[Repost] Google, Amesys – même combat

So, I’ve changed things around here and I’m trying to get some writing done soon. In the meantime, I’ll repost here an oped I wrote at la quadrature du net (From which I’m currently off due to mental health issue, more on that later), so here the original text, in French and, of course, there’s more on LQDN website

Du 21 au 24 novembre dernier, à Villepinte (région parisienne), se tenait le salon Milipol (pour Militaire/Police), « l’événement mondial de la sécurité des États ».

En plus des habituels trafiquants marchands d’armes qui font la fierté de l’industrie française (ayons une pensée émue pour Michèle Alliot-Marie qui exporta en Tunisie notre savoir-faire en matière de maintien de l’ordre), il y a, depuis quelques années maintenant, des marchands de matériel informatique et de solutions de supervision des populations.

Vous avez forcément entendu parler d’Amesys, de Qosmos, de Palantir et autres Hacking Team qui se sont spécialisés dans le développement de solutions clef en main d’espionnage et de surveillance de la population. Et, les affaires étant les affaires, la plupart d’entre eux vendent à toute personne désirant acheter du matériel, qu’il s’agisse des dictatures libyenne ou syrienne, ou des démocraties sociales occidentales compatibles avec l’économie de marché (France, Allemagne, Royaume-Uni). On parle dans ces cas de capitalisme de la surveillance, c’est-à-dire de mesurer la valeur des choses grâce à la fonction de surveillance.

La surveillance se base sur la connaissance. En épidémiologie par exemple, c’est connaître le vecteur infectieux, le documenter, savoir comment il se propage et se transmet, mesurer son temps d’incubation éventuel, déterminer ses symptômes pour comprendre son fonctionnement et trouver éventuellement un remède.

Dans le cadre de la surveillance des personnes, cela se traduit par la connaissance de ces personnes, leur identification dans le temps et l’espace, connaître leurs habitudes et leurs façons de réagir, mesurer leur sensibilité à telle ou telle idée. La surveillance c’est la connaissance. Et la connaissance c’est ce qui permet de définir les choses, de les identifier. Le capitalisme de la surveillance est donc un capitalisme de la connaissance, de l’identité. Ce que vendent Amesys, Palantir ou autres à leurs clients c’est l’assignation d’une identité définie par eux ou par leur client à un groupe de personnes en fonction de mesures et d’observations, i.e. de données.

Dans le cas des États, cette assignation identitaire amène à des conséquences qui peuvent être extrêmement violentes pour certaines populations, amenant à des répressions fortes, une suppression d’un certain type de personnes d’un certain quartier, à de l’injustice prédictive basée sur des statistiques biaisées par des biais racistes – le racisme structurel – et qui donc ne peuvent que renforcer ces biais. Les smart cities, dans leur version la plus extrême, sont les étapes finales de ce processus, l’identification permanente, fixiste, en tous points de tous les individus, l’impossibilité de bénéficier des services communs et publics sans révéler son identité, sans donner aux surveillants encore plus de connaissances sur nos vies et nos identités, pour leur permettre de mieux définir nos identités, de mieux vendre aux États la détermination, l’essentialisation, la réduction des complexités de nos vies à des étiquettes : terroriste, migrant, réfugié, musulman, femme, queer, bon citoyen.

Dans cette analyse qui est faite, on parle très vite, très souvent d’algorithmes ou d’intelligence artificielle. On les accuse de tous les maux, d’être racistes, de faire l’apologie du génocide, d’être sexistes, de censurer les discours d’éducation à la sexualité, d’invisibiliser les minorités sexuelles, comme si les intelligences artificielles, les algoritmes, disposaient de conscience, émergeaient de nulle part, avaient décidé d’être néo-nazi. Pardon, alt-right. Mais, au final, personne ne dit ce que sont les algorithmes, ou les intelligences artificielles. On va commencer par la seconde. L’intelligence artificielle est un algorithme doté d’une grande complexité et utilisant de grosses quantités de données pour donner l’illusion d’une intelligence, mais d’une intelligence ne comprenant pas ce qu’est un contexte et non dotée de conscience. Reste à définir ce qu’est un algorithme donc.

Appelons le wiktionnaire à la rescousse. Un algorithme est une « méthode générale pour résoudre un ensemble de problèmes, qui, appliquée systématiquement et d’une manière automatisée à une donnée ou à un ensemble de données, et répétant un certain nombre de fois un procédé élémentaire, finit par fournir une solution, un classement, une mise en avant d’un phénomène, d’un profil, ou de détecter une fraude ». C’est donc une formule mathématique, ne prenant pas en compte les cas particuliers, et qui a pour but d’analyser des données pour trouver une solution à un problème.

Ces algorithmes ne sont pas en charge de collecter les données, de définir le problème ou de prendre des décisions. Ils analysent des données qui leur sont transmises et fournissent une classification de ces données en fonction de critères qui ont été décidés par les personnes qui les écrivent, qui les configurent et qui les utilisent. L’ensemble des problèmes sur la reconnaissance faciale qu’ont rencontrés la plupart des entreprises de la Silicon Valley résulte du jeu de données utilisé pour identifier une personne et la reconnaître, car il ne contenait que des images de personnes blanches. Le chat bot de Microsoft – Tay – s’est avéré tenir des propos négationnistes ou appelant au meurtre et à l’extermination. Non pas parce que Tay a une conscience politique qui lui permette de comprendre les propos qu’elle tient, mais parce que des personnes l’ont inondée de propos racistes ou négationnistes, fournissant un corpus de données servant de base aux interactions du chat bot, l’amenant donc à écrire des propos racistes et négationnistes. Microsoft a rapidement retiré ce chat bot de la circulation et l’entreprise a depuis promis d’être plus « attentive » .

Parallèlement, nous entendons également, et de plus en plus, parler d’économie de l’attention. De capitalisme de l’attention. Ce qui aurait de la valeur serait ce à quoi nous faisons attention, ce que nous regardons. Sous entendu, nous, utilisatrices de ce système, sommes capables de faire le choix de ce que nous voulons regarder et lire, de faire le choix de la connaissance à laquelle nous avons accès. Internet permet, en théorie, un accès non discriminé à l’intégralité des informations et des données, et donc de la connaissance, du savoir. Après tout, la connaissance est une information à laquelle j’accède pour la première fois. Et cette acquisition de connaissance me permet de comprendre le monde, de me positionner par rapport à lui, et donc de me définir et de le comprendre, exactement ce que font les systèmes de surveillance massive utilisés par les États.

