We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.

But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they’re saying. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Edward Snowden

The Snooper’s Charter returns

As expected, the ghastly Snooper’s Charter is back and this time Dismal Dave will probably find it easier to push through.


To protect the children of course.

Bravo, Rand Paul, whatever you were doing

I do not entirely understand why Rand Paul spoke in the Senate for ten hours, accompanied by ten other senators, three Republicans and seven Democrats. It was something to do with derailing an extension of the Patriot Act. Apparently if he had gone on fifteen more minutes longer, past midnight, it would have been a proper filibuster. But he did not. Weird. Still, Paul is a man whom I credit with having a decent reason for pretty much whatever he does. Well done, I think.

Laws only apply to the little people

The Government has quietly ushered through legislation amending the anti-hacking laws to exempt GCHQ from prosecution. Privacy International and other parties were notified of this just hours prior to a hearing of their claim against GCHQ’s illegal hacking operations in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

Privacy International

So basically the state broke the law, got caught breaking the law, and then when challenged, changed to law so exempt themselves from the law they broke.

Samizdata quote of the day

If it be feared that this discourse may unhappily advantage others in such unlawful courses; it is considerable that it does not only teach how to deceive, but consequently also how to discover delusions. And then besides, the chief experiments are of such nature, that they cannot be frequently practised, without just cause of suspicion, when as it is in the magistrates power to prevent them. However, it will not follow, that every thing must be suprest which may be abused. There is nothing hath more occasioned troubles and contention, than the art of writing, which is the reason why the inventor of it is fabled to have sown serpents teeth. And yet it was but a barbarous act of Thamus, the Egyptian king, therefore to forbid the learning of letters: we may as well cut out our tongues, because that member is a world of wickedness. If all these useful inventions that are liable to abuse, should therefore be concealed, there is not any art or science which might be lawfully profest.

– Bishop John Wilkins, Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger: Shewing How a Man May with Privacy and Speed Communicate His Thoughts to a Friend at a Distance, published 1641, the first work on cryptography in the English language.

Marco Rubio just struck out

As time goes on we learn more about the possible GOP candidates and which ones might be satisfactory to libertarians.

It appears that Marco Rubio is not going to be amongst that number if this report from CATO is correct.

Self defence

I am certain it comes as no surprise to Samizdata readers that States are interested in penetrating your computers and stealing private communications without bothering about the legal niceties of search warrants issued by judges whom they do not own. But some things come as a surprise to even those of us who watch such things. I had not heard of this particular attack before. Spoofing, in conjunction with other attacks to pin down the real source while the spoofer gets in, have been around awhile. Some were dependant on analysis of the generated packet sequence numbers to allow a complete hijack.

None seem as practical as the web page substitution technique discussed in this Wired article. It is somewhat technical but useful reading if you want to keep up with what the enemies of liberty and rule of law are up to. Even more importantly, the article shows there are ways of keeping the bad guys out of your computers. The method may not be as satisfying as dropping a nuke on the SOB’s, but hey, you work with what you got.

Samizdata quote of the day

Due to come into force in August 2016, the Named Person initiative is truly dystopian. Once, it was only abandoned or orphaned children who became charges of the state; now, all Scottish children will effectively be wards of the state under a new, vast system of, in essence, shadow parenting. In an expression of alarming distrust in parents, and utter contempt for the idea of familial sovereignty and privacy, the state in Scotland wants to attach an official to every kid and to keep tabs on said kid’s physical and moral wellbeing.

There’ll be a state spy in every family. In Scotland, Big Brother is not only watching you (it was recently revealed that Scotland has 4,114 public-space CCTV cameras and “camera vans,” which drive through towns filming the allegedly suspect populace); he’s also watching your kids.

Brendan O’Neill

I foresee business opportunities in proxy servers/geolocation spoofing

The dismal forces are indeed massing as I predicted. That well documented fountain of fraudulent claims the NSPCC and all the usual dismal censors, from assorted statists of the nominal right like Sajid Javid, to the usual leftists are indeed starting to metastasise into another effort to control the internet. For the children of course.

We need products than make proxy servers and geolocation spoofing default-easy for the 95 IQ user, something people just use because it is cheap and largely invisible… with end to end encryption and all those other things that states hate integrated in at the lowest level possible.

China hacks Google…

Chinese government cyber division accused of hacking Google is a very self explanatory headline and I hope this vulnerability will be addressed swiftly.

But of course the NSA would never do that. They do not need to when they have FISA courts to rubber stamp any fishing expeditions they wish to carry out. No need to break in when you have a spare set of keys under the doormat any time you want to look around.

It is risen… but from the other place

The House is busy performing some very Un-American Activities this week. I have just heard HR 1147 was introduced a few days ago and is being rammed through with minimal notice to the public.

So… what, you may ask, is HR 1147? It is the shiny new version of Real ID, risen once again from the depths of hell like a B Movie demon. It would, according to Campaign For Liberty:

• Allow federal bureaucrats to include biometric identification information on the card, potentially even including fingerprints, retinal scans, or scans of veins on the back of hands, which could easily be used as a tracking device.

• Be required for all U.S. workers regardless of place of birth, making it illegal for anyone to hold a job in the United States who doesn’t obtain an ID card.

• Require all employers to purchase an “ID scanner” to verify the ID cards with the federal government. Every time any citizen applies for a job, the government would know – and you can bet its only a matter of time until “ID scans” will be required to make even routine purchases, as well.

It is the One Card To Bind Them All In Darkness. It is the card to tie the masses of legally and illegally collected government data about you together for real time access by bureaucrats and the overarmed enforcers. There is no Liberty in a Surveillance State. There is only temporary forbearance for so long as your activities are ‘within parameters’.

Call your Congressman if you are a US Citizen. Tell them that no American would vote for this measure.

I will go further and call on anyone who supports Real ID to turn in their US Citizenship because they do not deserve it or understand what it means. You do not belong to the same nation as I do and you should leave.

You might try North Korea.

Heroes and villains

Near to the end (on p. 189) of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One there is this very quotable quote, which I think captures a lot about both the success and the failure of Ayn Rand as a story teller:

That we need individual founders in all their peculiarity does not mean that we are called to worship Ayn Randian “prime movers” who claim to be independent of everybody around them. In this respect Rand was a merely half-great writer: her villains were real, but her heroes were fake.

I agree with both parts of that last pronouncement, but I am guessing that not everyone who regularly comes here would.

Also, some libertarians have asserted (for example in the comments on this earlier Thiel posting that I did here a while back) that there is now a distinct whiff of the villain about Peter Thiel himself. As he relates in Zero to One, he and his Paypal pals worked out how to use large amounts of computer data to spot crooks, and thereby to save Paypal a ton of money. Now he has made another fortune to add to his Paypal fortune, by selling this expertise to, among others, various branches of the US government, a notorious collector of large amounts of data in ways that most libertarians are not at all happy about.

Commenter “Rob”, to whom thanks, emailed me this link to a Thiel video performance. Rob recommends, as do I, looking at and listening to a particular bit of the Q+A at 1:06:00. Says Rob:

I don’t buy Thiel’s response.

I hope, although I promise nothing, to be offering a longer review of Zero to One, Real Soon Now. I am more than ever convinced that Peter Thiel is a very interesting man.