Robin Walker – what a nasty piece of Tory to find on the sole of your shoe!

01/05/2013

I am a member of online campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. These are groups that ask members what campaigns it should get involved with, then the group will call on its members to send to local MPs. ministers and other such, so our will is focused and targeted and helps ensure that the government and others can’t just ignore us. Divided we are nothing. United we can do anything… well, the government can’t just ignore us.

My local MP is the Tory Robin Walker. Incidentally, his late father Peter Walker (1932-2010) was MP for Worcester until 1992, when he resigned as MP and was sent to the House of Lords to do his masters’ work. Robin has been a pretty engaged MP – he has replied to every email I’ve sent him (he uses official House of Commons writing paper and envelopes – you would have thought that Parliament had discouraged use of snail mail) but only once has he expressed agreement with my point, about the Defamation Bill). Most recently he sent me a (probably form) letter telling me how important it was that the government keep my communication and other logs for all eternity just in case I were a terrorist or paedophile. He wrote:

Communications data is vital for the police in their fight against crime, including serious offences, such as child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism.

Note the use of the “big 3″: child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism”. The suggestion is that opposing the Data Communications Data Bill is, or supports, nonces, pushers and suicide bombers. Thanks Robin; yet another reason to avoid voting for him when the general election comes round.

Right now, I don’t have a clue who’ll get my vote: it won’t be the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are no longer a viable choice…if Ed Miliband can drag Labour back to the left I might put my mark by his name; but how likely will that happen?

Brits are wage-slaves, with mortgages and their children’s educations keeping the populace keeping their nose to the stone, while bankers, corporate directors and other vested interests keep their money in tax havens. But don’t worry: the Conservatives want your personal data, phone logs, emails, bowel movements, whatever, stored for all eternity in a massive computer system that probably fail (as do most government-contracted computer systems do). We’re stuck with this situation unless someone does something about it.

Who’s your MP? Does he care about you? I’d love to see along string of Comments to this post, telling us how our MPs act for our best interests. And my current voting advice regarding the next election: go to the voting station, spoil your ballot (I like to write at the bottom of the voting card “None of the above” and a X in a box next to it), put it in the black box, and be on your way. This is not apathy, this is showing the establishment that the status quo must end.

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Aaron Swartz and the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

03/02/2013


Aaron Swartz before they killed him… Look, he’s smiling

Don’t you know who Aaron Swartz was? Shame on you! Go read about this modern-age hero now!! Aaron Swartz believed in free access to publibly-funded science and other documents. He helped fight SOPA. And now he’s dead.

He wrote “The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” which clearly outlines why it’s wrong to commodify knowledge. Rather than give you a link, I decided to reprint the Manifesto here.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for
themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries
in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of
private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the
sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought
valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure
their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But
even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future.
Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their
colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them?
Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to
children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they
make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal —
there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s
already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been
given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world
is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for
yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords
with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been
sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by
the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or
piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a
ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only
those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate
require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they
have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who
can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the
grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public
culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with
the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need
to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific
journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open
Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the
privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz

July 2008, Eremo, Italy

The name Aaron Swartz should never be forgotten. Neither should the date 11 January 2013, the day he died. We should remember Aaron Swartz every day, by following his manifesto. Copy and distribute documents and other material as part of a global struggle against those who would keep us down and teach us our “station in life”.

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18 January – Internet Freedom Day!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

18/01/2013

I got an email today from the nice people at Fight for the Future, reminding me that a year ago today, “you, me, and 24 million people defeated SOPA and Internet censorship. It was the largest online protest ever.” SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a proposed US law that would have impacted horribly on all our freedoms online. But it was stomped, one year ago today, and now many people are calling for 18 January to be known as Internet Freedom Day.

The email suggested one way we can celebrate Internet Freedom Day:

How is Fight for the Future participating? Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, we’re reminded that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted, and often censored on sites like Youtube. We realized that watching and sharing this speech (which could be considered illegal) to celebrate Dr. King’s work and the freedom we fought for is exactly what needs to happen.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience and to celebrate our historic defeat of SOPA, we made this video that contains the entire 17 minute speech.

Join us in a small act of civil disobedience to remember what we fight for. Watch and share this video.

If SOPA had passed, you could have gone to jail for sharing a video of it, and entire websites could have been shut down for linking to it.

But even more than that, there’s a bigger question: Are you okay with a world where when someone just learning about race and civil rights goes to the web to see MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is confronted with a notice that says “this video has been removed”? It isn’t until 2038, when the copyright on this speech is over, that you’re even allowed to share this video.

If you haven’t done so already, send this video to a friend, tweet it, talk to your friends about it, and celebrate MLK’s work and our ability to fight back online censorship that can keep the things we love and need from us.

Nice sentiment. And if you click that link to see the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, you will see that there’s still a lot to fight for.

The email also said:

Last, but not least, our friend and Center for Rights board member, Marvin Ammori, just wrote a book called On Internet Freedom that you can download *for free* today. He describes it as “a sort of love song to the First Amendment and the Internet.” (You can download the Kindle app for free to read on your computer, phone, or anything else, and we think he’d approve if you removed the DRM to read it on other devices.)

But anyway: 18 January as Internet Freedom Day? Hell yeah, I’m up for it.

Let’s try and make sure the Internet is, and remains, Free.

HAPPY INTERNET FREEDOM DAY!!!

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Who’s afraid of the big bad troll? Grow up, you pathetic child!

