So, two items of very bad news for anyone anywhere with an internet connection.
On the one hand, a sham US court found Google responsible somehow for the actions of its users on Youtube (in direct opposition to the workings of the DMCA), and went further to demand that all user records from Youtube be handed over to Viacom. That means your IP address, your name, your logins, the videos you’ve watched or linked, the time date and location and probably which site referred you and by which link you left. Even the names and number of views on private videos are not sacred; Viacom just got them all.
Why? Oh, for data mining. You know, so they can try to prove a largely spurious assertion that their work is more popular on Youtube than normal videos, with the presumed intent of somehow then accusing Youtube of being a vehicle for Viacom-eating copyright infringements later on despite their ongoing compliance with DMCA takedown notices. What has this data mining to do with the alleged crime? Nothing really. Viacom alleged that Youtube had facilitated copyright infringements; it’s not a genuine case under DMCA but even if it were it would be the Police’s job to check the records and do the data mining, and at the end of a legitimate court case Viacom might be awarded a monetary settlement.
Instead, the Judge saw fit to hand out a ruling without evidence, and give the evidence in lieu of a settlement to a corporation that openly intends to use the information to breach privacy, and made other unreasonable demands like Google’s source code at the same time.
It is my fervent hope that if Google stalls enough, a sane court will permit an appeal and intervene. However, I doubt it. My name and location and IP addresses used, plus all the stuff I’ve ever watched on Youtube, have just been handed to a corporation that doesn’t believe in freedom of expression.
On the other hand, worse yet: if my Youtube usage logs weren’t bad enough now I have to deal with the NSA having official rights to log my email. The FISA amendments just signed by Georgie, and oddly supported by Obama (and of course by McPain), allow the warantless wiretapping processes used illegally after 9⁄11 to continue legally and officially forgive those companies who allowed it to occur, so that their breach of citizens’ privacy is no longer subject to legal challenge. In other words, they let people listen to and log your phonecalls, they gave them your txt messages and call logs, and they let people read your emails and anything else you did online… and you can’t sue them for it despite clear breach of law.
Oh America. Oh hold on, I can’t just calm myself by clutching EU citizenship like a blanket anymore, can I? Because as part of these amendments, Google must allow the NSA to do the same with Gmail and other google services like search logs and calanders and notes and documents.
I’d like to take a little aside to discuss how this differs from the good old days when they’d have to ask for warrants which might ultimately expire. The NSA aren’t just passed a copy of new emails which get trashed if they’re not interesting, and in fact most of the time they won’t read your email at all. But as superficially comforting as that seems, the truth is overwhelmingly likely to be much, much worse.
In this era of cheap terabyte hard drives, if I were the NSA I’d simply log everything. Everything that happens on Gmail, Yahoo, Youtube. Every phonecall or skype conversation. Every chat log and txt message. Just log them all as they pass through. It costs nothing anymore, and with the new FISA it won’t even take taxing equipment, as the data can be demanded from the providers instead and simply filed in a basement somewhere on a hard drive.
Later on, when someone comes to my (NSA) attention, I needn’t actually ask for permission or trouble anyone in my department for details; I just look them up on the NSA database, and everything they’ve ever done online appears for my perusal. If I want, I can go on to research everything their family and friends have ever done, too. And because it’s warantless, I’m not restricted at all in what I do with it. I can hold off on accusing them of a crime until I’ve read through every available scrap of evidence. Or if I happen upon a friend or family member saying something illegal, I can arrest them instead.
Or blackmail them. I’m the NSA. I continue to be involved, along with the CIA, in now-acknowledged abduction/rendition operation and torture that has been explicitly permitted in writing by US judges and the top level of US government.. and as the story of the abducted Canadian Maher Arar demonstrates, I’m willing to do anything, including abducting allied nations’ citizens and forcing false confessions under torture, if I get the urge.
In 1984, one of the first themes introduced was that of ubiquitious surveillance. The citizen would never know whether he or she was being watched at that moment, so the mindset of being under constant surveillance arose instead. This was one of the fundamental cornerstones of the government’s control over the population.
Oh.. and sometime next year the EU is giving the American government complete access to all our private details including medical records etc., too. Why? Because they asked and bullied and asked so the EU is caving and allowing them read everything. After putting up a paltry argument against of course.