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Monday, May 10, 2010

Barack Obamba's Frightening Attack on Free Speech

While some of us were having brunch with our mothers, President Obama was giving the commencement address at Hampton University in Virginia. One section of his speech has been widely misinterpreted, and is particularly disturbing.
And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.  And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.  So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
This has widely been interpreted as an attack on technology that was not its purpose. Nor was designed warn the young that they getting fat because they spending too much time in front of video games, supporting his wife's anti-obesity campaign.

No the message is much more nefarious than that.  The President was complaining about the quick disbursement of information through media that he cannot yet control especially the internet.Each one of those technologies enables the user to connect to the internet in its own way. But fear not, his administration is working hard to control this medium, allowing him to control the way his progressive message is relayed to the public.

Last week, after the court struck down the laws moving the internet toward government control known as net neutrality, the FCC decided to make the internet a "public utility" in order to move the internet toward net neutrality on its own. The purpose of neutrality-- censorship. As Congresswoman Michele Bachamnn told Sean Hanity:
"So whether they're attacking conservative talk radio, or conservative TV or whether it's Internet sites, I mean, let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality which is essentially censorship of the Internet. This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them. Despite the fact that they continue to have much of the mainstream media still providing cover for all of these dramatic efforts that the Obama administration is taking. So they're very specifically and pointedly going after voices that they see are effectively telling the truth about what the Obama administration is trying to do."
In January of this year,  Glenn Greenwald at Salon noted Barack Obama’s new head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein had a very chilling plan for the net:
Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs." In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government's stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups." He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government's messaging (on the ground that those who don't believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false "conspiracy theories," which they define to mean: "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role." Sunstein's 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story's Daniel Tencer.
 Adding to the attack on internet freedom is a legal stance taken by the Department of Justice:
For its part, the Justice Department has taken a legalistic approach: a 17-page brief it filed last month acknowledges that federal law requires search warrants for messages in "electronic storage" that are less than 181 days old. But, Assistant U.S. Attorney Pegeen Rhyne writes in a government brief, the Yahoo Mail messages don't meet that definition.
"Previously opened e-mail is not in 'electronic storage,'" Rhyne wrote in a motion filed last month. "This court should therefore require Yahoo to comply with the order and produce the specified communications in the targeted accounts." (The Justice Department's position is that what's known as a 2703(d) order--not as privacy-protective as the rules for search warrants--should let police read e-mail.)
In other word's if you open your email, the government can read it. 

Barack Obama's attack on electronics yesterday, was just a continuation of his policy to control what can be said over the internet.  A policy that his FCC and Justice Department have already begun to implement by dressing it up as being done for the "good of the people." There is no way that anything that threatens the First Amendment can be for "the good of the people."


vdavisson said...

In the meantime Julius Genachowski is planning to regulate the Internet through Title 2 of the 1938 law that established the FCC, despite the recent ruling by the US Court of Appeals that struck down the FCC's authority over the Internet.

See the article on Big Government today by Andrew Moylan.

GeronL said...

Well said.