Réguler l’accès à l’information et choisir quels contenus montrer à quelle personne permet donc, également, de contrôler comment vont se définir les personnes, comment elles vont comprendre le monde. L’économie de l’attention est basée sur ce principe. Pour garantir que vous interagissiez avec la connaissance qui vous est proposée, qui est la façon dont ces nouveaux capitalistes mesurent la valeur, il est important de vous surveiller, de vous mesurer, de vous analyser, de vous assigner des identités. Et donc de contrôler la connaissance à laquelle vous avez accès et celle que vous produisez.

Les gigantesques plateformes financées par les GAFAM1 servent exactement à ça. Facebook vous empêche activement d’accéder à l’ensemble de l’information présente sur leur réseau, vous demandant de vous connecter pour accéder à d’autres plateformes que la leur, ou vous pistant partout une fois que vous êtes connectés, leur permettant ainsi de récolter encore plus de connaissances à votre sujet, d’augmenter leur capacité de surveillance et donc d’identification et de contrôle. Remplissant dans ce cas exactement la même fonction que les systèmes répressifs des régimes étatiques.

Notamment car Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft décident ce qu’il est moral de faire, quelles identités doivent être renforcées ou au contraire dévaluées. Par exemple, Youtube, en supprimant la possibilité pour un contenu parlant de sexualités de rapporter de l’argent aux créatrices, envoie un message assez clair aux personnes faisant de l’éducation sexuelle, ou parlant de problématique touchant les personnes queer : votre production de connaissance n’est pas bienvenue ici, nous ne voulons pas que des personnes puissent s’identifier à vous. Il en va de même avec Facebook et son rapport à la nudité ou Apple qui filtre également tout ce qui pourrait parler de sexe, quitte à censurer le contenu des musées. En dévalorisant certaines connaissances, en la supprimant de certaines plateformes, les personnes à la tête de ces entreprises permettent d’effacer totalement de l’espace public des pans entiers de la société, de supprimer les voix des minorités, d’empêcher la contradiction de leurs valeurs et permettent donc de renforcer les biais des personnes consommant la connaissance disponible, amenant à une polarisation, une simplification et à une antagonisation du monde.

Alors effectivement, Facebook en soi ne mettra personne dans les geôles de Bachar el-Assad, du moins pas dans une complicité active, mais l’entreprise fait partie d’un système disposant de deux faces. Une face violente, répressive, alimentant les délires paranoïaques des États d’une part, et une face « douce » et insidieuse, utilisant les publicitaires et la restriction de l’accès à la connaissance pour permettre aux entreprises conservatrices de nous imposer leur vision bipolaire du monde, renforcement les sentiments d’appartenance à un groupe identitaire, avec les conséquences violentes que l’on connaît.

Et pour s’en persuader, il suffit de regarder les liens entre ces deux faces. Peter Thiel, fondateur, avec Elon Musk, de PayPal et qui détient maintenant 7% de Facebook est également le fondateur de Palantir Technologies, entreprise qui a, notamment, obtenu le marché public des boîtes noires en France, tout en étant aussi l’outil officiel de la NSA. Thiel a également participé aux nombreux procès qui ont fait mettre à Gawker la clef sous la porte suite à la révélation de l’homosexualité de P. Thiel par Gawker. Thiel, enfin, est l’un des influents soutiens des républicains nord américains, il a notamment participé à la campagne de Ted Cruz avant de rejoindre l’équipe de Trump et de participer à la transition à la maison blanche. Il a de fait nécessairement discuté, échangé et parlé avec Robert Mercer, l’un des directeurs de Cambridge Analytica, une entreprise dont le but est de cibler les électeurs grâce à de nombreux points de collectes, principalement récupérés par Facebook afin de pouvoir les cibler directement et influencer leurs votes.

Alors oui, lorsque l’on pose la question de démanteler Google, la question de démanteler Palantir se pose aussi, et celle consistant à vouloir privilégier les seconds car ils représentent un danger plus important pour la sécurité des uns et des autres. Mais sans l’omniprésence des systèmes d’identification, sans les exaoctets de données récoltées sans notre consentement dans le but d’individualiser le contenu auquel nous avons accès – selon des critères sur lesquels nous n’avons aucun contrôle – la mise en place de la surveillance et de l’identité devient complexe, coûteuse et impossible.

Il faut démanteler les systèmes capitalistes identitaires si l’on veut détruire les systèmes d’oppressions basés sur l’identité ou sur l’accès biaisé à la connaissance. Il faut s’affranchir des moteurs de ce système que sont la publicité, le pistage et l’identification permanente. Il faut questionner et démanteler le racisme, le néo-colonialisme, le sexisme des entreprises de la Silicon Valley au lieu de s’étonner que leurs algorithmes soient racistes. Car ils sont devenus omniprésents et nous empêchent de nous définir, de vivre, d’exister comme nous l’entendons, avec nos cultures complexes et nos identités changeantes.

Fuck Privacy

Privacy … Really?

What’s privacy? It’s quite easy, it’s everything that’s not in the public space. But public space is the reflect of our society. What you see in the public space, is the reflect of the society.

That’s exactly why cities try to hide homeless people, or – at least – send them in places where people won’t see them. To display something that is better than the reality. To hide things that would be shameful. To hide their failure or what they think is not proper.

And this is the main issue regarding privacy. What people are expecting to keep for themselves is what is judged by other as "non proper" or "inconvenient" or "indecent". What you’re supposed to keep private are the things that do not conform to someone idea of proper behaviour.

Privacy is not chosen, it’s enforced. It’s enforced by a dominant and oppressive system, whatever it is. Most of the people have nothing to hide. And that’s probably true. They have nothing to hide, because their behaviour is the one that follow the dominant moral code, the dominant comportment. And then, what they’re doing doesn’t interest anyone else but them; and I’m not saying they’ve got shitty life they just have a life similar to the life of everyone around them.

But if you’re not on this side of the world, then people will ask you to keep things in private. To behave. To not expose yourself. To not claim what you are.

When you says to someone to keep things private, you refuse their right to be.

And that’s why privacy sucks. It sucks when you asks my suicidal and depressive trans-gender-fluid friend who express themselves on social space to keep their pain for themselves because it’s improper. It sucks when you asks my friends to hide their love because they have the same gender while you’ll expose your heterosexuality without being ashamed. It sucks when you says to a woman whose body has been exposed that she should have keep those pictures private or that she should be ashamed to dare exposing herself.

You’ll say that you have a right to privacy. Except that people going fine, tells it – whatever the consequences on their neighbour or friends. Except that male genitals are basically exposed everywhere without consequences for them while a nipple is indecent in the public space – which means that having a female body is something that you should be ashamed of. Except that you can demonstrate your affections to the people you love while me or my friends can’t because we should keep that private.

Privacy is Censorship

In the end, privacy is censorship. It’s an argument used by oppressors to force oppressed people to conform to an oppressive form of society.

Asking to someone to be decent, discrete or to conform, is forcing them to behave, to not express themselves. To not define themselves. People who should have privacy, are the ones who do not conform to your vision of moral. It’s women, queers, sex-workers, porn actors and actress, etc.

And this is a form of censorship. And censorship is the oppresser’s tool. And it sucks. I oppose censorship not because of freedom of speech, but because of freedom of self-determination. I need words to define myself. And by censoring them, by forcing me not to use them, you remove me the possibility to define, to exist in the public space.

If you do not have the words to define an idea, then you can’t formulate this idea – that’s the whole purpose of novlang in 1984.

The interesting part of that is: if you need a law to censor something, then this something is named and then exist. It’s like in Inception (the movie), where the character played by Di Caprio states that:

If I want you to think about elephants, I just have to tell you not to think about elephants.

(And now, all my readers re thinking about elephants)

For instance, the word nigger/nigga has been used to discriminate against afro-american people. But some of them used took back control of this word, and reappropriate it to define themselves. They use it to define themselves. They exist because this word exist, and yes it leads to discrimination but it has a name and then you can fight it.

You can’t fight what you can’t name. And forbidding the use of specific speech do just that. It makes groups and communities unable to exist. Censorship doesn’t protect minorities. Freedom of self-determination does. Yes, it means that you’ll have hate speech. And yes, hate speech should probably be sanctioned in some way. But you must be able to discuss it.

If you cannot discuss racism, or fascism, or sexism then you can’t fight it. That’s why most of the teachers – at least not the creationist one – do oppose censorship.

But … Privacy is a human right?

Yes it it. It’s written in the UDHR and it’s the 12th article. The thing is, this declaration is not directed to citizen. It’s not meant to be implemented by them. It’s directed toward state, and it’s supposed to be what they should do, and to protect citizens from states – the way constitutions do.

And, for the sake of the argumentation, I’ll quote it here:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attack upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attack.

It basically state that you shouldn’t asks me to behave. To keep things private. To be decent. That you shouldn’t attack my honour or that I shall not be treated differently by the state – hence the society – for what I am.

The privacy defined here, is the one that you use to shelter yourself from discrimination of states or oppressive groups. It’s the survival mechanism one should not need to use, but sadly exist because there’s enough bigot out there in the world to threaten your life – think being openly gay in Uganda for instance.

Privacy in this context is a shield. However it disable you the right to being seen as what you are. It removes you the right to be. To define yourself. It’s a crappy shield, but it can makes you living.

And that’s why it’s important to be able to activate some sort of shielding, because you can go in jail for that. Or being killed by fascists. And as a human you have the right to protect yourself.

But if anyone else can define themselves in the public space, and if I can’t, if you ask me to be decent, you’re basically denying me the right to exist. You’re violating this 12th article that you claim to defend. And you’re doing that because you do not need privacy.

On the internet, being a white hetero cis-male means that you really do not need privacy. You won’t be ashamed because you had sex. Or because you exposed your body. Or because you demonstrate affection to the person you love. Privacy isn’t of any use to you, because you’re on the privileged side of an oppressive system. You won’t be beaten up because you were indecent. Or non-conforming to the society.

So, no more Privacy?

No. Sadly, we might need privacy. As I said beforehand, it is a shield from repression. Shielding yourselves is, however, denying what you are. It’s validating the oppressive society you’re leaving in.

If you want to fight that, then you need to abandon your privacy. Because you need to publicly exist. Also, that’s how you’ll find support among people going through similar issues. That’s how you can fight oppression. By existing in the public space, not only in the private space.

And if you do not belong to an oppressed party, then you do not need privacy, for you’re not going to be assaulted just because of what you are or think. You do not have privacy because it interest no one, because you’re in the "normal life" area of the world.

So yeah, we must fight for people being able to have a privacy. Because they could die if they have not. But no, you can’t asks me to being decent. Or to keep things private.

Fuck it.

Identity, Symbolism and Uniforms

Disclaimer: I’m in no way a sociologist, those are the state of thoughts in my brain as of now, it will probably change later. And yes, it’s the result of different conversation I had online recently

Identity crisis

Identity and surveillance

There’s something going on in my head for a while, it’s that I have hard time thinking why mass surveillance is inherently bad. I agree with that, but I try to understand why. Because, as Quinn Norton and Eleanor Saitta said it in their 30C3’s talk ‘No neutral ground in a burning world‘, the surveillance is not necessarily bad.

If we want mutual care and mutual aid to work – and really, I think it’s mandatory in the world I want to live in – then we need surveillance. To keep tabs on each other just to know if they’re OK, or if they need something.

So, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that the bad thing with surveillance is not the massive amount of data collected. It’s the link made between those data and entities – human being, devices, whatever. And that is, I think, what we call identity.

Some might argue that identity is what you are, but I tend to think it’s more than that. Identity is the projection of yourself in a social context, and the your identity is not the same from the state perspective or from your friends one.

Embodiment and identity

An identity is an interface between your self and other selves. It can be a login on a computer system, a social security number, or any other features. The Guy Fawkes mask is one of them for instance, as well as a lots of memes – but more on that later – and this interface is what we usually call a body.

A body (including the way it is dressed) is, in the meatspace, how people will identify me. My friends recognize me because of my body (and not because I give them my social security number). But in this networked world, you’re body has been augmented.

Your socials networks (Facebook profile, twitter stream, G+ account, whatever) is just that. A big pile of data that became your unique body on those networks. Same goes for the medical system, your personal medical record is your body in there – and yes it include description of your flesh and blood body.

And, for what it matters, the state, by giving you ID papers and forcing you to have them with you at all time, including biometrics to check that you’re really the good version of you (yes, a picture is a biometric identification system) gave you an identity.

And this is where it starts to suck big time. Whatever we wanna do today, you’re asked for a proof – a link – of identity. More and more content you check online require you to be authenticated using one identity or another, and since everything is logged, it’s added to your identity and to your body without your consent or your knowledge.

And every time you’re forced to use an identity (to get money from your bank account, to prove your ID to a cop, to watch that porn), you’re forced into a body. And that’s why registration sucks. Each time you have to login or decline an identity somewhere, you have to endorse a body on which you have less and less control.

As the feminist says: "My body, my rules." It should apply on all forms of body, including the ones made of data.

Symbolism and memes

Symbol

Before going further, I need to define what a symbol – or an icon – is. I’m not a specialist in symbolism or else, but still. Symbols are ides compression system. When you see one of them, you instantly access to a lot of ideas and concepts linked to it – of course those ideas will depend on your past and on the events you’ve gone through – and that’s why symbols can be extremely powerful. They are to ideas and memes what gzip is to text, a fast way to deliver memes.

And occult enthusiast loves the symbols because their meaning depends on your cultural background. Take the svastika for instance. If you’ve got an hinduist or buddhist background, a north-westernenr one or if you’re a raëlian, it does not deserve the same message. And occultists loves the hidden meaning of symbols, after all occultism is all about the hidden meaning. What’s the hidden meaning of this bird fly, of those tea leafs, or any other stupid sign they try to interpret and give meaning to.

Symbol and bodies

Adding symbols to your body is, usually, a good way to tell a lot of things to the entities interacting with you. Wearing those buttons of the CCC or EFF basically explain to those who have the cultural background that I support them.

The hidden meaning of symbols and the fact that they’re senseless is also extremely interesting. That’s how antisocial and oppressed groups identify themselves. Christian during the early age of roman empire, used to use fish as a way to identify themselves. Nowadays fascists wear some specific clothes, or use some symbols (like the celtic cross) to be able to identify themselves but not being flagged as a fascist (while having a nazi cross tattooed on their forehead will makes us identify them as nazi).

So tattoos, clothes, buttons, avatars, quotes, and all those memetic shortcuts you wear on your body do tell to people what you claims to be or think. And that’s why we spend some time to think about how we look, that’s because those symbols will unzip themselves in people thoughts when they’ll meet us. Your body – and then your identity – tells a lot to the people you interact with. And that’s why it’s important for you to get in control of your body.

I mean, you wouldn’t allow somehow to tattoo that nazi cross on your forehead. So, you shouldn’t let a government or a corporation labels you as, for instance, a radical lefty or a LGBTIQ militant if you do not want it.

However, some symbols have became so powerful tat they now have entire identities attached to them. Take the Guy Fawkes mask. Seeing one makes you think Anonymous (and can recall V for Vendetta) and Anonymous is an identity. It’s a body you can wear at any given time it’s even its purpose.

Uniforms

And yes, there’s a lot of these kind of body you can wear to represent specific ideas. You reject your identity to embrace one another. For instance the UPS delivery guy is not someone specific. He is UPS. While wearing this brown body, driving this brow truck, he become UPS and all that this represent or can represent.

Wearing a uniform denies your identity and makes yourself part of another body. That’s why cops and soldier have them. To identify themselves, for us to identify them as the function they serves (and not as specific individuals), and to differentiate from their enemies.

That’s also why anarchists and others tend to have a uniform (hell, black flag is a strong symbol, and nowadays most of them wears black hoodies and scarf to hide their faces) it allow them to abandon their identities and to wear another one.

Wearing a symbol or a uniform also makes you part of a community. I mean, the Apple is a sign of belonging to the Apple values (elitism, lack of control, wealth, coolness) as well as wearing a latin cross will give you the feeling to belong to the christianity, or wearing those branded shoes will makes you part of a community. Or makes you think you are.

But mostly, uniforms are a form of abandoning your identity to merge yourself in a crowd of more or less likely minded people. That’s why I tend to think they can be dangerous. When you start having people all wearing the same symbols with or without understanding all the implication a symbol might have – not everyone have the same cultural background – you start to have a uniform appearing.

And wearing a uniform is abandoning your identity to became another.

The link with surveillance?

So, you have your body. Some part you control, some you don’t (basically everything that’s in the cloud – which is a technical term meaning I don’t give a shit about what happens to those data).

The ones you control is not the problem here. The problem here is the one you don’t control anymore. Different entities are associating ideas, tags, identification mark all over your body – think tattoo here – for different kind of purposes. To tailor some services, advertisement or – as the event in Kiev show us – to classify you as a dissident.

You have no control on that. Those organisms use those (meta)data to build an identity and to link it to your others identities. And if you control the identity – hence the body – you control the people.

You make them wear a uniform they don’t even know about, or understand. You transform them from individuals to part of something else they have to conform to, because wearer of uniforms do not disobey or they’re stripped of it. And since it’s cool to wear it, you do not want to lose it.

And yes, this identity imply that you’ll comply with what it means. From the state point of view, building identities allow them to sort between good and bad citizens. And to expose the bad ones as bad citizens and you don’t want to be the bad guy – except for the sociopath.

So, you’ll do everything you can to conform. To obey. To stay in it, to deserve your uniform of good citizenship. And then to abandon your self for the one you’re told to wear. And that’s where mass surveillance sucks. It’s not about the amount of data collected which can be useful (asks an epidemiologist to work without data collected on the whole earth for instance). It’s not even about surveillance (knowing a disaster is happening and reacting to it is, generally, a good thing). It’s the identity building that sucks.

Enforced identity is quite new as a concept in the human history. And each time a state have provided citizens with ID-card, it was for controlling them (yeah, in France we have them since the Vichy government), not for making their life easier.

And in that connected era, states aren’t the only on to gather data and to attributes ID. Twitter nickname, Google and Facebook ID, all of them are more and more used to connect to other services. And yeah, it means they want to have control over you. And for you to wear the identity they’ve chosen for you.


Discrimination and gaming

Context

For two or three days there is quite some agitation around a video about the ordinary sexism. The video has been made for national Belgium news report and is then in French, but you’re favorite translators tool will give you some help to translate it.

So, since I have a lot of sociopaths, feminists and trolls in my inner circle there was quite some heat and animation. But that’s not how I entered the pool. I entered it by mis-understanding a woman attacking gameone (Gamers TV chans) for under-evaluating the issue of sexual harassment in the gamers community. Things get wild and I then spend the day arguing and fighting, using some trash arguments but I finally learned things (hey, why the heck would I lose time if it is not for learning?) both in the way to argue, and to have some documentation for this kind of harassment.

And, even if I do not agree with the way some specifics person refuses to evolve (on both sides – either by establishing the facts that males are de facto members of a dominating caste and so they cannot change and all of them are necessary the enemy or by reducing the magnitude and importance of the issue), I think that I have to write things down.

But I’m not really a member of the gaming community – I do prefer playing alone or with friends, rather than playing online. Too much people there – and I’ve already wrote once or twice about it in the hackers/geek community.

So, I was looking for an angle to speak about it. I even thought about speaking of me – sorry folks, not gonna happen now – and I then stumble upon this interview of one of The Witcher creator in Rock paper Shotgun.

And, as I was talking torture on a role-playing game forum of mine and the sometimes free nature of it, I think I would speak about it.

But, just before that, two points that are important to clarify first.

  • You are not your body, your body is just a part of you.
  • No one should endure discrimination for what they are and what they look like.

Now, let’s move on the topic.

Role-playing Games

I do like games. Really. Mainly because they faces me with a challenge and,in the case of role-playing games, gives me the possibility to live good stories and explore the mind of the games creators.

