Thursday Speaker: Dominique Lazanski

I first met Dominique Lazanski at an ASI drinks event celebrating victory at the Hayek vs Keynes debate at the LSE. At the time, I had just started up this website and with the help of Andy Janes we were spamming the libertarian community with annoying little yellow cards with the web and twitter address on them, and making an absurdly ambitious sales pitch for what we wanted to do with the site. I spammed Dominique and was encouraged to find that here was a person campaigning from the right on the issue of digital rights. The Open Rights Group, under the leadership of former Green Party activist Jim Killock was moving no further towards the centre and an actual Classical Liberal operating in this space was good news.

Dominique writes for at least three group blogs and online magazines, who universally describe her as having 12 years of real work experience in the IT industry, including Silicon Valley, and being heavily involved in policy work. The Huffington Post provides the most useful bio:

Dominique Lazanski is Head of Digital Policy at the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Senior Fellow, Technology Policy at Big Brother Watch

Dominique has spent over 12 years in the Internet industry with many of those years working in Silicon Valley. She has a long held interest in public policy and participatory government. She has written and spoken on digital issues over the years from a free market and entrepreneurial perspective. She holds degrees from Cornell University and the London School of Economics.

It turns out she has spent time at Yahoo and EBay as a taxonomist and a data-manager; and a year with Apple, where she was “responsible for creating and pushing out the iTunes online stores”. She has also worked with music labels as well as Cloud computing firm EMC. Since then, she has taken up working as a freelance consultant and worked on the International Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber Conference, where William Hague was keynote speaker.

I next caught up with her at the talk she gave for the Open Rights Group at the Rose and Crown, entitled “ITU: Should the UN take over the Internet?”. I thought the answer was pretty obvious and ensured that I went along to say “No, of course not”, and I was pleased to find myself completely redundant. Dominique’s talk on that topic went something like this: “So the title of this walk is Should the UN take over the Internet? Well, the answer is obviously: no! right? So what’s the background?…” The background, it turns out is so arcane and complicated that I would do myself an injustice if I attempted to relate it here. In summary, the ITU, a nasty messy pseudo-governmental bureaucracy was about to vote itself into a position of authority for things it had no real business being a part of, and without asking any of the people that mattered, like the users, for instance. The detail Dominique commanded on the inner workings of this entity was astonishing, and it came as no surprise at all that she was on her way out to Dubai to their WCIT meeting to fight the good fight and try to talk some sense into them.

At our last speaking event Brian Micklethwait put libertarian activists on a scale. The simple work of defining libertarianism and raising up the flag was at one end. Detailed policy work, such as deciding how to privatize roads, are at the other end. Dominique seems to operate with such minute and frankly boring details that it seems as though Brian will need a longer scale. It was about half way through her talk for the Open Rights Group that I realised that the main thing of interest about her is how she manages to deal with all of that. She tells me that she “only” spends half her time on this part of her career but frankly I feel I am lucky to spend a few hours in a day on my politics and so how she sustains this economically is a seriously interesting question.

Dominique will speak about this, and about the content of her work, including her new manifesto on digital freedoms, on Thursday at the Rose and Crown.

Tech: UN Advocates Global Internet Censorship With UK Backing

UN Advocates Global Internet Censorship With UK Backing

Shortly before I was forced to abandon my efforts, I mentioned how the United Nations was advancing the International Telecommunications Union to become literally the global controller of the internet. Today, a report has become the focus of attention from the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime entitled, The Use Of The Internet For Terrorist Purposes. But before all you crazy Libertarians get worried about civil liberties, you’ll be happy to know that the report took such concerns and gave them some deep, rational analysis that… Nope, couldn’t say it with a straight face.

34. As noted in subsection B.1(b) above, the proscription of incitement to terrorism
may involve restrictions on freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is not an
absolute right. It may be restricted, subject to satisfaction of strictly construed tests of
legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination, when that freedom is used
to incite discrimination, hostility or violence.

