El presidente ejecutivo del gigante estadounidense de internet Google, Eric Shmidt, visitó Cuba esta semana junto a otros tres directivos de la empresa para promover “una internet libre”, informó este domingo el diario digital opositor “14yMedio”, que dirige la bloguera Yoani Sánchez.
Schmidt, Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter y Dan Keyserling “tuvieron encuentros con el sector oficial”, dialogaron “con jóvenes de escuelas politécnicas” y visitaron el sábado “la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas (UCI)”, en el oeste de La Habana, señaló el sitio 14ymedio, sin precisar la fecha de llegada ni de partida del grupo.
El sitio web destacó que durante la visita, que duró dos días y cuyo objetivo era “promover las virtudes de una internet libre y abierta”, los directivos también “contactaron con los redactores y periodistas de 14ymedio”, el primer medio de prensa independiente en 50 años en la isla.
La visita de los ejecutivos de Google, una empresa a la que Cuba ha acusado de “escandolosa censura” por bloquear algunos de sus servicios a la isla, no fue divulgada por la prensa cubana, toda bajo control del Estado.
El gigante de internet se ha justificado invocando las leyes del embargo que Washington aplica contra la isla desde 1962.
We remember anniversaries that mark the important events of our era: September 11 (not only the 2001 Twin Towers attack, but also the 1973 military coup against Allende in Chile), D-day, etc. Maybe another date should be added to this list: 19 June.
Most of us like to take a stroll during the day to get a breath of fresh air. There must be a good reason for those who cannot do it – maybe they have a job that prevents it (miners, submariners), or a strange illness that makes exposure to sunlight a deadly danger. Even prisoners get their daily hour’s walk in fresh air.
Today, 19 June, marks two years since Julian Assange was deprived of this right: he is permanently confined to the apartment that houses the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Were he to step out of the apartment, he would be arrested immediately. What did Assange do to deserve this? In a way, one can understand the authorities: Assange and his whistleblowing colleagues are often accused of being traitors, but they are something much worse (in the eyes of the authorities).
Assange designated himself a “spy for the people”. “Spying for the people” is not a simple betrayal (which would instead mean acting as a double agent, selling our secrets to the enemy); it is something much more radical. It undermines the very principle of spying, the principle of secrecy, since its goal is to make secrets public. People who help WikiLeaks are no longer whistleblowers who denounce the illegal practices of private companies (banks, and tobacco and oil companies) to the public authorities; they denounce to the wider public these public authorities themselves.
We didn’t really learn anything from WikiLeaks we didn’t already presume to be true – but it is one thing to know it in general and another to get concrete data. It is a little bit like knowing that one’s sexual partner is playing around. One can accept the abstract knowledge of it, but pain arises when one learns the steamy details, when one gets pictures of what they were doing.
When confronted with such facts, should every decent US citizen not feel deeply ashamed? Until now, the attitude of the average citizen was hypocritical disavowal: we preferred to ignore the dirty job done by secret agencies. From now on, we can’t pretend we don’t know.
Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know the apparatus of repression has been covertly attached to the democratic state. However, our struggle to retain privacy is far from hopeless
In the third chapter of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon gave two reasons why the slavery into which the Romans had tumbled under Augustus and his successors left them more wretched than any previous human slavery. In the first place, Gibbon said, the Romans had carried with them into slavery the culture of a free people: their language and their conception of themselves as human beings presupposed freedom. And thus, says Gibbon, for a long time the Romans preserved the sentiments – or at least the ideas – of a freeborn people. In the second place, the empire of the Romans filled all the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world was a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. As Gibbon wrote, to resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.
The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders’ control of communications. The Mediterranean was their lake. Across their European empire, from Scotland to Syria, they pushed roads that 15 centuries later were still primary arteries of European transportation. Down those roads the emperor marched his armies. Up those roads he gathered his intelligence. The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed.
Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world.
That power eradicated human freedom. “Remember,” said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, “wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror.”
The empire of the United States after the second world war also depended upon control of communications. This was more evident when, a mere 20 years later, the United States was locked in a confrontation of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union. In a war of submarines hidden in the dark below the continents, capable of eradicating human civilisation in less than an hour, the rule of engagement was “launch on warning”. Thus the United States valued control of communications as highly as the Emperor Augustus. Its listeners too aspired to know everything.
