All the versions of this article: [English] [français]
Le 3/8/2012, 16:26 Moglen at Re:Publica: Freedom of thought requires free media
A few weeks ago, a friend show me a conference of Professor Eben Moglen, lawyer of Philipp Zimmermann (the creator of PGP), founder of the Software Freedom Law Center and Professor at Columbia University, and also a nice and well-known freedom fighter.
I found this conference so insightful, so dense in its content, and so true, that I started to share it with friends. However, many of them are not as fluent in English as they need to be, if they want to get all what Mr Moglen says. So I decided to make a proper English subtitle for it. Here it is!
View it, share it, contribute to it
You can view that video here (duration around 1 hour, including the very interesting questions and answers), and you can download it in both OGV and MP4 format if you want to see it offline. I transcoded it to obtain a file smaller than the original (which was 700Mb large in high definition). So, you can now download it easily. Of course I ask you to share it with your friends.
If you want to translate it to French, please use the etherpad page I created to start translating it: it will allow us to translate it together, spreading the load. I made that subtitle in the metro and bus of Paris, bit by bit, until I got something nice, so I can tell you it takes a lot of time!
What is it all about?
Eben is talking about freedom of thought, how it evolved from the early Latin world up to our times, with the Christian story, the revolutions, the history of the book and the right to read and think in private. Then he talks about the Internet, how it is connecting the humanity in a single entity.
Talking about freedom of thought, he then start to explain how the US government, big corporations and other regimes are trying to expel anonymous reading and thinking from our societies, so that they can do datamining on our inner thought, to sell us the right product at the right time, and also to know how to punish unorthodox thinking again.
In that part of the speech, Apple and Facebook have their responsibility exposed, in that situation, and they are not forgotten by Mr Moglen.
Finally, he talks about the media, how they also need to datamining our thought, behaviour and add massive surveillance to our day to day life.
The questions are also interesting, they show us some organizations around the world which protect and defend freedom of thought in Eben’s point of view, and the question of the universities responsibility is also covered.
So, as you can see, this is a big and dense speech that I deeply encourage you to listen to, download, share and spread.
Finally, you’ll find below the text of that conference, so that you can find here and there any sentence or content you may need.
I hope you will have as much pleasure to listen to it as I did, and please, share it!
Download this video:
Why Freedom of thought requires free media
It’s a pleasure to be here and an honour to be at Re:publica.
For the last thousands years, we, our mothers, and our fathers have been struggling for freedom of thought we have sustained many horrible losses and some immense victories and we are now at a very serious time.
From the adoption of printing by Europeans in the 15th century we began to be concerned primarily with access to printed material.
The right to read, and the right to publish were the central subject of our struggle for freedom of thought for most of the last half millennium.
The basic concern was for the right to read in private and to think and speak and act on the basis of a free and uncensored will.
The primary antagonist for freedom of thought in the beginning of our struggle was the Universal Catholic Church.
An institution directed at the control of thought in the European world, based around weekly surveillance of the conduct and thoughts of every human being. Based around the censorship of all reading material and in the end based upon the ability to predict and to punish unorthodox thought.
The tools available for thought control in early modern Europe were poor. Even by 20th’s century standards but they worked. And for hundreds of years, the struggle primarily centered around that increasingly important first mass manufactured article in Western culture: "the book" Whether you could print them, posses them, trafficking them read them, teach from them without the permission or control of an entity empowered to punish thought.
By the end of the 17th century censorship of written material in Europe had begun to break down first in the Netherlands then in the UK then afterwards in waves throughout the European world.
And the book became an article of subversive commerce and began eating away at the control of thought.
By the end of the 19th century, that struggle for the freedom of reading had begun to attack the substance of Christianity itself and European world trembled on the brink of the first great revolution of the mind it spoke of "liberté égalité fraternité" but actually it meant freedom to think differently.
The "Ancien Régime" begun to struggle against thinking and we moved into the next phase of the struggle for freedom of thought which presumed the possibility of unorthodox thinking and revolutionary acting.
And for 200 years we struggled with the consequences of those changes.
That was then and this is now.
Now we begin a new phase in the history of the human race. We are building a single nervous system which will embrace every human mind.
We are less than two generations now from the moment at which every single human being will be connected to a single network in which all thoughts, plans, dreams and actions will flow as nervous impulses in the network.
