No Blood for Social Media

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Remember the story, “How did WWI start?”—”If we only knew.” I have some serious similar concerns about current events.

First and most obviously we are losing perspective on what free speech means. Caught for killing a liquor store clerk, you can’t claim violation of expression. That kind of action is in the criminal, not civil realm.

While, admittedly, YouTube has at times called attention to atrocities, they are unquestionably—instead of reporting—intentionally provoking for profit continuing international criminal violence.

We are now told that corporations are people. Any person caught in such a pattern would be arrested and enjoined from further inciting murder, to say nothing of warfare. So, I do not understand why YouTube cannot be charged with manslaughter if not degrees of murder with intent, including conspiracy.

And does no one consider that sending troops to in effect defend a viral extremist and Google/YouTube’s right to profit from resulting international violence is even more perverse than sending troops to secure international oil based on concocted intelligence?

I recognize this is just one video out of a billion, and I know all about the slippery slope. I have stuff up there and am waiting to post more.

But I think the DOJ needs to awaken to new realities. Communications now means what once may have been repellant but legal here, is now internationally legitimized by distribution without the mitigating perspective of professional journalism and criticism. Such disregard for the laws of other nations cannot fail to continue to provoke violence, with some reason. This person YouTube deserves a thorough questioning as to its responsibilities to the rest of the citizenship. Again, murder is not a free speech issue. In the national interest justice now demands proof that YouTube is not a sociopath.

I further hold that a good citizen would actually realize this and voluntarily remove the post; at the very least to not so needlessly put world citizens, civil and military servants at further risk. The patriotic approach is to calm tensions by extracting oneself from the situation as quickly as possible while pursuing a durable solution. No lame excuse about your ‘standards difficulties’ is worth a single life. And there are too many other uncertainties in play.

I don’t want history to ask, “How did WWIII start?”—”Corporate abuse of digital rights for profit.”

Rights versus What’s Right

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Revised 20121110

The conventional wisdom is that the country backs the incumbent during crisis. The term “October surprise” originated from the Nixon’s using Kissinger to declare that peace was at hand in Vietnam.

But I see no evidence for conspiracy here, just chaos. Any opportunist can make a film, and did. Any demagogue can whip up desperate people into frenzy, and they did. The Libyan attack is currently suspected to be a planned two-stage operation under cover of the riot. Still in our national interest we can’t close the embassies and hope to have any constructive influence upon these fractured lands. So we again send 19 year-olds into harm’s way.

If you find this story strangely disconcerting it may be because it forces the nation to ask the ethical question of how many diplomats or soldiers have to die for some shmuck’s free speech, and necessarily your own rights to promulgate a crappy ‘film.’

That ground shifting from under your ideologies could be the realization that it is so much simpler to spout within social media extremism of any ilk, or chicken-hawk jingoistic platitudes, when you are totally insulated from the consequences. When no one you know or for which you have responsibility is at risk. As someone you will never meet is now sitting ready to die for you in sand that burns even at night.

If managers at Google/YouTube were not incurring ethical if not legal dilemmas, they would not be selectively blocking the video depending on the degree of rioting in the market country. But now that corporations are persons, I suggest that a highly pertinent question arises of complicity to murderwhich has nothing to do with free speech.

Manslaughter is a person causing death without prior intention. This would seem to be a slam-dunk case of YouTube guilt.

If the person continues, knowing their actions are likely to produce death, as they are, it becomes murder.

Sleep tight, YouTube, now obviously choosing to sustain international violence for revenue, leveraged on the backs of yet another innocent generation.

I am now informed that the rationale, liberty, and indemnification for this situation derives from Federal Statute 47 U.S.C. §230; which I would identify as now deserving review.

FCC Leadership: Headless, Gutless, Senseless

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Revised: 20120602

This is too sad to belabor. But you need to know that the agency that promises to protect us from cyberwarfare by hardening the internet cannot even protect us from Google.

In obvious pre-election fear of the new web robber-barons, after a two-year effort FCC just punted and fined Google $25,000 for illegally gathering servers full of personal communications with their street snoops. Does anyone imagine Google officers chastened and dissuaded, or simply laughing their asses off as they unroll a well-planned series of strategic workarounds?

For perspective, FCC routinely levies minimum fines of $17,000 against wayward FM pirates, CBers, hams, and restaurants with cell phone quieters. FCC just fined Clear Channel $22,000 simply for vague contest terms. They got ripped off! For only $3,000 more, Clear Channel could have bought the rights to data-mine all of the country’s personal online activity.

FCC’s purported investigation was stymied simply by one engineer claiming the 5th Amendment and hence offering no information on those who green-lighted the project. Though its Chairman is an admittedly brilliant Communications jurist and former Supreme Court clerk, FCC was curiously unable to uncover essential evidence despite this stonewalling. (Notably, several European agencies are not so timid either in their fines or continuing investigations.)

Now FCC implies that Congress missed something; as if we don’t have enough laws and precedent against invasion of privacy, illegal wiretapping, to say nothing of that pesky 4th Amendment protecting personal security. In fact, Mr. Genachowski has been legally advising the FCC since the early 90s, specifically assisting two previous Chairmen by writing their telecommunications legislation; and now twenty years later finds enough loopholes surrounding encryption to obstruct his own decisiveness on behalf of the public? Ultimately, Google got off simply because you didn’t encrypt all of your love letters and other private information. Their theory is that you invited data rape. That is how your FCC is protecting you today; by deciding your digital life is all fair game for the unseen.

Effectively, Chairman Genachowski just told every internet service they could do whatever they like by simply adding $12,500 per year to their cost of doing business. What nonsense be this? Was he oblivious to privacy issues when writing the laws or only now while incapable of respecting them? You cannot call this incompetence: he is too smart. We are left only to suspect the accelerated collusion and corruption surrounding this budget-strapped and weakened FCC since Genachowski’s rise to stardom with The 1996 Telecom Act—which also dissolved your rights against cell towers in your back yard.

Julius, can we just cut through the crap? Any ambiguity here resides only in the minds of the industry that put you there and continuously pushes the limits of conspiracy to steal personal data for profit. Otherwise there would have been no basis for action at all, no need for over two years of continuing international investigation, no grounds for anyone to claim the 5th, no need for bullshit excuses about encryption, no need for House Energy & Commerce to investigate you as a paradigm study for needed reforms, and finally, no need for the U.S. public to live with Federal acquiescence in this cover-up and continued erosion of our rights to privacy.

Mr. Genachowski, again, please exit through the gift shop with your former colleagues via that golden revolving door that you have so publicly applauded. I was going to refrain from saying that you have ill-served the President, until finding that Wikipedia already predicted you to be gone in 2011: “criticisms have become numerous and increasingly vocal among consumer groups and legislative supporters about his lack of substantive accomplishments to date.”

Yes, it gets worse. This update notes a March 11 report from The Hill that oxymoronically reports the White House wants to move Genachowski out of FCC because of his inaction, to Commerce Secretary, which needs a more active leader. I can only conclude that no one can make sense of this without further information that is apparently not public.

Revised: 20130323: Mr. Genachowski has resigned.

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