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F & F


John Gilmore on inflight activism, spam and sarongs
posted by mpawlo on Wednesday August 18, @09:08AM
from the interesting-people dept.
Civil Liberties Hero or troll? Opinions differ. Freedom fighter or eccentric? Both, if you bother to ask him. Sarong or turban? Both, anytime! Greplaw has picked John Gilmore's brain.

Gilmore filed his final answer by email at 4.50 AM. Gilmore has also added some bonus questions of his own to this Greplaw editor's pleasure. We are impressed. The so called bonus material is edited in along the text and not specifically highlighted. Most (but not all!) of the less pleasant questions are Greplaw's, though...

# Who is John Gilmore?

I'm a civil libertarian millionaire eccentric. I started out in my teens as a middle-class programmer, worked my way up to senior technical jobs, then learned business in Silicon Valley. A combination of luck and skill brought me through several successful startup companies and gave me the opportunity to decide what I want to do, rather than what I need to do. I decided I want to work to keep individual freedom alive and thriving. So that's what I'm doing.

# First, I think we need to establish your take on terrorism. Is terrorism wrong?

It depends on the definition of terrorism. I like the CIA's definition of terrorism from Stansfield Turner's book "Secrecy and Democracy". It was something like, "violence or force directed at a small group of people with the intent to influence a much larger group". By that definition, the US government practices terrorism every time it arrests a medical marijuana smoker "because it sends the wrong message to kids". Is that wrong? I think so.

(Of course, the US government has revised its definition of terrorism since then, to make sure that nothing the US Government does can be considered terrorism by its new definition. Terrorism is now defined as force applied for political reasons by people other than the US Government.)

# Speaking of drugs, aren't you doing something about the drug war?

Yep, I'm in the middle of a ten-year, ten million dollar program to end the drug war. The pendulum is swinging on that issue, after decades of wasting billions of dollars and mangling hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Cancer patients get thrown in jail for smoking marijuana to keep from throwing up their chemotherapy meds. Entire countries get overrun and their leaders toppled by the US because the US doesn't like how those countries run their internal drug policies (like Panama, Nicaragua, and now Colombia). Factory workers get tested and fired based on their choice of weekend recreation, regardless of how well they do their job. Schoolkids learn right away that the government blatantly lies to them about the effects of drugs, and also learn that the government can search them at any time without any cause, raising a generation both cynical and resigned to corrupt authoritarianism.

The drug war is an ugly, corrupt set of policies that were bad when Nixon set it in motion to bash the hippie students who were hounding his ass out of office. It was ugly and corrupt when the medicine marijuana was outlawed early in the 20th century as a way to bash brown-skinned people coming up from Mexico. It was ugly and corrupt when San Francisco passed the first ordinance criminalizing drug use in the 1890s; it outlawed the medicine opium, and was used to bash Chinese immigrants who'd come to build the railroad and then settled in Chinatown. Now 90% of the people serving time for drugs are black or Latino, even though white and asian Americans use drugs in the same proportions as blacks and Latinos. Drug warriors encourage parents to turn in their kids and kids to turn in their parents. It's destroyed most of the Fourth Amendment and is well on the way to destroying freedom of thought, which is even more fundamental and neglected than freedom of movement. They're attempting to outlaw entire modes of thought, by making illegal the tools that get you to those modes.

Open societies have plenty of mechanisms by which truly rotten policies can get discovered and corrected over the years and decades. The people who profit from the drug war (mostly cops, prisons, and forced-"treatment" scams) have managed to avoid this so far. I think I can see several ways where a bit of leverage at the right time and place can kick the props out from under the policy, letting the public see what is really happening. Like the Berlin wall, once a little sunshine has been let in, the entire thing will come down in a hurry. And the result will be far better for people who never use drugs; far better for people who have problems controlling their drug use; and far far better for people who use drugs responsibly.

# Phil Zimmermann told me that the September 11-attacks made him think over his decision to release PGP as freeware. However, he reached the conclusion that it was right to release PGP and that society is better off with strong encryption. Ian Clarke goes to the same school of thought and told me that censorship is the enemy of freedom and understanding, and therefore the friend of terrorism. Seth Finkelstein got the same question and claimed "statistically, real threats are rare, but ambition and corruption are common". What is your take on the balance between censorship, encryption and national security?

