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I am in the position of being torn apart by two very strong feelings. One is the world where information flow due to companies like Google does a real service to humanity: for e.g. wearing devices that can keep us reminded of our meds or monitor sugar levels, to talk just about the possibilities in healthcare. Then I think of Edward Snowden and I now know that what Google knows, maybe America/Russia/China/WhatHaveYou know. Although at this point I am as normal a citizen as you can find, that can't be taken for granted forever. For e.g. in my nation (India) being gay is illegal and so is marijuana, and so is alcohol (in some states) and so is a lot of stuff. This feeling makes me want to minimize my footprint.

Wish there was a way to combat either the wariness, or to exacerbate the joy. For, I must be assimilated into the Borg, too. :)

EDIT: spellings




More and more I'm thinking that some sort of Digital Bill of Rights is necessary to carry on in this technological-based World. At first I always thought of it as a nice thing, but perhaps a little too abstract or extreme to really do what it needs to do. However now we have some very large and real threats to our personal lives via this medium.

I just feel like it makes a lot of good sense to produce something of the sort. I'm also naive enough to believe that it isn't too late to attempt to establish such a document and have it not contain all sorts of loopholes that would render it useless.

I can understand why the feds want to monitor the Internet and various communications, however there needs to be that pushback, that line drawn where we can hold their overreach accountable. It may not always work, but there needs to be something that us ordinary citizens can lean back on for protection.


Call me defeatist, but when I see an existing Bill of Rights being violated so frequently and carelessly, I don't think a new Bill of Rights would be a solution.


I find the existing bill of rights quite adequate. We don't really need anything new, maybe an amendment here and there but in reality most of today's issues are already covered, they're just being utterly violated and nobody seems to realize as the ap has so eloquently demonstrated.


It has always been violated, fortunately we have organizations that take up various fights and do what they can in order to re-establish some sort of order.

Unfortunately while it doesn't always work out, that doesn't mean you scrap the whole idea.

Currently us citizens literally have nothing to combat our Government essentially having their way with the Internet to get at our data. This is an issue to both the individual but also groups/companies.

We need something, anything to use for defense.


One approach would be to require that a person/group/company that is aggregating information report the storage and use of the information to the people in the database.

You could have some arbitrary cutoffs, like don't worry about information on less than 1000 people or stored less than 3 months (or whatever numbers you want to pick out of the air, the point is that the threshold for reporting might not be 0).

What I think this might do in many cases is make storing the information more expensive than any value derived from it. It also gives people a chance to learn that the water company is sharing their usage with the police (or whatever).


I've been thinking of this for a while my self. Would it be wrong to assume that git hub would be a suitable platform to start something like this? A lot of thought needs to be put into it by a lot of people and I don't think it necessarily needs any support from any particular government or organization. It needs to be a straight forward document that outlines the rights of people in the digital age, and if it does this in a well written, understandable way, it will gain support from the right people and something will come of it.

This is a (very) short story I wrote a while ago that is semi related: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=eRNQYx21


It could serve as a good spot to start, a document like this if it is going to be collaborated on will require versioning at the least to keep track of changes made.

However, something like this should probably start on something that is much more approachable by your average citizen.

Folks that visit Hacker News and work in tech have a decent understanding of the issues, however the masses are still on the outside looking in with regards to comprehension. The platform to deliver this message really needs to be insanely user friendly.


I think a Digital bill of rights is great, but completely unenforceable. Largely because the powers that would be enforcing it wouldn't desire to be signatories.


That's just one of the issues - however like I said, I'm naive enough to believe (and donate/protest/assemble) if there was a strong enough movement for it.


Digital Bill of Rights? Ask rms about that one ... even I don't know if i'm joking.


> in my nation (India) being gay is illegal

Sorry for the flame material, but why is it that this is rarely mentioned in western news media (at least in the countries whose news I follow)?