And the fate of freedom of thought indeed the fate of human freedom altogether everything that we have fought for for a thousand years will depend upon the neuron anatomy of that network.
Ours are the last generations of human brains that will be formed without contact with the net. From here on out, every human brains, by two generations from now, every single human brain will be formed from early life in direct connection to the network.
Humanity will become a superorganism in which each of us is but a neuron in the brain.
And we are describing now, now all of us now this generation unique in the history of the human race in this generation we will decide how that network is organized.
Unfortunately we are beginning badly.
Here’s the problem.
We grew up to be consumers of media that’s what they taught us we were consumers of media now media is consuming us.
The things we read watch us read them the things we listen to listen to us listen to them we are tracked, we are monitored we are predicted by the media we use.
The process of the building of the network institutionalize his basic principles of information flow it determines whether there is such a thing as anonymous reading.
And it is determining against anonymous reading.
20 years ago, I began working as a lawyer for a man called Philipp Zimmermann who had created a form of public key encryption for mass use called pretty good privacy.
The effort to create pretty good privacy was the effort to retain the possibility of secrets in the late 20th century.
Phil was trying to prevent government from reading everything.
And as a result he was at least threatened with prosecution by the United States government for sharing military secrets which is what we called public key encryption back then.
We said: "you shouldn’t do this there will be trillions of dollar of electronic commerce if everybody has strong encryption" nobody was interested.
But what was important about pretty good privacy about the struggle for freedom that public key encryption in civil society represented what was crucial became clear when we began to win
In 1995, there was a debate at Harvard Law School 4 of us discussing the future of public key encryption and its control.
I was on the side I suppose of freedom that’s where I try to be with me at that debate was a man called Daniel Weitzner who now works at the White House making Internet policy for the Obama administration.
On the other side was the then deputy attorney general of the United States and a lawyer in private practice named Stewart Baker who had been chief council to the National Security Agency our listeners and who was then in private life helping businesses to deal with the listeners. He then became later on the deputy for policy planning in the Department of Homeland Security in the United States and has much to do with what happened in our network after 2001
and anyway the four of us spent two pleasant hours debating the right to encrypt and at the end their was a little diner party at the Harvard faculty club and at the end after all the food had been taken away and the pork and the walnut were left on the table Stuart said,
"All right, among us now we that we are all in private just us girls all let our hair down" he didn’t had much hair even then but he let it down "We are not going to prosecute your client Mr Zimmermann he said public key encryption will become available we fought a long loosing battle against it but it was just a delaying tactic" and then he looked around the room and he said "But nobody cares about anonymity do they?"
And a cold chilled went up my spine and I thought alright Stuart and now I know you’re going to spent the next twenty years trying to eliminate anonymity in human society and I am going to try to stop you and let’s see how it goes.
And it’s going badly.
We didn’t built the net with anonymity built in. That was a mistake now we are paying for it.
Our network assumes that you can be tracked everywhere.
And we have taken the Web, and we made facebook out of it.
We put one man in the middle of everything.
We live our social lives, our private lives, in the Web and we share everything with our friends and also with our "superfriend" the one who reports, to anybody who makes him who pays him who helps him or who gives him the hundred billion dollars he desires.
We are creating a media that consume us and media loves it. The primary purpose of 21st century’s commerce is to predict how we can be made to buy. And the thing that people most want us to buy is debt. So we are going into debt we getting heavier heavier with debt, heavier with doubt, heavier with all we need we didn’t know until they told us we were thinking about it because they own the search box and we put our dreams in it.
Everything we want everything we hope everything we’d like everything we wish we new about is in the search box and they own it.
We are reported everywhere all the time
In the 20th century you had to build Lubianca you had to torture people you had to threaten people you had to press people to inform on their friends I don’t need to talk about that in Berlin
In the 21st century why bother? you just build social networking and everybody informs on everybody else for you.
Why waste time and money having buildings full of little men who checks who is in which photographs. Just tell everybody to tag their friends and bing! you’re done! whoo did I used that word? bing! you’re done!
There is a search box and they own it and we put our dreams in it and they eat them! and they tell us who we are, right back. "If you liked that, you’ll love this!" and we do.
They figure us out The machines do. Every time you make a link, you are teaching the machine every time you make a link about someone else you are teaching the machine about someone else we need to build that network we need to make that brain this is humanity highest purpose we are fulfilling it but we mustn’t do it wrong.
