”I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.”
“As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
“Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.”
“This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.”
Vanwege grote workload en even grote onderbezetting hebben uw doorgaans zo kritische bloggertjes van LSD ernstig gefaald waar het gaat over ACTA -- het in geheime achterkamertjes zonder invloed van parlementen bekokstoofde internationaal-juridische verdrag via welke de copyright-industrie het vrije Internet aan banden meent te gaan leggen. En, bovenal, een elektronische surveillancestaat met permanente monitoring van Internetters (iedereen) aan te gaan leggen waar je U tegen zegt.
Het Europees Parlement -- om precies te zijn, 16 van de 736 Europarlementariërs -- is het laatste wat nog tussen ondertekening en implementatie van ACTA staat.
Daarom deze onbeschaamde re-post van een dringende oproep tot actie van GeenStijl, in samenwerking met D66-Europarlementariër Marietje Schaake. Ook overgenomen door Retecool, Sargasso en Bits of Freedom. Dit is collectieve burgeractie in het Internettijdperk, en wat de Amerikanen konden met SOPA en PIPA kunnen wij met ACTA:
Prima initiatief van Marietje Schaake, europarlementariër voor D66. Via reddit -- dat al eerder zeer succesvol actie voerde tegen copyrightbeschermende maatregelen die het internet aan banden proberen te leggen -- probeert ze internetters te mobiliseren om parlementsleden online te stalken om op die manier ACTA van tafel te krijgen. Waarom? Omdat door ACTA straks individuele F5′ers snoeihard aangepakt gaan worden. Lees maar in het verdrag (PDF) onder Sectie 5, digital enforcement. KIJK MAAR! En omdat een petitie ook maar een middeleeuws middel is dat eigenlijk geen zier helpt. Een ontploffende mailbox maakt natuurlijk veel meer indruk. Eens kijken hoe ze in Brussel en Den Haag reageren wanneer de machtige netwerkgeneratie uit woede massaal haar harige vuist online op tafel slaat. Het internet kan wel een beetje burgerlijke ongehoorzaamheid gebruiken. HIER ziet u wie er in het EP eigenlijk voor en tegen ACTA hebben gestemd. Dat is vooral handig wanneer de PVV voor de zoveelste keer probeert te spinnen dat ze heus wel tegen ACTA zijn, terwijl ze zich destijds gewoon ijskoud van stemmen hebben onthouden. Welnu, een lijst met mailadressen van EP-leden waar u uw grieven omtrent ACTA kunt droppen staat HIER. Eenzelfde lijst met leden van de Tweede Kamer vindt u DAAR. Probeer voor een keer de goatses en tubgirls thuis te laten. Een inhoudelijk verhaal waarom u ACTA niet ziet zitten werkt veel beter. Voor vragen kunt u Marietje natuurlijk ook zelf mailen op email@example.com. Met een beetje goede wil scharen meerdere partijen (we denken aan Bits of Freedom, De Piratenpartij en nog meer goedwillende blogs) zich achter deze actie en kunnen we dat verwerpelijke ACTA slopen. Power to the internets! ¡No pasarán! UPDATE: Mensen opletten: de politici die VOOR die motie stemden zijn TEGEN het ACTA-verdrag. Degene die TEGEN hebben gestemd zijn dus de villains die u moet mailbomben. Duidelijk zo? UPDATE: Website van EP heeft het zwaar wegens vermeende ddos-aanvallen van scriptkiddies. Hier en hier lijst met mailadressen. UPDATE: Solidariteit in de blogosfeer: Retecool & Sargasso doen mee. UPDATE: Ook Bits of Freedom sluit zich aan.
As a Member of the European Parliament (EP), I am concerned about the ACTA treaty in the international trade committee (INTA). Please find some information about the procedure of the ACTA treaty in the EU, especially the EP, below. You can reach me on Twitter via @marietjed66, where I will also post a message about this post.
The internet blackouts by thousands of websites last week in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) have raised lively discussions. Not only in the US but also in the EU the question is how to balance or reform copyright laws whilst preserving an open internet.
The success of the protests against SOPA and PIPA has also given the internet community quite a confidence boost. How will this development influence future legislative proposals? The Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA) is the next controversial treaty which may be about to become law. This is an international trade agreement which aims to halt counterfeited products, but also affects the internet. Already massive protests have taken place on the streets of Poland against ACTA.
