back to article Kim Dotcom slams 'dirty ugly bully' Uncle Sam as extradition hearing ends

The extradition hearing of rotund web baron Kim Dotcom finally ended Tuesday, having taken three times longer than expected. Tweeting on the last day of the ten-week hearing in Auckland, New Zealand, Dotcom railed: "My defense team has shown how utterly unreliable, malicious, and unethical the US case against me is. They have …

Anonymous Coward

"copyright neutral"

Did they mean copyright agnostic?

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This post has been deleted by its author

If you don't believe in it

Does it still exist???

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Can't say I really like the guy; but he's absolutely right that it's bullying. More to the point, his was the single service amongst a bunch of others that did/do exactly the same thing to be singled out in this way. Mediafire; dropbox, and so on are all capable of being used in exactly the same way; and at the time the US started all this, it wasn't even the most popular service of the type (there was too much wanky javascript in the way for it to be convenient for piracy).

And you send in a SWAT team in for a dawn raid on foreign soil? For fraud, even? Let alone what it actually was...file hosting.

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However, it's been proven that Megaupload barely even paid lipservice to the Safe Harbor DMCA provisions of US law whilst claiming to comply. Their own staff were uploading and sharing copyrighted material knowingly in breach of international copyright and licensing laws and statutes.

The other services you mention do all have functional, and fairly compliant, DMCA-compliant takedown procedures. Megaupload, on the other hand, made it as difficult as possible to request a takedown - and basically ignored them or stalled when they received them. They also made it childishly simple for people to download pirated material using automated tools if they plonked down a few dollars a month for premium accounts, which is how they directly profited from piracy and defrauded the copyright owners. They were not unique in doing this, but the sheer scale and audacity of Mega's antics was what put the targets on them.

By volume, Mega were the primary party enabling mass infringement for many years, something Schmitz personally gained from in a massive way. His extravagant, extrovert lifestyle raised many eyebrows, and he played fast and loose with civil and criminal law in his personal life outside of the discussed copyright and fraud charges. (I remember watching some videos of him illegally streetracing on Streetfire...)

He's just not a very nice person. A libertarian profiteer in it for personal gain, irrespective of the consequences for anyone else.

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Can't say I really like the guy

Same - you can (and I do) say many things about the guy but nothing he's done is deserving of being on the hook for 20 years in a US jail.

A libertarian profiteer in it for personal gain, irrespective of the consequences for anyone else.

Alright - so operation wack-a-mole. Worth? No. How does this not piss off US taxpayers?

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So I take it everyone on the planet can also take their car dealers to court for every speeding fine they receive, Car dealer must be responsible right?

They make it so easy for everyone to put their foot down and go over the limit, They also make nearly every new car able to go over 200km/h, Which is double the allowance in my country on freeways.

I don't see how any ISP or service is responsible for what people are doing with it.

Are gun dealers responsible for any shooting that kills someone, Are drug companies responsible for all the deaths caused by people overdosing or mixing with other medication,

Are bottle shops responsible for all the drunken behaviour and violence that kill others?

The list is endless!

Society may as well collapse if they think this way, Because everything can be blamed on someone else.

If I decided to start a business, selling donuts for example and some dude walks in and decides to eat until he bursts how is that my fault?

I am just offering donuts it's not up to me to tell the guy what to do with them!

Maybe Facebook and Sony should be taken to court for allowing terrorists the ability to communicate and plan attacks?

Where does it all stop?

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Childcatcher

Both Ways?

The other services you mention do all have functional, and fairly compliant, DMCA-compliant takedown procedures.

I would add eBay to that list. They have a fine tradition of allowing knock-off goods and infringing items to be sold on their site. I don't recall anyone busting down their HQ doors even though they were facilitating the sale of goods that fell foul of the exact same laws that Mega is purported to have broken. This is clearly a case of selective justice.

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Anonymous Coward

'Its been proven' - Where does that come from? Did I miss the court case?

It seems that because you personally don't like the guy, then he is guilty.

I just prey that you never be called up fro jury service.

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@Christopher W - Can't say I agree with you or remember things being that way. I seem to recall that files got shut down there just as quickly as everywhere else. Moreover it was just too much of a pain in the arse to use compared to -say- Mediafire where you didn't even need to open an account...you just uploaded your file/s and it spat out a sharing link. So I'm told.

By volume, Mega were the primary party enabling mass infringement for many years

I very seriously doubt that. Do you have any proof to back up your claims?

