Tag Archives: internet

‘Catastrophic’: EU Passes Copyright Directive Including Internet ‘Link Tax’ and ‘Upload Filter’, by Joseph Jankowski

Perhaps the reason Europe doesn’t invent many new technologies anymore is because their bureaucrats and politicians do their best to stifle and kill technologies, home grown or foreign. From Joseph Jankowski at planetfreewill.com:

The European Parliament has passed a controversial copyright directive that contains provisions which force tech giants to install content filters and sets in place a potential tax on hyperlinking.

The bill was passed in a final vote of 438 – 226 and will need to be implemented by individual EU member states.

Critics of the directive have been laser-focused on two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13, which they have dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter.”

The most important parts of this are Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 is intended to give publishers and papers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, allowing them to demand paid licenses. Article 13 requires certain platforms like YouTube and Facebook stop users sharing unlicensed copyrighted material.

Critics of the Copyright Directive say these provisions are disastrous. In the case of Article 11, they note that attempts to “tax” platforms like Google News for sharing articles have repeatedly failed, and that the system would be ripe to abuse by copyright trolls.

Article 13, they say, is even worse. The legislation requires that platforms proactively work with rightsholders to stop users uploading copyrighted content. The only way to do so would be to scan all data being uploaded to sites like YouTube and Facebook. This would create an incredible burden for small platforms, and could be used as a mechanism for widespread censorship. This is why figures like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee came out so strongly against the directive. – The Verge

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Here’s What We’ve Lost in the Past Decade, by Charles Hugh Smith

There’s no arguing with Charles Hugh Smith on his list; life in the US has gotten much uglier the last ten years. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

The confidence and hubris of those directing the rest of us to race off the cliff while they watch from a safe distance is off the charts.
The past decade of “recovery” and “growth” has actually been a decade of catastrophic losses for our society and nation. Here’s a short list of what we’ve lost:
1. Functioning markets. Free markets discover price and assess risk. What passes for markets now are little more than signaling devices to convince us the economy is doing spectacularly well. It is doing spectacularly well, but only for the top .1% of 1% and the class of managerial/technocrat flunkies and apologists who serve the interests of the top .1%.
2. Genuine Virtue. Parading around a slogan or online accusation, “liking” others in whatever echo-chamber tribe the virtue-signaler is seeking validation in, and other cost-free gestures–now signals virtue. Genuine virtue–sacrificing the support of one’s tribe for principles that require skin in the game–has disappeared from the public sphere and the culture.
3. Civility. As Scientific American reported in its February issue (The Tribalism of Truth), the incentive structure of largely digital “tribes” rewards the most virulent, the most outrageous, the least reasonable and the most vindictive of the tribe with “likes” while offering little to no encouragement of restraint, caution, learning rather than shouting, etc.
The cost of gaining tribal encouragement is essentially zero, while the risk of ostracism from the tribe is high. In a society with so few positive social structures, the self-referentially toxic digital tribe may be the primary social structure for atomized “consumers” in a dysfunctional system dominated by a rigged “market” and a central state that no longer needs the consent of the governed.
Common ground, civility, the willingness to listen and learn–all lost.
4. Trust. Few find reason to trust corporations, the corporate media, the tech monopolies or the government. This distrust is reasonable, given these institutions have squandered the public trust to protect the swag being skimmed by insiders and elites.
Rather than earn our trust with true transparency and accurate reporting of data, these institutions spew a false form of transparency that’s doubly opaque, as it’s rigged to mask the skims of the insiders. Transparency: lost. Accountability: lost.
Do you really trust Facebook, Google, and the agencies that are supposed to provide oversight of these monopolies? If you said, “yes,” you’re joking, right?

Your Memes Are Safe (For Now): EU Rejects Internet Censorship Bill, by Carey Wedler

The EU suprisingly rejected a draconian bill that would have put new restrictions on the internet. From Carey Wedler at theantimedia.org:

In an unexpected move, this week the European Parliament rejected a highly controversial bill that critics claimed would stifle free speech and creativity on the internet.

The EU Copyright Directive was heavily criticized over two elements in particular.

Article 11 would have established a “link tax,” which would have required online publishes to pay a fee for the right to link to news organizations. Critics argued the vague language did not adequately define what constitutes a link and said the rule could easily become a tool for political abuse.

According to many opponents, Article 13 would have further stifled free expression in the digital age by tightening copyright rules and requiring platforms to police users’ content. As a letter signed by 70 prominent members of the tech industry asserted:

“By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

“Article 13 is that it makes no exceptions for fair use, a foundation of the internet an essential caveat in the law that allows people to remix copyrighted works,” Gizmodo noted.

Though proponents of the bill rejected the widespread suggestions that the bill could potentially even make many memes illegal because they often include copyrighted content, the outlet forcefully argued that “Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped.”

The legislation, which was backed by media companies, publishers, and members of the music industry, including Paul McCartney, was ultimately accused of attempting to codify censorship.

Further, the open letter from tech leaders also warned that the costs of implementing such a system would burden smaller companies.

To continue reading: Your Memes Are Safe (For Now): EU Rejects Internet Censorship Bill

The great firewall of China: Xi Jinping’s internet shutdown, by Elizabeth C. Economy

Repression of the internet has become more strict under Xi Jingping. From Elizabeth C. Economy at theguardian.com:

Before Xi Jinping, the internet was becoming a more vibrant political space for Chinese citizens. But today the country has the largest and most sophisticated online censorship operation in the world.

In December 2015, thousands of tech entrepreneurs and analysts, along with a few international heads of state, gathered in Wuzhen, in southern China, for the country’s second World Internet Conference. At the opening ceremony the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, set out his vision for the future of China’s internet. “We should respect the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber-development,” said Xi, warning against foreign interference “in other countries’ internal affairs”.

No one was surprised by what they heard. Xi had already established that the Chinese internet would be a world unto itself, with its content closely monitored and managed by the Communist party. In recent years, the Chinese leadership has devoted more and more resources to controlling content online. Government policies have contributed to a dramatic fall in the number of postings on the Chinese blogging platform Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter), and have silenced many of China’s most important voices advocating reform and opening up the internet.

It wasn’t always like this. In the years before Xi became president in 2012, the internet had begun to afford the Chinese people an unprecedented level of transparency and power to communicate. Popular bloggers, some of whom advocated bold social and political reforms, commanded tens of millions of followers. Chinese citizens used virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blocked websites. Citizens banded together online to hold authorities accountable for their actions, through virtual petitions and organising physical protests. In 2010, a survey of 300 Chinese officials revealed that 70% were anxious about whether mistakes or details about their private life might be leaked online. Of the almost 6,000 Chinese citizens also surveyed, 88% believed it was good for officials to feel this anxiety.

For Xi Jinping, however, there is no distinction between the virtual world and the real world: both should reflect the same political values, ideals, and standards. To this end, the government has invested in technological upgrades to monitor and censor content. It has passed new laws on acceptable content, and aggressively punished those who defy the new restrictions. Under Xi, foreign content providers have found their access to China shrinking. They are being pushed out by both Xi’s ideological war and his desire that Chinese companies dominate the country’s rapidly growing online economy.

The EU’s war on what makes the internet great, by Oliver Wiseman

The EU is using copyright law to stifle the Internet, a cherished goal. From Oliver Wiseman at capx.co:

What is it about the European Union and bad tech laws with boring names? Brussels managed to transform four harmless letters into a byword for irritating compliance-induced spam and pop ups as well as a consolidation of power for the internet’s biggest players. Now that the GDPR dust has settled, along comes Article 13 of the Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which was approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs yesterday.

Article 13 requires websites to take “appropriate and proportionate” measures to make sure copyrighted material doesn’t appear on their pages. It would also require sites to “provide rightsholders with adequate information on the functioning and the deployment of measures”. Then there is the jargon-laden instruction for Member States to “facilitate… cooperating between the information society service providers and rightsholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices”.

Those appropriate and proportionate measures mean “content recognition technologies” along the lines of Content ID, the copyright filter that Google uses to stop YouTube users from uploading copyrighted videos. As open internet campaigner and writer Cory Doctorow has explained, everyone hates the filter: “Big rightsholders say that it still lets crucial materials slip through the cracks. Indie rightsholders say that it lets big corporations falsely claim copyright over their works and take them down. Google hates Content ID because they spent $60,000,000 developing a system that makes everyone miserable, and YouTubers and their viewers hate it because it overblocks so much legit content.”