For those who, like me, didn't know that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_India


It is odd - there was uproar around the Russian propaganda laws regarding Homosexual relationships running up to the winter olympics (and rightly so! I am not suggesting otherwise). Yet, I (who, perhaps arrogantly, consider myself fairly well informed) had absolutely no idea that homosexuality is illegal in India. This is wtf-worthy.


This was the case in something like 15 us States until the Supreme Court struck it down.... In 2003. (far more States are included if you go back just another decade)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_laws_in_the_United_Sta...


Not only that, but homosexuality is actually completely legal in Russia.

The law that everyone was in uproar about is that in Russia you're not allowed to promote non-traditional sexual relationships.

Yet in what many claim is a 'free' country (India), homosexuality it outlawed outright.

Funny how propaganda works.


What is a free country?

You can pick your criteria but please try to make it adequate and generic Then name one free country on this planet.


Such media campaigns are only for enemies of the US, not for allies like India or Saudi Arabia. (where the punishment for having homosexual intercourse is death by beheading)


If it comes to being an ally and India has to choose between US and Russia, is it that hard to guess who it will choose? You can also sample the latest example.


I am tired of all similar conspiracy theories posted the last week in .se comment fields with very bad Swedish. I am going to answer this.

If Russia was mistreated in Western media, Putin would have been burned in effigy every day for a decade in every city in the west over e.g. this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Chechen_War_crimes_and_t...

"On October 21, 1999, a series of Russian ballistic missile strikes on central Grozny killed at least 137 people, mostly civilians, and injured hundreds. The missiles hit the city's main marketplace, a maternity hospital and a mosque."

And other points listed on that page, which has never really been discussed in western media.

But I guess Wikipedia, HRW et al are in on Obama's homosexual conspiracy? :-)


It's a matter of how things are moving.

Homosexuality has been illegal in India. No change no uproar. Russia's laws have moved things bavkwards.

Look at what happened in Uganda.


India got quite a lot of criticism in the press for this at the time, and rightly so, but it dropped out of the news after a month or two because there was nothing new happening. Expect more press attention when there's news. (I doubt the Russian laws would've gotten so much attention if the Russian government didn't continually do things that drew attention to them.)


It's really incompetence.

The issue went to the supreme court and they said this matter is for the legislature to decide.

The good thing (unlike Russia) is that almost everyone from the ruling government, media, public, etc want this law abolished.


Sadly that is not true. The right-wing party, that will most likely win the upcoming elections, will never approve an amendment to change this through parliament. The judge that reverted the supreme court decision if fully aware of this and it was a political decision on his side.


Actually, what's really illegal is "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" which covers oral and anal sex - both heterosexual and homosexual.


Who on earth made that law? I mean seriously, what rational, feeling human being thinks: "Oral Sex? Ew! No thank you! Best make that illegal!"

There's a world view I can't imagine.


The law was made by the British govt in line with the victorian era ethos (remember Alan Turing?). Many of the british laws were carried over when India became independent in 1947.

When this law came up for review in the supreme court this year, it ruled that since the law criminalizes actions, not persons, it is not discriminatory and hence, not unconstitutional. As you can imagine, this was a very controversial judgment. But as things stand now, the supreme court has passed the ball back to the parliament to repeal/amend the law.

I am not sure when exactly the original law was amended in Britain.



It was made by the British rulers in 1861. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_377_of_the_Indian_Pena...

Sadly, while the British have since got rid of the prudery, it continues here.

The government in power is keen to have the Supreme court strike it down, to avoid any voting backlash from the conservative population.

While one of the courts did strike it down, the Supreme Court later put the ball back into the Parliament's court, saying that only the Parliament can use its legislative powers to get rid of the law.

Thankfully, there have been very few convictions under the law, but it has been used for harassment of some people.


I dunno if you're from/in the US, but this kind of view is a lot closer to. home than you'd think. Go back ten years and a dozen or two states had similar laws, and needed to be forced by the Supreme Court to invalidate them (go back a bit further and the number jumps).

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_laws_in_the_United_Sta...