I enjoy going through a good story, even if it’s nit a happy one. I enjoy when the narrator have spend a lot of energy on detailing the place and the characters that will support the plot. I like when I’m surprised by unpredictable things.

Avatar – there’s no 3 meters tall Smurphs here

And to enjoy this story I have to choose an avatar. A projection of myself in the game universe. Well, not necessarily myself in fact. The characters I play are not me, neither they are something I want to be. They are something I build, with clay (the game universe) and that I could like or hate or think about.

I am an adept of exploring actions and the consequences. If I want to play a racist asshole that will assure the human supremacy over the galaxy (see Mass Effect 1) I should be able to play it and to see what’s happening. How people will react, how they will throw stones at me. If I’m going to kill civilians for no reasons, something must happen. If there’s kids, I must be able to enslave them and to kill them (it appears that kids in Fallout 3 can survive almost anything, including being shot with nuclear bombs) and the universe must react one way or another to those actions.

So, if I play a bastard it does not mean I’m one. It also does not mean the universe should just go with that for no reason. If I’m granted to harass people it must have an impact in the world or this ‘liberty’ is of no interests. I remember in Fallout / Fallout 2. You could be in the slave trade, but that was rewarded by most of the people in town throwing stones and shooting at you on sight.

And yes, discrimination, rape, diversity in sexual preferences and all those kind of things can be a thrilling engine for some fantastic plots or character. As long as it’s not free. Video games is a good media for this kind of set-up. I mean, the game developers can build a lot of constraint to the freedom of a player because they are coding the universe. If they condemn sexual harassment and sexual abuse, they can perfectly build a world where it is not possible, if you have no possibility to say ‘I would do you’ to a NPC, then you can’t. If it appears as an option then the developers have thought about this and they want you to be able to say that and so it is supposed to bring something to the story being told. If not, then why the hell did the developers spent some valuable time on it?

I mean, if they’re adding sex to a game without any purposes (and no realism is not one. I do not want realistic games, I want enjoyable games, I’m perfectly fine with driving a chicken into an insane space race, so fuck the realism, life is realistic enough. I want consistency), it is because they think people will enjoy the game more. It also means that the story is not good enough to appeal the player. Paying something to watch sex is pornography (or eroticism whatever you call it). It has nothing to do with games.

The avatar building is also a fun thing. My first adventures online goes back to Anarchy Online. When I chose my avatar, besides the classic gender / phenotype choice, I could personalize the whole body not only the face. I could do a fat girl, or a tin guy, I could choose the size of it, the breast/waist ratio, etc. I wasn’t bound to the game developer personal view of what’s appealing to play.

It bring a lot of diversity in the world, with people of different size or proportions, and, strangely, disproportionate female character were far from common. Then enter Blizzard and it’s World of Warcraft. They brag a lot about customisation of your characters but you can only customise the face (which is in most part hidden under a helmet or something equivalent). You cannot change your body. You cannot even choose your size. The good thing is that your avatar have no impact on the game. Being a female or a male in MMORPG does not gives you an edge, relatively to the game content.

However there is the problem about sexual dimorphism. Even if it exist in nature (that’s how we can tell apart male and female with a high enough error rate), in video games the dimorphism is generally over exaggerated (go take a look at this page on TV Tropes, and go for video games). It appears that, at least in the Blizzard case, the over exaggeration came from a wish of players.

Well, I guess it’s why a human wizard can probably defeat an Olympic weight lifter when he must have spend 90% of his life studying magic in a tower. While the warrior womens have shortest armour and, with a stripper body, can defeat a Tauren male at arm wrestling without any apparent muscle.

And this has been done due to the fan bases complaining about female being to weird or male not being strong enough. I think this is probably the bigger problem, and we’re back to porn. If people want to see nudity, exploited and abused women without consequences, they should rather head at youporn instead of play games. And the games creator shouldn’t focus on satisfying the fantasy of their fan – this is called fan services and it lead to crappy design and gameplay – they should rather focus on game content, story telling and game play.

Creating world

But yeah, that’s easy to tell. Well, it happens that I play a lot of role-playing games. Not the kind on computers, the kind with pen, papers, books and dice. And I’m also a game master.

From my point of view, playing such a game is building a story with all the players (including me) involved. And it needs a good plot and interesting characters.

I won’t talk about what I want as a player, I already spent a lot of words on that. I will rather talks about the responsibility of the game master. As a GM my goal is to animate the story and to do it in respect of my players wishes. And their main wish is, generally, to be excited and to spend an enjoyable moment (that can last between 4 and… 22h). And the trust me for that. They do not know where I’ll lead them. They will discover part of the plots, improvise some of it, act and react accordingly to their characters when faced to event and so on. And, depending on the game, I can lead them in hell.

Really. We can share horror stories. Stories in which horrible things will happen to the characters – from rape to torture to losing the loved one to commit genocide. I will give my players choice to make, I will question their ethics, I will explore an imaginary world with as much details and coherence I can find. It means random violence. It also means action must have consequences.

And I do need my players to trust me for that. I also need to know what do they want to play and where are their limits. And we have stop words. We can stop and pause the game anytime when someone feels uncomfortable.

But I can do this only with people I know. When I do demonstration gaming, or when I play a casual game, I have to respect my audience. I do not want to shock them, we haven’t established a trust link yet and so I cannot lead them in hell. Instead we’re going to explore other parts of the universe. And I have to depict it in an enjoyable way for all my players and to myself.

If their is segregation in the world, they must feel it. If it’s a world where the sexual practice is different, they have to feel it also. If it’s a police world, when they’ll shoot at strangers (and believe me, they will), I must use the police to strike them. If we’re in an anarchist outpost, then the bystanders will grabs their guns and shot at the players. Non playable characters have their own motivations and lives, they do not exist only for the players will.

If one of the player want to play Casanova, so be it. That’s not why all the woman in the world will fall for his sex appeal. Also, he can probably have some same-gender people that will start hitting on him.

Players can do whatever they want. I have to react to their actions, to anticipate them even, and to answer them with a reaction I feel is correct – not fair. They could play mafia boss with live or death power over each habitants of a district and they can decides to abuse their power and to get wild on the local population. To a point where the local population or other mafia bosses will take their chances and shot them down. Or worse.

See what I mean? You can use torture and rape in a game who tries to depict a world. You can even use racism, discrimination, oppression and all kind of things. You can even brings your players to have their characters acting in way that will question their players ethics. But if you do it, you have to do it on purposes.

Entertain the world

And I think it’s the problem of most of the entertainment industry. They had a strong male basis and they wanted to please them. They use sex and discrimination in way that brings nothing to the story. And they forget something. And, for people who thrives for business, it’s unforgettable. By doing this they can target, at bets, 50% of the population, the other one being female and won’t be entertained by hyper-sexualized women getting raped then saved by a hero. If the entertainment industry really wanted to tackle the woman audience, they will have adapted their product to satisfy both audience.