There is no balance needed among censorship, encryption, and national security. Censorship is a counterproductive social policy and weakens the national security, by suppressing the flow of useful information among the honest citizenry. Widespread use of encryption also enhances the national security, by making private information more truly private, and by making systems and networks harder for dishonest people to penetrate.

# You are often quoted as stating "The Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it." When trying to get in touch with you I had to use my employer's email system, since I could net get email from my own address through. No routing around available... Is misconfigured spam filtering at the server level an increasing problem and how should it be addressed?

The third-party censorship of incoming email is an example of the exception swallowing the rule. The Internet community has always rallied strongly for freedom of speech and the press -- unless it arrived in their mailbox from someone they didn't know. Then it was time to get out the pitchforks and boil the perpetrator in oil. The damage that anti-spammers are willing to do to the free flow of information is far worse than any damage that spammers could do to the net.

You, Mikael, are the reason your email system censored my email to you. You were willing to put up with an email system that delegates its censorship decisions to third parties. Why did you do that?

My approach is for each recipient of email (or other targeted communications) to let their computer know their own interests, and let those interests guide the software in selecting which messages to show you. It's idiotic to assume that everyone else in the world will know your tastes in received email, and further idiotic to assume that any message that you didn't "solicit" is by definition uninteresting to you [Mikael Pawlo's comment: while this Greplaw editor does not want to continue being called an idiot, I have changed my email operator since this interview was conducted].

The reason people reached for centralized censorship in reaction to spam is twofold: first, they thought "unsolicited bulk email" was a special case, rather than a mere example of a generic trend caused by rapidly dropping communication costs. Second, nobody built decent user interfaces for telling a computer about your interests in a way that it could understand. It was easier to program a computer what messages "everybody" was "not" interested in, than for each user to train their own computer in what they individually are interested in.

I'm working with a programmer friend on a prototype with a very simple user interface: after seeing a message, you can tell the system how interested you were in it (on a scale of perhaps 1 to 10). One keystroke says "That one was uninteresting spam" and goes on to the next message. The system then examines those messages and tries to guess why you found them interesting or uninteresting. It shows you future messages by predicting which will be the most interesting messages, showing them first. If you run out of time or patience, you never end up seeing the ones that your training has ranked as uninteresting. The software will all be free; it's called grokmail.

# What do you think of Paul Vixie's solution to the problem?

I think Paul's approach to anti-spam makes him the Senator McCarthy of email. He was the first to reach for centralized censorship, and the first to use the resulting power to blacklist innocent ISPs as a blackmail lever to force them to join his cartel of censors.

# Isn't it time to give up one the idea of the end-to-end principle?
Would not the Internet be better off with centralized virus scanning and spam filtering?

The end-to-end principle is what defines the difference between proprietary networks and open ones: the center of the network exerts no control over the information flow between the ends. The Internet would not be the Internet without the end-to-end principle. It would be a monopolistic, corporate-controlled network like your local cable TV system. You'd need to spend years getting permission before they would let it do anything that the owners didn't see an obvious business model for.

It's certainly easy to see the disadvantages of a system that is in actual use today, such as the Internet. But think back to when Compuserve and MCI Mail and America Online and GTE Tymnet were the only ways to communicate via computer networks. They didn't talk to each other, because then you wouldn't have to buy from them in order to talk to their customers. These guys' idea of the Web was Teletext; their idea of peer-to-peer sharing was centrally-censored "discussion" forums. Tell me whether we're better off or worse off today.

# Can you please explain what sometimes is referred to as "Gilmore's inflight activism"?

You're probably referring to how I wear a small pin that says "Suspected terrorist" when I fly internationally. People tend to forget that they have to go through all that airport hassle (what Bruce Schneier calls "security theatre") because they are a suspected terrorist. Yes, when they're searching YOUR bag, it isn't that swarthy guy over there that they suspect of being a terrorist -- it's YOU. Without any evidence. YOU, and YOU, and ALL OF US, have gone from "innocent until proven guilty" to "suspects".

All I do is point this out, with a subtle little pin. Nobody whose job is airport security has ever said boo to me over it. But it sure seems to piss a small number of self-righteous people off, and I can't figure out why. If they think honest people shouldn't be seeing the word "terrorist" on airplanes, why do they provide all those fear-mongering newspapers, magazines, and television news broadcasts?

