EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.04.10

GNU Telephony Addresses President Obama

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did” - Ma¿píya Lúta

Portrait of George Washington

Summary: Letter to the president from David Alexander Sugar, GNU Telephony Project

Attention: The President and the people of the United States of America

Why civil liberties matter – an open letter to the Obama administration

IN a recent Rolling Stone magazine interview, you spoke of this administration’s commitment to civil rights while simultaneously insulting the intelligence of those who are concerned with civil liberties. It is this administrations actual record on civil liberties, a record that is in fact worse than the preceding one, that is both clearly inexcusable and dangerously irresponsible.

“Other actions by this administration make it explicit it wishes to reverse the institutional practice of presumption of innocence and replace it with presumption of guilt.”The civil rights movement that you spoke about, and as we recognize today, would not have been possible without civil liberties. While laws were clearly misused to try suppressing that movement, those efforts failed largely because the United States at the time was institutionally committed to essential core legal principles that included privacy, the freedom of speech and association, due process, and the presumption of innocence. Although each of these fundamental legal principles had been challenged on a reversible basis by the Bush administration, it is your justice department that has worked tirelessly to make those temporary transgressions become a permanent and enduring part of the institutional law of the United States.

Perhaps most people think of your administration’s more dramatic statements on civil liberties made like asserting the right to target for assassination American citizens abroad on the whim and statement of a government official alone. This is not the most important, and certainly not by far the only, threat to civil liberties today your administration has engaged in. Other important actions include efforts by the United States Department of Justice to explicitly use state secrets to dismiss lawsuits of those seeking redress from the unlawful practice of rendition and torture at the hands of private contractors, and to establish state secrets as an institutional protection for those carrying out unlawful actions on behalf of the United States government in general, including telecom companies that had facilitated widespread illegal domestic intercept in the past.

“Related to this is the effort to create a new copyright treaty entirely in secret (ACTA) that seeks the ability to punish individuals directly for alleged crimes with no due process recourse.”Other actions by this administration make it explicit it wishes to reverse the institutional practice of presumption of innocence and replace it with presumption of guilt. One clear example of this is the assertion of the right of the United States government to automatically blacklist websites merely “accused” of copyright infringement in some manner, with neither court oversight nor due process. Related to this is the effort to create a new copyright treaty entirely in secret (ACTA) that seeks the ability to punish individuals directly for alleged crimes with no due process recourse. As these examples illustrates, in a society based on presumption of guilt, one can be punished for crimes that have not only not been proven, but that do not even have evidence presented that can be challenged. It is very clear to see, and history proves, how such tools can be misused to silence or censor independent and critical sources of speech on the public Internet.

“Perhaps the most disconcerting departure into a society based on the presumption of guilt is the effort of this administration to seek a new law to mandate that government backdoors exist in all communication services and software.”Equally troubling are the recent raids on the homes of domestic dissidents and peace activists. As already reported by your own justice department, many of these investigations of domestic dissidents were improperly initiated without any actual evidence whatsoever, and often using knowingly false statements. Yet, this fact did not stop the FBI from engaging in “terrorism raids” on peace activists across the country or asserting “state secret” privilege when challenged afterward to actually justify these actions.

Perhaps the most disconcerting departure into a society based on the presumption of guilt is the effort of this administration to seek a new law to mandate that government backdoors exist in all communication services and software. This effort wishes to both expand upon and fully institutionalize the illegal use of domestic surveillance as practiced by the Bush administration.

Back in the Clinton years, a law was created called CALEA (the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act). This law required that all telephone systems sold and deployed by commercial carriers in the United States include backdoors to enable government intercept of voice communications. While the United States government and local police only engage in about 1000 lawfully initiated wiretap investigations nationwide in any given year, this law mandated the capability to simultaneously spy on millions of people at once be created. At the time it was “promised” that such widespread abuse would”never” actually happen. Yet we have learned that as early as the spring of 2001 the Bush administration had already used presidential directives authorizing private telecom carriers to use CALEA backdoors to engage in large scale domestic surveillance, presumably, given the date, entirely for domestic political purposes. This administration not only refuses to repudiate these past secret and illegal acts, but both defends and explicitly wishes to re-make into fully institutionally legal ones.

“Perhaps most terrifying is adding backdoors to operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, already known to be insecure and defective by design, which simply further increases their vulnerability and the dangers inherent in their continued use.”When we speak of introducing backdoors into communication systems, such back-doors rarely remain secret and often present themselves to abuse not only by national governments, but also by private corporations and even individuals. Such mandates do not make a society more secure, but in fact less. Perhaps most terrifying is adding backdoors to operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, already known to be insecure and defective by design, which simply further increases their vulnerability and the dangers inherent in their continued use.