Instead of that they’d fell for the easy thing to get more man to buy their entertaining products. They use the arguments that "It’s what our fan base want". Well, then you won’t grow bigger than your fan bases. Also, you will look like an asshole.

As a story teller, my responsibility is to bring my players in places they’ve never been. Not in places where they are comfortable. And the entertainment industry should do it. You do not need to have brainless boobs when you want to have mega robots fighting with huge explosions. You do not need to have brainless boobs rescuing the endangered hobbits, especially when it’s not in the book your adapting your movie from. You do not need to have bad ass soldiers when you want a tactical FPS. It brings nothing to your story.

However, if you’re story is about a strip club, prostitution, slavery and the like, then it’s not a problem.

Morality?

Morality my ass. Stories aren’t meant to have a moral. People should not have moral in fact if you ask me. People should have ethics and ethics is personal (and you can explain it). I do not want a story to tell me that slavery is bad. However, I want a story that show me what is slavery, what are the consequences and the like. If you have a message to pass through a story, people should find it by themselves. They’re not stupid (and if they are, they do not care about your political views) and they’ll find out and think about it.

So yes, I have no problem with sexism in stories. When it’s justified by the stories, not by an advertisement need. If you can’t build a women character without raping her, you have to stop telling stories because you’re not even good at it.

If you want to depict a world where all women have been brain manipulated and are salved to all the male, go with it. Find an interesting story about it (and "boobs" is not a story) and assume it and do not try to find elusive justifications or blame your fan base.

If the gender of your character is of no interest of your story, so pick one at random (hey, that’s what I do), you can flip a coin or roll a dice if you want. And then you will have disparity. If it’s important because, in your world, women are not considered, then go with it (after all, that’s how it’s been dealt with in a Song of Fire and Ice). And that’s not a reason to remove all th women from your story.

So tell stories you want to tell, not ones that people want to hear. And I strongly believe that then you will have more entertaining problem, and less accusation of discrimination.

AFK

And, well, what happens In Character stays In Character. Especially when you play with stranger. Harassing a player based on what they have played or based on what they are is stupid. And from my point of view it ends up with a ban from my life if I do not know you and a strong blame if I know you since more time than the last ten minutes.

Speaking to someone Out Of Character is entering their area of intimacy. And you should at least asks for permission to do so. That’s how computers talks to each other (SYN,SYN/ACK,ACK) and that’s why "Hello" exist. Use it. And accept that the other one do not want to bear with you.

I’m done with you

For now. That’s quite a long post. Not sure if it is of some help, but at least I tried. Hope you enjoyed it. And you can reach me anywhere.

So long.

Addendum

Realism VS Consistency

SO, it appears that I made a mistake upper in this posts. I have no corrected it. I do not want realism in my entertainment. Realism is for reality not for imagination. I want consistency and coherence. If I’m driving a space cookie on a warp road through space to go faster than a squirrel, then I need the game universe to be consistent with that and so having "realistic" physics applied to this world is out of question.

However, if the law of physics in this world have told me that gravity is always in front of me, then I see no reason of having gravity suddenly switching for a earth like one.

Once you have set-up the rules that will bind your universe and your characters, then you have to stick with it. And you have to think about the implications. Having extremely thin female (in regards of the male) in a warrior world would probably imply that they cannot go on the front line in a battle. It does not mean they’ll have to stick to domestic task, but rather to more cerebral activities (like strategy, magic and the like). But if you want to have a truly egalitarian world, then the women who’ll go in battle will have more muscle and constitution than the one who will stay in more support roles (healers, casters, tacticians). And same goes for men. This is coherence, this is consistency. This is not realism (for this is not our world).

Tyranny by default

Tyranny by default

I got this in my mind since a while. I do not like when I have a default preselected on any choice I have to do.

And I think, it’s bigger than the fact I just do not like it. But what are those default choices that I’ll rage about in a while? It’s all the configuration choice you see, all the already opted-in check-boxes, all the radio buttons already selected on the ‘by default‘ configuration options.

 What’s a default?

Those options are chosen not randomly (else, they won’t suggest anyone). They are the one that ‘most people choose’ but no one here is most people. Take the public furniture for instance. They’re tailored for a standard human of average 1m70 tall. Which correspond to the average size, but is then, probably, the size of 1% of the population. So, this ‘most people fitted’ thing is fitted for no one in the end. They could have build a public bench tailored for 1m30 or 2m10 tall people.

The thing is, in the case of public bench, there’s a lot of people ‘around’ 1m70 tall (from 1m60 to 1m80) and those people will accommodate so, in the end, only a small share of the crowd will have problem with it. It’s because the meatspace is a non-discrete space.

In the wonderful world of cyberspace and software, we are in a discreet space, with a limited number of options. When you setup your system, you have to make some choices, mainly because you need one tool to do one task. Maybe you’ll need a backup tool and a test tool. But you do not need ten web browsers.

When you’re setting up your system, and you’re confronted to a choice like this:

Choose your web browser:

  • browser1 (default)
  • browser2
  • browser3

And if you have no more information, you’ll just go for the default one, because it’s more convenient.

Let the other decides

But, by doing this, without having a think process, balancing the odds and evens of each solution, you let the guy who made this choice make this decisions for you. The ‘default choice‘ then go from the ‘what most people want’ to ‘what we have interest for you to choose’.

When you go on Facebook, the default is, basically, everything is public. This is not what most people want – or they’re won’t be any privacy issue related to Facebook -it is what Facebook want. When you go on youtube, they will asks you if your location must be used to identify the video you might want to see.

They try to lure you in the fact that they know what suits you best. They want you to stop thinking about the problematics around choice and just click on the ‘I agree’ button. Providing a default choice, or a default configuration, is giving the possibility to someone to be lazy and to not think.

And yes, every time they can, people will choose the easy way. This is why we have governments which decides for us what’s good or bad after all.

But, by removing each and every occasion to have no choices but think, people will finally have an habits of not thinking and just clicking ‘Next’ without even reading what are their choices.

If people were really thinking about the implications of the default configuration made for them in a lot of modern system (from Apple’s product to Google’s engines, from Ubuntu default config, to the Skype system) I think the privacy issues raised by social networks such as Facebook or Twitter would have been addressed earlier.

And this is a tyranny. This is a small group of people imposing their choices and interests to a vast majority of other people. It became worse because, then, a majority of people will share the same default configuration, and then the minority of users that do not want to use those settings will be ostracized.

