John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski


Preparations for the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-Saint Paul are underway. In New York City. The New York City Law Department has subpoenaed Tad Hirsch, the author of TXTmob, a text-message broadcasting service that was used to coordinate protests at the Republican National Convention in New York in August 2004. Seems the Law Department believes that a copy of every text message relayed through TXTmob during the convention and a list of everyone who sent or received them might come in handy defending the city against 62 lawsuits against the city arising from arrests made during the convention. Hirsch has resisted the Law Department’s demands so far, arguing that agreeing to them would be a violation of First Amendment and privacy rights. “There’s a principle at stake here,” Hirsch told The New York Times. “I think I have a moral responsibility to the people who use my service to protect their privacy.”

And why does New York City need such information, anyway? Surely it has the makings of a credible defense in the secret pre-convention information gathered by its “R.N.C. Intelligence Squad.” Didn’t those intelligence-gathering operations focus almost exclusively on street theater and church groups?

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik