Category: Internet Neutrality

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Groups Issue Warning: Pro-Corporate TPP Could Kill the Internet

“What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship.”

Digital rights groups warn that TPP “will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money.” (Photo: Getty)

The “disastrous” pro-corporate trade deal finalized Monday could kill the Internet as we know it, campaigners are warning, as they vow to keep up the fight against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

“Internet users around the world should be very concerned about this ultra-secret pact,” said OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist Meghan Sali. “What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship. It will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching—that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy.”

“The TPP will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching—that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy.” —Meghan Sali, Open Media

TPP opponents have claimed that under the agreement, “Internet Service Providers could be required to ‘police’ user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down Internet content, and cut people off from Internet access for common user-generated content.”

Among the deal’s provisions are rules that could criminalize file-sharing, whistleblowing, and breaking digital locks, even for legitimate purposes. Of course, because the contents of the pact have been negotiated largely in secret, the exact implications of the TPP on user rights is yet to be seen.

However, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Maira Sutton wrote on Monday, “We have no reason to believe that the TPP has improved much at all from the last leaked version released in August, and we won’t know until the U.S. Trade Representative releases the text. So as long as it contains a retroactive 20-year copyright term extension, bans on circumventing DRM, massively disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement, and rules that criminalize investigative journalists and whistleblowers, we have to do everything we can to stop this agreement from getting signed, ratified, and put into force.”

Furthermore, “The fact that close to 800 million Internet users’ rights to free expression, privacy, and access to knowledge online hinged upon the outcome of squabbles over trade rules on cars and milk is precisely why digital policy consideration[s] do not belong in trade agreements,” Sutton added, referring to the auto and dairy tariff provisions that reportedly held up the talks.

“The fact that close to 800 million Internet users’ rights to free expression, privacy, and access to knowledge online hinged upon the outcome of squabbles over trade rules on cars and milk is precisely why digital policy consideration[s] do not belong in trade agreements.”  —Maira Sutton, EFF

With a major protest against the TPP and other secret trade deals planned for November in Washington, D.C., EFF is crowdsourcing slogans related to how the TPP threatens digital rights and freedoms around the world.

“Successive leaks of the TPP have demonstrated that unless you are a big business sector, the [U.S. Trade Representative, or USTR] simply doesn’t care what you have to say,” wrote EFF’s Jeremy Malcolm.

“Enough’s enough,” reads the group’s call-to-action. “The time for whitepapers and presentations is past. The USTR has failed us, so now it’s time for the public to rise up and take their message about the TPP’s threats to user rights to Congress, which has the ultimate authority to approve or reject the deal for the United States.”



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The United Nations has disgraced itself immeasurably over the past month or so.

In case you missed the following stories, I suggest catching up now:

The UN’s “Sustainable Development Agenda” is Basically a Giant Corporatist Fraud

Not a Joke – Saudi Arabia Chosen to Head UN Human Rights Panel

Fresh off the scene from those two epic embarrassments, the UN now wants to tell governments of the world how to censor the internet. I wish I was kidding.

From the Washington Post:

On Thursday, the organization’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development released a damning “world-wide wake-up call” on what it calls “cyber VAWG,” or violence against women and girls. The report concludes that online harassment is “a problem of pandemic proportion” — which, nbd, we’ve all heard before.

But the United Nations then goes on to propose radical, proactive policy changes for both governments and social networks, effectively projecting a whole new vision for how the Internet could work.

Under U.S. law — the law that, not coincidentally, governs most of the world’s largest online platforms — intermediaries such as Twitter and Facebook generally can’t be held responsible for what people do on them. But the United Nations proposes both that social networks proactively police every profile and post, and that government agencies only “license” those who agree to do so.

People are being harassed online, and the solution is to censor everything and license speech? Remarkable.


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Evan from FFTF


We gave every member of U.S. Congress a “grade” based on how they’ve voted on laws that affect your privacy and freedom. Click here to see how yours scored! You might be surprised.


So many politicians blatantly push for policies that harm all of us, just because the special interests that fund their campaigns want them to.

Because of this, Congress tries to hide — taking vague positions, pushing for watered down legislation, or remaining silent at critical moments.

This week, they’re expected to renew debate on CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill that would give corporations sweeping legal immunity when they share your data with the government.

Now more than ever, it’s so important that we don’t let our lawmakers hide in the shadows.

Click here to find out where your members of Congress stand on government spying and abuse!

