interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

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Dear Premier McGuinty

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 6, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

PremierMcGuinty at MaRS (CC by nc) by mars_discovery_district
Dear Premier McGuinty:

The CRTC has approved Bell’s application to assess an additional layer of Usage Based Billing along with Usage caps to the customers of the Independent ISPs. Unfortunately this will artificially increase the cost of Internet access.

Incredibly, the intent is to economically inhibit Canadian internet use. If Canadians reduce our internet usage under this ill advised Internet “traffic management” scheme, Bell will be able to further delay improvements to the decaying Internet infrastructure (largely unchanged in over fifteen years). Canadians already pay some of the highest Internet rates in the world. This will place us unquestionably in the lead for mediocre Internet service.

Consumers lack any reasonable means of measuring this bandwidth. We don’t understand what bandwidth actually is. Which means our our Internet use will be indiscriminately reduced once we start getting get hit with the disproportionately large UBB price increases. We will be unable to budget for these cost increases; the easiest way to cope will be to use the Internet as little as possible. The UBB charges could as easily be made up out of thin air, since there doesn’t appear to be any oversight planned by Measurement Canada.

Part of what is so unreasonable about the whole situation is that Internet bandwidth is virtually free; the only real costs are investment in Infrastructure and maintenance. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bell eventually contemplates infrastructure improvement they ask for special treatment or government assistance to pay for it.

There seems to be an intent not to impede Canadian Business Internet access, as these charges will only be levied against consumer accounts. This indicates a serious misunderstanding about economics: if consumers are unable to afford to use the Internet except for the necessities, we will not be participating fully in the Digital Economy. If consumers can’t afford to go online to shop it will certainly be bad for business.

Most especially, Canadian Internet hobbyists, who today can try out and experiment with ideas for creating content relatively cheaply will no longer be able to afford to do so. Small businesses attempting to determine just how they might best establish some kind of Internet presence will be impeded, as will students of all ages due to the inflated price increases.

A further casualty will most certainly be any sort of meaningful Internet competition, since this imposition of UBB will force the Independent ISPs to charge the rates that Bell dictates. the Independent ISPs will necessarily end up being unable to distinguish themselves from and therefore compete with Bell’s own retail ISP. It will be miraculous if the few remaining Independent ISPs manage to stay in business.

I understand the Provincial Government is not in any way responsible for the CRTC, a Federal regulatory body. Yet this CRTC policy will assuredly prove economically disastrous for both Canada and in particular Ontario, a province instrumental in driving Canada’s economy. Reducing our ability to both participate and compete in a global Digital Economy seems misguided at a time when the digital sector is growing.

Over the last few years as we have gotten closer to the probability of implementation of Usage Based Billing, thousands of Canadians have voiced their concerns, and protested at various points in the CRTC’s process, yet the CRTC has barely acknowledged this, and certainly not taken anything consumers say into account. Usage Based Billing is very difficult to fight against as the technology is so new, and the issues are so complex. Explaining it properly takes more than a sound bite.

I’m a private citizen who has spent my whole life in Ontario. My only connection with any Canadian ISP is as a consumer. I began my first blog in 2009. I have invested time and money purchasing a domain name and learning how to create my own personal website, as a hobby, which has largely sat unimproved over the past year because most of my free time has been consumed by my public service blog. The Stop Usage Based Billing blog I created in the fall of 2009 was intended as an online resource to help people understand and hopefully stop UBB from happening. I will be publishing a copy of this letter online in my StopUBB blog.

Currently the StopUBB blog is getting in the neighborhood of 200-400 page views per day. When I started StopUBB I deliberately chose not to host it on my own server with my own Domain name, instead electing to have it hosted on the WordPress.com site. Doing this means that I will not be penalized as larger volumes of bandwidth is consumed by growing numbers of Internet Traffic. Because that’s another consequence of Usage Based Billing; Canadians will be economically discouraged from creating and hosting our own Internet content precisely because we will be penalized by increased UBB costs if we are successful.