Once upon a time, the technological mistakes were mistakes we made them they were the unintended consequences of our faultfull behaviour that’s not the way it is right now. The things that are going wrong are not mistakes they are designs. They have purpose and the purpose is to make the human population readable.
I was talking to a senior government official in the United States a few weeks ago: "our government have been misbehaving." We had rules we made them after 9/11 they said "we will keep databases about people and some of those people will be innocents they won’t be suspected of anything". The rules we made in 2001 said "we will keep information about people not suspected of anything for a maximum of 180 days then we will discard it."
In March, in the middle of the night, on a Wednesday, after everything shut down, when it was raining, the Department Of Justice and the director of the National Intelligence in the United States said "oh, we are changing those rules. this small change. We used to say we will keep information on people not suspected of anything for only 180 days maximum we change it a little bit to 5 years" Which is infinity
I joke with the lawyer I was with in New York they only wrote 5 years into the press release because they couldn’t get the sideways 8 into the font for the press release otherwise they’d have just said infinity which is what they mean.
So I was having a conversation with a senior government official I have known all these many years who works in the White House and I said, "you’re changing American society".
He said "well, we realized that we need a robust social graph of the United States."
I said "You need a robust social graph of the United States?"
"Yes" he said
I said "You mean The United States government is, from now on, going to keep a list of everybody every American knows. Do you think by any chance that should require a law?" And he just laugh because they did it in a press release in the middle of the night on Wednesday when it was raining
We’re going to live in a world unless we do something quickly in which our media consume us and spit in the government’s cup. There will never have been any place like it before and if we let it happen, there will never be any place different from it again.
Humanity will all have been wired together and media will consume us and spit in the government’s cup. And the State will own our minds.
The soon to be ex-president of France campaigned as you were recalled last month on a proposition that there will be criminal penalties for repeat visiting of Jihadi’s websites that was a threat to criminalize reading, In France,
Well, he will be soon the ex-president of France But that doesn’t mean that this will be an ex-idea in France at all.
The criminalization of reading is well advanced. In the United States in what we call terrorism prosecutions we now routinely see evidences of people Google searches submitted as proof of their conspiratorial behavior. The act of seeking knowledge has become an overt act in conspiracy prosecution. we are criminalizing thinking, reading, and research. We are doing this in so-called free societies we are doing this in a place with the first amendment we are doing this despite everything our history teaches us because we are forgetting even as we learn.
We don’t have much time. The generation that grew up outside the Net is the last generation that can fix it without force.
Governments all over the world are falling in love with the idea of data-mining their populations.
I used to think that we are going to be fighting the Chinese Communist Party in the third decade of the 21st century, I didn’t anticipate that we were going to be fighting the United States government And the government of the People’s Republic of China and when Mrs Kroes here on Friday perhaps you’ll ask her whether we going to be fighting her too.
Governments are falling in love with datamining because it really really works. It’s good. It’s good for good things as well as evil things. It’s good for helping government understand how to deliver services. It’s good for helping government understand what the problem are going to be. It’s good for politicians to understand how voters are going to think. But it creates the possibility of kind of social control that was previously very difficult very expensive and very cumbersome in very simple and efficient ways.
It is no longer necessary to maintain enormous networks of informants as I have pointed at. Stasi get’s a bargain now if it comes back, because Suckerberg does its works for it.
But it’s more than just the ease of surveillance, it’s more than just the permanence of data, it’s the relentlessness of living after the era of forgetting nothing ever goes away anymore.
What isn’t understood today will be understood tomorrow. The encrypted traffic you use today in relative security is simply waiting until there is enough of it for the cryptoanalysis to work, for the breakers to succeed in breaking it. We’re going to have to redo all our securities all the time forever because no encrypted packet is ever lost again. Nothing is unconnected infinitely only finitely every piece of information can be retained and everything eventually gets linked to something else that’s the rationale for the government’s officials who says : "We need a robust social graph of the United States."
Why do you need it? So the dots you don’t connect today you can connect tomorrow or next year or the year after next. Nothing is ever lost, nothing ever goes away nothing is forgotten anymore.
So the primary form of collection that should concern us most is media that spy on us while we use them. Books that watch us read them, music that’s listen to us listen to it. Search boxes that report what we are searching for to whoever is searching for us and doesn’t know us yet.