# Seth Finkelstein called your inflight activism a "millionaire's version of trolling". Where is he going wrong?

I'm looking for an "aha!", an insight, in the people who read the button -- not just a robotic emotional reaction. That's the difference between a discussion (or political theatre, or art) and trolling.

# Why are you suing the government over ID on airplanes?

There are two central issues I'm trying to explore.

The right to travel, also known as the right of free movement, is essential in every free society. It's a crime to interfere with anyone's right of free movement (we call it kidnapping, among other things). It's one of those things that is so foundational that everyone forgets about it until the bad-guys have eaten it away. The bad-guys in the U.S. Government have eaten it away for car drivers, for airline passengers, for long-distance trains, for intercity buses, and for cruise ships. They haven't gotten around to feet and bicycles yet, but the trend is quite clear. I'm suing so the courts will examine this trend. I hope they will find that the government's unilateral action in eliminating free movement of people without ID cards goes way too far.

The right of anonymity, also sometimes known as the right to be left alone, has strong foundational roots too. It leads directly into "innocent until proven guilty" and "no bills of attainder", which prevents governments from harassing people they merely dislike. It leads directly into the right to make politically unpopular speeches and protests, which is the only fragile way to prevent violent uprisings among those who have complaints about how society is run. (If we punish people merely for complaining, others who share their complaints will learn to shoot first and complain later. Complaining anonymously is one way to be heard but not punished.) We can walk the streets without permission and without "your papers please" because we have the right to be anonymous. Out of fear and ignorance among the populace, and laziness among police, most people now assume that they must show identity papers on request of any cop, government official, or even rent-a-cops. What was once, and is still legally, a right, is rapidly becoming a casualty in practice. I am hoping that the courts will agree with me that the government can't e.g. require me to reveal my identity because I'm traveling to give a speech. It's well accepted that they can't make me reveal my identity at the speech itself, and also well accepted that they can't seek to prevent me from speaking or from traveling.

# What is this I hear about secret laws in airports?

When the government violates fundamental rights, they tend to surround themselves with procedural tricks designed to keep them from getting caught. The easiest way to make tyrranical rules is to simply not publish the rules, just punish anybody who doesn't follow them to your satisfaction. The FAA/TSA bureaucrats, in collaboration with anti-terrorism people in the White House, have kept slipping little phrases and trick references into Congressional laws that purport to let them do just that. For example, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that every regulation be published, and says that any unpublished regulation is null and void; but another law passed just recently says that FAA/TSA can issue regulations "notwithstanding title 552 of section 5", i.e. the FOIA.

So, the "rule" that says you have to show ID in airports is plastered all over on signs, but if you try to look up the real rule, it doesn't exist. A FOIA request for it will get you a letter saying that they have a copy, but they don't have to give it to you because of such-and-such a statute. Congress passed that statute to safeguard government research on defenses against terrorism, but the bureaucrats have hacked it so that they think they can order the traveling public to do any damn thing and never publish the rule.

My case argues that this is unconstitutional, because it violates "due process of law". A basic principle of due process, which is guaranteed in the constitution, is that you have a chance to read the law (including the regulations that give all the details) before it can be applied to you. Another principle is that the law has to be sufficiently clearly written that you can tell illegal actions from legal ones. A law you can't see doesn't clearly tell you the line between legal and illegal acts.

So, it turns out I was told in one airport that you can fly without a government-issued photo ID, if you have two IDs and one of them is government issued. The signs don't tell you this. There's no regulation you can read that tells you this. You have to try it and see if they let you do it. I know someone who actually flew without any ID at all, after leaving her wallet at home. She got no hassle at all, no extra searches, no nothing. So how can they apply a "no government photo ID, no flying" rule to me, but not her? By keeping the details of the law secret, that's how. It even worked at the District Court; our judge decided that if she couldn't see the law then it must by definition be constitutional (she ruled that I had no possible way to show it is unconstitutional). Let's hope the Ninth Circuit is not as easily fooled.

# What's your take on blogs in general? Do you read any of them?

I think blogs are fun, and the ways they interact with each other and with other information sources are fascinating. I hope there are some good social scientists watching this petri dish.

