from the good-for-them dept
Update: a commenter points out a video clip from Brazil that briefly shows a Senator, Eduardo Suplicy, holding up the mask:
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 9:14pm
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 8th 2013 7:38pm
As the headline suggests, the crux of the main article details how the NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians.Of course, as each new country learns more and more about US spying on their citizens, the outrage against the US seems to grow. The Brazilian government has now kicked off an investigation, but perhaps more interesting is the fact that some Brazilian Senators are using this story to suggest that the country offer asylum to Snowden. Frankly, the spying on people outside the US by the NSA is hardly a surprise at all, since it's long been known that the NSA doesn't need any warrants concerning the spying on foreigners. However, from a diplomatic standpoint, this is (once again) making things tricky for the US government. But not just because more and more countries are "demanding answers," but also because this seems to be leading more countries to considering more strongly whether or not to grant Snowden asylum. Perhaps if the US didn't treat so-called "allies" as enemies, it wouldn't be having this problem in the first place.
Techdirt has been following the story of Brazil's innovative Marco Civil project, a civil-rights based framework for the Internet, for a while. Last time we wrote about it, it had been shelved following some aggressive work by lobbyists. As we noted then, it wasn't clear whether it would be resuscitated or not, but here's Kuek Yu-Chuang, Yahoo!'s Regional Public Policy Director, who seems to think it still stands a chance of being approved:
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Brasilia with colleagues from Yahoo! representing our public policy, privacy, copyright, and communications teams. While in the Brazilian capital, we engaged with key officials to voice Yahoo!'s support for the Marco Civil da Internet (known as the Marco Civil), which some have described as Brazil's "Constitution of the Internet." The Marco Civil establishes the promotion of access to the internet as a right for all Brazilians. The draft bill also aims to provide safe harbors for Internet service providers, and allow free speech on the Internet.
That's unexpectedly good news; it's also great that Yahoo! is publicly supporting the Marco Civil in this way, since that may help to counterbalance renewed lobbying from other quarters when the vote in the Brazilian Congress takes place.
In an impressive effort to incorporate the ideas of Brazilian citizens, the drafters of the Marco Civil made the initial version of the bill open to the public for comments in late 2009. More than 1100 contributions were received from around the country. The Marco Civil is now with the House of Deputies in the Brazilian Congress and a vote is expected in coming months.
The fact that on this occasion it's not Google trying to bolster moves to make the laws governing the Internet more balanced is important. That means the law's opponents won't be able to paint the Marco Civil bill as something largely for the benefit of Google, as has happened elsewhere. Let's hope that Yahoo! continues speaking out on the issues of net neutrality, privacy and maybe copyright modernization: that would be good for burnishing the company's image, and good for Internet users.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 29th 2013 10:49am
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Mar 27th 2013 12:13am
Techdirt has been following the rapid rise and current problems of the various Pirate Parties in Europe for some time. Both their success and difficulties flow in part from the fact that they do not fit neatly into the traditional political categories. This makes them attractive to those who are disenchanted with established parties, but also makes it hard for Pirate Parties to devise a coherent political program that they can seek to implement, for example through alliances with others.
An interesting question is whether the Pirate Party is a one-off, or part of a larger movement away from traditional party lines towards a different kind of politics -- specifically one that recognizes the central importance of the Internet in modern life. That's just been answered by the appearance of a new party in Brazil, as reported by Global Voices:
A former Brazilian presidential candidate and famous environmentalist is leading the charge for the creation of a new political party in the country, one that seeks to use the Internet as a tool for action on sustainability issues.
What's interesting here is that the new party seems to draw on both traditional Green policies, with their emphasis on sustainability, and key ideas of the Net-based Pirate Party. For example, the idea of a network is central to the new party, as its name -- "Sustainability Network" -- makes clear. The party's manifesto (original pdf in Portuguese) expands on this aspect:
Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva officially launched her Sustainability Network in the capital Brasilia on 16 February, 2013, to a crowd of around 1,700 people, including supporters, founders and ideologues. The network aims to collect the required 500,000 signatures by September 2013 to become legally recognised as a political party.
We believe that networks, as a means of aggregation and organization, are an invention of the present that bridges to a better future. The concept of a network is based on a democratic and egalitarian operation that seeks convergences in diversity. It is an instrument against the power of hierarchies that capture democratic institutions and, ironically, makes them their instrument of domination. For it is networked with society that we want to build a new political force, with alliances underpinned by an Ethics of Urgency, having as its aim the construction of a new model of development: sustainable, inclusive, egalitarian and diverse.
As the Global Voices article explains, like the Pirate Party in Europe, the new Sustainability Network is already coming under fire for its unusual platform. It will be interesting to see whether it can use the Internet to collect the signatures it needs in order to become a formal party -- and what happens afterwards.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 22nd 2013 2:24pm
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Dec 20th 2012 8:41am
Yesterday, Reuters news service ran an article about a rating of eleven countries based on their enforcement of intellectual property rights. The index was prepared at the behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by a group called The Global Intellectual Property Center, and it ranks the U.S. at the top of the list in terms of strong IP protection (23.73 points on a scale from 0 – 25). But what is interesting is who scored lowest (out of the eleven countries that were ranked). The four “worst” countries for providing the strong IP protection important to the Chamber of Commerce were the four countries known as BRIC — Brazil, India, Russia and China.Now, Smith points out that this connection is nothing more than correlation, but a few conclusions can be drawn. A lack of solid IP protection does not necessarily doom economies to subpar performance and increasing IP protection does not necessarily lead to a robust economic future. IP industries have relied on the credulity of legislators to pass off the "stronger IP enforcement results in more innovation, jobs, etc." argument, usually packaged with the "no copyright protection means no incentive to create" lie that conveniently ignores years and years of creation pre-copyright and thousands of new artists surfacing at a time when piracy is "rampant."
