An incredible thing is happening right now in protest of FCC plans to break the internet

A little bit of background:
To cut a very long and technical story short, every time you connect to Netflix, YouTube, or your high bandwidth website of choice, under existing laws, known as Net Neutrality, your Internet Service Provider is obligated to pass that data along to you at exactly the same speed at which they deliver data from every other website, regardless of size, popularity, or content type — at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

In reality, for the past few years, and at a steadily increasing rate over the last few months, some of America’s biggest ISPs have been secretly limiting the speed at which customers can access data provided by companies with whom they compete.

Following complaints from customers, who proved in a series of experiments that services such as Netflix were being deliberately throttled by the monopoly provider Comcast, Washington lobbyists, hand picked by the very same service providers guilty of breaching Net Neutrality, began to push legislation through which would effectively allow a charge per-megabyte policy to any company with high bandwidth requirements, so that they could gain access to a so-called “fast lane” service — meaning that smaller companies would be relegated to the slow lane, unable to compete with the larger players.

Naturally, the failure or simple inability of the Obama administration to stop this didn’t go down too well with the 99% of ordinary Americans, which this law would effectively relegate to using the crippled, poor cousin of the über expensive second tier internet, which the richest and most powerful corporations in the world would control.

Expect us
So, two days ago, a group of protestors outside the FCC building in Washington, began an #Occupy-style sit-in — demanding that this blatant attempt by the 1% to take control of the internet be blocked.

Then, today, web hosting provider NeoCities had the sublimely simple yet brilliant idea of showing the people who work at the FCC exactly what a two tier internet would look like — by posting a list of the internal IP addresses assigned to the FCC building, alongside a blog post explaining how other hosting providers could reduce the speed of content delivered to those IP address at something close to that of a circa 1995 dial-up modem.

https://neocities.org/blog/the-fcc-is-now-rate-limited

The idea is, as we speak, taking ahold with other hosting providers around the world. These three threads on reddit alone have, as of 1am UK time, received over 4000 comments, and 12541 up-votes. The story has been picked up by arstechnica, arguably the most respected technology news site among web developers and industry insiders.

http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/254puo/web_host_gives_fcc_a_288kbps_slow_lane_in_net/
http://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/254pxb/web_host_gives_fcc_a_288kbps_slow_lane_in_net/
http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/254pb3/we_are_rate_limiting_the_fcc_to_dialup_modem/

One comment notes, “If Google and GoDaddy got in on this it would be over in a day”. Another comment suggests that PornHub might also like to remind members of the FCC how much they cherish their ability to access the internet at speeds reasonable enough to stream the sort of “entertainment content” which is close to their hearts.

Meanwhile in Europe
Over here in the UK, we’re building up to the European Parliament elections in a few days time. One of the fringe interest parties, called UKIP, who have shook up the three main established parties by effectively running on an anti-everything to do with Europe ticket, is largely made-up of rightwing activists, closet racists, and ya-ya’s from the chattering classes; the money is no object types, who think giant corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they feel like doing it, no matter who it hurts.

In a recent debate on the BBC, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage faced questions from Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, on the specifics of what Farage, the ex-City of London financial trader and multimillionaire man of the people, disliked so much about the numerous European Parliament laws which protect consumers, and the environment, by holding large corporations to account.

Lucas specifically mentioned the recent passing of an act in the European Parliament which didn’t get the worldwide press it deserved — which effectively enshrined into law Net Neutrality, which will not only prevent the sort of thing from happening over here which is now taking place in the US, but would also guarantee that Telecom providers can no longer charge customers extra for using their phones outside of the country where they were purchased — effectively abolishing so-called roaming charges.

Farage’s response was to pretend he didn’t hear what Lucas was saying — which wasn’t difficult for him to do given that he was talking over her the whole time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26865869 – Net neutrality law adopted by European Parliament

DON’T LET THE FCC TALK OVER YOU. Take action. Tell your representatives that a two-tier internet is not an option. Ask them what they are doing to prevent this terrible legislation from being passed.

