Tuesday, 18 December 2012

reportage or end-user agreement

On the state level, two separate regions of Germany are calling for very different reforms whose intentions and actions wear both the sticks-and-stones persona of cyber-affairs and speak to the growing entanglement, irretrievability and dependence on connections and the synapses between people. Officials in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt want to give law-enforcement the ability to shut down telecommunication service providers unilaterally in cases of imminent threat to life and limb, and as a staunch corollary, courts in Schleswig-Holstein want a certain social-networking service to change its policy about joining under a nom de plume and is poised to impose hefty fines should the requirement or real names continue.
Currently, law enforcement can only shut down a cellular tower outside the express physical presence and permission via warrant if and only if there is bomb inside the cell tower. Opponents to the measures fear, as has been done in the US and elsewhere, that the police and government will use these martial-powers to silence dissent and hinder coordination for protests. The proposal further imposes that all infrastructure (along every point) have an easily accessible kill-switch, which can only be brought back online by competent authorities. The social network is refusing to waive the requirement on identity (I never knew that one had to use such credentials but apparently so) and is not entertaining arguments, despite the fact the rule is in violation of German and European Union privacy protections—not that people are guaranteed anonymity or pseudo-anonymity but that people are guaranteed certain protections on their personal data which no business or aggregator government can pretend to honour. Anyone who exercises freedom of speech and expression does so contractually, knowing that there is no intent to harm or befoul, but that contract is not drawn up in a vacuum, by companies or by government agencies. The right to be forgot entails that one’s footprints are not tracked without good reason and that an shadow that cannot be shed be linked to one’s name evermore. It is strange that the trade and tools of civil rights has been summarily reduced to this sort of smugness.