As one whose livelyhood and fortunes have gone from boom to bust over my lifetime, I can attest that living on the cutting edge of technology can disrupt fortunes and futures. As an individual of modest means, my only choice has been to adapt.
The power of basic computing and open networks has revolutionized and democratized. That has threatened the business of governmental tyranny and the big media oligarchy. They will use brute force to hold onto power rather than adapt to take advantage of new technology. The them, the lions share of a shrinking pie is preferable to a dominant position in a rising tide that lifts all fortunes.
New media author and self publishing pioneer Cory Doctorow presents a bleak reality that can only be overcome by the diligence of the average citizen.
Protect IP AKA E Parasite is advancing in the Congress and could become law in the blink of an eye. If passed this bill will stifle innovation, creativity, and kill jobs. It will also enable the government to censor any site it wishes. That means the democratization of knowledge and the freedom of expression will be at risk for everyone. Even if you trust the group running the show today (and you shouldn’t) , they won’t be there forever.
Once again, American companies are facing a huge disadvantage against foreign competitors in an explosive growth industry that they invented and excel in. Laws that have infringed on constitutional rights like the Patriot Act, DMCA, Protect IP and more are also blocking US based cloud services companies from competing on the world market. Add to that seizure of hosted property plus non-existant enforcement of the right to privacy and it’s a wonder US cloud businesses can survive at all.
Unfortunately, whether inspired by polemics, protectionism or genuine privacy concerns, some European officials are speaking up against cloud computing because of unwarranted fears about the data-protection practices of U.S. companies. For example, in September, the Dutch minister of safety and justice cited the USA Patriot Act to exclude U.S. providers of cloud computing services from bidding on Dutch government contracts, and a member of the Dutch parliament proclaimed that “data from Dutch citizens that is managed by the government should exclusively be stored within Dutch borders using Dutch companies” in order to guarantee the privacy of Dutch citizens. (Washington Times)
In fairness, as far as Europeans are concerned our new IP and privacy laws aren’t much worse their own. That leads to a lot of political infighting and a likely cloud trade war. If the US Constitution were obeyed by pols, the US cloud would be the international gold standard of security and privacy. Adding insult to injury, existing and new laws do nothing to eliminate safe havens and no amount of enforcement can close them. Opportunistic countries will provide them and American companies who want an competitive advantage will set up shop there. A good many already have.
Present policy not only leaves American consumers with something less than they might have had, it steals a giant opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs and IT workers. The next time you hear a pol or beaureaucrat proclaim that these laws do not harm to law abiding Americans, think again.
I’ve mentioned more than once that elitists have traditionally derived most of their power from the control of information. The balance has been derived from the brute force of the military and law enforcement. The Internet continues to democratize information at light speed. Knowledge has gained its own right of freedom, and the seeker of knowledge is fining it at will with increasing ease. That spells big trouble for the ruling class. It also reveals the the true class warfare that is underway, but unreported. That is a war against the freedom of knowledge. Government agencies has been quick to criminalize activities of common citizens that pose little or no threat to anything other than the unchecked power of the status quo.
Cries that we are not ready for a Cyber War have been growing among pols and fed contractors over the last couple of years. For anyone who was been paying attention, so called Cyber Wars have been underway for some time. Potential for foreign based assaults plague the realm of every single Internet user, as they have for decades. This has grown largely thanks to rogue nations sponsoring these activities to others simply ignoring them. Private citizens and most businesses effected by them have found very little sympathy of aid from the feds. A entire industry has grown to protect against and mitigate these threats. That industry has largely kept threats in check, even with abundant interference from our very own feds. (more…)
It’s funny how even the most strict constitutionalists in government lose their standards when Hollywood and big music are involved. One can only surmise that the benefits of ignoring the supreme law to benefit big media must be compelling. As a consequence, our intellectual property laws have devolved into a one sided, unconstitutional mess. Enforcement has also devolved. US ICE has been guilty of wholesale domain seizures without due process. Many of those grabbed have been taken purely on suspicion and seized properties have often been held by parties outside of US jurisdiction.
Along with overstepping it’s authority, the collective federal stupidity acts without any understanding of human will and ingenuity. When government restricts access to something people want, a work around is found. With the ease of setting up alternative DNS servers, the feds will be fighting a battle they can’t win. Left to their own devices, the feds will spend unlimited sums of our money and trounce on more of our freedoms in a futile effort to try.
There always has been and always will be some piracy. The best defense if to make the paid product more attractive to most people. It’s time for the movies and music dinosaurs to get back to the basics of creating and selling value for value instead of buying new laws from corrupt pols. It’s also time to send the corrupt pols on a permanent vacation where they where the will be free to frolic with Hollywood without doing any more harm.
Regardless of how you may feel about the unconstitutional Patriot Act, it’s potential for abuse remains it’s most problematic feature. Having fulfilled it’s usefulness, the act was supposed to have expired this year. But bad laws die hard in Washington. Congress and the President gave it a 4 year extension earlier this year due to “ongoing threats”. I believe that the most feared threat in Washington is the loss of all of the bureaucracy the Patriot Act created that it’s sunset could defund.
Most troubling is how the Patriot Act lends itself to the ongoing assault on our rights in the virtual world. I believe that there are those in Government and industry who are making a very proactive and deliberate effort to mute the Constitution’s power in the cloud. The potential for overreaching thanks to unchecked authority is a disaster waiting to happen. The Patriot Act provides for so called emergency surveillance with out due process. With no more terror activity taking than in the last eight or so years, a 400% increase in Internet snooping seems a little extraordinary.
According to an official DOJ report, the use of “emergency”, warrantless requests to ISPs for customer communications content has skyrocketed over 400% in a single year.
The 2009 report (pdf), which I recently obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request (it took DOJ 11 months (pdf) to give me the two-page report), reveals that law enforcement agencies within the Department of Justice sought and obtained communications content for 91 accounts. This number is a significant increase over previous years: 17 accounts in 2008 (pdf), 9 accounts in 2007 (pdf), and 17 accounts in 2006 (pdf). (Slight Paranoia)
At the very least DOJ has some explaining to do. Congress is supposed to provide oversight. Will it? Will so called civil libertarians like the EFF seek answers in the courts? I’m not seeing much indication either are interested. I hope I am wrong.