Jackson, An open holiday email to my congresswoman

He follows me, and lets everyone who pays attention “know” that “all” (who count) are with him.

From an Ypsilanti voter who writes from afar, Happy Thanksgiving and my concerns

Dear Representative Dingell,

(Or more likely, some long-suffering and hard-working aide who gets to see this and perhaps pass it along.)

It has been a rough year for me — and for so many of my neighbors — here in El Bajito de Juan Díaz de Antón, in the Republic of Panama’s Coclé province. Let me not get low-down and dirty and personal and sing you too many of my particular blues on this holiday season. I may need to do so, just in order to cast my vote for you next year, but leave that aside for a moment.

I write about computer crimes, privacy in our times, impunity of the privileged and US foreign relations. Perhaps my concerns might add to an amendment to some legislation that may be percolating.

Consider the possible legislative implications of these tales:

Today they tell of some poor woman stalked by a jerk of some sort, thanks to the miracle of Apple technology:



Understand the “defense” here, perhaps in light of the Yamashita case if you get into controversial old legal decisions: It could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Martinelli personally ordered this. Consider also that as someone whose electronic communications with members of the 150-person enemies list — my lawyer, a regular columnist for The Panama News, an attorney whom I would ask off the record journalist questions about Panamanian court cases in the news, someone with whom I had a business association — I was one of surely thousands of people whose communications, at least with those people, were intercepted:
Mark Zuckerberg’s operation deleted this editorial about fascism and warned me about hate speech. This was shortly before I got a three-day stay in Facebook jail for posting this, AFTER WHICH they said that it did not violate their rules but that if I did it again they’d ban me for 30 days. (Facebook has or had at the time a specific exception from the ban on nudity for protests — but also an ill-concealed favoritism toward right-wing regimes in Latin America.)

~ ~

Is the solution some legally mandated online version of a “fairness doctrine,” so that we get the likes of MSN’s current news feed that gives space for both Tucker Carlson and the truth? That is, if from media owned by rich enough individuals or corporations?

Do we go for a twisted “market solution” of freedom, which ignores what Facebook and Google have done by monopolizing the advertising market, effectively killing the advertising-based business model for most media, thus shutting down many a newspaper, throwing many a journalist out of work, concentrating decisions about what’s fit to print into the heads of ever fewer and ever more divorced from the everyday lives of most people individuals?

Do we just blow off the massive collection of data about people and their use of the internet by private companies — not just Facebook and Google but especially them — and say that what they do is just a private matter for “the market” to sort out? Do we let some Arkansas private eye sell data about an individual’s movements to criminals? Have we already had the first gangland hit using Apple tracking? Wouldn’t THAT be a business triumph for the Dark Web? Don’t militant sexists just LOVE this new technology?

Do we pretend that the use of US telecommunications satellites and cables by foreign governments or political actors to oppress their own citizens and here and there US citizens or permanent residents is their sovereign business? (Note the graphic — I could but choose not to blockPerson-1from my Twitter account for various reasons. And, using a translator program if need be, note his long-running stated intentions.)

Do we pretend, under the excuse of protecting sources and methods, that the NSA does not have a fairly damning record of internet crimes committed around the world?

~ ~ ~

What to do, honorable congresswoman?

  • Support the efforts of some of your House colleagues, and some folks in the Senate, to revive the spirit and letter of the New Deal in our times, by subjecting Facebook and Google to antitrust laws.
  • Move to declare eminent domain and nationalize the Google search engine and the main Facebook platform, devolving them — perhaps on a revocable contractual basis — to an entity or entities which are not for profit, have no particular partisan alignment and most probably which are international. After Poletown and Putin’s online propaganda, could anyone really be shocked at such a bold thing?
  • Make it explicit that computer offenses against US citizens or residents committed anywhere in the world give rise to a federal cause of action, which can’t be tossed out on grounds of forum non conveniens and, given the power and pervasiveness of many governments’ secrecy, has no statute of limitation or a very long one. 
  • Support comprehensive privacy legislation — looking at but not swallowing whole what the European Union has tried to do — which prohibits “surveillance capitalism,” the business of collection or sale of data on individuals.
  • Find the funds to support or buy out and make more comprehensive the Wayback Machine Internet Archive — maybe with an assist from the NSA — so that when guttersnipes like Ricardo Martinelli — or Mr. Xi, or … —  hack and erase stuff from the Internet it is preserved.

Eric Jackson
one of your constituents
long ago an Ypsilanti city council member
past chair of Democrats Abroad Panama
this old hippie journalist and subsistence farmer


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night oil