By now, you’ve probably heard of the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, a doublespeakish attempt to permit massive censorship of the Internet by private corporations and shady government agencies without oversight or dispute in the USA. Under SOPA, it would become a felony to even link to a site that has been censored, and censorship would occur at the financial level (akin to theillegal financial blockade on Wikileaks.org) and the DNS level (i.e.
Google, I’m Leaving You. Somewhere over five years ago, I gratefully accepted an invite to Gmail and rejoiced: it was a wonderful new paradigm in web-based email, and a huge improvement over Yahoo Mail. It’s still one of the best email services online, and still miles ahead of the nearest competition by number of users. At the time, it was a straightforward social contract; Google would host and provide a great email service, and in exchange, non-human agents (robots!) would scan email in real-time for keywords, and provide ads in real time based on their inferences.
For context’s sake, let me say that at time of writing I am between Cork Airport and somewhere in London, attending the EU DIYbio Continental Congress, with the collective goal of developing a community code of bioethics and biosafety that we can hopefully ask the community at large to adhere to. I’ll be summarising and expounding on the experience afterwards, but for now I’m motivated to discuss something mostly unrelated. DNA Evidence; Great for a Portfolio, Bad in a Database There are rumblings here in Ireland of a Garda DNA database, as have been established elsewhere for law-enforcement purposes.