> I mean seriously, what rational, feeling human being thinks:

Christian, esp the various puritan sub-sects. Oral sex being socially acceptable is relatively new. 40yrs or less. As a kid in 70's I'd get in trouble for saying "suck". My parents considered it an obscene word as bad as "fuck".


This kind of thing exists to this day even in the US:

"Georgia code section 16-6-2 provides a 1 to 20 year mandatory sentence for any adults consenting to "any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another". Married couples are not excluded from this law." -http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_US_states_is_Fellatio_ill...


All of these laws were completely struck down in a Supreme Court decision in 2003[1]. Georgia also struck down their specific one earlier in 1998 [2].

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_v._Texas

[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powell_v._Georgia


Judges in any of those state, bound by the Supremacy clause, will have to throw out those cases following Lawrence v Texas. If they won't do it, a federal court will be glad to do it on their behalf.


Define "nature".

Afaik several species beyond our own do oral/anal sex.


It was accepted in India for some time and then suddenly the apex court reversed the ruling saying "unnatural sex" (same gender sex) is prohibited by the constitution. This was odd as our apex court doesn't really take such steps. Then it dawned upon me that it was merely interpreting the constitution. That part of the constitution is a legacy law from the time of the British occupation. Unfortunately we have not yet changed it. I don't see it being changed in the near future either, because the party that is supposed to gain majority in this general election is a "conservative" party basing most of their policy off religion.

> why is it that this is rarely mentioned in western news media

It is mentioned in Western media. Also in India you are not prosecuted for being a gay or homosexual unless you bring to the out in the open (I am not defending the culture). Which means you can't usually do girl-girl/guy-guy making out in the public. Hell, you can't even do girl-guy making out in the open. This is covered by some "indecency laws". So, basically it's like there's no witch-hunt on for gays and lesbians even though you declare that you are a homosexual.

Now when someone says this country has a lot lot bigger issues to fix before fixing issues of homosexuality, please don't pounce on him/her because that's true (IMO).


I find myself also questioning this often. It leads to me regularly switching between iOS and Android, Google services and Apple services. Ideally I would like privacy but I think as we go forward keeping privacy would leave you in the same kind of position someone like RMS is in by sticking to his Free Software philosophy so strongly.

I'm always surprised at the number of friends and family I see who have their Facebook set to public - especially considering what they post. When I tell them they don't care. I think the majority of people want some semblance of privacy but they are willing to give up a lot for the efficiency these new products, that require us to give up privacy, provide.


> It leads to me regularly switching between iOS and Android

Is this only because of the app permissions model? AFAIK, other than that, Android per se isn't any less privacy-oriented than iOS. iOS apps also much more commonly retrieve various user data and marginally more often send data around unencrypted.


It's because I find Android works best when using Google's services and as I'm not paying for those (and they are using my info to sell ads) I trust Apple more to protect my data (it's in their interest).


Aren't Google's ad monetization practices fairly transparent? You can see all the data collected in the dashboard, you can see how ads are targeted under the ad settings.

It seems like people are alluding to Google's data usage as some sort of black box where it seems pretty open to me.


Their practices are fairly transparent, they show me that they sell my info in a way that I dislike.


Except they don't. They sell your potential clicks.


Selling info is a misnomer.


Ah OK so you were considering android and Google services together. I assumed they were easily extricable but I've never used android without Google so I suppose that assumption may be incorrect.

That being said, I don't really understand the assumption that Apple would be a good steward of personal data. As someone else alluded to on this thread, it came out _years_ ago that Apple was collecting fine grained location logs and storing them in a fully readable (unencrypted) file on each ios device (and I believe on any computer that the phone was synced to). I can't think of any behavior in Android that's even close to as egregious as that, for me.


What about your ISP? What about your network provide? Do you trust them?

And if it's in Apple's interest to protect your data, it's in Google's interest all the more to protect your data - because they do make money of some of it. Also, they have a very public declaration of what they do with the data, how they are stored and how long. With Apple, I have no fucking idea.

Also, when it comes to security, Apple has no stellar record - their's have been slow and callow approach to security (and security by obscurity).


