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Fearmongering Around 'Cyber' Threats Puts Internet Openness At Risk

from the it's-a-problem dept

Susan Crawford has an intriguing column over at Bloomberg where she notes that the ongoing effort by politicians to fearmonger around the idea of "cybersecurity" and "cyberwar," is a lot more problematic than just a sneaky way to do away with basic privacy protections. Instead, she argues, it's going to create massive damage to one of the key features of the internet that has made it so successful and so useful: its openness:

The dangers of this digital special-ops saber-rattling are breathtaking. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been valiantly advocating for Internet freedom, strategic multilateralism, engagement and “smart power” around the world. The White House has said its objective is to work with other nations to “encourage responsible behavior and oppose those who would seek to disrupt networks and systems.”

Purveyors of cyberfear are going in the opposite direction. They are not interested in engaging with other countries to come up with codes of online conduct or to translate the Geneva Conventions for cyberspace -- so as to avoid collateral damage and protect hospitals, electrical grids, and so on. They want to be able to change ones to zeros on servers around the globe, whatever that means for speech and commerce at home and worldwide.

Given the undeniable benefits that the open global Internet has brought to the U.S., building moats around our networks and subjecting them to constant, unaccountable audits and other restraints -- all in the service of an immense online warfighting machine staffed by military contractors -- would be burning the village in order to save it

Plenty of people have argued that SOPA was quite different from CISPA, because SOPA did attack fundamental principles of the internet, while CISPA was just an attack on privacy. So it's interesting to see Crawford's opinion suggesting that CISPA, and other bills like it, also put some aspects of the traditional internet at risk, though in a more indirect manner.

At this point, it's impossible to deny that the people behind both bills have written them with little understanding of the internet, or how it reacts to attempts to take away openness or lock things up. Such moves will have significant unintended consequences. I wouldn't go so far as to say that CISPA itself is an attack on the internet, but it does seem reasonable to say that the theories behind it are a significant departure from the openness that the internet has thrived on in the past.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    gorehound (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 9:58am

    Play for Power

    And little by little they think they can stop the "Openness" of the Internet by Fearmongering.Then they get bozos in government who have about as much knowledge of Computing as my 88 year old Dad.In other words the Fearmongers & Bill Writers have no knowledge of how the Internet works nor do they have Tech Companies present when they wrote this stuff.LOL ! The Darknet shall rise and they will never close the door.
    The only thing the Politicians want is to be able to shut up any type of Resistance because they now know the Internet is the perfect tool to share your views instantly and World-Wide.And it is the perfect tool to Disseminate information instantly like Pictures of Cops beating people, resistance, Non-Censorship News, Blogs that spread the truth instead of what the Big Media tells you, ETC.
    Their power play is so obvious to all of us with a brain.MPAA & MAFIAA was the beginning but now the danger is even worse.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:02am

    Given the undeniable benefits that the open global Internet has brought to the U.S., building moats around our networks and subjecting them to constant, unaccountable audits and other restraints -- all in the service of an immense online warfighting machine staffed by military contractors -- would be burning the village in order to save it

    I always laugh when Americans say they have "freedom". They have "freedom" in the same way that a tamed well-fed lion in a zoo has "freedom". And America's small power-elite aims to keep it that way. Becuase it's good for the ruling Oligarchy's business.

     

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  3.  
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    Richard, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Cybermen are an undeniable threat and the government must take immediate steps to protect us from them. Anyone ever seen the damage their Cyberships can do when they drop Cyberbombs from orbit?

     

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  4.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:08am

    I think it might be a little too early to say that "the people behind both bills have written them with little understanding of the internet, or how it reacts to attempts to take away openness or lock things up." The people who introduced the bills in congress? They most likely didn't have a clue. But the people who wrote them? They probably knew exactly what they were doing.

     

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  5.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:12am

    Re: Cybermen

    I'm fairly certain Doctor Who will save us from them...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Cybermen

    Only if they are Daleks.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    L. Kabong, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Gadzooks!

    Quick! Aim the Bat-light at the imaginary clouds in the imaginary Bat-sky!

    Imaginary Batman will save our imaginary world!

     

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  8.  
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    BeachBumCowboy (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:21am

    walled gardens

    Pretty soon we'll be back to the days of the walled gardens similar to the days of Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL. At least that's what the fearmongers want.

