Open government holds promise of both a more efficient but more accountable and transparent government. It is not clear, however, how transparent information about citizens and their interaction with government, however, affects the welfare of those citizens, and if so in what direction. We investigate this by using as a natural experiment the effect of the online publication of the names and addresses of holders of handgun carry permits on criminals’ propensity to commit burglaries. In December 2008, a Memphis, TN newspaper published a searchable online database of names, zip codes, and ages of Tennessee handgun carry permit holders. We use detailed crime and handgun carry permit data for the city of Memphis to estimate the impact of publicity about the database on burglaries. We find that burglaries increased in zip codes with fewer gun permits, and decreased in those with more gun permits, after the database was publicized.

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A Twitter user from the UK named Joseph Kelly has been sentenced to 150 hours of community service for posting a “grossly offensive” tweet about Captain Sir Tom Moore, a British Army officer who raised money for the NHS during the pandemic.

Moore became a national figure in the UK after walking 100 laps around his garden before his 100th birthday. He was later knighted by the Queen. The day after his death, Kelly, 36, tweeted “the only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella buuuuurn.”

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For most of history, we have thought about deprivation of liberty in quite literal terms. Short of execution, which Canada hasn’t done in 60 years, locking someone up has been the ultimate state sanction. That is why Pierre Trudeau’s use of the War Measures Act to arrest and jail nearly 500 suspected FLQ sympathizers during the October crisis is remembered as a low point in Canadian history for civil liberties.

Across Europe, basic norms of civilised society are giving way to panic. The unvaccinated are being excluded from an ever-wider range of basic rights. Austria has criminalised them. Italy has stopped them doing their jobs. The Dutch police have fired on anti-lockdown demonstrators, seriously injuring some of them. We are witnessing the ultimate folly of frightened politicians who cannot accept that they are impotent in the face of some natural phenomena.

Nov 16, 2021

A court in Vietnam on Monday sentenced an aquaculture farmer to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of spreading “anti-state propaganda” on Facebook, state media reported.

Nguyen Tri Gioan, 42, was convicted of “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the state” at a one-day trial in the central province of Khanh Hoa, the official Vietnam News Agency said.

Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates little criticism.

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In passing the PATRIOT Act, Congress enacted a “solution” to preventing another 9/​11‐​like debacle without having any evidence that a lack of surveillance powers was what allowed Osama bin Laden’s suicide hijackers to succeed in killing nearly 3,000 Americans.

Oct 22, 2021

The Utah Supreme Court is the latest stop in EFF’s roving campaign to establish your Fifth Amendment right to refuse to provide your password to law enforcement. Yesterday, along with the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in State v. Valdez, arguing that the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination prevents the police from forcing suspects to reveal the contents of their minds. That includes revealing a memorized passcode or directly entering the passcode to unlock a device.

We generally assume that the world is becoming a better place every year. But when it comes to individual freedoms, the opposite is true. Most studies show humanity is now less free than several years ago.

20 years ago we had decentralized Internet and a relatively unrestricted banking system. Today, Apple and Google censor information and apps on our phones while Visa and Mastercard limit what goods and services we can pay for. Every year we give up more power and control over our lives to a handful of unaccountable corporate executives we didn’t elect.

Most of us willingly carry tracking devices – our phones – and allow corporations to use our private data to target us with content that keeps us distracted with low-quality entertainment. Unlike 20 years ago, we are now surrounded by surveillance cameras, which in countries like China use AI to make sure nobody can hide.

In 2017, China overtook the US as the largest economy in the world by purchasing power, showing the world that individual freedoms are not required for economic development. Looking at China’s success, more countries become authoritarian, curbing essential human rights such as freedom of speech, movement and assembly.

Who is going to fix it?

The most active and creative minds of our generation are too busy playing in the rapidly shrinking sandbox called “free enterprise” or producing digital content to keep everyone else glued to their devices for longer. The rest seem to be too distracted with the abundance of cheap digital entertainment to critically assess the trend and take action.

Watching this, I wonder what will become the legacy of our generation. Will we go down in history as those who let free societies turn into dystopian nightmares? Or will we be remembered as those who defended the freedoms that previous generations fought so hard to win?

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In the summer of 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surveillance capabilities of the American National Security Agency (NSA) began to appear, I had a private conversation with a former cabinet minister about the implications of the leaks. At one stage, I mentioned to him a remark attributed to a prime architect of some of the NSA systems – that they had taken the US to “a keystroke away from totalitarianism”. The MP scoffed at the idea. What I needed to remember, he told me, in that superior tone that toffs adopt when speaking to their gardeners, was that the US and the UK were “mature democracies”. In such polities, the chances of anyone coming to power who might have the inclination to use such power for sinister purposes was, he said, zero.

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If Julian Assange is extradited to the United States and convicted of any of the charges he faces there – such as unauthorised obtaining of national defence information – the US government will let him serve his sentence in an Australian prison.

The US has also agreed that, as things stand, the Wikileaks founder will not be held at the administrative maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado, known as ADX. Nor will he be subject to special administrative measures designed to prevent the disclosure of classified information – such as limits on correspondence, visits and telephone calls.

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Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, the father of a newborn child, a man in very poor health and one who has no prior convictions, will have to hand himself over to the Scottish police on Sunday morning. He becomes the first person ever to be imprisoned on the obscure and vaguely defined charge of “jigsaw identification”.

Murray is also the first person to be jailed in Britain for contempt of court in half a century – a period when such different legal and moral values prevailed that the British establishment had only just ended the prosecution of “homosexuals” and the jailing of women for having abortions.

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In the case against former United Kingdom diplomat-turned whistleblower Craig Murray, the UK supreme court refused to hear Murray’s appeal. He will now surrender himself to police for an eight-month prison sentence.

The High Court in Edinburgh in Scotland convicted Murray of contempt on March 25 after concluding that he published several blog posts, which they believe led people to identify witnesses in the sexual assault trial against former Scottish Minister Alex Salmond.

Murray is the first person in the U.K. to be incarcerated for media contempt in over a half century. It has been 70 years since someone was incarcerated in Scotland on this charge.

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The UK is truly a garbage place for liberty. Speech should never be a crime, even if it’s “trolling”.

Liberty

Give me liberty or give me death.

Created on Sep 17, 2020
By @gurlic