To make things worse, the ones who decides what are the default will add more and more default choices everywhere they can. You would not accept that, the day you’re going to vote, someone gives you an already filled-in bulletin to just ease the process of choice, that is unacceptable, right?

Then why do you let people doing the same with your privacy? Or with your communication system? Or your friends?

The default and the stereotypes

Yeah, I know, the transition sounds ugly. But there’s no such thing as a smooth transition.

So, what are stereotypes? They are kind of default identity. I’ve already wrote a part about the default identity claiming that there’s no default identity in the cyberspace. But there is.

People tells me that I look like a hacker. They expect a cute girl to be an easy one without a brain, they consider the physically different people as strangers and invaders, they think Anonymous are only 14 years old script kiddies in their room.

I do think this is a natural process, it’s how our brains work. But it’s not a reason to keep this process that way. I mean, if we should keep this behavior because it’s natural, we’d better go back collecting plants and hunting big mammals to eat, while leaving naked in a cave.

So, when you’re making a default choice about someone, you’ll stick a stereotype on them. You’ll recall of them has this brand of person and you won’t think about who they really are.

When you consider someone using a stereotype, you do the exact same thing as when you’re not making a choice and use the default one: you refuse to think. And, wince you’re going to use this stereotype in a social situation, you’ll enforce the stereotype in the person identity, enclosing them to the point where they can’t act differently of the stereotype you’ve build upon them.

Decide by yourself

So, I’m not saying that you must spend thirty hours a day to speak and discover everyone. Just that, when someone told you that this person is an asshole, or that this one is ‘hawt’ or whatever, the ones telling you this are doing the same that the ones telling you that you must share everything on your wall with everyone in the world.

It’s not that the stereotype is true or false, it’s just that you should made your idea about this person by yourself.

And it’s the same for software.

Or when you buy a computer that is sold with a pre-installed system.

You have a brain. Use it as much as you can, before someone tries to forbid it.

Sexism part 2

I’m not done yet

So, since the time I wrote my previous entry, I’ve discussed the topic of discrimination in the cyberspace with different people and one of them told me that, even if you do not know nothing about someone, you’ll give him an identity by default, and this identity in the hackerscene is white male (because hackers are mostly white male).

They were implying that, when we do not know who someone is, we tend to think they’re like us. It is, I think mostly true. I mean, when I’m in a hackerspace (cyber|meat)space , I tend to think that most of the people here are hackers or, at least, curious.

#define identity

So, when interacting with someone, we try to give them an identity. It is, I think, a purely cognitive process. We want to recover what we told to this person at a later time, so we assemble all the data in one cluster which then is called identity.

So, do I use a template when interacting with people in the meatspace? No, because their body and way they talk/act is creating a shell I’ll then use to remember them. When a girl comes to talk to me, I know she is a girl, she dos not have to tell me it’s like that, there’s some trait I will use to define this person as a girl. And that’s why we’re all different.

There is then no default identity in the meatspace. What about the cyberspaces? Our brain is trained to separate two entities and to call them with different names when we met them. It is also trained to classify people to remember them faster, we have an indexing system software. It is not perfect (since we can mix two people that shares common traits), but it works in some case. That’s why you can tell who’s this girl is.

So, there must be something in the cyberspaces that our brains can use to sort people. First, there’s the name. It is the first thing I’ll see when I meet someone in the cyberspaces, and that’s why pseudonyms are interesting. They are chosen handles (not like the name and surname thing that we did not choose) and are generally unique.

Then there’s the gimmick you’re using when writing. Your language but also the form of your sentences, the way you use some slang and the kind of slang you’re using. That’s why, after some time, I can now if the person’s talking to me is really who they pretend to be without needing a registering services of a kind.

Error: identity has no default value

So, there’s no such thing as a default identity in the cyberspaces. And yes, you can guess my sexual identity quite easily if you really want to. But there’s definitely no default identity.

There’s a lot of people I know whom I cannot describe. But I’ll recognize them when they’re going to write something. So, no, the cyberspaces is not a white male space because white and male are concept that cannot define someone you can’t see.

I admit it, your education will change the way you express yourself, including online. And yes, this is how people will recognize you in the cyberspaces. But I’m not sure this problem can be solved in the cyberspaces.

You cannot ask to people to consider everyone under a neutral identity. A template that will suit to anyone, because they won’t. Our brain do works by classifying people one way or another, so this default template will be different for everyone it it exist at all.

Let’s talk about Privacy, Intimacy, Anonimity and Identity

Let’s talk about privacy, intimacy, anonimity and identity

I wanted to write about those topics for a while because I think they’re important topics, eseentially nowadays due to the ever growing ubiquitous surveillance. I think that most of them are not perceived the same way by everybody, so i’ll try to write down and define what I put behind the concept of identity, privacy, anonymity and intimacy.

So, we’re going to start with some definitions, see how they are linked etc. I wo’nt use many links, because it’s what I think it’s probably not original and unique, but that’s how I fell things are working. Also, we are going to eat Information Theory.

The identity problematics

We walk in the world as an emitter and receiver of signal (part noise, part information). This signal is directed toward one((unidirectional communication, also named unicast by network engineers)), some((multidirectionnal communication, named multicast in network operation)) or all((wide communication, or broadcast)) receivers in range.

The etymology of ”Identity” comes form the latin identitas (sameness) annd indicates what information are emitted by the same entity, thing. That means two things. There’s a track to previous information emitted by this entity, and the receiver can link the emitter to this entity. The identity is then the sum of all the information about an entity an emitter can perceive, and an entity can have multiple identity, in general one for each space (public or private) the entity evolves into.

One thing about information, if they’re not archived and indexed, they will disappear with time. Who remember who Jessi Slaughter is?

What’s my name?

The name is the unique handle of an identity. It can be a unique number, a common name, a description, etc. The name of an entity is how you will access all the information you can find about it. This is the bit of information you need to know to find out who an entity is and then accessing all the information available about this identity in the space you’re standing.

If an entity has no name, and is in fact anonymous, then you won’t be able to find any information about it. But then, the ‘Girl with Nice Boobs who was at the party yesterday’ and the ‘Bunch of people that sing in the subway’ in a name. A temporary one, but it’s still a name. You can discuss about those person with other people who were in the same space at the same time, but the information will probably be wuickly dissolved in the flux of data we live in.

A name stand for an identity. Or should. The tricky part is the homonyms. Two (or more) different identities covered by only one name. To find out which entity you’re communicating with, you will try to find context that is, previously stored information that you can then use to find out which entity your dealing with. You deal Homonimy the exact same way that Usurpation. Using the information you can find about an entity, you can know who they are to you, independently of their name.

