SOPA News Round-Up

Here are some useful stories posted today from around the web that address the proposed SOPA legislation:

Brin says SOPA puts US on par with oppressive nations

Former DHS Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker On SOPA 2.0: Still A Disaster For Cybersecurity

Do any real people support SOPA?

Takedowns and Lawsuits Have Already Started in the Fight Against SOPA

Brad Burnham Explains Why SOPA Must Be Stopped

Stop SOPA. Save the internet.

Don’t forget to make your voice heard! Go here to contact your congressional representatives.

SOPA Will Take Away Your Kanye West Lipdubs and Macramé Sons of Anarchy Flickr Account!

The political cartoonist David Rees got pissed off about SOPA enough that he came out of retirement to create new anti-SOPA comics above and here (there’s a lot more censorship yuck-it-ups there than the one that I posted above). Today’s the day–tell your congressional representatives that this kind of big-business-wants-to-rule-the-internet crap is unacceptable!

Julian Assange Claims that Massive Holes in iTunes and Other Software Make Widespread Surveillance Easy

According to a report on the International Business Times by Alistair Charlton:

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claims that there is a “flaw” in Apples iTunes that is used by surveillance companies to take over users computers.

In a private interview with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism before giving a talk in London on Thursday, Assange claimed that governments are actively using surveillance techniques to spy on every single civilian in entire cities, storing everything about them.

via Julian Assange: Apple iTunes Lets Big Brother Take Control of Your Computer – International Business Times.

If this proves true, this could be far more damning than the recent Carrier IQ debacle. However, Assange has yet to support his assertions with evidence or techniques. Could this be the next big Wikileaks break?

TheNextWeb Reports that 29 Tech Companies Back SOPA via the BSA

Alex Wilhelm points out on that via the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Microsoft, Apple, and other major software and computer manufacturers support SOPA. Others include Intel and Dell. It is likely that these companies explicitly support Internet censorship, but if they don’t, they should, as Wilhelm suggests, publicly denounce the legislation.

To learn more about SOPA and how to fight back against American censorship of the Internet, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Take Action site here.

Roundup of Anti-SOPA Coverage

As I mentioned yesterday, please let your representatives know that you do not want the Internet censored using a system similar to that used in China, Iran, and Syria. This is what the Internet Blacklisting legislation known as SOPA and Protect-IP would do. We should respect support copyright, but we should not support copyright to the detriment of all other speech, including fair use, online. The Internet is still in its infancy and it is developing in new and unexpected ways. SOPA and similarly restrictive laws will stifle that development and the empowering possibilities that might have been. Read the coverage below to learn more about what SOPA and Protect-IP mean for American citizens and the Internet. Then, go here to send a message to your representatives.

Stop the Great Firewall of America [New York Times op-ed]

SOPA Won’t Stop Online Piracy, Would Censor Everyone Else [Time]

Thoughts On The House Judiciary Committee’s Hearings On SOPA [TechDirt]

At Web censorship hearing, Congress guns for “pro-pirate” Google [ArsTechnica]

A Look At Three Popular Sites That May Be In Trouble Under SOPA [TechDirt]

More And More People Speak Up Against SOPA [TechDirt]

New Study From Booz & Co. Shows That SOPA/PROTECT IP Will Chill Investment In Innovation [TechDirt]

Sweet sanity: 75% of Americans say infringement fines should be under $100 [ArsTechnica]

American Censorship Day, Tell Congress that You Don’t Want the Internet Censored!

Today is the ad hoc American Censorship Day. Why? A committee in the House of Representatives has stacked their deck of experts 5 to 1 in favor of the SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act. Even though this law could radically change the way the Internet works in the US (so that it can be restricted in the same way that it is restricted in China, Iran, and Syria), many congressional members support this law and they do not want public dissenting voices to be heard during committee. Techdirt has coverage of the hearing today here.

SOPA and Protect-IP are intended to put the thumbscrews on online discussion, fair use, and entrepreneurship. This infographic explains the potential effects of the bill if made law.

