On June 11th something happened across the internet that has reverberated through many online services that we take for granted. Starting with Facebook there was an unexplained (and Facebook still refuses to comment) run of legitimate sites suddenly being marked as spam, then just as suddenly being “fixed”. We saw this with our links where after posting an article on Microsoft we lost all links between June 11th and May 28th. When we tried to repost them we were told that the links were blocked because they were “spammy”. Our report of this issue resulted in well over 100 others stating the same thing was happening to them.
In what can only be described as a “the pot calling the kettle” style move corporations, the US Congress and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) have all gotten together to keep the Internet Free. When we first read the headlines about the UN having a conference in Dubai to discuss the possibility of moving governance of some aspects of the Internet to them (actually the ITU) we chuckled a little bit. When we heard the garbage spewing from members of congress and the FCC we began to outright laugh.
So yesterday (Friday May 18th) we heard that Apple was censoring the word “jailbreak” in iTunes and the App Store. This was reported by a few sites and seemed to be rather odd after the backlash from the obvious censoring of a single search string when using Apple’s Siri Voice Assistant. When we ran the story on Siri we had a rather large and enthusiastic response to the article. The one thing that many people kept trying to say was that Apple did not alter the results, but more on that after we talk about the jailbreak issue.
Remember the original trial for the “criminal” copyright infringement case against The Pirate Bay (TPB) and some of the shady things that went on behind the scenes? Well now we find that the copyright industry is doing it again, this time with the legal proceedings that just arranged for all links, proxies and any other references to The Pirate Bay banned in the Netherlands. This is actually popping up right after we talked about the methods the industry will go to just to maintain control.
Well, well, well; it looks like Apple has been caught altering the data that Siri returns to their users when asked specific questions. Last week it was reported that when users asked Siri “What is the best smartphone” it replied with the answer The Nokia Lumia 900. Now Apple has previously stated that the information from Siri all comes from WolframAlpha “computational knowledge engine” (pronounce that search engine) and they have no power to alter the data that Siri sends.
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).
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.
Microsoft is in the news again today as they are officially admitting to blocking any links to The Pirate Bay on their Messenger Software. The possibility that Microsoft was blocking links was first raised last week as more than a few people reported being unable to send or receive links. Microsoft and other messaging companies have always used filtering software to make sure that people are not bothered by spam or malware.
As we told you yesterday the government in Iran is working very hard to block connections to social networks and even email services. They have gone so far as to block the use of the SSL and TLS protocols (Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security) which will block most email services with the exception of basic IMAP and POP3 mail. As of late last night it appears that they have moved into a second phase of restriction. We are hearing that they are now blocking certain sties by IP and domain name.
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.