There is a lot of talk about data coming out of facebook: is it coming to me? is it coming to him? is it coming to them? They want you to think that the threat is data coming out. You should know that the threat is code going in.
For the last 50 years what has been happening in enterprise computing, is the addition of that layer of analytic on top of the datawarehouse that mostly goes in enterprise computing by the name of "business intelligence". what it means is you’ve been building this vast datawarehouses in your company for decade or 2 now you have only information about your own operations your suppliers your competitors, your customers now you want to make that data start to do tricks. By adding it to all the open source data out there in the world, and using it to tell you the answers to questions you didn’t know you had. That’s business intelligence.
The real threat of facebook is the BI layer on top of facebook warehouse. The facebook datewarehouse contains the behavior not just the thinking but also the behavior or somewhere nearing a billion people. The business intelligence layer on top of it which is just all that code they get to run covered by the terms of service that say "they can run any code they want for improvement of the experience". The business intelligence on top of facebook is where every intelligence service of the world wants to go.
Imagine that you are a tiny little secret police organisation in some not very important country. Let’s put ourselves in their position Let’s call them I don’t know what, you know ... "kirghista".
You are a secret police you are in the "people business" secret policing is "people business". You have classes of people that you want you want agents, you want sources you have adversaries, and you have influencables, that is people you torture who are related to adversaries wives, husbands, fathers, daughter you know those people.
So you are looking for classes of people. You don’t know their names, but you know what they are like you know who is recrutable for you as an agent you know who are likely sources, you can give the social characteristics of your adversaries, and once you know your adversaries, you can find the influencables.
So what you want to do is run code inside facebook. It will help you find the people that you want it will show you the people whose behavior and whose social circles tell you that they are what you want by way of agent, sources what their adversaries are and who you can torture to get to them.
So you don’t want data out of facebook the day you have data out of facebook it is dead. You want to put code into facebook and run it there and get the results you want to cooperate.
Facebook wants to be a media company it wants to own the Web it wants you to punch "like" buttons. "Like" buttons are terrific even if you *don’t* punch them because they are web bugs because they show facebook every other webpage that you touch that has a like button on it, whether you punch it or you don’t they still get a record the record is: "you read a page, which had a like button on it" and either you said yes or you said no. And either way, you made data you taught the machine.
So media want to know you better than you know yourself and we shouldn’t let anybody do that.
We fought for a thousand years for the internal space, the space where we read, think reflect and become unorthodox inside our own minds. That’s the space that everybody wants to take away.
"Tell us your dreams, tell us your thought, tell us what you hope, tell us what your fear." This is not weekly auricular confession. This is confession 24/7.
The mobile robot that you carry around with you The one that knows where you are all the time And listens to your all your conversations. The one you hope isn’t reporting at any headquarters but it’s only hope. The one that runs all that software you can’t read, can’t study, can’t see, can’t modify, and can’t understand. That one, that one is taking your confessions all the time.
When you hold it up to your face from know on, it’s gonna know your heartbeat. That’s an android app, right now microchanges in the colour of your face reveal your heart rate. That’s a little lie detector you carrying around with you. Pretty soon I’ll be able to sit in a classroom and watch the blood pressure of my students go up & down. In a lot of school classroom in the United States That’s a really important information. But it’s not just me, of course, it’s everybody right? Because it’s just data and people who have access to it.
The inside of your head becomes the outside of your face becomes the inside of your smartphone becomes the inside of the network becomes the front of the file at headquarters.
So we need free media Or we loose freedom of thought it’s that’s simple.
What does free media means?
Media, that you can read that you can think about that you can add to that you can participate in without being monitored without being surveiled without being reported in on. That’s free media.
If we don’t have it, we loose freedom of thought possibly for ever. Having free media means having a network that behave according to the need of the people at the edge. Not according to the need of the servers in the middle. Making free media requires a network of peers, not a network of masters and servants, not a network of clients and servers not a network where networks operators control all the packet they move. This is not simple but it’s still possible.
We require free technology.
The last time I gave a political speech in Berlin It was in 2004, it was called "die Gedancken sind frei" I said "we need 3 things:
Now we need them more it’s 8 years later we’ve made some mistake, we’re in more trouble, we’ve haven’t come forward, we’ve gone back.
We need free software, that mean software you can copy modify and redistribute. We need that because we need the software that run the network to be modifiable by people the network embraces.