This scoreboard is a tool we can use to hold politicians accountable and demand they stand up for our basic human and Constitutional rights.

Surveillance will define our future. Let’s make sure the future isn’t terrible.

Click here to see how your representatives measure up, and tell them to oppose CISA!

For the Internet,

~Evan at Fight for the Future

P.S. As much as we’ve talked about how bad CISA is for expanding mass surveillance, there’s another side to the law that just made it even worse. Late last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced an amendment to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law that has been used time and again to persecute digital activists, including our friend Aaron Swartz. That’s despicable, and needs to be quashed immediately — so take action now to help kill CISA.

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* Keep us fighting, chip in what you can.

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The big cable companies are back — and this time they’re going through the courts to try to kill the Net Neutrality rules we won earlier this year. Activists are filing a “People’s Brief” in a few days to make sure that the court understands just how important Net Neutrality is: Click here to read the brief, and add your name below to sign on.


A third-party consultant will help us manage data collected from this campaign.

Spread the word.

Click here to add your name to the Net Neutrality People’s Brief — the single best thing you can do to make sure Net Neutrality is here to stay.

These lawsuits are by far the biggest threat to Net Neutrality. Armed to the teeth with lawyers, the odds will be stacked in Comcast’s favor if we stand idly by — even though the new Net Neutrality rules were built on the strongest legal grounds possible.

It’s ridiculous that months after winning Net Neutrality, we still have to fight to defend the new rules. But we knew this was coming. Now, if we don’t take action, we’ll lose it to the cable industry’s army of lawyers.

That’s why we’re organizing tens of thousands of people to weigh in together as part of the People’s Brief, and why we need you to add your name right now.

Click here to add your name to the Net Neutrality People’s Brief and remind the judges who look at this that the public has spoken loud and clear.

Normally in cases like these, it’s only corporations and wonky nonprofits that submit briefs. But given how we won Net Neutrality, with millions of people weighing in to the FCC to support the Open Internet, we wanted to make sure everyone can take part, directly.

Even now that the battle has arrived in its final stages, we can use the Internet to save the Internet. We think that’s a pretty cool thing, and we hope you’ll join in.

Take action to protect Net Neutrality — join the People’s Brief now.

Share this page!

Without Net Neutrality, the big cable companies would control the Internet, and make it harder for us to access information that doesn’t align with what’s best for the companies’ bottom lines or that disagrees with their political leanings. If Net Neutrality weren’t the norm, we might even have been blocked from engaging in the online activism that helped secure the Net Neutrality rules that we’re now working to defend!

Help us share this action with as many people as possible!

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April 24, 2014

Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination

Posted by
obama-net-wu.jpgIn 2007, at a public forum at Coe College, in Iowa, Presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked about net neutrality. Specifically, “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint F.C.C. commissioners that support open Internet principles like net neutrality?”“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality.” Explaining, he said, “What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites…. And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

If reports in the Wall Street Journal are correct, Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, has proposed a new rule that is an explicit and blatant violation of this promise. In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a “fast lane.”


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Federal regulators are expected to release draft net neutrality rules in mid-May as part of an ongoing effort to craft rules for Internet traffic that might actually hold up in court.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday that the agency would consider draft “Open Internet,” or net neutrality, rules at an agency meeting May 15. As we reported in February, Wheeler will propose basically the same rules that the agency had tried before, but justify them under a different part of the law.

Consumer groups have complained about that plan because they’re worried that Wheeler’s rules may not hold up in court either. A federal appeals court rejected two previous versions of net neutrality rules after finding fault in the FCC’s legal reasoning. During the latest smackdown, however, the court suggested that the FCC had some authority to impose net neutrality rules under a section of the law that gives the agency the ability to regulate the deployment of broadband lines.

Internet activists would prefer that the FCC just re-regulate Internet lines under old rules designed for telephone networks, which they say would give the agency clear authority to police Internet lines. Wheeler has rejected that approach for now. Phone and cable companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have vociferously fought that idea over the past few years.


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April 25, 2014


Wake Up, Internet — Time to Save Yourself

Posted: 04/24/2014 3:26 pm EDT Updated: 04/24/2014 3:59 pm EDT
What if you had only three weeks before the Internet you know and love was about to disappear?

Would you spend your time binging on listicles or the final season of Breaking Bad? Or would you do something about it?

Would you email all your friends with the news? Blast your social media networks? Demand that Congress and the president keep this amazing invention from going away?

