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Stallman: How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand?

The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use.

Using free/libre software, as I’ve advocated for 30 years, is the first step in taking control of our digital lives. We can’t trust non-free software; the NSA uses and even creates security weaknesses in non-free software so as to invade our own computers and routers. Free software gives us control of our own computers, but that won’t protect our privacy once we set foot on the internet.

Bipartisan legislation to “curtail the domestic surveillance powers” in the U.S. is being drawn up, but it relies on limiting the government’s use of our virtual dossiers. That won’t suffice to protect whistleblowers if “catching the whistleblower” is grounds for access sufficient to identify him or her. We need to go further.

Thanks to Edward Snowden’s disclosures, we know that the current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. The repeated harassment and prosecution of dissidents, sources, and journalists provides confirmation. We need to reduce the level of general surveillance, but how far? Where exactly is the maximum tolerable level of surveillance, beyond which it becomes oppressive? That happens when surveillance interferes with the functioning of democracy: when whistleblowers (such as Snowden) are likely to be caught.

Source: http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/10/a-necessary-evil-what-i...

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A democracy withstands whatever a majority will support

A republic should operate in a different manner.

For those of you not familiar

For those of you not familiar with RMS here are some words about Ron Paul: http://stallman.org/ron-paul.html

His rules on visits and speaking arrangements: https://secure.mysociety.org/admin/lists/pipermail/developer... --Well worth it

Also here is one of him picking something off of his foot and eating it: Q

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LMAO! I like how you tossed in the video.

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Some tidbits I liked from his Rules on Speaking and Visiting Arrangements..

***

"A supply of tea with milk and sugar would be nice. If it is tea I
really like, I like it without milk and sugar. With milk and sugar,
any kind of tea is fine. I always bring tea bags with me, so if we
use my tea bags, I will certainly like that tea without milk or sugar."

****

"If you buy bus or train tickets for me, do not give my name! Big
Brother has no right to know where I travel, or where you travel, or
where anyone travels. If they arbitrarily demand a name, give a name
that does not belong to any person you know of. If they will check my
ID before I board the bus or train, then let's look for another way
for me to travel. (In the US I never use long-distance trains because
of their ID policy.)

Don't give them your name either: please pay for the ticket in cash."

***

"If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be
very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I
can visit with, that will be nice too.

DON'T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To
acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If
you don't know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you
buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating
practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise."

***

"One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in
crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world's biggest
city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even
in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me
alone when I cross streets."