From SOPA To Cybersecurity: All About Trying To Control The Internet

from the watch-this dept

Al Jazeera English recently did a very well done episode on its Fault Lines program about attempts by Hollywood and the US government to control the internet. It’s about 24 minutes long and includes interviews with a bunch of people who were involved in protecting the internet discussing what happened. The first half is about the SOPA/PIPA fight, and how it was basically about Hollywood trying to hold back the internet:

Halfway through, it shifts to talk about the various cybersecurity bills and attempts to crackdown on Anonymous. Basically, it’s about the government completely overreacting to what they believe are “threats” to the internet. Towards the end it also talks about how the government can and does abuse its powers, highlighting the case of Thomas Drake. It’s a great video with some fantastic interviews, though it could do without the overly dramatic music. Still, it’s good to see more people connecting the dots, and recognizing that much of what we’re seeing these days is really just an attempt to “control” a platform that has been so successful because it was so wide open. Many of us believe that it needs to stay that way to remain a powerful tool for speech and for progress.

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Comments on “From SOPA To Cybersecurity: All About Trying To Control The Internet”

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104 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Tee-hee snicker. Mike, Al-Jazeera? Really? The story is entirely slanted because it’s specifically about being against the US.

Moreover, the Arab world is the area, outside of China, with the most censorship and control of the internet. These are the areas where the most harm has been done to the free internet. Taking a lesson from their media on the issue is laughable at best.

Why do you fall for this shit? Are you that desperate to try to make a point that you are willing to blindly ignore the source’s credential in the matter?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Everytime I see a copyright/MAFIAA supporter, I think to myself that same thing.”

Way to deflect there. Why not address my points rather than giving it an offhanded was an a semi-attack?

Oh wait. You mean I am right and you hate to have to admit it and call Mike out for it. Okay, I understand. Next time try english instead.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Deflecting? Didn’t you just do that with the last paragraph of your post?

Wow, and you want people to address your obvious point on how the video is slanted against the U.S? Are you an idiot? Of course it’s slanted against the U.S. but how does that mean it’s the information is incorrect especially when they interview a US congressman.

Also, why did you even bring up the part about the “Arab world”?

Your point, if there is one, is lost in a soup of vague references.

SujaOfJauhnral (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You mean people who generally don’t like Americans are saying American governments is trying to kill the internet and Americans themselves are like “Yup it’s true” so basically that means American government is bias against the internet and pay people to be bias against the internet by making posts on the internet (wtf) about how none of this is true cause some people who generally don’t like Americans are saying exactly the same thing Americans themselves are saying??

Well, fuck. Maybe I’m beginning understand why these people generally don’t like Americans. (Hollywood)

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

“An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

And you’re asking others to address your points? You didn’t make a single point except the above fallacy. You fail, hard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ummm, you seem to fail here.

What I was pointing out was that the source is biased, and went looking for the story in the way they wanted to present it. They clearly ignored other points of view, or other people who would have negated their point of view.

Further, they ignored the basic fact that, in their home region, the internet is censored, blocked, controlled, and sometimes even disconnected at the whim of the various governments, dictators, and Royal Families.

So the question remains: Why use an incredibly biased source to support your point of view? Don’t you think it makes it clear that Mike’s view on this is just as biased as a result?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First off, ignoring your own counties censorship problems does not invalidate points made about other counties that censor. After all a murderer criticising someone for commiting murder does not make the second guy any less a killer.

Second, if there are counterpoints that you think can negate their points then by all means elaborate. You must know what those counterpoints are or you would not bring it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

” After all a murderer criticising someone for commiting murder does not make the second guy any less a killer.”

Since we aren’t talking murder here, I will guess you were waving your arms and jumping up and down as you tried to write this, ranting and raving.

Let’s be fair here. The Arab states almost without exception have some form of internet censorship or restriction in place. For them, it is normal to censor things, it’s the way their societies have worked for generations.

So getting lessons about freedom from a group of people who don’t know about freedom, well…

Only Mike (and his choir) could not see the bias in all of this, and the direction that the story took, seemingly with the conclusion written before the “facts” were even collected.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What I was pointing out was that the source is biased, and went looking for the story in the way they wanted to present it. They clearly ignored other points of view, or other people who would have negated their point of view.

Just like every other news outlet regardless of nationality. There is no indication that Al-Jazeera is any less reliable than mainstream western news organizations. I do find it interesting, though, that Al-Jazeera frequently pisses off middle-eastern governments.

The proper way to use news outlets, from any source, is to get your news from multiple sources, use critical thinking skills, and take no source as gospel.

