Redditors are well known for posting memes, self-referencing jokes and collecting upvotes and karma. But writing legislation to protect the Internet? That’s something new, and it’s happening at “r/fia,” a Reddit community that’s writing the Free Internet Act, or FIA.
“We’re aiming to create a piece of legislation that’s international and that promotes Internet freedom that prevents bills such as SOPA and ACTA,” says Downing_Street_Cat.
The current draft reads like a cross between a congressional bill and an international treaty.
FIA calls for protecting the Internet against government censorship and protecting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and users from being held liable for hosting or viewing copyrighted content without their knowledge. It demands network neutrality, while also calling for users to receive notification before data is removed from “web pages or cloud storage.”
After those provisions, which sound like they could be found in domestic legislation, FIA gets international. It states that “laws of individual countries (who have signed this treaty) shall not be applicable to the Internet,” and “no country shall have reigning power over the Internet.” It also completely bars extradition for Internet-related crimes, requiring those convicted of a crime to be tried “in the court of their residing country.”
“The Internet is just a means to get what I really want,” he says. “My main goal is democracy. I think the Internet is one of the greatest inventions ever made. It’s the first time I see a real possibility for democracy in the world.”
It’s not entirely unexpected that the Reddit community would organize such an innovative political undertaking. Redditors were instrumental in drumming up online opposition to SOPA and PIPA, and the site was one of the first to announce a Jan. 18 blackout to protest those bills. And “pro-Internet” politicians, such as Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, have made “AMA” appearances (a public, text-based Interview) on Reddit.
Crowdsourcing legislation is not new, either. Last year, citizens of Iceland crowdsourced a new constitution. Royal credits Iceland’s experiment with providing some inspiration for FIA.
“Hey! Let’s piss off the internet by threatening to nuke the internet via a censorship bill! It’ll be hilarious, you guys!”
No one in their right mind would say that, right?
With its content split up into hundreds of languages — and with over 50% of it in English — most of the Web is inaccessible to most people in the world. This problem is pressing, now more than ever, with millions of people from China, Russia, Latin America and other quickly developing regions entering the Web. In this TED talk, I introduce my new project, called Duolingo, which aims at breaking the language barrier, and thus making the Web truly “world wide.”
Censorship, Surveillance and Hackers
A great article in Forbes on Telecomix, a group of hackers that have aimed their sites, and hacking chops, on free-speech starved countries. The group has also exposed western (mostly American) technology firms whose products have (knowingly or unknowingly, depending on who you believe) slipped into the hands of state agencies bent on monitoring and suppressing uppity populaces.
One morning in mid-August, seven months into the Arab Spring protests and government crackdowns in which thousands have been killed, something strange happened on Syria’s Internet. As users aimed their Web browsers at Google and Facebook, they instead saw a page of white Arabic script scrawled across a black background.
“This is a deliberate, temporary Internet breakdown. Please read carefully and spread the following message,” it read. “Your Internet activity is monitored.”
Then the page switched to a white screen filled with instructions on using free encryption and anonymity software like Tor and TrueCrypt to evade surveillance and censorship. Emblazoned above the text was a round, mysterious symbol: a star inside an omega, hovering over a pyramid surrounded by lightning bolts. Below it were written the words: “This is Telecomix. We come in peace.”
Telecomix, a loose-knit team of international hacktivists, had been scanning the Syrian Internet in a massive sweep, dividing 700,000 target connections among its members in Germany, France and the U.S., probing for hackable devices with software tools like Nmap and Shodan. They compromised vulnerable Cisco Systems-produced network switches to find other devices’ passwords, snooped on open cameras revealing street scenes and even officials’ desks, and at one point retrieved the log-in credentials for 5,000 unsecured home routers, which they used to insert the surveillance warning (shown below) into browsers across the country.
As the globally-distributed hackers combed Syria’s networks and posted their findings in a crowd-sourced document, one American member of the group, who uses the handle Punkbob, spotted a Windows FTP server filled with data he recognized: logs from a Proxy SG 9000 appliance built by the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company Blue Coat Systems. In Punkbob’s day job at a Pentagon contractor, he says, the same equipment had been used to intercept traffic to filter and track staff behavior. The Syrian machine’s logs showed the Internet activity of thousands of users, connecting the sites they attempted to visit and every word of their communications with the IP addresses that pointed directly to their homes. In short, he had discovered American technology being used to help a brutal dictatorship spy on its citizens.
RSA Animate/TED Videos
I am a big fan of Ted Talks and RSA Animate videos. I think they are incredibly educational; and the RSA Animates, specifically, are very easy to digest as the drawings help to engage all parts of the brain.
Here are a few that speak, in my opinion, directly to the movement and are definitely worth watching:
Crisis of CapitalismI have compiled the list under my links page should you wish to revisit these videos.
Changing Education Paradigms
The Empathic Civilization
What Actually Motivates Us
Where Good Ideas Come From
21st Century Enlightenment
The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens?
Anxiety and Dissatisfaction Surrounding Limitless Choice
How Economic Inequality Harms Societies
Asking Why: Societal Problems We Know How to Solve, But Don’t
Are We in Control of Our Decisions?
Economics of Terrorism
Bottom Billion: Closing the Gap
On Thursday the House Judiciary Committee will vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Meanwhile the Protect IP Act is making its way through the Senate.
As the Center for Democracy and Technology writes, “If passed, these bills would cripple online innovation, chill online free expression, subvert the inner workings of Internet security, and compromise user privacy.”
At 1WebDesign, they’ve put together the following list of resources for background on SOPA and PIPA:
- Stop Online Piracy(Scary Facts)
- Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet
- DNS Filtering In SOPA/PIPA Won’t Stop Piracy, But Will Hurt Online Security
- Tech Giants Back Off SOPA Support
- Mozilla Renews Call Against SOPA/PIPA
- An Alternative To Blacklist Bills SOPA and PIPA
- Why Americans Need a Civil Liberties Caucus
- What SOPA Means for Business and Innovation(Infographic)
- AmericanCensorship.org Infographic
- ‘SOPA’: Internet Piracy Bills in Congress Threaten Core Values
- SOPA visual petition riles up the ‘geek lobby’
- Wikipedia may blackout all articles to protest SOPA
- Reddit users organizing a global mesh network
Don’t Censor the Net has resources for signing petitions and contacting representatives here.
Google knows it. Viacom knows it. The Chamber of Commerce knows it. Internet democracy groups know it. BoingBoing knows it. But, the Internet hasn’t been told yet — we’re going to get blown away by the end of the year. The worst bill in Internet history is about to become law.
Feels like it is falling out from under me.
Economic suffering and anxiety — and anger over it and the flamboyant prosperity of the elites who caused it — is only going to worsen. So, too, will the refusal of the Western citizenry to meekly accept their predicament. As that happens, who it is who controls the Internet and the flow of information and communications takes on greater importance. Those who are devoted to preserving the current system of prerogatives certainly know that, and that is what explains this obsession with expanding the Surveillance State and secrecy powers, maintaining control over the dissemination of information, and harshly punishing those who threaten it. That’s also why there are few conflicts, if there are any, of greater import than this one.
Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.
But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.
“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.
It is known as “gold farming”, the practice of building up credits and online value through the monotonous repetition of basic tasks in online games such as World of Warcraft. The trade in virtual assets is very real, and outside the control of the games’ makers. Millions of gamers around the world are prepared to pay real money for such online credits, which they can use to progress in the online games.