January 22, 2012

Internet blackened by SOPA.

Source: Here’s some from Yahoo!

Wikipedia blackout

Wikipedia was one site that went dark to protest SOPA and PIPA act now being debated in America’s Congress. If they pass, will the Internet look like this?

In case you missed it, a good part of the Internet went “dark” on 18-Jan-2012 to protest two bills now being considered in US Congress. They are H.R.3261 (aka “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA) and S.968 (aka “Protect Intellectual Property Act,” or “Protect IP” or PIPA).

These two bills, IF passed and signed into law, are supposed to end… or at least curtail… Internet “piracy.” But, there are major problems with both bills. Problems that can not only hurt legitimate sites and users, but can be exploited and abused to no end. The EFF has a one-page list of problems (PDF).


Rep. Lamar Smith

Meet Rep. Lamar Smith, the asswipe behind SOPA. If I had more time, I would have drawn a dick on his face.

Cowboy politics. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) is the mastermind behind SOPA, introducing it back in October. It seems, however, that he has been grazing on some “greener” pastures:

(CNET) - As CNET reported in December, Smith, a self-described former ranch manager whose congressional district encompasses the cropland and grazing land stretching between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, has become Hollywood’s favorite Republican. The TV, movie, and music industries are the top donors to his 2012 campaign committee, and he’s been feted by music and movie industry lobbyists at dinners and concerts.

Back-pocket puppet of the MPAA/RIAA cartel, in other words, representing farmers, not tech industries. Little wonder why many believe that SOPA is just bad and wrong, and it would do more harm than good.


What harm could it do? SOPA is worded to make “offending” sites vanish from the Net completely. At least that’s how CNET describes SOPA section 102:

A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order…Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within five days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.

There’s also a problem of scope: PIPA primarily targets the offender’s DNS providers and finances. SOPA is reportedly broader, going after their ISPs and even requiring them to monitor traffic including using deep packet inspection. Reddit goes into gory detail about what they would need to do if they receive a SOPA notice:

(Reddit SOPA FAQ) - If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments. This places a measurable burden upon the site’s technical infrastructure. It also damages one of the most important tenets of reddit, and the internet as a whole – free and open discussion about whatever the fuck you want.

This may be why the likes of Google, Wikipedia, WordPress, and others don’t like what SOPA represents. Even now, some companies that originally backed SOPA are now having second thoughts.


“Verizon continues to look at SOPA, and while it’s fair to say that we have concerns about the legislation, we are working with congressional staff to address those concerns,” a representative told us.

Tim McKone, AT&T’s executive vice president of federal relations, said that “we have been supportive of the general framework” of the Senate bill. But when it comes to SOPA, all AT&T would say is that it is “working constructively with Chairman Smith and others toward a similar end in the House.”


Collateral damage. Not all sites went dark to protect freedom of speech; File-sharing website Megaupload was taken offline (or is at least very slow to respond) as seven people associated with it, including the founder, were arrested for copyright infringement.

(Technorati) Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, is the site’s founder and was arrested in New Zealand, according to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Of the six others indicted, three have been arrested. Officially, the seven people were indicted with five counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy, according to authorities. The nearly two-year investigation was unsealed Thursday (19-Jan-2012) and it revealed that the grand jury in Virginia made its decision almost two weeks ago.

The timing of the arrests, done the day after the blackout, is not only suspicious, but also has made life inconvenient for those who had legitimate use of Megaupload:

(TorrentFreak)The feds shut down MegaUpload a few hours ago.

Eight people we charged with criminal copyright infringement charges, and all files hosted on the site were pulled offline.

However, do the feds realize that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people used the site to share research data, work documents, personal video collections and much more?

What will happen to these personal non-infringing files?

People are outraged on Twitter and are demanding access to their files immediately.

The Twitter posts show the virtual FFFFFUUUUU…-fest of people who lost work due to the shutdown. Anonymous managed to exact a measure of revenge by giving the FBI a DDoS attack. They were joined by 9000 hackers in the attack.


Knowing is half the battle. With all the protests and counter-attacks surrounding SOPA/PIPA and the Megaupload shutdown, Congress finally came to its senses and have “shelved” the two bills… for now.

(AFP via Yahoo)Senate majority leader Harry Reid said he was delaying next week’s vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith said he would “revisit” the House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act,” Reid announced in a statement two days after a wave of online protests against the bill swept the Internet.

It appears that freedom of speech has won out, but the victory is only temporary. More likely, there may be some tweaking of the bills to make them more palatable (or at least, more confusing) then reintroduced when everyone has forgotten what the bills were about so there would be less opposition to them. This way, there would be less shit hitting the fans.

