Boing Boing 

ACT NOW! Congress wants to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Congress is about to introduce a bill that will let the US Trade Representative lock America into the provisions of the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, without substantial debate or scrutiny -- including criminal sanctions -- jail! -- for downloading TV shows.

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Petition: make it safe to report security flaws in computers


Laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act put security researchers at risk of felony prosecution for telling you about bugs in the computers you put your trust in, turning the computers that know everything about us and watch everything we do into reservoirs of long-lived pathogens that governments, crooks, cops, voyeurs and creeps can attack us with.

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Half of all clinical trials never published: help do something about it

Victoria from Sense About Science writes, "International Clinical Trials Day is on Tuesday May 20th but half of all clinical trials have never been published and some have not even been registered. Help the AllTrials.net petition get to 100,000 signatures by International Clinical Trials Day and end the era of secrecy. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in these trials. If action is not taken urgently, information on what was done and what was found in trials could be lost forever, leading to bad treatment decisions, missed opportunities for good medicine and trials being repeated unnecessarily. Sign and share the petition at AllTrials.net. Tweet #AllTrials."

Everything is a Remix vs Patent Trolls

Adi from EFF writes, "Engine Advocacy worked with artist Kirby Ferguson (of Everything is a Remix fame) to create this great primer on patent trolls. It beautifully and succinctly lays out the patent problem, which is one of the hottest topics on the Hill right now. EFF, Public Knowledge, and Engine are pushing for people to call their senators to demand strong patent reform, and we have a handy tool at fixpatents.org for all you to do so!"

Tech companies to Senate Finance Committee chair Wyden: no Fast Track for TPP!

More than 25 tech companies -- including Happy Mutants, LLC, Boing Boing's parent company -- have signed onto a letter asking Senator Ron Wyden (chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) to oppose "Fast Track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a secretly negotiated trade agreement that allows for big corporations to trump national law, suing governments that pass regulations that limit their profits; it contains a notoriously harsh chapter on Internet regulation that will allow entertainment companies unprecedented power to surveil, censor, and control the Internet.

The US Trade Representative and the Obama administration have demanded that Congress give "Fast Track" status to the TPP, meaning that they would not be allowed to debate the individual clauses of the bill, and would only be able to vote it up or down. The treaty is likely to have lots of sweeteners that will make it hard for key lawmakers to reject it entirely, a manipulative maneuver that, combined with Fast Track, means that the treaty has a substantial chance of passing, even though it means Congress will be surrendering its power to make laws that impact on massive corporations.

Other signatories to the letter include Reddit, Techdirt, Imgur, Duckduckgo, Ifixit, Cheezburger, Automattic (WordPress), and many others.

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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."

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Petition: kill the Oakland "Domain Awareness Center" spy-program


Eddan sez, "The Oakland City Council is in the final stretch of approving the funding of the Domain Awareness Center to be built in Oakland. Though there has been a great deal of public outcry at the City Council itself, it just keeps going forward especially because they're now trying to pitch this as a crime-fighting law enforcement tool. Which is especially important to be on the right side of in Oakland during a City Council/Mayor election year. The Public Safety Committee to meet Jan. 28 is made up of most of the City Council members that are most skeptical and least supportive of the way this Department of Homeland Security new gadget funding is dangled before a resource-poor and embattled police department."

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Petition: Stephen Colbert, don't speak at the RSA conference

Ever since RSA got caught sabotaging its own products to aid the NSA for a piddling $10M, it's been corporation-non-grata in the security world. Prominent experts are bailing on the RSA conference where they'd been scheduled to speak. Now, a Fight for the Future petition is asking Stephen Colbert to walk away from his guest speaker slot. I hope he does -- Colbert's reputation is worth more than the fee he commands from RSA.

Amnesty petition to release Chelsea Manning

Alan sez, "Amnesty International have a petition up that asks for the release of Manning. The petition argues that both on humanitarian grounds and on account of the pre-trial treatment, Manning is deserving of a clemency release."

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Call your Congresscritter today, help kill patent trolling

It's make or break time for the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), with less than two days until a crucial vote. The Act injects some much-needed reform into the patent system (though it doesn't go far enough), and it's been moving strongly through Congress, coming out of committee with a 33-5 vote. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking its supporters to call their reps to tell them to support the bill.