I was watching, as a Dave Winer "DaveNet" reader, when the blog was invented. The basic concept was to impose a little structure on the open-endedness of web publishing, to remove some of the freedom and in return make it really simple. You want to add a paragraph, it always goes at the top. Everything gets indexed by date. New stuff gets tracked and fed to folks who want to be notified. I'm glad that we have the generalized Web, and I'm also glad that the more specialized form of the blog can ride on that.

I read a few blogs intermittently, but I'm not a compulsive blog reader or writer. You're most likely to find me reading Lessig's blog or Slashdot. (Do people consider Slashdot a blog? It is, but I think it predated blogging.)

# You are not a great fan of copy protection. But how shall intellectual property holders commercially survive in an environment where perfect copies are a part of everyday life?

I thought I knew that answer in 1989, but I wasn't sure, so I started a business to see if I was right. Cygnus Support, later named Cygnus Solutions, got paid by its customers for writing free software and giving it away for unlimited free perfect distribution. We also sold commercial support for free software, to people who depended upon it. The company started with three people in 1989. We ran it on revenues (without investment beyond the initial $15,000 that the founders chipped in). We were profitable and had 75 employees when I left in 1996. We were bought by Red Hat for $600 million in stock in 2000, because we were the world's leading experts on both a critical piece of free software (the GNU programming tools) and on how to make money from free software.

The way I found to make money from unlimited cheap/free distribution of perfect copies was to go with the flow rather than fighting it. Encourage the world to distribute your work to every person on earth; then every person on earth becomes your potential customer. Build a commercial relationship with people who depend on your work; they won't care if the rest of the world can have it, as long as they get your attention so it meets THEIR needs. Charge people for the act of creation BEFORE you create it (the same way concert tickets work); then you don't have to limit where the created work goes AFTERWARD. For a fee, alleviate the troubles that come from too much information, too poorly understood, too poorly coordinated, too poorly documented: provide rapid, correct answers to customer questions.

And, do the basics of any successful business: be honest, serve your customers, know your market well, treat your employees fairly, don't be greedy, don't do anything stupid. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to make money just by doing these things, no matter what your business model is. You'll stand head and shoulders above most of your competitors, who are incompetent at one or more of these things.

I'm sure the Cygnus business model isn't the only way to make money from unrestricted distribution of perfect copies. I was content to find one. It made dozens of millionaires from the ranks of the employees. It made me far more money than I made from working at Sun.

Now, tell me how *musicians* can make a living in an environment where oligopoly distributors steal their creative work as a "work for hire", pay them by the hour for creating it, regardless of how well it sells, lock them in by contract for their next six works, and even then cheat them on the accounting.

Then tell me how *programmers* can make a living under the same conditions (minus the cheating and the oligopoly). If we eliminated the cheating and the oligopoly, would musicians have about the same deal as programmers? I suspect that it's roughly so.

# Free software is an increasing part of the commercial software enterprises. Is the original spirit of free software withheld when companies like CA, Sun and Apple embraces it?

It depends on the details. There wasn't even a single original spirit of free software; there have always been differences of opinion and of practice. TeX and GNU Emacs and Berkeley Unix all existed in 1985, and all had different licenses and cultures.

I'm happy to see commercial software companies switching to using free software business models. They would rather make the change and survive, than not make the change and die off from their competition offering their customers the choices that come from free software models. Of course, companies will try variations along the way, some of which will be terrible and some of which will be wonderful. We, their market, get to decide which is which.

# You started the EFF with Mitch Kapor, John Perry and Steve Wozniak. That was a long time ago. Has the EFF developed as you intended?

John Perry Barlow, you mean. No, EFF has far surpassed my initial expectations. That talented crew of staff, board, volunteers, and members, has pulled together an amazing set of skills, and deployed them to keep freedom alive as the "frontier" gets mapped and settled.

# Is the EFF a millionaire's version of trolling the U.S. congress?

I don't understand. Congress doesn't seem to pay attention to us anyway; I think it's because (1) we make too much sense, and (2) we don't bribe them.

