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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

All watched over by machines – a review of Yasha Levine’s “Surveillance Valley”

There is something rather precious about Google employees, and Internet users, who earnestly believe the “don’t be evil” line. Though those three words have often been taken to represent a … Continue reading

June 8, 2018 · 12 Comments

Techlash! What Techlash?

In the early 1990s an assortment of activists and academics banded together in an attempt to challenge the direction in which high-technology, and infatuation with it, was taking society. And … Continue reading

April 27, 2018 · 8 Comments

The Nerd and the Inured

There’s no point being vague about it: Mark Zuckerberg won. Considering what could have possibly awaited the Facebook CEO when he testified before Congress he got off easy. Despite the … Continue reading

April 12, 2018 · 2 Comments

From Net Neutrality to the Net’s New Reality

There is a chance that this page took quite a while to load. Or that this particular site is now taking longer to load than it did in the past. … Continue reading

December 15, 2017 · 4 Comments

The users and the used

Woe be unto the tech company or platform that rolls out a new product or update and claims that it is in response to its users’ demands. For such action … Continue reading

June 16, 2017 · Leave a comment

When real life emulates dystopia…it isn’t a good sign…

“If people are not aware of the direction in which they are going, they will awaken when it is too late and when their fate has been irrevocably sealed. Unfortunately, … Continue reading

March 31, 2017 · 8 Comments

Don’t like what you see? – A review of Season Three of Black Mirror

“The future is not a blank page; and neither is it an open book.” – Lewis Mumford 1. When the daily news takes on a particularly grim sheen it can … Continue reading

February 3, 2017 · 3 Comments

Apple Is Not the Messiah

There is a lot of money to be made in crafting carefully manicured public relations campaigns for major corporations. Numerous large firms exist solely for the purposes of selling their … Continue reading

February 18, 2016 · 4 Comments

To Do: Digital Rights in Libraries

[Hi, pirates. The following is a press release from our dear comrade Alison Macrina of the Library Freedom Project. If you are going to ALA, or live near the Bay … Continue reading

June 4, 2015 · Leave a comment

Laws Expire, Surveillance Remains

The technological landscape of today is quite a bit different from what it was in the fall of 2001. This point is so obvious as to be banal, but to … Continue reading

May 21, 2015 · 1 Comment

Where Are They Now? The People’s Library Today

For many librarians the experience of reminding patrons to “please, return the books when you’re finished with them” is fairly common. After all, the idea of a person returning a … Continue reading

March 19, 2015 · 2 Comments

Awaiting the Other Shoe

Patience ranks high amongst the virtues that are commonly celebrated. It seems to represent the coming together of a host of other vaunted values: selflessness, calmness in the face of … Continue reading

December 11, 2014 · 2 Comments

Read Banned Books – Support Your Library

Displays of challenged, or banned, books generally provoke rather predictable responses: one group contentedly observes that somebody is speaking up against such filth, another group stares in bemused shock that … Continue reading

September 23, 2014 · 4 Comments

A Threatened Net or a Threatening Net?

The activist and writer Grace Lee Boggs is known for starting conversations and lectures with the following question: “What time is it on the clock of the world?” It may … Continue reading

July 7, 2014 · 1 Comment

Facebook Gets Emotional

Have you ever found that you felt rather depressed after using social media? What about quite happy? It is probably no great stretch to imagine that the answer to at … Continue reading

June 30, 2014 · 20 Comments

The Less Things Change…

The shock has worn off. At first we reeled and balked out of a sentiment of betrayed fury, but eventually we grew glumly quiet – and gradually we opened our … Continue reading

June 10, 2014 · 7 Comments

You Can’t Spell Betrayal Without FCC

There’s something about the Internet that seems to restore people’s faith in democracy. It’s free! It’s open! It’s a platform for the people! Anybody can make a website! It is … Continue reading

May 16, 2014 · 5 Comments

Books – Tools for Conviviality

Libraries are about much more than books. Granted, there are caveats to such a declaration. After all, there are rare book libraries, manuscript collections, and many types of libraries that … Continue reading

April 10, 2014 · 12 Comments

Money for censorship: CIPA, federal funding, and content blockers

In honor of EFF’s 404 Day, a day of action against internet censorship in libraries, a discussion about content filtering is in order. Libraries applying for and accepting certain kinds … Continue reading

April 4, 2014 · 1 Comment

We Apologize, We Will Change – An open letter from the NSA

[For Immediate Release – an open letter from the Assistant Director of the National Security Agency] To my fellow citizens, We are sorry. Let me repeat that to make my … Continue reading

April 1, 2014 · 2 Comments

Trading One Myth for Another – Seeing through Google’s Glass

A compelling argument could be made that myths have played, and continue to play, an important role in human societies. Granted, these myths appear in as many shapes and bizarre … Continue reading

March 23, 2014 · 10 Comments

Riddled With Questions: Interrogating Your Technology

Technology poses many questions. This inquisition occurs at multiple levels, there are the questions that it clearly asks of us: name, password, birthday, credit card number, address, where your friends … Continue reading

March 17, 2014 · 77 Comments

Oh, What the Zuck!?

It appears that Facebook has a fierce new competitor! While Facebook has become skilled in squishing startups, they are as yet unsure as to how to deal with this menacing … Continue reading

March 14, 2014 · 3 Comments

This “Open Future” is Brought to You By…

Freedom is a wonderful concept. When people hear it invoked their minds and hearts  swell with the positive connotations they associate with that profound, but not profane, F word. It … Continue reading

March 13, 2014 · 6 Comments

Fighting Fire with Arsonists

As the sun set on March 7th a diffuse band of marathoners began an arduous trek: the “National Day of Unplugging.” From sundown on the 7th to sundown on the … Continue reading

March 11, 2014 · 10 Comments

Human Rights and Technological Wrongs

When engaging in a contemporary conversation about human rights it is inevitable that the matter of technology will be brought up. The interesting thing is not that this issue arises, … Continue reading

March 4, 2014 · 15 Comments

The Day We Fight Back (should be every single day)

So, what are you doing today? Hopefully you are going to take a moment to call or e-mail congress (or the appropriate equivalent) and demand that action be taken to … Continue reading

February 11, 2014 · 3 Comments

The Banality of NSA Reform

“The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they … Continue reading

January 19, 2014 · 3 Comments

From Net Neutrality to the Net’s New Tragedy

Whether it goes under the guise of SOPA, CISPA, TPP, or the NSA there has been plenty of evidence of late that the Internet is under assault by acronyms. The … Continue reading

January 15, 2014 · 3 Comments

Towards Which Utopia in 2014?

The start of a new year is the socially sanctioned moment when people are encouraged to engage in optimistic dreaming. People “resolve” that in this year they shall achieve some … Continue reading

January 2, 2014 · 9 Comments

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