Sign this:
https://dailykos.com/campaigns/638

Read this:
http://www.theverge.com/policy/2014/5/9/5699510/web-hosting-company-puts-fcc-in-slow-lane
http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/8/5695748/ajit-pai-asks-tom-wheeler-to-delay-bringing-net-neutrality-proposal
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/charts-why-fcc-ditching-net-neutrality

Secret Law, or this is how democracy dies.

torture-scene-with-rats-from-the-movie-1984The founder of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, has spoken to Democracy Now about his decision to close his encrypted email service, rather than, as he said, be forced to commit crimes against his fellow Americans.

Although Levison is prevented from talking about what this means, because a secret system which operates outside of judicial oversight would automatically see him given a five year prison sentence if he did, it is widely believed that his decision to close Lavabit, without any prior warning to his hundreds of thousands of paying customers, was in response to being ordered to give the security services back-door access to the emails of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — a user of Lavabit.

Part Two: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/13/former_internet_provider_gagged_by_national

You don’t need to be from the tin foil hat brigade to see that, unless something is done to shut down this blatantly unconstitutional legal loophole, it could well be the start of a cascading series of events which result in mass public disobedience and demonstrations. There are people on the streets of Egypt, Syria, and other countries around the world, who are fighting to rid themselves of exactly this kind of police state tyranny and mass surveillance. To suggest “it couldn’t happen here” simply isn’t backed up by the facts.

Last week, President Obama went on television, to tell us with a straight face that some of the speculation in the press and on-line about the kinds of data that these laws allow the security services to collect are “far fetched”; that the actual content of emails and phone calls are not monitored, and that there is no program set-up for the wholesale monitoring of the American people.

But as anyone with even an ounce of understanding about how the internet actually works will tell you, the so-called meta-data which the secret police do admit to gathering, tells them far more about the ins and outs of our daily lives than the content of our phone calls and the wording of our emails ever could — because it contains geolocation data, timestamps, and the name of the person sending the information — and since it is now against the secret law to encrypt your communications, most SMS text messages, emails, instant messaging and video conferencing is transmitted as plain text, which anyone with the right equipment can intercept.

And even if a person accused under these secret laws of committing secret crimes, on evidence which no judge or jury can ask to see is ever allowed into a court of law to defend themselves, the security services do not need to disclose any details of what they collected and why they collected it, but can instead simply assert that it is within their legal remit to gather data in the interest of national security, and the accused’s legal defence is forbidden from asking anything more about it. It is their word against yours, and if you don’t like it, enjoy your stay in prison.

The American people are proud of their constitution and the founding fathers who wrote it. Just as we British are proud of our parliamentary democracy. Indeed we’re all proud of the work which the vast majority of security specialists carry out, to keep us safe from terrorists, and those who wish us harm. But these secret laws can’t protect us from ourselves, and are quickly turning us into the very thing we’re so desperate to avoid becoming.

The people who have implemented these secret laws are unpatriotic, money grabbing, power hungry, paranoid puppet masters, with as little respect for ordinary people as they have for themselves. They are the same cabal of superrich, who protect their banker friends from criminal investigation into the worldwide financial collapse, while funding Super PACs which put more poor people into privately run prisons than any other country in the world. They are the same low life who want to put you in jail for sharing music via BitTorrent, while they issue letters to your Internet Service Provider, requesting your private information to be handed over with no questions asked, which the ISP’s aren’t even allowed to talk about to their own legal team.

But perhaps the most troubling part about all of this, is that these are exactly the kinds of abuses which while still a US Senator Barack Obama warned of, and expressed a wish to do something about. This can only mean one of two things. The first possibility is that at some point shortly after becoming President, Obama had certain information revealed to him which is so critical to national security that it takes precedence over all other concerns, in which case there is no longer any such thing as due legal process, and the American government has become the very kind of domestic tyranny the founding fathers warned us about. Or, two, the rich white men who own him have made it abundantly clear to Obama that it’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. Either way, this is how empires come to an end. This is how democracy dies.

Are you going to take it sitting down? Donate to Lavabit here and help Ladar Levison take this all the way to the supreme court. Those who have tried in the past have been silenced, and forced to settle out of court.