    We'll have America Online. China Online. Poland Online. Iran Online. etc.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    The people who introduced the bills in congress? They most likely didn't have a clue. But the people who wrote them? They probably knew exactly what they were doing.

    Good point.

     

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  10.  
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    Dividebi Seero, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Fearmongering Around 'Cyber' Threats Puts Internet Openness At Risk

    Wait. Isn't Fearmongering a form of Terrorism?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:27am

    anyone noticed how the ones that are supposedly touting for the 'internet openness' etc to continue and the stopping of those that would do otherwise are:

    a)from the USA
    b)introducing more laws that will do the opposite to above
    c)condemn those that are trying to keep 'internet openness'
    d)do their damnedest to force others to do as the USA is

    hypocrisy at it's best!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Cybermen

    Cybermen and Daleks are pretty nasty but its the Weeping Angels that scare the crap out of me.

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re: Fearmongering Around 'Cyber' Threats Puts Internet Openness At Risk

    This brings us back to the lesson of: "It is illegal if you do it, but it's okay if your government does it."
    (see: martial-force/assault, extortion/taxes, invasion-of-privacy/surveillance, counterfeiting/"minting" money, etc ad nauseaum).

    Here's one to think about: If the rights of the group supersede the rights of the individual, then the individuals have no rights.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    I understand that a lot of bills are likely written by other people and not the actual sponsor. What I don't understand, is how that sponsor can put their name on and spearhead a bill without an understanding what the bill does. Even if they got a summary from the actual people that wrote it, you would think that using some due diligence and getting a 3rd independent party to check it and provide their own summary. That 3rd party would also have knowledge/experience in the subject the bill covers. I would then further think that the bill sponsor would then keep an open ear to potential issues addressed by other parties and try to either put them at ease, or after careful study make some amendments.

    I have a feeling that the way I think it should work is vastly different then the way it actually works. I guess this is why I am not a politician. I could not see myself signing my name on something and presenting it without fully understanding what it is. I admit that I don't always read all the legal paperwork on loans and such, but I still make sure I check the main points like interest, loan period, payment dates, etc. to make sure that I am fully aware of my obligations. I also get a second opinion from another person. I don't just blindly sign my name on a piece of paper that a banker put in front of me and say "Don't worry, it's all good"

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Everytime I download a torrent, I feel like Chris Dodd is standing behind me...

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Mass Delusion

    I seriously doubt that the majority Americans will ever realize (as a few Americans do) that their political system, like that in several other countries, is corrupt beyond redemption.

    And they'll blame the country's eventual demise (read: suicide) on others, as usual.

    And the terrorists will have won.

     

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  17.  
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    Jay (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Whoa there...

    Honestly, why should we say that those in congress have a free pass? Darryl Issa should knew better yet, he voted for this while opposing SOPA. This is a severe issue that people need to recognize: *This current Congress does not answer to the people*.

    We need better government that is not captured. The other option is to watch the government become more fascist as time moves on.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 10:52am

    Whenever you hear the word "cyber" you know you're dealing with someone who either doesn't get the Internet or who has a hidden agenda and wants to mislead through fear.

    So be very wary of news articles about "cyber-threats".

     

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  19.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    You have to keep staring at him or he gets closer.

     

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  20.  
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    dushbug, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:04am

    Define Open:

    I keep hearing things about the internet being open, but I have yet to hear a real definition of open. It is like cloud computing, WTF is cloud computing? Ask 100 people and you will likely get 100 answers. China, Iran, Australia, and even the U.S. all have walled gardens.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    Also, don't turn off the lights.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re: Define Open:

    I dunno about walled gardens... I'm starting to think this is more of a walled toxic waste dump.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Define Open:

    Toxic waste dumps are much nicer than what we've got.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Define Open:

    I'm starting to think this is more of a walled toxic waste dump.

    Get out of my back yard!

     

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  25.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:43am

    Re: Define Open:

    Speaking of cloud computing: if people are actually paying attention (which of course some aren't) CISPA, if passed, should do a pretty good job of killing it in the US.

    (Why? Because cloud computing providers are target #1 for the kind of massively intrusive data harvesting that CISPA enables. Amazon's cloud, for example, is responsible for about 1% of all Internet traffic -- which is an amazingly high number -- and therefore it's got to be at or near the top of the wishlist.)

     

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  26.  
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    rubberpants, May 1st, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    This.

    As an engineer, I've never used the prefix "cyber" in a serious conversation.

