Main Topic Privacy

On Bombings, Sharing, Privacy and Security

I want to express our condolences to the families of those killed yesterday in the Boston Marathon bombings as well as our hope for a speedy recovery for those who suffered physical and mental trauma. No one should endure such tragedies or have their lives or loved ones taken away from them in a split second. I wish I could say I was shocked by yesterday’s bombing, but after Oklahoma City, 9/11 and far too many mass shootings, I just cannot be.

I also want to add my thanks to all who helped, be they the onlookers near by, marathon volunteers, medical personnel, or public servants such as our firefighters, EMTs and police. My friend Rob Bazemore said it well:

Today is Patriots Day and the true American/Human spirit showed through by the number of people who rushed forward to help those in need.

No doubt others will help to identify who caused this tragedy by sharing their videos and photos. To say that the Internet has changed everything, is over used of course. But in this event, writer and friend Cecilia Tan shows us how it can help deal with such a tragedy:

For me one of the things that makes me feel better/less freaked out when things like bombings occur and my 9/11 PTSD is triggered is to get a complete picture in my mind of what happened and when. Turns out the Internet it pretty good for that. Unlike on 9/11, it’s so much easier to actively seek out newsfeeds, eyewitness accounts, photos and videos. Every person with a cell phone is a potential “reporter.” Within 45 minutes of it happening, using Twitter and a couple of feeds (Boston Globe, Reuters, Boston Police) I had a fairly complete picture of what went on. Which is astounding when you think about it.

The sharing of pictures, videos, first hand accounts and stories was tremendous and far out stripped what was available on news web sites.  The Internet has made this decentralized world possible.  While it leads to a sometime cacophony of sources, the evaluation of those sources is left to the individual and not a small number of reporters, anchors, producers and editors.  To me, this world is far more liberating.

We know there will be calls for more CCTV cameras, more capture of our communications on the net and more invasions of our privacy for fleeting security.  As Alex Marthews notes, we have already given up so much privacy to the national security state and yet this bombing still happened.  Those who run the national security state no longer have the right to say if only we had more surveillance we would have stopped this bombing.

As we gear up to fight these inevitable calls for more surveillance, we have to remember those bills that threaten our privacy now.  CISPA, which we have long opposed, is one that needs your attention today.  It would allow ISPs or mobile phone companies to send your Internet traffic to government agencies (hello NSA!) in order to stop cyber terrorists and Russian Chinese North Korean hackers.  At least that’s the excuse.  Yet CISPA was been amended in closed committee meetingscontains barely any privacy protections and isn’t even needed.

Tomorrow the US House will vote on CISPA.  Your Congress people need to hear from you that you oppose CISPA.  There three ways you can tell them (I recommend you use all three):

  1. The EFF and Fight for the Future have a web page to contact your Congress person and Senators.
  2. Use the contact information we have below.
  3. Ask them publicly to oppose CISPA on their Facebook pages and on Twitter.

Thank you and please act today.

1.  Contact your Senators

Elizabeth Warren
Facebook / @elizabethforma / (202) 224-4543

Mo Cowan
Facebook / @SenMoCowan / (202) 224-2742

1.  Contact the US Senate Candidates who are Congressmen

Stephen Lynch – Facebook / @LynchForSenate

Ed Markey – Facebook / @EdMarkey

3.  Contact your Congressperson

To find out who represents you in Congress, please visit Where Do I Vote MA and enter your address.

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