Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We are all Byron Sonne

I'm on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Byron Sonne, in that I believe in "globalization", the "G20", and all that he opposes. But even I recognize that the case against him was a travesty. There was never any good evidence against him. Instead, he was guilty of being different, as different as the rest of us in cybersecurity.

What defines us is that we are interested in "security". For example, I was detained by TSA for taking pictures of their security. It's an act that is explicitly allowed by TSA guidelines, it poses no threat to airline safety, yet because it's unusual behavior, they detained me.

I was only detained for a couple hours, but had I been arrested and the FBI had grabbed all my emails, search history, and hard drives, they could probably build a case that I was plotting something evil. That's because there is a lot of strange stuff that can't be explained except by assuming that it's all part of my bigger master plan. For example, I bought some Teflon online for $50 to coat the surface of my desk because I was curious what that would feel like with the mouse, because I'm a geek, and that's the sort of thing geeks do. I can't imagine how Teflon could be used for Evil, but I'm sure whatever explanation the FBI comes up with will seem more plausible than the truth. (BTW, Teflon is not nearly as frictionless as I'd hoped).

In Sonne's case, they found "explosive" material. Is that because he's a terrorist planning to blow things up? Or is it because he's a rocketry enthusiast? Well, when you are police, the first explanation looms a whole lot more probable than the second.

That makes all of us guilty. We all appear as a threat to security, and we all do strange things that are most easily explained by whatever theory the police concoct. Which means that all of us can go through what Byron Sonne went through, divorce, losing his job, and losing his life's savings -- even when found innocent -- for the crime of simply being a bit odd.

Update: @SergeyBratus tweets "What might 'they' think if I do/say this" is the most powerful form of control".

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