Read the rest

Europeans: help stop the export of digital arms from the EU!


Marietje Schaake, the EU's most tech-savvy MEP, writes, "Recently I launched a global campaign against the trade in digital arms from the EU: stopdigitalarms.eu It is unacceptable that EU-made technologies are still exported, deployed and operated by European companies to third countries without oversight."

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NYT endorses brutal, secret, Internet-destroying corporatist TPP trade-deal; write to your lawmaker to fight it

The New York Times has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership; a trade deal negotiated in utmost secrecy, without public participation, whose text is still not public. From leaks, we know that TPP wasn't just anti-democratic in its process -- it also contains numerous anti-democratic provisions that allow private offshore companies to overturn domestic law, especially laws that allow for free speech and privacy online. TPP is slated for fast-tracking through Congress, minimizing any scrutiny of a deal negotiated behind closed doors before it is turned into law. From what we've seen of TPP, it recapitulates all the worst elements of ACTA and then some. The Electronic Frontier Foundation needs you to write to your lawmaker demanding full and public debate on TPP.

Read the rest

Brits! Write to tell your MP to debate spying in Parliament this Thu!

Jim from the Open Rights Group sez, "The UK's Parliament hasn't debated the consequences of the Edward Snowden revelations once: except to listen to pland reassurances right at the start, and to complain about the Guardian last week. Now Julian Huppert, Tom Watson and Dominic Raab have got a proper debate to open up the real questions about the extent and failure of oversight to prevent dragnet surveillance. If you're the UK, please ask your MP to go to the debate and start asking the difficult questions"

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Europeans petition Bob Iger to save Disneyland Paris from its long decline


A multilingual petition to Bob Iger asks for Disney's CEO and top management to do something about the (frankly, pretty terrible) condition of Disneyland Paris, a park I've stopped visiting (though it's closest to me), due to the poor staffing, poor maintenance, bad (and expensive) food and hotels, and large number of out-of-service attractions and shows.

Read the rest

Europeans: sign petition calling on EU leaders to stop mass surveillance programmes


A coalition of European privacy, free speech and civil liberties groups have started a petition to the leaders of the EU, calling on them to stop governments from carrying out programs of mass, suspicionless, warrantless dragnet surveillance like Prism and Tempora (the US and UK programs revealed in Edward Snowden's NSA leaks). They need your signature, too:

We, the undersigned, call on our Heads of Government to clearly and unambiguously state their opposition to all systems of mass surveillance including the US's NSA PRISM system and similar systems in several countries in Europe. Europe’s leaders have not yet taken any action to stop this abuse of our right to privacy and freedom of expression.

We call on Europe’s leaders to place this issue firmly on the agenda for the next European Council Summit in October. They need to make it clear that they will do so.

They must take action to stop this abuse of our human rights.

The inaugural signatories include Index on Censorship, English PEN, Article 19, Privacy International, Open Rights Group and Liberty.

EU leaders: Stop mass surveillance

UK government online disability benefits signup requires IE6

Robin sez,

I'm one of the campaigns managers at 38 Degrees (the UK's largest online campaign organisation). One of our members has recently started a petition calling on the UK government to update their web technology. When I saw it I immediately thought of boing boing and wondered if you could help spread the word.

To claim Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance in the UK people are being asked to use Internet Explorer 5 or 6 and other systems that are so out of date they are available on less than 2% of computers. If you want to claim online you will need to take a step back to the 1990s and hunt through second hand shops for an old PC that you can power up.

It's a crazy situation.

Update Online DLA Claim System (Thanks, Robin!)

Infographic: how money corrupts Congress, and what to do about it


Money wins Elections is an excellent, scrolling infographic that illustrates how money corrupts the American legislative process, showing that time and again, Congress has voted the way that the big money told it to, against the prevailing popular opinion. It's all in support of the American Anti-corruption Act, and it was created by Tony Chu for part of his MFA thesis project.

