Orwell’s Internet Nightmare?

Ok, this is happening in the UK but this particular flavor of censorship could easily be adopted by American ISP’s.  There’s a joint venture between Virgin Media and BPI (the British Phonographic Industry), which represents the major record labels.  (I believe it’s their version of the RIAA)

Here’s the part where you give everyone in the theater rope enough and hope they strangle the really bad movie….  The BPI wants ISP’s to implement a “three strikes” rule.  The idea is that if they catch you downloading illegal files, specifically the copyrighted music they’re allegedly representing, for a third time then you get disconnected from the Internet… The ISP is supposed to cancel your account and nuke your access.

They’re estimating that there’s some 6.5 million customers whose accounts they say are used for “regular criminal activity” and Virgin Media is being very much the BPI/RIAA/MPAA errand boy for this little venture.  They’re apparently ready, willing and able to snoop customers, determine what they’re downloading or sharing and then cut off their accounts if they don’t stop.  Presumably they’ll also be handing over all the details of what they decide are illegal downloads to their masters so that more grandmothers and six year old kids can be hauled into court and sued.

Somebody on Slashdot put it very nicely:

In other words, you download a few songs and they’ll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

In reality, it’s not going to stop anyone serious about file sharing OR copyright violation.  All it’s going to do is while innocent people are being harassed and sued, the serious ones will develop and use advanced software that will allow them to continue trading movies, music, software and anything else they want without ISP’s even being able to know that it’s going on let alone what is being shared.

Technorati Tags: riaa, download songs, download movies, copyright, spy on customers, freedom of speech, virgin media, orwell, lawsuits, bpi, censorship, isp spying

Cell Phones Used To Find Missing Persons

Theres a story on SeatlePI.com about an issue with cell phones that’s going to get bigger before it gets solved.

Basically it’s about cell phone networks releasing information to police without a warrant.  Specifically location information.  All that the police need do is say that it’s a life or death situation and they’re handing out whatever location data that they have for the person’s phone. 

Now I realize that this sort of thing has apparently been kept to urgent situations but still, I have to say that this is a really big, ugly lawsuit just waiting to happen.  All it’s going to take is a case of some law enforcement agency getting caught abusing this capability without benefit of a warrant or even a ‘good cause’ kind of story.  With the controversy over domestic spying and the ever increasing level of paranoia and the fact that it’s becoming more and more reasonable these days to wonder if there really *IS* a audio/video pickup over there in the wall sconce.

Now add to this the fact that cell phone networks (and face it, probably others) can locate the phone and thereby whoever has it with the GPS information that so many of them have these days.

Let’s take another step, how about the alleged capability of a phone to be silently activated by remote control, turning it into a live microphone without anyone’s knowledge?

Sure seems to me like Big Brother is watching and listening more and more.

Technorati Tags: cell+phone, gps, location+information, cell+phone+network, gps+information, missing+persons, big+brother, domestic+spying

Chucking Chip-in

Back on March 21 I decided to try putting one of those “Chip-in” widgets in the sidebar.  The idea was to raise enough cash to get a digital camera.  Something better than the Polaroid Photomax Digital 320 that we’ve got laying around here or the webcam that, on a good day, can manage 620 by 480 resolution *IF* you can get the thing to hold still and manage to get just the right lighting while tethered to the desktop pc by a three foot USB cable.

In the nearly two months since I put that widget in place I have to say that the single most notable thing it’s accomplished is to slow down the page loading times and make the blog sluggish.  Therefore, in honor of the stunning results it’s achieved.  I have just deleted the code for it.

Some things aren’t worth the trouble.

Technorati Tags: widget, chip+in, donation, fundraising, useless+code

Firefox Plugin: Linkification

Anybody that’s ever had to spend time highlighting a url in the text of a web page so that they could copy it and paste it into the location bar is going to love this little gem.

Linkification is a Firefox add on that takes any url on a page and turns it into a link.  For example, This url is not coded as a link: http://dilithiumcrystalworks.com, but if when I load this page after I publish this entry, the “Linkification” plugin will see it and convert it so that it’s the same thing as if I had coded it <a href="http://dilithiumcrystalworks.com"&gthttp://dilithiumcrystalworks.com</a> and I’ll see it like this http://dilithiumcrystalworks.com (<—that one IS a link)

You can get it from the Mozilla Addons site at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/190

Technorati Tags: links, text, linkification, convert+text+to+links, firefox+plugin

Poll Wrong Again

I saw another one of those polls that bugs the heck out of me.  This time CBS news is asking voters if they think that the “surge” strategy is working, among other things.  Now I think that this is a perfectly good question to be asking, but they’re asking the wrong people.

I say that because all they’re getting is, for the most part, almost totally uninformed opinions of people that have zero access to first hand data about conditions in Iraq.  Therefore the results of that poll are pretty much worthless.  It has about the same value as asking a tribe of cannibals in the jungle what they think of track lighting.  They might have opinions based on things they’ve heard third or fourth hand, but that opinion won’t have a heck of a lot of value because they have zero first hand data.

Now if you want an accurate poll about how things are going in Iraq, I would think that the people to ask are the soldiers over there putting their lives on the line.  These guys know what’s going on because they’re living in the middle of it every day.  Joe Average back home doesn’t have a clue.

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