internet

BREAKING: #Wikipedia to go dark Wed to Protest #SOPA

It’s official, from The Hill:

Wikipedia will blackout on Wednesday to protest two controversial Internet piracy bills, founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter Monday.

“Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday,” Wales wrote.

The protest will apply only to the English version of the popular online encyclopedia and will last for 24 hours.

Wales estimated that the English Wikipedia receives about 25 million visits per day, but he said the site could receive even more visits during the blackout due to the publicity.

There you have it, folks. Now this protest actually will be effective. 25 million will see that Wikipedia is against SOPA, leading to 25 million who will also be against it. And that’s just a conservative estimate.

The Senate will vote on SOPA’s counterpart January 24. We need to let everyone in the Senate know how bad this bill is—and hopefully, with the weight of Wikipedia behind us, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.

Wikipedia to go dark to protest #SOPA?

There are very few petitions that I think will actually do something. Usually, I simply don’t bother. Nobody reads them or listens to them. However, there are exceptions, and here is one of them.

Apparently, Wikipedia is considering going dark to protest the censorship monstrosities “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act,” and DemandProgress has a petition website up where you can pledge to donate $1 if they do go dark, or simply sign a nonmonetary petition to do so. I have pledged the money, not only because I oppose SOPA, but also because I have used Wikipedia a lot over the years, and I would like to give back to that community.

We’ve been over why SOPA is a bad idea here many times. There are sincere technological problems with SOPA, along with political issues. It’s a cure that’s worse than the disease. The backers behind SOPA are pirates themselves. Wikipedia would also not be alone in this, if it does go through. All of these are reasons why we need to do something about this bill, and do it now.

8 Technological Reasons to Stop SOPA & PIPA

There’s legislation in the House and Senate right now that is very troubling to me. In the House, it’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act (abbreviated SOPA); in the Senate, it’s called PROTECT IP (or PIPA). The goal of the legislation is to stop online piracy, which is definitely a problem. The Senate will be voting on it later this month, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in awe at the absurdity of this legislation while trying to find a proper way to respond to it.

I’m a freedom loving, Constitution defending, small government guy who writes my own personal opinion about politics (which, for the record, may or may not always be the view of my employer). My day job (the one that actually pays bills) is as a systems administrator for a very large company. I’ve spent the vast majority of the last 13 years since my college graduation dealing with the technology of the Internet, and I know it quite well.

My career in IT and my fondness for liberty make me one of a relatively small number of political bloggers qualified to address this issue from both the technological and political points of view. Today I am discussing the technological issues around this legislation; tomorrow I’ll post the political problems with it.

This weekend I spent a lot of time poring over this legislation, blog posts, and white papers about it. I made my own notes and then merged my concerns of this legislation with those I found elsewhere on the Internet. This post is a fairly exhaustive list of the technological problems with SOPA and PIPA.

When a domain is seized, the pirated content still exists on the server. Additionally, it can still be accessed by its IP address. There is nothing, outside of draconian national firewall rules, that can be done to stop Americans from accessing this content.

The GOP’s Energy Economy Short-Sightedness: It’s the Internet, Stupid

Though I didn’t notice it at the time, techPresident’s Nick Judd makes a very astute observation about the recent Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP presidential debate on the economy:

 

  • Number of times the Internet was mentioned by name in a debate about the economy: 2.
  • Number of jobs that were in the American information sector in 2007: 3,496,773.

 

Texas Governor Rick Perry will unveil his economic plan in Pittsburgh (emphasis mine):

My plan is based on this simple premise: Make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world. We are standing atop the next American economic boom…energy. The quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy American ingenuity to tap American energy. But we can only do that if environmental bureaucrats are told to stand down. My plan will break the grip of dependence we have today on foreign oil from hostile nations like Venezuela and unstable nations in the Middle East to grow jobs and our economy at home.

Steve Jobs: A man worth emulating

Seeing as nearly every site on the Internet has a tribute of some sort to recently deceased Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, I won’t bore you with another.  Needless to say, as one of the millions who has contributed some portion of his salary to Mr. Jobs over the years, he has had an impact on my life.  But I see him as more than a guy who made me fork over hundreds for fancy MP3 players, smartphones, and more.

Steve Jobs was, in my mind, the quintessential capitalist.  He is not a man who was known for great charity, in the traditional sense.  Instead, he contributed to society in a way that is far greater than that.  He created things that we actually wanted, and that actually made our lives more productive and happy.  And in the end, we were more than happy to give him our hard-earned money because these were, in our estimations, things of VALUE.

This is an important distinction in a world where the media and those left-of-center tend to obsequiously worship only those wealthy who set up foundations and grants, or who lobby for taxes on their peers to be raised (see Obama, Bill Clinton, Buffett, and many others).  Now, there is nothing wrong with giving to charity, if that is your choice.  But it is indeed strange for anyone to be lauded for advocating the forced confiscation of wealth from others.  It’s a strange mindset indeed.

Steve Jobs, on the other hand, was the opposite of this.  He was not a political player in any major way.  He just innovated and put forth new ideas, new ways of thinking, new technologies that we didn’t know we needed.  In this way, he was the living embodiment of the truly beautiful relationships that a free market can create - a system wherein millions got gadgets they wanted, and Jobs became incredibly wealthy.