Stay tuned… this is far from over.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: Wall Street Journal, video from CNN.

Haven’t we been here before? With the war in Iraq winding down and the Afghanistan front becoming less relevant since Osama Bin’s termination, the Pentagon… and their corporate masters… are now looking for new battlegrounds to make a profit. They have plenty of choices: Korea, Iran, Canada, cyberspace,…

Yes, cyberspace.

The Pentagon, which was penetrated by a computer virus in 2008, wants to take cyberwarfare to a new level. In essence, they want to use conventional military force to counteract cyberattacks:

US Pentagon

“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.


Equivalency test. How to scale a response to a cyberattack is but one problem the Pentagon has to deal with.


They want to send a nuclear-tipped cruise missile up this guy’s ass because he posted a comment about how Sarah Palin deserves to be raped in public and in front of her family.

They already have an idea as to how to make a scale work:

If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a “use of force” consideration, which could merit retaliation.

“A cyber attack is governed by basically the same rules as any other kind of attack if the effects of it are essentially the same,” Gen. Dunlap said Monday. The U.S. would need to show that the cyber weapon used had an effect that was the equivalent of a conventional attack.

For instance, if computer sabotage shut down as much commerce as would a naval blockade, it could be considered an act of war that justifies retaliation, Mr. Lewis said. Gauges would include “death, damage, destruction or a high level of disruption” he said.


Got ‘em in our sights… we think. Finding where to aim those bombs and missiles will be the biggest challenge to the Pentagon. Most cyberattacks on US systems “originate” in countries like Russia and China. That could mean that someone from those nations, with possible government backing, actually did the hack. Or it could just be zombie systems from those nations, with the actual master somewhere else.

Then you have to consider one more scenario:

The Net itself achieves sentience…

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: DemandProgress.org via Boing Boing.


If the MPAA has its way, bill S.3804 will be shoved through Congress so fast that they won’t notice that it mimics tactics used by China and Iran.

Congratulations, America! You have become the enemy you fight.


He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. (Neitzsche)

America always seems to cringe when other nations try some form of mass-censorship, but the MPAA wants it to happen. Bill S.3804, aka the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is their latest scam to seize control of the Internet in the name of “stopping piracy.”

The “Bill” is currently “in committee,” meaning that some congressional members are reviewing the “Bill” to see if it is something that can easily pass, if some tweaking is necessary, or if it should be dumped altogether. If you want to see this “Bill” for yourself (you need some bathroom material or a cure for insomnia) you can find the full text on GovTrack.us where you can also track its progress.

Many bills do die in committee, so the odds are against this one surviving. But if it does survive and becomes law…


The Great Firewall of America. Demand Progress’ site has a fact sheet about what the bill purportedly does:

The bill creates two blacklists of Internet domain names. The first can be added to by a court, the second by the Attorney General. Internet service providers (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity (and presumably the government’s gratitude) for blocking domains on the second list.

Which sites would be tagets? Anyone “dedicated to infringing activity.” But read on…

Well, it means sites like YouTube could get censored in the US. Copyright holders like Viacom argue that copyrighted material is central to activity of YouTube. But under current US law, YouTube is perfectly legal as long as they take down copyrighted material when they’re informed about it — which is why Viacom lost their case in court. If this bill passes, Viacom doesn’t even need to prove YouTube is doing anything illegal — as long as they can persuade a court that enough other people are using it for copyright infringement, that’s enough to get the whole site censored.

And even without a court order, sites can get blacklisted just by order of the Attorney General — and the bill encourages ISPs to block those sites as well. ISPs have plenty of reason to obey a government blacklist even when they’re not legally required.

The US Constitution says that we’re supposed to have “due process” in the courts before a site gets its plug pulled, but in our post-9/11 security-surveillance state, due process can now be bypassed and a site can be shut down even though it never did anything wrong. If a person has a problem with a website, all they need to do is complain and … 404: Site not found. Imagine WikiLeaks, or even our own Cyberpunk Review site, being on someone’s shit-list. WikiLeaks can be considered a site “dedicated to infringing activity,” and Cyberpunk Review’s media and news about a genre that is inherently anarchistic and criminal in nature…


History Never Repeats… unless they didn’t study. I remember hearing something about Australia’s attempt at blacklist censorship failing. If someone down under can let us know what the status of that attempt. In the mean time, US citizens can sign an online petition to help stop S.3804.