It’s OK to write off particular outlets when they have shown by their history that they are particularly unreliable (Fox comes to mind), but even they are not completely without value. Al-Jazeera, however, has a pretty decent track record of accuracy when you look back at their reporting vs what has turned out to be factual in the long run.

gamma ray says:

Re: Re:

“Why do you fall for this shit? Are you that desperate to “Way to deflect there. Why not address my points rather than giving it an offhanded was an a semi-attack?”

People will respond to your messages only
1.If you make a point that is at least debatable.
2.If you make your point by respecting other people even though many people might disagree with that point.
3.If you behave like a piece of shit.

Iam responding to you because of point 3.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well then they are well positioned to put out the dirty laundry in public, just like the Russians are unraveling the cyber capabilities of the US military using an IT security company to do it(i.e. Kaspersky), God only knows why they are doing this now.

Also Aljazeera has been using some competent journalistic and documentary talent, you should watch their news, it is well edited, well produced, well managed and trying hard to be impartial or at least apparently, different from Fox news or my favorite ones the UK tabloids.

I also watch the French, Latin American news, it is amazing how different things gets reported all over the world and the insights you can gain from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What are you implying now? Are you saying since it a “Arab” news station, it must be biased and fox/cnn/[insert a news station] provides absolutely true/ unbiased news? Did you even watched that video before posting? If so, can you say which points you agree/disagree with?

You need to come up with valid points before judging something.

You don’t respect anyone here and yet you are expecting us to respond to you your ‘points’?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

er…so only pro-US reporting is allowed these days? Al Jazeera admittedly does not have a por-US line, but it’s an independent and respected news outlet (unlike RT, btw). Just because they have an opinion piece that disagrees with US policy (as do judges, activists and public opinion worldwide, for example in Europe – oh I forgot, that’s a haven of dictatorships too isn’t it?), doesn’t make the facts or the storyline any less valid. Opinion pieces are just that – people find them persuasive if the facts come together to support the opinion. Why do you think public opinion worldwide is so much against US policy on this and other matters (hint: it’s not because they are all dirty pirates)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Moreover, the Arab world is the area, outside of China, with the most censorship and control of the internet. These are the areas where the most harm has been done to the free internet. Taking a lesson from their media on the issue is laughable at best.

Never use the actions of a government to judge it’s citizens. Citizens fault the government doing whatever it’s doing, in fact the their the victims.

Daniel Scheinhaus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All humans have biases. We mustn’t expect people of what’s becoming a whole world-wide human society to abide by them. At the same time, we must also be aware of biases that may be harmful to other individuals or groups. I’m concerned about protecting the right of people to think freely in ways that aren’t harmful to individuals. At the same time, we must have an environment where creators of ideas of all kinds, whether scientific, political, economic or artistic can create without having their ability to make a living threatened.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is not the choise here. The choise is between having the same financial models as yesteryear and protect it with all our might or let the internet be a platform for micropayments and other new models on a lower economic scale.
If you protect yesteryears financial models, you are hurting the possibilities for the new models and if you do not, you are hurting the new models.
That is the choise and SOPA is infinitely biased towards yesteryears models and there were severe concerns from professors about the human right implications. Human rights? Aren’t they for all of us?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“That is not the choise here. The choise is between having the same financial models as yesteryear and protect it with all our might or let the internet be a platform for micropayments and other new models on a lower economic scale.”

That’s one of those wonderful ideas that sounds great on paper, but is unworkable for the most part in reality.

Micropayments systems generally fail because the costs per transaction online are just too high. It’s one of those “been there, done that, watched it crash and burn” things. Most systems that allow you to pre-load for micro payments tend to end up either failing financially, or fail to offer enough products for you to want to load them up for payments. In order to make it work out for them they have to ask you to load your virtual card with many times more than the micro payment you want to make today, making it a hard sale for most consumers.

Credit card fees and such make it pretty hard to selling things for pennies. Many merchants face a “cost per transaction plus percentage” situation, either because of their card agreements, or the need for a processing gateway to handle their business. It’s hard to sell something for 25 cents, when your gateway fees are 50 cents per transaction!

The only real bias in these laws was to protect and maintain a business that generates billions of sales every year, employs tens of thousands, and generates millions of direct tax dollars – and trickles down much more in each of these areas. The alternatives offered up are, well, anarchy. We don’t have any functional system to replace what is there, just a whole bunch of wishful thinking and sort of a hippie commune business concept. It’s nice, we can all move up to Big Sur and grow virtual veggies and weed for each other, but the economic model is a little lacking in roundness, if you know what I mean.

