Search results for "SOPA"

SOPA: US backers end support for anti-piracy bill

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Wikipedia went black Wednesday to protest SOPA

News of Note: “SOPA: US backers end support for anti-piracy bill

Websites all over the Internet went black Wednesday in opposition of the SOPA and PIPA bills. This protest is the first of its kind and a powerful example of the power these websites wield.

The US news website Politico estimated that 7,000 sites were involved by early Wednesday morning.

Google did not shut down its main search but is showing solidarity by placing a black box over its logo when US-based users visit its site.

Online marketplace Craigslist asks site visitors to contact their representatives in Congress before moving on to the main site.

Visitors to Wikipedia’s English-language site are being greeted by a dark page with white text that says: “Imagine a world without free knowledge… The US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

If users try to access its other pages via search sites, the text briefly flashes up before being replaced by the protest page. However, people have been sharing workarounds to disable the redirect.

WordPress’s homepage displays a video which claims that Sopa “breaks the internet” and asks users to add their name to a petition asking Congress to stop the bill.

You may be wondering how successful the blackout was. Thankfully there is good news to report; this unique internet protest did make a significant impact.

Eight US lawmakers have withdrawn their backing from anti-piracy laws, amid “blackout” protests on thousands of internet sites.

Two of the bill’s co-sponsors, Marco Rubio from Florida and Roy Blunt from Missouri, are among those backing away.

Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and blog service WordPress are among the highest profile sites to block their content.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has branded the protests as “irresponsible” and a “stunt”.

Is it an abuse of power for these websites to render themselves unreachable? Absolutely not. Access to information, the Internet’s greatest strength, is in jeopardy, and that same strength must be used to protect it. This is only the beginning. As new and more contrived and strangely-worded bills are put on the table, the fight to protect the Internet will only increase in intensity. We must remain diligent, connected, informed, and active less freedom’s greatest tool (information) will be swept away from us.

Congress to Resume SOPA Hearings Wednesday

News of Note: Congress to Resume SOPA Hearings Next Week (This Wednesday)

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will continue its hearing on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on Wednesday, not until after Congress’ holiday break, as originally believed.

Late Friday, Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and committee chairman, scheduled a continuation of the hearing to amend the bill for this Wednesday at 9 a.m., even though many members of the committee may be out of town for the holidays. Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and opponent of the bill, tweeted the hearing announcement late Friday.

At the urging of some SOPA opponents, Smith said Friday he will consider a hearing or a classified briefing on the bill’s impact on cybersecurity. More than 80 Internet engineers and cybersecurity experts have raised security concerns about the bill, which would require Internet service providers and domain name registrars to block the domain names of foreign websites accused of copyright infringement.

It’s unclear how Wednesday’s hearing will affect any future hearings on SOPA, which is sponsored by Smith and 31 other lawmakers.

Continuing the markup hearing on Wednesday, when many lawmakers had planned to be out of Washington, D.C., “demonstrates a clear desire to continue dodging the questions raised by experts, members, and the public,” said Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge.

This unwillingness to take expert evidence, listen to constituents, or conduct due diligence in investigating the extraordinary harms risked by SOPA shows a process divorced from representation, responsibility, and reality,” Siy said in a statement.

The most scary thing of all is how little these congressmen actually know about the Internet and technology. It can be compared to putting toddlers at the control of a 747 aircraft. Here we are with the greatest innovation in human history and it’s about to be sold out by a bunch of old guys who don’t know how to use a keyboard. When everyone thought the bill was tabled for at least a few weeks, it is both irresponsible and crooked to squeeze it in again right before Christmas. What can you do? Contact the media, post on Facebook, Twitter, sign this petition, contact SOPA’s supporting companies and urge them to withdraw their support. Everyone’s help is valuable, please join in and share.

Creative Commons: Title and Slideshow image source

SOPA would “criminalize” the Internet

News of Note: Google chairman says online piracy bill would ‘criminalize’ the Internet

An online piracy bill in the House [US House of Representatives H.R.3261] would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet itself,” according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt said the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would punish Web firms, including search engines, that link to foreign websites dedicated to online piracy. He said implementing the bill as written would effectively break the Internet.

“By criminalizing links, what these bills do is they force you to take content off the Internet,” Schmidt said, calling it a form of censorship.

I firmly believe that the Internet is mankind’s greatest tool for exposing truth and eliminating corruption. Recent revolutions in other countries like Egypt and Libya and even our own Occupy movement are fueled by the Internet, and in a way not possible for previous generations, and in ways not permitted by foreign repressive regimes. Right now we are facing both SOPA and the similar US Senate proposed bill (Bill S.968), PROTECT IP Act, two bills that will utterly destroy YouTube, Twitter, Wikileaks, and other valuable websites that we need for communication.

