I'm very thankful that I have a lot of freedoms. I truly enjoy them and am extremely grateful for them. However, I'm equally disgusted by people that take them for granted and are willing to let them be taken away without any kind of emotion one way or the other.
There is a very disturbing trend with a lot of western governments and the legislation that they are passing. Slowly but surely, they are paving the way to neat and clean totalitarian police states, and all the while they chant their litanies about "freedom" and "terrorists" and "shit" and "spit".
Their public face screams about how we need to be free and how terrorists are threatening us. Meanwhile in private, they quietly pass legislation that shits on their citizens and spits in their faces.
In the UK, you can be arrested and detained for 2 years without any hearing or trial for not supplying a password for an encrypted file. Look it up. You'll shit your pants in fear when you find out that someone can email you a password protected file and THAT can land you in jail for 2 years.
Sure it's supposed to be for "terrorists" and other "evil doers" but the law allows for much broader applications.
The US now allows customs and border officials to search electronic storage media like laptops and MP3 player and even confiscate them.
These kinds of laws, no matter how "well intentioned," are so open to abuse that it's amazing that people haven't been shot over them.
Here's a scenario... Someone really hates you and decides to screw with your life in a very malicious way. They do a few joe-jobs on you and email you damning files that are encrypted. They then fink on you to the police, who on an anonymous tip start looking into you and begin discovering "evidence" against you. Congrats. 2 years behind bars for nothing that you've done.
It's just far too easy to frame someone electronically. I don't want to disclose anything that could be used in a malicious way, but the information is freely available everywhere and it's really not that difficult.
I live in South Korea. The intelligence service here is very active. I've met these people (and have business cards from them even). They have power and they aren't afraid of anyone. They are often out in the open and very visible. (Don't think that the same isn't true where you live!)
A good friend of mine is in charge of security for a number important sites in Seoul. Fantastic guy. I was joking with him about legalizing pot here while there were demonstrations going on in his district. (Pot heads aren't really the violent types.) He's opposed to all that of course, but we can joke around. (And no -- for the record, I do not use illegal substances here in South Korea.)
He's still in with the intelligence sector though. We don't talk about that kind of stuff.
Now the fault certainly isn't with people just doing their jobs in the intelligence sector. They need to put food on the table, and they are working for their country. The fault lies in the legislators that pass laws that restrict freedoms and limit your mobility, that these people need to enforce.
I've had unfortunate run-ins with the intelligence service here that were easily cleared up. I also understand how to create a "run-in" for someone else. So if I were in a malicious mood, and wanted to screw someone, it really wouldn't be that hard. I know what triggers to pull, and I know how to pull them for some poor unfortunate that was unlucky enough to get on my bad side.
However I'd never do something like that. The point is that I *could* do it! I could frame someone and cause them a lot of grief! The laws here would let me do that. The laws in the UK would also let me do that! That should never happen!
Electronic evidence isn't really all that reliable when it comes to proving that a specific person did a specific thing. This is primarily because online security is mostly a joke. The other thing is that even when things are secure, they really aren't as secure as most people believe. (Ahem... It all starts with PHYSICAL SECURITY!)
Log files can be deleted or altered. Emails can be faked. IP addresses can be spoofed. With sophisticated attacks even more damning things can be done. Just because some kiddie porn server has your IP address logged doesn't mean that you visited there. These things can be easily faked.
Legislators need to be more educated about what technology IS and what it CAN DO and what it CANNOT DO and about how they need to respond to it. Knee-jerk legislation is a bad idea and can only go to very dark places. Informed legislation should recognize more about the reality of technology and reflect it more.
I'm all for stopping the truly bad guys. I'm not one of them. Please don't stop me!
Please don't take my laptop at the airport because I need it.
Please don't throw me in jail because I forgot a password.
Please don't treat me like a criminal because I'm not.
I am not out to stop the police from stopping the bad guys.
I am out to stop the police from stopping the innocent.
Hopefully I've made my point well enough for a few people to get it.
Hopefully I don't need to convince people that freedom is a good thing and that jailing innocent people is bad.
OK. My rant is over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming... ;)