Enemies of the Internet

March 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Reporters without Borders has released its annual Enemies of the Internet report. The enemies they list, and why are:

  • Saudi Arabia: prime centre of content blocking
  • Bahrain: No Internet spring
  • United Arab Emirates: Tracking “cyber-criminals”
  • USA: NSA symbolises intelligence services’ abuses
  • Cuba: Long live freedom (but not for the Internet)!
  • Syria: online tracking is a family affair
  • Iran: Cyberspace ayatollahs
  • Russia: control from the top down
  • Arms trade fairs: Surveillance dealerships
  • United Kingdom: World champion of surveillance
  • Belarus: Apparatus of repression
  • Uzbekistan: Welcome to digital tyranny
  • Pakistan: Upgraded censorship
  • India: Big Brother up and running
  • Vietnam: Targeting bloggers
  • China: Electronic Great Wall getting taller
  • Turkmenistan: News black hole
  • North Korea: the Web as a pawn in the power game
  • Sudan: Scoring high in censorship
  • Ethiopia: full online powers

How sad the US and UK make the list due to their over-reach of surveillance. Surveillance should be targeted as suspects with probable cause, not the entire population.

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NZ 5th for economic freedom

January 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Heritage Foundation has released the 2014 economic freedom index. The top 10 are:

  1. Hong Kong 90.1 (+0.8)
  2. Singapore 78.4 (+1.4)
  3. Australia 82.0 (-0.6)
  4. Switzerland 81.6 (+0.6)
  5. New Zealand 81.2 (-0.2)
  6. Canada 80.2 (+0.8)
  7. Chile 78.7 (-0.3)
  8. Mauritius 76.5 (-0.4)
  9. Ireland 76.2 (+0.5)
  10. Denmark 76.1 (nc)

Only six countries are ranked free (above 80), 27 are mainly free (70 – 80), 56 moderately free (60 to 70), 61 mostly unfree (50 to 60) and 27 repressed (under 50).

The bottom five are:

  1. North Korea 1.0
  2. Cuba 28.7
  3. Zimbabwe 35.5
  4. Venezuela 36.3
  5. Eritrea 38.5

NZ’s rankings are below

Read more about New Zealand Economy.
See more from the 2014 Index.

The level of government spending is the only area in which we score really badly. They state:

The overall tax burden equals 31.7 percent of gross domestic income. Government spending equates to about 47.5 percent of GDP, and public debt is steady at 38 percent of GDP.

All need to drop down.

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45 enemies of freedom

July 28th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Reason Magazine lists 45 enemies of freedom. Not sure if they are in order, and there will be enough inclusions there to offend almost everyone. Having said that I agree with many of them.

  1. Michael Bloomberg
  2. Idi Amin
  3. Sheriff Joe Arpio
  4. Osama bin Laden
  5. Leonid Brezhnev
  6. Fidel Castro
  7. Dick Cheney
  8. Hillary Clinton
  9. Paul Ehrlich
  10. Dianne Feinstein
  11. Daryl Gates
  12. Newt Gingrich
  13. Steven Hayne
  14. Eric Hobsbawn
  15. J Edgar Hoover
  16. Jeffery Immelt
  17. Michael Jacobson
  18. Ed Jagels
  19. Leon Kass
  20. Ruhollah Khomeini
  21. Henry Kissinger
  22. Naomi Klein
  23. Paul Krugman
  24. Loki
  25. Jeffrey Loria
  26. Mao Tse-Tung
  27. John McCain
  28. Jenny McCarthy
  29. Robert McNamara
  30. Newton Minow
  31. Robert Moses
  32. Robert Mugabe
  33. Richard Nixon
  34. Henry Paulson
  35. Sean Penn
  36. Pol Pot
  37. Vladimir Putin
  38. Bruce Ratner
  39. Diane Ravitch
  40. John Rawis
  41. Charles Schumer
  42. Steven Seagal
  43. Lamar Smith
  44. Aaron Sorkin
  45. Elizabeth Warren

 

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NZ most free country on earth

January 15th, 2013 at 7:51 am by David Farrar

One News reported:

New Zealanders have the most freedom in the world, according to an international index that ranks 123 countries.