A wide range of NGO’s, scholars, civil society organisations, engineers, industry and activists have expressed concern about the impact ACTA will have on online freedom and freedom of speech. But there are also serious questions about access to medicine and the fact that ACTA may violate international law. Certainly, the lack of transparency of the negotiations has made it very difficult for both civil society and the European Parliament to monitor the drafting process.
The European Commission and Member States will sign ACTA on Thursday January 26th in Japan. However, the European Parliament has a decisive voice on ACTA. It can determine whether the EU ratifies the treaty or not. Ratification means the treaty will actually be enacted; the signature itself is not legally binding but expresses intent and agreement on the text.
The European Parliament has the decisive voice on ACTA and the INTA committee has the lead. Other committees will be developing their opinions on ACTA in the coming months. You can find some more information about the procedures and relevant committees on this official EP website
The 1st exchange of views on ACTA in the INTA committee is scheduled for either the 29th of February or the 1st of March. The committee will then most likely vote on the ratification of the treaty in April or May.
After that, the most important vote will be during the Strasbourg plenary session on June 11th to 14th, where all MEPs will be able to vote on ACTA. (Please note that these dates may change). If the majority of MEPs vote in favour of ratification ACTA will be ratified by the EU.
So what can we do to stop ACTA?
If you are concerned about ACTA, you can convince the EP to vote against ACTA. In November 2010 we proposed an alternative resolution on ACTA, which intended to take away the main concerns. It was voted down by a very slight majority,please see here (the red section represents MEPs voting against our resolution). As you can see, the difference is only 16 votes, out of 736 (or 754 as it stands now). Another text was then voted in favour, which said the Commission should carry on its negotiations.
If you are concerned about ACTA, contact MEPs (from your country of political party), especially targeting the ones who are in the committees who will vote on ACTA in the coming months. You can find their email addresses on the EP website. Perhaps it won’t have to come to a blackout!
I will organise a hearing in April, where parties that will be affected by ACTA can give their opinion. This meeting will be live streamed. If you wish to be informed about this, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe internet offers tremendous opportunities to bring makers of music, film and other cultural content closer to audiences at lower prices. However, while Europe offers the most attractive and diverse content in the world, much of it is locked behind fragmented copyright laws. Instead of focusing on enforcement, we must focus on reform, while keeping in mind that it is not the government’s job to preserve certain business models against the forces of the free market.
TL;DR: Important dates for ACTA in the European Parliament:
- 29 February/1 March: Discussion in international trade committee,
- April or May: Vote in international trade committee,
- 12, 13 or 14 June: Final vote in plenary (most important vote).
(Please note, all dates may be changed)
Here’s one sentiment I can say I don’t share: missing the pop monoculture. According to Toure at Salon.com, our culture is “poorer” today because we don’t have gigantic acts like Michael Jackson and Prince anymore, that everybody can gather around to and collectively love. This goes hand in hand with the decline of big TV and radio stations that everybody used to watch. There are no “massive music moments” anymore when, for instance, an album becomes a big hit. There is no real shared pop culture anymore with larger-than-life figures.
Well, personally, I have no longing at all to go back to that time. As a millennial, I’m old enough to remember the time when you only had one or two music stations on TV; a couple of radio stations; and the charts that were based on album sales. The time before The Internet, when you were dependent on this small set of big media to enjoy pre-selected pop music. Nowadays, I almost never watch TV or listen to the radio anymore, and why would I? It means listening to crappy music catered for the masses. I have the Internet.
What the author at Salon calls the “balkanization” of pop culture I totally applaud: the Internet has allowed people to get exposed to more music than ever before, and that is of great value. In fact, that’s the only real argument in favor of illegal downloading, I think: exposure to every possible music style of the past and present, expanding your knowledge of pop culture and, if you’re an artist, re-packaging that in something new. I think it’s great that a kid nowadays can listen to Joy Division and actually like it.
Of course, the negative drawback of this mass online availability of past music is the incessant retromania that has dominated the first decade of the twenty-first century. There was a time when music used to look forward, be futuristic, but that is no longer the case: instead, every past musical niche gets exploited and is re-packaged. The hipster is the ultimate personification of the Internet era: no longer think of something new, but re-use past styles again and again. Nowadays I think only electronic music is still forward-looking, but even there you find more and more retro tunes and vibes. I wonder when something that is totally new will emerge; but before that, I guess first the entire musical and stylistic past must be dug up and re-used again.
