On 11 September, I was living in Greenwich Village, New York; my children learned to tell south from north by looking at the World Trade Center.
Technology has enabled government to have investigative and situational awareness on a scale and scope that were science fiction when the Stasi shut its doors.
One of the problems of writing and working and looking at the Internet is that it’s very hard to separate fashion from deep change.
We suffered a terrible blow on 11 September 2001. We responded with fear and anger. A fight-or-flight response is adaptive in any species. For us, given our power, fight was the only response we could imagine.
Like crime, terrorism is a fact of life. I grew up in Israel, where every unattended bag was a suspected bomb; when my family moved for a few years, it was to London in the early years of ‘the Troubles.’
As long as government is allowed to collect all Internet data, the perceived exigency will drive honest civil servants to reach more broadly and deeply into our networked lives.
Next time you open the paper, and you see an intellectual property decision, a telecoms decision, it’s not about something small and technical. It is about the future of the freedom to be as social beings with each other, and the way information, knowledge and culture will be produced.
Bringing an end to mass government surveillance needs to be a central pillar of returning to the principles we have put in jeopardy in the early 21st century.
Seeing Anonymous primarily as a cybersecurity threat is like analyzing the breadth of the antiwar movement and 1960s counterculture by focusing only on the Weathermen.
I know terrorism is real. And I know fear of it distorts public judgment. Terrorism is like a chronic illness. We have to learn to contain it and live with it.