What do you think is going to happen? Will Americans eventually submit to this loss of freedom or will we reject this sort of treatment by any means necessary?

Net Neutrality: Who is minding our store?

FCC’s Reported Capitulation around Open Internet Protections is a Major Step Backward

“If true, this proposal is a huge step backwards and just must be stopped,” said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner who now serves as a special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “If the Commission subverts the Open Internet by creating a fast lane for the 1 percent and slow lanes for the 99 percent, it would be an insult to both citizens and to the promise of the Net.”

Susan Striech, WikiCommons Fair Use/Educational

Susan Striech, WikiCommons
Fair Use/Educational

Technologists, activists, and regular people like you have been trying to get the rest of us to pay attention to one of the most destructive efforts afoot in government today — the dismantling of the Internet as we know it, a beloved creation bestowed upon our culture that it cannot and should not be without, a method of worldwide communication, a tool of epic proportions to make the world a better place, right up there with clean air and water.

Most people know that the Internet was first developed for the Department of Defense as ARPANET, circa 1970 in order to facilitate communication between contractors and various agencies within the government for research and development purposes. (It so happens VenusPlusX Co-Founder Dan Massey was involved in this project professionally, so we were among the first to “go on line.”) Only after the Internet became available for public use, making every user an instant author, were the full dimensions of Internet potential realized. First in, pornographers, who at one point in the 80s were responsible for 50% of commercial Internet traffic. As the first generation of adults to start using the Internet, we quickly realized what the Internet meant to us personally, how it would change our lives, how we could use it to build a better future, how even the most vulnerable among us would finally have a platform to be heard in our new “town square.”

We started writing about the importance of preserving net neutrality a couple of years ago, when it was threatened by congressional efforts of control content and its flow to users (SOPA, PIPA), and even the White House’s proposed Online Privacy Bill of Rights. It’s always been somewhat a mystery why this subject doesn’t draw more attention and activism. Perhaps now that we are about to lose the best aspects of the Internet, more people will take this on as a primary issue.

Were we lulled into the belief that Obama, having campaigned on a platform of securing net neutrality both in 2008 and 2012, and a seemingly cooperative Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be enough to stave off the opportunistic, profiteering, parasitic special interests by providers such as Verizon and Comcast? After  a judge struck down the FCC’s ruling that disallowed charging different rates for different content, the Commission is now circulating new draft rules that would in practice allow corporations to control the Internet and the speed at which information moves across it. Everyday people, small business owners and organizations, the voiceless, will all be shut out. Payola used to be a dirty word for it but what we are about to experience is a complex pay-to-play scheme whereby providers name the price that Netflix, HBO, and other users must pay to stream their material, costs which will be passed onto to consumers.

Like every other part of our government lately it seems, special corporate interests have trumped the will of the people, and, in the case of net neutrality, the needs of the deserving, the voice for voiceless.

Get off our couches, and do something about it!

To learn more go to: Common CauseThe Washington Post and The Huffington Post.






Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom: A voice for the voiceless

In preserving all human rights, especially those having to do with privacy of person and sexual freedom, free access to the unfettered communications of the Internet is crucial. The Internet is the circulatory system of the body politic, and the world’s only hope for true pluralism.

Any and all attempts to restrict or dismember the Internet and its uses must be met by an army of us willing to lay down our lives to make sure these attempts fail. Think of young Bradley Manning, who thought that transparency to bring alleged government corruption to the attention of a whistleblower was something he was willing to go to prison for. Very unfortunately, he has been in solitary confinement and suffered other loathsome, cruel, and unusual punishment at the hands of the U.S. government (latest updates, plus).

The hackerverse is populated with tens of thousands of young people like Bradley who are the world’s free speech heroes. They are not letting lawmakers interfere with Internet freedom with flawed legislation such as SOPA, PIPA, or the White House’s proposed Online Privacy Bill of Rights, or let stand any restrictions on constitutional freedoms on religious grounds. (Here is more information on the Stop Online Piracy Act/SOPA, the Protect IP Act/PIPA, and more.)

Most important, the freeway of the Internet is the only mechanism whereby the voiceless have a voice, and for that reason alone, all of us must keep a watchful eye on anything that would interfere with the free flow of information.

