interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Question Copyright’

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

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Celebrate Software Freedom Day

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 17, 2010

Saturday September 18th is

a graphic sun rises over a green hill

All around the world people will be celebrating Software Freedom Day on Saturday. The idea is of course to both celebrate and raise awareness of Free Open Source Software issues.

I believe the first software freeing license was the GNU General Public License

Free Software Foundation is probably the heart of the Free Software movement which is defined by Richard Stallman’s Four Freedoms.

Free Software Foundations line drawing of the GNU mascott/logo

Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission to do so.

GNU: Richard Stallman’s The Free Software Definition

Saturday september 18 2010 softwarefreedomDOTorg Celebrate the day Software Freedom Day
These revolutionary concepts, like any good idea, have crossed over into other areas, such as copyright. As corporations work to lock creative works under increasingly restrictive copyright law, creators of art and music, like creators of software before them, have been offered the chance to achieve freedom from the chilling effects of the repressive copyright through Creative Commons licensing.

Creative Commons licensing is growing. There are branches around the world, like our Creative Commons Canada, which allow creators to license their creations in the way that they want in conjunction with their own country’s copyright law.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to attend the Software Freedom Celebration being put on by KWLUG and Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter of Ubuntu Canada and the the Working Centre being held in Kitchener’s Kwartzlab hackerspace.

Visit the Software Freedom Day website to find out what cool Software Freedom Celebration is happening in your neck of the woods.



Other Important free software links:
Tux the Penguin is the Linux Mascot

operating systems

We’ve all joked about how evil Windows is for years. And now Apple seems to be striving to be the Big Brother their ads used to decry. Is it any wonder that more and more people are switching to GNU-Linux operating systems?

I’m in the process of switching to Ubuntu, which is currently the most popular distribution. But there are scads of them out there. The ones I can name off the top of my head are Debian, KDE, Fedora, Linux Mint, Red Hat and Arch. Naturally Wikipedia can give you a more comprehensive list of GNU-Linux distributions. The safest bet is to select the distro that whoever gives you computer support knows best.

balloons

microblogging

Identi.ca is a free software microblogging service, based on the StatusNet software. It is possible to connect Identi.ca with the proprietary Twitter service and the data flows into Twitter, but, being proprietary, Twitter does not share well. (For this reason people like me who use both services tend to post from Identi.ca, simply broadcasting to Twitter. The problem for me has been that replies from Twitter don’t reach me, although switching from Windows into the Ubuntu free software operating system allows me to use Gwibber to connect the two services. Because the software is open, people can set up their own StatusNet servers to precisely serve their needs.

In a world of 140 character limites, URL shortening is important too. You can’t go wrong with ur1 generator. The cool thing is that even when your URL is shortened, hovering over it in Identi.ca allows you to see where the shortened URL will take you.

preservation, advocacy & reporting

TechRights is an excellent resource on breaking free software issues. Following Dr. Roy Schestowitz on Identi.ca or on Twitter keeps me up with the latest.

UK Tech Journalist Glyn Moody is one of my best resources for open tech issues. His blog Open … clarifies important issues like ACTA and the UK legislative fiasco known as the Digital Economy Act. I’ve learned about a few Canadian issues first from Glyn Moody, who I follow on Identi.ca and on Twitter

A few other groups advocating for Internet Freedom worth mentioning are:

And since special interest groups are trying to use copyright law to suppress Internet freedom, these are some excellent Canadian copyright resources as well:
NO Canadian DMCA

Anyway, that should do for starters. 😀

Happy Software Freedom Day!



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