Posts tagged Wired
The new system reflects a cunning paradigm shift. As we’ve noted, instead of trying to enforce stability or conformity with a big stick and a good dose of top-down fear, the government is attempting to make obedience feel like gaming. It is a method of social control dressed up in some points-reward system. It’s gamified obedience.
“I always blamed Wired magazine and the investment ethos for changing the internet from an anything-can-happen, new human-potential movement that was represented so well by MONDO 2000, into the same old expansion of capital through IPOs and digital companies. I hate to even term it like this, but what went wrong? Why didn’t we get the whole everything changing at once for the human better that we were all imagining up in the Berkeley hills in the MONDO 2000 living room?”
Over the past several years, Marlinspike has quietly positioned himself at the front lines of a quarter-century-long war between advocates of encryption and law enforcement. Since the first strong encryption tools became publicly available in the early ’90s, the government has warned of the threat posed by “going dark”—that such software would cripple American police departments and intelligence agencies, allowing terrorists and organized criminals to operate with impunity. In 1993 it unsuccessfully tried to implement a backdoor system called the Clipper Chip to get around encryption. In 2013, Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed that the NSA had secretly sabotaged a widely used crypto standard in the mid- 2000s and that since 2007 the agency had been ingesting a smorgasbord of tech firms’ data with and without their cooperation. Apple’s battle with the FBI over Farook’s iPhone destroyed any pretense of a truce.
But the well-publicized success stories obscure the fact that familial DNA searches can generate more noise than signal. “Anyone who knows the science understands that there’s a high rate of false positives,” says Erin Murphy, a New York University law professor and the author of Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA. The searches, after all, look for DNA profiles that are similar to the perpetrator’s but by no means identical, a scattershot approach that yields many fruitless leads, and for limited benefit. In the United Kingdom, a 2014 study found that just 17 percent of familial DNA searches “resulted in the identification of a relative of the true offender.”
As much as my Wired archive is a document of its era’s aspirations, it’s also a record of what people once hoped technology would be—and, in hindsight, a record of what it might have become. In early Wired, a piece about a five-hundred-thousand-dollar luxury “Superboat” would be followed by a full-page editorial urging readers to contact their legislators to condemn wiretapping (in this case, 1994’s Digital Telephony Bill). Stories of tech-enabled social change and New Economy capitalism weren’t in competition; they coexisted and played off one another. In 2016, some of my colleagues and I have E.F.F. stickers on our company-supplied MacBooks—“I do not consent to the search of this device,” we broadcast to our co-workers—but dissent is no longer an integral part of the industry’s ethos.
In the modern era of global NSA surveillance, China’s Great Firewall, and FBI agents trawling the dark Web, it’s easy to write off Barlow’s declaration as early dotcom-era hubris. But on his document’s 20th anniversary, Barlow himself wants to be clear: He stands by his words just as much today as he did when he clicked “send” in 1996. “The main thing I was declaring was that cyberspace is naturally immune to sovereignty and always would be,” Barlow, now 68, said in an interview over the weekend with WIRED. “I believed that was true then, and I believe it’s true now.”
After 13 short days of trial, Ross Ulbricht has been convicted of running the unprecedented, anonymous online black market known as the Silk Road. In terms of drama, those days included everything: a hidden drug empire, a secret journal, lofty ideals, friendship and betrayal, deception, threats of violence, and in the end, a highly coordinated law enforcement sting operation. The jury in Ulbricht’s case deliberated for only three and a half hours before convicting him on all counts, including conspiring to sell narcotics, hacking software and counterfeit documents, and a “kingpin” charge usually reserved for organized crime bosses. But despite that quick outcome, the case will be remembered for delving into issues as varied as bitcoin’s legal status as money, the FBI’s right to warrantlessly hack into foreign servers used by Americans, and the power and limits of anonymity on the internet.