UPDATE: follow the money!
Here is an email I received yesterday: it took me a while to blog it because I just did not want to think about it….it’s that bad.
Having lived in a totalitarian state, I can honestly explain the number 1 tool totalitarians government use for keeping control over their populace: pass laws that NOBODY can ‘not break’ at one time or another. Then, if someone becomes ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘too uppity’ or starts saying things the people in power (usually the apartchiks – the bureaucrats who make the totalitarian regime possible), they will selectively enforce the laws against them.
CISPA not only ends all expectation of privacy in ALL online activity, it also creates an environment where regular citizens will, inevitably, break one or another of its provisions: and THAT makes it a very dangerous thing!
If you’re a Google, Facebook, or Twitter user, or if your friends are, you should be worried.
Today, Congress held a secret vote on CISPA, the modern government surveillance system that every website, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter could participate in, if it becomes law.
Facebook supported CISPA when it was proposed last year. This time, even Facebook is saying the bill has privacy problems, but we still haven’t heard from Google or Twitter.
Will they let the government get all of our data against all privacy laws? Will they share your personal data with the government once you’re no longer able to sue them for it? We don’t know.
This is an important moment to get them before it’s too late.
That’s why Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis, called Google’s CEO himself to ask them about where they stand on CISPA.
We’re making headway — FFTF is delivering 300,000 signatures to CISPA co-sponsors one by one over Twitter. But the threat of CISPA moving forward in the House is very real. The bill passed out of Committee today and will be rushing to a floor vote next week.
Help your friends too and forward this email.
It’s your email; tell Google to support your right to keep it private!
It’s your private information; tell Facebook and Twitter to keep it that way!
Thank you for everything,
Tiffiniy Cheng, Fight for the Future
P.S. want more awesome stuff like this? Can you kick down $10 to support our campaigns for Internet freedom? Thanks! Oh, and we also accept bitcoins now! Check it out.
If you have not heard of ‘Donglegate’, you are likely not plugged in to the IT world – because anyone even remotely connected to the tech world has not been so lucky.
In a nutshell – Adria Richards, a non-technical person whose job was to make life easier for socially-awkward software developers (her actual job title was ‘developer evangelist’) eavesdropped on a ‘big dongle’ joke by a couple of socially-awkward software developers at a Python software developers conference and made such a public spectacle of just how offensive that was that she managed to get the guy who told the joke fired from his job. Anonymous – the hactivist group – took exception to her actions and targeted both her blog (where she continued to make a big fuss over the dongle joke and revealed herself to be an even more unstable flake than before) and her employer with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – until, that is, her employer realized that Adria was not, after all, very good at evangelizing on behalf of developers, making the world a nicer place for them… and fired her.
And, since he’s been talking about feminism lately, here is Thunderf00t’s take on it:
Frankly, I think people like Adria Richards should never work in a position of influence or power over anyone – and hope she never does!
Just received this:
Dear Internet Defense League member,
Last year, right on the heels of our historic victory against SOPA, a piece of really nasty legislation almost passed that would have radically undermined online privacy.
It was called CISPA. And it raced through the US House of Representatives, passing before any of us had a chance to react. We stalled the bill in the Senate, but now CISPA is back, and we don’t want to make the same mistake twice. Before there is *any* movement on the bill, we want to send a strong message to Congress that CISPA shouldn’t pass.
That’s why we’re partnering with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to launch an Internet Defense League action starting tomorrow, Tuesday March 19th.
Can you participate? If so, get the code for your site here: http://members.internetdefenseleague.org
And help get more people signed up by sharing this page with your social network:
Wait, what is CISPA? And why does it matter so much?
CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) would give companies complete freedom to share your personal data with the US government. It doesn’t *require* them to do so, but if the government asked it would be hard to say no, and they’d have no reason to– CISPA would free them from any promises made to customers in public statements or privacy policies.
Your emails, your Facebook account, your bank statements, the websites you visit, your real-time location (courtesy of your cellphone company)– all of it could soon belong to a slew of government agencies and even local police, who could use it against you without a warrant.
Get the code: http://members.internetdefenseleague.org
And they both link to this action page hosted by the EFF: https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9048
Please spread the word.
Holmes Wilson – Internet Defense League
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about CISPA, the EFF has a great FAQ page here: https://www.eff.org/cybersecurity-bill-faq
Just received this email – thought I’d share:
If you complain about censorship to the European Parliament, they’ll just censor you.