The death of Mr Jobs is a positive event. I’m sorry to break it to you like that. He was a great artist and a moral monster. And he brought closer to the end of freedom every single time he put something out because he hated sharing. It wasn’t his fault he was an artist. He hated sharing because he believed he invented everything even though he didn’t.
Inside all those fine little boxes with the little logo apple on it that I see all around the room is a bunch of free software tailored to give *him* control nothing illegal nothing wrong he obeyed the licensed he screwed us every time he could and he took everything we gave him and he made beautiful stuff that controlled its users.
Once upon a time, there was a man here who built stuff, in Berlin for Albert Speer his name was Philip Johnson and he was a wonderful artist and a moral monster. And he said he went to work building buildings for the nazis because they had all the best graphics. And he meant it, because he was an artist, as Mr Jobs was an artist. But artistry is no guarantee of morality.
We need free software. The tablets that you use, that Mr Jobs designed are made to control you you can’t change the software it’s hard even to do ordinary programming. It doesn’t really matter, they’re just tablets we just use them we’re just consuming the glory of what they give us but they are consuming you too.
We live as the science fiction we read when we were children suggested we would among robots now we live commensely with robots but they don’t have hands and feet we are their hands and feet we carry the robots around with us they know everywhere we go they see everything we see everything we say they listen to and there is no first law of robotics. They hurt us, everyday. And there is no programming to prevent it
so we need free software. Unless we control the software in the network the network will in the end control us.
We need free hardware. What that means is that when we buy an electronic something it should be ours not someone else’s. We should be free to change it, to use it our way, to assure that it is not working for anyone other than ourselves.
Of course most of us will never change anything, but the fact that we can change it will keep us safe. Of course we will never be the people that they most want to surveil.
The man who will not be president of France for sure, but who though he would, now says that he was trapped and his political career was destroyed not because he raped a hotel housekeeper, but because he was setup by spying inside his smartphone. Maybe he is telling the truth and maybe he isn’t. But he is not wrong about the smartphone. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t but it will.
We carry dangerous stuff with us everywhere we go it doesn’t work for us it work for someone else. We put up with it we have to stop.
We need free bandwidth. That means we need network operators we are common carriers whose only job is to move the packet from A to B. They are nearly pipes they are not allowed to get involved. It used to be the one you ship the thing from point A to point B if the guy in the middle opened it up and looked inside it he was committing a crime. Not anymore.
In the United States the House of Representative voted last week that the network operators in the United States should be completely immunized against lawsuits for cooperating with illegal government spying so long as they do "in good faith". And capitalism means never having to say you are sorry, You are with doing in good faith In good faith all what we wanted to do is make money your honour let us out okay, you are gone.
We must have free bandwidth. We still own the electromagnetic spectrum It still belongs to all of us it doesn’t belong to anybody else. Government is a trustee, not an owner. We have to have spectrum we control equal for everybody Nobody is allowed to listen anybody else no inspecting no checking no record-keeping those have to be the rules. Those have to be the rules in the same way that censorship had to go. If we don’t have rules for free communication we are reintroducing censorship, whether we know it or not.
So we have very little choice now our space has gotten smaller our opportunity for changes has gone less.
We have to have free software. We have to have free hardware. We have to have free bandwidth. Only from them can we make free media.
But we have to work on media too directly not intermittently not off hand.
We need to demand of media organisations that they obey primary ethics. A first law of media robotics: do no harm.
The first rule is: do not surveil the reader.
We can’t live in a world where every book reports every reader if we are, we are living in a library operated by the KGB.
Well: amazon.com or the KBG or both! you’ll never know!
The book, that wonderful printed article that first commodity of mass capitalism, the book is dying. It’s a shame, but it’s dying. And the replacement is a box which either surveils the reader or it doesn’t. You will remember that amazon.com decided that a book by Georges Orwell could not be distributed in the United States for copyright reasons and they went and erased it out of all the little amazon bookreading devices where customers had purchased copies of Animal Farm. "Oh, you may have bought it but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to read it." That’s censorship. That’s book burning. That’s what we all lived through in the 20th century. We burnt people places and art. We fought. We killed tens of millions of people to bring an end to a world in which the state would burn books and then we watched as it was done and again and again and now we are preparing to allow in to be done without matches. Everywhere anytime.