# Has the EFF succeeded? I think the cyber-rights situation is worse than ever.

EFF has succeeded in many ways. As more of the world becomes computer- mediated, new and larger challenges arise. This makes things look like they're going from bad to worse. But if you look back, you can see some major victories:
  • Web publishing lets anybody say anything. Even sexual stuff, which has had an inexplicable unwritten "hole" in the First Amendment. Even politically sensitive stuff. Drug policy reform groups still can't buy billboard space without filing a lawsuit, but every single one of them has a web site and their audience knows where to find it. All kinds of information, from Bill Clinton's peccadillos to how British Government agents were assasinating people in Ireland, has come out despite overt or covert restrictions on prior forms of media. It is much harder for powerful people to suppress information than it was in 1990.
  • Encryption restrictions haven't been thrown away as they should have been, but they have been liberalized to almost that point. Nobody uses "rlogin" to administer remote machines; a widely distributed Internet would be totally insecure if logins and passwords and interactive sessions were traveling in the clear, as most were in 1992. We educated a whole generation on the connections between encryption, privacy, and security. We fought the furgem National Security Agency, the super-spooks, and beat 'em at it, despite how they teamed up with the FBI and used their power to get the President to sign stupid Executive Orders. We beat them because they were wrong.
  • Internet access is widespread, cheap, high speed, and competitive. Remember when EFF was championing 64-kbit ISDN as a way to speed up Internet access limited by 14-kbit modems? Remember when advocates for the poor and disenfranchised told us it was cruel and unfair for rich people to have computers and Internet access, because the prices would never come down? When the head librarian of San Francisco rejected a grant to provide Internet access in his libraries because he thought it would be a useless distraction? When early ISPs wanted to charge each other to interconnect, and threatened to Balkanize the Internet? Remember when newspapers were afraid of the Internet because it would cut into their secret cash cow, classified ad revenues? EFF was right that the new opportunities would vastly outweigh the minor difficulties that needed to be overcome.
  • Many forms of expression have been rapidly enhanced by computer technology, without being throttled in the cradle by vested interests. Consumers and amateurs now regularly have better editing facilities for music, movies, drawing, and animation than the top professionals had a decade ago. Digital photography has brought the "shoot as many as you want, and keep the good ones" philosophy down from pros to consumers. The Internet and the Web synergized with digital media creation and editing, providing a cheap and powerful distribution path. High bandwidth distribution of large files, including music, movies, and software, is now automated, and EFF helped to keep these networks free to operate despite powerful opposition.

# EFF seems to be very U.S-centric. Will you launch any international initiatives?

I'm on the board of IP Justice, a nonprofit that's fighting copyright expansion worldwide, and I'm one of their major donors. I was also elected to the Internet Society board for a 3-year term a few years back; it is international (I attended its annual conferences in Kuala Lumpur and in Geneva). I funded and led FreeS/WAN, a commercial free software effort based in Greece and Canada, for years.

EFF's first goal is to be "eff"ective. It would be easy to build an organization that tries to do everything and does nothing well. Instead, EFF has managed to focus on a few key issues as needed. In the early '90s this was search, seizure, and access to the net. In the mid '90s it was encryption and censorship. In the late '90s and '00s it has been copywrong and loss of basic civil rights. EFF actually has two employees working on international copyright issues (Cory Doctorow in Europe, and Gwen Hinze elsewhere). So we're starting to reach out worldwide, but not with a big splash.

# It is one thing to be financially independent and an activist, but other individuals may not enjoy such financial freedom, but rather be constrained by and dependent on their employer's view. Should more people speak up in respect of civil liberties?

I would not encourage anyone to desert the people who depend on them -- such as their children -- in order to be an activist. Having said that, in a free market for labor, it is often possible to find an employer who is supportive of your activism. The best kind of jobs are the ones that you would've been doing whether they paid you or not. You have to look for these jobs, but they do exist.

My experience about speaking up in respect of civil liberties is that most of the criticism you get in return comes from your friends. I have had various people tell me that I was putting them in danger by being too outspoken, etc. Many people are run by their fears, and even if you escape from that trap yourself, you may find that you have to limit yourself based on your close friends' fears in order to keep the peace. (None of those people ever got a visit from government agents as a result of me speaking up; their fears were groundless in retrospect.)

# I met you at the IFWP conference in Geneva back in 1998. You wore a yellow sarong (skirt). I do not think you were practicing Iyengar Yoga at the time, at least not in the conference hall, but still - do people have a hard time paying attention when you are not in a suit and tie?

It's never seemed to be a problem.