That’s something else, however, than missing the time of mainstream pop culture. I’m glad the domination of the musical-industrial complex is over, thank you very much. If that means missing what Toure calls “generational moments”, well, so be it.
I live for those times when an album explodes throughout American society as more than a product — but as a piece of art that speaks to our deepest longings and desires and anxieties. In these Moments, an album becomes so ubiquitous it seems to blast through the windows, to chase you down until it’s impossible to ignore it. But you don’t want to ignore it, because the songs are holding up a mirror and telling you who we are at that moment in history.
These sorts of Moments can’t be denied. They leave an indelible imprint on the collective memory; when we look back at the year or the decade or the generation, there’s no arguing that the album had a huge impact on us. It’s pop music not just as private joy, but as a unifier, giving us something to share and bond over.
Actually, I should say I loved Massive Music Moments. They don’t really happen anymore.
The epic, collective roar — you know, the kind that followed “Thriller,”“Nevermind,”“Purple Rain,”“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” and other albums so gigantic you don’t even need to name the artist — just doesn’t happen today. Those Moments made you part of a large tribe linked by sounds that spoke to who you are or who you wanted to be. Today there’s no Moments, just moments. They’re smaller, less intense, shorter in duration and shared by fewer people. The Balkanization of pop culture, the overthrow of the monopoly on distribution, and the fracturing of the collective attention into a million pieces has made it impossible for us to coalesce around one album en masse. We no longer live in a monoculture. We can’t even agree to hate the same thing anymore, as we did with disco in the 1970s.
If you’re under 25, you’ve never felt a true Massive Music Moment. Not Lady Gaga. Not Adele. Not even Kanye. As the critic Chuck Klosterman has written, “There’s fewer specific cultural touchstones that every member of a generation shares.” Sure, Gaga’s “The Fame Monster” spawned several hit singles. Adele’s “21″ and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” were massively popular. Kanye’s brilliant “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was beloved and controversial and widely discussed enough to give a glimpse into the way things used to be. But those successes don’t compare to the explosive impact that “Thriller” and “Nevermind” had on American culture — really, will anyone ever commemorate “21″ at 20, the way the anniversary of Nirvana’s album has been memorialized in the last month?
Numbers don’t tell the whole story about how these cultural atomic bombs detonated and dominated pop culture. But at its peak, “Thriller” sold 500,000 copies a week. These days, the No. 1 album on the Billboard charts often sells less than 100,000 copies a week. What we have today are smaller detonations, because pop culture’s ability to unify has been crippled.
I miss Moments. I love being obsessed by a new album at the same time as many other people are. The last two albums that truly grabbed an enormous swath of America by the throat and made us lose our collective mind were “Nevermind” and Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic.” They sprung from something deep in the country’s soul and spoke to a generation’s disaffection and nihilism. They announced new voices on the national stage who would become legends (Kurt Cobain and Snoop Dogg) and introduced the maturation of subgenres that would have tremendous impact (grunge and gangsta rap).
No connection is made. Pop music has historically been great at creating Moments that brought people together. Now we’re all fans traveling in much smaller tribes, never getting the electric thrill of being in a big, ecstatic stampede. It’s reflected in the difference between the boombox and the iPod. The box was a public device that broadcast your choices to everyone within earshot and shaped the public discourse. The man with the box had to choose something current (or classic) that spoke to what the people wanted to hear. Now the dominant device, the iPod, privatizes the music experience, shutting you and your music off from the world. The iPod also makes it easy to travel with a seemingly infinite collection of songs — which means whatever you recently downloaded has to compete for your attention with everything you’ve ever owned. The iPod tempts you not to connect with the present, but to wallow in sonic comfort food from the past.
Back when MTV played videos, it functioned like a televised boombox. It was the central way for many people to experience music they loved and learn about new artists. Thus MTV directed and funneled the conversation. Now there’s no central authority. Fuse, where I work, plays videos and concerts and introduces people to new artists. But people also watch videos online, where there’s an endless library of everything ever made but no curation, killing its unifying potential.
These days, there are many more points of entry into the culture for a given album or artist. That can be a good thing — MTV, after all, played a limited number of videos in heavy rotation. Now there’s the potential to be exposed to more music. But where there used to be a finite number of gatekeepers, now there’s way too many: anyone with a blog. This is great for the individual listener who’s willing to sift through the chatter to find new bands. But society loses something when pop music does not speak to the entire populace.