Better still, let’s try this: Find out the congress-critters supporting this “bill” and the members of the MPAA and follow them around in speaker-packed cars or large boom-boxes set to continuously play FSR’s “Fuck the MPAA” to get our message across.

To be honest, I don’t think any of those corporate whores will ever get the message unless they’re raped in public.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, Internet Find, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Sources: T’nA Flix, Empflix (WARNING: Porn sites, NSFW)

Time Limit Warning

A rather ominous warning to visitors that their stay may be restricted because of “changes” to “Internet Data Fair Usage Mandate to ISP Policies & Regulations 2007 act (r11734) brought into effect by the International Consortium of Global Data Infastructures.” [sic]
But why are only two sites (part of the same company) issuing such a warning, and collecting signatures for a petition?

Time’s Up? A pair of porn sites that stream flash (FLV) videos have a rather ominous warning to visitors that they may be forced to restrict a visitor’s stay to only 30 minutes total per 24-hour period or risk having their sites taken offline. They also include a link where you can “sign a petition” to voice an objection over the time restrictions. At the time of this post, the two sites have collected over 18K signatures (10,800 for T’nA, 8000 for Empflix).

It looks like these two sites are fighting a good fight… IF this shit is real. But there seems to be something off about this petition drive.


No shit, Sherlock. Whatever gave me the idea that this may be shenanigans? Let’s check the signs…

  • Two against the law. T’nA and Empflix are both part of the same company; YoungTek Solutions Limited, based in Cyprus, Greece. Why only these two site are worried about the time restrictions? Why has no other streaming site… especially YouTube… posted something similar on their sites? Do these guys have some sort of inside information? Or did they just pull this out of their asses in an attempt to attract attention… or something else?
  • Dateline, the first of… whenever. According to their posts, the restrictions are to start “the 1st of next month.” The way I read it, they must mean April 1 (April Fool’s Day). It can also mean May 1 (May Day). It’s odd that they don’t specify the exact month when the restrictions are to start; Just an ambiguous “1st of next month.”
  • Something smells phishy in the Mediterranean. I haven’t signed any online petitions (yet), but I’ve seen the form before. They do ask for an email address (”required for signature”), probably as a form of double-opt-in feature (you give a legit email address, a link is sent there, you click to verify), and while they say they won’t spam you, your email will probably be circulated to those who will. If you’re trying to harvest emails to spam but the email-phish baiting isn’t working like it once was, you need to find other ways to get those addresses. What better way than an online petition that plays on surfer’s fears, especially this day and age.
  • Missing links. I did some searching for the stuff mentioned in the banner, like the bill mentioned, and the organization that instituted the “changes.” What I found was absolutely DICK. Well, almost dick…

    A search for the bill did lead me to copywrite.org and their post of the Fair Use Act of 2007 (HR 1201), but I doubt that’s the bill causing the trouble. A link to the bill they mentioned, and to the changes they’re mentioning, would help a lot. Also, what the fuck is this “International Consortium of Global Data Infastructures,” and what is their homepage? AND WHO DID THE SPELL-CHECK???


    April Fool me once… There’s just too many unresolved issued about that banner and petition drive to say this is legit. I have to call shenanigans.

    There is a possible reason why these sites are concerned for their operations: ACTA. With the super-secret ACTA treaty still being worked on, there is the possibility of ISPs, along with end-users, to be heavily punished for “copyright violations,” including permanent banishment from the net. Streaming sites like T’nA and Empflix have movies, from short commercial-length trailers to possible DVD rips of full movies. Those rips may be giving the ‘flix sites the sweats, as they can be considered “pirated” in some circles. Even so, why aren’t other streaming sites showing similar warnings and having petition drives? Are they trying to remove the rips, or going along with the restriction silently, or are they doing nothing just to tell the MPAA/RIAA mobs to go fuck themselves?

    This petition drive may be nothing more than a sick joke, but it can also serve as a warning. There are forces out there determined to control the internet and the vast data fields. Filters and firewalls are only the beginning. Will meters be next? Today, you can go anywhere and visit anyplace for any amount of time you want at any moment. Tomorrow, you may visit any one site no longer than 30 minutes per 24 hour period. Then, only 30 minutes per 24 hours to surf the whole internet. And then… no more internet for you.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Wired from WikiLeaks

    US Pentagon

    “The pen is mightier than the sword” - Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1839).

    The military needs targets.

    (From Wired “Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet”)Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet. Generals want to train crack squads of hackers and have wet dreams of cyberwarfare. Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race.

