IEET > Rights > GlobalDemocracySecurity > Contributors > PrivacySurveillance > Jon Perry
How Government Surveillance is Like Piracy
Jon Perry   Jul 20, 2013   THE DECLINE OF SCARCITY  

Many civil libertarians are up in arms about the NSA snooping revelations.

And there are serious issues with the secrecy and oversight elements that I’m going to ignore here. But the fact that they are snooping doesn’t surprise me and, in itself, doesn’t bother me. I see privacy as a dead issue. Like my co-blogger Jon Perry and many other thinkers, I’m concerned that we must fight to allow citizen “sousveillance” and protect due process rather than chasing after technically infeasible privacy.

But there’s a way the NSA debate is like the piracy debate. The problem with a file sharer isn’t that he or she copied, but that the copy was done without permission. The NSA can be characterized as doing the same thing: copying data without permission. In both cases, a fundamental quality of digital technology — frictionless, nonrivalrous copying — enables the behavior. In both cases, the authority to grant permission is the key issue.

A pirate uploads a movie without authorization from the studio; the NSA downloads an email (OK, all the emails) without authorization from the user.

In both cases, the real-world analogues for which we have established law are not adequate. It is not quite correct to say that downloading a file is ‘stealing’ in the traditional sense of that word (whatever the moral equivalents might be, there is a physical difference between stealing something rivalrous and copying something nonrivalrous and it is hardly trivial). It is not quite adequate to say that the fourth amendment protects us from unreasonable ‘search and seizure,’ when one is talking about data. Data can be searched and copied without being seized or stolen in the physical sense of those terms. What protection are we afforded from seizure-less search? What about theft that robs someone only of their product’s artificial scarcity, not of any physical good?

Written by Ted Kupper, IEET published by Jon Perry


“I’m concerned that we must fight to allow citizen “sousveillance” and protect due process rather than chasing after technically infeasible privacy.”

You have this so backwards I don’t know where to begin?

The whole strategy of NSA and govt Surveillance is to quash and control Sousveillance - Just how do you think any sensitive or embarrassing issue will be dealt with by authorities?

Isn’t the situation regarding Ed Snowden clear signal enough? A single political whistleblower with absolutely no sanctuary nor protections from any nation in the entire World, even from those that oppose US imperialism?

Identity protections will need to be increased, are increasing, as part of an ever increasing online collective and with criminal exploitation that takes advantage and opportunity. Anonymity will therefore be reduced in the unfolding future, yet these are different and separate issues from that of “privacy”?

And for any who feel they can re-invent the WWWeb using sousveillance networks? Good luck!

And the reason why NSA and govt Surveillance is NOT like Piracy, is because there is here no financial gain from exploitation of the works and property of others. Pirates Plunder and steal for personal profit.

The government will use this stolen data to persecute freedom fighters and political dissidents.

You know, the type of people the government executed for opposing war, slavery and capitalism.

Information wants to be free. Business models need to adjust to deal with the liquidity of data. The world is better off thanks to filesharing. I’m sorry if diminishment of capitalist monopoly rents offends you.

@ Renegade

“Filesharing is great..”

Depends? If Filesharing supports anti-secrecy, anti-corruption and extension of protections against oppression, (Wikileaks), then yes.

Yet what do you say to Filesharing an individual’s hard works and efforts, (Ayn Rand) - for example the Musician, the Author who takes years to write a book? is this right and just?

This is where “Piracy” equates to “Predatory Capitalism” and = Stealing!

What is the difference between an “Industrialist” who builds stuff and the future, and a “Banker” who builds nothing but burden of debt upon others?

I think you need apply more scrutiny towards your idealism.

All of the oppression you forecast begins with the erosion of freedoms and privacy. There are no excuses for the erosion of privacy we see emerging?

Well I see it is precisely the erosion of privacy and freedoms, the acceptance, and justifications and excuses for this, that have landed us in the hands of an Orwellian Surveillance state?

Agreed that “Capitalism and governance” should be separated, as with secular ideals of Church and state? Applied Social ethics by govt to keep Capitalism Selfishness and greed in check, and not dealing in it!

It really is all down to Human Self-ishness and greed, and govt leniency on “Corporate Taxation”?

Like I said, a Banker is not an industrialist, is not a “builder”, and that is precisely Rand’s point against the corruption of Socialism - if you look closely enough the common enemy is clear - greed and oppression to freedoms!

Although Rand’s idealism also supports “Rational Self interest” and “Self Actualization”, it is also a rally against corrupt and Crony statism and oppression - exactly of the kinds you address? There is common agreement and ally to be found with some Capitalist thinking, but NOT necessarily Neo-Liberalism?

The Industrial Revolution is just extension of Agricultural revolution and Land Lording and ownership? The Farm Lord traded in for Factory ownership? Yet we still can’t go backwards? Wage servitude should be dismissed with 19th Century Capitalism models and thinking?

The Author, Artist, Musician, Philosopher, innovators are the creators, and they should be rewarded for their hard efforts, not have them “taken” away? And there is difference between copyrights to protect individuals, and patents afforded to Corporations for powers over their competition?

Anyways, it is not technology that is decadent, it is the devious means and minds that Humans apply to it? Technological progress and scientific knowledge is impartial to Human politics?



What has happened to Renegade’s comments?

There is no progress to be made in discussion if this kind of moderation is applied?

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