Our rights are extended and limited by the tools we use. The Internet has magnified our capability for free speech, but has pared down the reasonable expectation of privacy.
if we are to start over again, the founding principle of our tools for communication cannot be the establishment of trust, but the impossibility of trust.
The trick is to treat every communication as a potential act of terrorism. After all, isn’t that how the NSA does it? For them, it’s an excuse; For us, it should be a method. Start there, and you can build a system that works. Start there, and you will be told that you are building tools for treason. You are. … But your tools are neither necessary nor sufficient for such atrocities. Every kitchen knife is sharp enough to cut your fellow man; every hammer is hard enough to split skulls; every car is fast enough to mow down pedestrians. They have to be to fulfill their purposes, and it’s the same here.
because freedom is the freedom to do wrong as well as right
Because general purpose computers are, in fact, astounding — so astounding that our society is still struggling to come to grips with them: to figure out what they’re for, to figure out how to accommodate them, and how to cope with them. Which, unfortunately, brings me back to copyright.
In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer — it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box. … Because we don’t know how to build the general purpose computer that is capable of running any program we can compile except for some program that we don’t like, or that we prohibit by law, or that loses us money. The closest approximation that we have to this is a computer with spyware — a computer on which remote parties set policies without the computer user’s knowledge, over the objection of the computer’s owner. And so it is that digital rights management always converges on malware. … And on the network side, attempts to make a network that can’t be used for copyright infringement always converges with the surveillance and control measures that we know from repressive governments.
Freedom in the future will require us to have the capacity to monitor our devices and set meaningful policy on them, to examine and terminate the processes that run on them, to maintain them as honest servants to our will, and not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs, and control freaks.
Excepting an apocalypse, computers and digital devices are here for the rest of your life. Consider this carefully because that could be a very long time. From now on, your knowledge and understanding of computing and technology will likely factor in to everything from how frustrating your day-to-day life is, to how successful your career is. I would extend this to include the concept that the political issues (e.g. net neutrality; open-source versus closed source; the depth, breadth, and length of patents; digital rights management; privacy versus data mining) that only bother techno-geeks today will rule your life tomorrow.
“When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.
In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose the former, and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.”
— Douglas Rushkoff