405. For example, ISPs may require users to provide identifying information prior to
accessing Internet content and services. The collection and preservation of identifying
information associated with Internet data, and the disclosure of such information, subject to the appropriate safeguards, could significantly assist investigative and prosecutorial proceedings. In particular, requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or
cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations. While
some countries, such as Egypt, have implemented legislation requiring ISPs to identify
users before allowing them Internet access, similar measures may be undertaken by
ISPs on a voluntary basis.

I guess trying to get these measures passed under the auspices of protecting Hollywood wasn’t working out too well. Let’s just shout terrorism over and over again and see if that works and in case there’s any stragglers not suckered in, let’s remind them that such wonderful governments as that of Egypt, who have such sensitivity to civil rights issues, have already enforced similar measures.

What’s more interesting about this report is how it was funded by the UK government which at the moment is trying to exact some of the prescriptions shown in this report. Who wants to chalk it up to coincidence? Come on, there’s gotta’ be someone out there that gullible!

Superman Quits Daily Planet As Journalism Dies To Become Blogger

Issue 13 of Superman in The New 52 series will see Clark Kent, aka, Superman, quit the Daily Planet to become a blogger. Whilst this is not the first time Superman has left the Daily Planet, the fact that this is happening in The New 52 is significant as it is currently considered the primary, canon Superman arc.

While unconfirmed as the legitimate contents of the issue, Mashable has run with an image displaying Kent complaining, “I’ve been a journalist for barely five years now. Why am I the one sounding like a grizzled ink stained wretch who believes news should be about–I don’t know, news?”

EU To Fine Microsoft For Violating Anti Trust Deal

All hail the European Union! Without it’s wisdom, we would not be able to find alternative browsers to Internet Explorer!

Without going into the bullshit of anti trust, in 2009 the European Union decided that it was unfair that Microsoft got to choose what browser came pre installed on it’s own operating system. So, it came to a ‘deal’ with Microsoft that it would from now on offer alternative browsers to Internet Explorer when you installed the Operating System. Because you know, the fact that I have 70+ year old uncles who figured out how to download and install Chrome by themselves without anyone being coerced into shoving it in their faces should not be regarded as a sign that without the glorious assistance of the European Union, there would be no alternative to Internet Explorer.

Frankly, I don’t think that whoever’s handling the anti trust cases up at the EU should be projecting their incompetency onto the rest of us. But what do I know. ALL HAIL THE EUROPEAN UNION!

BPI Demands 3 More Sites Be Blocked

Following on from the blocking of the Pirate Bay, BPI has returned to ask that 3 more sites be censored in the United Kingdom. Kickass Torrents, H33t, and Fenopy. According to TorrentFreak,

…the ISPs have all refused to voluntarily comply with the BPI’s request – at least in the absence of a court ruling.

As a result, BPI is already on it’s way to the High Court. No points for guessing the outcome of this case.

References:
1. UN Advocates Global Internet Censorship With UK Backing: http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/24/uk-funded-un-document-supports-online-su
2. UN Advocates Global Internet Censorship With UK Backing: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121022/17162220792/un-problem-with-internet-today-is-its-just-too-open-terrorists-might-use-it.shtml
3. UN Advocates Global Internet Censorship With UK Backing: http://www.unodc.org/documents/frontpage/Use_of_Internet_for_Terrorist_Purposes.pdf
4. Superman Quits Daily Planet As Journalism Dies To Become Blogger: http://mashable.com/2012/10/22/superman-clark-kent-quits-daily-planet/
5. EU To Fine Microsoft For Violating Anti Trust Deal: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/eu-to-microsoft-ie-browser-selection-error-violated-antitrust-deal/
6. BPI Demands 3 More Sites Be Blocked: http://torrentfreak.com/bpi-asks-uk-isps-to-block-more-major-torrent-sites-121023/