The real bias at play here is keeping people in jobs and keeping the economy rolling with actual sales and taxable revenue, not with “platform building” or “social interactions”. Facebook continues it’s faceplant on the stock market as people are coming to realize there isn’t all that much there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“The alternatives offered up are, well, anarchy”

Spotify, Netflix, Apple, etc. Not much anarchy there.

The real issue is that the internet is a disruptive change to the content industries. If we held back innovation for the sake of saving some peoples jobs, we would all be ridding horses and buggies right now.

“We don’t have any functional system to replace what is there”

That’s the point with disruptive change, the current content industries were at one point just small companies trying to make a buck. Now they are no longer needed as Gateway’s to culture, the internet, and new companies do a better job.

Letting the current players adapt or die is better overall for the economy because it frees it from inefficiency. Just like automobiles made transportation more efficient, the internet makes distribution of content much less costly. There are some who find ways to make money from that and some who don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

read SOPA again… Or just rely on some of the media-predictions on its effect. Both of those techniques seems to have failed for you thus far.

As for bias: As far as I know Al Jazeera (former BBC middle east) has british ideals for how news should be presented. In 2010? some group of scientists made a study of bias in media and surprisingly Al Jazeera was the least biased. It lends credibility to the study that FOX News was the worst by a margin in the study. Of US sources CNN did the best. BBC did better than CNN, but worse than Al Jazeera…

anon says:

Aljazeera

I watched this and did not see any bias at all. Just what everyone has been saying for many years. I know it is hard for the trolls to accept and for those that think the MPAA and gov can do no wrong but the truth can hurt , and yes there are called on here of bias that is how aljazeera has been attacked since they started out, they still produce more truth than most American news networks, which in itself is sad, but that does not make them bias.
If you follow aljazeera which i did for a short while you start feeling really uncomfortable as the truth when it comes out can be hard to swallow at times.

Anonymous Coward says:

the openness and success of the internet the way it is is exactly what frightens the shit out of governments. they cannot bear to have anything around that they do not control or is a way of people being able to communicate quickly and easily with so many others. unless, off course, that communicating is of benefit to the various governments

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube commenter "techcafe" says it well.

[My comment would be full of anger and vitriol and doubtless contain expletives (yet it would still be mild in comparison to anything hollywood has barfed out in the last several years), and the mafiaa trolls would just use it that as an excuse to censor it. So I’ll just quote the most current comment on the Youtube page:]

“It sucks being a candlestick maker in a electric light world… unless you can get control of the government to pass laws to protect candle sticks – and attack electric lights. THAT is what the recording & copyright industry is doing; paying congress to protect their candle-making, while attacking the electric light makers (internet users) of the world.”

[username:]techcafe

The quoted comment encapsulates how things currently stand quite nicely, IMO.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Youtube commenter "techcafe" says it well.

“”It sucks being a candlestick maker in a electric light world… unless you can get control of the government to pass laws to protect candle sticks – and attack electric lights. THAT is what the recording & copyright industry is doing; paying congress to protect their candle-making, while attacking the electric light makers (internet users) of the world.””

yeah, especially when nobody has electricity, it’s just a rumor, and nobody has a plan to put electricity in place, there is no business model to support it, nobody wants it, and there is no generating plants.

Yup, it’s good to be a candlestick maker.

My suggesting to Mike Masnick and the Techdirt crew: Stop worrying about what the music and movie industries are doing. If they are useless, if they are “legacy players”, and if they are on their last legs, what they do won’t matter. You need to look at your own issues.

If you really want to disrupt the music industry, try actually doing it with product, with business, and with some common sense. Don’t just support piracy to cripple the existing industry – it doesn’t make the feeble attempts to take over the music world look any better.

Don’t worry about tearing down what is already there. If you don’t like the old neighborhood, go somewhere and build your own. Make it so good that everyone moves there, and you win the point.

Until then, you are just crapping on something – but you cannot do better yourself.

dansing1 (profile) says:

Finding new ways to compensate the creative among us

While the biggest complainers are those who have controlled the Media when it comes to information, the Recording Industry in regard to music,the large distribution companies when it has to do with films or videos, I’m concerned with the actual creators – writers, composers, song writers, musicians, singers, etc. These last have been the victims for many years of the publishing industy, recording industry, etc. While we rightly have to guard against these large companies taking away our freedoms by shackling our internet, we must find viable ways that creators can make decent livings. So far, I haven’t seen any really good ideas yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If that bias was real you would get rid of the granted monopoly and start some sane parameters to do business not try to block everything and everyone from every possible use and claim everything is theft, because you want to charge absurd fees from every possible use that can be done today and in the future all the while making the public foot the bill for enforcement and at the same time undermining the publics rights like free speech, privacy and ownership.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“Spotify, Netflix, Apple, etc. Not much anarchy there.”