Sarongs, which are basically a rectangle of cloth, wrapped around the waist and hanging to near the ground, are popular clothing for billions of men and women on Earth. At an international conference, I would not expect cultured people to stare at unfamiliar costumes. When traveling, I wear and learn the local clothing; people are usually happy (often amused) to help a foreigner learn to dress themself properly. At home, I enjoy showing people the costumes of other regions I've visited. I've worn a gho from Bhutan (a large, thick robe, tied tightly at the waist) in Boston, and a turban from Rajasthan in San Francisco. Actually, reactions in San Francisco two years ago to me wearing a turban really bothered me: about three out of ten people treated me as if I was an e-vill terrorist. Get over it, people; it's just a hat! The U.S. is such a provincial backwater. More people wear turbans in this world than the entire population of the United States.

I can never figure out the singular fascination that people have for what fibers other people wrap around their bodies. It gives small minds something to gossip about, and provides endless simple fun in tweaking them.

John Gilmore was interviewed by Mikael Pawlo.

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  • Red Hat
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  • Phil Zimmermann told me that the September 11-attacks made him think over
  • told me that censorship is the enemy of freedom and understanding
  • claimed "statistically, real threats are rare, but ambition and corruption are common"
  • called your inflight activism a "millionaire's version of trolling"
  • the EFF
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  • Also by mpawlo
  • John Gilmore on inflight activism, spam and sarongs | Login/Create an Account | Top | 35 comments | Search Discussion
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
    Same old guff on spam... (Score:1)
    by dahamsta on Wednesday August 18, @11:03PM (#1572)
    User #934 Info
    "The damage that anti-spammers are willing to do to the free flow of information is far worse than any damage that spammers could do to the net."

    One of these days someone will actually get it into John's head that it's damage to their wallets that most spam victims are concerned with, not damage to the net. How many times do I have to throw the phrase "cost transference" at him before he comprehends. It costs me money to receive this crap John, I don't want to filter it -- I just don't want it.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Gilmore's Mail (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, @07:27PM (#1575)
    Actually it is Gilmore's MX which is misconfigured (as an open relay). If you're willing to take responsibility to let anyone send email to anyone else using your machine, then it doesn't make sense to blame others when they "censor" you (he's referring to the RBL/spamcop).
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    What about compuer games? (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, @07:29PM (#1576)
    "Go with the flow" of copying? Then how are PC game companies going to make any money? The only way they can survive on a service model is MMORPGs, and even then only assuming no one reverse engineers their servers. If there stuff gets copied, they lose no matter what. Same with musicians whether John likes it or not. If everyone were computer literate enough to download music for free, RIAA wouldn't make any money and niether would iTunes. And limiting musicians to performing revenue cuts out large communities of people who don't make money that way. Some music is just made on the computer, some people are just composers, etc. It's funny to read a slashdot story with people complaining about copy protection being installed on the driver level -- the reason those kind of controls are put in place is because of lost revenue, not imaginary fears. If everyone was computer illiterate or a saint we wouldn't need copy protection, but the rest of us (not John) are in the real world.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    ok, so...? (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, @10:19PM (#1582)
    Ok, so we take a stupid man with stupid opinions, give him several million dollars, and suddenly his stupid opinion is worth listening to? His description of the perfect spam solution is like something I would have thought of at age 13.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Hero or Troll: Hero! (Score:1)
    by LetoAms on Friday August 20, @03:44AM (#1590)
    User #1062 Info
    I've known John for a few years now. We agree on many things, but not all things. We can argue strongly about the spam issue, and in fact we regularly do. And we both enjoy it. Or as John said, it keeps our arguments sharp. He worked hard to become rich, and now he is working even harder to deal with that responsibility. He hasn't bought a yacht and went sailing around the world; Instead he is spending a lot of money on issues related to the internet, freedom of speech, digital rights and other things.

    The silly comments of people here says more about their own zealous nature. Be happy people like John are protecting your rights to disagree with him, because the US government is surely not helping you at all in that area.

    Meanwhile, let us all try to deal with the spam problem. After all, wasn't it "consensus and running code"? No, I guess too many of you are busy downloading illegal movies through BitTorrent (another project sponsored by John) while whining about your declining freedoms and personal spam problem in forums.