Trust

The trust is the biggest thing in social relation. It exists in principally three states. You trust an entity, you distrust it or you have no idea of the trust you should have into the entity. The trust is the accountability. When something you trust gives you an information, you know the information is correct. If someone you trust claims a name, you won’t check his history back to confirm or infirm it. Someone you trust is alos someone who will probably not takes information about you out of the space you are communicating.

The people you distrust is easy, you won’t believe them and try to verify every information they send because you can find a source of information you trust to confirm or infirm their identity.

The world is small anyway, so you can probably build a trust chain to this entity and confirm or infirm the identity link for an entity you do not trust.

Trust is not bidirectionnal and is personnal. That’s not because you trust me that I trust you. ANd that’s not because I trust someone taht you should trust it by default, but it will gives it more trustability (because you trust me and I’m telling you that this entity is really who they claim to be), so that will help you to decide if you want to trust this entity.

What’s privacy then?

Privacy opposes to publicity. If something is not in the public space, that means it’s in a private space (or that it’s in no space, which is not possible due to some contrsaints such as physics).

So, what is public then? From etymology it is linked to the people((From the latin poplicus which is a derivative from populus, the people)). That mean everybody can access and see a public thing. At least, there is no authorisation needed to access something public.

For instance, when you walk in the street, you are in a public space. When you enter a bar or a restaurant, you’re still in a public space. When you pay the fee to access a museum or a night club, you are in a public space (it’s not an authorization, it’s a cost). When you surf the web reading at datas that do not requires a password to access to, you’re in a public space.

That mean that everybody in the same public space as you can access all the information you’re emitting. Wether it being you’re apparent age, skin color, gender (not your sexual identity however), the thing you’re saying or the song you’re singing. If you are in a public space, everybody can access and see and track all the information you’re emitting there.

So, the privacy opposes itself to the publicity. That is, you’re in privacy, and so in a private space, when you access a non public place. A place that requires you to have an authorization of a kind. It could be a good old key for your house or your locker, a password to access a private sharing space online, a simple door closed with a sign on it stating ‘Access forbidden’ is a delimitation between a public and a private space.

Privacy is then a matter of limiting access to the information you emit. If you have the key to enter a private space, you can access the private information.

Intimacy

The intimcay, again from etymology, comes from the inside. This is what’s inside an entity, that’s all the information you’re not emitting. It’s when you opt-out totally, with no emitter of information you cannot control, and all the one you control shut down. You generally add your closest friend into this intimacy, as long as all the ‘special’ people, those are people that won’t tell those information to anyone.

The intimacy is the part of yourself that no one knows about, except the specials ones. Intimacy is way more than privacy, privacy is intresting, as it allow you to communicate with people of choice without being put in danger for what your saying. It allow you to have multiple identities and to use them in multiple social circles. Intimacy is what’s out of all social circle.

let’s explore the world!

We now have our concepts defined. Almost. So, now, let’s go online, because everything is funnier if you add network and computers to it.

Let’s enter the world of information

So, it’s easy to get a grasp on the private/public problem in the physical space. I can live with a bunch of people in an open space like a loft, or a squat, but still have some private space (the one I close with a key I own). What’s hard is when you add some layers, and, for instance the cyberspace. I can sit in a private space (my room, locked) and accessing a maybe-public space.

The thing is, independently of the thing you’re gonna access, every bits of information that goes out of your device of choice will go through different intermediaries before reaching the data you want to access. The origin and the destination of the packets are know, as long as a lor of other stuff. Those information are needed to route the packets through the diferents network, but they are data you emit in the public space (anyone on the route of yourpacket can see it and access to this information).

Wether you’re accessing your facebook page (which is more or less private, dependings on the settings you choose), your webmail (which is private, given the fact that only you is supposed to have the password needed to access it) or your mails, reading a website, downloading a video using P2P protocols, etc, you will emit a lot of information that a lot of people (or computers) can read.

So, remember what I told about the lock in the previous part? You need to put a lock on the information you want to keep private. You can’t lock all the information in the packets, some of them are needed to grants you access to the resource you’ve asked for. Those are mainly routing and protocol information, because that’s the way computers works, they need to talk a lot to each other to get things done. But the others informations, the ones you want to keep private, you can lock them to deny anyone the possibility to read them without a key of a kind.

That’s the cryptography goal. Forbidding a data being physically readable by anyone and restricting it to whoever got the key.

So, you’re in the private space only when you use string cryptography. yeah, encrypt everything you want to make private. If something goes online without encryption, it belongs to the public space.

A wild corporation appears!

Corporations, at least internet ones, suck at two things. Security (but that’s the burden of everyone) and transparency. When you land on a ‘secured’ website of a company, they will require you to proove your identity while they’re doing the same (using ssl certificates). They’re not asking you for a key (an authorization), they’re using your identity as a key. They’re using the whole set of data they can build about you as the key to access their services. You cannot know what data they have on you, you cannot opt-out those data, they’re building a strong identity of you. And they’re following you everywhere they can, without telling you.

So, they build an identity about you, one you don’t know anything about and they’re building it using data from a private space that they’re not supposed to share with everyone else (except if you explicity opt-in). They’re archiving everything information you emit, stocking it in extremly redundant servers becasue tehy do not want to lose any bits of identity about you. And then, they will replace the wall of the private space they made by polarised window, giving everyone who can afford it to penetrate theprivate space without the key and without your consent. When someone goes into your place without authorization, generally you call the authorities or shoot the trespassor. You’re not allowed to do it for corporation taht sells personnal data, some of them they shoudl not have.

I mean, they do not need your name for running their business. The only reason they need it is becasue they want to cross check into other database – private space – what you’re doing when not undr their radar. That’s what real-name policies are, they’re a meta identification token spanning all the databases taht uses the same policy. And that’s why they’re so bad.

The financial data stored in non banking websites is bad to. They do not need it. They need to know, in the worst case, who buys what to who and when. Not the bank name, the card number or any othr details on it.

So, corporation are robbing your identities. They lure you in confy private space, then put you on national broadcast. I’m not even speaking about the risks of a data leak or a breach in the infrastructure. People accuses hacker when information about them isleaked. But hackers did not archived this information in frist hand, they did not make huge files to track people and to spy them and to rape and destroy their privacy. What hackers do is finding a part of a public space that was hidden behind a curtain. So, next time someone is doxing you, asks the company why they had those information about you in clear text.

You can access a company server, if they store all the private information (or what they define as private) in an encrypted format you won’t be able to read it. That’s the way to go, if you want an information to be private, then encrypt it. If it touch toyour intimacy, do not publish the information. The internet and computers have an endless memory of extreme precision.

Protect yourself. Encrypt everything that moves. Give momentum to everything that do not move.


Version 1.0 of this entry was written by okhin on 2012/01/26. Use it as you wish. Or follow the WTFPL.