Well, actually, Netflix and Apple run on the old system, so they aren’t alternatives, they are just digital extensions of what was already there.

“The real issue is that the internet is a disruptive change to the content industries.”

Nope. Piracy is a disruptive force, but not a change. Normal disruptive changes in business are a move from one reasonable successful model to an even more successful one. This is a move from a functional and successful model to no model at all, just give it all away.

“Now they are no longer needed as Gateway’s to culture, the internet, and new companies do a better job.”

Not true at all. What is getting pirated (and purchased) out there? The vast majority (nearly all of it) still comes from the label and studio side, and very little comes from the new companies. The consumption is still the “legacy” product base.

“Letting the current players adapt or die is better overall for the economy because it frees it from inefficiency. “

What you don’t seem to get is that copyright doesn’t stop anyone with a better idea, a better system, and better product to operate in their own ways. If there is a better way that makes so much more money, the labels will climb over broken glass to get to it. What’s lacking here is a concrete base, a solid foundation, an actual functional business model to replace the current actual functional business model.

“. Just like automobiles made transportation more efficient, the internet makes distribution of content much less costly. “

Yes, but it doesn’t change the cost to make what is being transported, and that is still the big end of the deal. Don’t get trapped into thinking that marginal distribution costs are the start and the end of it. Even economics professors and theorists agree that the supply demand curve calculations fail when your product is almost entirely an up front cost, not a marginal cost.

In simple terms, don’t believe the hype. Please point to the part of the “new company” music industry that has made even 20% of the sales in the last year (so about 1 billion).

*crickets*.

Nothing there.

So you want the music industry to give up 5 billion (was 10 billion) of business for, what, air?

Fail whale.

JMT says:

Youtube commenter "techcafe" says it well.

“Don’t just support piracy to cripple the existing industry…”

With more music and movies being made than ever before, most of us aren’t terribly concerned about the state of “the industry”. The fact that you think they’re being “crippled” despite the evidence of healthy output means either you’re completely wrong about the state of the industry or you’re completely wrong about the effect of piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube commenter "techcafe" says it well.

Content industry types tend to not care what the actual effects of piracy are.

They just go to their strange notion that someone enjoying a copyrighted work without paying is somehow screwing them even if they could not or would not have bought the product anyway.

Nor do they consider that piracy rates might be the RESULT of sales they DID get and the “pirates” are only downloading the pirated version out of fustration that their legally purchased copy doesn’t work because of DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube commenter "techcafe" says it well.

I would try if every resource I try using, was not claimed to be owned by some schmuck.

I can’t build a new neighborhood when everything I try to do is “owned” by someone that keeps complaining I must pay him for anything I do even if it is in my own property.

And yes I could do better I just need to get rid of the monopoly guys first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Yes, but it doesn’t change the cost to make what is being transported, and that is still the big end of the deal. Don’t get trapped into thinking that marginal distribution costs are the start and the end of it. Even economics professors and theorists agree that the supply demand curve calculations fail when your product is almost entirely an up front cost, not a marginal cost.

Computers do that, we reached the point where you can carry all the studio equipment in your pocket.

The cost of producing that crap is minimal.

Now lets see how many musicians were making a living before and after the tech came along.

I want the music industry to die already.
I don’t care if there are 5, 10 or 20 billion in it, it is not worth it if it comes at the expense of civil liberties and individual rights.

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re:

“So getting lessons about freedom from a group of people who don’t know about freedom, well…”

Really? where have you been last few years? Green revolution? I feel sorry for you if you’d rather have “balanced” “news” like FOX.

“Since we aren’t talking murder here, I will guess you were waving your arms and jumping up and down as you tried to write this, ranting and raving.”

Now this is some deflecting here – have you addressed any points here? Let me check:
– you rant about him ranting and raving
– because they have censorship, they can’t know freedom? Wow, talk about being condescending.
– bias, Mike (patronizing?), choir, bias, quotation marks around the word facts

Hmmm… I see no points from video addressed here. Strange.

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

Well, actually, Netflix and Apple run on the old system

Not exactly. They do run on the “system” of selling access to media, so in that way they are similar. But they have significant differences that make them closer to a “new” business model. iTunes Match is a good example.

Normal disruptive changes in business are a move from one reasonable successful model to an even more successful one.

That is not even remotely what “disruptive change” means. A disruptive change is a change in market conditions, not business models, usually brought about via technology. The “even more successful” models don’t exist until upstart industries find ways of capitalizing on disruptive changes. But the disruptive changes come about whether “even more successful” models exist or not.

