If you’re in the US, this is the last day to vote. I voted last week during the early voting period. We’ve got two good choices this year and either one is so much better than what we’ve had for the last eight years, that there will be cause to celebrate tomorrow. This is the end of an administration that has overseen the curtailment or destruction of many of our civil rights, they started an unnecessary war that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people, they’re imprisoning and torturing people without due process, they’ve pushed the economies of the US and much of the rest of the world into a major recession. It will probably take decades for the US and the world to repair the damage done by the Bush administration but the first step toward recovery is today’s vote. So be happy. If you’re in the Dallas, TX area and want to celebrate, I’d suggest the NO-MO-BUSH! Post-Election Party and Hoedown at the AllGood Cafe in Deep Ellum from 8pm to 11pm on Wednesday, Nov 5.
If you haven’t seen the documents yet, Wired Magazine has published the complete text of the AT&T documents (PDF format) detailing their assistance in one of the Bush administration’s illegal spying operations on American citizens. Among other interesting things revealed in the documents; AT&T was splitting off traffic at MAE EAST, MAE WEST, and other major peering points. The NSA is not just spying on AT&T customer traffic without a court order, they are effectively spying on all Internet traffic; even you reading this blog right now. You may recall the administration claiming that only a “very small fraction” of their network intercepts were between people in the US and those were caused by a “technical glitch”. Oops. From the released documents, it looks like AT&T put a lot of work into designing and deploying the “technical glitch”.
Wired’s actions are particularly commendable given that the Attorney General was quoted today threatening to prosecute journalists who print leaked information. I think the last administration that considered prosecuting journalists was Nixon’s.
Ironically, with the level of incompetence that has been shown by the current administration, I have a suspicion that not only will all their spying produce no useful results, but they’ll probably do a bad job of securing their system and it will end up being used by spammers and other Internet criminals.
I found myself reading all this and thinking, I should really be using encrypted email more often. I can only recall someone using my GPG key to send me email a handful of times and I don’t think I’ve sent encrypted email much more often than that. Would it matter? I read the other day that in the UK, they’re trying to force individuals and organizations to hand over their encryption keys. Amazingly, that hasn’t happened in the US yet, even though we otherwise seem to be leading the way on giving up privacy protections and individual rights these days.
I just heard the news about the Bush DoJ reversing its entire campaign to bring Microsoft to justice for its crimes. Weird. While I’m disappointed, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise given Bush’s lousy performance in office so far. This topic has come up often since the election and nearly everyone I’ve talked to (including myself) has predicted that Bush would cave in to Microsoft eventually. On the other hand, while I’d love to see Microsoft get what they deserve, it may be more satisfying in the long run if we beat them ourselves with Free Software instead letting the US government do it for us. But that’s still a big if.