@neoncipher @aral Opensource, Foss, Mozilla, Gnome etc are no guarantee for digital freedom. What a clear and sharp take on an ugly truth!
Are there any safe places left from the iron fists of the GAFAM monster? If even professional technologists are on the brink of despair, what else can common citizens do than surrender?
Not a happy story.

@neoncipher @aral

Privacy conferences certainly don't mind having the likes of Google, Facebook, Palantir, and Acxiom among their sponsors (fpf.org/about/supporters/). Prominent privacy researchers don't mind serving on the board of Palantir, either (palantir.com/2012/11/announcin)

@spoon thank you for the link. You raised another important issue. Those "Advisors on Privacy and Civil Liberties" are mostly from American universities. Academia showed its true colors after Aaron Swartz was arrested near the Harvard campus by MIT police. Those clowns said nothing to help Aaron during the next 2 years (!) of prosecution, not a single word. Academia represents corporate interest not public. Everyone should watch The Internet's Own Boy documentary.


@neoncipher @spoon @aral
I think that's too much generalisation. "Academia" is not a clone army. There are different universities, with different people, some of which have very pronounced views and thick heads... There is certainly a lot of variety where I am.
And while many academics are indeed afraid to butt heads with politicians, I don't think that's universal. Just consider how many political revolutions prominently involved students...

I’m not aware of a single university that issued a supporting statement about Aaron Swartz. If you are, please tell me. Indeed, several activists and academics publicly supported reform of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but they were acting as individuals. And I’m sure that many of them faced pressure from their employers. MIT continue receiving millions of dollars to this day despite of the terrible role it played in the case.
We need to shed some light on that.
@spoon @aral

I agree with you. University leaders are far too caught up in politics to stick their neck out for something that doesn't affect them directly.
But among professors, there's already quite a few "good" people. I'd actually tend to think that academics are way more likely to support good privacy and related rights than any other group -- but that doesn't mean big data and spy agencies can't recruit from the same pool.
@spoon @aral

@neoncipher @spoon @aral
...actually, the more I think about it, the more I believe there should be a movement to reduce the power wielded by politics and industry over Universities. The place I work at slowly gravitates toward an engineering consultancy with attached personal development section. The old "Ivory Towers" model had its drawbacks too but there must be something better. Pretty sure most academics would be in favour.

@neoncipher Somehow, I had never watched that documentary. It was very powerful; thank you. I see surprising cravenness among academics faced with losing funding, as these conferences would if they turned down sponsors. Counterexamples that have impressed me (on open-access) were Mathematicians boycotting Springer (gowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/2), and ML researchers on Nature Machine Intelligence (openaccess.engineering.oregons). On #privacy I can't think of counterexamples.

@spoon @neoncipher @Mr_Teatime There are folks in academia that do turn down €100,000s from Google, etc., because they actually have principles but it’s rare. Perhaps it’s time we had a public movement they could subscribe to to inspire others… Academics Against Surveillance Capitalism or something :)


They wanted to make an example out of Aaron Swartz. Instead, Aaron made an example out of them.

@aral @Mr_Teatime

@spoon @neoncipher @aral
There's also quite a movement in favour of open-access publications going on in Europe. There's separate funding for OA, and that's coming from top management. Publishers had no choice but to go along and offer OA models. In Germany, the #DLR (German NASA if you will) had a huge row with Elsevier and severed ties.
... but these changes are slow, because it's all a bit more involved than you might think ...

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