This is a very real danger, one that can be lethal. Whether we speak of a compromised airline alarm system that resulted in an plane crash in Spain, a battleship rendered dead in the water, or an alarm system failing on an oil rig in part contributing to a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, innocent people are put to great risk by enactment of this policy. While these accidents resulted in part from the shoddy workmanship of an already poorly designed operating system being used in inappropriate places, imagine the further possibilities for deliberate mischief by exploitation of any such guaranteed and mandated backdoor facility.

“Privacy is ultimately about liberty while surveillance is always about control.”In the United States the 4th amendment did not come about simply because it was impractical to directly spy on everyone on such a large scale. Nor does it end simply because it may now be technically feasible to do so. Communication privacy furthermore is essential to the normal functioning of free societies, whether speaking of whistle-blowers, journalists who have to protect their sources, human rights and peace activists engaging in legitimate political dissent, workers engaged in union organizing, or lawyers who must protect the confidentiality of their privileged communications with clients. Privacy is ultimately about liberty while surveillance is always about control.

To this end, back in 2006, and at the time in response to the illegitimate actions of the prior administration, I created a project whose purpose was explicitly to create and deliver peer-to-peer cryptographically secure communication software directly to the general public. This software was licensed as free (as in freedom) software explicitly to facilitate people to verify that no backdoors are present and to enable them to legally modify and redistribute the software to others as they see fit. If a new law is created that tries to legally mandate the inclusion of backdoors in such software, we will openly refuse to comply.

“To this end, back in 2006, and at the time in response to the illegitimate actions of the prior administration, I created a project whose purpose was explicitly to create and deliver peer-to-peer cryptographically secure communication software directly to the general public.”What is most troubling of all about the expansion of illegal domestic surveillance is how this will reshape the institutional nature of society. To fully appreciate the effect of such surveillance on human societies, imagine being among several hundred million people who wake up each day having to prove they are not “terrorists”, however that may be whimsically defined at the moment, compounded by the impossible task of doing so without being accorded the right to face their accusers in summary ‘proceedings’ or even to be informed of the alleged ‘evidence’ produced by whatever arbitrary, secretive methods such agents of repression use, and where their prosecution is carried out under the shroud of “state secrets” that all such police states use to abuse their own citizens. Such is a society whose foundation is built on the premise of everyone being guilty until proven innocent and where due process does not exist; a society where the ends justifies the means. It is the imposition of such a illegitimate society that we choose to openly oppose, and to do so in this manner.

Thank you for your time and attention,

David Alexander Sugar
Chief Facilitator
GNU Telephony Project

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 24/5/2017: New RHEL Beta, SteamOS Updated

    Links for the day



  2. Great News: While IBM et al Try to Undermine Patent Reform the Supreme Court Deepens the Reform in TC Heartland Case

    In a unanimous decision, with the court ruling 8-0 against TC Heartland, the monkey business in East Texas (beneficial to patent trolls and large businesses that leverage software patents) may have just come to an end



  3. Speculations About Battistelli's End of Term, Campinos at EUIPO, and Failed UPC Ambitions

    Rumours and speculations surrounding the fate of the EPO's leadership now that the UPC gravy train is stuck again and Battistelli's protector, Jesper Kongstad, is about to leave



  4. Martijn van Dam is Wrong to Believe That Battistelli's Abuses Are Somehow Acceptable or Tolerable Because His Term is Possibly Ending

    Coverage of Martijn van Dam’s stance (he is the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs) reveals that economic gain trumps ethics and justice, irrespective of what the law says



  5. Media and Staff Association Elections at EPO and WIPO Are Compromised

    A campaign of abuse (legal bullying) and gifting to the media, combined with a wide-ranging assault on critics who represent the interests of staff, have led WIPO and EPO down the route to totality



  6. New Documents Help Demonstrate That ILO Delivers Institutional Injustice to EPO Employees and Cushions Team Battistelli

    The International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) delivers not justice but merely the illusion of justice, probably in defiance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)



  7. Leaked: 2017 European Inventor Award Finalists, or Stooges Whom the Tyrant Battistelli Exploits for PR Purposes and Media Manipulation

    The stupidest ceremony in Europe (turning serious science into something sketchy such as Eurovision) is disliked among EPO staff and is exploited by the person who destroys the EPO (Benoît Battistelli) to pretend all is fine and dandy, at huge expense to the Office (as extraordinary as about 5 million Euros for a ~2-hour show)



  8. EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

    Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)



