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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Citizen Journalism: Sharing What Happened In Texas

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 27, 2013

Nothing better illustrates the truth of Jay Rosen‘s pronouncement that “the watchdog press is dead” than the events on the evening of Tuesday, June 25th, in the Texas State Senate.  The Republican majority planned to push though the anti-abortion Senate Bill No. 5. While CNN considered baked goods, the reportage from Texas was accomplished by citizen journalists, and global distribution was achieved various social media feeds.

This is a perfect example of why we need a free and open Internet.


Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5

by Karsten School

Posted on Twitter: @KarstenSchool  If the Texas Senate gets away with breaking the law in front of 170,000 people, the building should be razed to the ground #NoJusticeNoPeaceLast night something very important happened down in Texas, something that if you weren’t following as it happened, you’re probably not going to hear the whole truth about. I was one of the people who was in the right place to watch, and so I’m now going to try to pass on the word as best I can.

The Texas senate voted yesterday on a bill that essentially would have closed nearly every abortion clinic in the state. To try to counter the bill (which was heavily supported by the Republican majority, senator Wendy Davis attempted a one-woman day-long filibuster, during which time she spoke on the subject while going without food, water, bathroom breaks or being allowed to sit down or even lean on her table for support. She lasted nearly eleven hours before being ruled off topic on a technicality. A second female senator then stepped up and tried to continue the filibuster by asking for salient points to be repeated to her, as she missed part of the session that day to attend her father’s funeral.

But here’s where things get interesting. With fifteen minutes before the midnight deadline, the lieutenant governor ordered the senate to proceed, and actually had the democrats’ microphones cut off. The spectators in the assembly responded by cheering, chanting and generally causing a ruckus, in order to drown out attempts at a vote. The midnight deadline passed without a vote being taken, but the chair held a vote after midnight, as the spectators were forced out of the assembly. During all of this, there was no coverage on MSNBC, CNN or any other major news network, with the only coverage coming from a livestream set up by the Teas Tribune.

At 12:15, the Associated Press ran a story saying the bill had passed, which CBS picked up. This was based on a sole source, which the AP later admitted was a republican senator. Meanwhile in the chambers, the senators stood around, both sides confused if the vote had even happened, if they had even voted on the correct issue. The chair had left with the lieutenant governor without ending the session. The Tribune’s feed was cut at 12:20 with 70,000 people watching. CNN at this point was talking about the deliciousness of muffins.

Texas Senator Wendy Davis

Outside in the halls of the senate building, thousands of people were packed wall to wall, chanting “shame, shame”, while thousands more were outside.

State police had formed a barricade around the entrance hall, and were making sporadic arrests (50 or so by night’s end) and confiscating cameras.

In the thick of it was a guy named Christopher Dido, who used his cell phone and a live stream to report on what was happening. He was the only journalist in America who was filming at the senate, with as many as 30,000 people watching the stream at one time, and over 200,000 viewers by night’s end.

He did this while the state police surrounded the protesters in the building, some of them with nightsticks drawn. The police at this time refused to let through food or water that people tried to send in, instead eating and drinking it themselves. They also barricaded access to vending machines and water fountains within the building, and were said to have blocked off access to the washrooms for at least a period of time.

Meanwhile, journalists still inside the chambers tweeted out news updates, which were disseminated and retweeted by people like Matt Fraction, Felicia Day and Will Wheaton, reaching an audience that would otherwise have probably not seen or heard what happened next.

The senate was recalled 90 minutes after its midnight end point, to determine whether or not the vote was valid- behind closed doors with no microphones, and only the Senate’s own muted camera. Then something disturbing happened. The senate website carries the official record of the caucus. It listed the vote as happening past midnight, on June 26th. Until suddenly it didn’t.  The date was quietly manually changed to 6/25, the minutes altered to say the vote happened at 11:59, despite almost 200,000 people watching live who saw differently. Suddenly twitter and other social media sites blew up with before-and-after screen shots.

Inside the closed sessions, the democrats were made aware of the alterations and brought them up- without social media, almost no one would have known, and never in time. Ultimately, based on the fraudulent alterations, the GOP conceded defeat, admitting the vote had taken place at 12:03, and declaring the bill to be dead. When this happened, the AP and CBS said the vote was overturned, never admitting to shoddy journalism. CNN ignored the story until this morning, because muffins take priority.

Yesterday, I witnessed women’s rights under fire, a crippled legal system that didn’t represent its people, a corrupt government body attempting to commit a crime in front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, and the complete failure of the main stream media. I also witnessed a woman performing a nearly superhuman act to do what was right, the power of the people making themselves heard both in person and online, and the extraordinary value of one young man with a cellphone making sure people saw and heard the truth about what was going on.

