Googles Data Liberation FrontGoogle today unveiled the Data Liberation Front, a team of engineers in Chicago dedicated to ensuring that Google build “liberated products”—ones that have “built in features that make it easy (and free) to remove your data from the product in the event that you’d like to take it elsewhere.” We’ve spent a lot of time here warning about the dangers of Googlephobia, but now that Google has brazenly appropriated the TLF’s unique mock-Communist iconography, we’re starting to think that Jeff Chester and Scott Cleland may be right: Maybe Google really is trying to take over the world!

So we regret to announce our filing of a lawsuit in the Twelfth Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge Google’s infringement of our mark. We demand 50% of the $0.00 Google earns every time they “allow” users to port their application data out of Google to a competitor’s services! We will, of course, dedicate these royalties to the important project of educating and empowering users about how they can determine their own destiny online.

But seriously… We heartily agree with our Data Liberation Front comrades that users should be fully empowered to switch from one service to another online. This kind of competition is clearly the best protection for consumers in the Digital Age. Making switching easy should assuage not just antitrust concerns, but also concerns about how much privacy or security each web service offers to its users, no matter how big its market share: If you don’t like what a service offers, just take your data and leave! Who needs the government micro-managing the Internet when users have that kind of control?

Viva la (Technology) Revolution!

P.S. In case you haven’t seen it the Monty Python video we’re all riffing on:

Continue reading →

It’s my pleasure to welcome Julian Sanchez to the Technology Liberation Front as a regular contributor.  Julian recently joined the Cato Institute as a Research Fellow and he previously spent time at Reason and Ars Technica, where he served as Washington Editor.

Although he won’t be spending all his time writing about technology policy issues at Cato, he will still be active on that front.  With his impressive knowledge of digital technology and his formidable journalistic skills, Julian will make an excellent addition to our merry band of cyber-libertarian rebels here at the Tech Liberation Front.

You can learn more about Julian at his personal blog, from his Cato bio page, and his Wikipedia entry.

We very much look forward to his contributions to the TLF.  Welcome aboard Julian!

You might have noticed that we’ve added a Tweetmeme button at the top of each TLF post showing how many times each post has been “retweeted” on Twitter. If you like a TLF post, please take a second to retweet it. Retweeting is an easy way to spread the TLF’s message that politicians should keep their hands off the ‘Net and everything else related to technology! Here are three ways you can help us with viral marketing the message of technology freedom:

  1. If you’re already signed into Twitter, clicking the green “retweet” button will take you to Twitter with a retweet ready to go (“RT @techliberation <post title> <tinyurl>”). You just have to click “Update.”
  2. You can make retweeting even easier—just one click!—by connecting your Twitter account with Tweetmeme. Just sign in to Tweetmeme with your Twitter log-in and select “Allow” to enable TweetMeme to automatically send your retweets to your Twitter account.
  3. You can tweet your comments on our posts by logging in with your Twitter account or using a Disqus account (assuming you’ve linked Twitter to your Disqus Profile). Each tweeted comment will count as a retweet of the post.

If you click the gray tweetcount button, you’ll be taken to Tweetmeme statistics about that particular post. One of my posts last week really took off, getting over 150 retweets! You can follow the TLF on twitter here and find links to individual TLF authors’ feeds here.

If you’re not already on Twitter, you can use but Tweet counts as an indicator of which TLF posts are hottest. But what are you waiting for, anyway? You’d better claim your name on Twitter before someone else does! It’s easy to set up an account and free, of course, and you can add followers from your webmail contacts. If nothing else, you can easily pipe your Tweets into Facebook as status updates. If you think Twitter is a stupid fad, Kevin Spacey and David Letterman may agree with you. But what do they really know about technology?

I’m pleased to welcome Brooke Oberwetter back to the TLF after 2.5 year stint working for The Man. Make no mistake about it, she’s a hard-core TechLiberationista, having worked as a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and research assistant at the Cato Institute. She’s now a freelance writer in Washington, DC.  (In fact, she lives just down the street from me on the Yuppie Frontier of Shaw!)

Brooke achieved international celebrity as “The Jefferson 1” after she was arrested in a non-violent, silent iPod-toting flashmob celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday at the Jefferson Memorial on April 13, 2008.  I was there that night to see the petty tyranny of the State, that Coldest of all Cold Monsters, in action. I can only say that we couldn’t have asked for a better or more articulate martyr for the cause of Liberty. See for yourself what happened:

Ahoy, TLFers!  Looking for a way to do your part for the Cyber-Libertarian Resistance?

We’ve recently upgraded the site with a new look developed by our own Jerry Brito (preserving PJ Doland’s iconic art work) based on the Thesis Theme for WordPress. We now need help customizing Thesis to improve the functionality of the site—like allowing users to access lists of content sorted by category, author or tag. If you think you might be able to help, please drop me a line at bszoka [at] pff [dot] org.  We’d be very grateful for your help!

