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]

Trust us, we are not spying on you any more

Nice Mr. Obama has told the Frogs the NSA is no longer spying on them at the highest level. And of course that’s that, because there is no way a US President would lie about that, right? Indeed if the NSA kept spying on France, they would of course tell nice Mr. Obama, right?

Any country that does not spend a chunk of change specifically targeted at protecting their communications from the USA is simply not serious about defending themselves, and that includes ‘allies’.

Trust us, we’re the Security Services

Oh noez, the Russians and Chinese have both “managed to crack files leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden“… and the evidence for this is… well just trust us, we’re the Security Services, would we lie to you?

Indeed can they provide some evidence the Russians and the Chinese even got access to these files, given that Snowden did not actually take them with him to Russia?

Yeah right. Prove it or it did not happen. After all, if the information has been blown to enemies as claimed, what possible need is there to keep any of this secret?

Beware of unintended consequences

One of the things I love about this law as proposed (and I love this law as proposed), is how this law can’t do what its designed to do. Rather, this law as written ends up putting members of SocJus at risk while theoretically protecting the rights of ordinary citizens to assemble freely on the Internet.

[…] Unless I’m reading the law wrong, all Rice would have to do is claim “substantial emotional distress” to trigger the new federal law enforcement and prosecutorial assets POTEA demands into action in order to protect Anne Rice from online abuse. I assume POTEA applies here, and Harper will be the first person arrested, tried, convicted, and incarcerated under POTEA when it is signed into law.

What about Brad Wardell, who had reporters and editors of SocJus propaganda websites and their respective online armies fall upon him, only for the allegations made against him to be dismissed with prejudice. Does he get to use POTEA against the people irresponsibly reporting untruth as fact, as well as the editors who allowed untruth to be published as fact? He certainly suffered substantial emotional distress at the hands of SocJus’s Ministry of Truth.

Todd Wohling writing ‘Why I love the POTEA Anti-Harassment Law’ 😉

Are sane people allowed to suspect blackmail?

A friend of mine directed me to this essay by Steve Waldman about the current NSA/GCHQ/etc. controversies.

It begins with an interesting question: at what point is it acceptable for “sane” people to believe “nutty” theories about the world around them, and one “nutty” theory in particular. I will quote just one paragraph to give you the flavor of why you should want to read it:

I want to introduce a word into the discourse surrounding NSA surveillance that has been insufficiently discussed. That word is blackmail. I will out and say this. I think our President’s “evolutions” on questions of civil liberties and surveillance are largely the result of blackmail. I think it is not coincidental that support for the security state is highly correlated with seniority and influence, in both of our increasingly irrelevant political parties. The apparatus we are constructing, have constructed, creates incredible scope for digging up dirt on people and their spouses, their children, their parents. It doesn’t take much to manage the shape of the economy of influence. There are, how shall we say, network effects. You don’t have to blackmail the whole Congress. Powerful people are, almost by definition, people very attuned to economies of influence. They quickly detect the trends and emerging conventions among other powerful people and conform to them. A consensus that emerges at the top is quickly magnified and disseminated. Other voices don’t disappear, there is plenty of shouting in the blogs. But a correlation emerges between a certain set of views and “seriousness”, “respectability”. The mainstream position is defined. Eventually it’s reflected by the polls, so it’s what the American people wanted all along, we are just responding to the demands of the public, whine the politicians.

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