Anyone reading the papers or watching network news today won’t get the full story. Hopefully enough people saw it unfold live, that the lessons from last night won’t be forgotten.


“To make this clear, I was not in Texas yesterday, I’m on the far side of the continent. Wendy and her fellow senators made history yesterday. Christopher DiDo made history. The other protesters and supporters made history. I followed along from the comfort of my home.

“I wrote this because I wanted to get their message out to people who wouldn’t otherwise hear it. I didn’t want the truth of what happened to be list in a sea of more palatable lies and omissions. But I wasn’t a part of any of this. I did nothing but watch other people taking risks, speak to people who were making change, and type up a neat summary of history.”

Karsten School

This article was originally published on Facebook.


Image Credits
Karsten School Twitter Screen Capture used under Fair Dealing
Senator Wendy Davis by Equity Texas released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License

Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5 by Karsten School is published under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License.

Creative Commons  Attribution 3.0 Unported  License button

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Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Highlights

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 8, 2011

ACTA logo

by Sharon Polsky
President and CEO — AM¡NAcorp.ca
National Chair — CAPAPA

ACTA is an international agreement hammered out by a handful of countries (led by the US, including Canada) that requires signatories to create civil and criminal law to give force and effect to ACTA.

ACTA is intended as a global standard to ‘protect’ against intellectual property and counterfeit products, containing very specific discussion about digital information.

The negotiating parties did NOT include:

  • India,
  • Brazil,
  • China,
  • Russia
  • or any countries known as the greatest sources of counterfeit goods.

Nor did it include any:

  • consumer rights groups,
  • human rights groups, or the
  • Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The intent to negotiate a deal was announced in late 2007. Because there’s an economic impact component to it, the US declared the draft ACTA text to be confidential as a matter of national security. A draft was circulated amongst rights-holder lobbyists (generally from the recording and motion picture industries). After three years of negotiations, the text was leaked in April of 2010. The Government of Canada released a copy of the draft in October 2010. The final text was issued in November 2010.

An unprecedented degree of secrecy for a set of copyright protection rules.

Once ACTA is approved, its member countries are expected to put pressure on their trading partners to have them join the treaty — of course, after ACTA is finalized.

The final text includes a provision for amending the agreement, and that’s viewed as a back door to get acceptance of the three strikes provision that was rejected during negotiations.

Three strikes law describes the penalty: after three allegations of inappropriate Internet use, service will be suspended for 12 months.

heavily stacked in favor of “rightsholders” at the expense of consumer human rights

Under ACTA, prosecution, remedies and penalties are acted upon based on allegations advanced by the rights holder, and all can be decided by judicial or ‘administrative’ authorities. ACTA sets out the items that can be included in calculating restitution. For instance, an alleged infringer can be ordered to reimburse the rights holder for the retail price and “lost profits” (as calculated by the rights holder), legal and court costs, etc etc. Allegedly counterfeit products must be destroyed, at the expense of the alleged infringer. If it’s ultimately found that there was no infringement, the alleged infringer can ask for damages, but no process or formula is articulated.

ACTA puts individuals in jeopardy since border officials will be compelled to carry out the injunctions obtained in other countries, even if the activity is legal in the border official’s country. Thus, ACTA empowers officials to seize medicines that are off patent in the country of production and in the countries where they are being exported to, if a company holds a patent to that medicine in any member country.

Similarly, ACTA’s border enforcement provisions empower member countries to seize and destroy exports while in transit to other countries. ACTA provides that “parties MAY exclude small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature contained in travelers’ personal luggage”, so it still leaves it to countries to seize and inspect personal devices to determine if and how much pirated material is there; and the individual will have to bear the cost of inspection, storage, and destruction. So anyone who rips music from the CD they bought and transfers that ripped music onto their iPhone or Blackberry, and then tries to carry it through the border might not get very far. Imagine what it could do at airport screening lineups!

ACTA offers many privacy-invasive provisions, including requiring the release of information necessary to identify an alleged infringer, and any party who might be associated with that alleged infringer.

ACTA puts third parties (i.e., distributors, NGOs, public health authorities) at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses. This could implicate, for example, suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used for producing generic medicines; distributors and retailers who stock generic medicines; NGOs who provide treatment; funders who support health programs; and drug regulatory authorities who examine medicines. The potential repercussions are expected to serve as a deterrent to being involved — directly or indirectly — in the research, production, sale and distribution of affordable generic medicines. Ascertaining the third party involvement will require inspecting digital records; and ACTA compels disclosure and international sharing of that information.

