Friday, March 11, 2011

Indifference to phone hacking and the surveillance society

The Guardian and the Independent have been doing their best to get people stirred up but public indifference to the News of the World phone tapping scandal is a stark indicator of the degree to which we have become complicit in facilitating the evolution of a surveillance society. The post-war illegal wiretapping of a phone conversation between a UK barrister Patrick Marrinan and his client, a known and self confessed criminal, Billy Hill, by contrast drew widespread condemnation when it became public knowledge in 1957.

Ironically, Hill had suffered no criminal justice consequences as a result of the revelations from the phone tapping but Marrinan got disbarred, as it reportedly emerged that he had "obstructed justice in a trial of two of Hill’s gangland associates."

It seems that Huxley and Orwell may not just be the bookends of our future but the boundaries.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

eBook user's bill of rights

The Librarian in Black, Sarah Houghton-Jan, has written a bill of rights for ebook users.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

February 28, 2011 
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights is a statement of the basic freedoms that should be granted to all eBook users.
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:
  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.
I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.
Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.
I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.
I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks.  I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.
These rights are yours.  Now it is your turn to take a stand.  To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others.  Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.
One comment - not a bad start but people are more than just customers or consumers. I'm not a consumer, I'm a free man!