The Government Strikes Back

The internet had thought it won a great victory with the black out of some seriously major websites, however it was a short lived victory as the Fed and its allies the vicious RIAA and MPAA have regrouped and launched a stunning counter attack destroying a rebel outpost on Hoth… errr Actually, The US government has shut down MegaUpload.com and arrested several employees for copyright infringement. You may remember MegaUpload for recently being involved in a dispute with Universal over a YouTube video. Where Universal issued false DMCA take down notices which required YouTube to take down the video. However, this video wasn’t infringing and MegaUpload sued Universal for the false claims. The interesting thing about this video is that it’s about all the legal ways you can use MegaUpload. The video is essentially an attempt by the company to show that there are legitimate uses for their services which, I’m assuming, was an attempt to get them into the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.

To me, this action really shows that the US government doesn’t need SOPA to pass for it to censor the internet. It already has the ability to do so. SOPA would just put a rubber stamp approval on the actions that the government is already taking. This should be a wake up call. Yes, we had one with the joke of hearings for SOPA previously, however this is a slap in the face of the internet. It’s basically saying, sure we heard you, but you know what? you don’t matter.

Sure it might not be as easy as it would have been with SOPA passing and it’s not breaking the internet the way that SOPA would, but it’s still happening. As much as I hate Maddox, he’s right in his post about SOPA. We really have been pretty complacent, myself included. Yes, I’ve written a bunch, signed petitions and emailed my senators and congressmen multiple times, but big deal. Right now this is a hot button topic, but this isn’t going to go away. No one spoke up about the NDAA because it didn’t impact your ability to read Reddit or surf wikipedia. That law is as bad or worse than SOPA depending on what you think of freedom and civil liberties.

When I got home last night and saw that MegaUpload had been shut down, I was miserable. It made me feel completely impotent. That I was unable to impact the way the US government acts in any meaningful way. At this point, I’m not really sure what to do about this. If any other government would be doing this the US would be up in arms (perhaps literally) and would put a stop to it. Our government is doing this in our name and it’s horribly depressing that I can’t do anything to stop it.

Maddox is right. SOPA only failed because we were paying attention and we were able to get the tech giants behind us on it. SOPA will rear its ugly head again and we might be sleeping. The empire has struck back and we need to decide what we are going to do about it. Are we going to get some ewoks and take it down or are we going to keep signing petitions?

Anonymous has decided to fight back and has launched a large number of attacks on internet websites. As citizens that are deeply concerned with the MegaUpload action we need to ask ourselves, is this an appropriate response? Is this a way of protesting and assembling in an online space? Should anonymous be locked up for doing this? I think that this is a type of protest. Anonymous is as frustrated as I am and have decided to do something in response. It’s obvious that they felt like this is a direct attack on the internet in response to the SOPA protests and the “abuse of power” the internet displayed in taking down websites to protest SOPA.

It also begs the question, what will these website attacks actually accomplish?

What are some of your thoughts on this?

Update 1: I just saw that some 9,000 Hackers have joined Anonymous

Update 2: Apparently Anonymous is using a link that directs users to a Low Orbit Ion Canon DDoS tool that uses the users computer to attack a website. This is an interesting tactic as it will make it very difficult for agents to determine who was malicious and those that were  ignorant of what they were doing. Thus making the tool a more effective protest tool. It will be interesting to see what the ramifications of this new tactic are. I think it will be used again in the future and will make it as “easy” as signing a petition to join a DDoS without having to do the hard work of setting up the LOIC on your computer. Interesting.

Which bill is worse NDAA or SOPA?

I was posed this interesting question by my friend JurriĆ«n, which bill is worse the most recent NDAA or SOPA. What is the NDAA? Well it’s a yearly bill called the National Defense Authorization Act, however there were some incredibly important changes to this years bill. This years NDAA turned the United States into a battle field and gave the US government the right to arrest anyone for any reason. It also includes provisions for allowing the indefinite detention of any US citizen. Something like this has already occurred with the PATRIOT Act, which allowed the President to go after so called “enemy combatants.” Most of these prisoners are currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

What does this bill mean to you and me? Well, the basic argument is if you’re doing nothing wrong it won’t impact you. However, I see in this bill the potential to return to McCarthyism at it’s worst. Only instead of Communists we’ll be seeing terrorists everywhere. Likely it could eventually lead to oppression of anyone that appears to be Arabic, Pakistani, Afghan, or similar skin tone. This type of power is ripe for abuse and might be extended to fight the “War on Drugs” as many of those groups are essentially terrorists in Mexico.

What about SOPA? I’ve written about that fairly extensively, but tomorrow we’re going to get to see a preview of what life might be like under SOPA. Tomorrow Reddit, Wikipedia, imgur and many other smaller websites are going to black out all of their content. Nothing will be readable as a protest against the law. In addtion, the Senate counter part PIPA (Protect IP act) is up for a hearing on Jan 24 so be sure to contact your Senator

Both laws I think are going to be abused by the US government and by agencies that are given additional powers. In many ways they are similar in that they restrict our Constitutional Rights as Americans. We will lose our 6th Amendment right to a trial by jury and our 8th Amendment Rights, which prohibits excessive, cruel and unusual punishments. Based on this, Chris Hedges has sued Obama over the passing of this bill. This might have a good chance of succeeding in overturning the law.

SOPA/PIPA aren’t on the books yet. I think that we can prevent these two from passing and will for a time save the internet. It will take a lot of continual effort and we will have to remain vigilant against surprise sessions where they attempt to pass the laws.

I worry that the NDAA will not be revoked in its current form and will be used to dramatically harm US citizens. Additionally, I fear any attempt to link SOPA/PIPA to national defense which would surely pass. So at this point, NDAA is worse only because it has passed. Once SOPA/PIPA pass, the three combined could be a nightmare for us, but a dream come true for dictators around the world. What could we say to future Saddam’s when they are able to point to US law and say, you can do it why can’t we?