Deep Packet Inspection

Deep packet inspection of online activity will be used to identify alleged infringements. ISPs will be required to shut down alleged infringers’ Internet connections, and publicize the identity of the alleged offender amongst other ISPs.

DPI is also expected to cause ‘collateral damage’ when blameless sites at the same IP address get shut down along with the accused. DPI was approved for use by ISPs and telcos when, in August 2009, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner ruled on the Bell/Sympatico case (Case Summary #2009-010). The only limit was a recommendation Bell Canada inform customers about Deep Packet Inspection.

The Commissioner did note that “It is relatively easy to paint a picture of a network where DPI, unchecked, could be used to monitor the activities of its users.”

In January 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech to members of the French music and publishing industries and said that “authorities should experiment with filtering in order to automatically remove all forms of piracy from the Internet.”

France

government approved SPYware text and magnifying glass

Liberté, égalité, fraternité?

France recently passed its HADOPI “three strikes” law that targets alleged illegal Internet file-swappers. There is no no presumption of innocence in HADOPI. After a rights holder advances an allegation of infringement and gets administrative approval, the alleged infringer receives two warnings, and then gets cut off the Internet.

And there is no judicial recourse.

Under the terms of HADOPI, Internet access is only restored after the “offender” allows spyware to be installed on his/her computer, monitoring every single thing that happens on said computer, and that could also reach to the entire network (personal or corporate) that the computer is attached to.

HADOPI has been sending out notices. Initially, it sent out about 10,000 per day, with plans to ramp up to 50,000 per day. ISPs must hand over information to the government about those accused within eight days. If they don’t, hey could get fined 1,500 euros per day per IP address.

USA

A few weeks after Thanksgiving weekend in November 2010, the US Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department seized and shut down 82 domain names during “Operation In Our Sites II” without prior notice. Not all of these domains contained counterfeit products.

The web sites included a search engine and some well-known music blogs.The released partial affidavit and seizure warrant show that that the decision to seize the domains was almost exclusively dependent on what the Motion Picture Association of America said were the facts, and the MPAA’s numbers about the economic importance of the movie industry and MPAA testimony about how piracy hurts its income.

The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America were two of the 42 individuals and groups in the US that were given access to the draft text early on.

Canada and the International Sacrifice of Personal Privacy

Canada’s Anti Terrorism Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act in conjunction with other legislation allows governments to trade and swap Canadians’ information with around the world without our knowledge.

The PATRIOT Act does the same in the US. The UK Home Office recently resurrected the so-called ‘Super Snooper Bill’ that will allow the police and security services to track the British public’s email, text, Internet and mobile phone details. And the “Server in the Sky” global biometric database will tie it all together.

Vertical Canadian Flag

Canada’s Bill C‑52 — referred to as the “Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act” — is intended “to ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information” upon request.

No warrant necessary in Canada.

C-52 also requires the telcos and ISPs to provide the transmissions in an unencrypted form and to “comply with any prescribed confidentiality or security measures“. A gag order, in other words.

And the information to be provided is quite specific and broad: It is “any information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address,
mobile identification number, electronic serial number, local service provider identifier, international mobile equipment identity number, international mobile subscriber identity number and subscriber identity module card number that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment”.

C52 compels ISPs to spy on their customers

Under C-52, Telcos are required to have and bear the cost of the equipment necessary to comply; and the equipment can be specified by the government or enforcement agencies.

Between ACTA and other international agreements and multilateral treaties to share information it’s easy enough to circumvent the provisions of Section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by having an agency outside of Canada do the work, and then share the results back into Canada. Canada and the US have been known to do that on occasion, typically to protect ‘national security’ or guard again ‘terrorism’.

ACTA is based on allegations and assurances of the rights holder.



Guest blogger Sharon Polsky is the President & CEO of AM¡NAcorp.ca as well as the
National Chair — CAPAPA, the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators. This article provides the necessary background for the Sharon’s article “The Hidden Rationale for Usage Based Billing” scheduled to be published here in the Stop Usage Based Billing blog February 10th.

Post Script:
Internet Service Providers are in the business of providing Internet Service, and ‘deputizing’ them to spy on citizen customers is an atrocious breach of net neutrality, which I wrote about a year ago in Nutshell Net Neutrality

Looking over my blogs, I was surprised to see just how much I have actually written about ACTA shared both in this blog:

as well as on my Oh! Canada political blog:

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A.C.T.A. is still BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 11, 2009

No Usage Based BillingIn my previous two A.C.T.A. posts, A.C.T.A. is BAD and errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD, I passed along the sad tale of the 22 year old Chicago woman who made the terrible mistake of attending her sister’s birthday party at a screening of the movie New Moon.