    And it’s waging a psychological warfare campaign on the American people to make that so. The military industrial complex is backed by sensationalism, and a gullible and pageview-hungry media. Notable examples include the New York Times’s John “We Need a New Internet” Markoff, 60 Minutes’ “Hackers Took Down Brazilian Power Grid,” and the WSJ’s Siobhan Gorman, who ominously warned in an a piece lacking any verifiable evidence, that Chinese and Russian hackers are already hiding inside the U.S. electrical grid.

    Now the question is: Which of these events can be turned into a Gulf of Tonkin-like fakery that can create enough fear to let the military and the government turn the open internet into a controlled, surveillance-friendly net.

    It was only last week when I blogged about Wired calling the “cyberwar” a hoax. The military needs targets, was the line that stood out to me the most. Now it seems the worlds most powerful army has found a “target;” The whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

    A “secret” report from the Army Counterintelligence Center called Wikileaks.org – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups? (click to read/download PDF) said of WikiLeaks.org:

    “could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against U.S. forces, both within the United State and abroad.”

    The report also said that WikiLeaks can also be used for anit-US propaganda and disinformation campaigns. The Army is looking to stop the leaks from within:

    Wikileaks.org uses trust as a center of gravity by assuring insiders, leakers, and whistleblowers who pass information to Wikileaks.org personnel or who post information to the Web site that they will remain anonymous. The identification, exposure, or termination of employment of or legal actions against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others from using Wikileaks.org to make such information public.


    Knowing is half the battle. Among other action being considered to counter the WikiLeaks leaks, possibly hacking the site to ID leakers (or for other purposes):

    The obscurification technology[9] used by Wikileaks.org has exploitable vulnerabilities. Organizations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations or use cyber tradecraft to obtain access to Wikileaks.org‘s Web site, information systems, or networks that may assist in identifying those persons supplying the data and the means by which they transmitted the data to Wikileaks.org. Forensic analysis of DoD unclassified and classified networks may reveal the location of the information systems used to download the leaked documents. The metadata, MD5 hash marks, and other unique identifying information within digital documents may assist in identifying the parties responsible for leaking the information. In addition, patterns involving the types of leaked information, classification levels of the leaked information, development of psychological profiles, and inadvertent attribution of an insider through poor OPSEC could also assist in the identification of insiders.

    One other possible action to take: Fight the net. This old article from BBC News (circa 2006) has another leaked document called Information Operations Roadmap (PDF, click to read/download) where the term “fight the net” is repeated. How do they want to fight the net? They want the ability to “disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum”. In other words, mag-pulse the whole wold back to the dark ages.

    Better download and read… or better yet, print… these documents while we still have a net to do so.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: WikiLeaks Special 9/11 site

    WikiLeaks Logo


    Biggest Leak Ever.

    From 3AM on Wednesday November 25, 2009, until 3AM the following day (US east coast time), WikiLeaks released half a million US national text pager intercepts. The intercepts cover a 24 hour period surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

    The messages were broadcasted “live” to the global community — sychronized to the time of day they were sent. The first message was from 3AM September 11, 2001, five hours before the first attack, and the last, 24 hours later.

    Text pagers are usualy carried by persons operating in an official capacity. Messages in the archive range from Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults at investment banks inside the World Trade Center

    The archive is a completely objective record of the defining moment of our time. We hope that its entrance into the historical record will lead to a nuanced understanding of how this event led to death, opportunism and war.

    This message, on the WikiLeaks 9/11 site (click the logo above to access), is WikiLeaks’ explanation for broadcasting some half-million intercepted pager messages. Also on the site is an index of the messages, and a zip file to download.

    While WikiLeaks intentions may seem honest, there are questions concerning the pages. The most important question being:



    Inquiring minds want to know. The question surrounding the pager intercepts has not gone unnoticed in DC. From Newsday.com:

    Concerned about the release of 500,000 intercepted pager messages from Sept. 11, 2001, Rep. Peter King said he plans to have his Washington staff begin a preliminary investigation.

    “It does raise security issues, and we will look into it in Washington,” King (R-Seaford), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Friday.

    Note: The link may not work properly unless you disable javascript for newsday.com. If left enabled, you will only get the first paragraph along with requests to subscribe to see the rest.

    The fact that someone had intercepted such traffic, albeit unencrypted, is giving some security people like King concerns about why such the intercepting was going on… and by whom.

    Most pager users either don’t need to intercept the traffic or do not have the expertise to do so, (Phil) Lieberman (president of Lieberman Software Corp. of Los Angeles) said.

    But clearly, those with the right technology can accomplish it. Literature of one pager company acknowledges that an experienced person with sophisticated equipment can break into the data transmitted for pagers.