Hollywood, too, is struggling to unite us. “Star Wars” and “The Matrix” and “Pulp Fiction” were so big they changed American film — as well as our visual language and Madison Avenue. You didn’t need to actually see the films to feel as if you had consumed them. Their impact was so pervasive, they seemed to bang down your door and announce themselves. The Harry Potter films and “Avatar” stand out for the size of the marketing and ticket buying associated with them. But did they bring large, diverse swaths of America together? Did they speak to something deep in the American soul?
It really seems to speak from a deep-seated insecurity of the author, doesn’t it? Please, go explore music that isn’t spit out over the masses and find a niche you like!
Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have uncovered a use of “OMG” that predates the Internet by many decades. Even better, it was deployed, in writing, by an eccentric British admiral, John Fisher, who was prone to taking offense and running away in anger.
(“I am unable to remain any longer your colleague … I am off to Scotland at once so as to avoid all questionings,” he wrote to Winston Churchill, in May 1915. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith ordered him back.)
The use of the abbreviation that’s become synonymous with teenagers’ text-speak comes from Fisher’s memoirs: “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!”
Anthony Weiner is a politician who had chatroom conversations with women. Also, he sent sexually loaded text messages to women. In both instances, he transmitted non-pornographic images of himself to them.
So why the hell should this guy resign from elected office?
This incident only goes to show the surface puritanism and moralistic ambiguity of American political culture. The fact that Weiner is married, and in first instance lied about his actions (as if they should be subject of media attention in the first place) is unfortunate for him. But calling on him to resign, as well as getting psychiatric treatment for his actions is absurd.
Marital infidelity is a common aspect of modern American life, and considering the amount of sex scandals that frequently rock DC, even more common in American politics. Yet at the moment that some politician is discovered, the flock descends upon him to decry his immorality and thereby confirm their own high moral standards. Note: this goes from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi all the way to president Obama. The Democrats supposedly do this to prevent damage to the party, yet turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy by going on about it. But the worst of all are their demands that Weiner should get psychiatric treatment because he is “sick”; sick for being horny.
At first, Weiner said that he made a mistake, which to me seems the correct thing to do and then move on. But, now he apparently goes along with the diagnosis of his psychological ailments, and is forced to go into therapy. What a ridiculous spectacle. I hope he stays put and refuses to resign.
Excuse me for asking, but why exactly should Anthony Weinerresign? He flirted with women in a crude, dorky and easily traceable way. And he lied about it, which is what married men usually do in such circumstances. Who cares? As far as we know, he violated no law or congressional ethics rule. There’s been no allegation of sexual harassment. It’s entirely possible that his constituents would reelect him if given the chance. So why is he being hounded from office?
The current line among talking heads is that he must resign because he’s hurting the Democratic Party, which no longer can focus public attention on the GOP’s efforts to cut Medicare. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. The main reason the Democrats no longer can focus public attention on the GOP’s efforts to cut Medicare, after all, is that talking heads would rather focus on Anthony Weiner’s pecs. If pundits are really so upset that Weiner is distracting attention from the nation’s budgetary dilemmas, perhaps they should start discussing the nation’s budgetary dilemmas and return Weiner’s seduction strategies to the obscurity they so richly deserve.
Other critics say Weiner has shown poor judgment in his private life, which casts doubt about the judgment he’ll show in public life. But there’s no necessary connection between the two. Bill Clinton was privately reckless and publicly cautious; with George W. Bush it was the reverse. And if critics are worried about what Weiner’s texting habits portend for his behavior in Congress, why don’t they look at his behavior in Congress? I think he’s been significantly less reckless than those Republicans who continue to try to deregulate every industry they can, even after such efforts nearly wrecked the Gulf of Mexico and the global financial system.
Truth be told, I don’t think the real reason pundits are baying for Weiner’s head has anything to do with his ability to be a good congressman. It’s more primal than that. We live in a kick-them-while-they’re-down culture. We love to see the powerful humiliated because it proves that they were no better than us to begin with. Yet we simultaneously imagine that because they’re powerful and famous, they don’t need the empathy that we’d desire were we in their stead. Instead of being moved by their suffering, we revel in it.
How many of the pundits mocking Weiner have marriages that could survive the kind of scrutiny they have been giving his? The realization that everyone’s private life is messy and flawed should produce humility and compassion. Instead, pundits enter the public arena as disembodied Olympian figures, entitled to render the harshest of verdicts, secure in the knowledge that no one will ever investigate their most intimate of domains.
