Feb
15

A New Internet?

Much though I love freedom of speech, the more raucous and unrestrained the better, I also favor the creation of a new Internet. Even if it is a so-called "gated community" where folks must assume an identity to participate. The Internet now resembles a giant libidinal bubble, where anyone can howl, growl and shriek, all with plausible deniability. And identities can be stolen with the ease of snatching an unlocked bicycle.

Today's New York Times carries a story entitled "A New Internet?" It reports that while use of the Internet is now common, and a lifeline for businesses, government and folks everywhere, the system is far from secure. It can come crashing down at the hands of pranksters who can hide their tracks with apparent ease.

"Unless we're willing to rethink today's Internet," one engineer told the Times, "we're just waiting for a series of public catastrophes." Another expert drove the point home in a more memorable way: "If you're looking for a digital Pearl Harbor, we now have Japanese ships streaming toward us on the horizon."

Security issues are beyond my ken. On one level, it is not at all clear to me how a gated Internet would eliminate viral mischief. It would seem an easy thing to create a false identity for the purposes of mayhem. I certainly would not support Government regulation of access to a more secure Internet. Will there be a new Department of Motor Vehicles, or some such, called, perhaps, Department of Electronic Communications, together with photographic identification cards? Perhaps a digital read of a thumb print or retinal image to log on. That is chilling.

Apparently, a new more secure Internet is well beyond the planning stage. A new system has been developed and will be operable on eight college networks this summer. It would not suprise me to learn that there are limited access Internet universes accessible only to the military and Government. After all, the Internet came to life in such corridors of power.

But I still am intrigued of a gated Internet world. So much of the communication on line today comes in the form of outbursts by folks writing under a pseudonym. For the life of me, I cannot understand why someone thinks their opinions become more trustworthy, or even interesting, when expressed anonymously. No tyrant threatens to squash dissent by crushing the writer. If anything, the Internet is so wide open that every mental ejaculation, no matter how bizzare, is now a post somewhere. Discourse has become masturbation.

I'll sign on to a gated Internet. The extra security would be worth the minimal intrusion that comes of posting under a real name with a real address. But I will worry that once regulation begins, it will blossom into rules about what can and cannot be posted. The print media will love a gated Internet, the better to edit us. And Government will love it, too. And let's not forget the captains of commerce: users fees are income, after all. I suppose that is why the wild, wild West of Internet communication won't end any time soon.
Comments (1)
Posted on February 16, 2009 at 2:18 pm by Anonymous
I read in the news of two State court judges in Pe...
I read in the news of two State court judges in Penn, who threw kids in some private prison, for almost nothing. Turns out the judges got over 2 million in bribes from the prison executives.(a private money making operation)Yet, those private prison executives were not indicted.The two crooked crimianl state cout judges were charged in federal indictments, and pled guility.I hope you can google and do a piece on this sorry spectale. It is the most nauesating thing of injustice I read in some time.The judges were the most rotten criminals in the entire state, how did they ever get their power filled positions which they breached the trust on matters, as they were totally corrupt.Why were the crooked prison executives not indicted two, the corruption was staggering.Here is what I got off of googles FYI:Corrupt judges paid to detain youths in private jails41 minutes agoWASHINGTON (AFP) – Two former judges in Pennsylvania have admitted to receiving more than 2.6 million dollars in pay-offs from companies that run private prisons for sending them minors for detention or disciplinary camps.The admissions, which were made by judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan in a plea agreement filed in federal court last week, has sparked protests by outraged parents and relatives of youths whose cases were handled by the judges.In the plea agreement, Ciavarella and Conahan admitted they "abused their position ... by secretly deriving more than 2,600,000 (dollars) in income ... in exchange for official actions."Those actions included "entering into agreements guaranteeing placement of juvenile offenders with PA Child Care, LLC (and) facilitating the construction of juvenile detention facilities," according to the document.Pennsylvania Child Care and Western Pennsylvania Child Care also stood to make tens of millions of dollars from the scheme, the plea document said.They were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States.The Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy organization for youths in trouble with the law, will file complaints from several dozen families who learned that their child was unjustly detained, a spokesman told AFP Monday. Some families have filed complaints separately.More than 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 were found guilty between 2002 and 2007 when the judges were active in Luzerne county, an impoverished former mining area where the majority of residents are white.Of those, more than 2,000 were ordered sent to detention, said Marie Roda, a spokeswoman for Juvenile Law Center.Many were from families with little money or education, which made them "easy targets," she said."A lot of them didn't have lawyers and when they asked for a public defender and they were told it would be weeks to wait," she said.The judges face at least seven years in prison under the plea agreement. But the federal judge hearing their case could sentence them to up to 25 years in prison. A decision is not expected for several months."Families have been calling non-stop since this came out but not all of the families have signed onto the suit yet," Roda said."We don't know how many families it's going to be. We know some of them are not going to file. They just want it to go away, they just want to let it go," she said.The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday named a special judge from outside the area to review all the cases tried by the tainted judges.The cases include those of a youth detained for nine months for stealing a four-dollar jar of spices, and a 13-year-old who was sent to "boot camp" for several weekends for exploring an abandoned building.In many cases, youths were sent to prisons far from their families, often against the recommendation of probation officers. Hosted by Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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