The world is still working out how best to manage the Internet, and one clear way for business to monetize their Internet presence is through advertising placed on web pages. Yet online advertising, particularly graphics and animation, consumes bandwidth as well. When we have UBB charges I am sure Canadians will determine how best to block online advertising. Particularly galling is that the spam we receive in email will also increase our Usage, and thus our ratings. Not only will we be inconvenienced by spam, we will now have the privilege of paying for it, thanks to UBB.

I appeal to you, as the Premier of Ontario, because the CRTC’s approval of Bell’s Usage Based Billing scheme is certainly going to be disastrous for Ontario.

The City of Vancouver has passed a motion recognizing the problems inherent in UBB and counselling against it. I hope that the province of Ontario can weigh in on the issue.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter; I trust that we can Stop Usage Based Billing.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm


Image Credits

Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty at the Premier’s Innovation Awards 2009, at at MaRS released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License by mars_discovery_distr ict

[NOTE: I am aware it is bad form to simply remove anything from a published post, but I was asked by the photographer to remove a photograph from this one and so I did.

The photograph in question was a (CC by-nd) two shot of Premier Dalton McGuinty originally positioned where the MaRS photograph is currently placed. I chose it because it was a good portrait of the Premier and it was posted online under a CC license. Clearly the blog post looks different without it. I emailed the photographer for permission to crop the second person from the no deriv photo. The photographer refused, instead asking that I remove the image altogether, although it had been taken at a public gathering where the Premier was dispensing public funds for education, and has been posted on Flickr under the CC license for quite some time. Still, I think it’s important to try to honor the wishes of the creator; even if they have elected to waive their legal monopoly of copyright by affixing a Creative Commons license. So I’ve taken the image down. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused among my readers.]

We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11539 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



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Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

DDoS?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 18, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

Words chosen to mislead have long been a potent tool in the arsenal of political repression.

Title Panel from Nina Paley's minute meme
As technology changes our lives in ways we struggle to understand and special interests with power and large budgets push for sweeping changes detrimental to our interests, people can’t protest if they don’t understand what the conversation is about.  That’s been a huge problem in the area of copyright law reform; the copyright lobby has tried to make people believe that culture shouldn’t be freely shared by equating copying with theft.

Yet copyright infringement and theft are very different things under law. To push back against this misinformation campaign, Nina Paley regularly deploys both her great talent and intelligence to say the same thing over and over again: copying is not theft.

Like most people, I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to the Internet while I was busy raising my child, but the Internet was itself evolving from a marvelous toy into a necessity of life. Today the Internet has become incredibly important to the economies of the world. In Canada UBB needs to be stopped because it unreasonably inflates the cost of Internet access purely to satisfy corporate greed, at a time when it is increasing important for all citizens to have Internet access in order to function. As important as that is, it is a little thing compared to the importance of Internet freedom.

top left Julian Assange, top right "Keep Us Strong", bottom left WikiLeaks Logo, bottom right Earth from space

above the law?

WikiLeaks is absorbing the brunt of heavy attacks that could much more easily be deployed to silence and/or remove ANY citizen dissent. The first wave of attacks against WikiLeaks were DDoS attacks, which are clearly against the law. Yet the only credible perpetrators of these attacks would be agents of “the establishment,” in particular, governments and/or banks who believe themselves threatened by the release of Cablegate documents.

I grew up in the 20th century. My grandpaprents fled their homeland during a revolution. Adolph Hitler not only roamed the earth, but very nearly conquered it. The Cold War left citizens of earth wondering when the world would blow up, and there was a seemingly endless string of holy wars and ‘Police Actions’ and human rights abuses. It is neither unreasonable or alarmist to believe that Tom Flanagan was absolutely serious in calling for the assassination of Julian Assange. Living in a world where the young men in a helicopter can casually mow down civilians and journalists but the young man of conscience believed to have exposed it finds himself incarcerated without due process in conditions reminiscent of those suffered by the fictional Count of Monte Cristo. Perhaps worse; under military arrest, unconvicted of *anything,*Bradley Manning is actively physically prevented from exercise and constantly watched and tormented using methods commonly employed for brainwashing and torture.

