China’s Dangerous Game – The Atlantic

The country’s intensifying efforts to redraw maritime borders have its neighbors, and the U.S., fearing war. But does the aggression reflect a government growing in power—or one facing a crisis of legitimacy?

However willy-nilly these provocations may at first appear, the struggle that China has launched for dominance of the western Pacific is anything but indiscriminate.

paradoxically, China’s new behavior appears to be a reflection not only of rising capability or self-confidence, but also of rising insecurity among the Communist Party leadership, whose legitimacy in the country’s post-ideological era has always rested on the narrow twin pillars of strong economic performance and nationalism.

Source: China’s Dangerous Game – The Atlantic

Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters | TED Talk |

There is a very common sentiment that arises in this debate, … which says that there is no real harm that comes from this large-scale invasion because only people who are engaged in bad acts have a reason to want to hide and to care about their privacy. This worldview is implicitly grounded in the proposition that there are two kinds of people in the world, good people and bad people.

What they’re really saying is, “I have agreed to make myself such a harmless and unthreatening and uninteresting person that I actually don’t fear having the government know what it is that I’m doing.”

when you say, “somebody who is doing bad things,” you probably mean things like plotting a terrorist attack or engaging in violent criminality, a much narrower conception of what people who wield power mean when they say, “doing bad things.” For them, “doing bad things” typically means doing something that poses meaningful challenges to the exercise of our own power.

Source: Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters

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The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women – The Atlantic

Under the banner of free speech, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been host to rape videos and revenge porn—which makes female users feel anything but free.

All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be?

Jillian C. York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is one of many civil libertarians who believe Facebook and other social media platforms should not screen this, or any, content at all. “It of course must be noted that the company—like any company—is well within its rights to regulate speech as it sees fit,” she wrote in a May 2013 piece in Slate in response to growing activism. “The question is not can Facebook censor speech, but rather, should it?” She argues that censoring any content “sets a dangerous precedent for special interest groups looking to bring their pet issue to the attention of Facebook’s censors.”

When the problem involves half the world’s population, it’s difficult to classify it as a “pet issue.” What’s more, there are free speech issues on both sides of the regulated content equation. “We have the expressive interests of the harassers to threaten, to post photos, to spread defamation, rape threats, lies on the one hand,” explains Citron. “And on the other hand you have the free speech interests, among others, of the victims, who are silenced and are driven offline.”

Soraya, Bates, and Jaclyn Friedman, the executive director of Women, Action, and Media, a media justice advocacy group, joined forces and launched a social media campaign designed to attract advertisers’ attention. The ultimate goal was to press Facebook to recognize explicit violence against women as a violation of its own prohibitions against hate speech, graphic violence, and harassment.

As President Obama put it in mid-September, “It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.”

Source: The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women – The Atlantic


I think the platform is an extremely important factor in the seriousness of communication because of its foundation for the context of that communication. Furthermore, specifically for the internet, there are jurisdictional issues which would have far ranging consequences if solved with only “violence against women” in mind. Many empowered western-culture women may reasonably wish to have threatening internet comments prosecuted the same way as if those comments had been physically snail-mailed to them, even if the sender/commenter is foreign from abroad. However, that opens the door to the question about prosecutions in the other direction, which I would find far more problematic.

This to me begs the question “What is good enough?”

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars – Schneier on Security

You can’t build a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Source: iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars – Schneier on Security