Monthly Archives: May 2014

Bernell: “Internet Freedom”: Is there really any left after 9-11?

“The promise was freedom and for a time freedom was the reality. The Internet some of us believed would be a largely unregulated sphere where boundaries would not matter. Where for good and bad, individual freedom would be the paramount condition”

— (Dan Gilmor)

After the tragic events of 9/11 the Internet and the world changed drastically Protecting freedom was given second priority to finding the evildoers whom committed such a tragedy. However, for those of us those remember the Internet prior to 9/11 we secretly cry foul as our internet was taken away from us under the flag of National Security Thus, what I intend to discuss is how our Internet freedoms are dwindling everyday as result of our own undoing. Furthermore, the Internet mentioned by (Gilmor) now longer exist. It has been replaced with a system if securities and structures that rival Fort Knox. Lastly, how our freedoms under the banner of safety is no more and will never be again as long as the Internet exists.

The Internet in the 1980’s was like the Wild West. On any one-search engine you would find NASA whitepapers next to prominent porn site advertisements. This former DARPA project was now becoming commonplace. Users were signing up by the millions to get free stuff and to find information own their own terms. “No longer were we dependent on reporters to deliver the news, we became our own reporters searching for it ourselves like a hunter seeking its pray” (American Psycological Association). We willingly choose to sort through myriad amount of daily data until we found what we needed. Search engines were in their infancy so the user was forced to learn the language of the programmer to survive on the web.

That freedom era brought forth a rich and unfettered dialogue to a world that was aliened with popular spoon-fed mass media. Non-profit agencies whom could not afford hefty campaigns could now make an inexpensive website to post their ideals. Colleges chimed in by creating various chat rooms where any topic was discussed in cyberspace. In addition, if you wanted free software, free games and well other free stuff the web was your marketplace. Movies like the Net (1993) starring Sondra Bullock brought forth fear and suspicion about how this technology can be used to destroy and not enhance life. However, when her character ordered pizza online in the movie that year Pizza Hut’s online sales doubled and e-commerce was born in the aftermath, (Porter).

Computers overall became a tool in the household and not an oddity. Thus, we used them by wielding the God given rights we were granted at birth. “ Despite computer hackers now being tracked by the United States federal government. And terrorist emailing their threats to the White House we Americans still felt safe with our technology and the freedom it provides. (Berg). Yet when 9/11 took place we all knew that the world as we know would change forever. Yet no one figured our Internet would be the first of freedoms dominos to literally fall.

With email growing as a communications medium, and chat rooms like “Delphi” now transiting into social networking sites like “Facebook” every computer user had the vision of rising censorship from the government. On the heels of the Napster lawsuit, we started to see the erosion of the free stuff that drove must to the web in the first place. By this time the Movie Industry started cracking down on bootleg (illegally copied) Video Cassettes in the mid 1990’s and the web, as we knew it became a pay to play industry instead of an online expression of our freedoms.

In summary, the Internet lost its innocence right after the second plane struck the twin towers. The moment the investigation brought forth that terrorist hijackers of the ill fated planes used the Internet to communicate with each other the web changed forever. Companies were compelled to turnover their serve files to any federal agency pending investigation. Warrantless searches were conducted on any person suspected of being associated with terrorist activities. Our free online meeting place was now being used as tool to track us as consumers and potential terrorist activity. The future seems to be even more disconcerting. With Identity theft victims outgrowing homicides victims nationwide with no end insight Internet freedom seems to be eroding fast. (Porter)

Where Americans once wanted a “hands off” approach to their Internet they now want the government to make them whole in case of Internet crimes. The government can’t protect us without excreting more control over the web itself by checking IP addresses and other protocols that made the web anonymous in the past. Thus, I see our Internet becoming another tracking source for the government and others to learn about us as individuals and what we buy as consumers. Thus, our Internet freedoms have been reduced to a few mouse clicks that can be sold to the right consumer. It may not be freedom, but it is capitalism freedoms younger brother growing up strong in the land where true Internet freedom once reigned.

Works Cited

American Psycological Association. “Crossing the Threschold “Politacal foundationf for internet freedoms”.” APA Journal 6 (1999): 346-353.

Berg, Terrence. “The Impact on State power to enforce the law”. 20 March 2004. Bringham Young University Law Review. Jan 2014.

Gilmor, Dan. We the media. Paperback . Beijing: O Reilly , 2006.

(Page 209)

Porter, Lance. “The internet and public relations investiagtions practitioners and world wide web use.” Journal amd Mass Communications Quarterly 4.6 (2003): 603-620.

 

 

Lori M: Are Americans losing our Freedom of Speech and Privacy on the Internet?