    Since, at the time, the World Trade Center was home to many financial companies, someone who has the means to intercept the pager traffic would have unprecedented access to information that could have altered markets.


    History rewind… In what has to be an unfortunate timing of news stories, a story from the subscription site Wayne Madsen Report re-posted on Online Journal and Op-Ed News reminds us that someone had indeed been engaged in snooping on America’s electronic messages long before the towers came down. From writer Wayne Madsen:

    National Security Agency (NSA) sources have reported to WMR that the signals intelligence agency’s warrantless wiretapping program was more widespread than originally reported and that it began shortly after the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, some six months prior to the 9/11 attacks.

    Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio reported that NSA requested that his firm take part in the warrantless wiretapping program in a February 27, 2001, meeting but that he told NSA that Qwest would refuse to participate. AT&T, BellSouth, SBC, Sprint, and Verizon all agreed to participate in the wiretapping program, which resulted in such a large database of intercepted calls, faxes, and e-mails, that NSA recently announced it was building a huge 1 million square feet data warehouse at a cost of $1.5 billion at Camp Williams in Utah, as well as another massive data warehouse in San Antonio. The cover story is that the warehouses are part of NSA’s new Cyber Command responsibilities. NSA sources have told WMR that the warehouses are to store the massive amount of intercepts collected by the ongoing Terrorist Surveillance Program, an above top secret program once code named STELLAR WIND by the NSA.

    Nacchio was later convicted on 19 counts of insider trading of Qwest stock and sentenced to six years in federal prison. Nacchio maintained that his prosecution and conviction was in retaliation for his refusal to participate in the illegal NSA surveillance program. NSA also canceled a major contract with Qwest over its refusal to wiretap calls without warrants.


    This would certainly answer who and possibly why. Following money trails to “terrorists” might seem logical, and the WTC would be the most likely spot to intercept the messages. But if it really was the NSA intercepting the pages, why post them to WikiLeaks? Did someone have a guilty conscience and wanted to come clean? Or was it the NSA’s way of saying “This is what we can find out about you, and you brain-dead sacks of sheep-shit can’t do a fucking thing about it!”

    If it was the NSA, they’re not saying… and neither are their corporate allies, as one curious Indiana University grad student found out when he asked about what customers are being charged for wiretaps. From Wired:

    Want to know how much phone companies and internet service providers charge to funnel your private communications or records to U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies?

    That’s the question muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian asked all agencies within the Department of Justice, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed a few months ago. But before the agencies could provide the data, Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that, among other things, they would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public.

    Yahoo! claimed that releasing such information can embarrass them, while Verizon objected on the grounds that customers may get confused and scared. Like having jumbo-jets crash into buildings won’t confuse and scare people enough.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: O’Riley Radar

    Tim O'Riley

    Like most bloggers, Tim O’Riley (O’Riley Radar) uses Twitter which can post to his Facebook page. Last Friday (13-Nov-09), he noticed a problem with his Facebook links… and with what is happening on the net as a whole. (Click the pic to see his blog.)

    A chain of broken links. Tim O’Riley tried to post a link from URL shortening service bit.ly that lead to a NASA article. Normally, Facebook would turn the plain-text link into a clickable URL, but on this occasion, it wasn’t happening (screencap). It turns out Tim wasn’t the only one with the problem. From Mashable:

    if you’re posting web links (Bit.ly, TinyURL) to your Twitter feed and using the Twitter Facebook app to share those updates on Facebook too, none of those links are hyperlinked. Your friends will need to copy and paste the links into a browser to make them work.

    If this is a design decision on Facebook’s part, it’s an extremely odd one: we’d like to think it’s an inconvenient bug, and we have a mail in to Facebook to check. Suffice to say, the issue is site-wide: it’s not just you.


    That’s not a bug, that’s… OK, it’s a bug. Facebook quickly corrected the problem early Saturday. Apparently the snafu was Facebook’s latest effort to “protect” users from the wild west of the Internet. Facebook had the right idea, though…

    I can tell you, from personal experience, that while the URL shortening makes tweeting links easier to fit into its limited text length, it is dangerous to end users since it effectively hides malicious sites that would normally be filtered or blocked. Here’s an article from Wired about the abuse of shortening services to deliver malware through Twitter. I clicked on a shortened link in Reddit expecting to read an article on robotic fish-eye-lens cameras… only to be greeted with a screen full off meatspin. That which once seen…

    The Facebook link problem has been solved for now, but for Tim, it has given him some cause for alarm.