They also made it childishly simple for people to download pirated material using automated tools if they plonked down a few dollars a month for premium accounts

If you're paying for it, you're doing piracy wrong. Also, currency exchanges are trackable. I think you mean that -like everyone else in the same biz- they made the service less of a helmet-twister to use if you gave them some money. Artificial scarcity and all that.

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Coat

@Christopher W

"A libertarian profiteer in it for personal gain, irrespective of the consequences for anyone else"

Ahh you mean like Uber and all those other digital disrupters I heard about down Shoreditch way.

So what you are saying is its ok if you have the political clout of Tons of US VC cash behind you?

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Anonymous Coward

Dirty ugly bully

Seems an appropriate description for Kim too.

He might have dropped the Kimble tag and make all sorts of statements to make himself out to be a victim but he hasn't changed over the last 20 years. I guess people on here either never had any run ins with him or have forgotten about them.

I'll have a good laugh if he actually gets busted for a bit of file sharing when he managed to get away with so many other things over the years.

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Re: Dirty ugly bully

Agreed. Bullying is exactly what he himself used to do, especially in the world of online multiplayer games.

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Well,

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2012/01/23/megauploads-dmca-shell-games/

The reason this is a problem for copyright holders is that most don’t file DMCA notices against a link, but against a file. However, Megaupload would not remove the actual file and, instead, just disabled the link. To the filer, it would appear that the takedown notice was successful even though the file still remained, it’s just that the known link was disabled.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that a copyright holder can do about this, especially a smaller one. Megaupload, before its closure, got to keep files infringing files available to pirates and save on storage costs all the while appearing to be compliant with the DMCA when, in truth, they were not.

Or Ars, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/01/why-the-feds-smashed-megaupload/:

Megaupload employees apparently knew how the site was being used. When making payments through its “uploader rewards” program, employees sometimes looked through the material in those accounts first. "10+ Full popular DVD rips (split files), a few small porn movies, some software with keygenerators (warez)," said one of these notes. (The DMCA does not provide a "safe harbor" to sites who have actual knowledge of infringing material and do nothing about it.)

Employees send each other e-mails saying things like, “can u pls get me some links to the series called ‘Seinfeld’ from MU [Megaupload]," since some employees did have access to a private internal search engine.

Employees even allegedly uploaded content themselves, such as a BBC Earth episode uploaded in 2008.

The sheer overwhelming weight of empirical evidence gathered, documented and reported on by reputable news outlets over the past decade puts it beyond doubt that they were knowingly infringing and facilitating IP infringement on a wide scale.

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Why not? He's broken laws and enabled others to do the same, he's profited personally from breaking various countries' laws. Are you saying that copyright/intellectual property owners and content creators are owed less protection or right to redress under the law than individuals consuming content? In the UK the police under the POCA powers would have rightly seized all of his assets.

It wouldn't be so bad if MU had abided properly by the DMCA and Safe Harbor frameworks, but they wilfully ignored it and therefore became wilful infringers, something courts look far more dimly upon.

It's the domino effect. If you leave something like mass digital piracy checked, it quickly becomes completely unmanageable as we saw last decade. The scale of Schmitz's profiteering from ignoring the rights of other individuals and companies became hard to ignore, and curbing his company's behaviour became more and more important. His actions were having a measurable, deleterious effect on the market and ecosystem: not just less money being made, but fewer artists coming through the system and ultimately, less music, film and other media being brought into the world.

There was a ring of several particularly bad offenders, but MU along with Rapidshare were by far the worst for a few years. MU was the most obvious target because he made himself the biggest target (physical size quips notwithstanding). He's the modern day classic fraudster, a digital conman.

In my younger, more naive years, when I was a normal Joe Bloggs consumer, originally I was concerned about how the US pursued Schmitz and MU (even though he was obviously no angel). However, having worked in the independent music sector, which was hit hard by last decade's upsurge in piracy, I witnessed, and had to deal with, piracy's effects first-hand. Over time my opinions changed accordingly and I have actual experience behind what I say.

I keep in contact with other people from similarly small indie labels and discuss this stuff periodically. The problems definitely haven't gone away, just lessened slightly. Fortunately now there's better tools in place for people to once again legitimately enjoy music and films, but overall the market is still much, much smaller than it was in 2000, even taking into account things like how people's listening habits have changed and the methods they use to watch TV.

