Apparently, smartphones that are more expensive than 300 Euros have not entered the Iranian market, starting current Iranian year. This was announced by the “Association of Mobile, Tablets. and Accessories Importers of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce” yesterday.

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, we have seen restrictions on the import of digital goods to Iran, but these restrictions have not only been related to the virus. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, we have seen restrictions on the import of digital goods to Iran, but these restrictions have not only been related to this virus.

Importers of digital stuff are no longer able to receive currency from the Central Bank of Iran, and this has caused them many problems.

Now, new report suggests that the import of smartphones worth more than 300 euros into the country is banned. This may be due to the Iranian government’s efforts to save foreign exchange resources.

Spokesman for the Iranian Mobile Importers Association says the currency allocated for smartphone imports in the new year has fallen by about 500 million euros.

This is a bad situation for Iranian people.

If we ignore the fact that some corrupt people are involved, we can say that US sanctions have made it difficult and impossible for innocent people to use the equipment that allows them to live their daily lives like normal people around the world.

I can’t approve nor deny that some Iranian companies are abusing their power and money but I can say that current US sanctions system hurts the Iranian people more than it hurts the Iranian government.

This is bad and should be stopped.

Another thing is that Iranian government has also a thing to do with this situation. Since the start of registering all mobile phones in ‘Mobile Regulatory’, Iranian government started to monitor people.

This registry can help the government to track people and limit their usage of the digital goods and it’s an obvious violation of people’s privacy. This power can be abused by the government at any time.

Iranian government also has a history of limiting people from using technology. For example, due to recent protests, we saw Iranian government shutting down the internet. Needless to mention all other activities of them (the government) during years.

Yesterday, Chris “Muesli” asked an interesting question that I thought can be a good blog post. If we were in power, what rules would be write?

You are to be born in 24 hours. You are also to write all the rules that will govern the society in which you will live. However, you do not know if you will be born bright or retarded, black or white, male or female, rich or poor, able or disabled.

How would you write the rules?

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One of the problems we have about activists is that they don’t follow up on issues. A lot of people are aware of the problems but less and less people are trying to complete a task of problem solving.

Many people, who I call audience, are only listening and collecting some basic information about problems but they mostly get tired of repeated content. Because of digital social networks, people are now used to diverse ‘content’ that expresses things in a completely superficial, raw, and non-specific way. And it is only suitable for entertainment, not change.

We see less and less people who focus on a problem and try their best to solve it. Of course we can’t, nor we have the right, to stop people who want to be active in different fields but without telling and guiding them, the bigger problem still remains.

Many of our audiences are tired of us repeating problems and expect us to go through one problem after another without actually doing anything about them. Many others expect the problems to be solved only by mentioning them.

The thing is that mentioning and talking about a problem is one thing, and actually trying to fix it is another thing. We can’t fix problems by talking about them. If you talk about math problems a lot, you won’t be a mathematician. The only way to fix those problems is to learning math and trying.

However, I should mention that gaining people’s attention about a problem is one way to fix it.

With public knowledge and global attention, we can have the power of people to change something. For example, in the matter of privacy and encryption, people’s attention is something that can fix the problem for good. It’s not enough of course but it’s an important precondition.

Anyway, many of us can’t stay active on one thing. We want to have activity and impact on various stuff and it can only, well not only but mostly, lead to being unsuccessful on all of them.

A good journalist is someone who does not give up a story until the whole truth is revealed, not someone who covers 100 different stories. Pick a problem, or even 5 problems if you can, and follow up on those issues till you do something effective and don’t give up.

You don’t need to be a person who can do a lot of things, you should be a person who does one thing very good.

Thousands of years ago, human beings found out that not all of them are the same and there always will be misunderstandings and disagreements. So to make living easier and solve these disagreements, they created governments and they all agreed to obey what governors say.

Some rulers were just and good, and some were dictators and oppressors but the fact that governments were created to protect people never changed.

After a while, we realized that human beings always pursue their own interests first and then pay attention to others. We realized that no matter how dynamic, vibrant, and beautiful societies are, they still cannot replace human individuality and selfishness.

Then we realized that in order for us to be satisfied with life and society, the interests of every human beings must be respected. We realized that we could not expect some victims to be aggrieved and at the same time all to be satisfied.

It was the time that we created democracies. We decided that people should choose their own faith and destiny. We realized that power always leads to corruption, and the only way to fight against individual power is through collective power.

People started voting and voting to find the best system to satisfy all and they seemed to find one. But that wasn’t the end. Previous (so-called) masters found the way to continue their ruling.

With a lot of propaganda and divisions among the people and the creation of social classes, they turned away all the attention from themselves and continued their corruption and crimes.

New governments were created to help people live together with peace and happiness but they all turned to be another form of dictatorship. People created the voting systems and democracies to give power back to people but they happened to create a new system that can be more effective in lying to people.

We don’t need correction or repair, we need evolution, revolution, and reform. Governments were created to help people, not to suppress them. We need to look back at what we wanted and make it good.

According to Wikipedia:

Surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, activities, or information for the purpose of influencing, managing or directing.

It is by no means a new concept, as the ability to know what your population is doing at any given time is extremely useful when trying to enforce laws. This is why even in the Bible, there are examples of what is thought to be surveillance:

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

2 Samuel 11-12

Later in the passage, David goes on to sleep with Bathseba, even though she was already the wife of Uriah. Cleary, in this example, surveillance was used for David’s own personal gain and pleasure rather than for the greater good.

There is even evidence to believe that the ancient Egyptians were using forms of surveillance, according to Terry Crowdy in his book The Enemy Within: A History of Espionage.

The Hittite king Muwatallis sent two spies into the Egyptian camp posing as deserters to convince pharaoh that the Hittite army was still quite distant. Rameses believed their story and unwittingly allowed part of his army to march into a Hittite ambush.

