interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘government spyware’

Tell Vic Everything: Stop The ITU Internet Coup

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 2, 2012

ITU Logo a red lightning bolt on a globe Governments around the world are seeking to assume control of Internet Governance through the International Telegraph Union. Oh, wait, the organization changed its name to International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.) in attempt to deal with modern telecommunications issues.

An essential problem, however, is that the organization itself continues to function as it did in the 19th century. This is an antiquated hierarchical international association of countries. The ITU does not welcome, nor even listen to the concerns of citizens. It exists to paternalistically impose the policies it makes in secret, behind closed doors, on the world. This would have the effect of turning the Internet as we know it inside out. The Internet is Mine, and yours, and theirs. It doesn’t belong to governments, but to all users collectively.

An ITU Coup would strip us of our freedom to use the Internet as we wish, whether for recreation, community or business. We would be forced to follow Orwellian authoritarian edicts that would grant local governments unassailable unilateral power to control what is on the Internet. I might be prevented from selling my books, you from selling your songs, she from sharing recipes, while he might locked out of the Internet entirely. Citizens would have no recourse, our governments would just be following orders.

An organization like this is far less accountable than even our supposedly democratic First Past The Post electoral systems we presently struggle with in Canada, the US and the UK.  If this organization assumes authority over the Internet, it would absolve our local governments from any requirement to follow local laws regarding citizens rights.  It would make it so easy to grant Security Forces and Secret Police agencies the wherewithal to pracfrom the ITUtice warrantless surveillance and website takedowns, without any pesky requirement to convince Parliament or Congress that these draconian surveillance are needed.

Governments keep trying to make treaties like ACTA and TPP and laws like SOPA/PIPA.

Canadian Flag - Close up of Maple Leaf

In Canada, we’ve been protesting and pushing back against a majority FPTP government that wants to dispense with due process and allow unprecedented warrantless access into our digital lives without requiring the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Yet Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews keeps trying.  I have no doubt Vic Toews would support an  ITU Internet takeover because it would support his agenda.

If ITU takes over, everything from privacy to free speech could be purged from the Internet.   If this comes to pass, we won’t be able to stop bad laws like SOPA or treaties like TPP or ACTA. Not a very happy thought.

We need to speak out against this now, so 2012 doesn’t become the new 1984.

The Internet Defense League has posted a video.   You can watch the video  below, but if you’re uncomfortble giving up so many javascript permissions you can just read the subtitles as a plain text version underneath.

Fight for the Future and Access collaborated on this short, informative video about a serious threat to the free and open internet that could have devastating effects for human rights and free expression around the globe.

How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.

“The Internet gives us the freedom, to talk with friends, make art, start a business or speak out against our governments, all on an unprecedented scale.

This isn’t a coincidence.

The Internet’s design came out of open inclusive discussions by a global community of scientists and engineers, So there was no pressure from above to lock it down.
But now a government controlled international body is making a play to become the new place where the Internet’s future gets decided. It’s called the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU). And in December the worlds governments will meet, to decide whether to expand its mandate to making important decisions about the net.

The ITU could pose a risk to freedom of expression on-line everywhere.
Here’s why. First the basics.

Nobody owns the Internet.

It’s a collection of independent networks around the world. Anybody can build one.
The common standards on which the Internet was build grew out of open on-line discussions,
not on the priorities of a particular government or company.

But now let’s meet the ITU!
First the ITU is old. Really old. Not CDs old, not rotary phone old, telegraph old, as in Morse code. When founded in 1865 it was called the International Telegraph Union. Unlike the Internet the ITU was not build on open discussion among scientists and engineers. Instead only governments have a vote at the ITU. And these votes take place behind closed doors.

If governments succeed in giving the ITU more power to make decisions about the Internet, we get
an old-school, top-down, government centric organisation replacing the open bottom-up governance
that made the Internet so world-changing. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.

The ITU is not transparent.

The ITU’s draft proposals aren’t public, and its “one country – one vote” model gives governments all the power.
They get to make decisions about our Internet, without us even knowing what they’re discussing, and then tell us, once the decision is made.  What kinds of decisions will be considered at the ITU meeting this December?
Well, here’s some actual proposals that have leaked:

  • cutting of Internet access for a number of broadly defined reasons;
  • violating international human rights norms;
  • giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent;
  • defining Spam so broadly that they could justify blocking anything from photos of cute cats to human rights campaigns.
  • And new rules to charge online content providers to reach users, which could mean less content going to the developing world, and blocking sites that don’t pay up.
  • But the really scary part: the countries pushing hardest for ITU control are the same countries that aggressively censor the Internet.