     

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  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re: Mass Delusion

    I seriously doubt that the majority Americans will ever realize (as a few Americans do) that their political system, like that in several other countries, is corrupt beyond redemption.


    The overwhelming majority of people I know, regardless of political inclination (I know and have such discussions with people across the whole spectrum), agree that the US political system is hopelessly corrupt and broken.

    Where they differ is when it comes to what should be done about it.

     

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  28.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Me too. I've often used it to mock, though.

     

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  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Define Open:

    I keep hearing things about the internet being open, but I have yet to hear a real definition of open.


    An "open internet" can mean a few different things depending on context. In some contexts, it means free of patent encumbrance. In some, it means free communications.

    "Cloud computing" is, at its root, a fancy version of the old days of computing where the data storage and computation was done by a large central server. The difference is that in "cloud computing", the server is not a single monolithic machine.

     

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  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Define Open:

    if people are actually paying attention (which of course some aren't) CISPA, if passed, should do a pretty good job of killing it in the US.

    The DOJ seizure actions have started this process. Particularly since megaupload, conversations about whether or not to go "into the cloud" are including a lot of debate about whether the legal climate renders it too untrustworthy.

    Usually, the determination is yes, US actions have brought the trustworthiness of cloud computing into serious doubt. This doesn't mean not to use it, but it does mean not to allow the health of your business to rely on it.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    As an engineer, I've never used the prefix "cyber" in a serious conversation.

    Very good point.

    I am a design Engineer (computer software for the last 15 years and computer hardware for many years before that) and I also have never used the prefix "cyber" in any serious conversation.

    I think it's a term reserved for fantasists (like science-fiction writers), marketers and other rather dull-witted people.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Where they differ is when it comes to what should be done about it.

    They could ask the French. They had a solution hundreds of years ago AND the balls to implement it.

     

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  33.  
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    Who Me?, May 1st, 2012 @ 12:19pm

    Lets Pretend

    Of course! That is the purpose of the mongering. Be afraid! (Because "we" have the solution). Also: re. freedom... Amerikans have the freedom to do as they are told. Might makes right (Duck, here comes a drone).

     

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  34.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, May 1st, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Define Open:

    Agreed on all points, and let me add that one of the factors (for some companies/organizations) will be their need to comply with their country's data protection laws. I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice, but if I were, let's say, a university medical researcher based in Austria, it's not clear to me that I could comply with my country's laws while storing/processing data on a cloud system hosted in the US and subject to CISPA (or a CISPA-equivalent).

    Another factor will be the propensity of the US government to farm out data analysis to the pigs at the trough: defense contractors. And as we've seen (e.g., StratFor) some of these have no idea how to securely manage data entrusted to their care. So not only do we have to worry about what the US government and/or its employees will do with data, we have to worry about what corporations and their employees will do.

    This will provide yet another opportunity for the two favorite phrases in the lexicon of people who were repeatedly warned of dire consequences but forged ahead anyway: "nobody could have foreseen" and "we take this matter seriously".

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    It really doesn't matter how you try to repackage it, CISPA just isn't going to get the big negative public play that SOPA got. Sorry to break the news to you.

    Fearmongering indeed. Can you stop now Mike?

     

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  36.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    The problem with revolution is that it's incredibly risky. Historically, most revolutions have resulted in condition as bad or worse than those that caused the revolution in the first place.

     

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  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    CISPA just isn't going to get the big negative public play that SOPA got


    Even if that's true, so what?

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike is writing it up like there is something to be outraged about here, but this is the proof of what I pointed out during the SOPA debate. People rallied around not for privacy or internet freedom or whatever, they rallied around because they were scared to lose their youtube videos and free pr0n.

    Take those things away, and laws like this will end up being adopted, and in the long run, over a few different laws, the same result as SOPA will exist.

    ... and the people will never get upset.

     

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  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Mike is writing it up like there is something to be outraged about here


    And Mike is correct. Whether or not this translates into a large reaction in the general public doesn't have anything to do with that.

    laws like this will end up being adopted, and in the long run, over a few different laws, the same result as SOPA will exist.


    This is true, and was pointed out repeatedly in the SOPA coverage here (and elsewhere). Even Mike said so.

    I still don't get what your point is. You say these things like you're making some kind of criticism of TD's stance, but that can't be as you're simply restating stuff that has been said here all along.