    Beyond Facebook. Tim O’Riley is involved with the making of Web 2.0, and has expressed a desire to make it more open(-source). Already he sees problems arising from the likes of Apple’s iPhone:

    The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

    There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits - there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

    And there’s Rupert Murdoch’s threats to block Google from indexing NewsCorp sites because he want people to pay for access to the news instead of getting it free from Google and Twitter.

    Tim is concerned about the net becoming monopolized and homogenized through attrition; Survival of the fittest corporation gets control of the Internet… and all the data on it. He gives the recent introduction of Google’s Android phones and their competition with Apple iPhones as an example of what’s to come, because it’s also a sign just how competitive the web is getting, and just how powerful Google is getting, because they understand that “data is the Intel Inside” of the next generation of computer applications.

    Locutus of Borg

    A call to arms. Tim wants to stop the corporate wars for the Internet in its tracks before they can even start with a plea to developers:

    It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.

    And it’s time for developers to take a stand. If you don’t want a repeat of the PC era, place your bets now on open systems. Don’t wait till it’s too late.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: CBS News (60 Minutes)

    Watch CBS News Videos Online

    This past Sunday’s (8-Nov-2009) 60 Minutes broadcast included this piece about Brazil’s blackout and how hackers were involved. But were hackers really involved? Anyone up for a history lesson?

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before… There has been a massive blackout in Brazil affecting Rio de Janeiro , Sao Paulo, and parts of Paraguay (BBC, Guardian.co.uk). The blackout is reportedly caused by problems at the Itaipu dam, some say by a storm in the area, others say corporate incompetence is to blame.

    Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. They have already decided that “hackers” were the cause. The same “hackers” who caused Brazil to go dark in 2007:

    “We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness,” the president said.

    President Obama didn’t say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.

    Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.

    That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world’s largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.

    And to back up their claim, CBS News interviews some government-military-intelligence types who say “The US is not ready for a cyber-attack,” or some sound-alike crap, I really wasn’t paying too much attention.


    Chicken Little. We’ve heard the stories about multi-million dollar thefts due to hacks, and we do tend to believe them. CBS tries to make the big leap to infrastructure attacks by adding how hackers have penetrated military and government systems by leaving USB thumbdrives lying around for sheeple to find and plug into their systems, infecting them and leaving backdoors open for further intrusions and attacks. It sounds like if such an attack is possible, it was made so by clueless soldiers and wage-slaves.

    But are such attacks possible, even by “foreign” government agents? I wouldn’t put it pass them… but then again, I did read The Hacker Crackdown (I have to get a review up here!), and knowing that there’s a war for control of the Internet on, I would have to call shenanigans.

    Someone beat me to the phone…


    Wired Calls Shenanigans. (Wired) No sooner than CBS News puts the video and transcription up for public review, Wired’s Marcelo Soares knocks the foundation out from under:

    Brazilian government officials disputed the report over the weekend, and Raphael Mandarino Jr., director of the Homeland Security Information and Communication Directorate, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he’s investigated the claims and found no evidence of hacker attacks, adding that Brazil’s electric control systems are not directly connected to the internet.

    Uh oh. It looks like Brazil did something right (not connecting directly to the Internet), so CBS’s hacker claim is just some gov-mil-corp scare tactic. But if hackers didn’t cause those blackouts, what did?

    The earliest explanation for the blackout came from Furnas (Centrais Elétricas) two days after the Sept. 26, 2007, incident began. The company announced that the outage was caused by deposits of dust and soot from burning fields in the Campos region of Espirito Santo. “The concentration of these residues would have been exacerbated by the lack of rain in the region for eight months,” the company said.

    Brazil’s independent systems operator group later confirmed that the failure of a 345-kilovolt line “was provoked by pollution in the chain of insulators due to deposits of soot” (.pdf). And the National Agency for Electric Energy, Brazil’s energy regulatory agency, concluded its own investigation in January 2009 and fined Furnas $3.27 million (.pdf) for failing to maintain the high-voltage insulators on its transmission towers.

    (Note: See the original article from Wired for links to the pdf files mentioned above)

    Yep, corporate incompetence caused the blackouts. Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. It’ll ruin their image as a corporate propaganda machine.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    August 25, 2009

    War for the Internet

    Source: New Scientist (Jim Giles), and everywhere else.


    There’s a (maybe not-so) secret war going on, not just on the Internet, but for control of it. And those seeking control have good reason to be afraid of it.

