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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. Cory 77

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.

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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.

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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.

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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]