sopa

What should the next Aaron Swartz do when the DOJ knocks?

Aaron Swartz found out the hard way that you can't expect justice from the Department of Justice: what should the next Aaron Swartz do when facing decades in prison for information activism?

How to honor Aaron Swartz’s life

Today is two years and a day after the suicide of Aaron Swartz.

Aaron was one of my closest friends. That night was the worst of my life.

In the weeks and months that followed, many of his friends and family — and many people that never knew him personally — asked themselves and each other the same question: what’s the best way to honor Aaron’s death?

Was it to reform the archaic laws (including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, passed in the 80s during the hysteria around the fictional film War Games) that had been used to prosecute him? Was it to make academic research available freely to the public? Was it reforming the criminal justice system as a whole, and academia, and the political system?

Yes, yes, and yes — all of the above. But also something more than that — something personal: what I and others concluded was that the best way we could honor Aaron’s life and death was in the way we lived our own lives.

In short, by living to make the biggest difference we could. By staying focused on the big questions — and never letting ourselves grow satisfied that we had all the right answers or were doing enough.

Aaron left a guide for how to do this, both in his own writing and in how he led his life. Read the rest

Join the New Hampshire Rebellion

Politicians will do anything to avoid embarrassing questions about how money corrupts politics, but we're walking to remind them they can't dodge them forever. Make a video to cheer us on!

Telcos' anti-Net Neutrality argument may let the MPAA destroy DNS

The telcos' ongoing battle against Net Neutrality have led them to make a lot of silly legalistic arguments, but one in particular has opened the whole Internet to grave danger from a legal attack from the entertainment industry, which may finally realize its longstanding goal of subverting DNS to help it censor sites it dislikes, even if it makes life much easier for thieves and spies who use DNS tricks to rob and surveil. Read the rest

Lamar "SOPA" Smith dispatches GOP commissars to National Science Foundation

The Republican Texas Congressjerk maintains a flying squad of political officers who descend upon the NSF to pore through its grant records looking for evidence of ideologically impure science. Read the rest

Nate Anderson's "The Internet Police" -- now in paperback

I reviewed it when it was released in August 2013, calling it "brisk, eminently readable, and important history of the relationship between law, law enforcement, and the net, and as you'd expect, it's excellent" ($13 for the paperback) Read the rest

Steve Wozniak wants you to support Mayday.US and get money out of politics

Apple co-founder, nerd legend, and all-round Good Guy Steve Wozniak has recorded an excellent video explaining why he's supporting Larry Lessig's Mayday.US super PAC, which is raising $5M to elect lawmakers who'll promise to vote to abolish super PACs and effect major campaign finance reform.

Wozniak draws the connection between big money in politics and the overall corruption that gave us SOPA, NSA surveillance, cable company fuckery, and other horribles that arise when the only way to get elected is by sucking up to a tiny elite of the zottarich.

I am not a US citizen and I can't contribute to Mayday. If you are, I hope you will consider giving to the campaign, and throw in a couple extra bucks for me.

Mayday.US Read the rest

How advocacy beat ACTA in Europe

James Losey writes, "After the defeat of SOPA and PIPA in the United States attention turned to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in Europe. Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA raised concerns that excessive measure to enforce copyright online would limit freedom of expression online. And while the approval by European Parliament once seemed inevitable, protests across Europe and advocacy by civil society lead to Parliament rejecting the Agreement in July 2012. But the protest, while highly visible, represented only a portion of the networked advocacy against ACTA in Europe." Read the rest

US trade rep demands end to other nations' healthcare, privacy rules, food labelling...

Public Citizen analyzes the new Obama 2014 National Trade Estimate Report, in which the US Trade Rep demands that: Japan abolish its privacy rules and its requirement that food be labelled with its ingredients; Canada abolish its rules limited pharmaceutical patents; Malaysia get rid of its tariffs on pork and booze; Mexico nuke its junk food taxes, and more. It's great reading, and leaves little room for doubt about the neoliberal future, in which anything that's bad for corporate profits -- even if it's good for society or reflects national values -- is killed in the name of free trade. Read the rest

Congressmen ask ad companies to pretend SOPA is law, break anti-trust

A murder of Congresscritters and Senators have told Internet ad-brokers that they expect them to behave as though SOPA passed into law (instead of suffering hideous, total defeat); they want the companies to establish a secret, unaccountable blacklist of "pirate" sites. The group comprises Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch. This isn't just a terrible idea, it's also an obviously illegal antitrust violation, as Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out: Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Lamar "SOPA" Smith is Congress's new science czar; Shatnerquake!; MIT's hilarious Jack Valenti exit interview

One year ago today SOPA's daddy is now in charge of government science funding, and he hates peer-review: The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress.

