Florian Cramer on Sat, 1 Mar 2014 15:44:15 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Rules for the digital world

Published yesterday by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,

Written by the same Enzensberger who wrote "Constituents of a Theory of the
Media" (first published in German as "Baukasten zu einer Theorie der
Medien" in Kursbuch, 20, 1970, first published in English in the New Left
Review, no. 64, 1970, reprinted in 2003 in the The New Media Reader).

This is an unauthorized, quick translation.

Defend Yourselves!

For those who aren't nerds, hackers or cryptographers and have better
things to do than keep up with the pitfalls of digitalization every hour,
there are ten simple rules to resist exploitation and surveillance:

If you own a mobile phone, throw it away. You had a life before this
device, and the human race will continue to exist after its disappearance.
One should avoid the superstitious worship that it enjoys. Neither those
devices nor their users are any smart, but only those who plug them to us
in order to accumulate boundless riches and control ordinary people.

Whoever offers something for free is suspicious. One should categorically
refuse anything that passes itself off as a bargain, bonus or freebie. It's
always a lie. The dupes pay with their privacy, their data and often enough
with their money.

Online banking is a blessing, but only for secret services and criminals.

Governments and industries want to abolish cash. They would like to get rid
of a legal tender that anyone can redeem. Coins and bills are annoying for
banks, traders, security and fiscal authorities. Plastic cards are not only
cheaper to produce. Our watchdogs prefer them because they allow tracing of
any transaction. Therefore, we all should avoid credit, debit and loyalty
cards. These permanent companions are bothersome and dangerous.

The madness of networking every object of daily use - from toothbrush to
TV, from car to refrigerator - via the Internet, can only be met with total
boycott. Their manufacturers don't give a single thought to privacy. They
have a only one vulnerable body part, their bank account. Only bankruptcy
will teach them.

The same applies to politicians. They ignore any objection to their actions
and omissions. They are submissive to the financial markets and don't dare
to go against the activities of secret services. But they have a vested
interest to be reelected. As long as the right to vote still exists, one
should deny anyone the vote who tolerates digital expropriation instead of
taking action against it.

E-Mail is nice, fast and free. So watch out! If you have a confidential
message or don't want to be surveilled, take a postcard and pencil.
Handwriting is hard to read for machines. Nobody suspects important
information on a 45 cent picture postcard. You don't have to resort to a
dead drop like in old-fashioned spy novels.

Avoid obtaining goods and services via Internet. Vendors like Amazon, Ebay
and so on store all data and molest their customers with advertising spam.
Anonymous shopping is better. Acceptable exceptions can be made for
individual sites that one knows well.

Just like network television, the big Internet corporations are primarily
financed by advertising. This way, they steal their customers' time and
attention. Someone who ceaseless yells at you and molests you deserves
punishment. It's recommendable to stay away from everything marketed this
way, and switch off, once and for all, the stations terrorizing you with
advertising. This should not only be done for hygienic reasons. As we know,
particularly the American mega corporations collaborate closely with secret
services to spy out and control, if possible, any human activity.

Networks like Facebook call themselves "social" despite their eagerness to
treat their customers in the utmost anti-social ways. Whoever wants to have
friends like this, is a hopeless case. Those who are unfortunate enough to
be part of such a company, should try to take flight as fast as possible.
This is not so easy. An octopus won't consent to letting his prey escape.

* * *

These simple measures can't solve the political problem that society is
faced with. Given the passiveness and servility of the parties ruling this
country [the coalition of Christian and Social Democrats in Germany], it's
remarkable enough if one notable politician speaks up. His name is Martin
Schulz, and he's not only president of the European Parliament but even a
Social Democrat. Until now, neither he nor his party objected to the
rampant security and control mania in any remarkable way. All respective
violations, no matter whether foreign imports or domestic products of
German workmanship, have been given the nod. Storing data, intercepting,
appeasing - the standard procedure.

The sleep of reason will continue to the day when a majority of this
country's citizens will experience firsthand what has been done to them.
Perhaps, they will rub their eyes and ask why they let it slip in a time
when resistance was still possible.

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