Support the mounting campaign to force Apple, Google, Microsoft and other titans of the modern age to say publicly what everyone in the technology industry is saying privately; that this is wrong, and we will not allow it to happen. If we stop using FaceTime, and Skype, if we boycott GMail and Yahoo!, if we tell the businesses whose entire fortunes rests upon our trusting them to provide a secure and transparent service, that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore, they will have no choice but to listen. They will be on the side of their own customers, when it comes time to debate this issue at the highest levels. They will use their power for the good of everyone, not just the tiny minority who want to keep us frightened and silent.

It does not matter what your personal politics are. This is not a red team versus a blue team issue. It is about defending democracy and the rule of law. Write to your political leaders, and demand that they exercise their privilege to speak on the floor of the house about this clear and dangerous abuse of power — because the people who it affects have literally had their right to speak about it taken away.

Bilderberg Group meeting in Watford 2013

Considering the guest-list, it’s absolutely astonishing that the in’s and out’s of what is discussed at meetings of the Bilderberg Group are never reported in the media.

Of course this could always have something to do with the fact that those involved spend more time working on their golf swing, or swigging back expensive wines and spirits, than they do deciding which direction to take the world in next — as is the mantra of those conspiracy theorists who rarely stop to think that they themselves might be as much a part of the so-called New World Order as the captains of industry who mingle with politicians at this prestigious and secretive event every couple of years.

Whatever is on the agenda, it should only be right that our elected representatives are held accountable for their involvement — who they met with and what they talked about — especially if they’re billing the British tax payer for that round of drinks which see newspaper proprietors exchange amusing anecdotes about poor people with their criminal friends in big oil and gas.

But in a world where you can go to prison for sending a tweet, but not a single banker who caused the global financial meltdown has been so much as arrested, I don’t think we should hold our breath waiting for any of the people invited to this years meeting of the Bilderberg Group, at the Grove Hotel, Watford, to reveal too much about their involvement.

It is nice to see, however, that at least at this year’s event, there is an area set aside for bloggers — although I can’t imagine any photographers will be invited to wander the grounds, and take snaps of Saudi arms dealers shaking hands with the head of Goldman Sachs — but that is the sort of meeting this is, whether or not your inner skeptic is ready to accept the fact that this sort of thing really does go on — pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, your government is in control.

There is an excellent piece by Charlie Skelton in the Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/02/week-ahead-bilderberg-2013-watford

..and you can follow Charlie on twitter here: https://twitter.com/deYook

The Leveson Report Complete PDF download

The Leveson Report will lead to wide ranging reform of the law around press freedom and privacy

Lord justice Leveson has finally published his report into press standards.

You can download the full report in four parts from either the official documents.gov website here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

…or download the whole report in one archive here:

http://www.multiupload.nl/R278Z11CS4

Occupy London bailiff drives into crowd of journalists while the police do nothing

Protestors in London attempted to take over an abandoned building and turn it into a bank of ideas. When they were evicted, one of the bailiffs who was being asked questions by journalists, suddenly jumped into his car and started driving at a crowd of protestors.

From http://www.bankofideas.org.uk/2012/01/30/302/

As the events were scaling down, at around 4am, one of the bailiffs who was being asked by journalists about the lack of identification, assaulted a photographer by punching him in the face, then got into his car and drove straight into a number of protesters and media at speed.
Having then taken a dead end, the bailiff ended up back in front of the media and protesters who tried to prevent him from leaving, at which point he accelerated into the crowd carrying one protester on his bonnet for 50 – 100 yards.

Throughout these incidents media and protesters requested the police take actions in regards to the crimes which were clearly being committed. At one point the police removed the keys from the driver of the car, only to return them to him, at which point he immediately accelerated into the crowd. The police actively cleared the path for an alleged criminal to leave a crime scene and refused to take crime reports from those that had been assaulted.

Forget SOPA & PIPA. ACTA is ten times worse and already on its way to being passed

Peter Mandelson: Proof as if it were needed of low life in high places

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international trade agreement between the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, South Korea and Australia, which aims to enforce copyright and tackle the worldwide problem of counterfeited goods.

