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


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

(También en Español)

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

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?