We must have media ethics and we have the power to enforce those ethics because we are the people who pay the freight. We should not deal with people who sale surveiled books. We should not deal with people who sale surveiled music. We should not deal with movie companies that sale surveiled movies. We are going to have to say that even as we work on the technology. Because otherwise capitalism will move as fast as possible to make our efforts at freedom irrelevant. And there are children growing up who will never know what freedom means.
So we have to make a point about it it will cost us a little bit not much, but a little bit. We will have to forgo and make a few sacrifices in our lives to enforce ethics on media. But that’s our role. Along with making free technology that’s our role.
We are the last generation capable of understanding directly what the changes are because we have lived on both sides of them and we know. So we have a responsibility. You understand that.
It’s always a surprise to me though it is deeply true that of all the cities in the world I travelled to Berlin is the freest. You cannot wear a hat in the Hong-Kong airport anymore. I found out last month trying to wear my hat in the Hong-Kong airport. You are not allowed: it disrupts the facial recognition. There will be a new airport here will it be so heavily surveiled that you won’t not be allowed to wear a hat because it disrupts the facial recognition?
We have a responsibility, we know. That’s how Berlin became the freest city that I go to because we know because we have a responsibility because we remember because we have been on both sides of the wall. That must not be lost now. If we forget, no other forgetting will ever happen. Everything will be remembered. Everything you read, all through life, everything you listened to, everything you watched, everything you searched for. Surely we can pass along to the next generation a world free of them. Surely we must. What if we don’t?
What will they say when they realize that we lived at the end of a thousand years of struggling for freedom of thought. At the end when we had almost everything we gave it away, for convenience, for social networking, because Mr Suckerberg asked us to, because we couldn’t find a better way to talk to our friends. Because we loved the beautiful pretty things that felt so warm in the hand. Because we didn’t really care about the future of freedom of thought? Because we considered that to be someone else’s business. Because we thought it was over. Because we believed we were free. Because we didn’t think there was any struggling left to do. That’s why we gave it all away. Is that what we gonna tell them? Is that what we gonna tell them?
Free thought requires free media. Free media requires free technology. We require ethical treatment when we go to read, to write, to listen and to watch.
Those are the hallmarks of our politics. We need to keep those politics until we die. Because if we don’t, something else will die. Something so precious that many many of our fathers and mothers gave their life for it. Something so precious that we understood it to define what it meant to be human it will die. If we don’t keep those politics for the rest of our lives and if we do, then all the things we had struggle for will get because everywhere on earth everybody will be able to read freely. Because all the Einsteins in the streets will be allowed to learn. Because all the Stravinskys will become composers. because all the Socks will become research physicians. Because humanity will be connected and every brain will be allowed to learn and no brain will be crushed for thinking wrong.
We are at the moment where we get to pick whether we carry through that great revolution we’ve been making bit by bloody bit for a thousand years or whether we give it away for convenience, for simplicity of talking to our friends, for speed in the search, and other really important stuff.
I said in 2004 when I was here and I say now: "We can win. We can be the generation of people who completed the work of building freedom of thought. I didn’t said then, and I must say now that we are also potentially the generation that can loose. We can slip back into an inquisition worse than any inquisition that ever existed. It may not use as much torture, it may not be as bloody, but it will more effective. And we mustn’t mustn’t let that happen.
Too many people fought for us. Too many people died for us . Too many people hoped and dreamed for what we can still make possible. We must not fail.
Thank you very much.
Let’s learn how to take questions here it’s not going to be simple but let’s set a good example.
Q: Thank you You put forward a very gruesome picture of the possible future could you name some organisations or groups in the United States that put forward action in your way in your positive way of transforming society?
A: Not only in the United States but around the world we are organisations that are concerned with electronic civil liberties. The EFF, The Electronic Frontier Foundation in the United States, La Quadrature du Net in France, Bits of Freedom in the Netherlands, and so on.
Electronic Civil Liberty agitation is extraordinary important. Pressure on governments to obey rules that came down from the 18th century regarding protection of human dignity and the prevention of state surveillance are crucially important. Unfortunately electronic civil liberty work against governments are not enough.
The Free Software movement The FSF, the Free Software Foundation in the United States and the Free Software Foundation Europe headquartered in Germany are working in an important way to maintain that system of anarchistic creation of software which has brought us so much technology we can control. That’s crucially important.