The reasons that politicians try to interfere with Internet freedom are not very pretty, and are often stupid. For example, christianists in Congress want to invade the privacy of everyone who views pornography. Others would like to see all pornography removed from the Internet.

Ironically, that very industry, pornography, made possible the early exponential growth of the Internet that turned out to have been instrumental in fueling the rapid expansion of the technology throughout the world. These self-appointed politicians think that all adults shouldn’t be allowed to view porn, but again ironically, these very politicians represent their own personal statistical cohort group in the American South, the so-called “Bible Belt,” a population which watches the most pornography and breeds America’s backward abstinence-only sex education leading to the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancy. The Bible Belt has the highest divorce rates in the country, too, despite its “religiosity.” That has to tell us they are doing something wrong, but it doesn’t penetrate because their minds because they are so busy condemning the rest of us.  Sad, sad, and sadder.

Will this opposition ever abandon their egocentric greed for personal and institutional power? Will they ever choose to live and let live? Or will they be content to be known for all time as just another bunch of ignorant and backward yokels who arrogantly assume the name of god in vain, as they try and fail to put freedom in a corner under their control?

Help us watch these people like hawks and make sure they keep their creepy hands off our inter webs.

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of position papers Dan Massey and I are creating and will soon index on our home page. They briefly explore the evolution of our points of view about a range of issues related to sex, gender, and racial freedom. Your feedback is always welcome.

Creative Commons image: Source

Creative Commons image: Source


The Death of Copyright

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News of Note: You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You

Now that the SOPA and PIPA fights have died down, and Hollywood prepares their next salvo against internet freedom with ACTA and PCIP, it’s worth pausing to consider how the war on piracy could actually be won. It can’t, is the short answer, and one these companies do not want to hear as they put their fingers in their ears and start yelling. As technology continues to evolve, the battle between pirates and copyright holders is going to escalate, and pirates are always, always going to be one step ahead.

While “pirates” are always going to be one step ahead,  that doesn’t mean that the structure of the internet cannot be undermined by wealthy lobbyists. I completely agree that the enforcement of copyright will never be absolute. Copyright enforcement doesn’t work and we need an alternative. I suggest that we first start calling Internet Piracy by what it really is, File Sharing.

It’s not a physical product that’s being taken. There’s nothing going missing, which is generally the hallmark of any good theft. The movie and music industries’ claim that each download is a lost sale is absurd. I might take every movie in that fictional store if I was able to, but would I have spent $3 million to legally buy every single DVD? No, I’d probably have picked my two favorite movies and gone home.

The difference between stealing and copying is becoming increasingly important. The Missionary Church of Kopimism has the right idea: “a congregation of file sharers who claim that copying information is a sacred virtue.” Their definition of information includes all types of media including, music, video, and software. While this may sound like a ploy by the file sharing community to justify their activity, they may actually be making a legitimate point. One of the reasons the internet is valuable because it gives us access to information. The sharing of copyrighted media increases access to information.

Right now, the industry is still stuck in the past, and is crawling oh-so-slowly into the future. They still believe people are going to want to buy DVDs or Blu-rays in five years, and that a movie ticket is well worth $15. Netflix is the closest thing they have to an advocate, but the studios are trying to drive them out of business as they see them as a threat, not a solution. It’s mind boggling.

Digital distribution of media is the future. Copyright-enforcing tyrants must agree on a platform together and provide a system that people will actually enjoy using (think Steam). I do not believe abolishing copyright will limit innovation, but will instead encourage more people to create. Production companies, publishing companies and record labels must lose their ability to generate profit off the works of individuals, as we move to systems that reward independent artists and encourage new ideas.

The companies that benefit from copyrights are afraid to take risks as they pile mounds of money behind mundane projects. I believe that abolishing copyright enforcement online will not only increase innovation but also amplify the internet’s inherent strengths: connecting our world, educating the masses, fueling revolutions, and revealing truth.

White House Proposes Online Privacy Bill of Rights

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News of Note: White House Proposes Online Privacy Bill of Rights

the Obama Administration released a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights for online users, including the ability for browser users to opt out of being tracked by advertisers and others.

The proposed document was described by the White House as “part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections,” while maintaining the Internet’s growth and innovation. The Administration said the intent is to give users “more control over how their personal information is used on the Internet,” and to help businesses grow while maintaining consumer trust.