This is another example of our elected officials catering to outmoded big business. Big media wants to consolidate its control over the Internet, because those companies are unwilling to adjust their business models to the here-and-now. Instead, they want to flex their money-muscle and reconfigure the Internet so that they remain on top. I suppose this is the logic of capital. Increased regulation helps diversify the market, which leads to benefits for consumers. Conglomerates and virtual monopolies do not want this. Instead, they want to solidify their own position by hijacking the democratic process and putting laws in place that not only gives them added control over the primary medium of discourse but also further criminalizes previously non-criminal acts.

Go to the American Censorship Day website here, and send an email (or even better–call them!) letting your representatives know that you are against SOPA/Protect-IP.

I’m Not Sure Mark Millar Gets the Whole Internet Thing

After Frank Miller wrote some nasty things about OWS and other things on his blog [something that I wrote on yesterday here], a lot of folks went on the attack. Fellow comic book writer Mark Millar responded on his website:

It’s strange to watch your favourite writer getting strips torn off him for a couple of days.

Politically, I disagree with his analysis, but that’s besides the point. I wasn’t shocked by his comments because they’re no different from a lot of commentators I’ve seen discussing the subject. What shocked me was the vitriol against him, the big bucket of shit poured over the head by even fellow comic-book creators for saying what was on his mind.

Obviously, it’s within their rights to exercise the First Amendment as much as it was within Frank’s to make the original point. But there’s something so distasteful about that cyber-mob mentality that revolts me.

[via Millar’s messageboard here]

Disagreeing with Miller’s analysis is the point. We all take a risk posting things to the Internet–on our blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. When we do put our thoughts on the Internet, they are recorded in a public space where there are others who read and respond to the things that we have written. This isn’t a mob–this is just the way the Internet works. The Net is a medium of discourse where people can exchange ideas and engage the ideas of others. From Millar’s perspective, the responses to Miller’s thoughts might be harsh, but it is exactly the right of others to call someone out when they say something boneheaded.

Of course, this calls me out for holding a certain politics, but this is one of the reasons why I run this blog. It is an expression of myself and my thinking about a variety of subjects including politics. Others have certainly called me out on my views, and I have responded to those criticisms. The Internet is a medium where these kinds of discussions, those I would consider constructive as well as those I would consider discouraging, can take place. It is a fascinating experience engaging others through the Internet.

In Miller’s case, I believe that he knows what he is doing with his hyper-conservative talk. Millar, on the other hand, should recognize that the Internet enables something deeper than a mob–at least people have to write their thoughts down rather than expressing their views with sticks and stones. There may be radical responses like calls for a boycott, but at least these responses develop through conversation.

Occupy Wall Street and Its Ultimate Question, Beginning with Frank Miller

I will admit that I haven’t kept up with Frank Miller. I read his Batman books and Sin City, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the man. I only know him through his work–neo-fascism on the one hand, decadence on the other, and vigilantism on both.

Yesterday, I ran across his blog after hearing something about a new book that he has out called Holy Terror. I have not read it, so I will not pass judgement on it. However, I will say that some folks in the blogosphere are calling it nuts for its depiction of Islam, the US response to radical Islam, and the need of the US people to support a government unleashed.

Back to Miller’s blog: He wrote an ad hominem attack against who he believes the Occupy Wall Street are. He attempts to totalize OWS in the very way that the media has been befuddled to make sense of it all. This is a good thing, because the OWS movement is heterogeneous and inclusive. It resists totalization as much as each member thumbs his or her nose at centers of wealth and power.

Miller jumps the tracks, worrying more about his “enemies of mine”: “al-Qaeda and Islamicism.” The First Amendment “exercise” called OWS is “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.” He has nothing but contempt for those he considers “babies” and “schmucks.” The implicit message is that Miller, via his blog–a theme he repeats here, is righteous in his condemnation of OWS.

I have spoken privately about the OWSers to friends, but I haven’t written about them here. I think that I should redress that omission on

The OWSers, I believe, recognize the limits of Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life. Certeau argues that resistance against power–institutionalized in governments or networks of capital–can take place on the microscale, by individual actions, that additively will make a difference by changing the systems of oppression for the better of everyday people.