The EU seems to have looked at this way of doing things and decided it should be extended – by law – not just to all online videos, but to everything on the internet.

It is hard to overstate the extent of the threat this piece of legislation is to online culture as we know it. In an open letter to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, a group of internet pioneers that includes Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf and Jimmy Wales spell out the danger: “Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance of its users.”

To continue reading: The EU’s war on what makes the internet great

Telling the Truth Is More Expensive than a Ferrari, by Paul Craig Roberts

Challenge the establishment and tell the truth, and you’re probably going to pay for it, one way or the other. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

This is my quarterly call for your support

For the last 3 or 4 years I have been invited to speak at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia. I have never accepted, not from lack of interest or lack of something to say, but because the demonization of Russia has curtailed my freedom to travel and to speak. Unless I pay my own travel expenses, I would be accused of being compromised by an expense-paid trip. This never happens to US senators and representatives who accept all expenses paid trips to Israel, but Russia is different. Moreover, even if I were to pay my own expenses, as Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein did when she attended the 10th anniversary celebration of RT in Moscow, I would still be accused. Jill Stein was summoned before the Russiagate “investigation” to account for her attendance.

In other words, my participation in an important Russian event would be used by those who don’t like what I write to undermine my credibility as a commentator on Washington/Russian relations. I would henceforth be described as a “Putin mouth.”

Indeed, it is not necessary to go to Russia to be accused. There are all sorts of sites, such as PropOrNot, the shadowy website that published a list of “Putin agents,” a list on which I was included. There are apparently an endless number of websites funded by Israel, George Soros, the CIA, the US State Department, and so on and on, the purpose of which is to slander and demonize Internet writers who challenge the elite’s control over the explanations.

Just the other day I received from a distinguished British intellectual of impeccable credentials a missive that an Israeli-funded German website, “Meldungen aus dem Exil,” that publishes in English alleges that I am the “editor of the white nationalist website VDare.” This is abject nonsense for at least two reasons. Peter Brimelow is the editor of VDare and always has been. VDare is not a white nationalist website but a website that favors limited immigration that can be assimilated as formerly was the case prior to Identity Politics. What VDare opposes is America being overrun by hordes of foreigners who have every incentive to remain unassimilated. Not only have I never been editor of VDare, but it has been 5 years since VDare reposted one of my columns. VDare’s readers constantly complained to the editor that my columns were not about immigration. Responding to his readers, a half decade ago the VDare editor stopped reposting my columns.

To continue reading: Telling the Truth Is More Expensive than a Ferrari

Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening, by Caitlin Johnstone

Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter have been working with governments to allow them to gain control of the internet. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

Throughout the near entirety of human history, a population’s understanding of what’s going on in the world has been controlled by those in power. The men in charge controlled what the people were told about rival populations, the history of their tribe and its leadership, etc. When the written word was invented, men in charge dictated what books were permitted to be written and circulated, what ideas were allowed, what narratives the public would be granted access to.

This continued straight on into modern times. Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

This newly democratized narrative-generating power of the masses gave those in power an immense fright, and they’ve been working to restore the old order of power controlling information ever since. And the editor-in-chief of the aforementioned leak publishing outlet, WikiLeaks, has been repeatedly trying to warn us about this coming development.

In a statement that was recently read during the “Organising Resistance to Internet Censorship” webinar, sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site, Assange warned of how “digital super states” like Facebook and Google have been working to “re-establish discourse control”, giving authority over how ideas and information are shared back to those in power.

Assange went on to say that the manipulative attempts of world power structures to regain control of discourse in the information age has been “operating at a scale, speed, and increasingly at a subtlety, that appears likely to eclipse human counter-measures.”

To continue reading: Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening

Dangers of Government Control, by Walter E. Williams

Why does the Federal Reserve have so much control over the monetary system and the FCC over the internet? From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

We are a nation of 325 million people. We have a bit of control over the behavior of our 535 elected representatives in Congress, the president and the vice president. But there are seven unelected people who have life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives — the seven governors of the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Board controls our money supply. Its governors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and serve 14-year staggered terms. They have the power to cripple an economy, as they did during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their inept monetary policy threw the economy into the Great Depression, during which real output in the United States fell nearly 30 percent and the unemployment rate soared as high as nearly 25 percent.