If the Internet had only three weeks left, would you take to the streets and raise hell?

I bet you would.

And here’s your chance to prove it: Because three weeks from today the Internet as we know it may not disappear, but it could be a lot closer to the precipice.

On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission will propose a new set of rules that are supposed to stop big phone and cable companies from blocking websites or discriminating against apps and services they don’t like. Only as written the rules would do pretty much the opposite.

According to numerous sources, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal would allow Internet service providers like Verizon or Time Warner Cable to charge extra fees to content companies like Google and Netflix for preferential treatment, guaranteeing their content reaches end-users ahead of those that don’t pay.

In other words: Goodbye, open Internet. Hello, payola Schminternet.


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Snowden Docs Expose How the NSA “Infects” Millions of Computers, Impersonates Facebook Server

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Ryan Gallagher, reporter for The Intercept.

New disclosures from Edward Snowden show the NSA is massively expanding its computer hacking worldwide. Software that automatically hacks into computers — known as malware “implants” — had previously been kept to just a few hundred targets. But the news website The Intercept reports that the NSA is spreading the software to millions of computers under an automated system codenamed “Turbine.” The Intercept has also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. We are joined by The Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to our last segment, the latest on leaks from Edward Snowden. reported last week the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process. The Intercept also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive.

Joining us now is Ryan Gallagher from The Intercept, co-wrote the piece, “[How] the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware.” Explain, Ryan.

RYAN GALLAGHER: Hi, Amy. Yeah, and the story we wrote last week, really, the key thing about it is the extent to which these techniques have really rapidly escalated in the last decade. And what we can see and what we reported was that, since about 2004, the National Security Agency has expanded the use of what it calls these “implants,” which are sort of malicious software implants within computers and computer networks, and even phone networks, to basically steal data from those systems. About 10 years ago, they had, they say, about a hundred and a hundred and—between a hundred and 150 of these implants, but within the last decade that expanded to an estimated 100,000, in some reports, and they’re building a system to be capable of deploying “millions,” in their own words, of these implants.

AMY GOODMAN: The revelation around the issue of Facebook has led Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to call President Obama on Wednesday and demand an explanation. He later wrote in a blog post, quote, “I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

RYAN GALLAGHER: Yeah, and Mark Zuckerberg was definitely very agitated, we think, about the report and seems to have got on the phone to Obama. And interestingly, the NSA later issued a—actually claimed that they hadn’t impersonated U.S. websites. However, their own documents actually say that they pretended to be the Facebook server for this particular surveillance technique, so their denial sort of doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny when compared with their own documents. And there’s a bit of sort of a—you know, there’s questions to be asked about that.

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– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

In a decision that may “serve as a sorry memorial to the corporate abrogation of free speech,” a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on “net neutrality.”

Image: Free Press Net neutrality means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all content the same. Internet freedom group Free Press explains that with net neutrality, ISPs “may not discriminate between different kinds of online content and apps. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and Internet technologies.”

Reuters reports that during oral argument in the lawsuit brought by Verizon Communications Inc,

Verizon’s lawyer said the regulations violated the company’s right to free speech and stripped control of what its networks transmit and how.

Ahead of the ruling Josh Levy of Free Press warned that “If Verizon gets its way, the FCC’s rules protecting Internet users from corporate abuse will disappear.”

Tuesday’s ruling siding with Verizon “is a game-changer,” business and technology site Gigaom reports,

because it upsets the FCC’s current practice of requiring broadband internet providers to act akin to “common carriers.” In plain English, this means that they have had to behave in a similar way to phone companies and not give special preference to one type of call (or traffic) over another, even though the FCC’s authority to regulate the broadband providers was not clear cut.

Net neutrality advocates are calling Tuesday’s ruling “disappointing,” and are warning that big telecommunications companies will be able to turn what was a move towards an open Internet into “something that looks like cable TV.”

The ruling “is poised to end the free, open, and uncensored Internet that we have come to rely on,” former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, special adviser to advocacy group Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Initiative, said in a statement.

Craig Aaron, President and CEO of Free Press, issued a statement saying that “ruling means that Internet users will be pitted against the biggest phone and cable companies—and in the absence of any oversight, these companies can now block and discriminate against their customers’ communications at will.”

“The compromised Open Internet Order struck down today left much to be desired, but it was a step toward maintaining Internet users’ freedom to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and communicate freely online. Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else,” Aaron added.

“Without prompt corrective action by the Commission to reclassify broadband, this awful ruling will serve as a sorry memorial to the corporate abrogation of free speech,” Copps added.