Others have said that as certainly we can vote at the polls, we can vote with our dollars. Now that a super minority in the US holds most of the dollars, those with the dollars get to do the voting. This is the wisdom passed down from the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v FEC case.

The OWS crowd are fed up with the way things are: fewer jobs, fewer well-paying jobs, fewer opportunities to put college degrees into practice, fewer chances to be an entrepreneur, and fewer ways to accumulate even a meager level of personal wealth. They are fed up with high rents and gridlocked government. They are angry at the continuing stinginess of big business in terms of hiring and spreading their accumulated wealth. They wonder where has American innovation in government and business gone? Is the iPhone the high water mark, and if so, what does that mean for the future? As certainly as the iPhone was designed in California, it was built a world away. The jobs in the States for the iPhone are at the top or the bottom, but there are very few in the middle. Furthermore, they beg their elected representatives to provide some solution since business seems unwilling to do anything of lasting value for the American people. Unfortunately, Congress is deciding how best to restrict bodily and cultural rights of its citizens–the very people who put them in power to begin with. On a smaller level, on the local level, it is elected mayors and other leaders who want to shut OWS down–no more protesting, no more occupying, no more voice.

The OWS is all of this and more. That’s what’s so amazing, wonderful, and scary about these seeds of unrest around the country. This is very likely the beginning of something far greater and hopefully more influential than the Tea Party. Like the so-called Moral Majority of a previous generation, the Tea Party is orchestrated from the top by some wealthy persons who can use Citizens United v FEC to influence elections. Part of that influence has to do with convincing some folks who don’t have any money to buy into the flawed logic of ultra-conservatism. For example, the idea that the US government should be reduced in terms of spending and in terms of services while history teaches us that America’s rise to greatness was facilitated in part by luck coupled with an explosion of governmental expansions and spending. If we cut our government back to pre-1900 size, we can welcome a period of backwardness and insignificance as certain as our post-revolution standing in the world.

Perhaps a thread running through OWS is the question regarding the future of the US. If our government defaults, not on its loans, but on its citizenry by catering to the ultra-wealthy and big business, then what future will there be, not for the idea of the US, but for what really makes the US work, its people?


Dishonor in the New York Times, A US Marine Suggests “Ditching” Taiwan

Paul V. Kane’s op-ed piece in the New York Times saddened me today. How could a US Marine offer Taiwan, the last vestige of a democratic China and a long-standing ally with the United States, up on the sacrificial altar of balanced budgets? How could he write not only that the US should enter into negotiations with China without involvement of the Taiwanese? What gives the US the authority to decide Taiwan’s fate? What gives a Marine the right to say that we should “ditch” an ally?

Kane is a Marine who served in Iraq. I don’t profess to know everything about the Marines, and I certainly don’t suppose that all Marines think alike. However, I do know that the Marines’s motto is Semper fidelis–Always Faithful. It is virtually the Leatherneck raison d’etre. Certainly, Marine faithfulness and honor should first be to the duties of the Marine to the US and the Corp, but it extends through our alliances to those who need our support the maintain democratic governments, especially in the face of overwhelming antagonism from the Chinese.

Shame on Kane for suggesting that we should give up on the Taiwanese people and their government. Does he forget that Taiwan’s economic powerhouse helped support the US economy through the technological revolution? He is correct that there is much economic interdependence between China and Taiwan, but much of that is anchored in the businesses and industries of Taiwan that built those bridges to the US economy. Also, would he suggest that in explicit language that we should hand over a democratic country to a Communist regime? Taiwan is certainly uppity in the eyes of the Communist elite in China–I can only imagine the severity of any takeover by the Chinese government of Taiwan. It would be swift and there would be nothing we could do to protect the Taiwanese if we gave into such an unhonorable decision as that suggested by Kane.

If we as a people support the ideas of democracy and the protection of those who endeavor to be free despite the crushing power of totalitarianism, we have to hold the course. If we waver for Taiwan or any other people who ask for our assistance to preserve their freedoms, then we will lose our honor in favor of unfaithful short-sightedness. The fact of the matter is that freedom, for ourselves or others, is not free.