Maybe ten or fifteen years ago I first noticed movie theatres promoting the idea of holding birthday or other parties at the movies.   Many of them offer special deals and party facilities. Just like MUVICO, the theatre where this incident took place.   And many people have unofficial birthday parties at the movies too.   Even though I haven’t, I have taken my camera to movie theatres and taken photographs of family members gathered to watch a movie inside the theatre on more than one special occasion.

Samantha Tumpach’s crime was taking home video of her sister’s 29th birthday party.   Less than four minutes of footage on her camera showed the movie screen. Maybe I empathize so very much because I am the photo nut in my family.   It might have been me dragged off in handcuffs.

TorrentFreak reports that the charges have now been dropped, and she is free again.   This young woman should not have had to spend two nights in jail for going to a movie theatre birthday party.

Pint sized Zorro poses in the Galaxy Theatre

My Zorro "En Garde"

I’ve made plenty of amazing Hallowe’en costumes for my son over the years, many based on movie characters.   The year my son decided he wanted to be Zorro for Hallowe’en was the year that The Legend of Zorro was released theatrically.   So naturally my small Zorro wanted to see the new movie in his awesome (Don Alejandro) Zorro costume.

Small boy dressed as Zorro sits in the movie theatre seat.

My Zorro waits for the movie to start.

So of course I took the camera to the theatre and took lots of photos of my Zorro.

And of course I was using my very first digital camera which had video capabilities.

Had I not been enjoying the movie, I could easily have taken photos or video of my little Zorro watching the big Zorro onscreen.

I wasn’t detained by theatre staff or arrested.   Seems I was lucky.

It doesn’t matter if the staff actually believes the MPAA copyright propaganda, or whether they acted out of fear of MPAA, the result is the same.

The movie industry put a patron in jail.

Kudos to New Moon director Chris Weitz, who contacted the Samantha Tumpach and offered his support.

The three minutes of footage she shot inside the theater, Tumpach said, also included film previews and ads, along with short segments of the film — and her talking about the camera and the movie.

“It was never my intention to record the movie,” Tumpach said. “You can hear me talking the whole time.”

Chicago Sun-Times:’New Moon’ director defends woman accused of piracy

Most people working in the movie business probably don’t support the draconian copyright laws the MPAA is lobbying for.   But they need to make a living, and so I can understand why feel they can’t speak out against MPAA lobbying or A.C.T.A.   Most are probably just as much in the dark about A.C.T.A. as the rest of the world, since most elected representatives in the countries negotiating A.C.T.A. appear to be uninformed.   This would be why A.C.T.A. has already sprung so many leaks.   Since President Obama has labelled A.C.T.A. a national security issue, it is probably far too dangerous for Americans to risk leaking further documents.   Yet being an international treaty there are many parties to the negotiations so I expect leaks will continue to be provided by people of conscience.

Stories like this reflect very badly on the movie industry.

More and more consumers are coming to realize that the media industry has effectively declared war on us.   Which is precisely why the major media companies are lobbying so hard to have governments around the world enact A.C.T.A.   The want the government to be the “bad guy”.

It is the real reason why A.C.T.A. is secret: so that no one will be accountable for drafting or implementing the draconian copyright laws that will necessarily result from ratification.

Yet if A.C.T.A. was in place NOW, there is a very strong probability that Samantha Tumpach would not have been released after a mere two nights in jail.

Tumpach dared to infringe copyright, even though it clearly was not for the purpose of “bootlegging”. Under the laws that A.C.T.A. is seeking, innocuous personal use “infringements” like this one will be treated the same as “for profit infringements”.   Even in the face of contrary evidence, MPAA and other A.C.T.A. lobbyists claim that file sharing damages their business.

Whether this is because the MPAA is actually so ignorant of what is happening that they don’t understand the phenomenon, or if this position is assumed to convince their shareholders that they are doing something to combat bootlegging doesn’t really matter.   Not only will laws like this fail to prevent criminals from continuing to profit from bootlegging, but the result will be uniformly bad for consumers and citizens.

Although A.C.T.A. means “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” it seems clear that the name is a product of doublespeak since it actually seeks to criminalize personal use “copyright infringements”..   They have tried to change the way people think by including anti-piracy commercials in theatres and on DVDs.   Since that has not worked, they’re playing hardball.

Why Secrecy is So Essential

The copyright lobby believes hiding behind A.C.T.A. secrecy will keep us from knowing that they are responsible for having our young people locked up for sharing.

