Post-Snowden Thoughtcrime is Now a Legitimate Fear

Post-Snowden Thoughtcrime is Now a Legitimate Fear

Researchers See the True Impact of NSA Spying In Our Search Data

According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped “significantly” in the months since Edward Snowden’s revelations in July.

What Privacy Experts Have to Say

Eric Cromwell, CEO of Prime Sec Inc, Stated “It is hard for me to find this shift to be acceptable. The government’s oppressive surveillance must not lead to people changing the information they consume. That is the very epitome of cultural programming, the cost of which is far to great for our society to suffer.”

“I think we have a solution” Eric claimed. “Decentralized distribution of the very kinds of information that is being chilled. Copies of Wikipedia,, The Anarchists Cookbook (OK, I’m dating myself, and showing my ignorance of modern anarchist material online, but whatever the modern equivalent of that book is), and similar materials, written to 16 Gig USB sticks, and available for purchase at your local hackerspace for $20. Pop it into your computer, and read whatever you want without the goverment spying on you. Maybe even make it a bootable distro, with networking disabled, so you can be truly locked down (except for airgap-jumping attacks, of course, but those are still pretty esoteric). Maybe call it “Thoughtcrime On A Stick”. Hmm, actually, I like that name so much I’m grabbing the domain names.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t relish the idea of making that sort of information more readily available; what peaceful minded person would? But if the alternative is chilling human knowledge, and the empirical evidence shows that it is already happening, what choice do I have?

In a recent conversation with my friend james it dawned on me the true social conditioning that is going on:

“I recently considered getting back into model rocketry, but using more high-end rockets rather than little Estes kits. Since I’ve read plenty about rocket chemistry (read “Ignition!” if you like chemistry at all – it’s worth it), I quickly figured out that a relatively easy* one to build would be a hydrogen peroxide monoprop – H2O2 decomposes into H2O + O2 in an exothermic manner, which can be used for thrust. It an also be used as an oxidizer with most fuels. For both you’ll need high-strength peroxide – the CVS stuff is just a solution of like 1% H2O2 in H2O, but you’ll want 80% or higher for rocketry. I decided to see how readily available it was, and how expensive it would be. It wasn’t too expensive, and could be found fairly easily, but I wonder if I’m now on a watch list just for looking at a chemical that honestly wouldn’t make a good terrorist weapon at all. This would be easy in comparison to, say, one using nitric acid or liquid oxygen. It would still be a very difficult thing to build, which is why I’m probably not going to actually build one.”

What does this Mean for Internet Freedom?

These results here are important legally. One important persuasive argument in free speech cases is the chilling effect on speech. Empirical data showing that people do *not* engage in certain speech because of a government practice is useful for lawyers arguing against the illegality of those practices.

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