There's a key difference between dumb filehosts and the companies like Megaupload whose primary profits came from distributing copyrighted material. Music, film and games have an intrinsic monetary and cultural value over and above (for example) an ASCII art text file or picture of your dog, though all of those things enjoy the same protection under intellectual property laws. However, the cost to produce a movie or record an album is vastly more, and by reducing its market value to zero, you irreparably devalue it in the eyes of those who would otherwise pay a fair price to enjoy it.

Instead of paying a few quid and enjoying the films and games, customers become simple consumers of content - hoovering up everything they come across with no regard for its value. Once that happens, it becomes a horrible race to the bottom as society effectively declares that all the things they enjoy are not actually worth anything.

Eventually the supply of quality entertainment just dries up. Crowdfunding and a handful of self-released albums only go so far to filling that void when nobody's willing to put down the money to support not just the creation, but the marketing, retail and distribution infrastructure on which everything depends.

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MU provided filesharing tools. People used those. That is not inherently illegal and I use similar tools from other providers myself.

What MU did was knowingly permit people to also use their tools for purposes that fell foul of various countries' intellectual property laws. They did not abide by the legal process established for ISPs and hosting companies to remove content found to be infringing.

They actively worked to obfuscate copyrighted material, make the DMCA process very difficult to go through for copyright holders and make it as difficult as possible to actually get material completely deleted from their servers (they often just removed the link to it, thereby just hiding it and allowing the uploader to create a new link and re-share it).

They had an internal search engine where employees could search through and download this material from people's accounts, and emails obtained as part of court proceedings confirm employees knew full well what they had and what they were doing. Plausible deniability only goes so far.

They sold paid accounts for priority and express downloading and returned a portion of the money to the uploader - so both the uploader and the service provider were directly profiting from breaking the law, and they did all they could to carry this on for as long as possible. Unethical, immoral and illegal.

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Re: Both Ways?

I've issued takedowns for the record company I worked for using eBay's VeRO programme. I had to make a second eBay account just for the VeRO work which was weird. It also required a little research and some correspondence with eBay because it was a little tricky to fill out the forms correctly.

However, eBay's system does work. I successfully issued takedowns for ripoff merchandise featuring some of our groups' copyrighted photos - we recouped 100% of the infringing sales from the seller because he knew he'd been caught and wanted to avoid a day in court. (A full-time band merchandise seller. Selling shonky goods. Who "didn't know" the image was copyrighted. Yeaaaahhhhh.)

And this is the real problem - the current framework strictly requires the copyright holder or authorised agent to contact and issue the takedown request, just like DMCA. All you as a good samaritan can do is inform the copyright owner and encourage them to use the VeRO programme (or applicable takedown process) to issue the cease and desist.

For some, unfamiliar with their own rights and abilities, they either don't realise they can do this or have become so disheartened with the current state of affairs that they just don't care any more, which is a great shame.

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Re: @Christopher W

Not at all, some of Uber's practices are just as disgusting. It's why I don't use them. ;-)

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Mushroom

Gordon argued that the sort of mass copyright infringement that sites like Megaupload allow for have a knock-on impact on box office prices and that some companies "may choose to stop making films altogether."

Really, care to explain the release of "dumb and dumber to", Jupiter ascending,, hot tub time machine 2 and the other cringe worthy material that has tarnished the silver screen this year.

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If showing adverts on websites is fraud, someone poke Googles lawyers please.

Pay to upload files? Again, poke the Big G's lawyers. I could upload copyright infringement files (found via Google naturally) on my G drive and let the public downlaod them. Is Google in the clear then?

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Unhappy

I too have no liking for dotcom, but on the other hand think he's positively angelic compared to the US government and media barons.

Yes I know the brits were no better in the empire days.

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Pint

Questions

There are many questions we will probably never get any real answers to, several are posed in other comments here.

Ultimately the reason the US chose New Zealand for the raid on Kim Dotcom is because ever since we declared ourselves nuclear free, and it quickly became clear to every subsequent government that to overturn that law would be electoral suicide (Google "gone by lunchtime"), our leaders have been desperate to find a way to ingratiate themselves into the US' good books.

This has always been that, but judges tend to be pretty independent, so I wouldn't expect any shenanigans on that score.

For all you overseas folk, just remember, the case in being heard under New Zealand law, not US or English. (They're all based on Common Law though, so feel free to chip in).