  • They think that we will instead blame the lawmakers.   After all, they will have made the laws.
  • And the law enforcement officials.   They will be the ones investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing these copyright infringers.

The politicians also believe hiding behind A.C.T.A. secrecy will absolve them from blame. They think they will be able to escape blame by saying:

“But you can’t blame us for this… all the other governments did it so we had to do it too”.

Every parent knows the classic parry to the “Everybody’s doing it” argument: “If everybody else was jumping off a cliff would you do it too?”

jumping off a cliff at Tobermory

If everyone jumped off a cliff...


Since we don’t buy that excuse from our children, why would they think we’d accept such a feeble excuse from our government?

Do they think we’re stupid?

Because we will know who to blame.

Maybe I am just not subtle enough for this. Maybe I think too much in terms of black and white. After all, in the “mom” game, you quickly learn to skip over the shades of gray. You teach your two year old, “people are not for hitting”, because a two year old doesn’t have the life experience to be able to judge when hitting can be justified (as self defense, say).

Cut to the chase: right and wrong.

But then again, what do I know?

I thought part of being a mother was teaching kids the value of sharing.

Something else parent need to consider is possible consequences. So I began wondering what the consequences of A.C.T.A. might be.

A.C.T.A. Introduces a New Criminal Class

The special interest group behind A.C.T.A. believes that they will be held blameless for the fallout.

They think that once people know file sharing would will send them to jail, they’ll stop.   And that will frighten other people so they won’t do it anymore either.   Right.

It seems to me that now the people who are prepared to go to jail for copyright infringement are the criminal bootleggers. Like the alcohol bootleggers before them there are enormous profits to be made.   They feel it is worth the risk to make such enormous profits.

The people who are file sharing don’t believe they are doing anything wrong.   They believe that they can share music and movies they’ve bought with their friends.   I doubt any of them expect to go to jail.   (After all… everybody is doing it…)

But once A.C.T.A. passes and the laws of all our lands change, I think that many of the young people who feel so strongly about this will start expecting to go to jail.   I rather think that A.C.T.A. will increase filesharing.   I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the evolution of an A.C.T.A. underground resistance movement.   A war could well be fought between the forces of idealism and the forces of greed.   Sooner or later the young people who believe that file sharing is a good thing will be in charge.

Insult and Injury

Of course the ways to bring these nasty file sharing criminals to justice would certainly involve “3 Strikes” laws, where allegations of copyright infringement can result in websites being taken off the internet.   Even without A.C.T.A. currently the U.K. is looking at doing this with only 2 strikes, and huge fines.   This is being challenged by the British ISP talktalk who have launched a petition in an effort to prevent this bad law from being passed.

Every example I have heard of this type of law includes making the Internet Service Providers spy on our internet activity.   None of these laws seem to require mundane things like search warrants or evidence.   The accused is guilty until proven innocent.

Who will pay for this?

The jails are full.   In a world where murderers rarely serve as many as ten years, my question is, where are they going to put this new criminal class? It will cost as much to incarcerate a personal use copyright infringer as it will to incarcerate a rapist.   It costs a lot of money to keep people in jails.   Because the criminal justice system is so expensive, plea bargains are already putting dangerous offenders back on the streets too quickly.   What about the overextended law enforcement agencies?   Where will the money come from to pay for the police man hours and court overheads?

Who will pay to draft and enforce these laws?   Governments will have to foot the bill.
For the MPAA and the Canadian Recording Industry Association this is an excellent reason to put personal use copying under criminal law rather civil because that puts the onus for investigating and prosecuting (and just as importantly, paying for investigating and prosecuting personal use copyright infringements on to the government.

And since government money really comes from the citizens, the reality is that we will be paying for this.

In order for ISPs to spy on our internet connections and computers, they will need large outlays of cash pay for the specialized equipment and personnel to run it and correlate the huge quantities of data required.   Who will pay for this? The ISPs.   Of course they will have to pass along the cost so…the reality is that we will be paying for this.

Who will pay for this erosion of civil liberties and human rights?
The reality is that we will all be paying for this… especially our children.

Bootlegging

Bootlegging is wrong.   Videotaping a movie in a theatre or duplicating a DVD you purchased in order to press your own counterfeit copies to sell is theft.   As a law abiding citizen, I do not purchase bootleg merchandise from flea market stalls or retail stores.   If the vendor was aware that the merchandise was bootleg, I might even be inclined to complain.

But it seems that Hollywood isn’t even bothering about professional bootleggers.   So why should we?

Hooray for Hollywood

In the 1950’s Hollywood lived in fear of government witch hunts.

In the 21st century will we all have to live in fear of Hollywood?

STOP Usage Based Billing

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