Category Archives: politics

stop the EU from destroying your internet freedom

Yep. They are at it again, those pesky governments. If it ain’t the US trying to destroy net neutrality it’s the EU trying to setup a link tax and an automated content filter/surveillance/censorship machine.

I’m talking about the copyright reform law the EU is trying to get through in a few days.

Article 11 is bad. It tries to setup a link tax, meaning you cant link or post snippets to e.g. news articles on your site. A similar law was passed earlier in Spain and it causes Google news to simply pull back out of Spain. If the same happens to the whole of the EU, that would suck mayor balls.

Article 13 is far worse though. That’s the content filter, which means any site where content can be uploaded e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Imgur etc will be forced to automatically scan your upload and filter it if it isn’t allowed. The claim is that they want to stop terrorists and bad people from spreading illegal content on the internet. The reality will be that those bad guys will find ways around it and the rest of us will be stuck with a filter that’s going to block our uploads because of flawed algorithms and bureaucratic decisions. Internet memes use copyrighted content, but will the filter be able to detect sarcasm? I don’t think so.

Hey look, a meme, with a copyrighted image. I guess we won't be able to do that anymore once Article 13 is in effect.

To quote Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the WWW:

Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.

So please help out and email, tweet or call your MEP’s and make it clear Article 11 & 13 have to go. The freedom of the internet depends on you!

don’t let the EU censor your internet: stop ACTA

ACTA infographic

You might have heard that SOPA got stopped (for now) in the USA, a bill to censor the internet and limit online freedom for everyone. An even worse deal is going down on our EU-side of the globe unfortunately, where ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has already been signed, but not yet approved (luckily).

ACTA – a global treaty – could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties — even prison sentences — against people they say have harmed their business.
avaaz.org

So it’s about time to do something about this before this bill gets voted in the EU Parliament and gets adopted globally.
First you can start by reading about ACTA, find out what’s wrong with it, sign the petition and act against it.

For those in the US, you can go sign the White House petition. Do it, because this deal is worse than SOPA, as it spans beyond the internet and deals even with regulations on medication and food.

The oppressively strict regulations could mean people everywhere are punished for simple acts such as sharing a newspaper article or uploading a video of a party where copyrighted music is played. Sold as a trade agreement to protect copyrights, ACTA could also ban lifesaving generic drugs and threaten local farmers’ access to the seeds they need. And, amazingly, t he ACTA committee will have carte blanche to change its own rules and sanctions with no democratic scrutiny.
avaaz.org

Spread the word, sign the petition, just do something so this is stopped just like SOPA was.

Afterwards, you can get back to your memes and lolcats. :)

 

watching #egypt

I don’t know if you are following this as much as I am, but I can’t keep from checking out the news rolling in on the #Egypt feed on twitter.
It doesn’t get any more real than that with live pictures and video’s being blogged and tweeted first hand. Paper.li on #Egypt proves great for high-speed streams of tweets and links like this to filter the most interesting bits. The English site of Al Jazeera also turn out to be a great resource for first hand info. This seems to do for them what the first Gulf War did for CNN. I’m seeing a lot of Al Jazeera links fly by everywhere and only little CNN, BBC or other major media channels.

I’m just hoping this’ll turn out alright in the end for the Egyptian people.

refactoring the government

code.close()

The Belgian politicians are having a bit of a problem forming a new government since the last elections. This caused folks to organise a demonstration in Brussels on Sunday to make it clear that it’s time those politicians get back to work and form a government pronto.

While talking about this the whole thing somehow reminds me of refactoring software. Software that’s been having bugs and problems for years which where mended by applying patch after patch after patch, but where the code which is the actual root of the problem is never touched. In the end these patches cause more problems when the problem code has to be refactored, because those patches are fixing symptoms where they occur, causing even more issues at other locations.

So this is what I see happening now with the current formation of the government. To get through this, the patches applied over the years are causing additional difficulties and have to be cleared together with the actual problem. Reforming a country as difficultly organised as Belgium takes time. I’m just hoping that all this time won’t be for nothing in the end by forming a hasty government with (again) a half-assed solution to the problem which has been dragging on for years already.

Let’s just be a bit more patient shall we and let them do their job as they should for once, and clear up this mess created by the maintenance programmers, euhm,.. politicians.

Photo by ruiwen, cc-licensed

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

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