Bonum Certa Men Certa

Civil Liberties Threatened Online and Offline

Video download link | md5sum 388650e7d4e9f734a4572fd0265c3c95 Free Speech Online, Banking Digitally, and More Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0



Summary: A "society of sheeple” (a term used by Richard Stallman last week in his speech) is being "herded" online and offline; the video covers examples both online and offline, the latter being absence of ATMs or lack of properly-functioning ATMs (a growing problem lately, at least where I live)

THE video above is an outline of topics we've been covering, dealing with, barely coping with (like struggling to get cash out of ATMs where I live), and may cover some time soon. One recurring theme will be "online" banking or banking with "apps".



The video starts by discussing online censorship. Days ago a longtime contributor, Ryan Farmer, had his blog suspended for no sane reason! None at all! If one tries to access anything on his blog it says "baronhk.wordpress.com is no longer available. The authors have deleted this site."

This deletion was actually a protest after he had been unjustly suspended, having published this article (OMG! Someone call the cops! The headline had the string "porn" in it!).

There will be a lot more details in IRC scrollbacks, including today's (to be publish shortly). As an associate noted on the day of the suspension, "hugo or jekyll or pelican would be a better choice than wordpress.com" (where the ban/suspension happened; we're in discussion with them about restoring the blog).

"The video starts by discussing online censorship."Free speech online is threatened. Self-hosting is one way to curb this trend. We've spoken strongly in favour of self-hosting for several years already, cautioning about the inflation of censorship in the COVID-19 era. Yes, it predates COVID-19, but it has been getting a lot worse in recent years.

After discussing Ryan's situation I pivot to a completely different topic, namely ATMs (or "cash machines" as we call them here). Our ATM journeys are over for now because machines that dispense cash have become less dependable. We've surveyed quite a few machines over the past fortnight. Got cash? One nearby shop let an ATM run out of it (it already had a chance to restock when it cautioned it had run low) and there are a lot fewer bank branches/offices in the city, so contingencies are very limited and overcrowded, maybe by intention. They try to herd all the "clients" into their "apps" and "sites". The video above speaks of some recent experiences of mine. It focuses on NatWest, but I tried in 3 different banks. They're all acting similarly. They used to offer actual services, but they are "consolidating" though (fewer staff, fewer services, fewer places you can go). In the case of NatWest, they have just 2 branches left in the centre of town. There used to be a lot more.

In some places it's even worse; some banks "have only a single office with highly restricted visiting hours," somebody recently told me. Speaking of this from a surveillance/tracking perspective, there's much to be said about the "war on cash" and what happens when clients cannot withdraw physical money. More people need to protest this "war on cash"; one person mentioning the problem is better than zero people naming the problem, e.g. cashless ATMs (literally no cash in them, one can just do an account's balance check!).

"A society that cannot pay anonymously is a society that's easier to censor, surveil, and abuse in all sorts of other ways."These things won't be improving. We're heading down a dark path.

"Once people accept that there is no cash in the ATMs they will get removed because few will complain at that point," one person told me. "That's an other problem which Microsoft has provided: getting people to accept abuse without complaining and a general learned helplessness about the situation. Worse, many people have become Microsoft sympathisers due to disinformation and just plain "magical thinking" about the situation. [...] there is a lot of disinformation out there combined with wishful, unrealistic thinking and denial of empirical facts. Then there is the learned helplessness which is even more harmful. Microsoft [leads to] incompetence. Their sales pitch is that it is so simple that trained monkeys can run it, but then when it inevitably fails to work as advertised, whine that it is too hard and that they lack the knowledge and skill to make it work. In truth those products only have to look good enough to make the sale to the manager with purchasing authority. After that, it is the fault of the "IT" dept for not making it work, even though it doesn't have the possibility to work. Managers love Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange because the latter loses mail left right and center, giving them plausible deniability for their claims that the mail was lost when they neglect a task. [...] hey love Microsoft Exchange because then people have to give them the benefit of the doubt about the mail having been lost whenever they use that excuse."

Either way, back to ATMs, we need to encourage people to still use them and still pay with cash. Otherwise, we're going to lose them. A society that cannot pay anonymously is a society that's easier to censor, surveil, and abuse in all sorts of other ways.

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