We all know that the United States has for decades spent as much on its military might as all other powers in the world combined. Americans are now realising what it means that we applied to the stealing of signals and the breaking of codes a similar proportion of our resources in relation to the rest of the world.
The US system of listening comprises a military command controlling a large civilian workforce. That structure presupposes the foreign intelligence nature of listening activities. Military control was a symbol and guarantee of the nature of the activity being pursued. Wide-scale domestic surveillance under military command would have violated the fundamental principle of civilian control.
Instead what it had was a foreign intelligence service responsible to the president as military commander-in-chief. The chain of military command absolutely ensured respect for the fundamental principle “no listening here”. The boundary between home and away distinguished the permissible from the unconstitutional.
The distinction between home and away was at least technically credible, given the reality of 20th-century communications media, which were hierarchically organised and very often state-controlled.
When the US government chose to listen to other governments abroad – to their militaries, to their diplomatic communications, to their policymakers where possible – they were listening in a world of defined targets. The basic principle was: hack, tap, steal. We listened, we hacked in, we traded, we stole.
In the beginning we listened to militaries and their governments. Later we monitored the flow of international trade as far as it engaged American national security interests.
Internationalising internet governance will abridge liberty and restrict free speech
Edward Snowden’s revelations have strengthened demands for “extricating the internet from US control.” This is not a new phenomenon. Ever since Jon Postel died in 1998, governments and non-government organisations have been engaged in a long, complex and meandering process of somehow taking control over the internet. However, while outfits like ICANN and assorted United Nations forums have gotten into the act of “internet governance”, much of the internet remains in US hands. China might well be the country that has more internet users, but it has locked its citizens behind the Great Firewall and effectively created its own national intranet.
Mr Snowden’s revelations are grave, but shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with national security issues or the communications infrastructure business. So while a lot of international reaction is properly in the Captain Renault (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”) category, there are some attempts by governments to secure greater control over internet. China, Russia and Brazil are expected to raise the pitch in the coming months.
It would be terrible thing if they succeed. Whatever the imperfections, whatever the US government’s transgressions, we are better off with as much of the internet coming under the US Constitution than the UN Charter.
16 de Julio de 2013
- CARLOS PARKER
- Analista político y militante PS
En su última visita a EE.UU., el presidente Sebastián Piñera hizo saber a la administración norteamericana, notificando de paso y desde Washington a los propios y desprevenidos ciudadanos chilenos, que “Chile tiene un profundo y solido compromiso con el Acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico”. (TPP por sus siglas en inglés).
Dicho anuncio, tan aventurado como inconsulto, viene una vez más a poner de relieve la imparable tendencia de la actual administración para confundir, deliberadamente o no, la política de Estado con la política del gobierno y el interés de Estado con el interés corporativo, coyuntural y hasta ideológico de determinados actores e intereses, al momento de adoptar determinaciones en la esfera de la política exterior.
Luego de conocida la noticia, aparecía como de toda lógica que el gobierno hubiera salido a explicarle al país de que se trata exactamente el tratado multilateral que sus funcionarios han estado negociando en nuestro nombre, aunque a nuestras espaldas y en completo sigilo en más de 15 rondas sucesivas. Pero en lugar de eso, y seguramente estimando que las cuestiones de política exterior no conciernen a los ciudadanos de a pie, ha optado por limitarse a convocar a una sesión informativa y secreta del parlamento para tratar el TPP. Lo cual no hace otra cosa que extender las sospechas y hacernos pensar que lo que se quiere intentar es sacar adelante este compromiso con los EE.UU. sin explicarlo ni menos debatirlo. Una conducta grave y poco transparente en cualquier circunstancia y para cualquier gobierno, pero todavía más, cuando proviene de una administración que está a poco de finalizar su mandato.
Tal y como ocurriera tras la aparición de SOPA, la Casa Blanca ha emitido un comunicado mostrando su preocupación sobre la propuesta de ley que se llevará a debate la próxima semana conocida como CISPA. Según el gobierno de Obama, la regulación no será vetada por la administración, aunque deberá “preservar la intimidad y las libertades civiles”. Un “detalle” que choca frontalmente con la redacción de CISPA.