The FCC may appeal the ruling.


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Published on Dec 15, 2013


As governments and corporations around the world move to make their actions and products ever more opaque, a counter-movement is rallying around the opposite of flag of openness and transparency. Borrowing its metaphor from the programming creed of “open source,” this movement is moving beyond the world of bits and bytes to find innovative, collaborative and open solutions to a whole host of problems confronting our everyday lives. Find out more about the open source solution in this week’s GRTV Backgrounder.

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Welcome to the Memory Hole

Disappearing Edward Snowden

By Peter Van Buren

What if Edward Snowden was made to disappear? No, I’m not suggesting some future CIA rendition effort or a who-killed-Snowden conspiracy theory of a disappearance, but a more ominous kind.

What if everything a whistleblower had ever exposed could simply be made to go away? What if every National Security Agency (NSA) document Snowden released, every interview he gave, every documented trace of a national security state careening out of control could be made to disappear in real-time? What if the very posting of such revelations could be turned into a fruitless, record-less endeavor?

Am I suggesting the plot for a novel by some twenty-first century George Orwell? Hardly. As we edge toward a fully digital world, such things may soon be possible, not in science fiction but in our world — and at the push of a button. In fact, the earliest prototypes of a new kind of “disappearance” are already being tested. We are closer to a shocking, dystopian reality that might once have been the stuff of futuristic novels than we imagine. Welcome to the memory hole.

Even if some future government stepped over one of the last remaining red lines in our world and simply assassinated whistleblowers as they surfaced, others would always emerge. Back in 1948, in his eerie novel 1984, however, Orwell suggested a far more diabolical solution to the problem. He conjured up a technological device for the world of Big Brother that he called “the memory hole.” In his dark future, armies of bureaucrats, working in what he sardonically dubbed the Ministry of Truth, spent their lives erasing or altering documents, newspapers, books, and the like in order to create an acceptable version of history. When a person fell out of favor, the Ministry of Truth sent him and all the documentation relating to him down the memory hole. Every story or report in which his life was in any way noted or recorded would be edited to eradicate all traces of him.

In Orwell’s pre-digital world, the memory hole was a vacuum tube into which old documents were physically disappeared forever. Alterations to existing documents and the deep-sixing of others ensured that even the sudden switching of global enemies and alliances would never prove a problem for the guardians of Big Brother. In the world he imagined, thanks to those armies of bureaucrats, the present was what had always been — and there were those altered documents to prove it and nothing but faltering memories to say otherwise. Anyone who expressed doubts about the truth of the present would, under the rubric of “thoughtcrime,” be marginalized or eliminated.

Government and Corporate Digital Censorship

Increasingly, most of us now get our news, books, music, TV, movies, and communications of every sort electronically. These days, Google earns more advertising revenue than all U.S. print media combined. Even the venerable Newsweek no longer publishes a paper edition. And in that digital world, a certain kind of “simplification” is being explored. The Chinese, Iranians, and others are, for instance, already implementing web-filtering strategies to block access to sites and online material of which their governments don’t approve. The U.S. government similarly (if somewhat fruitlessly) blocks its employees from viewing Wikileaks and Edward Snowden material (as well as websites like TomDispatch) on their work computers — though not of course at home. Yet.

Great Britain, however, will soon take a significant step toward deciding what a private citizen can see on the web even while at home. Before the end of the year, almost all Internet users there will be “opted-in” to a system designed to filter out pornography. By default, the controls will also block access to “violent material,” “extremist and terrorist related content,” “anorexia and eating disorder websites,” and “suicide related websites.” In addition, the new settings will censor sites mentioning alcohol or smoking. The filter will also block “esoteric material,” though a UK-based rights group says the government has yet to make clear what that category will include.

And government-sponsored forms of Internet censorship are being privatized. New, off-the-shelf commercial products guarantee that an organization does not need to be the NSA to block content. For example, the Internet security company Blue Coat is a domestic leader in the field and a major exporter of such technology. It can easily set up a system to monitor and filter all Internet usage, blocking web sites by their address, by keywords, or even by the content they contain. Among others, Blue Coat software is used by the U.S. Army to control what its soldiers see while deployed abroad, and by the repressive governments in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Burma to block outside political ideas.

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Published on Nov 19, 2013

Abby Martin speaks with musical artist Moby, discussing his activism, the failures of the corporate music industry, and why he is a vegan.

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