Weren't they recently caught silently logging GPS coordinates and transmitting them once the phone was connected to a computer? How is it not in there interest to utilize personalized data?


> It leads to me regularly switching between iOS and Android, Google services and Apple services.

The difference between Apple and Google has recently occurred to me: with Apple, their secrets are in jeopardy. With Google, yours are.


I feel the only reason your secrets may not be in jeopardy with Apple is because they don't know as many... If you really want your secrets to be safe you wouldn't use any closed source code at all and would take security precautions to secure the code you do use. Unfortunately we live in a time when closed-source software is the norm and too many people think having a secure, open, communications infrastructure is too complicated and don't quite understand the reasoning behind it (thankfully that attitude seems to be changing a little), but I hope one day we'll look back on this time and wonder what we were thinking by allowing digital goods to be closed source.

With 3D printers, neural implants, augmented reality, food and organ printers, and the age of automation, what the future holds is a digital realm that's going to be very scary for people who understand it, especially if the infrastructure is completely owned by corporations and un-trustable governments and even a small amount of the source is closed. I mean look around the room and think of all the things that could be augmented or replaced with 3D printed components.. Why have a physical laptop in front of you when you can augment the key board, 25 screens, and everything else? Not only that, but you can do it for nothing if you know how to code it.

We can already print organs and I don't think it will be too long until we can print good tasting food, but what if you execute some code on your food printer that prints a steak with anthrax in it? I think in the next 50 years all this is going to be fairly common place in the developed world and I really hope I have confidence in the system that we have in place at that time.


> I feel [...] at that time.

Wow ... 313 words without a single line feed.


Sorry. Fixed.


>but I hope one day we'll look back on this time and wonder what we were thinking by allowing digital goods to be closed source

Yes, let's have the government mandate what license your code should have! Facepalm.


http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> In Comments

>Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation.

>When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

Public facing code shouldn't be closed source. Sure, if you want to run something on your own and for your self, you don't have to share that with anyone, but when you put something out into the wild that can't be conclusively shown to not be malicious it should be treated like malware.

Edit: and also, what do you think the government should do for the people when it comes to digital rights? Or do you believe corporations know what's best? I for one don't believe in either.


I am sorry if that offended you but I take issue with the idea that adding more restrictions improves freedom. If you want to download possible malware that is your choice.


> I take issue with the idea that adding more restrictions improves freedom.

Yes, but that isn't an idea the OP posted, it's an idea that you posted. A discussion of software license types doesn't automatically lead to either a preference for one kind of license over another, or the idea of governmental involvement. Those were things you made up on your own.

> If you want to download possible malware that is your choice.

Both closed and open-source code are susceptible to malware. The issues of licensing and malware are orthogonal. Closed-source code should in principle prevent malware, but it's quite obvious that it doesn't. Open-source, by being visible and readable, should reveal any vulnerabilities and prevent malware, but that doesn't work either, primarily because the more interesting vulnerabilities aren't obvious to someone reading the code.

Which means your argument is just an argument.


He was arguing that closed source software should be disallowed. Who else but the government is going to make such rules? Yes I brought freedom into it. I agree that both open and closed will have malware, so what is the point of banning closed software if not "freedom"?


> He was arguing that closed source software should be disallowed.

He did not make this argument. He argued that closed source has serious drawbacks -- he never suggested that it should be "disallowed". Find the word or an equivalent word -- but you must find it in his posts, not yours.

If I complain about women, am I saying they should be disallowed? Only to someone who invents positions for other people, then proceeds to object to the positions he has invented.

> Who else but the government is going to make such rules?

Is Apple under government mandate to have a closed-source system? Is Red Hat under government mandate to have an open-source system? Neither is true. The government is not involved at all, in any way, period.

> Yes I brought freedom into it.

Yes, you did, after inventing arguments no one made, using claims about society that aren't part of reality.

> ... so what is the point of banning closed software if not "freedom"?

