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Quirks in Tech

An informal space where I think about the oddities of technology, politics, and privacy. Also some other stuff.

Showing 78 posts tagged internet

"… the cultural, political, and privacy concerns raised by the new business alliances of search engines, social networks, and carriers cannot be translated into traditional economic analysis. They raise questions about the type of society we want to live in—a holistic inquiry that cannot be reduced to the methodological individualism of economics."

– Frank Pasquale. (2010). “Beyond Innovation and Competition: The Need for Qualified Transparency in Internet Intermediaries.” Northwestern University Law Review 104(1). 

Jul 9, 2013

"…PETs are a technological fix to a sociological problem … [they] introduce another dimension of social hierarchy into cyberspace, not one that aggravates the divide between the information rich and poor, but between those with technological savvy to assert their personal preferences and those who do not possess such expertise…An over-emphasis on PETs leaves the surveillance imperatives being designed into information infrastructures unscathed, while fostering particularistic struggles over the uses of technologies."

– Dwayne Winseck, “Netscapes of power: convergence, network designed, walled gardens, and other strategies of control in the information age”

Jul 8, 2013

Will the BC Services Card Be Used for Online Voting? ∞

Last year Rob Shaw wrote a piece for the Times Colonist about online voting in British Columbia. (This is a Bad Idea by the way, for reasons that are expounded elsewhere.) At the very end of his article, we read:

B.C.’s flirtation with online voting coincides with changes to its information and privacy laws last year that paved the way for high-tech identity cards.

The government has said people will one day be able to use the cards to verify their identity and access Internet-based government services, including, potentially, online voting.

No government document released under FOIA laws that I’ve read has stated voting as a driver of the card. However, this isn’t an indictment of Shaw’s reporting but of the government’s unwillingness to fully disclose documents pertaining to the Services Card.

To be clear: there is no good reason to believe that the Services Card will be particularly helpful in combating the core problems related to online voting. It won’t actually verify that the same person associated with the Card is casting the ballot. It won’t ensure that the person is voting in a non-coerced manner. It won’t guarantee that malware hasn’t affected the computer to ‘vote’ for whomever the malware writer wants voted for. 

The Services Card is (seemingly) a solution looking for a problem. Voting is not one problem to which the Card is the solution.

Apr 24, 2013

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While much is made of digital activism and the ability afforded us by the Internet to help, little is made of its costs on those who do help. Because of one’s extreme virtual proximity, intense feelings of inadequacy and of “not doing enough” emerge. You’re doing what you can, to the detriment of your own health – the people you support and whose digital security depends on you are there facing all of the risks you experience by proxy. You recognize the seriousness yet at the same time the absurdity, as even mundane annoyances, such as being stuck in traffic, become extraordinary moments where you see what is “truly important” in the world. Constantly focusing on what is “truly important” means you often neglect the mundane side of what is “truly important” – your mental health, relationships with family and friends, and fun time to relax. The pleasure of normal conversations, the absurdities of daily life, the sun, stars, hugs, all slowly dissolve as you begin to live the crisis and realities of others thousands of miles away. Those anxieties become internalized and externalized in anger, irritation, lashing out – all of which I did.

It is “the cause,” after all. That movement which will make the world right, which will correct the horrific injustices you were privy to on a daily basis. It will avenge the friends arrested, tortured, or killed. You live, breathe, eat, feel, touch, anything related to it. The moments away from the computer are engaged in phone calls, texts, or in-person meetings and events. My body was in Los Angeles, but my mind was in Iran.

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– Cameran Ashraf, “The Psychological Strains of Digital Activism

Apr 19, 2013

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