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What’s Worse, an i-9/11 or an i-Patriot Act?

The Patriot Act is so broadly demonized nowadays, you’d never know it was passed with overwhelming congressional support shortly after 9/11. The critics usually frame it as the precursor to an Orwellian age of censorship, racial profiling, unrestrained government intrusion, back alley interrogations, black helicopters and meter reading Ninjas in night goggles.50-year-old-computer.jpg

Boing Boing’s blurb on The Coming i-Patriot Act, is reflective of this type of knee-jerk paranoia:

Lawrence Lessig, a respected Law Professor from Stanford University told an audience at this years Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, California, that “There’s going to be an i-9/11 event” which will act as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining to the Internet.

Lessig also revealed that he had learned, during a dinner with former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, that there is already in existence a cyber equivalent of the Patriot Act, an “i-Patriot Act” if you will, and that the Justice Department is waiting for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions.

What would an i-9/11 look like? It’s hard to say. But the degree to which most of us are digitally linked, one could only imagine the impending chaos from a significant act of cyber terrorism. Heck, if MySpace alone were to crash, half the teen populace wouldn’t know what to do with their time.

However, the gist of the BB piece was not to articulate how potentially bad a collapse (or hijacking) of the Internet would be. No. If the comments thread to that post are any evidence, the info is designed to insinuate, once again, how close we are to Big Brotherdom. Yawn…

Perhaps I’m one of the sheeple, having drank far too deeply from the Republican Kool-Aid spring, but…


In fact, I’d go so far as to say that an i-9/11 would be far worse than an i-Patriot Act. Heck, Google probably knows more about me than any government agency. Cookies, algorithms, pics and passwords — egads! I’ve been reduced to a data string! Now when the Bush Administration waterboards my pastor for preaching against homosexuality and forbids me from reading Animal Farm, then I’ll worry. (Besides, if they were that omniscient, they would’ve warned me how awful my last Amazon purchase would be.)  But until then, bring on the Ninjas and wiretaps…

It’s a smokescreen, I wonder, for anti-government rhetoric.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Nicole August 7, 2008, 3:10 PM

    Well done, Mike!

    The only fears elicited by such a thing are the likes of Richard Clarke and others of that ilk operating its issuance. Now that’s scary.

    Pass the R-Kool Aid, please.

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