News reached me this morning that authorities in the United States has decided to harass yet another of my colleagues. Australian activist Asher Wolf’s communications have been subpoenaed by a ridiculously entitled local police force in Boston.
In any normal part of the world, the police force in a city would swiftly conclude that their jurisdiction does not extend to another country on the other side of the planet. But no. Not United States authorities.
Asher Wolf has become one of the key activists across the world in coordinating news and information relating to breaking the old information hegemony. Perhaps it is therefore she is being targeted. The Boston police force demands to see her communications history and is demanding it from a company on US soil, Twitter.
This is the fourth valued colleague of mine that is being harassed extrajudicially and rightslessly. You’ve all heard of the previous three, I don’t have to name them.
I’m so damn tired, so utterly drainingly fatigued, of seeing this holier-than-thou attitude. Pretending the United States to be a shining beacon of freedom and due process, and yet, authorities there stand above not just their own law, but every other law on the planet, in the same instant it’s more convenient that way. The near-term examples are too legion to list.
(Not that a lot of other countries are much better. But they don’t pretend to be, either.)
Citizens of the United States, you know that I have many friends and colleagues in your country that I value dearly and hold in the highest respect, but your administration is a relentless psychopath. And your administration is acting in your name when it behaves like this against the world. Against my friends. Against my colleagues. Against me.
This has to end. It’s time for the United States dollar to collapse, already, to put an end to this arrogance.
So what’s our countermove?
Like I said, pretty much every friend and colleague I have with a United States passport agrees with the values I’m fighting for — the right to privacy, the transparency of government, the right to due process, the right to the same civil liberties online as our parents had offline. It’s not rocket science.
What the authorities are demanding in this case are communications logs. Logs that did not exist in the offline safeguarding of civil liberties. That’s the weak spot, right there. If there are no logs, the violence advantage of authorities cannot translate to the critical information advantage.
So, in my mind, we must make sure that the infrastructure does not keep logs of any kind when it comes to communications. Where telecoms companies – essentially the old national telephone monopolies – insist on keeping logs, we need to replace them with our own infrastructure. We know we can do that already.
We need to ask Twitter and the like to not have any logs. At all. And keep asking. Keep asking, and/or move to a different infrastructure for critical communications.
And above all, we need to explain to reporters that with communications logging and data retention, which politicians worldwide are trying to mandate, those reporters have neither the right nor the possibility to protect their sources anymore. That’s a right that should not be surrendered this lightly.
After all, Asher Wolf is a reporter and a journalist in the truest sense of the world, and a police force on the other side of the planet just asked for her sources. If that doesn’t ring alarm bells all over reporters’ heads, what will?