Columnists and talk show hosts who obsess over trivialities such as Weinergate should be called out by their peers. And politicians asked about their consensual sex lives by journalists should say that they will answer on condition that the reporters and their editors answer the same questions about theirs. I hope Anthony Weiner figures out his private life; but even more, I hope he survives in public life. Someone needs to stand up to the media mobs that are making American politics both vicious and small. If he has the courage to do so, maybe others will follow.
Here’s Glenn Greenwald in a very well-written analysis of this preposterous “scandal”. Especially note how mainstream ‘serious’ journalists forgo their duties in scrutinizing government behaviour in favour of reporting about non-items such as this:
There are few things more sickening — or revealing — to behold than a D.C. sex scandal. Huge numbers of people prance around flamboyantly condemning behavior in which they themselves routinely engage. Media stars contrive all sorts of high-minded justifications for luxuriating in every last dirty detail, when nothing is more obvious than that their only real interest is vicarious titillation. Reporters who would never dare challenge powerful political figures who torture, illegally eavesdrop, wage illegal wars or feed at the trough of sleazy legalized bribery suddenly walk upright — like proud peacocks with their feathers extended — pretending to be hard-core adversarial journalists as they collectively kick a sexually humiliated figure stripped of all importance. The ritual is as nauseating as it is predictable.
This isn’t a case of illegal sex activity or gross hypocrisy (i.e., David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley (who built their careers on Family Values) or Eliot Spitzer (who viciously prosecuted trivial prostitution cases)). There’s no lying under oath (Clinton) or allegedly illegal payments (Ensign, Edwards). From what is known, none of the women claim harassment and Weiner didn’t even have actual sex with any of them.
I’d really like to know how many journalists, pundits and activist types clucking with righteous condemnation of Weiner would be comfortable having that standard applied to them. I strongly suspect the number is very small. Ever since the advent of Internet commerce, pornography — use of the Internet for sexual gratification, real or virtual — has has been, and continues to be, a huge business. Millions upon millions of people at some point do what Weiner did. I know that’s a shocking revelation that will cause many Good People to clutch their pearls in fragile Victorian horror, but it’s nonetheless true. It’s also true that marital infidelity is incredibly common.
People who steal stuff need to… Well, let’s not get into details. If there’s one thing I and I think everybody hates, it’s people who steal. I’ve had a couple of coats stolen and the idea of that person picking up that coat, trying whether it fits, and now walking around merrily with my coat on makes me very pissed.
One time, though, a guy who’d stolen my coat the night before was caught on camera, and we were able to pinpoint his face. To cut a long story short, in the end he had to return the coat and offered his dearest apologies. This guy was a first year law student so I could’ve ruined his life by going to the police, and he knew it. Of course I didn’t do that, but the act of him returning that thing and cringing through the dust to apologize to me was sweet. It felt very, very good.
So here’s somebody who did more or less the same. A MacBook was stolen from his apartment, yet the app Hidden was able to make pictures of the thief the whole time. Enter the power of the Internet to spread this meme around since March. And in the end, just a few hours ago - booya! – the burglar gets arrested. That’s justice.
On March 21, 2011, my MacBook was stolen from my apartment in Oakland, CA. I reported the crime to the police and even told them where it was, but they couldn’t help me due to lack of resources. Meanwhile, I’m using the awesome app, Hidden, to capture these photos of this guy who has my MacBook.
On the Today Show in 1994 Bryant Gumbel is wondering what the internet is. The hosts discuss what an @ is, how to operate the internet (“You don’t need a phoneline to operate the internet? No no, apparantly not”). Very funny to see this now, 17 years later:
Also take a look at this cool VHS tape recording called Internet Power! from 1995, in which the magical world of the internet is explored, and my older post on internet nostalgia.
Watch out whom you befriend on Facebook! The Pentagon is developing software that will allow them to secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas.
In a pretty pathetic attempt at starting up some sort of spy program on the Internet, a Californian company has been awarded a contract with Central Command (Centcom) to develop a system in which militarymen can manage 10 online personas, which includes fake backgrounds, histories, and occupations. In this way, they can nest in forums, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media; but also attempt to create some online consensus beneficial to US interests.
I actually don’t believe that in the realm of counterterrorism something like this has never been done before, but ok. We’ll look out for some serviceman in disguise commenting on our blog posts!