A very difficult thing for me to understand is what has been called DDoS attacks over the past few weeks. I’ve spent a fair bit of time trying to understand what was happening in microblog conversations with people I know and respect as intelligent thoughtful people concerned for freedom.   [Thank you especially to @inkorrupt and @lxoliva for helping me both think about and begin to get some understanding of this difficult subject.]

My eyes were opened further by MEP (Member of European Parliament) Amelia Andersdotter in her blog. Further, Ms. Andersdotter pointed me to Green Pirate: A Look at DDoS Net Activism

Both the technology and the jargon are so new the words don’t mean the same thing every time make it very easy to spread misinformation. But the biggest reasons that DDoS has been equated with vandalism rather than protest is that DDoS attacks traditionally use malware to secretly break into innocent people’s computers and illegally harness them, and turn them into a “botnet army.” In fact, this is precisely the kind of attack that has been made against WikiLeaks computers since Cablegate.

Richard Stallman's Guardian article is a Must Read: "The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control"

That is NOT what “Anonymous” does, Richard Stallman explains in the Guardian article: The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control

A black & white remix of the UN Globe surrounded with a laurel wreath, an "invisible man" with a question mark where the head should be

Anonymous is not making zombie armies, they make their protests with their own computers. They are not very anonymous either, as evidenced by the kids who have been caught. As in Gandhi’s time, public awareness can be raised by arrested protesters. Peaceful protest succeeds by making the population aware of injustice. Isn’t it ironic that Anonymous is not engaged in illegal “cracking,” unlike the authoritarian DDoS attacks illegally targetting WikiLeaks.

Still, can Anonymous protesters be breaking laws by simply visiting a website?

Of course they can. Laws are written by governments, and can be made to cover anything.

Under repressive regimes, laws are made to benefit the ruler(s) and imposed on the populace, enforced with fear and repression.

In democracies laws are supposed to be made for the good of society. But citizen oversight is necessary to ensure special interest lobby groups don’t succeed in passing legislation contrary to the public good. This is why free speech and dissent are necessary and whistle blowers should be legally protected.

But if individuals can legally participate in DDoS attacks today, I won’t be surprised if our lawmakers rush to make it illegal tomorrow. If they do, they won’t stop the protests, anymore than it would have been possible to stop the civil disobedience inspired by Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King. The right of digital assembly should be accepted as a legitimate form of digital dissent but I think it will take some time before most of us understand it well enough to get the idea.

The most important thing is that they are fighting for their future.

What we need is a new word to differentiate between DDoS attacks of repression — like those illegal used against WikiLeaks servers –and
DDoS personal protests being undertaken by the members of Anonymous.
Maybe instead of calling the Anonymous protestsDDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)

we should be calling them Civil Rights Denial of Service protests, or

CRDoS

“States seek to imprison the Anonymous protesters rather than official torturers and murderers. The day when our governments prosecute war criminals and tell us the truth, internet crowd control may be our most pressing remaining problem. I will rejoice if I see that day.”

Richard Stallman The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control



Image Credits

Copying Is Not Theft by Nina Paley Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
WikiLeaks Wallpaper remixture laurelrusswurm by CC by-sa
Richard Stallman by webmink under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Trollbusters

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 1, 2010

Trolls: Sometimes Trolls are Welcome.  There are many different types of Troll.  This Troll was the hit of a D&D convention.  The one place trolls are never welcome is on the internet.

StopUBB seems to have acquired its own troll.
(Click on the troll to see a larger image.)

Instead of simply leaving my responses to troll-dom buried in the comments, I thought my time would be better spent with an article about Internet Trolls.

No Usage Based Billing

Internet Anonymity

One of the strengths of the Internet is that it usually possible to comment anonymously. The reason that this is a strength is that it allows people to share information — whistle blowing information in particular — with less personal risk. This is good for society.

Another strength of the Internet is that it is largely “self-correcting”. Because commenting is encouraged most places, and an awful lot of information is available for user-editing, when someone gets something on the internet wrong, there is usually someone who will correct them. So if a “whistle blower” turns out to be someone spreading malicious information, they will be outed and discredited very quickly. This is fabulous.

Now, I have never made any secret of the fact that although I deal with a lot of technical things in this blog, I am not a technical person. If I get something wrong, I want to know about it, so that I can correct it. That’s one reason that my name and email address are plastered all over my blogs. It has to do with credibility. If you want to correct me loudly, you can do it in a comment. If you prefer to do it quietly, you can send me email. (Don’t worry, thanks to some really smart tech people I have a very good spam filter.)

The reason I started this blog was to help other non-technical internet users understand the issue of Usage Based Billing. As an ordinary person myself I have to first learn about the issues and processes before I can hope to write about them. I have lately increased the scope of this blog to cover internet freedom issues like Net Neutrality and ACTA which will also impact negatively on ordinary Internet users. The point of this blog is to demystify the computerese so that ordinary people can understand the issues that will affect us all. Computers and the Internet are no longer luxuries.

I am fortunate in that I’ve had some good instructors, and for things I’ve researched on my own I’ve had excellent feedback. As well I know I have a few very technically astute readers who will not hesitate to provide technical correction where warranted.

European troll with a walking stick stands on a city street.

Trolls

A problem that has emerged out of Internet anonymity is a type of commenter which has come to be known as a “Troll”. Trolls comment wherever they think they can do damage. In forums, Facebook, blogs, and news articles.

Some trolls are just the internet version a vandals; they want to wreck things, or stir things up. Some delight in the power they feel in arguing about anything or everything. They will jump into any argument and take the contrary position just for the fun of it. This type of troll has been around since the earliest days of computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes were the early forums on independent computer networks that predate public access to the Internet of today).

As the Internet has achieved wider readership and acceptance, there has emerged a new class of troll, Professional Lobbyist Trolls. I’m guessing that at least some of these trolls receive a paycheck for their efforts, although it’s conceivable that some simply work for the corporation they are lobbying for. Whether they are officially remunerated for troll comments or not, I consider these people to be Professional Trolls because they engage in troll behaviour for gain.

The first kind of troll exists because they feel empowered through the argument. These trolls often engage in bullying tactics. The standard advice for dealing with these amateur trolls is “Don’t feed the troll.” This means that they should be ignored, because they will never back off. The more you respond, the worse they get. By ignoring them you deprive them of their power. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work because some of them will simply continue to escalate the abuse until a response is forthcoming.

The second type of troll exists because a special interest group – usually a corporation or a political party – is engaging in activity or behaviour that the public will not agree with because it is not in the best interests of the public. The professional troll’s job is to con us into thinking that it will be in our best interests, or if that doesn’t fly, that it’s necessary to make a sacrifice for some reason.

When CBC online runs a story decrying a bad corporate behaviour or government policy, something that triggers thousands of public online comments, often the special interest group behind the bad behaviour or policy tries to stem the tide of public negativity by sending in Professional Trolls. These trolls spread misinformation intended to muddy the waters and try to dissipate or minimize the public outrage. Trolls will attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting a different scapegoat, or more commonly by trying to cast doubt on the credibility of the information. Professional trolls have a whole arsenal of weapons for attacking an idea on every front except merit. That’s the biggest problem professional trolls have to overcome — a lack of valid arguments.

You can usually spot a Professional Troll because they are arguing against the good of society. The corporation, political group or ideology that the troll is advocating/lobbying for, will always gain something at the expense of others, usually the public. Because ordinary citizens don’t have lobbyists.

