I couldn't help thinking, when I saw Colum Lynch's follow up story to the piece on the German- and Brazilian-sponsored UN resolution against the NSA (that's really what it's about) with the provocative title "The US to Back Privacy Resolution it Knee-capped" -- well, look who's knee-capping whom now!
As much as the international jet-set wants to get the leader of the democratic West out of the norm-setting business and leave it vulnerable to autocratic thugs in furtherance of their own political agenda, they failed.
Remember when Andrew McGloughlin, the Google lobbyist (who has held a wide variety of positions since leaving Google but continues to represent the Google business model) talked about the need to "knee-cap" the ITU?
NGOs lost that struggle, as did the US, because the might of the Arab League and the post-Communist states is greater than the West. (They should appreciate that more than they do and undermine the West less.)
I thought that command of Andrew's was rather thuggish -- and overly optimistic, given the realities of the real knee-cappers and thugs of the world, which are Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Cuba, Sudan, etc. -- and not the Western democracies. Oh, and not Google, either.
I'm not a fan of the use of the word "knee-cap" as you might imagine -- I think it's worth saving that word to describe the really outrageous practice of the Irish Republican Army and other terrorists and thugs, you know?
In any event, what happened here, really?
The US pushed back on a very one-sided and hypocritical resolution as I explained. Good!
The Germans and Brazilians were never bothered by outrageous and extensive surveillance from Russia, China, Iran and other thug nations when they massively controlled their citizens -- much less never bothered by Google or Amazon or any company massively sucking up data from their citizens in their transnational corporations.
As I explained, Germany didn't fix that "overreach" problem of the NSA, their long-time partner in spying on the very dangerous world we live in, by shutting down amazon.de or other sites that have helped them make Internet business billions because they can reach economies of scale and efficiency on their servers in the cloud.
No, we didn't see that solution, did we. China might be threatening Cisco's business, even though it did business with China when all these Internet freedom fighters bitched; but you don't see Germany doing more than mumbling about making everybody put servers in their country. Hell, they themselves don't even want to have keep everything on servers in their country, that's not how cheap cloud computing works.
Instead, we see the amplification of anti-Americanism where it is easiest, and the US is a soft target -- at the UN.
By "knee-capping," Lynch -- who has basically taken the Human Rights Watch position as he often does -- means that the original draft with the claim "violations" of privacy has been softened to "negative impact". Good!
And rightly so, because no one has proven in a domestic -- let alone international -- court of law that collection of meta data is in fact a violation of privacy -- as I argue at the end of this post, it isn't.
Neither Human Rights Watch or the UN Human Rights Committee have ever researched, found, and then analyzed such a case. Let them. Let Merkel bring her case to the UN HRC and see how it fares.
The other issue at stake is "extra-terrestiality". Some find this to be co-terminous with "universality' but it is not.
There's a simple reason for this: no right is absolute, because it is defined by the extent to which absolutism might then encroach on another right (Art. 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, oft overlooked).
There is a legitimacy in a liberal democratic state to investigating and prosecuting crime -- surveillance is part of that. That's ok.
Frank La Rue and others copying his Soros-drafted language in his reports -- like Navi Pillay and even Ban Ki-Moon -- claim that states only "may" have a legitimate pursuit of law-enforcement. Not "do" -- which is of course what the UDHR and ICCPR and other documents affirm.
As I know from questioning La Rue personally and hearing him speak on this subject, he, like Bruce Schneier, is for absolute encryption of non-state actors, and thinks even law-enforcement shouldn't have routine access to online communications in any form even with a warrant. That is, he is vague about what proper warrant he might ultimately accept, and leaves aside the problem of non-state actors using uncrackable code that their managers, like Lavabits' Ladar Levison, will not cooperate with even warrant-holding officers to open up.
That vagueness is deliberate, because all of this is in service of ultimately de-legitimizing capitalist democratic governments in a revolutionary idealism advocating implicitly the overthrowing governments in the name of radical collectivist social change. (Technocommunism is the word I often use to describe this ideology, although its adherents often plead that they are merely "progressives" or merely "social democrats.")
People like Frank La Rue cloak their language in the mantle of "human rights" and "state accountability" and that's all grand, except that when you do peer at the fine print and do confront him, he concedes that he is for placing the non-state actor -- that agent of revolutionary change -- above a legitimate democratic state elected by those same non-state actors -- which is a heavily ideological leftist position at the end of the day. This isn't about the sanctity of individual rights; it's about assigning a special historical "change" role to only certain like-minded non-state actors like human rights and political activists to change states they don't like without due process.
Stepping through these arguments requires subtlety and most people get impatient with it, or simply call it witch-hunting. It's not about witch-hunting; it's about confronting ideological influencers with the actual logic and reality of their positions -- which are cloaked in human rights, but are ultimately antithetical to human rights -- which is why I bother.
In any event, the adherents of "Internet Freedom" pushing for punishment of the NSA's legitimate espionage activities, while blind to the illegitmate activities of Russia and China (let alone Google!) are for an extra-terrestrial internationalist application of a non-existent "right to privacy" in ways that they are never, ever for the application of extra-terrestrial rights that in fact all the parties to an agreement already have.
When it comes to the TPP agreement, for example, and intellectual property rights -- against piracy and protecting of copyright -- none of these NGOs are supportive of the concept of "extra-terrestrial" application of rights -- they want to remove intellectual property completely from the agreement!
That's why they are so obviously hypocritical and in fact politicized and lawless in their gambit here.
The "right to privacy" -- absolute encryption -- is "good" because they need it to further their political goals. Let that be extra-terrestrial even though there isn't any absolute right to privacy against states, and the role of states in protecting public order against crime is fundamental to international and domestic law.
But when it comes to intellectual property -- the encryption of which is sneered at by geeks as unworkable -- then we can't have that internationally, as that would get in the way of Internet anarchists and collectivists and their bid for control.
These contradictions are seldom noted, and least of all by the State Department. I wish they would formulate and articulate this contradiction more than they do -- the same forces undermining private property and intellectual property based on the notion of an individual or a corporation's ultimate right to privacy -- the protection of their property and their inventions! -- are suddenly absolutist when it comes to claiming privacy even from legitimate law-enforcement because it hinders their political bid for power on the Internet.