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United States

Congress Ixnays FIDNET; Prez Finds Money 66

Signal 11 writes "Congress has shot down the Fidnet project - to read about more details on Fidnet, go the original story about the project. In related news a national jam echelon day is coming up. Unfamiliar with Echelon? It is best to educate oneself. " Well, the sequence of events for FIDNET goes something like this: Clinton proposes computer security group, liberties groups hate it, Congress shoots it down for funding, Clinton attachs it to another bill. So, we won and lost - for more details, check out our recent YRO Story.
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Congress Ixnays FIDNET; Prez Finds Money

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The only problem I have with participating in this event is that I may get labeled as a subversive. Clearly anyone who has tons of "sensitive" keywords in their mail/slashposts on that day and that day only is trying to subvert Echelon - which no right-thinking red-blooded patriotic American would do, right?


    ps. Wackenhut Inslaw covert assassination COINTELPRO.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://thedustbin.com/echelon/
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is so inane. Not that Echelon does not exist, but the massive power it assumes. Most of the articles I read suggest that they hear 'every' phone and cell call in the world. I work with high schoolers, an incredible number of whom have cell phones, and it would take 100 people just to examine all the calls they make with the phrase "that's the bomb" everyday. Despite my paranoia reality must slip in at some point - no one, including the NSA has the manpower to manually examine that much information. In fact, most informed people rightfully question just how much of the overall telecommunications traffic they do manage to process even with all their computing power. It is not a matter of gathering the information, but actual processing and figuring out what is important that gets them. Maybe a few thousand Beowulf clusters could do the job :)
  • > People are voting for handsome faces more than
    > for wise brains etc. Elections are such a
    > bullshit now.

    Reminds me of a passage in the Stephen Bury (aka Neal Stephenson) book, _Interface_:

    "In the 1700s, politics was all about ideas. But Jefferson came up with all the good ideas. In the 1800s, it was all about character. But no one will ever have as much character as Lincoln and Lee. For much of the 1900s it was about charisma. But we no longer trust charisma because Hitler used it to kill Jews and JFK used it to get laid and send us to Vietnam."
    ...
    "So what's it about now?" Aaron said.
    "Scrutiny. We are in the Age of Scrutiny. A public figure must withstand the scrutiny of the media."

    I liked it so much I marked up my book so I could find it again. :)

    Nobody (well, at least the majority of voters) seems to care about ideas and ideals anymore. They don't look at what a candidate actually *did* previously in his political career, they just react to how he presents himself on TV. When is the last time you actually heard a candidate have a real discussion about the workings of the government, issues, and how things should change? Instead of presenting their views, they hit the hot buttons of taxes, abortion, and anything with the key word 'children', without really saying a word.

    Geez, what a rant...

    Anyways, as far as Echelon goes, the idea scares me (the invasion of privacy almost as much as the thought that any government agency can actually coordinate something so far-reaching without screwing it up). However, as has been said elsewhere in this article, the chances of them keeping track of even a small percentage of the 'net, given it's size, is pretty slim without the active participation of a large majority of the Internet's infrastructure. The truly evil thing is that it is even being attempted.

    Admittedly, unless you encrypt your mail and such, "privacy" on the Internet is just a gentleman's agreement, considering the nature of a network. The real issue is that it's a symptom of the larger problem of a seeming decline in common decency in general, not just on the Internet. Perhapse it's just a perceived decline, but to me, the oil that keeps our social machine going is losing it's viscosity. :)

    (Score: 0.5, Mostly Offtopic)

  • by The Apocalyptic Lawn ( 2350 ) on Sunday October 10, 1999 @05:44AM (#1625765)
    Since project Echelon rises above the USA's (official) territory (by definition), why not make it a World Jam Echelon Day? That would really screw their system over.

    As a start, you can prepare yourself by extracting the naughty comment found in the (source of) the National Jam Echelon Day page, and on the day itself, put it up in your webpages, attach a conveniently small subset of it to your signature and anything else you can think of (have your browser/squid report itself as something naughty, and every HTTP request may be tagged). Anything you can think of.

    Let's hope I won't forget that day myself. I'm notorious in forgetting long-term stuff :(

    - da Lawn
  • Subversive? I prefer to call it civil war. Or we can wait until the corruption boils over into World War III.

    That's what I get by paying taxes in the good ol USA. I seem to be supporting a bully that wants to tell others how to trade, spy on others, not communicate in confidence, etc...
  • Lots of good keywords in the comment, but they are all seperated by commas. Anyone at the NSA could write a bogon filter that simply checks for a comma after the keyword to turn the red flag off. Or a simple check to filter out the same hash of words.

    I bet a little script to insert random dictionary words and sentences between them would produce something that would be more difficult to screen.
  • Cracking isn't violent crime. Most of the time it isn't even a property crime in the conventional sense. And commonsense security measures are not the same as cowering behind locks and grates in an urban crime hotspot.

    Overestimating the threat means that people who find it hard work to catch real crooks will be attracted to getting paid for catching minor-league crackers. We should not give in to this distraction, nor should we let law-enforcement people engage in sandbagging by this means. If we let this happen, it means considerably less freedom for everyone, in addition to being a waste of resources. On top of which, there are real world criminals who will go unpunished just because the cops are trying out their new computer toys.

    There is real crime that happens on the Web. If you ask ransom for not bringing down an e-commerce site, you are just as bad as a thug who asks for protection money from a night club. Just think in terms of what a reasonable real-world cop would bother to go after and you will see that a) real crime in cyperspace is less frequent than the scare stories say, and b) law enforcement people who find elaborate real-world frauds tedious to prosecute are equally deterred by the complexities of computer crime. However, giving in to the current wish list of intrusive and largely useless measures is not the answer.

  • by Zigurd ( 3528 )
    Jefferson and most of the other founders probably throught slavery would go away on its own soon enough. They did not count on industrialized cotton production having the ironic effect of boosting a slave-based agricultural economy in the American South.

    I hope that someday the current police surveillance culture will seem just as intolerable as slavery seems to use.

  • I'd give Jefferson's good friend (and semi-protoge) Madison more credit for the Constitution. At the time the Constitution was being drafted, Jefferson was in France. He did establish a lot of the basic ideas though, and single-handedly wrote the Declaration of Independence (Franklin and Adams kind of foisted a lot of it on to him ;)
  • According to an article on this subject in Wired [wired.com] (which, btw, I submitted last week to /. pout pout) the guys running Jam Echelon may have identified it as a threat to our freedom, but that doesn't prevent them from also being kind of kooky. Read the linked article.
  • Well, Steve Mann does [toronto.edu]
    --
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Not only do I get first article for the day, but it looks like I get first post too. hehehe. :^)

    Anyway, what happened to the concept of democracy in this country? Isn't it supposed to be congress that approves budgets and bills? While I have some issues with the system in general, all my textbooks say this is the way it's "supposed" to work.

    Have we given the executive branch too much power? Maybe somebody with a background in political sci can give me some more details? I've only taken 1 class on it. :)

    --

  • Quiet morning :)

    Indeed. It's alittle too early in the morning too - I'm sick, so I got up early and perchance happened to see my story on the main page, so I thought I'd muster something together. Unfortunately it didn't come out the way I wanted. Well, atleast I got first post and didn't get eternal damnation for it...

    My question really is - how come our president is allowed to keep reintroducing the same legislation over and over again? It's a waste of legislator time, it's obviously unpopular, and it just seems to me like clinton's little pet project. Politicians shouldn't have "pet projects" - they ought to find out what's most needed by the country, and dedicate the maximum amount of time to solving that problem.

    --

  • d00d u r s0 l335! C4n I be a l335 h4x04 d00d 2?

    Yeah...I know. but at 7:00am when you're sick, have strep, and your code hasn't compiled cleanly in days.. I think I can get away with alittle inaccuracy.

    Note to self: bubble-sorting is slow on large arrays.. and what's worse.. it's *REALLY* slow. Must.. find.. better.. way...

    --

  • Well, a distributed-processing form of this to increase the 'noise level' to such an extent that the monitoring is rendered useless is a good idea - but these hacktivists seem to want to organize their 30 seconds of fame, and then end the project, rather than excerting the effort required for a long-term viable political movement.

    --
  • The correct definition is:

    Democracy, n: Election of the corrupt few by the ignorant many.

    --

  • Correct, but not for the reasons you specified. HNN [hackernews.com] has the details if you want it, but suffice it to say the NSA likely has technology that sorts on the basis of *context*, so throwing random keywords out is likely a futile act. Now, if OTOH, you started passing around, for example, the info sheet on the nerve-gas VX, or decided to call embassies in the New York area from several payphones and when they answered gave some cryptic 'the pig flies at three', or something equally cryptic to the Russian embassy, the Libian embassy, and maybe throw in China for good measure (we don't seem to like them anymore)... THAT would surely raise a few eyebrows at Spook HQ.



    --

  • Actually, the reason it was "down" for about 10 minutes this morning (4:30am AEST, Mon 11th) was because the core couter at our upstream was rebooted and the BGP routes inbound from the USA were screwed for about 30 minutes following this.

    Nothing I could do about it...

    Dogcow
  • I hate the way things just get attached to bills... I personally think the 'line item veto' should be enforced on every bill... o'well...
  • He didn't support Gay Rights either, the fascist pig.
  • I bet the FBI has really juicy info on Clinton (which makes the Lewinsky scandal look tame)

    Try I've seen some evidence [aci.net] for yon president having a cocain addiction. Not really looked upon with much love in the current eyes of society.

    Jeff

  • "Obviously, being picked up both other major information dissemination channels will increase the effectiveness."

    s/both/by/

    "What preview button?" ;-)

  • "Anyway, I think most of my non-geek acquaintances would find it rather strange with all those spooky words at the end of every mail. :-)"

    Exactly! That gives you the opportunity to educate them on the issues. That is the whole point [slashdot.org] after all, is it not?

  • "I'm suprised that no one has mentioned M-x spook in Emacs yet."

    Actually, "someone" did. Here [slashdot.org] ;-)
  • "Since project Echelon rises above the USA's (official) territory (by definition), why not make it a World Jam Echelon Day?"

    If you follow the link given, you will see that it is called "Jam Echelon Day" there, with no "National" limitation. It was only the link on /. that added the "national" part for some reason. (C'mon Hemos,. don't be US-centric.)

  • "red-blooded patriotic American"

    You mean like those people in the 1770s that took out their guns and shot at the representatives of the government that was in power at that time, because they didn't like what that government was doing? That kind of patriotic?

    PS: cheek, tongue

  • "The site must be down already. There is no other information than this."

    I too saw that (and thought to use \ (SOURCE) in lynx before the comments posted here about that) but it appears the site has changed drastically since earlier. You may want to revisit the site (and force a reload, if cached) Ms. Anonymous Coward. There is content now and abundant links.

  • These days, any form of activism involves events intended to disseminate your message to as broad a base of listeners as is possible. Whether we like it or not, this generally includes specifically-crafted "media events" targetted toward being picked up by mass-market information disseminators, such as the news media.

    Like it or not, at this point in time, the general populus still is either unaware or unconcerned about the steady erosions of their online (and offline) privacies and the increasing trend of Orwellian monitoring of even the most simple interchanges by Three Letter Agencies and others.

    A one-day action certainly isn't going to overwhelm the NSA's filesystems, and I am certain no one actually believes that it would. But it does have merit nonetheless. In a sense, it enables "the little guy" to feel a sense of empowerment by making an (admittedly token) gesture, somewhat akin to making obscene gestures at surreptitious surveillance cameras. Obviously this doesn't directly change the underlying problem, except in the small measure that the individual is that much more likely to take a slightly larger "rebellious" action the next time. Don't forget that so-called resistive actions are frequently the precursors to more active (and effective) attempts to effect change of the undesirable situation. (Think, "baby steps.")

    More importantly, these events bring the subject to the forefront of conversation. How many water cooler conversations might happen in offices thoughout the land, somewhat like this, the day after a similar event gets national coverage on the ubiquitous evening news?

    • "Hey, you're into computers; did you see that thing on the news last night about how we can prevent the government from spying on us by jamming their computers?"
    • "Well, actually, it's more like this...."
    At this point, an accurate explanation (in nontechnical terms if needed) can be made of the various issues, such as how to actually effect change via contacting representative government.

    This also provides the opportunity to educate those with recently-awakened awareness of the issues to the importance of routine use of strong cryptography, since it is one of the most effective means of ensuring privacy against such Orwellian systems. Providing a link to GNU Privacy Guard [gnupg.org] (or even its less-free predecessor [pgpi.org] you mentioned) as well as an offer of assistance in setting it up, or acting as a mentor, will go a long way toward acheiving the goal of widespread use of cryptography being the norm, rather than the exception.

    Oddly enough, your post here on Slashdot is indication that the "Jam Echelon Day" event succeeded, at least from my perspective. The story is covered here, and will generate discussion, hence awareness of the underlying issues is being increased, with opportunity for followup discussion. Obviously, being picked up both other major information dissemination channels will increase the effectiveness.

    Emacsen's Mx-spook and its ilk may not directly affect the NSA, but indirect effects via increased public awareness are likely. An idealist would say that Echelon can be ended through the process of representative government. A realist may doubt that, and feel Echelon can be ended only by making it no longer cost-effective, due to the routine use of strong cryptography. Either way, the first step is to bring the issue to the eyes of the populus, as often as possible.

  • "the two approches aren't mutually exclusive"

    Agreed. When I first followed the link in question, it was rather content-free, with the majority of the content being in the HTML comment. Now however, I revisited the site and find a good deal of (IMO) inaccurate information, which I find disconcerting.

    "the tremendous work others have put into understanding how surveillance systems really work."

    Again, agreed. Without the research of others, most educators in any field would have no material to teach their students. You obviously had greater exposure to this particular group than I however, since I was unaware of the (IMO) inaccuracies in their presentation.

    "The conversation about surveillance regimes should be smarted up, not dumbed down."

    But here I am torn.

    This is certainly true in a topic where awareness is already at least marginally present in the majority of affected people. I feel that is, sadly, not the case here yet. What is worse, many otherwise-intelligent people dismiss the topic as "another of those computer techie things" and similar. Until we reach the point where the majority care about the issue, I believe there is a need to "hook" them, with discussion that won't be dismissed as "too technical" (or "irrelevant" by those not willing to admit they find it "too technical." I suspect many of the cries of "More Consipracy Theorists Again" come from people who find the material too intimidating for serious examination.)

    Until the majority have learned to care, I think there is a valid place for both tactics.

    In my years of activism, I have learned to speak in sound bites when interviewed at rallies and similar. John Q. Sixpack will not listen once bored, and needs to become invested in the subject matter in the first few seconds or can be considered "lost."

    At the same time, I have learned that informative and credible content is important when talking with U.S. Senators on live television, since John Q. Cocktail (?) recognizes accurate and articulate presentation, and recognizes the subsequent backpedalling on the part of an otherwise-articulate politician. (BTW, the latter was quite enjoyable from my perspective, indeed! ;-))

    One could even say my last two paragraphs are something akin to my saying "See, I know what I'm talking about, believe me." And I suppose, in a sense, that would be accurate. :-) But the intent is to provide illustrations of the two principles each having their place in an overall campaign of public education, i.e., "consciousness raising."

    (Broadcast) conversation with Senators draws a more intellectual audience and warrants a more intellectual coverage of the subject matter. Speaking to a news camera for the evening news warrants a more simplistic vocalization of the issues, since the target audience is comprised of a less-intellectual ilk, for the most part.

    Each situation is intended to publicize the subject matter, but each has a different method, since each has a different intended target, with different characteristics. At present, with regard to the issue of government surveillance, I feel the overall American public to be on the level of John Q. Sixpack rather than John Q. Cocktail (in the examples above.) (Other countries will differ of course.) The one-day event strikes me as being on the order of a rally, a media-crafted event, intended for coverage on the evening news (even though the web site regrettably claims it is to actually overwhelm the Echelon project, which I feel is a ludicrous expectation.) As such, I feel a certain degree of "dumbing down" is warranted.

    Had the intent of the event been to trigger discussion here on Slashdot, less dumbing down would certainly have been in order, and significantly greater accuracy would be imperative. (I happen to believe accuracy to be needed at any level, even when looking for the brief news clip, but that's me. heh)

    While I am also guilty of dumbing down my usual discourse here on Slashdot, it is certainly a more intelligent forum than many which John Q. Sixpack would frequent. (I am trying to walk a tightrope between honesty and sounding elitist here.) Intellectual capacity here is greater than in front of most televisions, especially if the subject matter is technical. The simplistic comments necessary to "hook" John Q. Sixpack are likely to be flamed here, quite frankly. (Hence my view that this forum require a bit of dumbing down to reach, at least on non-technical matters.) I suspect there is a spectrum of appropriate content levels needed in covering this subject, since there are so many different venues the discussion should reach, if we are to saturate the apporpriate information channels.

    After all, there are so many people affected. :-)

    Once more people have learned to care about the issue, and have bothered to absorb the basic concepts, much of the dumbing down will no longer be necessary. It is sad that we are not there yet.

    -=-=-=-=-=-

    I hope I managed to convey both sides of an issue upon which I am genuinely torn. (Normally, I am opposed to the "dumbing down" I see in mass media.) In the process, I realize I gave "them" the ability to say "Yep, rallies, senators, he's the same guy we thought he was!" heheheh

  • Of course, in Athens only non-slave men could vote. Obviously I'm not saying that women voting is what's wrong modern democracy, just that Athens wasn't as great for some as for others (and thus wasn't really a democracy in the most literate sense of the word).

    The big problem is campaign finance reform, but underlying that is a much more complicated quetion of how people get their information about candidates and use it to make their choices about who to vote for.
  • I'm suprised that no one has mentioned M-x spook in Emacs yet. It's pretty funny, it generates a random set of 'spook words' automatically from a great big list it has...
    It makes for entertaining reading sometimes when you're very bored :)
  • Was it Abaham Lincoln or a contemporary of his who stated that the US must have a civil war in every generation to keep the country a true democracy.

    Close but no cigar :-> Let me try again...

    A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.-- Thomas Jefferson

    --
  • Does anyone else find quoting a slave owner (Jefferson) about liberty to really,really ironic?

    Well yes, but as one of the foremost political theorists of his day he was hugely responsible for Constitution ver 1.0, which has served us pretty well (albeit with a few bugs) for over 200 years. Besides IIRC he freed his slaves when he died...

    --
  • Was it Abaham Lincoln or a contemporary of his who stated that the US must have a civil war in every generation to keep the country a true democracy.

    The tree of liberty must be watered periodically with the blood of tyrants and patriots alike. It is its natural manure. -- Thomas Jefferson

    --
  • Democracy, n: An order of things when all decisions are taken by the chief democrate.
  • Agreed.

    Elections probably worked in acient Athens where people knew each others and hence the men they vote for. Things like this.

    How can it work now?
    People are voting for handsome faces more than for wise brains etc. Elections are such a bullshit now.

  • If I were paying tax money to the American government, I would be rather upset about the whole doubling of efforts here. I mean: On the one hand they have echelon, which they deny is going on, but which all know beyond reasonable doubt is there, and is monitoring our communications networks (private and state) already.

    But, just to so they can keep denying Echelon, they have to invest another 39 million in a monitoring network they admit exists. I bet that money is actually going for corruption, while FIDnet will just be a public front for the already in place Echelon.

    Anyways, as far as I am concerned they can go ahead and monitor all they want. The Internet is a public network, sending packets over it IS like sending postcards. However, I do want to it to be a fair playing field. That is:

    Yes, mr Sam, you may go ahead and evesdrop on me as much as you want, but don't think for a fucking second that you can try to keep me from using language you can't understand when I don't want you to know what I'm saying.

    Crypto IS a human right.

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • The tree of liberty must be watered periodically with the blood of tyrants and patriots alike. It is its natural manure. -- Thomas Jefferson

    IIRC, this is part of Jefferson's comments concerning the Whiskey Rebellion (which also included the comment "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.")
    /.

  • ... but there's one opinion here that's not being represented, that I would like to see some discussion on. So here goes (donning asbestos underwear).

    Okay. I understand, and believe in, the concept of a "right to privacy", and agree that the government has more important things to worry about than monitoring everyone's communications in the hopes of thwarting some terrorist attack or stopping drug deals or whatever. However... I believe that there ARE legitimate reasons for someone to be "policing the 'net" so to speak. And although I'm sure that there are some people or groups who are doing some amount of behind-the-scenes work in this regard, I don't think it's having much effect. I hear some of you saying "what the heck is this guy talking about?" Okay, some examples are probably in order. People who spend time cracking web sites & servers, and subsequently posting graffiti, just to prove it can be done. Sites that illegally host commercial software, or registration codes or cracks. "Script kiddies" who spend their time trying to crash IRC servers, flood ISP's, or do other stupid and offensive things. All of the other forms of what I would call "cyberterrorism", which in a nutshell is any activity that makes me wary of my time online.

    I'm glad that some folks are at least taking the time to help educate people who are considering DSL or cable modems, to explain why it's a good idea to set up a firewall to protect themselves from the nosey and/or dangerous folks out there, but I think it's kind of sad that when confronted with a "crime is on the rise" scenario, most people think in terms of a bigger/better deadbolt & security system, rather than attempting a neighborhood watch or working with law enforcement authorities to put the crooks behind bars. There's probably a place for both types of crime prevention, but I'm getting off topic here.

    The point I was trying to make is, almost all of the preceding messages I've seen on this thread are "government intrusion is bad, stop it stop it stop it stop it", but no one seems to want to consider that perhaps some policing of the 'net could reduce the amount of annoying activity out there which we all seem to accept as part of the price we pay for a 'free network'.

    Okay, my rant is over now. We'll see if it gets moderated down to 'flame bait', but I hope not, I have faith that there are at least a few Slashdot readers out there who feel the same as I do about "network freedom".

    Thanks,
  • Has it not occurred to anybody that the best way for NSA to insure against deliberate signal/noise manipulations is to leak erroneous keywords? We don't pay them to be stupid...

    ======
    "Cyberspace scared me so bad I downloaded in my pants." --- Buddy Jellison

  • by cdlu ( 65838 )
    Quiet morning :)

    As far as I understand, the government is supposed to represent the people, not control them. The US has been moving more and more towards a police state with the advent of Internet censoring, and noone is saying anything loud enough to be heard.

    Was it Abaham Lincoln or a contemporary of his who stated that the US must have a civil war in every generation to keep the country a true democracy.

    I'm glad I'm out of the US.
  • by cdlu ( 65838 )
    "That's a good question, a fair question, and a question that deserves an answer. Next question?" -John Major
  • Hmmmm. A listener to the "Jim Quinn" show?
  • Well, the Congress still needs to approve this particular appropriation, since apparently Bill does not feel like funding through executive order.

    A Prez, however, a) probably is asked by Congress to submit a proposed budget covering its own executive offices, and b) can "introduce" any legislation it wants if it can find a single friendly sponsor in each house. b) is almost always possible; short of, say, requesting authority to personally interview (alone) and choose all Congressional secretaries, I doubt there's much that Bill can't find at least one guy to support.

    There's also absolutely no restriction that states a bill has to be coherent, AFAIK, so the funding for FIDNET could be attached to a subsidy for studying the mating habits of tortoises, or whatever. The original bill sponsors also don't get any "extra" say, hence such things like riders onto popular bills and "poison-pill" amendments. And so forth.

    {shrug}
  • Heh, yea, it allways struck me that the most interesting thing about these events is how much the NSA (and #include 'other_spooks.h')must be laughing at them. I mean, if they were to monitor (allmost) all the backbones in the world, there should have been at ONE where the info was leaked to the press by now. And, I figure all the terrorists with brains allready have PGP...

    Anyway, I think most of my non-geek acquaintances would find it rather strange with all those spooky words at the end of every mail. :-)


    -
  • That sort of depends on where you live. AFAIC, you've got the third article of the day.. Well, second or third depending on whether or not you consider day to be as in "I see sunlight" or "hey, look, it's past midnight".. Then again, since the story before it was posted in the same hour, yours would still be the second story of the day. ;)

    I will note, however, that it is interesting indeed to see a post marked as #1 that is actually intelligent commentary rather than "AW YEA 1ST POST I ROOLZ UZ BITCHEZ, DOODZ!!" =P

  • I think we probably agree that an effective program of making mass surveillance much more difficult is a good idea, and that the "hacktivists" behind "jam Echelon day" aren't accomplishing that. It wouldn't be very hard to cobble together dictionaries dealing with sensitive topics and use markov techniques to generate texts (say, a CGI-enabled web page running on SSL) that would give context analysis tools a run for their money. But something like that would even follow the principles of an effective online action [ucla.edu] instead of STOP THE MODEM-TAX!!!!-style of half-baked announcements, which the "hacktivists" seem to prefer.
  • I figger we agree pretty much across the board. And you definitely didn't dumb down anything at all. It's clear you've thought about (and dealt with) these questions a lot; the fact is, there are no simple answers. (I hope this thread's been useful for other /.ers :) Cheers.
  • In outline, your argument is made by lots of people--it used to be called "consciousness raising." And in many ways it's right: lowering the technical barrier to entry to activism (e.g., by downplaying the details) definitely encourages broader awareness and participation. But the two approches aren't mutually exclusive: the "hacktivists" *could* provide pointers to accurate info. But the main people who've associated themselves with these efforts *don't* do that - and have *repeatedly* ignored very articulate discussions of the flaws in their methods.

    As for your argument that this discussion proves that their methods are successful, one could just as easily - and more correctly, imo - argue that "hacktivism" is a vindication of the tremendous work others have put into understanding how surveillance systems really work. It's a chicken-and-egg question. But the main point is that effective opposition to Echelon hasn't come from bouncing half-baked emails around - it's coming from the diligent work of people like Nicky Hager [google.com], whose research has brought about intense opposition to Echelon from, for example, the EU and Duncan Campbell's report [apc.org]. These results have played a big part in European liberalizations of (or active governmental support for) crypto. Now that there's much more accurate info about how these systems work available, promoting misunderstandings of these systems is just perverse.

    The conversation about surveillance regimes should be smarted up, not dumbed down. If these "hacktivists" would smart it up, I'd support their efforts wholeheartedly, but that's not what they're doing.
  • by lance_link ( 97462 ) on Sunday October 10, 1999 @04:46AM (#1625811)
    These "hacktivists" seem to think that peppering their email with naughty words is a new idea. It isn't: "spook fodder" [faqs.org] is at least ten years old (take a look at Tim May's 1992 Cypherno micon [oberlin.edu]). The idea that they can "jam" Echelon is incredibly naive; if they're really concerned, they'd do better to encourage people to understand [slashdot.org] these surveillance systems and to use PGP [replay.com] - spreading misinformation about surveillance and encouraging one-day actions is counterproductive. Some of the hacktivist organizers have been told again and again (for example, by the foounders of Hack-Tic/xs4all) that their methods are misguided and useless, but they never listen. Hacking is about, among other things, understanding technical systems: if you promote misunderstanding, you've got no business calling yourself a "hack"-anything.
  • The question is not really if the net should be policed but rather who should do the policing.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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