The StopUBB Troll

First I’ll reprint the Troll Comments I received today followed by my Comment Reply. Then I’ll break the troll’s comment down and analyze the flaws.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Wow so much FUD in this article. Not a Rogers employee, but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense, and guess what, carriers all pay on usage, broadband customers can to. You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Lol the Troll is spreading misinformation again… Although protesting that it is “Not a Rogers employee”, Lol the Troll‘s email address is through an offline “holding company” website with a Rogers IP address. Certainly looks suspicious.   Lol the Troll claims that “carriers all pay on usage”. Either Lol the Troll truly doesn’t understand (intelligence is not a pre-requisite for troll-dom) or is being disingenuous. Bell Canada is a “carrier”.  I doubt Bell Canada pays usage to anyone.

Admittedly, Rogers is also a carrier. Rogers doesn’t usually have to pay for internet access on it’s own cable, but there are some parts of Canada where Rogers is forced to go through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System (GAS), so I expect at those junctures, Bell is charging usage to Rogers. You would think that Bell and Rogers would be able to play nicely together, but neither share very well, and though they seem to work in conjunction at times, both want to be the only Canadian Internet monopoly.

The Independent Service Providers… that is to say, the Independent ISPs that Industry Canada mandated into the Canadian Internet market in order to provide Canadian consumers with access to competition, must purchase access to Bell Canada’s GAS as well. My understanding is that the Independents are ISPs not carriers. They do in fact pay a great deal for their internet access.

The Independent ISPs have contracted for blocks of bandwidth access with Bell Canada. Bell Canada was able to set the excessive prices they wanted, and the Independent ISPs agreed to pay the high prices Bell Canada set.   So Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth the Independent ISPs get through GAS. These independent ISPs do business by packaging the bandwidth differently than Bell Canada does. Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth that these ISPs re-sell to their own customers.

Usage Based Billing would mean that the Independent Service Providers’ customers would be forced to pay Bell Canada for “usage” that has already been paid for. The Independent ISPs are fighting against UBB because they don’t believe that their customers should have to pay more for the same service they get now. Usage Based Billing will also force the Independent ISPs to use Bell Canada’s pricing system, which will unfairly shackle their business model and most likely put them out of business.

Lol the Troll also attempts to discredit me personally as someone who doesn’t pay for my own Internet connection. Lol the Troll is accusing me of being an unproductive young person, without life experience, living in my parents basement, presumably off my parents.

First of all, a young person living in their parent’s basement is not necessarily unproductive. And age does not always bring life experience.   Considering that Lol the Troll made a second post with the same type of denigration on the About UBB and Me a page that very clearly says who I am, it is reasonable to think that Lol the Troll just wanted to try to discredit me, not caring about accuracy.

Now for the point by point Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Wow so much FUD in this article. “
Broad statement. Opinion, not fact. Attempt to establish street cred by using the acronym “FUD”. This actually backfires since the wikipedia definition points to someone with a marketing or political background. Precisely the demographic for professional trolls.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty and doubt, a marketing or political strategy.

Wikipedia

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Not a Rogers employee,”
Attempting to discredit my information without any validity. I’m sure Rogers has competent as well as incompetent staff just like any other large corporation. Working for Rogers wouldn’t make me an expert. Anymore than not working for Rogers would.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense,”
Saying the information is wrong without any supporting information. aka “Because I say so”. Lol is spouting nonsense. Thanks to research I quite understand why DPI is illegal in Europe, and ought to be here. At minimum it needs oversight.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “and guess what, carriers all pay on usage,”
Argument based on Fallacy. Partly correct, not remotely logical. Having just read the Wikipedia page I am amazed… the fallacy page is pretty much a Troll Primer. If you think a comment was made by a troll, chances are their argument will contain at least one of the fallacies listed on the Wikipedia page.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “broadband customers can to.”
Presence of the incorrect “to” indicates someone overly reliant on spell check.
The argument is specious. The points have nothing to do with each other.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.”
Inept inaccurate personal attack as a means of discrediting the accurate information I provide.

