Exactly one year ago today, the world lost a kind, brilliant and courageous human being. Aaron Swartz, who had already accomplished so much in his short time with us, was driven to suicide by an out of control, unenlightened and increasingly fascistic government, determined to prosecute this gentle genius.
Remembering Internet Prodigy and Activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013): Your Life is an Inspiration
It takes a person like Aaron Swartz to remind you how little you are actually doing to bring forth social, political and economic justice in this increasingly insane and sick world. I’m not exaggerating when I say his life was an inspiration. At 14 years old he helped start the RSS feed system, which so many now use to read content online. He also co-founded Reddit, and its sale to Conde Nast is what afforded him the resources to dedicate his life to the defense of a free and open internet. His most remarkable success in this regard was the creation of the organization Demand Progress, which was instrumental in defeating the internet censorship bill know as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act).
You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony.
As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.
SOPA attempted to change that in Section 201, aptly titled “Streaming of copyrighted works in violation of criminal law.” Some have suggested that the SOPA version and an earlier stand-alone piece of legislation from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) would have criminalized covers of songs shared on Youtube.
A slightly more colorful explanation of this development is in the video below:
Democratic Senator Wyden – the head of the committee which is supposed to oversee it – is so furious about the lack of access that he has introduced legislation to force disclosure.
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is so upset by it that he has leaked a document on his website to show what’s going on.
What is everyone so furious about?
An international treaty being negotiated in secret which would not only crack down on Internet privacy much more than SOPA or ACTA, but would actually destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and all other signatories.
It is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Wyden is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate … the committee which is supposed to have jurisdiction over the TPP.
Wyden is also on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and so he and his staff have high security clearances and are normally able to look at classified documents.
And yet Wyden and his staff have been denied access to the TPP’s text.
Indeed, the decision to keep the text of TPP secret was itself classified as secret:
(I have also received a tip from a credible inside source that TPP contains provisions which would severely harm America’s national security. Specifically, like some previous, ill-conceived treaties, TPP would allow foreign companies to buy sensitive American assets which could subject us to terror attacks or economic blackmail.)
Last month, 10,000 of us submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in which we objected to new so-called free trade agreements. We asked that the government not sell out our democracy to corporate interests.
Because of this pressure, the USTR finally let a member of Congress – little ole me, Alan Grayson [anyone who's seen Grayson in action knows that he is formidable] – actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America.
The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.” Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.
1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.
2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.
3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].
I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way.
Taiwan’s intellectual property office proposed a new Internet blacklist law that would have targeted websites for their alleged use in copyright infringement. The initiative would have forced Internet Service Providers to block a list of domains or IP addresses connected to websites and services found to enable “illegal” file sharing. In the face of massive online opposition and a planned Internet blackout, the IP office has now backed down and abandoned support for the law.
ll political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party – Mao Tse Tung
After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military – William Burroughs
Revolution? Yes, it all sounds rather “extreme”, but the cold hard reality of our era is not going to comfort us with diplomacies and niceties, so honestly, why should I have to sugar coat anything? We live in extreme times and there is no longer room for prancing around the ultimate consequences of that which is taking place in America today. This country is increasingly sliding towards the edge of internal conflict. The Liberty Movement and true Constitutionalists see it, subsections of Republicans and Democrats see it, and most of all, the federal government sees it. In fact, they may even be counting on it.
Over the past two years alone, multiple draconian policies have been enacted through executive order by the Obama Administration which build upon the civil liberty crushing actions of George W. Bush and press far beyond. The Patriot Acts, the FISA domestic spy bill, the bailouts of corrupt international banks, attempts at CISPA and SOPA, actions like the NDAA authorizing the treatment of U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” without rights to due process; all paint a picture so clear only a one-celled amoeba (or your average suburban yuppie) would not see it. You and I, and everyone else for that matter, have been designated potential targets of the state. Our rights have been made forfeit.
Just because SOPA and PIPA, the infamous internet “kill switch” bills, are largely dead does not mean the threat to internet free speech has become any less serious. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), also known as H.R. 3523, is the latest mutation of these internet censorship and spying bills to hit the U.S. Congress — and unless the American people speak up now to stop it, CISPA could lead to far worse repercussions for online free speech than SOPA or PIPA ever would have.
CNET, the popular technology news website that was among many others who spoke up against SOPA and PIPA earlier in the year, is also one of many now sounding the alarm about CISPA, which was authored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). Though the bill’s promoters are marketing it as being nothing like SOPA or PIPA, CISPA is exactly like those bills, except worse.
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have” - Thomas Jefferson
Something odd and not quite as planned happened as America grew from its “City on a Hill” origins, on its way to becoming the world’s superpower: government grew. A lot. In fact, the government, which by definition does not create any wealth but merely reallocates it based on the whims of a select few, has transformed from a virtually invisible bystander in the economy, to the largest single employer, and a spending behemoth whose annual cash needs alone are nearly $4 trillion a year, and where tax revenues no longer cover even half the outflows. One can debate why this happened until one is blue in the face: the allures of encroaching central planning, the law of large numbers, and the corollary of corruption, inefficiency and greed, cheap credit, the transition to a welfare nanny state as America’s population grew older, sicker and lazier, you name it. The reality is that the reasons for government’s growth do not matter as much as realizing where we are, and deciding what has to be done: will America’s central planners be afforded ever more power to decide the fates of not only America’s population, but that of the world, or will the people reclaim the ideals that the founders of this once great country had when they set off on an experiment, which is now failing with every passing year?