The report, which was released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, and Germany’s Liberales Institut, examines the characteristics of freedom and how it can best be measured and compared between different nations.

New Zealand was ranked number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong.

Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot, with the United States and Denmark tied for seventh.

The lowest-ranked countries were Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

I’m surprised Sri Lanka is so low. The full report is here. They assign a score out of 10 for personal freedom and economic freedom. We get 9.2 and 8.2 respectively. On each individual factor we are ranked 2nd or 3rd, but overall 1st with 8.7. The Netherlands and Uruguay are ranked slightly higher for personal freedoms but significantly lower for economic freedoms. The only country higher for economic freedom is Hong Kong but obviously they are not so good on personal freedoms.

The median personal freedom is 7.5, economic freedom 6.9 and overall index 7.1.

The correlation between the economic freedom ratings and personal freedom ratings was 0.60. That there would be at least that level of correlation was not a surprise given theory and cruder but indicative previous attempts to discover such a relationship.

This is one of the reasons I support both. Generally countries with greater personal freedoms have greater economic freedom and vice-versa.

The factors involved in the freedom ratings and NZ scores out of 10 are:

  • Extrajudicial Killing 10
  • Torture 10
  • Political Imprisonment 10
  • Disappearance 10
  • Battle-related Deaths 10
  • Level of organized conflict 10
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Son Preference
  • Homicide 9.4
  • Human Trafficking 10
  • Sexual Violence 0.9
  • Assault 9.5
  • Level of perceived criminality in society 7.5
  • Theft 0
  • Burglary 0
  • Inheritance
  • Hostility to foreigners & their private property 10
  • SECURITY & SAFETY SUB-TOTAL 7.7
  • Forcibly Displaced Populations 10
  • Freedom of Foreign Movement 10
  • Freedom of Domestic Movement 10
  • Women’s Freedom of Movement
  • MOVEMENT SUB-TOTAL 10
  • Press Killings 10
  • Freedom of Speech 10
  • Laws and regulations that influence media content 9.3
  • Political pressures and controls on media content 8.8
  • Dress code in public
  • EXPRESSION SUB-TOTAL 9.5
  • Freedom of Assembly and Association 10
  • Parental Authority
  • Religion – Government Restrictions 9.6
  • Religion – Social Hostility 9.1
  • Male to Male Relationship 10
  • Female to Female Relationship 10
  • Age of Consent for Homosexual Couples 10
  • Adoption by Homosexuals
  • RELATIONSHIPS SUB-TOTAL 9.8

The authors note:

There needs to be a discussion in the main text regarding the women’s
freedom and homosexuality variables to point out that these are not
about women or homosexual activity per se, but are instead trying to
get at the extent certain groups are discriminated against under the law. Equality before the law is a key component of the classical liberal tradition. By the same token, the freedom to speak, denounce, and even privately discriminate against people is also a part of the classical liberal tradition. An expanded discussion of this nuance would be helpful. The bottom line from the classical liberal tradition is that private inequality of treatment is allowable but the government and legal system, which is based on force, must treat people equally.

Also of interest in this methodology:

This index of freedom also does not incorporate measures of democracy or “political freedom.” The reason is that democracy describes a “power relationship,” to use Fred McMahon’s term, in which freedom may increase or decrease depending on the collective decisions of the elected government. Democracy may be more consistent than other forms of government at safeguarding freedom, but it is not freedom, nor does it necessarily guarantee freedom.4 The relationship between democracy and freedom is of crucial interest to all advocates of liberty, which is all the more reason to establish an independent measure of freedom.

A key point. Just being in a democracy does not make you free. It is about far more than whether once every few years you get a vote.

An author at Crooks and Liars lauds NZ over the US, and cites our placement on a number of rankings. His or her post has been shared over 10,000 times on social media!

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