Your Internet privacy could be in jeopardy

The Atlantic is reporting on a bill working its way through Congress that could potentially be disastrous for civil liberties and privacy on the Internet.  The innocuously-named bill, the “Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” requires that all ISPs maintain 12-month records of literally every element of your Internet activity.  To obtain this info, all police have to do is ask for it - even for other crimes entirely unrelated to child porn.

This is the kind of nice-sounding, yet massively over-broad law that creates far more problems that it intends to solve.  And yet it’s hardly surprising that the government is making a power grab under the banner of “protecting children”.  That’s right up there with “helping poor people” and “stopping terrorism” in the list of excuses the state has used as a cover for invading our rights.

Clearly, this bill cannot become law.  Anything we can do to alert people to it would certainly go a long way to shedding a light on this very problematic legistation.

Thanks go to Jayvie Canono (@OneFineJay) on Twitter for pointing me to this.

Facebook Privacy - An Oxymoron

I have decided to delete my Facebook account and here’s why.

Facebook has increasingly disregarded it’s users personal data. It is changing it’s privacy policy frequently and is selling more and more information to 3rd party sites.

Facebook has even made it difficult to monitor your privacy settings, burying them layers of menu’s making them impossible to find. When privacy changes come, they are located under a new section, they are enabled by default, and you must take an active role to disable them, again and again. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you haven’t been paying attention.

Some of your personal information, such as Liking or becoming a Fan of a group, is not even able to be hidden. It is publicly availible to anyone.

As a computer geek, who spends tens of hours on the web every week, I must caution you against keeping your Facebook account. Facebook’s leadership does not have your interests in mind when they are thinking about the future of Facebook.

It is this trend which concerns me. Consider this, how many of you use any part of your brithday as a password or a screename for an account? If you are, you’re making it much easier to get scammed. That data can be given to third party sites. So now, there’s more places than just Facebook that hold your information. And that’s just one example.

What are those third party sites’ policy when they get hacked? How will they let you know you’re personal information has been compromised? Do they even have that kind of an agreement with Facebook? And how are you supposed to keep up with that information?

Can Your Twitter Account Get You Arrested?

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my use of 140 or fewer characters could result in seeing the inside of a jail cell.  For most users, use of Twitter will not result in a blemished criminal record.  For those who would not know a “tweet” from a “twestival,” Twitter is a micro-blogging service that has been the subject of a lot of attention in the last 2 years, from tech-addicted geeks (like me) to the politically obsessed (again, like me) to popular culture (and, so long as it has nothing to do with reality TV, I’m into it).  For some, however, relaying police location information publicly available via scanning equipment to fellow anarchists protesting the G-20 economic summit or refusing to “tweet” upon commanded has led, in my opinion, to some questionable arrests for two men in New York.

Explaining Net Neutrality: Is it a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet?

Net neutrality is one of the newest buzzwords around the internet and is starting to gain attention of many computer users.

So, what is net neutrality? Before I answer that question, we need to first understand how the process of getting online works. When you subscribe to a cable or DSL connection, most people believe that you are buying a direct connection to the internet. However, this is not true in that your provider serves as your go-between to all of the servers and bandwidth that makes that connection.  For that reason, your provider could (and does, to an extent) control what you can and cannot “see” and do on the internet because they have purchased and allocated bandwidth on your behalf.

Recently, various internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T have started to suggest that they should begin to charge you for access to the most popular sites and services and this is where net neutrality comes into play. From your provider’s perspective, net neutrality is bad for business because they buy their bandwidth based on capacity–the more they need, the more it costs them.

Here’s an example: YouTube is by far the most popular site for watching and sharing videos. However, video on the internet requires a great deal of data to be transferred from one location to another. In response, the providers would like to start charging you for accessing those bandwidth heavy websites thereby reducing the load (and cost) of the bandwidth they provide and increasing their profits.

If these new fees were to be allowed under rules that could be proposed, issues of censorship arise where as a user you would be forced to pay for content you previously could access for free or lose access to that content.  In addition, your provider would have the power to cut off access to sites not deemed cost effective or for any reason they feel appropriate.

ICANN, Meet Your New Master, the FCC

ICANN

 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an executive branch agency within the Department of Commerce, sparked controversy last year when it announced its intent to transition its oversight of Internet domain names to “the global multistakeholder community.” The controversy is now over. The NTIA no longer has authority to relinquish U.S. control over the Internet domain name system. Though few seem to have realized it, the FCC assumed plenary jurisdiction over Internet numbering in its 2015 net neutrality order reclassifying the broadband Internet as telecommunications (Reclassification Order).

Internet Domain System

The NTIA’s oversight of the Internet domain system includes the assignment of IP numbers and the system for registering domain names. Each device connected to the Internet has a uniquely identifiable IP address. Domain names allow users to identify these numbers using easy-to-understand names (e.g., www.cbit.org) rather than a string of numbers and/or letters. “In this way, it functions similar to an ‘address book’ for the Internet.”


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.