Let us begin this post with the Day of Affirmation Address which was delivered on June 6, 1966, Senator Robert F. Kennedy said:

The first element of this individual liberty [the name of freedom] is the freedom of speech. The right to express and communicate ideas…Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard -to share in the decisions of government which shape men’s lives. Everything that makes life worthwhile—family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head—all this rests on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people (http://research.archives.gov/description/194041).

Do you believe that your internet use should be considered a Human Right?

Well, it seems that the Committee of Ministers of the 47 member of States of the Council of Europe set a precedent on April 16, 2014 when Recommendation CM/Rec (2014)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on a Guide to human rights for Internet users was adopted by the Committee of Ministers at the 1197th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies. This Committee of Ministers believes that there should.

a guide, of sorts, which the internet user could use to learn about his/her human rights while online as well as the limitations and the remedies for said limitations. They also believe that human rights and fundamental freedom apply to online as well as offline usage.

This document is really quite interesting and if you click on the link provided below it will show you all of the details regarding: Access and Non-discrimination. Freedom of Expression and Information, Assembly, Association and Participation, Privacy and Data Protection, Education and Literacy, Children and Young People, and Effective Remedies (http://www.coe.int/web/internet-users-rights/guide;jsessionid=7422E8871EF6692B7AEB0B8AFC29997E).

The Privacy and Data Protection section says thatit is only if you have broken the law and/or given permission for your personal data to be searched that your personal data can be collected. It alsostates that you would have to be informed about the content of the personal data collected and which third party it was distributed to, and for what purpose. This means that for the most part every person would have the ability to control your own personal data (http://www.coe.int/web/internet-users-rights/privacy-and-data-protection),

In the United States, it appears that a person’s human rights, fundamental freedoms, and Constitutional Rights are being compromised due to the government’s handling of security and/or terrorism concerns.

Edward Snowden, a former employee with the CIA, broke the Freedom of Speech and Privacy issue wide open when he went public with numerous classified documents which uncovered the fact that there are numerous global surveillance programs along with various other surveillance technologies in place to gather information for its enemies and the American people. There have been many debates since 2013 regarding mass surveillance, drone usage, and government secrecy.

He lived a pretty comfortable lifestyle because of his almost $200,000 salary which allowed his girlfriend and himself to share a home in Hawaii but he also had a career and a family. He stated, I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom, and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance).”

(Image Source: My[confined]Space)

The US government and the National Security Agency (NSA) have come under tremendous fire after Snowden’s story broke. You will have to be the judge on whether you believe everything that Snowden has divulged to the world. I have found that I am a lot more cautious about how I handle my affairs on the internet.

It is interesting to see how far the European countries are willing to go to prove to their citizens that they believe in their human rights and their right to privacy when the US government is struggling to convince the American public that what they are being told by Snowden is a huge pile of hooey.

I believe that no matter what the outcome of this situation I will never look at my use of technology and the internet through the same innocent eyes again. Food for thought.. Are Americans losing our Freedom of Speech and Privacy on the Internet?

 

References:

http://www.min201.org/~mquerciagrossa/WorldRegs.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance

http://ivn.us/2012/07/07/internet-freedom-to-be-ron-paul-movements-next-crusade/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/federicoguerrini/2014/04/29/a-guide-to-human-rights-of-internet-users-launched-today-in-estonia/

http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/faife/publications/ife03.pdf

http://feross.org/freedom-of-speech-on-the-internet/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2148900/fccs-new-net-neutrality-proposal-what-do-we-really-know.html

 

 

 

Breuk: Ditmas Park Food Security

The Ditmas Park neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn, has been getting a lot of press lately. Articles in New York Magazine and The New York Times fawn over the new restaurants and bars that have been opening on commercial strips Cortelyou Road and Church Avenue over the past five years, and some of the brightly painted Victorian houses that make up “Victorian Flatbush” have become iconic images. But in any renaissance there are those who are left behind, without the resources to take part in the new economy. Like the widening income gap across the nation, and exemplified in NYC, there is also a food quality versus cost disparity playing out in Ditmas Park, which can be seen in restaurants, and supermarkets.

Many families don’t have the time, nor desire to cook every night, so restaurant options should be considered when discussing food security. In addition, eating out is a large part of NYC food culture that all residents should get to enjoy occasionally. The Farm on Adderley, a farm-to-table restaurant on Cortelyou Road, has a page on the website Real Time Farms (www.realtimefarms.com). Every menu item links to the farm that it was sourced from. A serving of organic chicken and vegetables sourced from Lancaster Farm Fresh will run you $25. An equally filling meal of chicken from who-knows-what farm and most definitely not organic, and french fries from Crown Fried Chicken, located a few blocks down Cortelyou Road, is much more affordable at about $5. It is hardly news that fancy restaurants are more expensive than fast food holes-in-the-wall, but the same food quality versus cost disparity is found in the local supermarkets. Fresh produce is available all throughout Ditmas Park, with large supermarkets placed on nearly every other avenue, but local organic produce is significantly more expensive than non-organic.  Options are even more limited for people living in extreme poverty, who have to choose between tiny quantities of healthy food, or larger quantities of junk food – some cannot afford either option.