The proliferation of fake goods onto the international market, is partly thanks to the ready availability of near-good-enough gadgets and gizmos on eBay and other user generated trading sites, which masquerade as genuine items from big brand manufacturers.

From Dyson vacuum cleaners to the Apple iPad, every must-have item has its cheeper to produce cousin in the lucrative counterfeit industry. Often produced by exactly the same workers from the factories who produce the legitimate goods, $100 Rolex watches which look and feel like the real thing, but with essentially worthless inner workings, sit right alongside iPods with cloned operating systems which brick as soon as they are connected to iTunes.

There is no doubting that this is a huge problem. But the problem with ACTA, according to the Stop ACTA website, is that “[the treaty and all] negociations are done secretely. Leaked documents show that one of the major goal of the treaty is to force signatory countries into implementing anti file-sharing policies under the form of three-strikes schemes and net filtering practices.”

The British government have been pushing for ‘a three strikes and you’re out’ policy towards internet users who are found to have infringed copyright for some time. But all proposals so far have attempted to compel Internet Service Providers to police their users, by adopting monitoring methods which would prove extremely difficult to regulate and are wide open to abuse. For this reason, ISPs are largely against such measures. But it’s only a matter of time before an agreement is reached, which isolates them from legal liability.

For example, before leaving office, Peter Mandelson, the former New Labour MP and advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who also served as a European Commissioner, introduced the Digital Economy Act, which “establishes a system of law which aims to first increase the ease of tracking down and suing persistent infringers, and after a minimum of one year permit the introduction of “technical measures” to reduce the quality of, or potentially terminate, those infringers’ Internet connections.” Or in plain English, if you do anything which they deem illegal (and therefore immoral?), they’ll make sure you never use the internet ever again.

Oleg Deripaska's yacht, where Peter Mandelson was amazed to discover that file sharing is a bigger threat to the UK economy than the wholesale closer of its manufacturing industry

Mandelson, or “Mandy” to his friends (who include record company billionaire David Geffen, the Rothschild family, numerous Russian oligarchs and other glitterati who earned all of their money fair and square) ushered in the Digital Economy Bill, literally in the closing hours of the last parliament, to eliminate any danger of parliamentarians, with their pesky “oversight” and “scrutiny” and “moral scruples” scuppering the chances of this not at all dodgy piece of legislation being passed.

ACTA now seeks to unify the policies of individual member states, with similar laws to the Digital Economy Bill, under one internationally recognised law. Read the deliberative draft of the proposals here: http://www.laquadrature.net/files/201001_acta.pdf

Recent events in the United States, when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) attempted to push through the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and the massive on-line campaign which successfully delayed that heinous law from being passed, shows that when those of us who are directly and negatively impacted by bad legislation of this kind get together, we can prevent such laws from being passed; raising awareness in so doing, among our friends and family, who might not ordinarily pay attention to international politics, of the need to remain vigilant.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theory nut job to be concerned about the sinister and cynical power play which is being fought out between hugely well financed individuals and private corporations around the world. They’ve seen what is happening in the Middle East and how oppressed people, in the nations of the world who currently work for a fraction of the wages demanded in the West, are taking to the streets to say enough is enough.

It is now time to do the same to ACTA as we did to SOPA and PIPA. The last thing their plans, models and projections can predict, is what will happen when an informed and morally motivated public join together in one voice of opposition.

They don’t mind what we know, they mind when we act on what we know.

http://www.stopacta.info/helpstopacta

This isn’t about demanding the right to download stuff for free. This isn’t about being against everything our governments try to do, simply because they’re trying to do it. This is about saying NO MORE to private corporations writing our laws for us, with scant regard for due process and a rational informed debate.

No one wants to steal from musicians and filmmakers whose art and skill make possible the movies and music we love. But the current system of copyright and the laws which enforce it, by criminalising innocent users, while ignoring the organised criminals who infringe intellectual property on an industrial scale, extorts as much money from artists and content producers as it does the end user.

It is the copyright law which needs to change, not the way in which people who fall foul of it are prosecuted — particularly when the methods for pursuing casual offenders involve destroying our presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and handing over more and more of our rights to privacy than we already have.