Tag Archives: facebook

SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It —Adam Savage

Congress reconvenes in January and will take up the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA again. The House only deferred SOPA because of widespread public outcry. Proponents of SOPA, funded by big corporate money, are probably just hoping opponents will be distracted by the holidays. Adam Savage reminds us why we need to be vigilant and keep flooding Congress with calls to vote down those bills or anything like them.

MythBuster Adam Savage wrote for Popular Mechanics 20 December 2011, SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It

Right now Congress is considering two bills—the Protect IP Act, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—that would be laughable if they weren’t in fact real. Honestly, if a friend wrote these into a piece of fiction about government oversight gone amok, I’d have to tell them that they were too one-dimensional, too obviously anticonstitutional.

Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the “good faith” assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

I’m not kidding.

He goes on to correctly compare SOPA and PIPA unfavorably to the already bad Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. You remember, the DMCA that big copyright holders used to sue pre-teen video and audio “pirates” and to take down websites on suspicion. Savage cites a case where somebody with no copyright still got YouTube vidoes taken down under DMCA. Yes, SOPA and PIPA are even worse.

If you like YouTube, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc., it’s time to speak up. Call your Senators and House members. Send them email. Write them paper letters. Petition them. Show up at their offices. Petition the White House to veto it if Congress passes it, and any other bills like it. Right now we still have the Internet to organize these things.


a worldwide social network that has fomented revolution in multiple countries

Who would have thought that twitter and facebook could foment a revolution? Yet Wael Ghonim says it did. He’s one of the people behind the “We are all Khaled Said” facebook page, and he spent a dozen days in jail for it: Here’s his TED Talk:
“Because of the Internet, the truth prevailed.
And everyone knew the truth.
And everyone started to think that this guy can be my brother.”

Here’s a post from that facebook page on 3 March 2011:

“I really want you ALL to understand that your support to Free Egypt & Egyptians is vital. Don’t you ever think that sitting on FaceBook supporting & commenting help help Egypt. A whole revolution started on Facebook & is now bringing Freedom & starting a new modern Egypt.”

Other Egyptian organizers say similar things:

“Online organising is very important because activists have been able to discuss and take decisions without having to organise a meeting which could be broken up by the police,” he said.’
( “Internet role in Egypt’s protests,” by Anne Alexander, BBC, 9 February 2011.)

Many of the Egyptians involved were poor and not usually thought of as Internet users, but David D. Kirkpatrick expalined that in the NY Times 9 Feb 2011, Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt:

The day of the protest, the group tried a feint to throw off the police. The organizers let it be known that they intended to gather at a mosque in an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo, and the police gathered there in force. But the …organizers set out instead for a poor neighborhood nearby, Mr. Elaimy recalled.

Starting in a poor neighborhood was itself an experiment. “We always start from the elite, with the same faces,” Mr. Lotfi said. “So this time we thought, let’s try.” ‘

The NY Times story goes into detail about how the online organizing interfaced with and instigated the initial meatspace protests.

And you don’t need a laptop or a desktop computer to use social media. As Reese Jones points out,

in 2010 75% of the population of Egypt had cell phones (60 million phones in service likely with SMS) possible to message via Facebook via SMS at http://m.facebook.com/.
And this was all after similar efforts in Tunisia had successfully exiled their tyrant and inspired the Egyptians, who in turn inspired the Lybians, etc. And what inspired the Tunisians to start was Wikileaks posts of U.S. cables showing the U.S. thought the Tunisian dictator was just as clueless and corrupt as the Tunisians thought.

So yes, social networking on the Internet has fomented multiple revolutions.


Duopoly Cons Congress Members

73 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter drafted by telco and cableco lobbyists against net neutrality. Save the Internet has sufficiently fisked it. My favorite point is that when AT&T was required as a condition of acquiring Bellsouth in 2006 to abide by net neutrality, it increased its infrastructure investments. As soon as that two year requirement was up, so were the investments. (And they didn’t even honor all the requirements, such as a low-end $10/month service.)

The simple fact is that net neutrality was the condition under which the Internet grew to be what it is today, which is the last bastion of free speech and a free press in much of the world, especially in the United States. The only reason net neutrality is an issue is that the duopoly (telcos and cablecos) succeeded in their regulatory capture of the FCC during Kevin Martin’s term as chairman and did away with much it. The U.S. used to have among the fastest Internet speeds in the world. Since the duopoly got their way, the U.S. has fallen far behind dozens of other countries in connection speeds, availability, and update. While the U.S. NTIA claimed at least one user per ZIP code counted as real service.

We can let the telcos and cablecos continue to turn the Internet into cable TV, as they have said they want to do. Under the conditions they want, we never would have had the world wide web, google, YouTube, flickr, facebook, etc.

And left to their plan, the duopoly will continue cherry-picking densely-populated areas and leaving rural areas, such as south Georgia, where I live, to sink or swim. Most of the white area in the Georgia map never had anybody even try a speed test. Most of the rest of south Georgia had really slow access. Which maybe wouldn’t be a problem if we had competitive newspapers (we don’t) or competing TV stations (we don’t). Or if we didn’t need to publish public information like health care details online, as Sanford Bishop (D GA-02) says he plans to do. How many people in his district can even get to it? How many won’t because their link is too slow? How many could but won’t because it costs too much?

John Barrow (D GA-12) has a fancy flashy home page that most people in his district probably can’t get to. Yet he signed the letter against net neutrality.

I prefer an open Internet. How about you?

Why did the 73 Democrats sign the letter? Could it have to do with the duopoly making massive campaign contributions to the same Democrats and holding fancy parties for them?

The same lobbyists are after Republican members of Congress next.

Call your member of Congress and insist on giving the FCC power to enforce net neutrality rules.


Iran and U.S. Media Irrevelance

whereismyvote.jpg Blogger Interrupted spells out the pretty much complete failure of the U.S. news media, especially cable news, to cover what’s going on in Iran, which is at least of a scale with the Tienanmen Square protests that made CNN’s name 20 years ago.
No obstacle was enough to stop the coverage. Even when China cut off CNN from Beijing, CNN reported repeatedly that they were cut off. BECAUSE IT IS NEWS WHEN A NEWS ORGANIZATION IS SHUT DOWN. When tanks hit the streets in Moscow in 1991, cameras were there, regardless of safety concerns, in one of the most closed societies on earth at the time, as the outcome was in grave doubt. Reporters risked their lives.
At least one news organization has been shut down, El Arabiya. Plus cell phone service is out and facebook, youtube, Voice of America, and BBC World Service are being blocked or jammed in Iran.

There are news organizations covering all this, most notably the BBC. But if you really want to know what’s going on you have to turn to twitter or bloggers like Andrew Sullivan.

The biggest problem with the decline of the traditional news media is the accompanying decline in real reporting. Yet how hard could it be to report that the official election statistics are preposterous, the Iranian state’s own election monitors say the election had problems, and the opposition (which apparently actually won) is very organized and is planning demonstrations today and a general strike Tuesday?

If the traditional media can’t cover something as obvious as this, what good is it?