    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Ted Kennedy ended up on the no-fly list (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, @07:20AM (#1592)
    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1541&u=/ afp/20040819/en_afp/us_kennedy_air_security_040819 230633&printer=1
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Well (Score:1)
    by iive on Friday August 20, @01:48PM (#1600)
    User #1069 Info
    Well, I may not agree with all the ideas of this article, but I generally like most of them.
    I will try to follow the article question and give my opinion.

    Warning. Very long post

    I don't remember the exact philosopher, but I remember that the government and all institutions emanate from the peoples agreement to abandon some of their freedom&rights and to lend them in return of common good.
    As one of the sig i regularly see in slashdot says "The government is to serve people, not to control them".
    So as long as the government is representative of the people, it is not an "minority group". But when it starts to control them it becomes an terrorist organization.
    Probably the right word for terrorist government is totalitarian government.
    I have lived under totalitarian regime. I can say you, from first hand, that is it not anything special.
    Most americans believe that people should feel depressed all the time, people should be beaten on the street and such WWII movies scenes. I guess this is how they think they will recognize it when it comes at them. They are wrong, of course. Most of them may not realize that they have been under totalitarian regime until it fall apart.

    I don't smoke even tobacco cigarettes. For me the tobacco is no different than marijuana. Both are addicting.
    Anyway drugs are far complicated subject. On one hand it have been proven that government cannot forbid an "popular entertainment". The dry regime (no alcohol) have absolutely negative (reverse) effect. I don't think that any government ever tried to forbid tobacco. I've heard that if you stop tobacco in the prison, prisoners start an rebellion immediately.
    With thought that drugs could be used for control of the public I would not support legalization of the drugs. But as I said I don't think marijuana is more different that tobacco.

    #censorship, encryption and national security
    I fully agree with John Gilmore here.
    #spam filtering
    #spam censoring

    Well. This is an enormous big subject.
    First the SMTP protocol need replacement. I'm not expert and I even cannot understand the proposed modifications I read in slashdot.

    SMTP have been badly designed. I think a new protocol should be created from clean ground.
    I have few ideas but probably they are too lame.

    #centralized spam filtering.

    I actually think that grokmail will never accomplish its goals.
    Actually the first anti-spam systems worked on similar principle. The great problem is that the filter actually need to UNDERSTAND the message. I guess that's why "grok" word is used("Stranger in a Strange Land"?). But, You need an AI to do that, as spammers proved that they can always find a way to avoid all current filters. That is the reason filter rules get centralized. People wanted to know what kind spam other people have gotten and how to avoid it.

    As I said, you need to find the root of the problem and eliminate it there.

    #suspected terrorist

    I thought this is a routine check. And they are not USA specific.
    I think that this routine is actually an custom-house check. Airports are borders on their own.
    Indeed there are no such checks for bus or train, aren't there? I guess this is because far less people will be hurt/killed by single bomb in these vehicles and because they are checked on the real borders.

    #1/2#free movement right
    I didn't get that. How this right is been violated? By requirement of ID card?

    Anyway, about not limiting feet and bicycles - is very easy to be done. There is something that amuse me in USA (that probably will come to my country too).
    The private highways.
    Now imagine that there is a city and all roads that lead to it are private. All the land around the roads is also private. How are you going to enter there?

    Read the rest of this comment...

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    can't help but like him (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, @04:43PM (#1608)
    I disagree with much, maybe most, of the detailed policy proposals that John Gilmore is putting forward, but I like the idea of all of it. I'm sure I would like John Gilmore if I met him.

    This wonderful surfeit of idealism!

    But what would make someone think they could stop spam by filtering it out (and it has to be stopped because it's doubling or tripling already the amount of traffic on the internet). Free speech is free speech. Freedom to charge me for the time to sell me something is not free speech.

    Anonymity is needed. But there are degrees and types of anonymity. Absolute anonymity is not needed.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    What a moron! (Score:1)
    by thebaron on Monday August 23, @08:33AM (#1611)
    User #1032 Info | http://www.web-law.org/
    Gilmore - you're a complete moron. You are contributing to the breakdown of society.
    "You, Mikael, are the reason your email system censored my email to you. You were willing to put up with an email system that delegates its censorship decisions to third parties. Why did you do that?"
    Well, Gilmore - maybe because I don't want my young children checking their email and finding some woman prising apart her va*ina embedded in the email.
    Is the world as represented by the current undisciplined web the world that you want? Jerk!
    See ROiWeb [roiweb.biz]The Baron
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

    Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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