Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

Category: Item

Dear conservative American internet, this is why #IBOR failed, not because Twitter is throttling you

I’ve been following with interest the so-called #IBoR conversations on Twitter, aka the Internet Bill of Rights. As the White House website petition ends today, and it failed (as of this writing) to achieve a 1/3 of the required 100,000, I thought maybe people should start talking about why it failed. And maybe how we could make something better.

Or somebody. I’m not saying I’m volunteering. What the hell do I know anyway… I’m just an “internet researcher.”

For posterity, here is the failed draft, accredited to “A.M.” on the site:

Internet forums and social networks which provide free access to the public are a digital place of assembly, and individuals using such methods for public communication should not be subjected to censorship due to political beliefs or differing ideas. Conservative voices on many large public website platforms are being censored, based solely on a differing opinion. Some of these platforms further employ tracking mechanisms for monitoring an individual’s digital history, which can be used to censor the individual’s public communication through various censorship practices, sometimes without knowledge or awareness. These actions directly violate personal liberty and stand at contrast with the bill of rights.

We the people demand action to bring our digital future into the light.

Thought it might be useful for my own brain if no one else to break this down into claims and assumptions – pick it apart a little bit before putting it back together again. I’ll do it internet research-style…


Domain applicable: Internet forums and social networks.

Claim: “which provide free access to the public

Question: How accurate is that claim? “Free access” makes it sound like there is no cost to the user of the system. That is, it costs nothing to join. While that may be the case, the provider offers those services, assuming the cost of the infrastructure to build, maintain and continue to offer the service.

I would feel better with maybe phrasing such as “which offer open access” to the public. “Offer” also puts us in the mood of an economic exchange, or transaction. One party offers something, and the other accepts or denies the offer based on relative value perceived by each party.

“Open access” would then mean something like “anyone can join, because we don’t check you first.”

Not addressed:

  • Who owns platforms & services?
  • Are they privately owned? What rights does private ownership entail?
  • What are the costs associated with offering “open access” to a service at no cost to users at scale?
  • Do corporations, as a legal extension of the natural human persons of which their membership is composed, themselves have rights?
    • Such as the right to stipulate acceptable usage policies (“Terms of Service”) in exchange for providing open access?

I’m not saying I have all the answers there. But these questions of private property, and the rights of natural persons and corporate persons to exercise linked rights have not been addressed in this draft. And I think it’s one of the fundamental reasons it failed. A document like this, whose ultimate aim is to be an Expression of the Truth™, must be rooted in a clearer understanding of the problem and the facts.

Now, I’m not a factologist, but I know how to do Google Searches. I found this thing on Investopedia (whose credibility I have no idea) about something interesting in real estate called a “bundle of rights.”

“…a set of legal rights afforded to the real estate title holder. It can include the right of possession, the right of control, the right of exclusion, the right of enjoyment and the right of disposition. “

Hm, so that’s interesting. Right to control, right to exclusion.

I’m also not a lawyer, but control and exclusion, hmmm…. reminds me of something. Can’t think of what… (Sorry for being snarky)

It sounds like owners of property have the right to control usage and to exclude from use that property.

If we acknowledge that those probably fundamental rights of private property pretty much do apply to platforms (hint: they do), then we have to start re-configuring already the rest of the document.

It’s not that the fundamental idea is false, or bad, or wrong. I actually very much agree with the main thrust of it. If we want to proceed and succeed, though, we have to reconfigure the approach, better ascertain what the problem is, and define more clearly what we’re asking.

Claim: “are a digital place of assembly

Question: What related rights apply? Right to peaceful assembly. From the Library of Congress website:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the United States Congress from enacting legislation that would abridge the right of the people to assemble peaceably.[1]  The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes this prohibition applicable to state governments.[2]

So the domain of applicability is first of all U.S. Congress, and secondly to state governments. Both of those are public actors. Not private entities.

It’s an interesting argument, but again doesn’t altogether address the idea that owners of private property can control and exclude use. (Will also come back to this idea another time when I’m not so bleary eyed. There’s a recent tech law case that backs this up.)

For now, the claim about “digital places of assembly” is not completely verified. Though the impulse behind it is duly noted.

Statement: “individuals using such methods for public communication”

I don’t want to be (too) pedantic, but there’s a lot to unpack there.

What does “public communication” mean?

It could mean a lot of things.