    It’s ON. While the activities after the Iranian elections earlier this year have mostly quieted down, the Internet’s impact can still be felt from the Twitter messages that flowed from the Muslim theocracy crackdown on dissidents. The Internet showed how powerful it can be when the truth needed to get out…

    … and that is why several countries (dictatorships mostly) do not like the Internet. They are currently engaged in a war against the net, seeking to control access to it, and possibly control of it.


    The only thing they have to fear is… The Internet has become known as a form of “disruptive technology” because, as WikiPedia’s Disruptive Technology article points out: Disruptive technologies are particularly threatening to the leaders of an existing market, because they are competition coming from an unexpected direction. When you prefer to lead with an iron fist, competition is the last thing you want, and the global nature of the Internet magnifies that competition billions of times over as a global community of the common people (as opposed to controllable politicos) outside your stronghold are now turned against you.

    BBC News:

    The power of technology - such as blogs - meant that the world could no longer be run by “elites”, Mr (Gordon) Brown said.

    For those type of tyrants, the only viable solution is to cut the cables of the Internet; Put up firewalls and filters to weed out such disruptions and the like:

    Most of these actions are aimed at stifling political debate. “Political filtering is the common denominator,” says Helmi Noman of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Boston, who compiled the report. “It’s the main target.”

    Governments also keep tabs on who is using the internet and what they are viewing. In March, newspapers in Saudi Arabia reported that police had started visiting internet cafes to ensure that owners had installed cameras to monitor users, as the country’s law requires. In Jordan, cafe owners have to record their customers’ names and monitor the sites they visit.

    Noman says that filtering and monitoring have become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased. “More activists are going online and more activists are being created online,” he says.
    Monitoring has become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased

    What’s happening in the region is echoed to some extent in most other parts of the world. Online users almost everywhere are subject to some kind of censorship, the ONI says.

    Such activities range from the use of firewall blacklists to more personal Internet attacks. How personal? Just ask this Georgian blogger. You can find other such anti-Internet, or at least anti-blogging, threats like jail time and possible military strikes against bloggers if you search the net enough.

    While more democratic nations don’t experience that type of political censorship (unless they watch Fox “News”), there have been more “subtle” ways to silence websites by calling “child pornography” like Australia’s recent (epically failed) attempt at Internet censorship. But politics and porn aside, there’s an even bigger threat to the Internet, in case you haven’t heard…


    Don’t fuck with our profit margins!
    BREAKING NEWS: The Pirate Bay has been (temporarily) taken offline by their ISP who was “threatened” with “legal action.” (TorrentFreak). They already have a new home (for now), though their tracking system is still down.

    Ever since the Net exploded in the mid 90’s, everybody has been trying to make a profit off it. Not just the advert-perverts, but the ISPs who see themselves as “gatekeepers” of the Internet. They have been trying to throttle people’s use of the Internet by claiming that the bandwidth is running out, only they just want more of that bandwidth to force more adverts (and government propaganda) down our throats. And if they can’t do that, they’ll just let the NSAs tap whatever wires they want so they can call high-bandwidth users “terrorists.” That might free up some bandwidth and cut down on all the torrenting going on.

    Speaking of torrents, do you really believe that media groups are losing billions because of torrent “piracy” and not because the shit they put out is… well, shit? Just as long as nothing threatens their profits… like Google Voice was about to do, and how bloggers were getting away with posting content from news sites without paying. Rupert Murdoch will see that bloggers pay dearly for that (content).


    Freedom Fighters There have been some calls for a Digital Bill of Rights, but whether that would be any more effective in keeping people safe from the Gov-Telco-Media complex than a stash of high-powered firearms is questionable. Until we can get the GTM thugs offline permanently, best just keep all your drives and transmissions encrypted, and invest in firearms. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can find more info about HP’s Darknet project.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    April 18, 2009

    Pirate Bay Judgement Day: The Verdict is IN

    Source: Wired, and elsewhere.

    Pirate Pay Founders

    Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde, Pirate Bay admins, were found guilty of contributing to copyright violations. Their funder, Carl Lundström, was also convicted. Click the pic for the story from Wired

    The judgment hammer comes down. For the admins of The Pirate Bay, the hammer came down hard. Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström have been found guilty of “contributory copyright infringement” and sentenced to a year in jail each and fined 30 million kronor, or $3.6 million US. The content syndicates were applauding the decision with their one free hand:

    “Today’s ruling sends an important signal that online criminals who show such blatant disregard for the rights of others will be fully prosecuted under the law,” said Mark Esper, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    “We welcome the court’s decision today because The Pirate Bay is a source of immense damage to the creative industries in Sweden and internationally,” said Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. “This is an important decision for rights-holders, underlining their right to have their creative works protected against illegal exploitation and to be fairly rewarded for their endeavors. This decision will help to support the continued investment in talent and in new online services, and the creation of new films and television shows for enjoyment by audiences around the world.”


