Censorship, Freedom of Speech, Privacy

Please join the Electronic Frontier Foundation ( EFF.org ) and the fight for your rights on the Internet. I have not received any National Security Letter.

The late Howard Zinn's book, "A People's History of the United States", will help you understand US history. It also helps place current political and social threads into the context of history. Highly recommended.

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David A's Stop Censorship, Protect Privacy and Freedom

As of October , 2015, TPP has been finalized. Mike Masnick at Techdirt.com has a very sensible overview of the document:

Masnick writes: So, remember, any time you see someone saying they support the TPP because they support "free trade," they're either lying or totally uninformed. The TPP is not about free trade. It's about the opposite. It's about locking in protectionist rules for incumbent providers, which is exactly the kind of thing free trade is supposed to take away.

SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA , and as of July 2014, CISA (the names sometimes change but the goals remain the same) are issues of freedom of speech and the survival of the internet. If you think that is crazy, read Steve Forbes' editorial and read the rest of this page. Judge for yourself. The issues affect everyone, not just US residents.

As of 2013 it has gone well beyond just the Movie and Music industries. We all now know the US agencies we refer to as the NSA are recording all our phone calls, emails, and more. Recording in full.

I recommend the Electronic Frontier Foundation as an excellent starting point. And groklaw as a way to dig deeper. Unfortunately the impossibility of private email (given all the NSA is doing and has done) has led PJ (of groklaw) to decide to stop updating groklaw.net as of August 2013.

Electronic Frontier Foundation www.eff.org
Groklaw - Digging for Truth www.groklaw.net
MIT Law Professor Lawrence Lessig's Blog www.lessig.org
Volokh Conspiracy - Blog on US legal developments Washington Post as of 2014
Popehat - Blog on politics,news. Libertarian perspective www.popehat.com

Update December 22, 2014. "[Google resisting subpoena instigated by] the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which has been quietly supporting state-level prosecutors in various efforts to target the company and the open Internet." Meaning the MPAA is trying to use state attourneys general in various jurisdictions to control the internet. The MPAA is making contributions to public officials and using that to get the legal actions taken. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/12/hollywood-funds-sopa-revival-through-state-officials-google-and-internet-respond

Update 17 September 2013. We all now know the US NSA is recording everything we do in the Internet or phone due to the efforts of Manning, Snowden, and Assange. And the US Government is doing almost all of it illegally.

Update 30 April 2013. The US government is again pursuing a very bad CISPA bill in the US Congress. And TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is going to negatively affect everyone's rights everywhere unless you help to fight it. See www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/04/tpp-biggest-global-threat-internet-acta for the details.

Update 2 January 2013. The US government is set to reapprove warrantless spying on everyone. This spying on everyone definitely stifles free speech. How could it do otherwise?

Update 22 August 2012. See the eff.org site for information on TPP, the latest effort to make the world copyright system draconian and thereby make the US Copyright system worse than the horrible mess it already is.

Update 26 April 2012: US House of Representatives passes CISPA. 248 to 168. If this becomes law your ISP has to give up data without a court order and your ISP is immune to lawsuits on this. Moreover you will have no way to find out your data was given up.

Update 13 April 2012: Well nobody thought the parade of internet bills (from folks who may or may not understand what they are doing) was over did we? Now its dangerously vague 'cybersecurity' bills. Check out H.R. 3523 (Rogers), H.R. 3674 (Lungren), S. 2105 (Lieberman), and S. 215 (McCain) Read about them in https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/03/four-unanswered-questions-about-cybersecurity-bills .

Update 12 April 2012: The April threat is CISPA, and http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120410/12180518442/cispa-is-really-bad-bill-heres-why.shtml explains why this new threat is real. EFF.org has a link to this techdirt.com article too.

The US DMCA laws (in effect for some years now) which were pushed on the world by the same industries are very bad too but I don't document that law or its bad effects here.

Steve Forbes' editorial is "Don't Soft-Soap SOPA" www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2012/01/25/dont-soft-soap-sopa/.

Update 27 February 2012: Eric Raymond has written a brilliant discussion of the issue in an open letter to Senator Chris Dodd and it is must reading!

The bottom line is YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, google+, or any other site which accepts user comments will be forced off the internet (world-wide) by what the US Congress (as paid by the Movie and Music industry) is attempting to do (currently with legislation referred to as SOPA/PIPA). Pretty drastic, right? Mention, for example, thepiratebay.org and any web site containing that or referring to it even indirectly would be taken off the internet (yes, all of facebook or twitter would go if you posted it there or if a link to somewhere else that mentioned it appeared on those sites). Folks would have to go to court to prove they were doing nothing wrong before the site might(!) be allowed to be visible. Months or years later the web site might be allowed back on the internet. If it's your web site, same thing (but you might not have millions of dollars to pay the legal fees).

A good place to get the full SOPA/PIPA picture (after you research the credibility of TED talks and Clay Shirky on Wikipedia or elsewhere) is the Professor Shirky's fourteen minute TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/defend_our_freedom_to_share_or_why_sopa_is_a_bad_idea.html. The video explains how why the Music and Movie industries are not going to stop unless the US Congress takes action (as the Professor explains). It also explains how the actions the Music and Movie industries are attempting will cause disruption of the internet world-wide. Not just in the USA.

A funny description of the, umm, lies the industry tells to make you think copyright violation is a big problem is Rob Reid's "The $8 billion iPod" http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/rob_reid_the_8_billion_ipod.html

For some details on the actual wording of SOPA and PIPA (which are temporarily held back in the US Congress) and how the descriptions of them (by the industry) are misleading, Salman Khan (founder of the Khan Academy) has a wonderful 10 minute video that shows the actual wording of the bill and in simple language explains what it actually says. On youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzqMoOk9NWc On KhanAcademy: http://www.khanacademy.org/video/sopa-and-pipa

Another excellent site with information on SOPA/PIPA is The Electronic Frontier Foundation: http://www.eff.org . A particularly lovely article suggesting what the people in Music and Movie industries should really do is https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/02/dear-hollywood-open-letter-hardworking-men-and-women-entertainment-industries

The US DMCA law is also introducing censorship, though its backers (again the Music and Movie industries!) claim that is not its purpose. See https://www.eff.org/wp/unintended-consequences-under-dmca to get a sense of how DMCA is harming consumers (you and I).

I emailed Senator Feinstein the other day about SOPA/PIPA (she was a co-signer of one of the bills) and her office responded via email with, in part:

The "PROTECT IP Act" (S. 968) gives copyright and trademark owners and the U.S. Department of Justice authority to take action against websites "dedicated to infringing activities." These are websites that have "no significant use other than engaging in, enabling, or facilitating" copyright infringement, the sale of goods with a counterfeit trademark, or the evasion of technological measures designed to protect against copying. I'm sorry to say that theft of intellectual property is a major problem and has primarily adversely affected the American motion picture industry.

After you read the actual terms of the bill and watch the TED talk and Khan's video you will understand how misleading and inaccurate the Senator's words are. In brief, the Senator's description of what the proposed legislation does is simply wrong. The legislation does much much much more, and what it does is all bad.

A slight aside about Copyright. Copyright is a complicated and directly related topic so it deserves attention. A book by William Patry titled "How to Fix Copyright" gives insight into the entire copyright picture. [I have no financial interest in the book, I just recommend it as a source of background because copyright is broken presently and does directly relate to the Music and Movie (and Book printing) industries.]

The business model of the book publishers, music publishers, and movie publishers is based on artificial scarcity. The assumption that it is expensive to get a copy of something and expensive to keep it around and expensive to publish something oneself. The business model of those industries is based on that assumption -- yet the Internet makes copying and publishing essentially free, which invalidates the assumption, hence invalidates their entire business model. Which explains why the Music, Movie, and Book industries wish the internet would just go away and why they will continue to try to make the internet go away.

Did I mention the Congress gets millions of dollars every year in campaign donations from the Movie and Music industry? How could I have forgotten to mention that?

ACTA is just as bad as PIPA/SOPA (perhaps it is worse) and will applies to the entire world, see the ACTA full text and a forum on it. March 8, 2012 is apparently the first time the full text has been available to review. It has been in existence (in various forms) for years but the text was hidden from the public. We owe US Rep. Darrel Issa a debt of gratitude for making the text public.

The Slovenian ambassador to Japan, Povej Naprej, explains that he signed ACTA for Slovenia out of 'civic carelessness'. Against his own civic conviction. "Let my example be a cautionary tale of how swiftly we can make mistakes if we allow ourselves to slip." I first saw this on the Feb 3,2012 groklaw.net newspicks. See http:://metinalista.si/why-i-signed-acta/ .