That’s the message that concerned citizens in the EU have been receiving after the European Parliament’s IT department began blocking thousands of emails from citizens opposed to a controversial new policy (one that itself could have a serious impact on Europeans’ freedom of expression online).
And if we complain? I suppose they’ll block those emails too. So instead of emailing, help us make this petition go viral!
Everyone deserves a voice! Don’t let the European Parliament silence the people they are supposed to represent. Click here to take action and demand that they immediately stop blocking emails from their citizens.
The censorship was uncovered earlier today by an MEP from the Pirate Party. Here’s his first hand account of what went down:
“Next week the European parliament will be voting on a resolution to ‘ban all forms of pornography in media.’ After this information became known to a wider audience, many citizens have decided to contact members of the European parliament to express their views on this issue … Before noon, some 350 emails had arrived in my office. But around noon, these mails suddenly stopped arriving. When we started investigating why this happened so suddenly, we soon found out: The IT department of the European Parliament is blocking the delivery of the emails on this issue, after some members of the parliament complained about getting emails from citizens.”
You can read his full account here.
Shockingly, this is not the first time this has happened. During the widespread outcry against ACTA, Parliamentary authorities decided to send all emails related to ACTA to MEP’s spam folders.
Thank you for taking action against censorship. If everyone shares this petition and forwards this email to friends, we can generate enough outcry to ensure that the public’s voice is heard.
For Internet freedom,
Holmes, Tiffiniy, Evan, and the whole team.
Center for Rights / Fight for the Future
p.s. Protecting freedom of expression everywhere is what keeps us up at night. After you sign the petition, can you donate to support Center for Rights’s international anti-censorship efforts? Every contribution makes a difference!
The couple who is leading the legal fight for the freedom of the internet in Canadian courts was recently interviewed on the ‘Just Right’ radio program.
Free Dominion is in the forefront of the battles for the freedom of speech and for the freedom on the internet, Their path has not been easy, but they are determined and brave and understand just how important freedom is. They have already won some important rulings in court regarding privacy on the internet, which is why they made it to Michael Geist’s list of internet achievements of 2012!
However, legal battles are expensive.
If Mark and Connie, the people behind Free Dominion, run out of funds, no amount of determination will help. The wanna-be-oppressors know this. That is why, just as Mark and Connie announced their new fund-raising campaign, they have tried to keep the word from getting out by hitting their site with a DDoS SYN attack…
Please, help spread the word!
And, if you can, chip in a bit…
From Connie Fournier:
‘As many of you know, Mark and I are fighting three trials this year related to issues of online freedom of speech. We just started our largest fundraiser because we need to raise $50,000 to cover the cost of all of those trials.Almost immediately, the Free Dominion website was attacked by hackers. We are fighting what is called a DDoS SYN attack where dozens of computers are sending messages to our server in an attempt to overload it and shut it down. We keep blocking IPs, but new ones spring up almost immediately and the attacks start again.Sometimes we will have periods where the site is accessible to read, but many people cannot post. Then they come back and increase the attack until the site becomes inaccessible again.We desperately need help!We can’t get the word out about our fundraiser because many of our regular readers can’t get into our site to find out about it.We really need people who care about free speech to circulate this email, tell your friends, or post it on your blogs.Somebody doesn’t want us to meet our fundraising goal, but we have to do this. Internet freedom depends on it!Here is the link to our fundraiser, please pass it around! http://igg.me/at/internetThanks so much for your help!Connie’
Unless you are plugged in to the ‘geek’ community, chances are you have never heard of the brilliant Aaron Swartz, his activism or how he was hounded to death by malicious US prosecutors who wielded the power of the broken US justice system as a club.
I have been racking my brains for days how to write this story, because it is an important one and it needs to get out. But, I also wanted to make sure that I connected all the dots that, in my never-humble-opinion, need connecting. I still don’t know how…so I’ll take the brutally honest approach, simply sketching out the ‘skeleton’ and then supplying the links to flesh it out, because otherwise, this post would be a book, not a post…
When you ‘steal’ something, you deprive its rightful owner of its use. As in, if someone steals your car, you can no longer use it for transportation. But, if you make a copy of something, you are not depriving anyone else of the use of the original. Sure, you may potentially limit their ability to monetize it in the future and laws covering that may be necessary. But, it is not the same action and must not be treated as equivalent.