You fabricated this entire argument out of whole cloth. No one advocated "banning closed software", no one brought up government, no one brought up freedom. These are all parts of your private fantasy.


I'm scared by the idea that I could one day have a neural implant with closed source code running on some insecure network all because the people of this time were too dumb to realize how software could affect them.

Perhaps we should have laws that guarantee some form of open-ness but allow closed source code to exist on some sort of semi-to-fully-anonymous fully-encrypted secondary communications network?


> I'm scared by the idea that I could one day have a neural implant with closed source code running on some insecure network all because the people of this time were too dumb to realize how software could affect them.

It's a reasonable concern. People have already been injured and killed by software errors, both open and closed, so this is definitely on the table as a reasonable issue.

> Perhaps we should have laws that guarantee some form of open-ness but allow closed source code to exist on some sort of semi-to-fully-anonymous fully-encrypted secondary communications network?

My view is that we should let people sort this out without government involvement. Right now there are open-source companies and closed-source companies, and people get to vote with their feet. If closed-source causes problems or is more expensive or whatever, people can choose the alternative. Same with open-source.

There are any number of cases where government involvement turned out to be counterproductive, and I think this might be one of them. Remember that government can't just bust in and start issuing orders, they have to be invited by the voters. And sometimes, if things go wrong, they get voted out again.

Freedom of speech -- clearly a government issue. Open-source versus closed-source software -- sorry, how this is a government issue doesn't immediately occur to me.


> Yes, let's have the government mandate what license your code should have! Facepalm.

Hey -- even when people freely choose which license code should have, there are still better and worse choices. There's no essential role for government, and the OP didn't suggest that.

Also, according to my favorite theory of modern society, governments find out what people are going to do anyway, order them to do it, then try to take credit for the result. So (if this theory has any substance) governmental involvement is more illusory than real.


I'm curious on this thought , care to expand ?


I just notice that Apple often finds themselves in court, suing someone (usually a company) for trying to steal one of their (corporate) secrets. And Google is often in court, defending themselves against someone (or a group) suing them for trying to steal their (personal) secrets.

It might all be more balanced in reality, it's just an impression from online articles.


if you want to call patent trolling protecting company secrets thats questionable. As soon as you issue a patent its no longer a secret.


>I'm always surprised at the number of friends and family I see who have their Facebook set to public - especially considering what they post.

I think that's actually smart. In reality the privacy setting on Facebook has no real effect on privacy, because companies and the NSA will still get your information. You might as well treat everything you post on Facebook as public.


> because companies

Which companies?

> the NSA

You mean, law enforcement agencies who specifically request your information with a subpoena?


> I'm always surprised at the number of friends and family I see who have their Facebook set to public - especially considering what they post.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they are set to public by default... in fact, IIRC they even reset everyone to public when they released that "feature" a couple of years ago.

> When I tell them they don't care. I think the majority of people want some semblance of privacy but they are willing to give up a lot for the efficiency these new products, that require us to give up privacy, provide.

Sure, and smokers are willing to risk a slow painful death to forgo the pain of quitting. Humans are short-term thinkers.


Watch out, because it's a common (and extremely dangerous) misconception that personal data abuses afflict only people who are perceived (or perceive theirselves) as criminal.

There are two reasons.

First, legal systems with an excessive power in the hands of the prosecution can take an ordinary, civil citizen, and legally rape him (this description was used some time ago on an HN article)

Second, anybody that lives a regular life has secrets to hide; this is just a fact. And that secrets will be abused if it would be instrumental to the authorities.

I've said "extremely dangerous" - why? Because data collection today is considered/perceived/felt as a big nuisance, but not much more.

In reality, it's an oppression instrument, and it's not perceived by the general population just because they're not in prominent positions towards the government.


Don't forget that even if you believe you can trust the entity collecting the information, can you trust all the persons that have access to it? Is it inconceivable to believe that people who work for the Chinese government have never sold top secret data to US officials or even corporations? Why couldn't an NSA employee do the same thing? What if the NSA's servers weren't as secure as they thought they were?




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