As mentioned, the other appearance of Lol the Troll is on my About UBB and Me page.

a naked rainbow haired troll doll, a naked blue haired troll doll with blue gem inset at navel, yellow haired and pink haired baby trolls wearing bibs and nappys, a white haired baby troll in a bunny suit, and a yellow haired troll wearing balloon trunks

My younger sisters were quite into troll dolls when we were kids. I couldn't see the attraction.

I actually saw this one first.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!

Since the attempt at putting me down is so patently “out there” I didn’t bother arguing the point.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 8:26 am
Ooohh look— StopUBB got its very own troll! My very own troll! Awesome.
And not only that, a troll who can’t read!
Even funnier, one who is parroting misinformation. Guess that’s why it calls itself “Lol”.

Now for the Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. “
Ridiculous attempt at a personal attack especially considering that it is made directly below my biographical information.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. “
Aside from the incoherence, it appears that Lol the Troll is trying to sell the lie that Usage based billing will make the Internet cheaper for people who do not use torrents. Usage Based Billing charges will be assessed in addition to what users currently pay in Internet rates. Nowhere in any part of the official Bell Canada Usage Based Billing submission to the CRTC did Bell ever make any claim that any user would be paying less than they are paying now. But trolls can say what they want.
Lol the Troll is also attempting to imply that all torrent traffic is illegal or bad in some way, when readers of StopUBB know that isn’t accurate.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!”
Another vague attempt at personal attack in combination with casting aspersions on the excellent BitTorrent protocol, which is not only legal, but used for many excellent things, like distribution of Free Open Source software. Or Project Gutenberg.


I hope this article has made troll spotting a little easier.

I’ll leave you with my kid’s favorite web comic XKCD‘s take on amateur trolls:



[Image Credits:
D&D Troll photograph by Benny Mazur (benimoto)
European Walking Stick Troll Photo by HuBar, Wikimedia Commons
Troll Family Group, photo by Felicity Green, aka mygothlaundry, Flickr
the Troll in the “Troll Busters” logo was provided by Roixa RRG You can see more of her work in her ROIXA RRG blog
And of course thanks to Randall Munroe for publishing XKCD under a Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution Non-Commercial license which allowed me to reprint his comic in its entirety.]

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 7, 2009

Hollywood taught me about Democracy

Jesse Brown reported a very scary story How do you say “clueless” in Italian? on his Search Engine site.

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Four Google execs may face jail terms because they didn’t pull an offensive video from their site BEFORE anyone complained about it.

Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to be a very big story, yet it is a perfect illustration of the incredible danger facing the internet. There is no way that large busy websites or the ISPs that host them can possibly monitor all of the material that is uploaded to the internet without seriously curtailing what is being uploaded to the internet.

For instance, when logging into Flickr I am told:

“There were 2,710 uploads in the last minute ”

Thousands of people upload images to Flickr every minute. It would take thousands of people to screen those images. If Flickr was forced to hire thousands of people to police the images members upload to the site, suddenly what Clay Shirky calls “ the transaction cost” would stop being nearly nil because the cost to maintain Flickr would skyrocket. It is doubtful that Flickr or YouTube or any other wildly successful website could cope with this without going bust.

Wikipedia, for example, has many people all over the world contributing articles and changing other people’s articles all the time. You would think that this would result in all kinds of internet vandalism happening.   But it doesn’t.   Sometimes people make mistakes, and the way Wikipedia works is that other people can fix those mistakes, And they do. And Wikipedia users also correct deliberate misinformation or vandalism.   So even if someone attempts to do a bad thing and vandalize wikipedia articles or disseminate misinformation on Wikipedia, Wikipedia is policed by its own editor/users.

