War for the Internet

August 25, 2009

Source: New Scientist (Jim Giles), and everywhere else.


There’s a (maybe not-so) secret war going on, not just on the Internet, but for control of it. And those seeking control have good reason to be afraid of it.

It’s ON. While the activities after the Iranian elections earlier this year have mostly quieted down, the Internet’s impact can still be felt from the Twitter messages that flowed from the Muslim theocracy crackdown on dissidents. The Internet showed how powerful it can be when the truth needed to get out…

… and that is why several countries (dictatorships mostly) do not like the Internet. They are currently engaged in a war against the net, seeking to control access to it, and possibly control of it.


The only thing they have to fear is… The Internet has become known as a form of “disruptive technology” because, as WikiPedia’s Disruptive Technology article points out: Disruptive technologies are particularly threatening to the leaders of an existing market, because they are competition coming from an unexpected direction. When you prefer to lead with an iron fist, competition is the last thing you want, and the global nature of the Internet magnifies that competition billions of times over as a global community of the common people (as opposed to controllable politicos) outside your stronghold are now turned against you.

BBC News:

The power of technology – such as blogs – meant that the world could no longer be run by “elites”, Mr (Gordon) Brown said.

For those type of tyrants, the only viable solution is to cut the cables of the Internet; Put up firewalls and filters to weed out such disruptions and the like:

Most of these actions are aimed at stifling political debate. “Political filtering is the common denominator,” says Helmi Noman of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Boston, who compiled the report. “It’s the main target.”

Governments also keep tabs on who is using the internet and what they are viewing. In March, newspapers in Saudi Arabia reported that police had started visiting internet cafes to ensure that owners had installed cameras to monitor users, as the country’s law requires. In Jordan, cafe owners have to record their customers’ names and monitor the sites they visit.

Noman says that filtering and monitoring have become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased. “More activists are going online and more activists are being created online,” he says.
Monitoring has become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased

What’s happening in the region is echoed to some extent in most other parts of the world. Online users almost everywhere are subject to some kind of censorship, the ONI says.

Such activities range from the use of firewall blacklists to more personal Internet attacks. How personal? Just ask this Georgian blogger. You can find other such anti-Internet, or at least anti-blogging, threats like jail time and possible military strikes against bloggers if you search the net enough.

While more democratic nations don’t experience that type of political censorship (unless they watch Fox “News”), there have been more “subtle” ways to silence websites by calling “child pornography” like Australia’s recent (epically failed) attempt at Internet censorship. But politics and porn aside, there’s an even bigger threat to the Internet, in case you haven’t heard…


Don’t fuck with our profit margins!
BREAKING NEWS: The Pirate Bay has been (temporarily) taken offline by their ISP who was “threatened” with “legal action.” (TorrentFreak). They already have a new home (for now), though their tracking system is still down.

Ever since the Net exploded in the mid 90’s, everybody has been trying to make a profit off it. Not just the advert-perverts, but the ISPs who see themselves as “gatekeepers” of the Internet. They have been trying to throttle people’s use of the Internet by claiming that the bandwidth is running out, only they just want more of that bandwidth to force more adverts (and government propaganda) down our throats. And if they can’t do that, they’ll just let the NSAs tap whatever wires they want so they can call high-bandwidth users “terrorists.” That might free up some bandwidth and cut down on all the torrenting going on.

Speaking of torrents, do you really believe that media groups are losing billions because of torrent “piracy” and not because the shit they put out is… well, shit? Just as long as nothing threatens their profits… like Google Voice was about to do, and how bloggers were getting away with posting content from news sites without paying. Rupert Murdoch will see that bloggers pay dearly for that (content).


Freedom Fighters There have been some calls for a Digital Bill of Rights, but whether that would be any more effective in keeping people safe from the Gov-Telco-Media complex than a stash of high-powered firearms is questionable. Until we can get the GTM thugs offline permanently, best just keep all your drives and transmissions encrypted, and invest in firearms. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can find more info about HP’s Darknet project.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Pirate Bay Judgement Day: The Verdict is IN

April 18, 2009

Source: Wired, and elsewhere.

Pirate Pay Founders

Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde, Pirate Bay admins, were found guilty of contributing to copyright violations. Their funder, Carl Lundström, was also convicted. Click the pic for the story from Wired

The judgment hammer comes down. For the admins of The Pirate Bay, the hammer came down hard. Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström have been found guilty of “contributory copyright infringement” and sentenced to a year in jail each and fined 30 million kronor, or $3.6 million US. The content syndicates were applauding the decision with their one free hand:

“Today’s ruling sends an important signal that online criminals who show such blatant disregard for the rights of others will be fully prosecuted under the law,” said Mark Esper, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We welcome the court’s decision today because The Pirate Bay is a source of immense damage to the creative industries in Sweden and internationally,” said Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. “This is an important decision for rights-holders, underlining their right to have their creative works protected against illegal exploitation and to be fairly rewarded for their endeavors. This decision will help to support the continued investment in talent and in new online services, and the creation of new films and television shows for enjoyment by audiences around the world.”