Money wins Elections

Great old indie bookstore in St Louis faces demolition as town considers proposal to site an industrial storage facility on its lot


Thorne sez, "I grew up in a bookstore in a 150 year old Victorian mansion in Rock Hill, St. Louis. I lived in an upstairs room until I was about 10, and we needed the space for more books. This weekend a demolition crew came into my family's store to take measurements for a proposed demolition. An out of state company wants to build an industrial storage facility on this location. This has been an operating independent family business for 30 years and I'm posting it because I believe this type of development needs attention. A friend started a change.org petition over the weekend. Also - it's haunted."

Apparently, the landlord is an "older guy who just wants to sell the property," and the real leverage point here is whether the city grants permission for the demolition and the storage facility.

City of Rock Hill, Missouri: Stop the tear-down and redevelopment of The Book House [Change.org]

Book House Issues Call To Stave Off Eviction [Publishers Weekly]

Petition: force Congress to display logos of their corporate backers on their clothes


The idea of forcing Congresscritters to wear NASCAR-style coveralls with the logos of their financial backers has been bandied about before, but here it is in official White House petition form.

Since most politicians' campaigns are largely funded by wealthy companies and individuals, it would give voters a better sense of who the candidate they are voting for is actually representing if the company's logo, or individual's name, was prominently displayed upon the candidate's clothing at all public appearances and campaign events. Once elected, the candidate would be required to continue to wear those "sponsor's" names during all official duties and visits to constituents. The size of a logo or name would vary with the size of a donation. For example, a $1 million dollar contribution would warrant a patch of about 4" by 8" on the chest, while a free meal from a lobbyist would be represented by a quarter-sized button. Individual donations under $1000 are exempt.

As funny as this is, it would be easy-ish to turn this into a browser plugin that looked for politicians' names in the pages you looked at, and automatically surrounded them with a semi-opaque halo of corporate logos that you could click on to see more.

Require Congressmen & Senators to wear logos of their financial backers on their clothing, much like NASCAR drivers do. (via Beyond the Beyond)

(Image: Bobby Labonte, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mulsanne's photostream)

Petition to reverse ban on cellphone unlocking needs your sig!

Derek Khanna (the GOP staffer who got fired after penning an eminently sensible paper on copyright policy) sez, "The White House Petition to reverse the decision to ban unlocking cellphones is at 72,000 signatures, but it needs to get to 100,000 signatures by February 24, 2013. On Friday Representative DeFazio tweeted in favor of reform - read the article about new prohibition on unlocking your own cellphone here."

Petition for transparency in the selection process for the new BBC boss

Anthony from OpenDemocracy sez, "OurBeeb, hosted by openDemocracy, have launched a petition calling for all candidates to be head of the BBC to publish their vision and principles for taking it forward. They say the Trust must not carry on with its closed, old-boy secret appointments. If the BBC is to embrace new media and technology it's essential that there is an open debate, see for example, Tony Ageh's call for a digital commons."

UK government is squatting on 1.67 million unused IPv4 addresses

The UK's Department for Work and Pensions is squatting on an unused block of super-scarce IPv4 addresses. Specifically, they're sitting on a /8 network with 1.67 million spare addresses. A petition asks the government to sell these off.

It has recently come to light that the Department for Work and Pensions has its own allocated block of 16,777,216 addresses (commonly referred to as a /8), covering 51.0.0.0 to 51.255.255.255. The estimated market value of this block of addresses is between $0.5 and $1.5 billion.

Analysis shows that the DWP is not using any of these addresses in public. If they are being used for internal, private networks then this is a phenomenal waste of public funds - the block 10.0.0.0/8 is specifically earmarked for use on internal private networks, and using the globally routed 51.0.0.0/8 internally is madness.

£1 billion of low-effort extra cash would be a very nice thing to throw at our deficit.

The DWP should sell its block of 16777216 IP addresses (via /.0

Animation teacher faces the sack for refusing to push "unnecessary, expensive" textbooks at hedge-fund invested Art Institute of California

Mike Tracy teaches at the Art Institute of California—Orange County, but not for long. In a note on his Facebook page, Tracy explains that AIC-OC (whose parent company, EDMC, is 41 percent owned by Goldman Sachs) has told him he'll be fired if he doesn't agree to sell a quota of expensive and, in his opinion, unnecessary e-textbooks.