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once.
The contract stipulates each persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 controllers must be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet.
Once developed the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with a host of co-ordinated blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.
OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
I don’t buy the latter at all, but they’re welcome to try as far as I’m concerned…
In the Middle East, Facebook, by the creation of action web pages and allowing young protesters to first, get in touch with the world, and second, communicate with each other, played a galvanizing role in the recent revolutions; to the extent that Egyptian and Tunisian people started carrying signs with ‘Facebook’ on it, spray painting the name on walls, and one guy even named his daughter ‘Facebook’.
In the West, though, it’s mostly privacy-eradicating decadence, and rapidly becoming a ‘center’ of the Internet (although a good way to stay in touch with international friends). Either way, here’s a nice infographic with some statistics about global Facebook use…
While we don’t know exactly how the Egyptian government choked off Internet access, there’s no centralized red button that the government—or anyone—can push to turn it off. Evidence suggests a government official called Egypt’s four biggest Internet service providers—Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr—and told them to halt connections. (Vodafone has said it cooperated because the regime has the legal authority to order such a halt.) An engineer at each ISP would then access the ISP’s routers, which contain lists of all the IP addresses accessible through that provider, and delete most or all of those IP addresses, thus cutting off anyone who wants to access them from within or outside the country. That doesn’t mean each ISP had to physically power down their computers; they simply had to change some lines of code.
Egypt didn’t shut down the entire Internet. About 93 percent of Egyptian networks have been disabled, according to Renesys, a company that monitors global Internet activity. One major ISP, Noor Group, is still up and running. Perhaps not coincidentally, Noor happens to host Egypt’s stock exchange. Web connections used by the government and military are also likely still operating on their own private ISPs. Some Egyptian users might also be able to use old-fashioned dial-up connections.
Withholding the Internet in Egypt is relatively easy, compared with other more democratic countries. For one thing, there are only four major ISPs, each of which has relatively few routers connecting them to the outside world. By comparison, anyone who wanted to shut down the Internet in the United States would have to deal with many different companies. And while Egypt can legally disable telecom companies by executive decree, American companies might fall under various regulatory umbrellas that limit the government’s power to disrupt communication channels. Members of Congress have proposed creating a “kill switch” that would shut down the Internet at the push of a button in the case of a “cybersecurity emergency,” but erecting such a blockade would be logistically difficult.
De liberale fractie in het Europees Parlement rocks. Erg sterk op privacy-bescherming en burgerrechten. De ALDE heeft, bij monde van D66′er Sophie in ‘t Veld, vragen aan de Europese Commissie gesteld over het opvragen door het Amerikaanse ministerie van Justitie van de Twittergegevens – en waarschijnlijk ook Facebook- en andere gegevens – van onder meer de Nederlandse internetactivist Rop Gonggrijp. Dit vanwege zijn betrokkenheid bij het publiceren van de Collateral Murder-video, waarin te zien is hoe Amerikaanse Apache-piloten onschuldige burgers doodschieten. Zo iemand noemt de Telegraaf overigens een “linkse terreuractivist” en een “meesterhacker”.
De liberale fractie van het Europarlement vermoedt dat de Amerikaanse datavordering bij webbedrijven over onder meer Rop Gonggrijp illegaal is. De partij eist uitleg van Brussel en Washington.
De liberale fractie ALDE stelt vandaag vragen aan de Europese Commissie over de rechtmatigheid van het vorderen van privégegevens van Europese burgers door de Amerikaanse justitie. De partij eist een plenair debat over de kwestie en de EC moet dringend vragen stellen aan de Amerikaanse autoriteiten.
“De Commissie moet uitleggen of deze handelswijze in strijd is met de Europese regels voor databescherming en of de Amerikaanse autoriteiten de bevoegdheid hebben om de privacyrechten van EU-burgers terzijde te schuiven”, aldus Sophie In’t Veld (D66), Vice-President van de ALDE-fractie.
Aanleiding is het gerechtelijk bevel uit de VS aan in ieder geval Twitter en waarschijnlijk ook andere bedrijven om allerlei accountgegevens en communicatie op te hoesten van een vijftal personen betrokken bij Wikileaks.
