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.

Continue reading

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.

Lately, I see many people argue with each other about how people had different opinions in the past and now they have changed. Some people think that because some people had different opinions in the past, they do not have the right to comment on current issues or on the subjects they have changed their ideas about.

This is wrong. People change and that’s a good thing. In fact, if our ideas don’t change then we should check them. It wasn’t long ago that some racist people protested against a black child going to an all-white school. If one of those people comes to a Black Lives Matter protest and fights for black people, should we stop it?

Of course not. People change their opinions. It’s the beauty of an independent person and mind. Of course I believe people should be punished for wrongs they did but that doesn’t mean goods they do are worthless.

A lot of people around the world are under the influence of propaganda and false/fake news. Many still think borders, sexuality, race, skin color, etc. can separate us. It’s not people’s fault as it’s the governments/regimes that do this. What we should fight is propaganda itself. Governments have benefits in separating people and that’s exactly what we should fight.

If they kill us they won’t have any power over us. What they are afraid of is our belief and independence of thoughts. They separate us because they know if we share this independent thoughts, they won’t survive. They separate us because they know together we’re stronger.

Expectation vs. Reality

A lot of people are tired of advertisements. For example, some of us are using ad blockers now when we’re surfing the web. A lot of people mute the TV when they see an ad, others may use different technics to avoid ads. But what we’re facing now, is advertisements that are not specifically tell us what they are.

If you see a billboard in a street recommending something, you can tell it’s an ad, but what if your favorite football player recommends something? Imagine Leo Messi posting a picture of himself drinking Pepsi. How would you know if it’s really his preference or it’s just a paid ad?

Such thing can affect our decision on choosing stuff.

Continue reading

Washington Post private browsing problem

There’s a lot of reports that some of online services are blocking users’ access if they are on private browsing mode. One of these services is The Washington Post which chosen “Democracy Dies in Darkness” as its motto. It’s very funny that the very news agency that claims to fight for democracy and freedom is tracking its users and collects their personal information.

If you visit The Washington Post website with private mode activated on your browser, you’ll see such notice:

We noticed you’re browsing in private mode.

Private browsing is permitted exclusively for our subscribers. Turn off private browsing to keep reading this story, or subscribe to use this feature, plus get unlimited digital access.

I do support asking for subscription or limiting the amount of articles a user can read on free plan but limiting people from using private mode is not acceptable. The point of private browsing is to not being recognized nor  followed.

This is actually much more worrying that this is a bug from browsers. A browser should not let websites know if a user is browsing web in private mode. Not being tracked should not be a luxury. A user should be in private browsing mode by default and if they wanted, they can turn it off.

Tracking people in private mode should be considered as a violation of people’s privacy and browsers should be forced to put more effort to make private browsing much more safer and easier for users.

Messa and a former Rappler writer, Reynaldo Santos Jr., were convicted Monday of “cyber libel” — defined as libel committed online — for a 2012 article that alleged wealthy Filipino businessman Wilfredo Keng was involved in murder, drug dealing, human trafficking and smuggling.

The article cited an unspecified intelligence report, but in her ruling, Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa said the accused had offered no proof of the allegations. The judge added that there had been no government influence on the case, and said freedom of the press “cannot be used as a shield” against libel.

Messa and Santos Jr. face up to six years in prison for the conviction, but have been released on bail pending appeal.

The verdict was horrifying to hear, but not unexpected, said Ressa, who said attacks on her news organization dated back to when Duterte took office in 2016.

“We came under attack because we kept challenging the impunity of the government in the drug war,” she said.

“We exposed the propaganda war, the information operations that the Philippine government is doing against its own citizens.”

As a result, she said that “President Duterte and the Philippine government would like you to think I’m a criminal.”

“It was seeded on social media, it was repeated insidiously by government officials, pro-government accounts, and then four years later [I’m] given a guilty verdict as a criminal by a court.”

Amnesty International condemned the ruling, saying “this verdict is a sham and should be quashed.”

Ressa said she isn’t resigned to jail time, and still has “hope that there are men and women in the judiciary who will uphold the rule of law.”

“I will look for justice. I won’t stop,” she said.