Five years ago today Shatnerquake: bizarro novel about every Shatner character sucked into reality to hunt down William Shatner: Shatnerquake! It's the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor! But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William

Ten years ago today MIT makes Jack Valenti look like an idiot: The Tech interviews the MPAA's outgoing spokesmonster Jack Valenti, with hilarious results. Read the rest

Obama official responsible for copyright chapters of TPP & ACTA gets a job at MPAA; his replacement is another copyright lobbyist

Stan McCoy is the assistant US Trade Representative who oversaw the creation of the disastrous, far-reaching copyright provisions in ACTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. He's left the Obama administration for a high-paid job at the MPAA, which represents companies that stood to reap massive profits and permanent control over Internet governance and innovation thanks to his efforts while in government. Now, the Obama administration has headhunted a software industry lobbyist (who supported SOPA) to take over his job. McCoy is one of more than a dozen USTR officials who've left the government to work for copyright lobbying bodies, including former Obama copyright czar Victoria Espinel, who now gets her paycheck from the Business Software Alliance.

Timothy Lee has an excellent piece on the revolving-door relationship between the USTR and the entertainment industry and other copyright lobbyists. When Obama was campaigning for office, he vowed that "lobbyists won't work in my White House." Read the rest

Obama whirls the copyright lobbyist/government official revolving door

The Obama administration has a new negotiator in its effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretly negotiated treaty that includes broad powers to censor and surveil the Internet: Robert Holleyman, one of the chief SOPA lobbyists. Holleyman just retired from serving as head of the Business Software Alliance. His successor is Victoria Espinel, who just quit the Obama administration, where she served as "IP Czar." Obama promised to shut down the revolving door between lobbyists and government, but it's spinning quicker than ever. Read the rest

Self-published ebooks: the surprising data from Amazon

Hugh Howey, author of the bestselling, indie-original science fiction series Wool, has published an eye-popping, and important data-rich report on independent author earnings from ebooks sold on Amazon. Howey makes a good case that the "average" author earns more from a self published book than she would through one of the Big Five publishers, and, what's more, that this holds true for all sorts of outliers (the richest indie authors outperform the richest Big Five authors; less-prolific indies do better than less-prolific traditionals, etc).

Howey's report includes a lot of raw data and makes a lot of very important points. It certainly is an aid to authors wondering whether to do business with major publishers or go it alone. I read it with great interest.

I think that there are a couple of important points that Howey skirts, if not eliding them altogether. The most important of these is that all the authors Howey studies live and die by the largesse of one company: Amazon. This is the same company whose audiobook division, Audible, requires authors to lock their products to its store with non-optional DRM, and which has no real competitors in its space. So it is neither an angel by nature, nor is it subject to strong competitive pressures that would cause it to treat authors well when its own self-interest would cause it to treat them badly. As bad as it is to have a publishing world with only five major publishers in it -- a monoposony in which a tiny handful of companies converge on terms and practices that are ultimately more to their benefit than those of authors, it's even worse to have a world in which a single company controls the entire market. Read the rest

Join Boing Boing, Reddit, and websites all over the world on the 11th to fight mass surveillance

In two days, the Internet will erupt in a protest to rival the uprising against SOPA: in Aaron Swartz's memory, websites everywhere will add code from TheDayWeFightBack.org to their templates, helping to flood Congress -- and the world's legislative bodies -- with calls for an end to mass surveillance.

In America, we're demanding that Congress pass The USA Freedom Act, restoring the Fourth Amendment protection that Americans have enjoyed for hundreds of years. If you have a website (a Tumblr, a blog) then you -- like us -- can add the code to your template today, and on the 11th, it will go live.

The Day We Fight Back - February 11th 2014 Read the rest

Extorted out of a one-character Twitter ID by a hacker who seized control of Godaddy domains

Naoki Hiroshima was lucky enough to snag a one-character Twitter username: @N. Over the years, he'd been offered large sums -- as much as $50,000 -- for the name, but he kept it. Then, according to a horrifying first-person account, a hacker socially engineered the last four digits of his credit-card out of Paypal, used that information to seize control of his Godaddy account, and threated to trash all of Hiroshima's websites unless Hiroshima transferred @N to the hacker. The hacker also seized control of Hiroshima's Facebook account. The attack took place over the Martin Luther King, Jr day holiday, and Hiroshima couldn't get his case escalated to anyone at Twitter, Godaddy or Paypal while it was taking place, and so he lost his domain. All three companies now say that they're looking into his story. Hiroshima offers some helpful advice on avoiding his fate (use two-factor authentication, mostly).

I'd add that it's generally good practice to avoid Godaddy, because they're SOPA-supporting sellout scum, and they suck. Read the rest

Save the Internet: Stop Fast Track

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Want to help save democracy? The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a super-secretive trade agreement that threatens everything you care about. It's been negotiated behind closed doors with ample input from over 600 corporate lobbyists -- but no access for journalists or the public. Sound bad? It gets worse. The corporate interest groups pushing for the TPP are the same folks that brought us SOPA, ACTA, and NAFTA." Read the rest

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