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Re: Questions

>>"Ultimately the reason the US chose New Zealand for the raid on Kim Dotcom is because..."

because that's where he was living?

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I don't think he's helped himself by all these antics during the hearing. Judges don't like the idea that you might be taking the piss out of the court.

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The only reason this has dragged on for so long is that our plod and the CPS did a (typically) amateurish job in drawing up the search warrant and an equally amateurish job in executing it. I'm just hoping he'll be handcuffed and on a plane to US in short order.

Here is a clue for you Kim: Claiming poverty and then bankrolling a political party you set up just to block your extradition to the tune of NZ$4 million doesn't work.

Releasing a really crappy album at the same time as not paying your household staff is a really bad look too.

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Anonymous Coward

Never underestimate the xenophobia of grumpy kiwis.

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"may choose to stop making films altogether."

Looking at the standard of crap coming out of Hollywood nowadays, would that be a bad thing?

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Anonymous Coward

Besides, what on earth does that have to do with anything?

Lets find someone guilty of stealing shoes because one day someone might sneeze - has about as much sense.

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And "may" is such a good word too.

I "may" get run over by a bus today. I'm not planning on leaving the house, but a bus "may" crash through my house and run me over. Nowhere is safe.

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"may choose to stop making films altogether."

Good, most is just the same recycled garbage anyway.

That's why Disney bought the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, existing story lines and characters, hell I remember when Pirates of the Caribbean came out, some Hollywood type was saying it's all about building franchises and milking them these days.

No wonder I only see a few movies per year, there's not much decent stuff coming out of studios anymore. Movies like Transformers will never an academy award but then I only see those types of movies for the turn off your brain, sit back and have fun factor anyway.

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I dont know if I've grown up too much , but for me a constant stream of explosions with the plot only existing to link the explosions together isnt entertainment . I need my stories to have , well, stories in them.

I couldnt watch Transformers even if i turned my brain off.

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Anonymous Coward

The US prosecutors look desperate

It's not a good look for the big boys.

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Devil

First: The came for the file sharers

Then: .......well, nothing. Everyone was already locked up.

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"The problem is that copyright infringement is not an extraditable offense in New Zealand, so the prosecutors have been forced to argue the point that when the current laws were written they did not foresee the rise of the internet. It is also why Gordon has argued that the case is one of fraud rather than solely copyright infringement."

Fair enough and that's a valid point to make in a discussion about copyright and law enforcement and how countries - and specifically their legal systems - often take a long time to catch up with technological changes, during which time there may be adverse effects to consumers or businesses. Take bitcoin and those who lost money through the lack of regulation.

But this is not just some free-wheeling discussion but a trial where several people are facing being forcible removed from their homes, shipped overseas and very likely jailed for 10-20 years.

So perhaps in that situation maybe, just maybe, it might be better to stick to what the law in New Zealand actually, you know, is rather than what the US government would like it to be.

I haven't been following this trial overly closely but I would be interested to hear exactly why the US believes the defendants have committed 'fraud'.

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Anonymous Coward

Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant's actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

Not sure any of those apply in this case.

Who is the victim? How were they deceived?

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Big Brother

I am sure that the only fraud committed in this case has been by the DoJ.

I have little liking for Kim Dotcom, but with all the stunts the DoJ have pulled it should have been kicked out of NZ and those behind it prosecuted for fraudulent misrepresentation. The whole thing is just a farce.

I wonder what the odds are on a new "based on a true story" Hollywood blockbuster a few years after all this is finally wrapped up, whatever the outcome.

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"with all the stunts the DoJ have pulled it should have been kicked out of NZ and those behind it prosecuted for fraudulent misrepresentation"

We all know the US government does not like competition. Most likely they are trying the blame game to divert attention from something else. With all the stunts the DoJ is pulling in the US, they probably should be kicked out of there too.

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g e

some companies "SHOULD choose to stop making films altogether."

FTFY

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Re: some companies "SHOULD choose to stop making films altogether."

And some should be forced, starting wth Boll KG

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Stop

Did I miss some big important detail about this extradition trial?

Oh I don't know, like the bit where the US prosecution alleged that the defendant is some big crime boss of the drug or weapons type? or has committed war crimes? Because that's about the verocity level they're going after him with.

Hope to god he doesn't get extradited, we don't want this sort of precedent where the US can simply bully other countries into giving up any citizien they want their grubby mitts on.

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Re: Did I miss some big important detail about this extradition trial?