As soon as anyone complains to Google, or YouTube, or Flickr about offensive content, the content is taken down. Now, I have to tell you, even though I am not by any means a young pup, in terms of understanding the internet, “I am only an Egg.” The internet we know today didn’t exist twenty years ago.

Like most people, I’ve been busy, so I wasn’t paying very much attention. Every now and then some new toy or gizmo having to do with computers would pop up — like iphones or ebooks or blackberrys. Or some new uber-cool thing like blogging or facebook or twitter or VOIP would suddenly be everywhere. And we can’t forget endless tales and dreams of dot com millionaires. The way the wold works has been changing very very fast. Six months ago I had no idea what Usage Based Billing was. About two months ago I started writing a simple little article explaining the mechanics of how the internet works. It turned out to be incredibly difficult to learn, let alone explain and mushroomed into “the alphabet series”. Simple? No, and the more I learn the more important I realize Net Neutrality is.

So I do understand why most people don’t even realize that this stuff is going on, or even that it matters. But the thing is that the internet has been slowly growing up and becoming more important in the world, and at the same time a much larger force for change. Which is why it is so important that there be Net Neutrality. Because the internet has come so far so fast it is especially important that it not be turned against it’s users.

Alongside Net Neutrality people in this brave new world are also talking about file sharing, “3 Strikes laws” and ACTA. Terms like piracy and theft are being hurled around and “copyright infringement” has been elevated to a near executable offense.

Why now?

It is no secret that governments around the world have been lobbied long and hard by the “copyright lobby” large media corporations, music and movie companies who are attempting to legislate prograss back into the twentieth century and change the way we think. They have been turning their media might into a propoaganda tool of epic proportions. Because of the incredible power that they can bring to bear, copyright laws around the world are being changed to appease these lobbyists.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad

Copyright law “improvements” enrich the lives of Americans

An inflammatory Chicago Sun Times headline reads Woman arrested for trying to record ‘Twilight’ on digital camera. The article recounts a story about a young woman who is being criminally charged– to the same extent and in the the same way a professional bootlegger would be charged– for recording scenes of her sister’s birthday party at the movies. The video picked up about 4 minutes of movie fragments. This is the equivalent of charging a teenager with one joint as a drug dealer, or the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store with grand theft. It is simply not reasonable.

I’ve taken photographs of family and friends on special occasion trips to the movies. I’ve made videotapes of birthday parties. If you make a video of a child’s birthday party and a movie or video game was playing on the TV in the background, you too could be criminally charged. Under ACTA what will happen when you email a copy of this copyright infringing video to Grannie in England? Will she be fined or jailed or will you?

These laws are already absurd. And then… here comes ACTA.

All of the citizens of the world are being deliberately excuded from all ACTA negotiations. President Obama, so recently praised for his commitment to Net Neutrality, believes this to be a matter of National Security.

There is a huge difference between “personal use copying” and “commercial bootlegging” which the copyright lobby is lumping together as “piracy”. This is all a wrongheaded attempt to legislate away progress. Instead of trying to adapt with the technology, the copyright lobby has chosen to pour millions (billions?) into lobbying for this legislation that will not in fact do anything to stop commercial bootlegging. To give the appearance of doing something they instead choose to criminalize the mostly young citizens who are not harming this special interest group. Personally, I would rather see the best and brightest of Canada’s younger generation find themselves in universities rather than jail.

ACTA is bad. Very Very Bad.

Hollywood Influences

Growing up I learned a lot from “Hollywood”.

Like most Canadians of my generation TV and Movies gave me a better understanding of the American legal system than the Canadian.

Hollywood taught me that:

  • free enterprise is admirable.
  • free speech is important
  • individuals have rights
  • democracy is good, and good government is responsive to the wishes of the citizens
  • communism is bad, because the government spies on its citizens
  • a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty

BUT.