  9. Links 21/5/2017: Linux 3.18.53, Tizen 4.0

    Links for the day



  10. Cloudflare's Enemy is Software Patents, Not Just One Software Patent or One Patent Troll

    With a bounty of $50,000, which is likely less than the cost of legal defense, Cloudflare looks for help with its own case rather than the underlying issues that need tackling worldwide



  11. Patent Laws -- and Especially Eligibility of Software Patents -- Are Being Hijacked by Large Corporations and Their Front Groups

    Intervention by large multinational corporations and their lawyers, front groups, etc. (like the classic lobbying model) gives room for concern in multiple continents where most software development is done



  12. Links 18/5/2017: Catching Up With the Past Three Days

    Links for the day



  13. The US Supreme Court Consults USPTO Director Michelle Lee Regarding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Which is Invalidating Software Patents With CAFC's Approval

    Software patents continue to get knocked out by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) whose introduction of PTAB gave a helping hand to companies that are susceptible to abusive litigation (with bogus patents)



  14. IBM and Its Revolving Doors Lobby Are Plotting to Undermine Supreme Court Rulings to Restore Patentability of Software

    IBM has become so evil that it is now trying to steal democracy, label programmers "thieves", and basically attack the rule of law by extra-judicially overturning a Supreme Court decision



  15. 3 Years After the Alice Case at the Supreme Court the Plague of Software Patents is Easier to Cope With

    Litigation figures are down, rejection rates of software patents remain high, and only spin (e.g. cherry-picking) or constant lobbying can save those who used to profit from software patents



  16. The Attacks of Patent Trolls as Outlined in the Media This Past Week

    An outline of some of the latest troll cases to be aware of and their consequences too (e.g. software patents being used to literally shut down entire programs)



  17. Links 14/5/2017: Linux 4.12 RC1 and KDE Frameworks 5.34.0

    Links for the day



  18. Industry Giants Challenge Qualcomm's Patent Practices While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Closely Examines Such Behavior

    Scrutiny of Qualcomm's patent aggression and coercion -- scrutiny that can profoundly change the way software patents, SEPs and FRAND are viewed -- as seen in various amicus briefs (amici) from industry giants that are affected



  19. Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette Questions Whether Patents Work When Patent Scope is Too Broad

    Citing MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams, Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette from Stanford challenges old myths and quotes: “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”



  20. OIN is Still a Distraction Unless We Want GNU/Linux to Coexist With Software Patents (Rather Than Eliminate Those)

    Another wave of media coverage by/for the Open Invention Network (OIN) necessitates a reminder of what OIN stands for and why it is not tackling the biggest problems which Free/Open Source software (FOSS) faces



  21. Links 13/5/2017: Neptune Plasma 5 ISO, a Shift to Free (FOSS) Databases

    Links for the day



  22. Countries With a Dozen European Patents Are an Easy Photo-Op 'Sell' for Battistelli While the EPO's Demise is Largely Ignored by the Patent Microcosm

    Behind the façade of legitimacy, the EPO suffers from an incompetent, insecure and delusional boss, whose actions will almost certainly lead to the collapse of both the Office and the entire Organisation (whose founding document he routinely shreds to pieces)



  23. Our Assessment: Unitary Patent (UPC) Will Crumble Along With Battistelli's Regime at the EPO

    A reflection and an opinion on where the EPO stands and what it means for the UPC, which doesn't seem to be going anywhere (it's all talk and lobbying)



  24. The European Patent Office Has a Long History/Track Record of 'Screwing' Contractors

    The European Patent Office (EPO) appears to have quite an extensive track record/reputation for ‘screwing’ contractors and then misusing immunity to get away with it



  25. Links 12/5/2017: Wine 2.8, Kdenlive 17.04.1, NHS Windows Syndrome

    Links for the day



  26. Links 11/5/2017: New OpenShot, GIMP, and GNOME (3.24.2)

    Links for the day



  27. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IX: Using Confidential Medical Records as a Weapon Against Staff

    In defiance/violation of labour laws and medical oaths etc. the EPO is passing around medical information, either for dismissal pretexts or a sort of blackmail -- a serious abuse in its own right



  28. The EPO is in Disarray and Additional Complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) May Be Imminent

    Team Battistelli reaps what it has sown, as complaints are being made to a court with “47 member states [that] are contracting parties to the Convention,” (European Convention on Human Rights) according to Wikipedia



  29. By Promoting the UPC, in Defiance of Public Will, the EPO Has Become Patent Trolls' Best Friend

    The patent–industrial complex, aided by the EPO under Battistelli's iron-fisted reign, is trying to convince us that the UPC is coming soon and that it is desirable (it's neither of those things)



  30. Links 10/5/2017: Mesa 17.1, Git 2.13, Qt Creator 4.3 RC1, MINIX 3.4 RC6

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts