A Federal Appeals court has ruled that the act of liking something on Facebook is protected under the First Amendment in the US Constitution. For anyone that might not be familiar with this amendment it is the one that guarantees free speech. The ruling stems from a law suit that was filed claiming wrongful termination. In this suit the plaintiff claimed that he was terminated because he like the page of a political rival of his boss (the city sheriff).
The Indian government these days enters the final stage of the first phase of implementation of the system for monitoring Internet activity, text messaging (e-mail, SMS) and voice calls of their residents. It is about $74 million heavy security project that is broadly conceived as a weapon to fighting terrorism. It is difficult, however, to ignore the fact that the privacy of users now virtually will not exist.
Google has made an interesting statement on their blog. It is not one that will surprise anyone or something that is a revelation, but it was interesting to see Google (who is under pressure from the government on many fronts) actually spelling it out. Oh yeah, the statement is basically saying that it is not just countries like China that are trying to censor the web pages available on the internet; it is democratic governments too (including the US).
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.
Remember how we told you about Jim Conte and his plan to make anonymous posting a thing of the past (and in some cases illegal)? When we covered that we talked about the technological and financial barriers to doing this as well as some of the implications of the law. Well we have an actual example of how removing anonymity from the web can be abused (and how it directly relates to the section about political commentary).
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.
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.
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.
Lately there has been a large focus on the Internet and that it is becoming less of the open communications community that people believe that it should be. We have watched as laws like SOPA, PIPA, Open, ACTA and others have been proposed on the basis of protecting Intellectual Property. Because of the push to protect corporate interests it is often felt that the big entertainment companies are behind these laws. If the truth be told many of them are behind these laws, however we cannot remove responsibility from the government in these cases.
So Yesterday, January 18th 2012, was the great Internet Blackout in protest of SOPA. We contributed with a black out of the site for 24 hours. Many sites supported this on the surface but when it came time to draw the curtains on their pages they just could not do it. The reasons for this are pretty plain to see. Since most sites run off of advertising (which is ALL based on the amount of traffic you get) they did not want to take the hit in revenue.