The idea that Barack Obama is the first “open source president” seems to be spreading. It’s based on the way he ran his campaign, the change.gov transition site, and the participation sought by whitehouse.gov.
This is the latest mainstream paper to take up the notion, a column by Errol Louis in the New York Daily News.
Barack Obama isn’t just America’s first black President. He’s also our first “open-source” President, a leader willing to let anybody and everybody figure out how, when and where they want to get involved.
This goes way beyond urging citizens to volunteer in their communities, as Obama did the day before the inauguration. Our new President, the Community-Organizer-in-Chief, is radically redefining political participation so that followers can do as much or as little as they choose.
The “open-source” strategy was popularized by computer software companies. Instead of creating and selling a copyrighted program that costs millions to dream up, some firms simply give away the basic program and invite anybody to improve on it.
The result is programs that improve by leaps and bounds. And Obama has applied the idea to politics.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 — President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.
Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.
By Ryan Singel August 06, 2007 | 2:11:02 AMCategories: Surveillance
A new law expanding the government’s spying powers gives the Bush Administration a six-month window to install possibly permanent back doors in the nation’s communication networks. The legislation was passed hurriedly by Congress over the weekend and signed into law Sunday by President Bush.
The bill, known as the Protect America Act, removes the prohibition on warrantless spying on Americans abroad and gives the government wide powers to order communication service providers such as cell phone companies and ISPs to make their networks available to government eavesdroppers.
The great thing is that there’s absolutely no possibility of abuse, and not a shred of a chance that anyone other than the most extremely guilty party will lose any of their precious privacy. If I were a blogger (Oh, wait a minute…no…must not doubt…must…shake it off…) or a journalist, or an academic, or a political activist, or someone with family overseas, I would worry extra-less than ever now!
Besides, what’s the big deal about privacy anyway? What? Are we a nation of teenagers who don’t want our parents reading our diaries? Grow Up.
If a new bill becomes law, it may soon be illegal to attempt (even if you fail) to share copyrighted material.
One of the bill’s controversial features is the fact that people can be charged with criminal copyright infringement even if such infringement has not actually taken place. “Any person who attempts to commit an offense under paragraph (1) shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt,” says the bill.
Read the gory details here. (pdf)