Is hacking Skype a human rights violation?

Not twenty four hours ago did I write about how the Pentagon is going to announce how cyber-attacks could be casus belli.  Now the Wall Street Journal reports that an Egyptian intelligence agency was monitoring Skype communications of dissidents.  Let’s first agree on a truth.  No one’s right to privacy is absolute or ever assured.  However, plotting the peaceful overthrow of a government (in America we call that an election) should not be subject to snooping.  If we can go to war over hacking, should we not then also stand up for people’s human rights to peacefully and privately express their views?  Ronald Reagan used to rail on how the Soviet Union wasn’t free.  He was right.  Now here we are in age of the Internet.  What do his words mean in today’s context?  The free flow of information is  a human right.  It’s not absolute if, for instance, you’re talking about robbing a bank.

By the way, the Egyptians did not break Skype’s encryption, but instead seem to have infected the system of the dissidents.  That’s something Skype can only partially control- that is, if the infection was spread by Skype’s Instant Messaging capability, then they do bear some responsibility.  But if it was spread by other means, then there’s really not much they can do.

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“Law Enforcement” Stupidity Harms People

People who are in the country illegally take many risks.  They risk being deported and not allowed back into the country.  They risk not being able to take advantage of many aspects of the financial market for fear of being deported.  They often risk their lives to get into America in the first place.  And while it may seem reasonable for them to be arrested because they have entered the country illegally, that doesn’t mean they should be mistreated by the government while in detention.  Such was the case with Juana Villegas, as the New York Times reported.

While in custody she went into labor, and was not permitted to see her husband in the delivery room.  After the birth she was not permitted to breast feed her child or to have a breast pump.  It is generally believed that breast fed babies are able to retain their mothers’ immunities longer than those who use formula.  Many branches of our own government encourage breast feeding.  And so by unnecessarily separating the mother from the child, the police effectively harmed the child, who is an American citizen and is eligible for social assistance.  The child having already become sick once, is now costing Tennessee taxpayers.

This is all as a result of a program called 287G that turns police officers into immigration agents.  The behavior of the police in Tennessee is precisely the result of design and desire of the Bush Administration.  This is sad, because although this president has many flaws, one of his supposed bright spots was to be immigration reform.  Unfortunately even there matters have gotten worse, as a fence is erected along the California border, and children suffer because of stupid policies such as that of this town in Tennesee.

One of the many remarkably stupid things in Mrs. Villegas’ case was the absurd statement made by the corrections official that they routinely bar medical equipment like a breast pump from a jail.  It demonstrates either ignorance of the benefits, incompetence at being able to service inmates’ medical needs, blindness to the fact that an illegal immigrant is not the sort that is going to turn a breast pump into a bong, or all of the above.  I wonder if they keep walking sticks away from the blind.

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