In Russia, making a YouTube video against the government can get you two years in jail.
In China you can’t even get to most social media websites.
And Iran is trying to build its own national Internet and email network, to keep the entire population under its control.

Now the ITU also does good work:
They help the developing world establish telecommunication networks and expand high speed broadband connections. And existing Internet governance isn’t perfect.  The US has out-sized influence and authority when it comes to this.
But we need to fix these problems in a way that preserves the openness, pragmatism and bottom-up governance, that made the Internet so great.

This December our governments meet to make their final decisions about the Internet’s future.
It’s up to us Internet users, in every country of the world, to tell them: to stand for the open Internet.
If everyone who sees this video speaks out and contacts their government, we’ve got a chance of winning.

Help us share this video and visit this site to speak out and contact your government right now!
Let’s use the Internet’s global reach to save it!
Tell your leaders to oppose handing over key decisions about the Internet to the ITU.”

— “How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.” English Subtitle Text  by Michelle Matthew.

Take action at http://www.whatistheITU.org

Internet cables connected to a router

…giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent…

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2010 is the new 1984

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 27, 2010

No Usage Based Billing2010 is the year the UK passed the Digital Economy Act. (formerly #DEBill now #deACT on Twitter) It’s also the year that Canada may get a Canadian DMCA and I suspect it is also supposed to be the year that the fast tracked A.C.T.A. is supposed to be put in place.

I know I should be talking about Usage Based Billing right now, since its been approved and all, but there is just so much happening all at once. I am working up several (long) articles right now. My novel is all but ignored. But I felt I had to respond to another comment on Cory Doctorow’s boingboing article today Canada’s sellout Heritage Minister ready to hand copyright to Hollywood to explain why it is so important to fight against all of this now. It seemed like a good idea to expand that a bit and post it here too.

Canadian DMCA graphic by laurelrusswurm

Standing back and letting those powerful corporations dictate what Canadian law should be isn’t just about our sovereignty, and it isn’t just about turning our young into criminals. It’s about freedom. Not as in beer, but as in liberty.

We may be living in a world where corporations have more of a say in our supposed democracies than citizens have. But that isn’t good enough.

And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight a Canadian DMCA or A.C.T.A.

We can’t afford not to fight them. Not just because its wrong, but because it won’t stop there.

Scale of justice gold by Erasoft 24, a public domain image from Wikipedia

Just because the DMCA it isn’t prosecuted all the time doesn’t mean it can’t be. Once a law is on the books, the authorities can use it all the time.

Or some of the time. Or none.

They might only haul it out when they need it to silence dissidents.

Even if they don’t bother to make use of a law, once it’s made, it has full force whenever they want or need it. Once enacted it can always be used.

No Smoking Sign

If you have a restaurant smoking ban in a city, it doesn’t work well, because smokers (and their friends and families) will just go to restaurants outside city limits. It can be economically damaging for the city restaurants. Smokers lighting up in city restaurants won’t get stopped by management because management can’t afford to lose more business. So it’s usually only when a bylaw officer is at the next table that it gets rigorously enforced.

On the other hand, if you put the ban on the whole province, it will work much better. Smokers won’t have a choice, and restaurants aren’t going to have to worry about losing business. and for the most part, you’ll find smokers standing outside smoking even during blizzards. Because unless you live on a border, there won’t be a feasible alternative. Because unless you live on a border, there won’t be a feasible alternative.

In much the same way, if you pass the DMCA, it won’t work well because of all those other jurisdictions that don’t have laws like it.

So you lobby other governments to get them to do what you’ve done. You begin negotiations for a secret treaty called A.C.T.A., where you try and convince friendly governments that they should do what you want.

And in the meantime, you convince the UK to pass a Digital Economy Bill, and Canada to draft a Canadian DMCA.

The world wearing mickey mouse ears

Because the more countries who already have passed laws that pave the way for A.C.T.A., the more chance there is that A.C.T.A. passes. I mean, what’s the big deal? A.C.T.A. is only a few countries. Look at India… they just passed some great laws.