12/04/2012

As our lives increasingly take place online, we are more and more likely to encounter a troll.  For those not in the know, a troll is

someone who posts inflammatory,[2]extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion [from the Font Of All Human Knowledge, oops, I mean Wikipedia].

Note that: the troll’s primary motive is to get an emotional response or disrupt normal on-topic discussion.  He doesn’t know what colour you are, how much money you earn or if you’re an obese thirty-something who lives in his mom’s basement (unless you’ve already put that info out there for him to discover) – he’s just pushing buttons, hoping for an outraged reaction.

Trollface -this is what they look like. All of 'em, honest!

This is what pisses me off about the Patrice Muamba Twitter troll, When Liam Stacey made a nasty tweet about footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsing a match, he attracted a number of bad tweets himself – to which he reacted with a few more abusive messages.  Am I defending Stacey?  No.  I am defending his right to say what he said.  The fact he was jailed for those tweets is shocking, and does not bode well for those among us who dreamt fleetingly that the internet might be a last bastion for freedom of expression.

So how do we deal with trolls?  Wikihow’s somewhat aged advice  is  still valid: ignore the dickhead.  If no one had bothered with Stacey’s crap, he would’ve soon enough moved on to something else.  It’s only because Muamba’s faithful following leapt in to defend their idol that Stacey made his vulgar follow-up tweets.  Fer Krist’s sake, ain’t  you Muamba-lovers got anything better to do?  Ignore the dicks, they’ll go away soon enough.

Of course, some kinds of trolling are worse than others.  I’m thinking particularly about Facebook bullying. There’s a piece on Facebook bullying on www.bullying.co.uk. But we need to remember that bullying existed before the internet, and will no doubt continue to go on when human beings become extinct and dolphins on skateboards rule the earth.  I experienced bullying at school long before the World Wide Web came into being, and I was advised “Ignore it.”  Of course, I thought that was crap advice and used OTT violence instead.  But now I look back, I can see that ignoring the bullies did help somewhat.  So come on, FFS – stop throwing fuel on the fire.  And grow up!

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You have the right to free speech… as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it

10/04/2012

Free speech on the internet, right?  Bzzz, wrong answer.  And I’m not just talking about the Great Red Wall of China or Burma or some other overtly evil dictatorship here.  I’m talking about Merrie Olde England here.  A member state of the European Union and the home of “the Mother of all Parliaments”.  I’m talking about Liam Stacey, the guy sent to jail for tweeting nasty stuff about Fabrice Muamba.

Now, I could tell you about the case and what I think about it, but I’m not going to bother.  Because I think the Guardian “Comment is Free” blogger Victoria Coren has already said it, and I’d largely be paraphrasing her.  So Im gonna just advise you to go read her post about it.  Here’s the link.  Cheers Victoria.

Oh, and cheers to The Clash for this post’s title (lyrics to their song “Know Your Rights”).  RIP Joe Strummer.  😦

 

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SOPA and PIPA down but not out. Watch this space…

21/01/2012

The Wikipedia-led “black Wednesday” seems to have done some good. SOPA and PIPA votes have been postponeded, seemingly because of the onine action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said: “The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of “recent events,” – taken to be a reference to Wednesday’s day of action.

But remember, the votes have been postponed, not cancelled. The issue is bound to resurface at some point, probably while the world’s attention has been drawn elsewhere by a tsunami or something. So Watch This Space – and other spaces too, I’m not exactly the most regular of correspondents. SOPA and PIPA are hurt but not dead. We gotta be ready to administer the coup de grace.


Megaupload.com shut down by USA… even though it’s run from New Zealand

21/01/2012

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere the past few days, I thought I’d fill you in: the popular “internet locker” storage site Megaupload.com has been closed down by the USA because of charges of alleged “piracy”. Apparently:

Shotguns, a Rolls Royce Phantom and millions of dollars were seized from properties linked to Megaupload on Friday, as the US sought to extradite the file-sharing firm’s founders over online piracy claims

and it seems that our of the seven Megaupload executives arrested, including founder Kim Dotcom, appeared in a New Zealand courtroom for a first appearance in what is likely to be a lengthy extradition process. USA authorities, clearly following orders from the vested interests in the SOPA/PIPA controversy, the US wants to put Megaupload bosses on trial for charges including accusing them of racketeering, money laundering and copyright infringement. It’s widely reported (even by the Guardian, damn their eyes!) that Aukland police seized luxury cars, firearms and millions of dollars in cash. As if ownership of nice legal stuff somehow makes these people guilty.

When Kim Dotcom spoke to press, apparently unfazed, he said he has “nothing to hide”

I really don’t get this raid at all. Megaupload.com is an online locker service, where the pubic can buy storage space for files. Megaupload does not examine all these files, but if someone reports that their intellectual rights are being infringed, Megaupload immediately take down the content in question. This all suggests to me that Megaupload is exactly the lawful, prudent service that should be protected under “safe harbor” laws. Ad I certainly don’t get where the US authorities are involved. As the EFF put it: “If the United States can seize a Dutch citizen in New Zealand over a copyright claim, what is next?”.

This is all clearly meant to bolster the case of those who back the draconian SOPA/PIPA laws being considered in the USA. SOPA/PIPA garnered a lot of bad press on “black-out Wednesday” and President Obama’s stated intent to veto the ridiculous laws.

One more interesting factoid: The Pirate Bay was nearly wrecked by Swedish authorities following US orders. And now New Zealand has done the same. So tell me something: when did the entire world become USA juridiction? And WTF are we going to do about it?

Go to Megaupload.com and you get to see this

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