The most often stated cause of the Great Depression is the October 1929 stock market crash. Little is further from the truth. The Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure led by the Federal Reserve’s rapid 25 percent contraction of the money supply. The next government failure was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Those failures were compounded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. Leftists love to praise New Deal interventionist legislation. But FDR’s very own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, saw the folly of the New Deal, writing: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot!” The bottom line is that the Federal Reserve Board, the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and Roosevelt’s New Deal policies turned what would have been a two, three- or four-year sharp downturn into a 16-year affair.

Here’s my question never asked about the Federal Reserve Act of 1913: How much sense does it make for us to give seven unelected people life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives?

To continue reading: Dangers of Government Control

Bitcoin, Terence McKenna and the Future of the Internet, by Michael Krieger

Michael Krieger thinks it’s early days on the internet, cryptocurrencies, and a host of other innovations we don’t know about yet, because they haven’t been invented. He’s bullish on the future. From Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

We have millions of people who are warehoused in almost a larval state in their apartments, watching tv, paying for their medical plans, and glued to this mindless opera of cultural decay that’s recited day after day in front of them. I mean, it’s horrible to imagine — and this is a creation to some degree of the world corporate state, that probably has to be addressed. 

– Terence McKenna, The Internet is the Cure for TV (1994)

I know the title of this post seems strange in light of several factors. First, it’s been nearly twenty years since the dot-com bubble burst and it’s estimated that 3-4 billion people globally, or roughly 50% of the world’s population, already surf the web. Second, it’s become increasingly trendy in 2017 to highlight all the bad things about the internet, with social media typically singled out for the most intense and visceral criticism. Although I acknowledge some very real downsides of social media such as unhealthy obsession and addiction, most of the outrage we’ve seen this year has been focused on “fake news” and “Russia meddling.” In other words, most of the hysteria’s been political in nature, and would barely be registering anywhere near its current decibel level had Hillary Clinton won the election.

All of a sudden, there’s this insistence that social media is especially dangerous because it fosters the creation of echo chambers rife with tribal confirmation bias. Spaces where people with the same views simply talk to one another, and whoever’s willing to be the loudest and most aggressive at signaling to their tribe becomes the most popular. I don’t deny that this phenomenon exists, but like with anything else, you have to accept the bad with the good, and in the long-run the good far outweighs the bad. The main reason so many are having a panic attack right now is because the internet and social media allowed the public to talk to one another directly without being force-fed corporate media narratives and they decided to reject the chosen one, Hillary Clinton.

As such, the “very smart people” and “experts” have concluded the problem is with the voter, as opposed to the terrible candidates on offer or the corrupt system itself. This is the real reason for the current obsession with “fake news” and dangerous social media echo chambers. The elites are simply frustrated that their methods of propaganda no longer work as more and more people talk to each other online.

To continue reading: Bitcoin, Terence McKenna and the Future of the Internet

Old Think, by the Zman

The mainstream media’s news audience is drawing Social Security, and the generations coming up get their news from the Internet. This won’t end well for the MSM. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

The other day, Andrew Torba was scheduled to appear on the Tucker Carlson show so I figured out how to find it off the underground TV system. I no longer have a TV subscription, so I have to rely on the dark web for this stuff. Cord cutters can say what they like about services like Kodi, but it is a hassle compared to regular cable. So much so, in fact, that I rarely watch television. Instead I download movies and TV shows and binge watch when the spirit moves me. I watched Deadwood last month, for example.

Anyway, I found a stream and tuned in to the show. I did not know when Torba’s segment was scheduled so I had to sit through the whole thing. Watching Tucker interview some old guy, who looked vaguely familiar, I felt like I had gone back in time. I have not watched these shows in a long time. I get my news on-line. I skip the Blue Team – Red Team hooting that makes up political banter in the mainstream press. In fact, I barely notice most of what passes for current events discussion. I just don’t care that much.

The Torba piece was short and I got the sense that Tucker Carlson spends little time on-line. The things Torba said about Twitter and FaceBorg zapping bad-think on a daily basis were obviously news to Tucker. He was genuinely surprised when Torba explained the realities of who controls the internet and the power they have over speech. The reason for this is no one in the mass media understands any of this stuff. They live in the media bubble and the sorts of things we experience on-line are alien to them.

To continue reading: Old Think