    Knocked down, but not kicked offline. While Hollywood may have hoped that the verdict will mean the plug would be pulled on TPB’s servers, the Bay crew have expressed their continued defiance in their blog:

    So, the dice courts judgement is here. It was lol to read and hear, crazy verdict.

    But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing hollywood ever taught us.

    Even on their press conference video, their defiance of the verdict is made clear:

    (From BBC News) “It’s serious to actually be found guilty and get jail time. It’s really serious. And that’s a bit weird,” Sunde said.

    “It’s so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it’s even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organised. I can’t get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you’re going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime.

    “We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn’t even give them the ashes.”


    A Pyrrhic victory. If the content syndicates believe this verdict will end file sharing they need to drink more coffee. Their win is already having the opposite effect, as TorrentFreak is reporting an increase in membership of Sweden’s Pirate Party, who view the trial as a political battle:

    (BBC News) - Rickard Falkvinge, leader of The Pirate Party - which is trying to reform laws around copyright and patents in the digital age - told the BBC that the verdict was “a gross injustice”.

    “This wasn’t a criminal trial, it was a political trial. It is just gross beyond description that you can jail four people for providing infrastructure.

    “There is a lot of anger in Sweden right now. File-sharing is an institution here and while I can’t encourage people to break copyright law, I’m not following it and I don’t agree with it.

    “Today’s events make file-sharing a hot political issue and we’re going to take this to the European Parliament.”

    But the verdict is just be a moot point, according to Anders Rydell, who wrote a book about TPB and was interviewed by Wired about the outcome:

    I actually think this a win-win situation for The Pirate Bay. If they’re convicted, they’ll be martyrs and the “piracy” movement will continue working for what they believe in, even more strongly. If they win, the signal to the public is that file sharing isn’t illegal and The Pirate Bay will basically have achieved its goal.

    Then again, this “trial” may not even be about laws or media, but control of Internet itself.


    The recording companies and networks’ arguments for copyright do not ring true. Their fight is NOT about protecting the quality and integrity of the original works nor is it to ensure the ORIGINAL CREATOR is properly compensated because neither is the case.

    It IS about control of virtually every single bit of information and entertainment. Their current argument could easily be made for news and information shows, educational shows and documentaries.


    BREAKING UPDATE (23-Apr-09): We know that the verdict wasn’t the final word in the Pirate Bay case, but now there’s word all over the net that the trial itself may be invalid all along. The problem? The judge who rendered the verdict and sentences:

    Wired - One of the four men convicted in The Pirate Bay trial is seeking to have his guilty verdict thrown out after learning that the judge in the trial is a member of two pro-copyright groups, including one whose membership includes entertainment industry representatives who argued in the case.

    Stockholm district court judge, Tomas Norström told a Swedish newspaper that his previously-undisclosed entanglements with the copyright groups did not constitute a conflict of interest.

    O RLY?

    TorrentFreak - Today, an event on Swedish national radio SR threw everything into doubt - and it’s barely believable, like something straight out of Hollywood.

    The copyright industry likes to have the outcome of processes clear before engaging them so it’s perhaps unsurprising that SR today revealed that the judge Tomas Norström is in league with it on many fronts. The judge has several engagements - together with the prosecution lawyers for the movie and music industries.

    Swedish Association of Copyright (SFU) - The judge Tomas Norström is a member of this discussion forum that holds seminars, debates and releases the Nordic Intellectual Property Law Review. Other members of this outfit? Henrik Pontén (Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau), Monique Wadsted (movie industry lawyer) and Peter Danowsky (IFPI) - the latter is also a member of the board of the association.

    Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (SFIR)
    - The judge Tomas Norström sits on the board of this association that works for stronger copyright laws. Last year they held the Nordic Championships in Intellectual Property Rights Process Strategies.

    .SE (The Internet Infrastructure Foundation)
    - Tomas Norström works for the foundation that oversees the .se name domain and advises on domain name disputes. His colleague at the foundation? Monique Wadsted. Wadsted says she’s never met Norström although they have worked together.

    Meanwhile, President Obama plants RIAA sock puppets in the Department of Justice. If The Pirate Bay is ever “prosecuted” in America, Obama’s DoJ pics have already doomed any hope of making it stick.


    As always, we’ll keep you informed as the war for the Internets heat up…

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.
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