I also posted this at the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate. I serve as Senior Policy Analyst for Technology for the Institute.
As new tools of civic and civil protest evolve – as in Iran, where protesters are using social networks to keep the rest of the world apprised of the response to that country’s recently held elections – they present both new opportunities and new challenges for freedom of speech.
Twitter has been singled out as the key communication platform for protesters and those watching them since last week’s election. It has enabled people around the globe to read real time accounts of the happenings.
It has also enabled people around the globe to participate in the protest in ways some have never seen before.
Such armchair activism has included setting up proxy servers to help Iranian tweeters get around government blockades of the site.
Another example was the attempted DDOS attacks on Iranian web servers from abroad (DDoS stands for Denial of Service, a method of hacking that involves sending lots of web requests every second with the hopes of overloading a web server and rendering a website unusable/unavailable).
Principally, the inclusion of non-Iranians in these protest efforts is a good thing. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. However, these particular actions raise serious ethical and legal questions that must be thought through.
As interested activists and citizens, we must be prudent in our actions to ensure they help more than hurt.
By doing so, do we make our civilian network infrastructure a valid target to an adversary? What risks are associated with a group of private citizens sending an unintended message to a potential adversary in the form of a coordinated network disruption?
Perhaps we are, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Earlier this year, Russia basically did this to Georgia, and caught a lot of flack for it. This sets a precedent that is dangerous, especially if we don’t understand its consequences.
Another question: if the attacks were actually successful, wouldn’t we be destroying the only portals we have into the very place we’re so interested in?
After all, foreign journalists have been banned from covering the demonstration, and many have been jailed and/or beaten. To choke off an authentic supply of information would be strategically foolish.
Technology is an increasingly powerful and important part of our society and our culture. As it expands to touch more parts of our lives, we must be ever-mindful of its drawbacks as well as its benefits.
One Love. One II.
I co-hosted a Debate Party on Friday night that doubled as a Fundraiser for Barack Obama. The party was fun, the food was delicious, and the people I watched the debate with, including the Bus Chick & people from YES! Magazine and Reclaim the Media, couldn’t have been cooler.
What could have been better was my candidate’s performance. Here’s why this debate was a lost opportunity:
- Too much agreement
- Posturing on Pakistan & Afghanistan
- Nuclear Iran only posing a threat to Israel
- Iran’s army is a terrorist organization
- Venezuela is a rogue nation
(All the references I make here can be seen in the Debate Transcript, courtesy of the New York Times.)
In breaking but not surprising news, it was revealed today that Iran is not actually developing nuclear weapons. From the New York Times via truthout.org.
Washington – A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.
The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be a major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.
Now before you think that this report will actually end the saber-rattling regarding Iran, please put your dancing shoes back in the closet. The Bush administration has already shifted its justification against Iran by citing Iran’s meddling in Iraq. We are very much not out the woods yet and I would ask for all of my liberal-minded friends to not think that evidence or facts prevail in Bush’s world. Please continue to speak out against war escalation and not just in safe progressive bubbles.
Stay up fam,
I don’t have any kids but I have been around them enough to know that they have a very short attention span. This reminds me of the Bush administration. An article in WaPo states,
“The United States has decided to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and finances.” Read More…
This will be the type of ignorant but calculating excuse that Bush would use if and when a conflict would breakout with Iran. In the latest development, “the U.S. Navy staged its latest show of military force off the Iranian coastline on Wednesday, sending two aircraft carriers and landing ships packed with 17,000 U.S. Marines and sailors to carry out unannounced exercises in the Persian Gulf.” Read More…
The following is taken from an article at Voice of America.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq says an Iraqi group affiliated with an elite Iranian force carried out an attack last year in which five U.S. soldiers were killed near the Iraqi town of Karbala. The statement by General David Petraeus follows months of suspicion about Iranian involvement in the incident, but the general says he cannot directly connect Iranian agents to the attack.
First of all, if you can’t confirm your claims with evidence, shut up. Do I need to remind you of Colin Powell’s presentation of mobile lab cartoons and the empty vile prop? I am sick and tired of this administration being able to make claims that are passed off as facts but cannot be confirmed.
And seriously, with all of the work that General Patraeus has to do in making the “surge” successful, why are we trying to link Iran to an incident from last year? Maybe if we were more focused on rebuilding Iraq than we were trying to scrimp for reasons to invade Iran, we could bring home the troops. I’m done.
Stay up fam,
In CNN today, it was reported that Iraq is pressing the U.S. to release the 5 Iranian officials it seized in Iraq in January. The timing is critical because if you have been watching the news, 15 British sailors are in Iranian custody after being accused of trespassing into Iranian waters.
Of course, Bush could only be quiet for so long.
“President Bush was asked by a reporter in Washington on Tuesday whether the United States would be willing to give up the five Iranians to help obtain release of the Britons.”
“I support the Blair government’s attempts to solve this issue peacefully. So we’re in close consultation with the British government,” he responded. “I also strongly support the prime minister’s declaration that there should be no quid pro quos when it comes to the hostages.”
For clarity, Bush was saying that the U.S. won’t release the Iranian officials in exchange for Iran releasing the British sailors. My fear is that this conflict over the British sailors will be twisted around to serve as a launching pad for starting war with Iran.
Keeping you informed,
Stay up fam,