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[liberationtech] IGP Blog :: Technology as symbol: Is resistance to surveillance technology being misdirected?

Jillian C. York jilliancyork at gmail.com
Sat Dec 24 11:40:44 PST 2011


I agree with much (but not all) of Mueller's post.  A lot of the
conversation around regulation in the US is terribly misguided and ignores
how poorly export controls have functioned in respect to technology (ask
just about any Syrian technologist, prevented from downloading Google Earth
or taking the LSATs in-country due to outdated Commerce and OFAC regs).

That said, I think there's a moral argument for targeting American (or
Canadian, or German, or insert-your-country-here) companies.  Sure, if
Cisco stops selling to China, China will just look elsewhere, but as
citizens of a given country, why should we tolerate publicly traded
companies selling to authoritarian regimes?  I believe a combined advocacy
effort (boycott, targeting shareholders, etc) is necessary, but I don't
believe regulations will solve the problem.

Finally, his final quote ("But activists concerned with real social change
must think through this problem more deeply, and come up with strategies
that strike more directly at the pillars of authoritarianism, censorship
and arbitrary power, rather than lashing out at easy domestic targets."
...) is a cheap shot and assumes that many of the most dedicated
organizations working on this cause aren't doing anything else.  Many of
the groups that are most involved in this effort (including EFF, Access,
RSF, and numerous others) have taken a multi-pronged approach to
authoritarian censorship.  If the statement is directed at politicians,
fine, I'd probably agree, but if not, I think he lacks an understanding of
the current landscape.



On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 11:00 AM, Evgeny Morozov
<evgeny.morozov at gmail.com>wrote:

> I was reading Bloomberg's excellent account<http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-12/tunisia-after-revolt-can-alter-e-mails-with-big-brother-software.html>of Tunisia's Ammar 404 project and came upon this interesting nugget that
> concerns the author of the blog post in question: apparently, Milton
> Mueller has a two-year National Science Foundation grant to study deep
> packet inspection, with a focus on China and Iran (more on this here<http://www.syr.edu/news/articles/2010/ischool-milton-mueller-09-10.html>).
> There is nothing nefarious about it but it surely adds some context to the
> views he expresses.
>
>
> On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 10:22 PM, Katrin Verclas <katrin at mobileactive.org>wrote:
>
>> I knew you were going to hit back (though I expected a bit harder :)
>>  Anyone rebut this in an actual blog post or other written piece? Not
>> finding anything but he has a point in his argument that simplistic
>> measures can truly backfire... (I am reminded of the conflict mobile
>> mineral disaster...)
>>
>>
>> On Dec 21, 2011, at 6:09 PM, Andre Rebentisch wrote:
>>
>> > Am 21.12.2011 19:04, schrieb Katrin Verclas:
>> >> Some interesting questions raised here about advocacy efforts re.
>> surveillance tech. Main point: it's complicated and we need a more nuanced
>> conversation about our collective advocacy goals.
>> >>
>> >> Brett, Eric, Jacob and all - discuss..
>> >>
>> >>
>> http://blog.internetgovernance.org/blog/_archives/2011/12/20/4962713.html
>> >
>> > "First, we need to stop pretending that a specific type of technology
>> > and a few commercial vendors can be vested with responsibility for an
>> > entire societal system of repression and control."
>> >
>> > Another Milton Mueller: "You can only ban behaviors, i.e. specific uses,
>> > not "capabilities.""
>> >
>> > All this is, understood, 199x cyber-libertarian ideology, but has
>> > nothing to do with tightening export controls crn consulting services
>> > for surveillance and military capabilities of dictatorial regimes.
>> >
>> > Ironically, Art 41 UN Charta provides for sanctions limiting
>> > telecommunication while the current debate is centered around the exact
>> > opposite.
>> >
>> > --- A
>>
>>
>> Katrin Verclas
>> MobileActive.org
>> katrin at mobileactive.org
>>
>> skype/twitter: katrinskaya
>> (347) 281-7191
>>
>> Check out the new Mobile Media Toolkit at
>> http://mobilemediatoolkit.org. To "Making Media Mobile!"
>>
>> A global network of people using mobile technology for social impact
>> http://mobileactive.org
>>
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-- 
jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244 | google voice:
+1-415-562-JILL
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