Here's the note Tracy posted:

As many of you know, I have been in a dispute with our school, the Art Institutes, for some months now, over their policy of mandatory e-textbooks in classes where their inclusion seems arbitrary, inappropriate and completely motivated by profit. In July I asked the US Department of Education, the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education and WASC (our accrediting agency) to look into my concerns. Since that time, the school and its parent company EDMC have escalated the pressure on me to select a book for a class I teach that I don’t think requires one.

Today, the President of the school, Greg Marick, presented me with an ultimatum; either choose a book by Tuesday, Aug 14th or the company will terminate my employment for insubordination. My response, of course, is that I will not change my mind on this issue and that I’m determined to resist the policy however I can. I think this means that, as of this week, I will no longer be teaching at AI.

I want you, my students and colleagues to know that it has been my great honor and privilege to have worked with you over the last 11 years, and that I will miss the opportunity to work for you and with you. I have enjoyed my time as a teacher very much, but it appears as though it is now time to move on. Furthermore, you can count on me to continue the struggle that I have instigated on this issue, if only from the outside. Although it aint over till it’s over, it looks like a 99.5% deal, barring an 11th hour change of heart by the corporation, which would surprise me.

Here's a petition from Tracy's colleagues and present and past students, asking the administration to reconsider its position.

Animation Teacher Faces Termination For Refusing To Sell His Students Unnecessary Books (via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Robot, Mike Tracy)

White House TSA petition goes dark as it nears the finish line, disappears when the lights come back on

A White House petition about the TSA's screening procedures was 90 percent of the way to completion when Wired ran a story giving it a final push. The White House's petition site went down for unannounced maintenance, and when it came back up, the petition had "expired" -- though the Electronic Privacy Information Center says it still had time left on the clock:

At approximately 11:30 am EDT, the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House "We the People" website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for "maintenance" following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign.

White House Pulls Down TSA Petition (via /.)

Update: The petition's creator reportedly disputes EPIC's version of the timeline, saying that the petition had run out its time during the outage.

Petition to make the TSA obey a court order and hold hearings on pornoscanners

Bruce Schneier writes,

Year ago, EPIC [the Electronic Privacy Information Center] sued the TSA over full body scanners (I was one of the plantiffs), demanding that they follow their own rules and ask for public comment. The court agreed, and ordered the TSA to do that. In response, the TSA has done nothing. Now, a year later, the court has again ordered the TSA to answer EPIC's position.

This is an excellent time to add your name to the petition the TSA to do what they're supposed to do, and what the court ordered them to do: take public comments on full body scanners. The petition has almost 17,000 signatures. If we get 25,000 by August 9th, the government will respond. I doubt they'll capitulate, but it will be a press event that will put even more pressure on the TSA. So please sign the petition. (Here is my first post about it.)

Court Orders TSA to Answer EPIC

Posters/petitions for Seattle residents against corporate personhood


Jeff sez, "Some graphic designers in Seattle anonymously created these cool "Corporations Aren't People" posters for the I103 initiative... they are editable PDFs so you can change the text as needed."

What is Initiative Measure 103? Measure 103 is a citizen's initiative in Seattle to elevate peoples' rights above corporate rights and put an end to corporate personhood and other legal privileges corporations use to overrule communities in our democracy. Read the initiative.

What does Measure 103 do? If enacted, the measure would prohibit corporations from making political contributions or lobbying, end corporate personhood and close the revolving door between elected officials and corporations impacted by their lawmaking. The measure would establish community rights to fair elections, clean government, self-government, citizen oversight of the police, rights for neighborhoods to approve zoning changes, Constitutional rights for workers, rights for nature to protect Puget Sound, our resident Orca pods and salmon runs and legislate status quo network neutrality.

i103 Downloads (Thanks, Jeff!)

Jimmy Wales to UK Home Secretary: don't render Richard O'Dwyer to the USA

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has launched a signature drive to get the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, to intervene to stop the extradition to the USA of Richard O'Dwyer, who created the TVShack website. TVShack had links to places from which users could download TV shows, and was legal under UK law. The US entertainment lobby has demanded O'Dwyer be rendered to an American court, which may persecute him for violating the law of a distant land. As Wales writes, it's time to stop letting the entertainment industry's priorities define the regulatory regime for the Internet.

Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean it can or should be unlimited. It does not mean that we should abandon time-honoured moral and legal principles to allow endless encroachments on our civil liberties in the interests of the moguls of Hollywood.

