Tag Archives: SOPA

SOPA was a Kitten compared to ACTA

So it turns out that our governments are duplicitous creatures and apparently entirely in the deep pockets of the entertainment industry. Today I am thoroughly disgusted with the UK, which has agreed to ratify Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Fortunately we still have some time, as the issue still needs to be voted in the European parliament, and if it fails there, it fails globally.

ACTA  Anti Counterfeit Trading Agreement- New ...

Image by mermadon 1967 via Flickr

The Disgusting Circumvention of Politics

Now that really irks me about ACTA is that it isn’t being passed as law, it’s being pushed through as a trade agreement, something that doesn’t require governments to have public approval.  This means they have been able to push this through stealthily, and without making it a transparent agreement for the world to look at. Probably because if they had, the world would have gone into even more massive uproar than over SOPA.

This tactic of pushing through bills that affect laws and criminal codes is called Policy Laundering.  And it is massively in breach of what people would perceive as our democratic rights, especially since it modifies the criminal code. This is a civil matter, and needs to be decided in parliament, with full exposure to the public, not made secretly hidden from the public.

After all, SOPA was merely an extension of the US Law, ACTA on the other hand is Global. There is no protection and no place to hide.

Given that the countries pushing it as well are supposed to be democratic nations, the fact that this has not been a democratic process in the slightest is a massive breach of the trust we place in our governments. It is about time that we made out governments stand up and listen to us as a nation. We have been giving over this power to them and now they are abusing it.

How the HELL does ACTA affect me?

In a million ways.

For starters it basically requires that ISPs screen all content that passes along their networks for copyright material. To put it bluntly and really hit home. It basically involves them reading your emails.

Now I can guarantee that if the government demanded that your postal mail was all read before being sent out by you, you’d be pretty pissed. This is a huge breach of the fundamental rights and freedoms of us as European citizens. It completely restricts our freedom to expression and communications privacy.

For instance, post anything marked as copyright that you don’t realise and post to Facebook, means you lose your internet connection. No bullshit. ISPs would be required to disconnect you from the network. End of story.

Now tell me that isn’t a huge breach of my freedom to communications privacy, and my right to communication.  Plus given that there was talk of access to information on the internet being classified as a basic human right, then this is now in breach of my human rights. HURRAY.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published “Speak out against ACTA”, stating that the ACTA threatens free software by creating a culture “in which the freedom that is required to produce free software is seen as dangerous and threatening rather than creative, innovative, and exciting.

That quote from the Free Software foundation highlights a bit of the threat towards the creative industries as well. This bill would also mean the death of software repositories like GitHub and my personal favourite, Sourceforge as well.

Also to my fellow Unix and Linux brothers! You like music as well right. Well say goodbye to being able to play your music Collection. ACTA would make it illegal to play Non-Free media in open source media players.

That’s right; anyone who uses Open Source software to play DRM material will essentially be committing a crime. Tell me that is not completely fucked up in every single way.

You’ve sold me, what can I do?

UK based, then grab your MP and make some noise. Some serious noise.

And if you are European, then grab your MEP, same for us UK folks as well. Make noise. We need to kick off about this in a big way, not simply because it impinges upon our civil freedoms and our rights to communications privacy, but because it’s in breach of democratic process of the free nations of the world.

There is information all over the web to help point you in the right direction.

My suggested starting point is right at this website here:  http://www.stopacta.info/

Stand up and fight.

Dave, the willing net warrior


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The SOPA Aftermath: What’s next?

So after a brilliant Web Rally across the world, with multiple sites going dark for the day, (including Wikipedia, Wired, even Google had a black sash) the SOPA and PIPA bills have been shelved for a while at least. I am still proudly showing my stance on internet censorship by keeping the banner in the top right, for at least a while longer and that will stay there until Jan 24th.

SOPA Resistance Day!

Image by ~C4Chaos via Flickr

But now people we need to consider what’s next. And what the viable solutions are.

This bill started out thanks to people blindly lashing out at the perceived threat of copy write theft  and it was almost the biggest intellectual disaster that could’ve hit the world. Blacking out content on the net, would have killed the net. And sure it would’ve killed piracy online, but in reality, the piracy would continue.

And if the piracy would continue why censor our freedom of speech.

The biggest thing most of the politicians behind the draft of this bill don’t get is that pirates are clever. Really clever. Hence why so much stuff gets DRM stripped literally hours after initial launch. You can’t really stop them, all you do is cut off a distribution channel, but by the way Wikipedia went dark, I think it’s safe to say that cutting off the net does more harm to the common man than good.

There are multiple ways around restrictions and blocks like that, such as TOR and proxy connections to hide and mask IP’s and then you can look at things like VPN networks. Global VPN networks of people.

Try to shut down the net like that and I think it would simply evolve. For the day to day people you would have the Government Approved Internet and the Undernet. A collection of VPNs talking to one another, with free information and free speech. See Freenet for a great example.

There are a lot better solutions to the problems. But you will never get rid of the pirates.

However looking into the aftermath of SOPA, I have to flag up one huge point. Megaupload is dead. Once a file sharing website, to which anyone could upload files and pass the links on, a good way to get around the restrictions of email attachment size limitations has been Axed and the owners arrested for “Copy write Infringement” simply because of the content their users have put up online.

And as was noticed last night by the mighty TotalBiscuitFile Sonic also seems to have gone. No longer allowing uploads anyway. You can simply get in for retrieval of data that you have already put up there. And it looks like they have only done that in response to the Megaupload raid, fearing consequences for their own site. It wouldn’t surprise me to see more file sharing sites do exactly the same thing. And the users will start to be hurt.

You can’t expect website owners to be able to police every single bit of content that passes through them. There is simply too much information. Far too much information. All you can do is report when you think something is in violation of copy write and inform the owner for it to be flagged and removed.

And given the number of users Megaupload has, do you really think they are capable of policing every bit of data uploaded to their servers on a day to day basis. I certainly don’t.

I have a strong feeling though that this is only the beginning of a large number of high profile website hits that will shake the internet all over again. And I do not approve of this.

The people making these decisions need to be educated. We are a technical world now, and the internet should be a breeding ground of creativity, not a pit of censorship.

Make no mistake. SOPA and PIPA will be back and we will have to act again, and show the same solidarity we did on Jan 18th or else we will lose.

Dave, the master of VPN

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