20 January 2008

your cameras can't control, the minds of those who know

As I have commented on in the past, Sunday is a day that I normally spend catching up on the week's events in the press and online that I might have missed in real time. This normally involves a copy of a weekend newspaper and some time online following up on links to other articles in threads I have read via my RSS feeds in Google Reader. Reader has to be one of my most used web applications, I normally start off the day catching up on the overnight industry news from the US, and find myself at odd moments throughout the day catching up on personal interests, like Apple blogs, music sites and more infrequent updates from Greg Palast, Naomi Klein and some of the Huffington feeds. The mobile version of Reader actually resizes viewed articles which is great for someone on pay-as-you-go data plan, and has fast become my favourite way to pass the time waiting for a Luas.

As I have been on the road in Poland for the last week I had a chance to read two articles today that I had missed, one in the Guardian earlier in the week on Facebook, and the second, more alarming, in yesterday's Irish Times, forwarded to me by a friend (thanks Rach!).

It's normally gratifying to sit here in Ireland and pass judgement on the political skulduggery and erosion of personal freedoms in the US with a sense of smug satisfaction that this could never happen here. It was with some alarm therefore that I read today of the Irish department of Justice's plan to record all email and chat traffic originating in Ireland at the behest of the EU. While the content of your mails will supposedly not be tracked, the source and destination will be. As they have already been reprimanded by the EU for not implementing such a tracking system, they are going to rush through measures in the next month that will not require a law to be passed, or debate on the subject to be held by our elected officials. While we are behind in it's implementation, if the measures are enacted we would still become the first EU country to be in compliance with the measures. If the UK, France and Germany haven't got around to enacting these measures, I'm pretty sure we could get away with it for another month or so and have a proper debate about it.

So what am I going to do about this? Digital Rights Ireland are taking a case to the EU on the legality of this ruling, and I have made a contribution to this effort. This is the start of my attempts to tithe this year and support groups and individuals making an effort in areas that I believe matter.

While supporting online privacy might not be the most earth shattering of places to start, it is nonetheless a start.


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