Resistance is Duty

twitter_iconAs we’ve noted here before, there are many ways to follow the TLF.  [Did you notice those cool icons over on the upper right-hand side of the page?]  But we wanted to make sure that our readers were aware of our Twitter feed, in particular, as well as the individual feeds of some of our contributors.  So, in case you are interested, here ya go!

TLF at 5 logoFive years ago today the Technology Liberation Front (the “TLF”) got underway with this post.  The idea for the TLF came about after I asked some tech policy wonks whether it was worth put together a blog dedicated to covering Internet-related issues from a cyber-libertarian perspective.  The model I had in mind was a “Volokh Conspiracy for Tech Issues,” if you will. I wanted to bring together a collection of sharp, liberty-loving wonks (most of whom worked in the think tank world) to talk about their research on this front and to give them a place to post their views on breaking tech policy developments.  It was to be a sort of central clearinghouse for libertarian-oriented tech policy analysis and advocacy.

At first, Tim Lee and I debated whether it even made sense to have that sort of narrow focus, but I think the passage of time and the rise of plenty of competition on this front shows that it was worthwhile.  And I’ve been very pleased with the tag-team effort of all our TLF contributors and the way—without anyone planning it, in true libertarian fashion—we’ve sort of developed a nice division of labor on various tech policy issues.

Perhaps a few stats are in order on this occasion to mark our progress 5 years in. The best indication of our success is the fact that our Pagerank (Google’s logarithmic scale of website importance based on links to that site) has reached 7/10—the same score shared by the Volokh Conspiracy (our model), as well as Techmeme (the leading tech news aggregator), the Cato Institute, CDT, etc. (For comparison: ArsTechnica and EFF are 8s.) Unfortunately, we’ve only been using Google Analytics for three of the past five years, so it’s impossible to get a authoritative accounting of traffic growth since Day 1. But here are few markers:

So, what’s our #1 post of all-time? Continue reading →

Please join us tonight for a very special Alcohol Liberation Front happy hour at Rocket Bar, 714 7th ST (7th & G) right across from the Chinatown/Verizon Center metro (Red/Green/Yellow) in D.C., 6:30-8:30ish.

Please join us as we celebrate, commiserate and plan for the next five years of fighting the good cyber-libertarian fight. We’ll even through in a free TLF laptop sticker! Just RSVP on Facebook!

Five years ago, we started the TLF to report on—and hopefully help to reverse—this dangerous trend of over-regulation of the Internet, communications, media and high-technology in general. We’ve become a full-service technology policy blog that covers complete gamut of public policy issues affecting the future of the Internet and technology.

Please join us as we celebrate, commiserate and plan for the next five years of fighting the good cyber-libertarian fight. We’ll even through in a free TLF laptop sticker! Just RSVP on Facebook today!

Rocket BarRocketBar will be offering the following drink specials:

  • $3 PBR cans,
  • $5 Rail Cocktails,
  • $5 House Wine and
  • $4.50 Miller High Life 16oz cans.

They have a wide variety of games, so you can get your pool/shuffleboard/darts/Risk/Trivial Pursuit on.

Please spread the word about the event to your friends and, if you haven’t already done so, become a fan of our Facebook page!

Going Solo

by on August 6, 2009 · 15 comments

Adam Thierer recruited me to contribute to what became the Technology Liberation Front way back in August 2004, when I was fresh out of college and working as a writer at the Cato Institute. My first post was about DRM (I was against it). I remember going back and forth with Adam about whether there was really a demand for a libertarian tech-policy blog. I think the last five years have laid those questions to rest, as both our traffic and our list of contributors have grown steadily. The last year or so has gone especially well, as we’ve been joined by Ryan, Berin, and Alex and Adam inaugurated new features like his annual Best Tech Books series.

At the same time, I’ve been blessed with a steadily growing list of other blogging opportunities. I’m now nominally a regular contributor to at least 6 blogs. In practice, this has meant woefully neglecting all six of them. And at the same time, I’ve had a number of people complain that it’s impossible to follow my writing, scattered as it is in so many places.

So I’ve decided that now is a good time to “go solo.” I’ve launched a new blog called “Bottom-Up,” and I’m going to be ending or scaling back my involvement with all the other blogs to which I nominally contribute. This will be my last post at TLF, and starting tomorrow the vast majority of my blogging activities will be found at the new site.

Some of what I’ll be talking about will be familiar to longtime TLF readers. I did a post today on the decline of newspapers, a topic I’ve weighed in before. But I’ll also be covering some new ground. This post, for example, examines the why Darwin’s theory of evolution remains so controversial after 150 years. I hope you’ll check it out, and if it looks interesting, please subscribe.

In closing, I want to thank my fellow TLFers, with whom I’ve fought the good fight over the last five years. I’m excited to see what they come up with in the next five years.

Viva la (Technology) Revolution!