In the past, the way a person monetized their ideas was by charging for the ‘vessels’ or ‘containers’ which were the only means of distributing the ideas themselves. As in, a person would not be paying for the ideas themselves but for purchasing the book in which these ideas were contained. In the digital world, this system is not functional and it is unreasonable to attempt to cripple the internet in order to superimpose the outdated means of monetizing ideas onto it.
It is my philosophical position that ideas are not ‘owned’ by anyone – that their existence is independent of us and that to ascribe ‘ownership’ to them in any manner is immoral. As such, I think that all – yes, all – copyright and the very concept of ‘intellectual property’ are fundamentally wrong and any laws on this very subject are immoral and must be fought against. Yes, I suspect I am more extreme in my position on this than most people and am rather in line with the ideas of the Church of Kopymism.
Aside: Not finding what religions are ‘officially recognized as religions’ in Canada on our government’s website, I’ve called around to the relevant government departments and talked to many of the civil servants in the ‘appropriate’ departments. I know they were the ‘appropriate’ departments because the other civil servants bounced me there… And, the most informed civil servants on this issue have told me that the Canadian Government does not itself ‘officially recognize’ individual religions: rather, if something is officially recognized as a religion anywhere on Earth, it is automatically recognized as a religion in Canada. That means that since Sweden has recognized ‘The Church of Kopymism’ as an official religion, it is legally recognized as a religion in Canada. This means, of course, in no uncertain terms, that all Canadian laws that restrict the free sharing of information are in direct conflict with our freedom of religion laws.
This position may seem extreme, but it has taken me many years and much thinking to arrive at it…and the ‘why’ is, perhaps, the most important reason for me taking such an extreme position…
So – why?!?!?
Because it is precisely by the use of laws – any laws – which assign ‘ownership’ to ideas, by enacting and then protecting these laws that our freedom of speech will be limited in the age where most of our communications are internet-enabled.
Please, think about it – I will not go further into this because I consider it self-evident.
In other words, I consider freedom of speech to be a necessary pre-condition (not the only pre-condition, but an essential one) for a free society.
Societies are built through communication.
The most powerful tool of communication ever build is the internet.
Therefore, communication over the internet MUST be free.
It is a pre-condition for us to live is a free society.
Which brings me back to Aaron Swartz.
I think that most people truly and honestly do not understand the salient point he was attempting to make…
Please, bear with me because I think this is very important.
Older scientific papers were in the public domain: that means that the information they contained was ‘public’ and no longer copyrighted. Spreading the information contained in these articles was 100% legal.
The problem was that this information was contained in physical journals – the ‘vessels’ I ranted on above. So, a company decided to digitize them. Perfectly legal. They digitized them, housed them on their servers and made them searchable, so that the information contained therein would be easily accessible. All this work of digitizing and storing and managing the ‘free information’ costs money – and so that company charged money to access their database of this ‘free information’.
They charged different organizations different amounts: so, an educational institution in Africa would have free access while universities and colleges in richer countries would have to pay. But, once the college or university paid the fee, all its students and staff would automatically be lawfully allowed to access this information for free.
Aaron Swartz was one such person: he had full free access to all these articles, because he was affiliated with an educational institution that subscribed to this database. So, he had full, lawful access to this database and all the information in it.
So, he accessed it.
But NOT through the ‘regular’ path.
Instead, he went to a different educational institution, one which also had prepaid access to this database, and downloaded the articles through them.
Consider the implications: a person who has legal access to public domain information downloaded it through an organization that had legal access to this public domain information – he just did not do it through the organization he belonged to. (Important point – once an organization paid for access, they no longer had to pay ‘per article’ – so nobody was monetarily disadvantaged by this action.)
This, apparently, is a crime so severe, the prosecutors were seeking to put him in jail for 35 years!!!
This is not a joke!
The company that had digitized the information and from whom Aaron Swartz downloaded it did not want to press charges: they may have been annoyed, but they did not think any crime had occurred.
Yet, this apparently merited longer jail sentence than rape, murder and terrorism would have earned him.
And people wonder why hactivists are trying to bring attention to just how misguided our laws are?!?!?
Also, if you take the time to read the links below, note not just what is being reported, but how…
OK – that was the ‘skeleton: here are links to some of the articles about Aaron Swartz.
There’s more, much more….
So, today, on what OpenMedia terms ‘Freedom of the Internet’ day, please, do take a moment and think about it all..
UPDATE: US Senator Cornyn Questions Holder Over Death of Reddit Co-Founder Aaron Swartz