As the following video created by New America Now, using content by Brandon Smith whose work has been featured extensively on the pages of Zero Hedge, notes, “we tend to view government as an inevitability of life, but the fact is government is not a force of nature. It is an imperfect creation of man and it can be dismantled by man just as easily as it can be established.” Unfortunately, the realization that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute central planning leads to epic catastrophes without fail, seems a long way away: most seem content with their lot in life, with lies that their welfare money is safe, even as the future is plundered with greater fury and aggression every passing year, until one day the ability to transfer wealth (benefiting primarily the uber rich, to the detriment of the middle class which is pillaged on an hourly basis), from the future to the present is gone, manifesting in either a failed bond auction or hyperinflation. The timing or shape of the transition itself is irrelevant, what is certain is that America is now on collision course with certain collapse unless something changes. And one of the things that has to change for hope in the great American dream to be restored, is the role, composition and motivations of government, all of which have mutated to far beyond what anyone envisioned back in 1776. Because America is now saddled with a Government Out Of Control.
Watch the two clips below to understand just how and why we have gotten to where we are. Also watch it to, as rhetorically asked by the narrator, prompt us to question whether the government we now have is still useful to us and what kind of powers it should be allowed to wield.
As a warrior for Internet freedom, you helped defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA by supporting Web black outs by sites like Wikipedia and by contacting your lawmaker to voice your displeasure. So loud was your voice that even the president of the United States sided with you in opposing it.
But don’t take a deep sigh of relief because, after all, we’re talking about a merger of Washington, D.C., and Hollywood here, as well as global interests. After the motion picture industry, its subsidiaries and all “interested parties” have spent nearly $150 million lobbying for some sort of Internet-centric “anti-piracy” bill, you should have known the powers that be would return.
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when an overwhelming amount of Americans banned together and voiced their opposition to Congress over both the Stop Online Piracy Act, and Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Sites that dimmed the screen for a day or two have gone back to normal — Facebook users have swapped their anti-SOPA images for their previous profile pictures.
We may have even believed that the postponement of the vote originally scheduled for January 24th was some sort of white flag of capitulation. But that is certainly not the MO of most lawmakers.
While the outcry did get the attention of Congress, they are simply returning unflinchingly back to the drawing board to wait out our attention spans. Articles whirled that SOPA was dead and the bill was pulled when the bill’s sponsor Lamar Smith said in a statement that there would be no further action “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced on Friday that he will postpone consideration of his Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) until there is wider agreement on the controversial legislation.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Smith’s announcement came just minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced he would shelve the Senate’s version of the anti-piracy legislation, the Protect IP Act.
The move is a stunning acknowledgment of failure for the powerful chairman.
Smith was the author of SOPA and its most vocal proponent. He had repeatedly said the bill did not need to be changed and accused the critics of “spreading lies.”
But support for the bill collapsed after a massive Web protest on Wednesday. Major sites including Google and Wikipedia either shut down in protest or displayed messages opposing the legislation.
SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is another one of those bills that sounds like it’s going to do something mildly positive but, in reality, has serious potential to negatively change the internet as we know it. It puts power in the hands of the entertainment industry to censor sites that allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. This language vague enough to encompass sites you use every day, like Twitter and Facebook, making SOPA a serious problem. Here’s how it works and what you can do about it.
SOPA’s coming to a vote very soon. In fact, it was supposed to come to a vote today but was delayed, likely because of all the pushback. Reddit users have already started compiling a list of the IP addresses of popular sites in case SOPA passes and access will be restricted within the United States. A decision is going to be made soon, so if you still don’t know what SOPA is or haven’t done anything to stop it, read on to learn how you can help beat the bill.
How Does SOPA Work, and Why Should I Care?
The idea behind SOPA sounds reasonable. It came about in order to try to snuff out piracy online, as the entertainment industry is obviously not excited about the many people downloading their product without their permission. The issue is, however, that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in support of piracy, against it, or just don’t care. SOPA makes it possible for companies to block the domain names of web sites that are simple capable of, or seem to encourage copyright infringement.
In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online — Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations.
No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No Amazon.com shopping. Nothing.
The action would be a dramatic response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill backed by the motion picture and recording industries that is intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. HR 3261 would require ISPs to block access to sites that infringe on copyrights — but how exactly it does that has many up in arms. The creators of some of the web’s biggest sites argue it could instead dramatically restrict law-abiding U.S. companies — and reshape the web as we know it.
A blackout would be drastic. And though the details of exactly how it would work are unclear, it’s already under consideration, according to Markham Erickson, the executive director of NetCoalition, a trade association that includes the likes of Google, PayPal, Yahoo, and Twitter.
“Mozilla had a blackout day and Wikipedia has talked about something similar,” Erickson told FoxNews.com, calling this kind of operation unprecedented.