CAMBA (https://www.camba.org/) is a non-profit located on Church Avenue and East 18th Street. The organization runs The Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry with an emphasis on distributing healthy meals and groceries to people in need. The majority of the food pantry’s clients live in Brooklyn, and up to 60% are immigrants, many of whom have large households, and don’t yet speak English well enough to qualify for most jobs in New York, says Lucila Santana, CAMBA’s food pantry coordinator.  Ms. Santana speaks about her work with a contagious enthusiasm. She explains that the food pantry’s goal isn’t to simply fill the bellies of hungry New Yorkers, but to provide exemplary nutrition. “They only receive healthy items,” she says. The food pantry’s approach is multi-pronged – the clients are fed only healthy food, and they are also educated and engaged about how to eat healthily, so that when they are able to support themselves financially, they will enter the grocery store with the knowledge of what is healthful, and of how to prepare the food in an appetizing way. Some clients are hesitant to try new foods that weren’t a part of their upbringing. “For example, a lot of clients are turned off by pasta that isn’t white,” says Ms. Santana, continuing “It’s about appearance, but I tell them that it’s really about the spices, and to try it.”

The food pantry’s most exciting and innovative addition is a hydroponics farm located right inside the entrance, accessible to all who visit the pantry. Clients participate in the care of the farm, and schools are invited to tour it. Among the organic vegetables being grown are romaine lettuce, bok choy, cilantro, basil, and butterhead lettuce. At first, clients weren’t accepting of the new style of farming, says Ms. Santana. They were used to soil-based farming, and the hydroponics system seemed odd to them, but she says, “It’s hard to resist when you see the the beautiful lettuce growing. They get up close to it, breaking off a piece of lettuce when it matures…it brings a smile to everyone’s face who goes in there.”

CAMBA is currently holding a drive to raise funds to supply their urban farm for a year. The total cost for one year is $2,500, and Ms. Santana says the farm will serve “well over 84,000 individuals.”

Urban hydroponics farms like the one at The Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry play a role in sustainability, as well. Because the food is grown and distributed locally, there are far fewer miles for transport trucks to travel, so carbon emissions are greatly reduced, and they are capable of being powered by solar panels. The city’s first commercial indoor hydroponics farm, Gotham Greens, is run entirely on solar panels.  Solar panels are commonly viewed as an expensive upgrade that won’t pay for themselves for decades to come – a hard sell in today’s profit driven, get-rich-quick economy. However, there are now two options that drastically reduce the initial cost of solar panels. I first learned about leasing solar panels from my Aunt. The electricity in her home is powered by solar panels leased from Sungevity. She paid $6,000 for a twenty year lease, and her electricity bill is now a couple of dollars every month. Leasing is very affordable up front, but there are some drawbacks. The energy your panels collect belongs to Sungevity and its investors, so you are not allowed to sell it back to your local energy provider. You are also not eligible for tax credits or rebates – Sungevity’s investors collect on those. (http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/why-buy-solar-panel-when-you-can-lease-it) The second option is to make the large initial investment ($20,000 or more) to purchase and install solar panels, then take advantage of the 30%  Federal tax credit being offered until December 31, 2016. (http://energy.gov/savings/business-energy-investment-tax-credit-itc)

Ms. Santana says that her clients love knowing where their food comes from, and it occurrs to me that most city-dwellers don’t even think about where our food comes from. The pleasure that CAMBA’s clients get from engaging with their food in its growth process suggests that we may all be missing out on an enriching psychological and physiological experience, but with the advent of space-efficient, cost-efficient indoor hydroponics farming, knowing the source of our food doesn’t have to be a rarity much longer.

In an ideal future, public schools would grow their own healthy, organic vegetables year-round, and students could gain valuable experience tending to their farms – students would develop a sense of stewardship to their community and environment when they play a direct role in farming their own crops. One day “community hydroponics farm” may be listed next to “washer/dryer”, and “elevator building”, in real estate ads. The initial investment in urban hydroponics farms will pay for itself in savings over time, and importantly, to paraphrase William E. Rees, FRSC, New York City would have a greater structural diversity for self-reliance which would better serve its needs for enhanced socio-economic resilience (The Post Carbon Reader: Managing The 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises, pg 29). We would be less susceptible to collapse if we have the capability to grow our own food instead of depending solely on outside sources, and perhaps a city of 8 million should have a back-up plan.