Twitter kreeg het voor elkaar dat dit bevel in ieder geval openbaar gemaakt kon worden. Van de vijf wiens gegevens gevorderd zijn is er één inwoner van de EU: de Nederlandse hacker Rop Gonggrijp. Hij hielp in het voorjaar van 2010 mee met de Wikileaks-productie van de video Collateral Murder, van een Apache-helikopter die Irakese burgers neermaait.
Naar alle waarschijnlijkheid zal tegen het databevel beroep worden aangetekend. De Amerikaanse burgerrechtenbeweging EFF heeft zich al opgeworpen als advocaat voor Birgitta Jonsdottir, een IJslands parlementslid. Ook haar accountgegevens zijn gevorderd. Daarnaast gaat het om accounts van klokkenluider Bradley Manning, de Amerikaanse hacker Jacob Appelbaum en Wikileaks-leider Julian Assange.
Paul Boutin of Wired declares it over. Why? Because you can now buy and listen to pretty much every album online, via iTunes, Spotify, Grooveshark, Rdio and other legal services. And it doesn’t cost you anything anymore.
There’s no real reason to engage in online music piracy anymore. Unless you’re cheap.
Mark down the date: The age of stealing music via the Internet is officially over. It’s time for everybody to go legit. The reason: We won. And all you audiophiles and copyfighters, you know who fixed our problems? The record labels and online stores we loved to hate.
Granted, when Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in 2003 there was a lot to complain about. Tracks you bought on computer A often refused to play on gadget B, thanks to that old netizen bogeyman, digital rights management. (It’s crippleware!) My local Apple store was actually picketed by nerds in hazmat suits attempting to educate passersby on the evils of DRM.
Well played, protesters: In January 2009, Apple announced that it would remove the copyright protection wrapper from every song in its store. Today, Amazon and Walmart both sell music encoded as MP3s, which don’t even have hooks for copyright-protection locks. The battle is over, comrades.
A few years ago, audiophiles dismissed iTunes’ 128-Kbps resolution as anemic, even though it supposedly passed rigid blind testing against full-bandwidth CD tracks of the same song. The sound is compressed, connoisseurs said. The high end is mangled. Good work, audiophiles: Online stores have cranked up the audio quality to a fat 256 Kbps. To most ears, it’s indistinguishable from a CD. (Actually, most ears are listening through crummy earbuds anyway, but whatever.) It’s certainly better than most of the stuff out on BitTorrent. If you still hate the sound of digital music, you probably need to go back to vinyl. You can get a pretty good turntable for around $500. Which, I’ll just point out, is not free. And when you steal vinyl records, it’s called shoplifting.
Haters might get a bit more traction with the gripe that official stores still don’t carry every track ever recorded. You won’t find, say, AC/DC or the Beatles* in iTunes. For other artists, contract restrictions mean some songs can’t be downloaded in every country, which indeed seems dumb for a store on the border-free Internet. Americans, for example, can’t buy Daniel Zueras’ 2007 Spanish hit “No Quiero Enamorarme” from the iTunes store for Spain. Still, the available inventory keeps growing, including artists’ back catalogs. I recently discovered that Salt City Orchestra’s limited-edition, vinyl-only 1997 nightclub fave “The Book” has been kicking around iTunes since 2008. Way back in the day, I had to trade favors with a pro DJ to get that record. It’s getting harder and harder to find the few holdouts to hang a reasonable complaint on.
That leaves one last war cry: Music should be free! It’s art! Friends, a song costs a dollar. Walmart has pushed some of its MP3s down to 64 cents. At Grooveshark, you can sample any song you want before you buy. Rdio charges $5 a month for all the music you can eat, served up via the cloud.
So there’s really no reason not to buy—and surely you understand by now that there are reasons why you should. When you buy instead of bootlegging, you’re paying the band. Most download retailers send about 70 percent of each sale to the record companies that own the music. Artists with 15 percent royalty deals get 15 percent of that 70 percent, or about 10.5 cents per dollar of sales. Those who write their own music and own their own music publishing companies—an increasingly common arrangement—get another 9.1 cents in “mechanical royalties.” Every download sends almost 20 cents straight to the band.
A recent court ruling against Universal Records—and in favor of the rapper Eminem—might even lead to downloads of older music being treated not as sales but as licensed music. (Newly written contracts tend to address digital music sales directly.) That would bump the artist’s split with the label from around 15 percent to an average of 50 percent. If that happens and you can still rationalize not throwing four dimes Eminem’s way, then maybe there’s another reason you’re still pirating music: You’re cheap.