     

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  40.  
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    McFortner (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 6:12pm

    cyber bills

    Come, come now. It's a long-held tradition that Congress does not need to know anything about the subject of any bill they pass. How dare you deny your Representatives and Senators their benefits!

     

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  41.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you spray him with eau d'mouse and THEN turn out the lights your kitty cat will grab him/her self a fresh meal!

     

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  42.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), May 1st, 2012 @ 7:25pm

    Cyber--what???

    Let me see for a moment. "Cyber" security is suddenly an issue though the Brits were kinds doing "cyber" stuff when they broke the Engima code and were reading orders to German generals before those generals even got them. Americans were doing it too with the Japanese shortly after Pearl Harbour because the Japanese were co-operative enough to use a coding box similar to Engima and the Brits showed the Americans how they did it.

    Or any "signals" establishment (read code breaking) can be classed as "cyber" criminals or "cyber" terrorists because they break code their "enemies" using, gosh!, computers to do it.

    And with this bill American law enforcement will now be doing "legally" what they've been doing for years which is "cyber" intercepting messages and stuff on the Internet and drowning in all the data. Privacy? What's that got to do with anything when there are "cyber" terrorists to catch?! And how all this "cyber" piracy stuff is working cause we're sure China is behind it all somehow!

    Who cares about the openness of the Internet and Web and the economic impact of both for the better when there are "cyber" threats to be countered?

    Excuse us while we watch some reruns of Dr Who so we can be taught about all things "cyber" and get envious of 20ft long scarves!

    Fearmongering is always a good excuse not to do anything while passing legislation that appears to do something while not really doing much of anything at all. Other than, as Mike correctly says, endanger some of what makes the Internet and Web so valuable in so many ways.

    Please excuse me now while I get a mug of "cyber" coffee and bemoan the day the expression "cyber" became so meaningless and such a joke.

    Just as soon as I press the "Submit" button and "cyber" post this "cyber" comment.

    Sheesh!

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    John, I find that Mike gets all excited about a topic (I swear he is getting paid... that is how much it seems weird) and he posts repeatedly every day about the topic. It's something he has done with SOPA, the TSA, and other topics.

    It's sort of the mentality of someone muttering to themselves, unable to accept something. He seems unwilling to accept that the world works differently from his world view, I guess.

    Mike still isn't getting that widespread, wide open piracy just isn't acceptable in the long run. No government will logically stand by and watch as people degrade a business from dollars to pennies. It hurts the economy, and especially these days, it's something that really can't be tolerated by any smart politician.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2012 @ 9:59pm

    Re:

    yeah, pretty much all the tech chumps are gonna end up some version of a googleserf by the time it's all over... so fear mongering about anti-piracy as censorship is OK, but fear mongering about cyber security for national defense is not ok? ahhhh mmmm-kay... keep calm and carry one kids...

     

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  45.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I find that Mike gets all excited about a topic


    True, and it's about something that is currently happening. In this regard TD is no different than just about every other blogger, regular commentators, and news sources in general -- not to mention your own comments. I find it weird that you find it so weird.

    He seems unwilling to accept that the world works differently from his world view, I guess.


    That doesn't follow at all. If anything, your fixation on this makes this comment sound a bit like projection.

    Mike still isn't getting that widespread, wide open piracy just isn't acceptable in the long run. No government will logically stand by and watch as people degrade a business from dollars to pennies.


    For someone who pays so much attention to TD, I would think you'd know better than that. But I will reiterate: TD is not pro-piracy. However, TD sees that the current methods that the issue is being addressed not only are ineffective, but cause more damage than the piracy itself.

    Alternative methods of dealing with piracy are routinely discussed that would not only be more effective, but (more importantly) would not cause nearly as much harm.

    The following is speaking for me, not anyone else, but I suspect that Mike would not disagree too much with it:

    Whether or not politicians will stop enabling the major content companies to hurt each and every one of us to protect their profit margins is a different question. Even if it's hopeless, though, this is a fight for fundamental freedom and liberty against a small group of very powerful corporations who want to strip us of our freedoms in exchange for a guaranteed income. And no, I'm not talking about "freedom to pirate".

    At its heart, for me, this is not a fight about piracy. This is about protecting innocent people from egregious corporate behavior.

    Is piracy a problem? Maybe yes, maybe no, and copyright holders have, of course, every right to take steps to address threats as they see them. However, those rights end, as the saying goes, where my nose begins.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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