that.

  • by donleyp ( 745680 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:14PM (#13214643) Homepage
    They talked about Usenet in the article. The fact is that Usenet news is still very much alive and there are tons of copyrighted material floating around on it. There's also lots of legitimately published stuff too. Does anyone know of any efforts by RIAA and others to shut it down? ISP's have been carrying the alt.binaries.* groups for as long as I can remember. Have there been any legal challenges to that?
  • by iendedi ( 687301 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:16PM (#13214661) Journal
    If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.
    Here you go: Patriot Act [] ... More on the Patriot Act []

    Truth is, the U.S. is probably locked down a bit tighter than China these days. Does China have one of these []? Through Echelon and the Patriot act, you can say the wrong thing and have nice black suits show up within 24 hours to take you away without a warrant, hold you indefinitely without a trial and completely ignore any constitutionaly protected rights you think you might have.

    That is America today and some people are not so happy about it. People like Ian are sticking their necks out and being good Americans. You aren't trying to tell us he's not a PATRIOT are you?
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:16PM (#13214672) Homepage Journal
    Whenever freenet pops up in any discussion, there are two points discussed.

    * Child porn
    * Political propoganda

    These are two of the untouchable evils that are used to condemn Freenet. The rest of the world really doesn't see the point of an organized data store distributed accross machines based on constancy of use.

    After all, political dissidents are an essential measure of the health of a country. One with too little or too much of those indicate either fascism or anarchy. Democracy essentially says that the minorities shall not get what they want (ie the minority is defined as people who voted for something other than the majority) - it should technically have some disgruntled citizens. If you believe otherwise, please stop buying more shiny things.

    Anyway, like I like to say "Technology is a sword, both sides use and misuse it". And the essential sarcastic comment about "Freenet can be used for terrorist communications".
  • Fundamental problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:25PM (#13214753) Homepage
    If you're going to let anyone onto the network, you may be letting undercover government agents onto the network.

    If you're going to transmit data from point A to point B, points A and B have to know something that makes the other unique among all possible points.

    If you're going to make the network 100% anonymous and available, it'll get blocked by administrators afraid it will be abused, like Tor.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pohl ( 872 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:25PM (#13214755) Homepage
    Your request f or a "provable" example betrays how naive you are. There is no way that the suppression of free speech by the government would be so overt in such a politically savvy nation. If you want to look for suppression of speech, look for those things surrounded by the protective shield of plausible deniability, such as the Plame affair []. Or look for subtle forms of coercion, such as denying "access to the president" to reporters that stray from the pattern of lobbing softball questions in press conferences. Or look to suppression by corporate proxy of people who lose their jobs for being critical of the president during an election. Or look for the the goverment leveraging the fear of terrorism to abridge the right to assemble in protest of world trade conferences.
  • by UninvitedCompany ( 709936 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#13214770)
    I wonder whether the courts will continue their strategy of balancing 1st amendment rights and copyright protection. Though the Grokster ruling was a big win for the RIAA and Hollywood, it left P2P intact as a legitimate technology, with the betamax-like reasoning that it has noninfringing uses.

    When freenet becomes common enough, government and industry will have to resort to Old Fashioned Police work, trying to trick file sharers into trusting them, then exploiting that trust in an investigation. I have no doubt that we will see that for highly objectionable content, such as child porn and terrorist communications. It won't be worth it for infringement cases, though.

    The real question is whether the courts will be bold enough to make the technology unlawful based on the widespread criminal uses that are sure to develop. Stay tuned.

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

    by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:32PM (#13214821) Homepage
    (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".)

    Ah, you refer, I presume, to Jose Padilla? Good. I've been wanting to ask some questions of someone so well-informed on the matter.

    • What justifies the administration holding him completely incommunicado - without any communication with family, friends, or a lawyer? (C.f. the Fifth Amendment.)
    • If he is, in fact, guilty of a crime, when may we expect the trial? (C.f. the Sixth Amendment.)
    • What assurance does any other U.S. citizen have that they may not be designated 'enemy combatants' and similarly 'disappeared'?

    Note: he may well be guilty. The administration may well have evidence to that effect. I hope that is the case, as the idea that they would just imprison a guy for three years with no evidence is even scarier.

    But if they have evidence to justify such an imprisonment, then what possible excuse can there be for not putting him on trial with it?

  • by GORDOOM ( 149962 ) <gordoom@mac . c om> on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:36PM (#13214859)
    (voluntary disclosure: I am a practicing Catholic in full communion with the see of Peter, and a Canadian citizen)

    I've actually thought about this a bit myself - partly about the Scientology problem, partly about the fact that copyright law makes it essentially impossible to post complete, up-to-date copies of Catholic liturgical texts and such online. I would be inclined to suggest the following:

    Any "official" sacred writing or liturgical text of any religious group, or any translation thereof, is automatically in the public domain.
    (From a Catholic context, this would include Scripture itself, the contexts of the "official" liturgical books - the Missal, the Breviary, the Ritual, etc. - and other similar materials published by the Church herself, possibly including the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For other religious entities, I don't know enough about the details to comment in an informed manner.)

    Now, this would in many ways solve the whole Scientology problem. If they are a religious group, then all these texts they're trying to protect would be public-domain, and so they couldn't suppress public dissemination and discussion of them using copyright law. If they insist on protecting these texts under copyright, then they're no longer a religious entity, but a business, and that opens them up to government legislation.
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:2, Interesting)

    by djarb ( 6628 ) <[djarb] [at] []> on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:39PM (#13215488)
    Let's see, what does the constitution say about speech? Well, there's the first ammendment

    Ammendment 1:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    But, hmm, that doesn't define what "speech" means. "Speech" probably doesn't include saying mean nasty things about people.

    But hey, look at this:

    Ammendment 9:
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    If the constitution doesn't say anything about saying mean nasty things about people, that means you have a right to do it?!? That can't be what was intended, can it?

    Well, yes, actually:

    Ammendment 10:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    So there you have it. There's no such thing as speech that isn't free, at least at the federal level. Congress may not govern it, in any form whatsoever. States may regulate it if they desire.

    Mind you, our government barely even pays lip service to the consitution anymore, but you should at least know what it says.
  • by iwadasn ( 742362 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:45PM (#13216174)

    Really hard to know that there are no US citizens in gitmo, when nobody will tell us who these people are. How do YOU know there are no citizens there, especially since I seem to remember the gov publicly admitting that there are several US citizens (who were nabbed in Afghanistan) currently rotting in Gitmo.

    That is what scares me, too many secrets. If the gov wants to keep something secret, that's fine, if they want to keep a trial secret, they should require a vote of the senate or something, for each instance. At least then there would be some oversight, such as it is.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato