Posts Tagged ‘civil liberties’
There are some really big advantages to e-books. You can carry one device with a couple of thousand books around with you, all of it together weighing no more than a single pocket book. Even better, those thousands of books don’t get dog ears. Usually, I am an early adopter of new technology. And yet, I somehow still seem to have trouble making the leap in this case.
I have fundamental concerns with the current ways in which e-books are traded. The terms under which most e-books are sold are worrying. “sold” is probably the wrong word; the terms of the license that is sold to most books is ridiculous. You don’t really own the book, you get the right to consume a copy – but that right comes with a long list of ifs and buts. You can’t lend e-books to friends (or can only lend them a limited number of times). Publishers can retract the license, effectively removing it from your device after it has already been “sold” to you (in an amazing fit of irony, Amazon accidentally did this with e-book copies of 1984). Manufacturers of readers are given permission to phone home and track your reading habits.
But most of all, I really like my books the way they are. Old books and new books both have their own distinct smell. Without having to touch buttons I can see how far along I am. I like that I can feel the backs of paperbacks twist and crack under the pressure of my fingers as I work my way through a novel. I like being able to browse books in (the unfortunately decreasing number of) quality book stores, rather than in ad-filled electronic stores on small screens. I like that paperbacks are a commodity that I can easily lose or give away.
Rargh. In the continuing erosion of privacy on the internet, Google now wants me to use my fullname for my Youtube account. This isn’t the first service for which this is an issue. And don’t tell me it’s about preventing abuse; it’s just as much about linking data. There are perfectly good and valid reasons for using pseudonyms.
Fortunately we can – for the moment – still enjoy Youtube somewhat anonymously. My current favourite:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYxX2YKGdvM]
Excellent interview with Eben Moglen about the problems of centralization on the internet – probably the best explanation I’ve seen – and various other topics, including WikiLeaks and copyright reform.
On civil liberties in the Netherlands:
The Netherlands used to be a country like Sweden or Denmark. Then it was a country like Germany for a bit in the nineties and after a confusing period with political murders and truly insane political developments we are now approaching England. I’m still guessing we’ll level out before we reach Italy, but it really is becoming hard to tell.
On the erosion of privacy:
At the same time Apple, Google, Facebook and the more geographically challenged traditional governments will try to make all of humanity enter their remaining secrets, they’ll try to make attribution of every bit on the internet a part of the switch to IPv6, they’ll further lock us out of our own hardware and they’ll eventually attempt to kill privacy and anonymity altogether.
We still have to tell most of the people out there, but privacy is not in fact brought about by some magic combination on the intentionally confusing privacy radiobutton page on Facebook. It does come from, among other things, code some of us have already written and code that we still need to write: we need many things by yesterday. And we need to properly security-audit the tools we build, even if that means we can’t put in new features as quickly.