This is a move from a functional and successful model to no model at all, just give it all away.

The only person who thinks anyone is saying “just give it all away” is you.

What you don’t seem to get is that copyright doesn’t stop anyone with a better idea, a better system, and better product to operate in their own ways.

That’s exactly what it does. If that were true, Megaupload or The Pirate Bay would be perfectly legal, since that’s exactly what they were doing.

If there is a better way that makes so much more money, the labels will climb over broken glass to get to it.

That’s not what “efficiency” means. In fact, the more efficient an economic system is, the less money labels will make. Their profit arises entirely from economic inefficiency.

Taking a dozen songs, packaging them together in $1.50 worth of plastic and paper, and selling them for $15, is not economic efficiency. Yet that’s the only reason record labels were able to achieve their profits in the 90’s. On the other hand, taking those songs, packaging them as digital files, and distributing them for $1 each is much more efficient. And it’s the main reason labels aren’t making as much money nowadays.

Yes, but it doesn’t change the cost to make what is being transported, and that is still the big end of the deal.

Then, the sunk cost will shift from those who make money under the old, inefficient system – manufacturers and wholesalers (which is what record labels really are) – to those who make money under new, efficient systems.

That may not happen soon (copyright ownership has delayed this process considerably). And the “new” moneymakers may be the same companies as the “old” moneymakers (if they embrace change and adapt). But it will happen.

Please point to the part of the “new company” music industry that has made even 20% of the sales in the last year (so about 1 billion).

Digital sales are certainly part of the “new company” music industry. I’m pretty sure iTune, Amazon MP3, Spotify, Rhapsody, and eMusic made a hell of a lot more than 20% of sales. Not to mention services like Pandora, Tunecore, CD Baby, RouteNote, Soundcloud, Kickstarter, etc – the impact of which is hard to quantify, as most don’t report to Soundscan.

The real question is how much the “old company” music model made – that is, sales of physical CD’s. They still sell plenty; but as of 2011, they make up less than half of total sales for recorded music. (That’s in dollars; in purchases, digital overtook physical way back in 2007.)

Since the “new company” music models pay artists a much higher percentage of income than the “old company” music models, I’ll bet that they all account for a lot more than 20% of the money that actually goes to musicians.

drew (profile) says:

Finding new ways to compensate the creative among us

I’m guessing from your profile that you’re a fairly new reader here? Apologies if I’ve misread that, but have a shufti through the case studies section of the site. There are a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things and finding their own ways to make it work.
Two things are consistent in their experiences:
1) there is no single new way of working, you have to tailor any approach to the artist and the fans in question.
2) there is no short cut, each and every way involves hard work and dedication – as you’d expect in any other walk of life.

dansing1 (profile) says:

Finding new ways to compensate the creative among us

I’m glad to see that optimistic note- that creative people are finding ways to “ply their crafts” in this new economy. I’d feel more optimistic about it if I could see the specifics of how they do it. If they do it in different ways, I’d like to see some examples. That they have to work hard is a given. I know that being creative and producing good stuff, whatever it is, isn’t easy. Believe me, I’m not enamored by the old ways of bringing creative results to the general public.

dansing1 (profile) says:

news reliability

I generally agree with the view that all news sources have some value. An important thing not mentioned regarding the reliability of news sources is the age-old notion of motive or, as they say, “Follow the money.” Going by that dictum, we can say that, since most news media are corporate owned and their boards of directors are generally interchangeable with the various kinds of corporations, there’ll be a bias toward the viewpoints of the various kinds of corporations — banks, oil and coal companies included. Even the New York Times includes only what it considers “all the news that’s fit to print”. “Fit” is a big word here. Since Fox News is the most blatant in its lying, that source should be discounted altogether. Since it’s owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled and tainted News Corporation, we must even be careful about such a source as the Wall Street Journal, also under Rupert’s control. In England his company is still under investigation with one of his most senior people convicted of serious crimes — carrying out unethical and even immoral policies. Al Jazeera is owned by an Arab Emir who, so far, has been as reliable as any corporate news source. National Public Radio has been so fearful of corporate power that it, demonstrably, has been a disappointment. The BBC has probably been the best source since it’s, so far, the most independent from corporate control. Perhaps, as good as or better than BBC are the various non-government organizations that represent various causes like a free internet, better protection for people’s health, fighting for a safer environment, anti-war groups that include some veteran’s organizations like Vietnam Veterans Against War, Iraq Veteran’s Against War, etc. These have newsletters that are very worth reading for information. Do they have biases? Of course, but those are in favor of a healthier, safer, freer humanity, rather than the corporate bottom line.

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