But the point is that if A.C.T.A. passes, the solidarity of the A.C.T.A. signatories can be used to intimidate the non-A.C.T.A. signatories to do what you want too. A.C.T.A. is doing it this way on purpose. It will be much easier to get their friends to sign on than try and get the whole world to agree.

Once the whole world has DMCA laws, there will be no safety for people who are doing what my generation was allowed to do legally. Funny, isn’t it, that cassette recorders and later video cassette recorders were made by companies like Sony… a corporation that wants to stop us and especially our children from making recordings today.

boombox graphic by Linda Kim, Public Domain clip art

Why on earth would anyone have purchased cassette recorders if it wasn’t to copy our favorite songs from records to make dance tapes for parties?

Because most people are law abiding, they will follow the new laws, even if they don’t agree with them.

Eventually the new laws will be accepted. Even though countries like India may have passed the non-DMCA copyright law any sovereign nation should be able to make, which conforms to the WIPO treaties India has signed India was placed on the USTR watch list, as was Canada. This is another way the United states seeks to bully sovereign nations into bending to their will. If Canada makes a DMCA copyright law and signs A.C.T.A. we will be able to help our American cousins bully India into following A.C.T.A. although clearly India has not chosen to. But surely India can be economically coerced into changing their laws to match ACTA. After all, how many call centers (like Bell Canada’s, for instance) are located in India? People have to eat.

Once the new DMCA/A.C.T.A, laws are everywhere it will be much more difficult to undo them.

Worse, the corporations behind them will be even more powerful.

If they haven’t already snuck in laws in allowing government spyware– not just on the Internet but on our computers too– as was attempted in Canada last year, it will be much easier now. Now that the law is universal, it is a vindication of the idea that piracy–even personal use piracy– is bad. And once piracy is no longer legally defensible anywhere in the world, law enforcement will need teeth to do the job of wiping out the insidious crime of piracy.

A nice little law outlawing private encryption would really be handy.

Original art from the public domain Oscar Wilde's “The Nightingale and the Rose” digitized by Project Gutenberg

Certainly large corporate entities with important sensitive data will still require encryption. They could be allowed to proceed with government oversight, perhaps licensing. The bank would have to allow government inspections of the data they encrypt, just to make sure that there is no piracy being hidden behind the encryption. There would need to be a whole new arm of law enforcement to manage it. And think of the income the government could generate by licensing encryption.

This is all to wipe out piracy, right? To get that underway, we’ll have to make some examples. Going after commercial pirates isn’t enough. It’s those bloody kids pirating movies in their parents basements that are the problem. Some of them are copying movies from DVDs they’ve purchased and upload them to p2p networks so other kids can watch them for free. What a dastardly crime. A few of those badly behaved kids need to be arrested to make the point. Put a good scare in them. Make an example of them. Throw some really big show trials and put a few of these depraved pirate children in jail. That’ll teach ’em not to share!

But of course even jailing non-commercial pirates won’t actually do the trick. In fact, it will probably encourage an entire pirate underground.

The next step in the war to wipe out those pesky pirates would be making p2p networks illegal. A final solution to digital piracy. After all, if there was no p2p there would be no piracy, right? So now, finally, p2p would become illegal. No loss, eh?

Project Gutenberg: Gone.
Maybe they could start selling those public domain ebooks, since distribution will be a problem without p2p.
But hey, if they go under that’s OK, people can still buy ebooks from Google and Amazon.
Loss to literature and literacy: immense

Free-Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS): Gone
Without p2p distros, many FLOSS apps will of necessity become LOSS since “free as in beer” may no longer be affordable.
But that’s OK. The real pros like Microsoft and Apple are the ones that should be making software.
Loss to technology: astounding

Independent Music Recordings: Gone.
With the loss of nearly free digital distribution, musicians will have to give up their dreams if they aren’t one of the few acts signed by CRIA members. As it was in the days before the Internet, it will again be far too expensive for Independents to release their own music.
That’s OK. RIAA/CRIA are the experts after all. Why shouldn’t they have total control of the music we listen to.
Loss to culture: incalculable

Because you see, when enough countries have DMCAs and Digital Economy Bills, they will start clamping down.

Because they can.

Canadians don’t want a Canadian DMCA. Tell the Minister of Heritage James Moore on Twitter, although writing paper letters to all the politicians would a good thing too.

Just say:

No Canadian DMCA



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10808 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 both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



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