They have already done this with varying levels of success in the UK. But we're 'special' partners don't you know.

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Arrogant blimp.

Should change his name to arrogant.com so he can hide himself. Maybe claim it wasn't him but this kim.com guy.

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Anonymous Coward

USA think they own the world

Yup. Agree with a lot of the comments. Dotcom may or may not allegedly be a bit of a villain (yet to be proven one way or the other, of course) and he may or may not be a particularly nice person, but I would say that the good ol' boys of the USA have gone a tad too far this time, trying to assert power in a foreign country and generally acting like their laws apply elsewhere, including the whole world. He has definitely been pooped on from a great height and it's the USA authorities that should be sorted out for conspiracy.

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Anonymous Coward

As much as you all don't want to believe it, Megaupload was deliberately enabling the pirating of copyrighted material, a load of eMails retrieved from their server showed that the company was actively encouraging major distributors of pirated material to use MU by paying bonuses. The emails are damning on the intent of MU to encourage piracy and copyright violation and in exposing the fact that the participants were perfectly well aware of what they were doing. It's like they never expected their emails to be discovered !

The interesting part comes in that these violations are a civil matter in general, and are not on their own extraditable offenses under NZ Law. Hence the additional charges of money laundering and other criminal offenses which ARE subject to extradition. So you can take it that KDC is completely guilty on the copyright charges, as long as the eMails are admitted as evidence I would say he's toast on that; but he can't be extradited on that alone.

As for the money laundering etc, pretty much catch all and typical legal boilerplate stuff. But in this case, from what I've seen (and the evidence of his subsequent activities with all his assets nominally sequestered yet no shortage of cash), KDC has been blithely breaking the various laws on the transfer of monies for some time, because he could.

There's no doubt that he's being made an example of, and that the original raid on his "mansion" was way OTT. However to me there's no doubt that he's a habitual career criminal who's smart enough to exploit certain areas of the law, yet too arrogant to properly conceal his dealings and not quite rich enough to buy political cover. As remarked above, he did try that by bankrolling a political party in NZ, a stunt that backfired badly as the party he backed tanked in the election and lost the sole MP it already had, largely because of the KDC association ! As an aside, many NZ'ers thank KDC for that piece of stupidity as it removed one of the worst MP's from parliament and it exposed the hard left of NZ politics for the money grubbing bunch of opportunistic wankers that they are.

KDC's biggest error was probably that he didn't insure against a US move on him by investing a few $M in either the Clinton Foundation or as a bundler for the Obama re-election campaign. Either of those would almost certainly have meant that any DOJ action against him would have been unthinkable.

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Anonymous Coward

Time to wake up

This is the digital age and those countries who fail to update their laws and judicial systems will suffer badly. At the moment the UK is a hot haven for digital crims but that is about to change. No place in the world should be exempt from international law and the application of local laws when a cybercrime is committed. Scum like Gary McKinnon and others should go to prison for a very long time for hacking government and military computers because this is a very serious crime. Those who think this is just child's play are clueless and most chose to stay that way. When their bank account gets cleaned out or their personal identity is stolen and their world is turned upside down, then they'll start to get in touch with reality and the digital world that we now live in. Trying to hiding behind a PC monitor should add 5 years to the prison sentence for any crime.

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Re: Time to wake up

Are you that very same person who defended leaded petrol or DDT all those years ago? lol

Sometimes laws need to be broken and questions need to be asked, And somebody needs to keep a watch on the watchers so they don't abuse their powers!

Who else is going to do it? A government official hired by the government to monitor the government?

I am sure that will go down well. ;)

"Those who think this is just child's play are clueless and most chose to stay that way. When their bank account gets cleaned out or their personal identity is stolen and their world is turned upside down, then they'll start to get in touch with reality and the digital world that we now live in"

Funny you dare say that considering governments around the globe are calling for even less encryption after Paris attacks.

All so they can "monitor terrorists" or "protect the children" and other buzzwords they like to throw around, If they get their way your bank account details and personal identity will be less secure than they are now!

I dread the day where future houses will have to be built entirely out of glass, Just so everyone else can see they are behaving themselves! We can laugh and joke about it now but who knows, Would not surprise me one little bit if RFID tags one day become compulsory, When a child is born one is placed under the skin. A case of let's "protect the children" after all right?

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Can't help it, I kinda like the guy. Wouldn't do business with him, though.

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