The Creative Commons movement which is strongly entrenched not only in the United States and Germany but in more than 40 countries around the world is also extraordinary important because Creative Commons gives to creative workers alternatives to the kind of massive over-control in the copyright system which makes surveillance media profitable.
The Wikipedia is an extraordinary important human institution and we need to continue to support the wikimedia foundation as deeply as we can.
Of the one hundred of the most visited websites in the United States in a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal of the one hundred most visited websites in the United States only one does not surveil its users. You can guess which it is it’s Wikipedia.
We have enormously important development now going on throughout the world of higher education.
As universities begin to realize that the costs of higher education must come down and that brains will grow in the web The UOC, the Open University of Catalonia is the most extraordinary online only university right now it will soon be competing with more extraordinary universities still.
MITX, the Massachussets Institute of Technology’s new program for web education will provide the highest quality technical education on earth for free to everybody everywhere all the time building on existing MIT open courseware.
Stanford is about to spinof a proprietary web-learning structure which will be the google of higher education if stanford gets it lucky.
We need to support free higher education on the web every European national ministry of education should be working on it. There are many places to look for free software free hardware free bandwidth and free media. There is no better place to look for free media right now on Earth than this room. Everybody knows what they can do. They are doing it. We just have to make everybody else understand that if we stop or if we fail freedom of thought will be the casualty and we’ll regret it for ever.
Q:Thank you very much I just wanted to ask a short question Can facebook, can iphone and can free media coexist? on the long range
A: Probably not, but we don’t have to worry too much iphone is just a product facebook’s just a commercial version of a service
I said recently to a newspaper in New York that I thought facebook will continue to exist for somewhere between 12 and 120 months I still think that’s correct federation social networking will become available federated social networking in a form which allows you to leave facebook without leaving your friends will become available.
Better forms of communications without a man in the middle will become available.
The question will be: "Will people use them?"
Freedom box is an attempt to produce a stack of software that will fit in a new generation of low-power low-cost servers hardware servers the size of mobile phone chargers and if we do that work right we will be able to give billions of web servers to the net which will serve the purpose of providing competing service that don’t invade privacy and that are compatible with existing services. But mobile phone get changed very frequently so iphone goes away, it’s no big deal. And web services are much less unique than they appear right now. Facebook’s a brand, it’s not a thing we need to worry about in any great particular we just have to do this as quickly as possible
Coexistence? Well, all I have to say about that is that they are not going to coexist with freedom So I’m not sure why I should coexist with them.
Q: Hi, ... from Bangladesh Thank you for that wonderfully lucid hugely informative presentation I was involved in introducing email in Bangladesh in the early 90’s at that time, connectivity was very expensive we were spending 30 US Cents a KB so a MB of data would be three hundreds dollars it changed from then but it still very tightly constrained by the regulatory bodies so we, on the ground, find it very difficult, because the powers that be, the gatekeepers have invested interest in maintaining that but in that gatekeepers nexus there is also a nexus between my country and yours. And right now, the largest by metric data in the world is the census of Bengladesh and the company that’s providing it, is a company with a direct link to the CIA. so what do we, as practionners, do until we become very powerful entities?
A: This is why I began by speaking about the United State government’s recent behaviors My colleagues at the Software Freedom Law Center in India has been spending a lot of time this past month trying to get a motion through the upper house of the Indian Parliament to nullify department of IT regulation on the censorship of the Indian Net and of course the good news is the largest, by metric, database in the world will soon be the retinal scans that the Indian government is going to required if you want to have a propane gas cylinder or anything else like ... energy for your home
And the difficulties we’ve been having in talking to Indian government officials this month is that they say "well, if the American can do it why can’t we?" Which is unfortunately true The United States government has this winter lowered the bar around the world on Internet freedom in the sense of datamining your society to the chinese level they fundamentally agreed. They are going to datamine the hell out of their populations and they are going to encourage any other state on earth to do the same So I’m entirely with you about the definition of the problem We are not now any longer living in a place in a stage in our history where we can think in term of a country at a time globalization has reached the point at which these questions of surveillance of society are now global questions and we have to work on them under the assumption that no government will decide to be more virtuous than the superpowers.
I don’t know how we are going to deal with the Chinese communist party I do not know. I know how we are going to deal with the American government. We are going to insist on our rights. We are going to do what it makes sense to do when the United States will gonna litigate about it, will gonna push, will gonna shove, we’re gonna be everywhere including in the street about it.