In the wake of SOPA, PIPA and other bills, I’m immediately suspicious of an online “Bill of Rights.” The proposal focuses on data collection and online privacy. I am totally in support of increased privacy online but I’m totally against enacting new laws to enforce that privacy. This “Bill of Rights” does not protect us from the government, it protects us from commercial websites. Giving the government any more reasons to police the internet, even if under the guise of enforcing privacy, is not welcome or necessary. If you want to browse the internet privately you already can. People everywhere (and in countries like China) use Tor to anonymize their online activity and social networks like Diaspora address privacy concerns related to centralized social networks.

The US Government recently labeled anyone that cares about online privacy suspicious of terrorism. I have no reason to believe this new Bill of Rights is anything but a loss of freedom.

What purpose do you believe this internet Bill of Rights may serve? Would you rather have the government step in and police the Internet for you, or are comfortable protecting yourself with the tools already at your disposal?

Anonymous hacks Chinese websites

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News of Note: Anonymous hacks Chinese websites

Messages by the international hacking group Anonymous went up on a number of Chinese government websites on Thursday to protest internet restrictions.

On a Twitter account established in late March, Anonymous China listed the websites it said it had hacked over the last several days. They included government bureaus in several Chinese cities, including in Chengdu, a provincial capital in southwest China.

Some of the sites were still blocked on Thursday, with English-language messages shown on how to circumvent government restrictions. In a message left on one of the hacked Chinese sites,, a home page for Chengdu’s business district, the hackers expressed anger with the Chinese government for restrictions placed on the internet.

“Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall,” the message read. “So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you,” one of the messages read.

Fighting government censorship by telling the Chinese public how to circumvent their internet firewall, well done Anonymous! It’s worth mentioning that while the article says the hacks were only done in English, that isn’t completely the case. As you can see here, the messages were also displayed in Chinese.

With governments and copyright holders struggling to prolong their grasp on public information, we must continue to fight an endless stream of SOPA-esque (Stop Online Piracy Act) bills. This is just another example of how connectivity and access to information is gradually moving our whole planet towards a more liberated and honest future. Are you ready for a world without barriers?

Anonymous takes down Government and Recording Industry sites in largest attack ever

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News of Note: Anonymous takes down government, recording industry websites in retaliation for bust

Anonymous says it is in the process of staging its “largest attack ever” — more than 5,000 loosely associated hackers taking down websites belonging to government and recording industry organizations in response to Thursday’s shutdown of the file-sharing site

The Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against on Thursday, arresting its founder — Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz — in New Zealand and charging him and at least five other company executives with violating privacy laws.

In response, the hacker collective known as Anonymous announced a collaborative attack against government and recording industry websites, successfully taking down the site of the Department of Justice — which coordinated the case against Megaupload — and the Recording Industry Association of America. As of 4 p.m. Pacific time, and were failing to load, along with other stated targets such as

Anonymous said on a Twitter account it has used regularly — @YourAnonNews — that the assault is “The Largest Attack Ever by Anonymous — 5,635 People Confirmed Using #LOIC to Bring Down Sites!” In other messages, the group said it was aiming to take down more sites throughout the night.

One day after SOPA and PIPA are stifled by the black out, the US Government takes down one of the most well known sites for piracy, Megaupload (a place for uploading and sharing files, it was only inadvertently used for piracy.) So far, we have yet to see the fallout from these hacks. The Feds haven’t had trouble finding and prosecuting “Anonymous” participants in the past and I’m left wondering who will end up benefiting from these hacks. Some websites go down for a bit on Thursday, life goes on; yet thousands of “Anonymous” activists may have walked into a tremendous trap. Who do you think has more carefully calculated plans, the US government, or the decentralized hivemind of the internet? I don’t want to see more kind-hearted activists given steep jail time, nor do I want the government to make examples of these “hackers” in order to destroy the Anonymous movement with fear. Who do you think will come out on top this time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Creative Commons image: source

Wikileaks: US Threatened Spain For Not Implementing Internet Blacklist

News of Note: US Threatened To Blacklist Spain For Not Implementing Site Blocking Law

In a leaked letter sent to Spain’s outgoing President, the US ambassador to the country warned that as punishment for not passing a SOPA-style file-sharing site blocking law, Spain risked being put on a United States trade blacklist . Inclusion would have left Spain open to a range of “retaliatory options” but already the US was working with the incoming government to reach its goals.

Yet again we have Wikileaks to thank for revealing the truth. Citizens of Spain can fall asleep knowing that their loss of freedom was largely caused by the United States Government. Here we are worried about SOPA being passed in our own country and our government is running around policing the world with similar bills. What is happening to this country? The whole world needs to stand up and pay attention to America’s behavior; this sort of thing should not be ignored or tolerated.