Archives for : internet privacy


The Granville High presidential debate is tomorrow, and Courtney Garcia—a.k.a. Full Cort Press, the student/blogger whose essay to CNN won the debate for the school—will be there asking questions. Since Courtney has apparently now discovered Fawkes Rising (and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, ma’am), I’d like to propose a few additions to the list:

For Angela Lovett:

  • Can you positively and unequivocally say you support net neutrality? And if not, why?
  • What would be your first act as president to safeguard American’s Internet privacy? And how soon into your first term would this occur?
  • As head of the Secret Service, you oversaw the collection and analysis of personal data on private citizens. How do you justify this practice? Do you still support it? And if not, will you act to disable the various security agencies from pursuing it? And will you apologize to those Americans whose privacy was invaded during your tenure?

For Clancy Tooms:

  • During your time in the Senate you’ve voted against equal pay for women, maternity leave, extensions on health care benefits for the unemployed, extensions on health care for veterans and military widows, and expansion of Social Security benefits. What exactly can you offer as evidence that you’re a champion of the common man?
  • You’ve also voted time and time again for tax breaks for Fortune 500 corporations. In return your campaign has been largely financed by donations from those very corporations. Would this quid pro quo continue with you in the White House?
  • Among the many big businesses you support are arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and oil conglomerates like Hallburton. Does this signify a commitment to perpetual war in the Middle East? And if not, what are your strategies for withdrawing from that arena?

I don’t want to be pushy, so I’ll end there. But Courtney, if you want more…oh, boy, have I got ‘em.


It’s a little over two weeks to Election Day, and with the polls showing no clear frontrunner the candidates are doubling down on the negative. Astonishingly, this provides us with our first opportunity to hear them say things that are refreshingly, resoundingly true. Lovett says of Tooms: “It’s evidence of his contempt for average Americans that after spending decades in the Senate serving as a paid vote for corporate interests at the expense of middle-class taxpayers, he can now present himself, without irony, as the champion of the common man.” And Tooms says of Lovett: “I don’t know whether she’s delusional or just cynical. But after seven years as head of the Secret Service, she doesn’t get a free pass when she tries to position herself as a Joan of Arc for Internet freedom. The woman’s responsible for more transgressions against Americans’ privacy than anyone else currently alive. Vote her into office and you’ll get four years of secrecy, information gathering, and collaborating with Big Tech to control every waking moment of your lives.”


I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the Full Cort Press blog lately, because its writer, Courtney Garcia, is the Granville High student who won the school hosting honors for the upcoming Lovett-Tooms debate. But I’ve also kept my eye on her because it’s fascinating to watch this sharp, young mind adjust and recalibrate as the realities of our corrupt, authoritarian world become more apparent to her. Her latest post on tech and privacy is worth reading; she makes some connections between tech addiction and the surveillance state that even I hadn’t quite put together yet. And a child shall lead them…


If the idea of Unplug Day rattles you, consider journalist David Roberts: he went off-grid for an entire year. Here’s his frank, funny, and highly inspiring recap of what he suffered, and what he gained. The whole thing’s worth reading—but here’s a sample that may have you squirming in recognition: “All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world. Every bit of conversation was a potential tweet, every sunset a potential Instagram.”

He also links to a new app, Freedom, that lets you actually block your Internet for a set period of time—a kind of will-power substitute. Not sure I’d have the guts to commit. While I’d love to detox—to sidestep the invasiveness and privacy-creep of the Internet—I’d worry about what the feds and elites and one-worlders would get up to while my back was turned. But that’s my pathology, not yours.


After my last post, which made an impassioned case for digital detoxing, I’ve had some additional thoughts. Being a contrarian by nature, and a skeptic from bitter experience, my usual inclination when confronted with any new social movement is to ask: who’s benefitting? And where are the opposing arguments? I’ve belatedly applied that to the Unplugging movement. Still working on the former …but I’ve had better luck with the latter, uncovering the first voices to point out the things the Unpluggers get wrong.

I’m still a proponent of breaking our thrall to our digital devices. But I’ve got a better understanding now of why that’s not such a cut-and-dried issue. That’s my job as a sentinel of liberty: to keep asking the hard questions—especially about my own convictions. Beliefs that aren’t challenged become ideologies…and ideologues are who we fight, not who we are.