Hollywood taught me "innocent until proven guilty"

Apparently that was all just “content”.  ACTA makes it pretty clear that Hollywood’s true objective is for governments around the world to:

  • suppress free speech,
  • shackle their competitors,
  • dismantle democracy,
  • spy on citizens and
  • throw out the rule of law to punish people on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations.

The saddest part is that it isn’t for some misguided ideological reason that they think will improve the world. This is pure greed.

ACTA links

“Canada and its international trading partners each have distinct copyright policies, laws and approaches for addressing the challenges and opportunities of the internet. Canada’s current framework provides strong intellectual property protections and our copyright laws apply in the digital context, including on the internet. Moreover, Canada’s regime for

the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is fully consistent with its international obligations.”

The Honourable Tony Clement, The Hill Times – Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly

YET.

Somehow Canada continues to participate in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations.

“Secret ACTA negotiations would criminalize Canadian internet use” says New Democrat Digital Issues Critic Charlie Angus, who demanded that Tony Clement reveal the ACTA negotiation mandate letter. Tony Clement Responds To Concerns That ACTA Will Circumvent Canadian Copyright Law

Ambassador Kirk: People would be “walking away from the table” if the ACTA text is made public . Maybe that is what should be happening.

Russell McOrmond tells us about:

Word manipulation, hypocrisy, and the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in it world.

Bytestyle TV’s Shelly Roche tells us a few things about ACTA, including the fact that it is being undertaken as an executive order, and therefore will not require ratification by the U.S. Congress. If it’s any consolation, American citizens are being kept just as much in the dark as Canadians, and, well, every other country in the world. ACTA: Internet Users Guilty Until Proven Innocent and ACTA: Will Corporate-Run US Government Destroy the Internet?

The Electronic Freedom Foundation Senator Bayh Responds on ACTA illustrates just how badly informed Americans (including Senators) are about ACTA.

Fortunately all Senators weren’t created equal. Senators blast Obama’s secret trade talks as Fox head calls for ‘3 strikes’

Michael Geist brings us: EU ACTA Analysis Leaks: Confirms Plans For Global DMCA, Encourage 3 Strikes Model

Where Paolo Brini passed along the news that the ACTA “negotiations now are not compliant with the Lisbon Treaty, which has come into force the 1st of December” EU negotiators show too many incompatibilities between ACTA and EU laws and Telecoms Package: 3-strikes forbidden in Europe He says further that “The agreement between the Council and the Parliament led to a new amendment which clearly forbids 3-strikes, in the sense meant by ACTA, and restrictions to fundamental rights without following very precise parameters (not respected by ACTA).”

Jamie Love’s blast from the past: Seven Secret ACTA documents from 2008 which includes the link to a PDF of the “Canada Non-Paper on institutional issues under the Agreement” is then discussed in Howard Knopf’s EXCESS COPYRIGHT: Canadian Proposal for ACTA Secretariat

Wired Magazine weighs in with the Threat Level column: Privacy, Crime and Security Online Report: U.S. Fears Public Scrutiny Would Scuttle IP Treaty Talks

New Zealand would like to know: Dunne: What are we signing up to, Mr Power? – 4 December 2009

Last week on BoingBoing Cory Doctorow passed along Javier “Barrapunto” Candeira’s information on the Spanish activists issue manifesto on the rights of Internet users which was created to battle the proposed suspension of due process “in the name of ‘safeguarding Intellectual Property Laws against Internet Piracy.”

1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.

2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.

3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.

4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.

5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.

6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.

7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.

8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.

9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.

10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.

The Spanish government withdrew the draft law that would have legalized punishment without due process.

Spanish Blogroll:

[this is only a smattering of the websites bearing the manifesto… a Google search shows “de aproximadamente 351,000 de manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet”]

and the list goes on….

Bravo Spain.

Talk about this.

And please, contact your MP, Prime Minister Harper as well as the Honourable Ministers Clement and Moore.

Because ACTA is bad. Very very bad.

STOP Usage Based Billing

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