[Linux-aus] Seeking feedback - EFA Citizens Not Suspects campaign

Glen Turner gdt at gdt.id.au
Sat Jun 15 08:28:32 EST 2013

[Noting my conflict of interest up front. I am a EFA life member.]

You discuss crime as though the efficiently fighting crime is the most desirable thing the state can do.

But there are plenty of examples where we've accepted an inefficiency in policing and the courts in return for freedom.

For example, policing would be more efficient if state state required people to carry identity papers. But countries in the British tradition do not do so because of the use of those papers in oppressing the population during the French Revolution.

Similarly we have a presumption of innocence in court.

We accept the inefficiencies -- and the resulting deaths of innocent bystanders -- as part of the cost of freedom.

The total surveillance of the electronically-assisted communications of the entire population is a massive reduction in freedom, of a scale worse than East Germany or of Elizabethan England. Their is a high risk of a police state developing from that surveillance.

As for Linux Australia, this issue sits firmly within its concerns.

Firstly, Linux offers a solution. If you want to avoid the state's "total information awareness" then communicating via the Linux operating system is your last best hope. You can have high assurance that their are no back doors. It has all the tools needed for you to hold your data yourself rather than to use "the cloud". This is not an accident, the promotion of freedom was a goal of the GNU system from the very beginning, a concern shared by the system's children: the Linux distributions.

Secondly, free software assumes personal freedoms. There is no point advocating the freedom to run the software you want whilst not being an advocate of the freedoms of speech and association.

Thirdly, the members of Linux Australia sit at the conjunction of the concerns of technology and freedom. The public looks to groups such as Linux Australia for an informed view of issues at that conjunction. If Linux Australia has no view of an issue at that conjunction then the public can assume that the issue cannot be that grave.

I'd note that Linux Australia has been a supporter of open government -- open data and all that. So I don't see why being an opponent of the worst of closed secretive government is causing angst.


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