The People's Business
Monday, February 15, 1999 by Dave Winer.
Well, the impeachment trial is over, so now it's time to get back to the people's business.
The people's business. The people's business. One more time! The people's business. Hmmm.
Feels good. Let's do the people's business.
I want to send private email that no one else can read. I understand that President Clinton and his FBI director Louis Freeh are in the way of that. Let's do the people's business here. Give the people the privacy that many of them think they have. Or stand up and make a speech about this, explaining to the millions of AOL and new Internet users that they don't have privacy, and why you can't let them have it.
It's going to hit the fan soon. Most newbies incorrectly assume that the email they send to friends and business associates is private. If you think they can't monitor your email, think again. The technology exists now. All they have to do is capture the text (easy) and run it thru a search engine looking for key words and phrases (also easy).
Computers are really good at storing lots of information for long periods of time, so if you're sued or arrested in 2003 you may have to explain things you said in 1998 and 1999. If you don't like Ken Starr, think about it this way, the work he does will become a lot easier and may be more broadly deployed in the future if the encryption laws don't change.
People who think are concerned about this one. Spread the word, make it an issue, raise the awareness of the potential for abuse in the power we've given to the government and its partners.
What about free speech on the Internet? It seems to me that's the people's business too.
As I've said before, impeaching the President for wildly attacking the First Amendment would have been the right thing to do. I didn't get much support on that. But the Constitutional arguments were clear, as was the threat, and the courts agreed
I think free speech is the major defining attribute of our form of government. Attacking free speech is the ultimate offense and both the President and Congress committed that offense.
I wonder how Henry Hyde, who would like to be remembered as a defender of the Constitution, voted on that one?
One more thing, you might not agree, but I think the people's business also includes eliminating the death penalty. We kill more blacks than whites, more men than women, and even worse we kill innocent people. It's a hypocritical practice, it's impossible to administer in a fair way, and it's just plain bad karma to kill your own people no matter how horrible they may be.
Those are the three priorities I'd add to the President's to-do list post-impeachment. He could change his position and get on the right side of these issues, and do something historic and create a great legacy. That would be an excellent use of his high poll numbers. He doesn't have much to lose here! He won't do it. Right? Of course. What the heck.