Ever since Pamela Jones shut down Groklaw and announced she was not only abandoning the site but quitting the Internet entirely in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, I’ve been thinking about this.
At the time, though I found her reasons poignant and pertinent, I thought she was overreacting. Now, I don’t know.
Personally, I’m not on the verge of quitting. A big part of my life is here. And all of my career (such as it is) is here. That’s been true since 1986 when a client bought me my first 300-baud modem and set it up so I could electronically submit stories to him. It was certainly true in 1993 when I met my Significant Sweetie (now ex, but still friend) on a FIDOnet gun-rights bulletin board. It’s definitely true now when I’d likely starve to death and blow away without the ‘Net.
Still, I think most of us (and most notably a lot of tech types hereabouts) feel the temptation.
We’ve always been independent sorts around here. We avoid being messed with by power trippers. If we can’t avoid, we “mess back.” But right now, there’s nothing we can do to counter the electronic offenses being committed against us and against freedom by the UberGoverment whose all-probing eye peers out from Mordor on the Potomac.
Oh, sure, we can play the old “keyword” game with our emails. (There’s even a new Firefox/Chrome browser add-on to let us do the same thing with URLs and HTTP headers now.) That’s fun. And it’s always true that irritating and misdirecting the bastards is worthwile, even (or perhaps especially) as tyranny grows. We can also use GPG, dump Windows for Linux, use TOR, etc. etc. etc. And eventually heroic tech wizards may save us — and the Internet — from NSAuron.
But now …? Now …? Now we seem to be faced with using dodges that may or may not help or simply shrugging and going on because, realistically, there’s not much else to do. So …
Would you quit the Internet? If so, what would you do instead? If not, how do you adapt to knowing that everything you do online (or on the phone) is probably recorded and analyzed, even if it then disappears into the maw of a datacenter’s godzillabyte storage capacity, never to be seen again?
Now, that said, I’m “quitting the Internet” for the next three days. I may pop in to post some cute dog pictures tomorrow, and I’ll check in to moderate comments at least once a day. Otherwise, I’m away for a bit from the Bad News Net.