However this is not the same form of surveillance that we are used to today. David was not using CCTV to spy upon Bathseba, nor was Muwatallis when he sent spies to the Rameses.

If we want to figure out how long mass surveillance (as we understand it today) has been going on, we only need to look back to the 2000’s, and we know that the first CCTV was only used in 1927. We can even study the use of surveillance in Nazi and Communist regimes, but if surveillance is such a new concept then how do we explain the use of spies in Egypt or David in the Bible.

This then begs the question as how we define surveillance? If we use the definition at the beginning of this article then both of these cases count. However if both of these cases count, then why are some of us fine with our country spying, and yet not with the use of security cameras?

I think it comes down to a very human instinct. We don’t really notice if something bad is happening to someone else if it doesn’t affect us, it is only when it does that we take a stand.

I think the poem by Martin Niemöller sums it up well:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

So where did surveillance originate? It’s hard to tell. The issue has now become much more prominent thanks to works such as Orwell’s 1984 or Ed Snowden’s revealing of the NSA’s spying capabilities and the constant articles about Facebook and Google’s abusive privacy policies.

I think it is fair to say that the act of watching and monitoring others has been going on for longer than we can prove, it’s only recently that we’ve started to record it.

George Junius Stinney Jr was, at age of 14, the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century (1944). The boy was small for his age (about 1 meter); so small, they had to stack books on the electric chair.

Because there was literally no evidence against him, the question of Stinney’s guilt and the judicial process leading to his execution remained controversial. He was accused of murdering two white girls at the time.

However, on December 2014, George was cleared (conviction vacated) in a court of law, 70 years too late.

The 1991 movie “Carolina Skeletons” is based on this event.

The system that did this is not changed. It’s the same juridical system, same police and crime system, and also same educational system. Nothing has changed. There are a lot of black people still facing injustice.

The problem is not people. Of course there are a lot of racist people but the impact of the system is much more. If the system fought for people and justice and made correct decisions about society, we would have way better world than this.

What we should fight is the system. It’s the system that jeopardizes people for its own benefits. It’s not a system made for people, it’s a system made by people against themselves.

Software Licensing

One of the most important parts of free (as in freedom) software is the license. Determining a license is one of the constant concerns of the software libre and free culture community. As you know, a work is considered libre only if it’s published under a free (as in freedom) license.

One of the problems is that it happens a lot that a developer forgets to distribute its work under a proper license. Well it can be solved easily by reminding the community the importance of providing a license but the bigger problem is the license itself.

Most of the times, developer distribute their works with weak licenses or licenses that are not fully compatible with free (as in freedom) culture.

As far as I know, the most popular software license is MIT, as of 2020. MIT is a great simple libre license. However, it’s weak and not copyleft. I personally license my works under the latest version of GNU General Public License (GPL) but some people may don’t like it as they may find it unpleasing.

Anyway, what I’m talking about is the importance of license as the license specifies the terms of service and the use of the software. Whether it can be used for progress of technology or helping the people or only be used to please corporations against people, it’s all can be defined by the license.

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There’s not more than 10 million cases of coronavirus around the world. A lot of people around the world don’t have access to basic medical needs and a lot of people are misinformed about the virus. Needless to mention that work situations and capitalism are another problems for people.

A lot of people have no more money to spend and no more food to eat so they have to get back to work. Governments aren’t doing anything to help people and poverty is rising. Rich people stay at home and tell others to stay inside as well but they don’t see the difference.

More than 10 million cases means that this virus is not going away anytime soon so it needs a cooperation between all people to make situation livable for everyone. A lot of people in Africa and Asia are living a terrible situation and the danger of the virus threatens them every second.

There’s a lot of protests going on around the world as well. Black Lives Matter protests on United States, Workers’ Rights protests in Europe, and human rights protests in Hong Kong. Governments are suppressing these protests and violating human rights and it makes protests last longer therefore risk of getting the virus rises.

If you have access to medical facilities, please wear mask and gloves to prevent infection and also please keep your distance, at least 2 meters, from other people. Wash your hands immediately after you touch anything and use sanitizer whenever you feel you’re not clean enough.

Also, please share sanitizing stuff so more people can be safe.

Google did not become this rich by selling potatoes. Also, Google is not your kind father who provides without any expectations. Google is data-hungry and it takes care of you so it can get more of your data. Imagine a farmer who takes a good care of its cow.

The farmer doesn’t love the cow. The farmer won’t take care of the cow for no reason. It’s the milk and at the end, the meat that is important. Google is the farmer and you’re the cow. You may turn off the data switches in your privacy panel in Google settings but it doesn’t mean that Google will respect your privacy and choices.

By signing up you agreed to the terms of service and Google can change them whenever it wants. Let me tell you something. By switching off those options, you only told Google to stop providing personalized services to you; it doesn’t mean that Google will stop receiving those information and data.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, etc. are companies that work for data. It’s the data that matters to them not you or anything else. Data brings them money and it’s money that is worthy for them, not you. Don’t trust Google or any other service that collects your personal data by default.

Don’t get fooled.

A lot of companies advertise over encryption of data in their service. Encryption is a really good practice for privacy and security but it’s worthless sometimes. For example, WhatsApp encrypts messages but it’s worthless as it’s Facebook (WhatsApp’s owner) who creates and manages keys.

What a secure messenger or any service does is to let the user create and handle encryption keys. Let me give you another example. Imagine you want send a letter to a friend and I’m the mail person. You give me your letter and I promise you to hide it. Now, I may hide it from other people but I, myself, still have access to it.

Encryption is like that. If you want to hide your letter, you should do it yourself and not trust anyone. As long as other services do the encryption for you or manage your keys, you’re not truly secure and that encryption is worthless.