And I suspect that’s what going to happen here too. Unless we move the biggest of the societies on Earth we’ll have no hope of convincing smaller governments that they have to let go off their controls.
So far as bandwidth is concerned of course we are going to have use unregulated bandwidth that is we are going to have to build around 802.11 and wifi and any other things that the rules don’t prevent us from using. And how is that going to reach the poorest of the poors when the mobile phone system will be shaped to reach the poorest of the poors I don’t know but I have a little project with street children in Bangalore trying to figure it out we have to we have to work everywhere If we dont we gonna screw it up for humanity and we can’t afford the risk
Q: Professor Moglen, I also want to thank you I came from ’transforming freedom’ in Vienna, and I can tell you that some years ago, I saw you talking on a web video at Fosdem and there I saw you pointing out the role of Zimmermann Philipp, and we tried to help him as well and listening to you today, I see that this is just to slow to little.
And I’m a bit amazed at two things the first is the academic system let’s say, the European one was founded by Plato and closed down by force about thousand years after the second start of the European university was around 11th century and let’s see if we get there to have it running as long as thousand years.
So my question is why is it not deeply in the self structure of academia to help the caused that you have talked about today? And why don’t we have philanthropists helping little projects? Running for 3 or 4 thousands euro out here over and there much more efficiently like maybe you would agree that Mr Soros tries to do.
A: Some years ago at Columbia we tried to interest faculty in the state of preservation of the library and I saw more distinguished scholars at my own university than at any other time in my 25 years there engaged politically their primarily concern was the ageing of the paper on which was printed the 19th century German doctorat that conserve more philological research than any other literature on Earth right ?
But it was 19th century books that they need to preserve The problem with academic life is that it is inherently conservative because it preserves the wisdom of the old. And that’s a good thing to do. But the wisdom of the old is old. And it doesn’t necessarily embrace the issues of the moment perfectly.
I mentioned the UOC, because I think it’s so important to support the University as it manoeuvres itself towards the Net. And away from the forms of learning that characterized the matriculatory University of the past.
From the last thousand years mostly we moved scholars to books and the university grew up around that principle. It grew up around that principle that books are hard to move and people are easy so you bring everybody to it.
Now we live in a world in which it is much simpler to move knowledge to people. But the continuance of ignorance is the desire of businesses that sell knowledge. What we really need is to begin ourselves to help to turn the University system into something else. The something which allows everybody to learn which demands unsurveiled learning.
The Commissioner for Information Society will be here. She should speak to that. That should be the great question of the European Commission. They know, they printed a report 18 month ago that said for the cost of hundred of kilometres of road they can scan 1/6 of all the books in European libraries. That means with a cost of 6 hundreds kilometres of road we could get them all! We build a lot of road in a lot of places including Greece in the past ten years and we could have scan all the book in Europe at the same time, and made them available to all Humanity on an unsurveiled basis.
If Mrs Kroes wants to build a monument to herself it isn’t going to be a "fayfay day" politician. She’s going to do it this way and you are going to ask her I’m gonna be on a plane on my way back across the Atlantic or I promise you I would have ask her myself Ask her for me. Say, "it’s not our fault, Eben wants to know If you wanna hurt somebody hurt him. You should be changing the European University You should be breaking it up into unsurveiled reading. You should be putting Google Books and Amazon out of business that’s some North-American Anglo-Saxon elbow capitalism thing. Why aren’t we making knowledge free in Europe and assuring that it’s unsurveiled? That would be the biggest step possible and it’s within their power.
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On the same topic ...
La Quadrature du Net
- 24 July – Protégeons la démocratie contre les excès de l’antiterrorisme !
- 22 July – Projet de loi terrorisme : encore pire à la commission des lois !
- 21 July – Loi Cazeneuve : bientôt tous présumés terroristes ?
- 18 July – ALERTE CITOYENNE ! Libertés en danger sous prétexte de lutte contre le terrorisme
- 10 July – Droit à l'oubli : ne pas oublier l'État de droit !
Old stuff ...
- 11 août 2011 – CCC Camp 2011, Day 1
- 20 January 2012 – DNS & AlternC - How does it work?
- 3 August 2012 – Moglen at Re:Publica: Freedom of thought requires free media
- 17 October 2011 – Luks Bruteforce : test all your passwords
- 27 mars 2012 – Logement à Puteaux : une résidence des étudiants pour quelques supers privilégiés