Knocked down, but not kicked offline. While Hollywood may have hoped that the verdict will mean the plug would be pulled on TPB’s servers, the Bay crew have expressed their continued defiance in their blog:

So, the dice courts judgement is here. It was lol to read and hear, crazy verdict.

But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing hollywood ever taught us.

Even on their press conference video, their defiance of the verdict is made clear:

(From BBC News) “It’s serious to actually be found guilty and get jail time. It’s really serious. And that’s a bit weird,” Sunde said.

“It’s so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it’s even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organised. I can’t get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you’re going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime.

“We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn’t even give them the ashes.”


A Pyrrhic victory. If the content syndicates believe this verdict will end file sharing they need to drink more coffee. Their win is already having the opposite effect, as TorrentFreak is reporting an increase in membership of Sweden’s Pirate Party, who view the trial as a political battle:

(BBC News) – Rickard Falkvinge, leader of The Pirate Party – which is trying to reform laws around copyright and patents in the digital age – told the BBC that the verdict was “a gross injustice”.

“This wasn’t a criminal trial, it was a political trial. It is just gross beyond description that you can jail four people for providing infrastructure.

“There is a lot of anger in Sweden right now. File-sharing is an institution here and while I can’t encourage people to break copyright law, I’m not following it and I don’t agree with it.

“Today’s events make file-sharing a hot political issue and we’re going to take this to the European Parliament.”

But the verdict is just be a moot point, according to Anders Rydell, who wrote a book about TPB and was interviewed by Wired about the outcome:

I actually think this a win-win situation for The Pirate Bay. If they’re convicted, they’ll be martyrs and the “piracy” movement will continue working for what they believe in, even more strongly. If they win, the signal to the public is that file sharing isn’t illegal and The Pirate Bay will basically have achieved its goal.

Then again, this “trial” may not even be about laws or media, but control of Internet itself.


The recording companies and networks’ arguments for copyright do not ring true. Their fight is NOT about protecting the quality and integrity of the original works nor is it to ensure the ORIGINAL CREATOR is properly compensated because neither is the case.

It IS about control of virtually every single bit of information and entertainment. Their current argument could easily be made for news and information shows, educational shows and documentaries.


BREAKING UPDATE (23-Apr-09): We know that the verdict wasn’t the final word in the Pirate Bay case, but now there’s word all over the net that the trial itself may be invalid all along. The problem? The judge who rendered the verdict and sentences:

Wired – One of the four men convicted in The Pirate Bay trial is seeking to have his guilty verdict thrown out after learning that the judge in the trial is a member of two pro-copyright groups, including one whose membership includes entertainment industry representatives who argued in the case.

Stockholm district court judge, Tomas Norström told a Swedish newspaper that his previously-undisclosed entanglements with the copyright groups did not constitute a conflict of interest.


TorrentFreak – Today, an event on Swedish national radio SR threw everything into doubt – and it’s barely believable, like something straight out of Hollywood.

The copyright industry likes to have the outcome of processes clear before engaging them so it’s perhaps unsurprising that SR today revealed that the judge Tomas Norström is in league with it on many fronts. The judge has several engagements – together with the prosecution lawyers for the movie and music industries.

Swedish Association of Copyright (SFU) – The judge Tomas Norström is a member of this discussion forum that holds seminars, debates and releases the Nordic Intellectual Property Law Review. Other members of this outfit? Henrik Pontén (Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau), Monique Wadsted (movie industry lawyer) and Peter Danowsky (IFPI) – the latter is also a member of the board of the association.

Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (SFIR)
– The judge Tomas Norström sits on the board of this association that works for stronger copyright laws. Last year they held the Nordic Championships in Intellectual Property Rights Process Strategies.

.SE (The Internet Infrastructure Foundation)
– Tomas Norström works for the foundation that oversees the .se name domain and advises on domain name disputes. His colleague at the foundation? Monique Wadsted. Wadsted says she’s never met Norström although they have worked together.

Meanwhile, President Obama plants RIAA sock puppets in the Department of Justice. If The Pirate Bay is ever “prosecuted” in America, Obama’s DoJ pics have already doomed any hope of making it stick.


As always, we’ll keep you informed as the war for the Internets heat up…

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.