Category Archives: belgium

belgium is going digital tax crazy

Belgian politicians are going bonkers over the digital world the last month it seems. First Mr. Q decides to start taxing all digital carriers because hey, you might be using them to store copyrighted material. You know, the same tax they have for VHS and audio tapes. The difference just is that those tapes were actually used to store as good as nothing but copyrighted material. But a USB stick or external HD is a completely different deal. Lot’s of non-copyrighted material on there, but we’re still paying for it…

Now there’s a proposed bill from the ecological parties to start taxing downloads to cope with illegal downloads on the net. Yep, we’re all criminals again. In fact they are talking about legalising illegal downloads. Funny. I wonder how Hollywood is going to react to that. For a small fee we’re allowed to rip any movie? Nice. Let’s set up Piratebay.be! The worst idea in the bill is that they want to avoid the ISPs from simply charging this tax to the consumer by blocking raises on the monthly subscription fee on our broadband internet connection. Great, so by blocking already way too expensive internet fees you’re going to avoid us from paying too much? Euhm. We already are paying twice what they pay in Holland, so I doubt ISPs will give a fuck.

What’s next? A blogging tax? We need a damn Pirate party I tell ya. Arrrr!

Photo by Jeremy Brooks, cc-licensed

after the storm

Nature can be awesome. Last year in November a hail storm passed by on a Sunday leaving the cloudy and stormy looking sky filled with orange colours so bright and alive I just had to go out in the cold and shoot some of that beauty. Click for the big version on Flickr.

after the storm

after the storm

after the storm

after the storm

why camera surveillance in mechelen won't work

The Belgian city of Mechelen is planning to put up road surveillance camera’s up on all big exit and entry roads to the city. The reason for this is -of course- the same as it always is when it comes to invading your privacy: to increase security. The plan is to scan every license plate that passes the camera and hopefully be able to stop or catch burglars more easily and scare them away from Mechelen.

I don’t have to tell you how scanning every car’s license plate invades the general public’s privacy, but that’s the price to pay for additional safety isn’t it? The problem with this solution is that it’s called a “Club solution” in the IT world.

A club solution works as long as only a small club of users (cities in this case) use it. So camera surveillance might scare off crooks, but it won’t stop them. They will move to other cities which do not have the same solution. This somewhat forces the other cities to apply the same tactic. After a while every major city will have camera surveillance in place and your solution stops working. It’ll make crime harder, but it won’t stop it. So they will return to the most profitable cities since there’s surveillance in all of them by now anyway.

I’m sure that a hardened criminal won’t be stopped by this. There’s plenty of ways to circumvent the camera’s when you think about it. Fake license plates, stolen cars, disabling the camera’s or simply making sure you bypass them by taking smaller roads.

So we end up with the public being watched at all time and crime at the same rates as it used to be. Big Brother is born one step at a time.

Photo by nolifebeforecoffee, cc-licensed

parasite's woody dubstep and breakcore mix

The guys and girls from Breakcore Gives Me Wood are infamous for their awesomely wicked breakcore parties they throw in our little Belgian country. For their 7th anniversary they threw another one which featured the artist Parasite from the UK among others. To promote the party they also put a promo mix online for free download.

Since we like that kind of stuff, I thought it would be neat to link to it here as well.

The mix itself isn’t as breakcory as you might expect even though it starts of with a nice Droon reference. Expect some kick ass and hard dubstep tracks for starters. Followed by some of the harder drum’n’bass tracks around, and of course some good breakcore jungle-ragga-amen-choppage and mash-up business. Good stuff, as usual. Enjoy and check out a Wood party if you can. You won’t regret it.

help stop the Belgian data retention rule

The European Union wants that internet traffic, phone calls and generally every form of electronic communication data (e.g. Skype) is logged and kept for 2 years. The logged data has to contain personal information to identify the user and location information such as time, date, place, length of the phone call/internet connection, the text/MMS/email-message itself.

The whole idea is to use this data to stop terrorism and crime but I don’t see how tracking the surfing behaviour or a few million innocent people is going to make it any easier in finding that needle in the haystack. Not only is this a huge invasion of each and every civilian’s privacy, it’s also going to cost a lot to set up. In the end it’s the customer of the ISP’s and phone companies that’s going to end up paying for this, as if Belgium isn’t already expensive enough when it comes down to that.

Having this information spread out of a few thousand databases is also prone to abuse or hacking. Think of what spammers could do with this kind of information, or even marketeers. They’d love to get their hands on that kind of information I’m sure.

So if you too feel like this should be put to and end, get over to bewaarjeprivacy.be and sign the petition.

we all need a pirate party

You’ve probably heard of them in the news. The Swedish Pirate Party is one that sprung from the Pirate Bay bittorrent search engine lawsuits and is a modern party which focused on issues concerning privacy and copyright which have changed considerably in the last decade due to the influence of the internet and modern technology. A while ago I heard that the Belgium government is trying to get a Big Brother bill (Dutch article) across to force ISP’s to keep records over a period of two years of all it’s customers internet usage. For one this is going to cost a shit-load which the consumer will end up paying one way or the other. We’re already one of the most costly European countries to have a broadband internet connection in without this measure, so this won’t help at all. Secondly this is also a huge infringement of our privacy. Europe suggest logs are kept somewhere in-between 6 months and 2 years. Funny that they are going for the maximum term on this. Why not take the short end and don’t bother ISP’s with the investment of keeping huge databases? The worst thing about this whole deal is the potential privacy infringements this could cause and for what? Huge databases sitting there to be exploited, hacked and sold on to the highest spammy bidder. I don’t like it a tiny bit.

So Belgium could use a Pirate Party to protect us from bills like this IMO.
Does your country have a Pirate Party?

Photo by country boy shane, cc-licensed