So what else do we know about these four nations? In fact, why were they originally grouped together under the acronym BRIC? The answer is that the term was coined because these four countries were the fastest growing emerging economies, showing growth rates between 5 and 9 percent in their gross domestic products (compared with US growth averaging 3.2 over the past 65 years). The source of these averages for the BRIC nations is this report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, dated February 2012, which contains this conclusion: “We expect the BRIC economies to continue to drive world economic growth in 2012.”
So the four countries driving economic growth are also the four countries with the weakest IP protection regimes, amongst those 11 rated by the Chamber of Commerce report. Doesn’t the conclusion seem simple, that weaker IP enforcement is part of the picture for economic growth?
[I]P protection is, at least a double edged sword. Piracy can reduce revenues, but it also helps to create distribution channels and grow markets. So creative industries seeking to grow in the digital economy need to do more than try, futilely, to eradicate piracy, they need to seek ways to shape their markets and their marketing to exploit the audiences that it can create."New business model," anyone? This has been pointed out again and again. Attempting to defeat something that it at least partially beneficial is, at the very least, short-sighted. On a larger scale, battling piracy with enforcement and legislation rather than by increasing options and providing better services is more than short-sighted -- it's dangerously self-destructive. There's very little evidence that enforcement efforts are making any real dent in file sharing -- certainly nothing that would justify the time, money and effort expended.
So, slippery as such conclusions can be, I feel comfortable with these two assertions. First, creative people and creative industries can thrive without strong IP protections. In fact, if you are continually looking to the government to increase IP enforcement on your behalf, your industry is probably already in bad trouble. Second, it is perfectly possible to over-enforce IP rights to the point where creativity and economic growth are stifled. There is good evidence that the US has passed that point, and the example of the BRIC nations should suggest to us that we need to reverse our course.At this point, the legacy industries are too firmly entrenched to expect any sort of nimble maneuvering or backtracking on existing IP laws. A suggestion for just such a reversal, briefly posted by the Republican Study Committee, met a swift, ignoble death at the hands of Hollywood's lobbyists, who also pressured its author, Derek Khanna, out of a job. No matter how much evidence contrary to the copyright industries' talking points is presented, the response is always the same: more enforcement, legislation and protection. It will take a severely weakened entertainment industry to give any quarter, but as long as its aims remain self-destructive, that day seems inevitable.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Nov 27th 2012 12:00am
A couple of weeks ago, we worried that Brazil's innovative "Marco Civil", a civil-rights based framework for the Internet, was being gradually subverted as it passed through the legislative process. Sadly, it looks like that subtle attack has been taken to its logical conclusion, as Rick Falkvinge reports:
Yesterday, the Brazilian parliament effectively killed the much-heralded Internet Bill of Rights, the Marco Civil, that had been praised by entrepreneurs and free-speech activists worldwide. This follows a ridiculous watering-down and dumbing-down of the bill, at the request of obsolete industry lobbies.
This is a salutary reminder of the power of lobbyists to attack and destroy even even the most carefully-prepared initiatives. As for the bill's future, Falkvinge is pessimistic:
Marco Civil was shelved indefinitely in yesterday's voting session, unlikely to be revived ever again.
I think it's probably too early to make any definitive pronouncements about what will happen next -- maybe something more can be done, or parts of the text can be salvaged. But if it is indeed the case that the Marco Civil is dead, it will be a real tragedy given the amount of work that went into drafting it, and the widespread hopes that had been riding on it.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Nov 14th 2012 12:01am
Just over a year ago Techdirt wrote about Brazil's Marco Civil -- essentially a civil-rights based framework for the Internet. At the time, we dubbed it an "anti-ACTA", since it seemed to protect many of the things that ACTA sought to attack. It all seemed a little too good to be true, and the post concluded by questioning whether it would survive in its present form.
Most of it has, remarkably, but a recent addition to one clause basically guts protection for ISPs and other online intermediaries. The EFF has a good explanation of the situation:
A concerning last-minute change has chipped away at the Bill's safe harbor provisions regarding copyright infringement. Article 15 of Marco Civil originally provided that ISPs are not responsible for infringing content by Third Parties unless they disobey a specific judicial order to take down said content. However, following a visit by the Minister of Culture to the legislator serving as rapporteur of Marco Civil, the rapporteur introduced a new paragraph into Article 15, saying that the article would not apply in cases of "copyright and neighborhood rights".
If passed, this exception would inevitably exert a chilling effect on all Internet activity, as Brazilian ISPs and Web sites removed content perceived to be even vaguely risky. It will come as no surprise to discover who is behind the move:
As expected, this change is an unenlightened consequence of the content industry lobby. Guilherme Varella, lawyer for the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense [IDEC], commented on the changes in this recent law article. He stated that this is the result of a clumsy intervention by the Ministry of Culture following constant pressure by the entertainment industry lobby, especially the Brazilian Association of Reprographic Rights (ABDR), the Brazilian Association of Phonographic Producers (ABPD) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Varella reports that the entertainment lobby has been camped outside the Ministry and the Congress for the past few weeks, pressuring the vote on the Bill to be postponed until they get what they want.
It's truly extraordinary how once again the copyright industries seem to think they are uniquely entitled to trample on basic rights. And it's particularly sad to see such a worthwhile effort to frame a basic level of protection for online users not just watered down but actively subverted in this way, precisely when it seemed on the point of coming to fruition.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 19th 2012 1:35pm
it would be absurd for a restaurant to tax a cab driver for taking tourists to eat there.In the meantime, if I were one of the 10% of newspapers smart enough not to opt-out, I'd be going all out to try to steal that traffic from the big newspapers.
Explore some core concepts:
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