One of the important moral principles that has made everything we relish about the internet possible, from Wikipedia to YouTube, is that internet service providers need to have a safe harbour from what their users do. There are and should be some limits to this. Under US copyright law, there are notice and take-down provisions requiring service providers to remove content under a properly formatted notification. And there is a distinction between hosting copyrighted material and telling people where it is. The latter is protected under the first amendment.

When I met Richard (along with his mother), he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a university student, he is precisely the kind of person one can imagine launching the next big thing on the internet. Enthusiastic, with a sharp mind and a quick wit, he reminds me of many great entrepreneurs. He tried to follow the law, and I would argue that he very likely succeeded in doing so.

Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face felony charges. No US citizen has ever been brought to the UK for alleged criminal activity on US soil. There is a disparity here that ought to raise concerns at the highest levels of government in both the US and UK.

Richard O'Dwyer and the new internet war

Snooper's Charter petition: don't let the government transform GB into KGB

If you're as outraged as I am that the UK Coalition government is planning on spending £1.8B to spy on every click, IM, email and Facebook update, without a warrant under the Draft Communications Data Bill, then please consider visiting the Open Rights Group's petition page where we're gathering signatures to present to MPs. The Coalition is deeply divided on this issue, and there's a very good chance we'll be able to put paid to this proposal just as we did with Labour's national ID scheme, but not without your help.

Yesterday the Government unveiled the 'Communications Data Bill'. It's a proposal for more powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online. Your communications via Google, Facebook or Skype would be open to what may be a large number of government officials. You can help! Please email your MP and tell them why you want to see the powers to collect and access communications data tightened up, not extended ever further.

Don't forget that ORG is running nationwide workshops to help you meet effectively with your MP to lobby them on this issue and on Internet censorship.

Snooper's Charter: write to your MP

(Disclosure: I am proud to have co-founded the Open Rights Group and to volunteer on its advisory board)

Canada's warrantless surveillance bill is back, and bigger than ever, with surveillance powers for US gov't, too

Bill C30, the sweeping Canadian warrantless Internet surveillance bill, is back from the dead. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (who declared that opposition to his bill was tantamount to support for pedophiles) has been working behind the scenes to resurrect his legislation, joining forces with the US government in the name of "perimeter security." This proposed deal would expand the warrantless surveillance to US authorities, who could also access Canadians' private information.

OpenMedia.ca has been rounding up the names of Canadian MPs who oppose C-30, compiling a master list of the politicians who'll stand with Canadians against this kind of wholesale, international surveillance of their data. They want Canadians to pressure their MPs into taking the pledge.

Vic Toews, far from backing down, is pushing for a renewed multi-faceted scheme to erode Canadians’ online privacy rights: Toews has been working on a deal with the U.S. known as “Perimeter Security”, which could lead to the U.S. government having access to your private data.2 Additionally, the Federal Budget for this year includes a plan to cut funding to the watchdog responsible for overseeing Canada's spy agency, CSIS.3

All in all, Toews’ actions could lead Canada to become a large, recklessly-governed surveillance society.

But we have momentum now, with nearly two-thirds of opposition MPs on our side. You got us this far, now take a moment to get your friends, family, co-workers—everyone you know—to speak out about the costly scheme to collect your private online information at any time, without a warrant.

Letter to Supporters: Who's on your side?

Petition to save Canada's National Archive

Peter sez,

The Canadian federal government recently announced that they are cutting $9.6 million from the budget of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Canada's national archives. This will seriously undermine the archives, which was already struggling due to chronic underfunding to live up to its mandate 'o preserve the documentary heritage of Canada.'

Hundreds of other archives across Canada will also be negatively affected by these cuts because LAC is terminating the National Archives Development Program (NADP), a long-running contribution program that helped fund projects by small archives to preserve documentary heritage locally and make it publicly available. The NADP cost only $1.7 million annually, but has done a world of good in helping to ensure that Canadian history survives and is accessible by all. If you want to help fight these devastating cuts to Canada's archival heritage, please sign the online petition to save the NADP and spread the word about these harmful cuts.

Make it Better - Write a Letter. Help save Canada's National Archival Development Program. (Thanks, Peter!)