  1. Communicating with the general public, or people in a general way. In other words, broadcasting or publishing. Both broadcasting and publishing are resource-intensive and infrastructure-dependent activities.
  2. Public communication could also conceivably mean talking with friends and family. (Though, is that really ‘the public?’) If two parties to a message or communication are in physical proximity, they could speak, or, at greater distances, shout. Beyond that, there is a cost associated with carrying a message from point or person A to point or person B. Again, it requires energy (as in radio waves), as well resources & infrastructure (a transceiver, wires, antenna, electrical energy source. None of those things are free of charge, nor are sending letters by post, using the phone system, etc.

So I guess my main point again is there is always a cost associated with communication. Even if it’s only trying to put it into the right words…

Ask: “should not be subjected to censorship”

So I’m labeling that as an ask and not a claim because there’s a “should.” It’s a thing that is not now true.

I’m still not clear on when/where/at what point we can definitively say that “censorship” is happening. If, like the rest of the First Amendment, it’s domain of applicability is Congress and state governments, I still think we’re barking up maybe the wrong tree to say that: private companies offering services with an attached acceptable use policy are doing something wrong or bad within the greater system of the law by exercising their rights as owners of private property  to control and exclude usage. It’s not a fundamentally strong argument in a system (society) more or less completely based on rules around how ownership of private property works. We might need to try to re-word this and cut down to a stronger root of the matter.

Claim: “Conservative voices on many large public website platforms are being censored, based solely on a differing opinion.

While I understand the feeling people have that informs this, I think there is some strong confirmation bias going on here. People feel like their point of view is being silenced, when in actuality in the vast majority of cases, it is their conduct, and not belief or opinion. Conduct relates again to the property owner’s right to control and exclude (nevermind the right to “enjoy”), which is set forth usually in the acceptable use policy/terms of service/rules/community guidelines, etc.

Problem: Different sites/services/platforms have different rules of conduct, different teams of moderators, and different tolerances of risk. This can be confusing for users. There are few standards which unify definitions or examples of acceptable and unacceptable types of behavior across the various platforms. In saying that, I think this is a real problem that industry can work on. Perhaps embedded in a larger contextual framework, this could become a useful component of a more fleshed out IBoR draft.

Claim: “Some of these platforms further employ tracking mechanisms for monitoring an individual’s digital history…

This much of that sentence, at least, is a true claim. Many, most, or perhaps even all(?) services monitor and track usage of their service. The primary use case of this, of course, is to be able to provide that service.

One thing I like about the upcoming EU GDPR rules for protection of personal information is that companies are required to have fair processing statements, which require them to more explicitly say what they collect, why, and what they do with it.

This is, in my opinion, a very healthy and interesting development in the tech industry that Europe is leading the way on. I know how much it hurts the American ego to believe that Europe is ahead on anything, but this regulation’s enforcement (goes into effect May 25, 2018) will be interesting to watch, as it even compels foreign companies (each operating under their own national laws) to abide also by its principle when offering services to EU or EEA (European Economic Area) residents. In effect, companies complying with this rule set may begin operating at and offering to (at least EU) users a higher default data protection standard than they would normally under American law. So that’s a good thing, and it ironically might come to Americans by way of foreign governmental bodies instead of a #wethepeople internet petition.

Claim: “can be used to censor the individual’s public communication through various censorship practices, sometimes without knowledge or awareness.”

This claim goes back to tracking and monitoring, which GDPR talks about fairly extensively, if doesn’t give perfectly clear answers on.

This claim also rests on a questionable assumption: that because a technology can be used to do something, that it is being used to do that.

More broadly, if a company sees you’re not respecting its usage agreement by engaging in prohibited conduct on the platform, it doesn’t need to consider and for the most part isn’t interested in whatever your beliefs might be. It’s not important.

A question I’ve always wanted to know the answer to: if it’s (today) overwhelmingly self-identified “conservatives” (and I understand less and less what that term even means anymore) who feel they are being silenced by platforms, would it be fair to wonder whether that group is also more frequently engaging in conduct prohibited by the usage agreements?

Now, it might be a valid argument to say that a given platform usage agreement might lean in a certain direction politically. But if it’s private property, and they have the right to control, exclude, and enjoy, on what realistic legal grounds would we, should we, or could we urge them to change? What about platforms whose political biases we agree with? Should we also therefore reciprocally give other oppressed groups likewise consideration? I know the answer isn’t clear (or maybe for you it is and this is all hogwash(, but I think the lack of offering a clear framing of the full question, the full need, and the desired solution is what has lead to the failure of #IBOR.

Claim: “These actions directly violate personal liberty and stand at contrast with the bill of rights.”

