Stop the Secrecy


Mythbusters: Internet Censorship edition

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 11:04 -- Thanh Lam

Back in the 1980s, there was a huge fear that video would kill the radio star - a sentiment most shockingly expressed by Jack Valenti, former President of the MPAA (Movie Picture American Association) when sounding the alarm about the arrival of the VCR:

"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."

This was, of course, in 1982. Over thirty years later, it's safe to assume that the VCR has not led to the untimely demise of American film producers. The opposite holds true -- we're chortling away at how ridiculous and outdated VCRs now seem (remember having to actually rewind those tapes?). Nostalgia aside, we should take a second to realize that while the technological landscape has changed, the myth that new technology will be the ruin of creativity and our cultural richness still very much persists.

The fight for Internet freedom must not only go on, but go global

Mon, 05/26/2014 - 13:39 -- Thanh Lam

So here’s the deal: the future of the open Internet is on the line. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international trade deal involving 12 Pacific Rim countries, threatens to make the Internet we know and love more expensive, censored, and policed. The TPP has huge implications for all of us - but let’s zoom in on one of the countries taking part to get an idea of the impact.

Vietnam, a participating TPP country, has a population of nearly 89 million. Over 30 million of them are Internet users. That’s 39% of the population (according to the World Bank). For what many would deem a “developing country”, that’s more than a third of the population.

The Internet wasn’t established in Vietnam until the 1990s when, after much deliberation, the government finally gave its consent. Internet usage rates increased exponentially, but not without extensive restrictions on Internet freedom. Blocking and filtering content have long been a part of Vietnam’s Internet regulation practices, but the explosion of social media was unexpected, giving rise to unprecedented ways for citizens to connect and, more importantly, organize. Social networking sites such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook allowed activists, journalists and everyday citizens to find solidarity with one another, giving them the courage to speak out against the government’s corrupt practices.

You could be part of a global movement for rules that re-shape the Internet.

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 14:58 -- David Christopher

Right now, free expression online is under immense threat. Powerful interests are intensifying their efforts to ram through deeply restrictive new rules that could criminalize everyday sharing and collaboration online. Lobbyists for giant media conglomerates are using Trans-Pacific Partnership talks to smuggle through their extreme agenda in near-total secrecy. Why? Because they know they could never get it passed with the world watching.

Right now, TPP talks are at a crucial juncture, with key meetings being held behind closed doors in Vietnam and Singapore in just the past couple weeks. Your OpenMedia team has been working hard to amplify your voices against this reckless plan - most recently by shining a hard-hitting Stop the Secrecy message on key buildings in Washington D.C.

Our pressure is really having an impact, with multiple TPP countries and leading Members of United States Congress now speaking out against the extreme secrecy of the agreement, highlighting how the TPP could make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed.

The Internet has nothing to hide -- and neither does game developer superhero Nick Liow

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 13:40 -- Thanh Lam

When I first met Nick, up-and-coming game developer, he struck me as what most people would consider to be the “typical gamer”: someone slight in frame with glasses and a bit on the soft spoken side. Once he opens up, however, there’s an electric energy to him. He’s excited about everything Internet-related; his passion is truly infectious.

At 19, Nick’s dabbled – and excelled – in everything from programming to game development. He’s currently making waves with “Nothing to Hide”, a game that spoofs the recent online privacy breaches by national governments, most notably of course, the NSA. The game has been featured on multiple websites, has made a splash on Reddit, and even made its way onto Forbes.

It’s hard not to see Nick as some kind of kid genius, programming whiz extraordinaire. In many ways, he is – but Nick’s more than that. He’s an open source advocate and vocal defender of the open Internet. For those who don’t know Nick, it may seem that his career has been on a meteoric rise. Just last year, at the age of 18, he won the prestigious 20 under 20 Thiel Fellowship, started by none other than Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal).

Thank you for helping to shape our Digital Future

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 13:07 -- Eva Prkachin

Thousands of you have participated in our crowdsourcing project for sharing and collaborating in the 21st century - and we want to say a huge Thank You from all of us here at OpenMedia. If you've still to take part - don't miss out: go to today, and let all your friends know you've helped shape our Digital Future by sharing this graphic.

Torrent Freak: The Connection Between the Copyright Industry and the NSA

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 17:00 -- Eva Prkachin

Article by Rick Falkvinge for Torrent Freak

As I described in a previous column, the copyright monopoly cannot be enforced without mass surveillance. There is no way to tell a private conversation in a digital environment from a monopolized audio file being transferred, not without actually looking at what’s being transferred. At that point, the secrecy of correspondence has been broken and mass surveillance introduced.

3 things you need to know about sharing and collaborating online

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 16:04 -- Eva Prkachin

With Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks intensifying, it’s becoming clearer and clearer why we simply can’t passively rely on unelected lobbyists and bureaucrats to negotiate a fair deal when it comes to our Internet freedom. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we seize this opportunity to propose an alternative framework for sharing and collaboration online.

After all, history has shown us that it’s much more constructive in the long run to organize for something than against it. And history has also shown us that change usually doesn't occur unless citizens take the initiative for themselves.

That’s exactly what we did when we set out to crowdsource our positive vision for free expression online. The response has been overwhelming with over 20,000 people from over 100 countries taking the time to provide detailed input on how we can create balanced new rules for sharing and collaboration online. While the final results of our crowdsourcing initiative aren’t ready just yet, here are three eye opening discoveries that you need to know right now.