SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TIPA, and more acronyms than most people care to think about are what is in the news. All of these pieces of legislation are designed with one thought in mind; to control the Internet. Now this may sound like little more than a crazed conspiracy theory, but it is not. You see right now the Internet represents a real threat to many businesses (and governments).
Well we all knew it had to start somewhere. The possibility that some democracy would forget the concept of free speech and free and open communication was always there. I do not think that anyone thought it was going to be the UK though. Unfortunately a judge in the UK has ordered all ISPs in the UK to manually block access to the Pirate Bay website.
Looking at bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) it is easy to see the argument for Civil Liberties, Censorship, Personal Privacy and Private Communications. In fact we hear about this on a daily basis from groups like Anonymous, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future and more. However, while all of these arguments are very valid and ring in the ears of voters and consumers everywhere there is another threat that many are overlooking. This threat might even be larger than the ones that are talked about over and over; the security threat.
In mid-January the battle over SOPA and PIPA hit a peak with an unprecedented show of opposition. We saw Wikipedia go dark for the day while other large site put black censored bars over their logos. At the end of this the SOPA and PIPA backers in the Senate and the House of Representatives decided they needed to change their direction. Lamar Smith, the sponsor for SOPA made the official announcement that SOPA was being shelved. Many hailed this announcement as a victory, but it seems they did not see the finger crossed behind Smith’s back.
If you ever needed evidence of how badly laws like PIPA and SOPA (and of course ACTA) could and would be abused you have to look no further than some of the laws that are already in place. We have shown you how the lawyers for the entertainment industry have (and continue to do so) violated due process and circumvented even court orders to get what they want. Now we have Spain’s Sinde Law as a direct show of how eager the content “owners” are to pull down sites or simply make complaints.
Today is a busy day on the Internet (it usually is on a Monday morning). There are multiple articles and comments that are all related to the freedom of the Internet and how the world is evolving to embrace it while some in power are de-evolving to tray and restrict it. At this point there is no clear winner, but the sides are being firmly drawn in the sand and it is clear that things will get worse before they get better.
In what has to be one of the most unusual “Get-The-Vote-Out” campaigns that I have personally seen it appears that Anonymous and the Occupy group are urging people to hold politicians accountable for their actions by voting them out of office. While some in the media are calling this a first it is not the in reality. In multiple messages Anonymous has called on the public to hold their political leaders accountable. Their methods might be different at times, but this is also the beginning of the voting season in the US so the move really comes as no surprise.
The news has been buzzing with talk of Google’s new combined privacy policies and the impact they will have on the user’s personal information. This is due to the way that Google is moving to a combined user format and will allow for the sharing of user information between different platforms and services. Now, we agree that this is not a good thing and is something that Google needs to reverse their decision on, but there is something else at stake here. This is something that most publications have missed the boat on and one that I think even Google has not considered…
After both SOPA and PIPA were publicly shelved the US government did what it always does. It finds a way to do what it wants, but by hiding it in other bills or (as is becoming more common) using trade agreements to by-pass laws altogether. This is exactly what we are seeing with ACTA and TPP. These two trade agreements are probably some of the most dangerous bits of work that we have read about in a very long time.
I love old sayings. One reason is that some are just plain funny, but another is that so many are true. In this case the old saying is “If you squeeze something too tight it will slip out between your fingers”. This is exactly what is happening with the tight internet controls that are being worked on right now. As Google, Twitter and others are working on hiding dissenting topics and tweets that governments do not want visible in their countries people like the TOR (The Onion Router) Project are working to get around those restrictions.