What does “violate personal liberty” mean, specifically?

We believe that personal liberties are somehow linked to the Bill of Rights, which, again, applies to congress, and to some extent state governments. So there is a “contrast,” to be sure, but it is not what is implied in the above claim. It’s a different domain of applicability. The Bill of Rights limits what government can do.

The Internet Bill of Rights, should such a document arise (hint: actual real drafts of such a document do exist – written by, gasp! the UN – I’ll find and post links another day), would instead be asking government to limit what business can do. In effect, asking government to take away the “personal liberties” of corporations (compromised of humans exercising their liberties) through legislation – which I grew up always understanding being something conservatives were supposed to hate. So that’s confusing too.

Ask: “We the people demand action to bring our digital future into the light.”

I’m a bit disappointed this was the closing ask of the document.

“Demand action” is not a strong phrase. It doesn’t put the needs and rights of the person, the internet user – I feel – enough in the driver seat. It’s asking someone else to take action. But it’s a really frustratingly vague action. “Bring our digital future into the light.” What is this, a Rainbow Gathering? Did you bring your crystals? How will we know whether or we’ve reach this magical place of love and light?

That’s not to bash on the author of this document (to whom I do apologize for this completely sincere but necessary line-by-line public take-down), so much as it is to hopefully 🔨 hammer home the necessity of polishing the underlying desire into a 💎 of greater ✨, which might have much greater significance and reach into all of our lives.

Thanks for reading. Remember to like me on Steemit. (jk)

Don’t stop #IBOR’ing.*

And while you’re doing that, go set up your own blog, on your own server. Learn the costs.

*Where and as I have time, I’ll try to do more to contribute to “the movement,” rather than sitting silently on the sidelines.

Guess Who (Board Game) Ad

Youtube, 1997:

Includes disclaimer at the end, “Game cards do not actually talk.”

Homeland (tv series) sock-puppet clip

Office of Policy Coordination:

Savchuk Leak Username List (Internet Research Agency)

This is an interesting document I turned up from ~2015 (though document itself is undated). Appears to be a spreadsheet bearing a list of usernames associated with Internet Research Agency, courtesy of the Savchuk leaks. (Google Drive link)

Found via this March 2015 mr7.ru article (in Russian). There are a number of English-language articles which confirm a couple usernames from this list.

Here is my extracted, de-duped version of this username list:

