FRA

If there was a stated topic to this blog, this post would be way off it and it’s already been covered to the point of people getting different opinions just to go against the mass, but it’s an important topic to me so I’ll just ignore that. Seeing as it is over now (though I wrote the text below long before it was), this can hardly be seen as propaganda but I’d still like to state that while the critics of the FRA bill had a small victory in the revisions, the fact that it was allowed to pass makes today a sad day for… well, for everyone, actually.

Essentially there’s a bill that would allow FRA, more or less the Swedish equivalent to the NSA, to monitor all electronic communication passing the borders in the name of protecting us from international terrorism. Problem is, internet doesn’t have quite the solid concept of “nations” the way other media might, borderless communication is what it is for. This being the case, information will travel the fastest possible path regardless of where the router is placed, meaning the data could well be crossing borders even when you’re sending a mail to someone living around the block – any and all communication would thus pass through a filter connected directly to the government.

There are the obvious opinions against this, of course. It’s been shown that constant surveillance changes people’s behavior to the worse, there are the bad examples of terrorism hunting gone wrong so far and of course, there’s the nagging reminder of history what has happened before when the state has ready access to the communication and opinions of the citizens. While I personally don’t think (as other bloggers seem to) that this bill will effectively end our freedom of expression, I do think it is a bad idea. Even if we could trust that this would only ever be used to hunt down real terrorist threats the proponents of the bill has so far failed to provide any good reason as to why monitoring communication would actually be helpful.

First of all, considering the amount of data being sent and the amount of ways one can deliver information, I do not believe that trying to scan this data for certain keywords would actually be helpful. It is far too easy to encrypt, obfuscate or smuggle data and the technology is constantly moving forward so I honestly don’t see FRA being able to pick out particularly many needles from this haystack. I could reluctantly accept the tactic as a deterrence, but that would be like killing flies with cannonballs. Bringing me to my second point…

Second, why the rush over this? how many Swedish citizens have actually been killed by acts of terrorism? yes, there are victims from other western cultures but how many are they compared to the amount of people dying from traffic accidents? depression? contagious diseases? it seems the funds needed to monitor communication (which are reportedly quite massive) could be spent in areas where they would do more good. Or better yet, how many people have died as an indirect cause of people becoming more edgy due to the fear-mongering about the constant threat of terrorism? which brings me to my third point…

Third, why is it that people seem to think that more hostility is the best way to counter terrorism? Taken from the TerrorBull website for the War on Terror Boardgame;

The recent additions to the “Terrorism Bill” (2005) make it illegal to glorify or justify terrorism. This is worrying, since justification doesn’t necessarily imply defence; it’s simply the logical reasoning of a cause for an action.

By outlawing this, the British government are practically saying there is no cause of terrorism. You can’t rationalise it. It just exists. It’s a fact of life. Just as you can get killed crossing the road, so there are also countless dangerous dark-skinned madmen, waiting in the shadows, plotting to kill you for no other reason than some insane religious dogma that promises paradise and virgins.

I saw an interview with John McCain on the Daily Show a few days ago and he had the same kind of reasoning, terrorists have no origin other than evilness and no agenda other than to destroy everything we hold dear. While I guess that could’ve been a publicity stunt it’s disheartening that a man with a good shot of being president considers it a good idea to pride himself with not wanting to understand. I do realize that according to Maslow safety is more important than respect and I’m not saying we should just turn the other cheek, but it would be nice to have a more intelligent analysis of the problem and perhaps a plan to attack the root of it and not just defend ourselves against the symptoms.

… Yeah, that’s probably it. Probably nothing new but at least it’s my viewpoint.

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Posted on Jun 18/08 by Saint and filed under Meta-blog | No Comments »