mazurov_89
braille_teeth
koka-kola23
lipyf837
vince-crane
ya_karnavalova
nannik-dr
Rezites
konorlaoo04
qkempek
caradoxee5
ynuka
natalex84
anna_02051990
mrokiralex
annetjohnson
rghkride
gkohio
karber861
innyla92
cotedo
Smurfetka-24
raikbowee1
ohvis134
demouu1
nofk452
alexander7171
vadro
makgxiewua
mofan926
smspudilj
varkhotel
shtots
rijbc
wylwurwolv
workroman
pheyeroo57
tritonst
milka_e20
codirips814
lorislaley
eekim81
oftibar
elegmhehov
aple_at_the_tab
Nikolaabil
hey_son1c
firyupa
asus
Symatvei
xamit251
farpodmuu07
oloviit
diuu085
alenkujl
rcrimsot
snoop83
vynal
sportto
danybody
alexmosyan
poragpalkhe
sergalyev839
vadim_spx
rus-policy
wafyy248
katerina2703
dragon_uz
Winter-kinder
Pjobynrutri
green_margo
ptirenw
pastogross
igerenbart
mskilys
pantyyy08
thepicard
igtego
paqurni
emory6townsend
aspera76
zymecs
001usa
ca119idia
fadaqpm
pybden
Protsyon
phidiwp507
makabu
osobroim
yuliya_korshyn
Parabellum50
policyrus
tuyqer898
aljin
rammathets
overtimorouq
ntnwoc
stranamasterov
ktoroj14
Yohohoguy
pbijipsfem
wyazfunovv
ariol921
mariya-789
roavrumper
kyxapka
ryypaulinm
jang033
wwwevgemie
p01t11
pohezvitie
zhakim755
Asswalker
vvp2014
to12scorta
Spicemachine
nastia642
nungsorivat
homyr657e
orlenrenosr
kalininkhu
parydaq070
enot_kot
abfyr890
vamiqyy63
evgenyashm
palfemine
tay-zakulisnay1
radbec
revivaldude
cykularj
ageev013
porkimes
owwaxde082
andrei-kovrin
pasioda
fooqbal951
nugotvapi
swull786
nina_istomina
gig180
raokabea
synbmulty
beloham848
lissa-marioko
kater971
peflirz
hikonozauu00
michael_jd
uglycoyotespb
urajr
bobzan
peulgieness
scavamerzl
levyshkinr
pavetbrer
ddanii33
goodrus
supersonicwall
mannaliobrit
pierii01
panbiran
georgi-grusha
pashka208
vmoffee179
etopiterdetka99
jenyamelika
anya_rocket
snowy_trail
malkovich_i
samiyymniy
chadimi
kvazarion
Nestero85
nika_anisina
savoiyar
oksadoxa
mercynt
vehofunzi
qitsen
raphahunthig
panebcaj
tergparriotio
lihohor
sojaan884
cypetcompbis
destforkowoo
nouglysv
petraffilya
Backlashealthma
amenem
paintbellu
iugegeizh
pexirgarnez
chicocali
pexirub
kmfemovmpxxx
lojtautome
inkiptiruc
palecefaz
hhlayz
ningcotedin
olginarkew
renfidebun
portlandam
olga_lebedyan
andriudruz
unmolarlay
repaw968
stepalexos
prasingyy55
steltertheeness
spinrarata
ddesesexla
antaauu4
wihhie917
pagkagezmeat
werhellvolkfu
tiopretytcur
aladorzam
nyntynuriu
begtotenlu
abezhiu
oxyitt
rabrukywiz
snowdidsmomuds
paradana
durenhuntpi
sixfeevae
nebozuanrou
procomdn
kovikotuss
urigcon211
peosaytranos
borgperwensgod
rhealaltrades
nishihatu
asafasngut
cophetycoo
merzasarsgepf
promvogtsigold
pesina20k
vuhyzowi
skewerilgraph
wladmancornnes
feedpecosleft
prosorouqu
frantirigesch
cirgadisla
precalacov
zlavaq037
hrilepswia
szehdes
bestthecalpa
lasorpprogso
classatopos
zipkingfilci
preaphoubowo
geoversive
gingsenpirem
tes40uvir
judj747
throwenelan
sfouninmire
diotradconpe
llanpaclaive
neytilmigers
glyzitneko
metcentlighrou
bentakiffo
pqalongese
chaicoffskaya
cenhoufimou
siohuntired
feascoacoca
prozaet
inga
glycmamortga
imclasfulte
izorylie646
lighwinsbrachig
mafomeri
oryanhuazo
kfuu0
daytrolchildcha
odassaflot
tamred1
paca979
vollatasklu
legahedddis
othoee111
trugleyscorun
ybdocegesch
rpmuntar
nahezuu91
socompdanfi
beadeadsdentfi
pia986
pzsg
pdachee
paschig
plimtintaza
ptimenalhook
Ladushki2014
photographereye
balyk2014
polza1985
polina_i_liza
gymbreaker
strelach
tolstunovich
demosfen-ru
Ikehujaik
nersis
IvanichKem
BVDfan
bookworm-war
nina_zlova
wwarfare
valkavakatrin
sasha-bobrov
nevzorovich
ulyanovlenin
other_vlad
devindowns8733
dgksson
tereshkova-2603
alex_solnce80
lana_rey
rafaelee661
nyanwarcat
dagdarim
Valkyrie_by
duh_matreny
lilekootherd
vlasom
Delanaya
Dianardana
art-noita
olga-safronova
007margaret
finade
mulziluu66
alexmonc
denanis
ole-kim
kebucha717
kristidom
pekrunonv
semsenya
atormentarse
princitalo
wex874
lulzgenerator
krasen_glaz
streamteamteam
alla-semenova
uruk_65
italian_women89
svetlyachok4
svetlana-cat5
lady-chizhowa
ligon-vas
zoyabela
situde
helen-jir
moilefer
vasyy234
kiselevden_blog
sulfiniya
sandra-1106
dfgnuvlnx
nopoo909
davl90
eka-ekaa
vlada-dmit
dagdarius
odinwarrior
yacotedo
dio64
faddat
lancelotitys
princehguu1
zecfivb
deniz_1983
dagdawyn
daikus
nikogu
amaranta_mara
alina_rusak
fatburner83
oorsuda
lucky_chacky86
rynv8111
alexisaa08
volyjarski
nickmenz30
diahoo7
zikolaysem
оrmely
sergvlal163
neto45u
dirtymovie1488
pussy-k1ll
slowmotion21
kassianna
antojiure
lucky159357
vmeanve
pastok879
catdogi
glen555
rajez818
nakee24
annlutaeva
bunvik
brucerivas2554
msblanshet
baronuu17
avtobaba
darkside1980
lotri85
sestrieri
neokant
hero346
Gonzoo1234
kasper
dalbine
what_1s_love
dalalbine
dordin
dorilak
juleyxom
grigadiwn
dolhala
Wwrattiveby
freud_knew
asarol997
zymbo867
lika-nonstop
masha-foxx
fegerigh
darkangel969
nmrodianodo
polinanoza
bahediraa3
joker0-0
notnoise
ogengeyy5
fastfoodformind
blabri
skim029
layerenaw
envi1
mary_mary_cherr
alberwish
voiceinourmind
patriotrusha
sortavala_city
jezmhkonda
cickjroy
oleg-welt
dujinn
pacgovsko
akira-001
dulabar
dracon36
dianarius
prokesters
arpeich
pyhanaa73
drelantrius
belle12386
bagrat12
diadem159
nastya_maks
dlinyi
amourencia
denezhky
beaumo3
moe-mnenue
drelagra
manjonga
evgenpetrova
irinavlasovaa
doukus
gensil17
ms-margo-ritta
vinni_pukh_75
dobrynich
aubah
darisar
darkpick
leon1110
vovchik1223
rapitangnyy
sniisoo00
elibrium-25
adrastea-14
freemango
venari_amores
pavulshysh
repso471
yanovskiman
nnjhid
dirtydoctor666
purablehatt
qarag316
papavear69
nmmasidmah
rroevt0611
mollyrrite
niclak007
fsplwolie
dazdaperma2014
zrvdancek
mreqii92
noxaii9
rbfen
asbojxes
alexxkx864
borodalopotoy
qaz_10
feofan_mazepa
izbulmugib
ealtaxliosnic
hyrdrowsjunkri
foggynous
noisecontroller
carbvn
rikfonoll
nicdsrez856
emily0701
vlkiril27
karelinan1
georgivanov198
elamelac
ofwicefusn
ilijpetrov
rarke
fpnvct
muzhenyok
khhundgt
ynw55
psuudocela
xysho9210
ominh
markradz
klimenb
maratgig
mixapetr10
ivanlaptev83
vaster86
miss_666
kaprizulka13
shpilka69a
plus-power
grand-blog
world_war_04
Dmrt85
veterkostya
oleggga
MOMOWOODSLI
ceabvafigi
vernpedosig
ofrner865
nepgnipr
ElijahFox
twisacaqtio
diomoslyarel
telllowchenfhig
wisdomofluck
dirtyramir
alex_razin
alecrikort
jgizet
aleks-sis
vepoqinfidal
potylio
tkachuuz
shafll
eklimiwki
domic95
rhdmitra
mrohulgatu
wallmicherwhitt
risfaipropin
tomubensthe
vitusee789
santalir
puhamzy
reugonemo
granadinar
migyminpa
sonnkefacga
osnegodesitn
iyaroloe
prolebalex
winkdispdesthic
lesspartcorre
tawlow
shedrgeorg
koleso69
nipaterdia
clarovnetmost
riabiventi
Maknoz
Funornotfun
Donstepanion
chertynuchka
KuleshovKosta
Dyachok123
roza_mari
m_rozova
ndvos
thebird1
timdream08
whatinmay
awdotya_grey
ilonaprudova
kiraklodova
rusivanov2014
magiclex
sobstvennovse
qahsy344
qaromin
olkosuhopa
untitande
pyldze16
eptaelov
ninassax12
ssqerri
nuzaziufss
pamur666
btesuntisemb
pryjdasbov
ninuncecti
wwaa1
takuedela
zredaa88
zanzu907
poizaconta
xasnitihard
methtonopi
izzaf
nitkiuu99
efexstrimu
rerl
soipsof
perkerspmi
patlvoz
pfe110i
keyf1nder
prohcuslacoo
conresndebod
tdirconteka
kinonick
igorefon
tonybaytoy
leizi
roxy-666
energy100
bolshajabereza
kolonchabolwaja
le-ch1ffre
dariegore
iazimut
petro666

Buzzfeed, Nov. 2017: Citibank transfers to Russian embassies to finance election campaigns

Many marked with memo: “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

“The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election.

The money wound up at Russian embassies in almost 60 countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria between Aug. 3 and Sept. 20, 2016. It is not clear how the funds were used.”

 

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