RIP Internet

HankP's picture

Most people here are probably aware of the takedown of Megaupload by the US Justice department. What you might not know is that not only was the domain name and their servers seized, but all user data - even the completely legal stuff - is currently unretrievable and may be wiped. The hosting service, Carpathia, said that they don't have access to the actual data and any requests for the data should be made to Megaupload - which of course no longer exists.

Well, f*&k the pirates you may say, they had it coming (although you could be wrong about that). But it's not just the pirates who are getting shut down. Last year the ICE shut down, admitting a year later that they screwed up (pretty tough for a company to survive a year without revenues). A few days ago JotForm, a company that helps users create forms for use at their own websites, was also shut down. It appears this was done without a warrant.  Also in 2010, the US seize the domain even though they hosted no infringing content. In that case a US District court judge ruled that domain seizures do not violate free speech claims, directly in opposition to US Supreme court rulings.  In a large shutdown in late 2010, ICE shut down 82 sites including search engines - sites that don't host any infringing content. Over 100 sites were similarly seized in late 2011.

The SOPA and PIPA bills that have been discussed lately would turn these seizures into a normal occurrence, without due process or any requirement other than a complaint by a copyright holder - and the copyright holder faces no penalties if they identify a site incorrectly. It essentially turns the government into the enforcement arm of the copyright holders without any of the requirements that government usually has to provide before seizing property. It also removes the "safe harbor" provisions that many sites operate under - including this one. Under current law, if someone here was to post infringing content the site owner (me) would receive a request to remove it. Under SOPA, we may or may not receive a request, we may simply be seized with the onus on us to justify release of the domain name. The potential for abuse is simply ridiculous.

But there's more! ACTA is a multilateral trade agreement designed to enforce property rights, specifically counterfeit goods and copyright infringement on the internet. It was started by the US and Japan, and the EU jumped on board soon after. It was negotiated in secret until Wikileaks made public many of it's terms and conditions. It was signed on October 1, 2011 by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. The EU signed in January 2012. It will go into effect after being ratified by 6 countries. ACTA is so big and so bad that it would require a series of diaries to fully address, but some main points

- it criminalizes generic medicines

- it virtually requires ISPs to collect information about their subscriber's internet usage by making them liable to prosecution if they don't

- it allows criminal investigations and seizures without probable cause

fortunately the Europeans are a bit more aware of the problems with ACTA and have been protesting against it. But it has the multinational corporations and business associations on its side, so it's difficult to see how it will be held off for long. Unfortunately the Australians, the Canadians and the Brits are all onboard with violating civil rights in the name of "safety". Remember, these are the countries that are supposed to value freedom more than the authoritarian dictatorships like China and North Korea that block the internet from their citizens and track what they do on their computers.


These aren't the only threats, of course, Congress is working on their own methods of tracking what every single person does on the internet. The trend is clear, between the greed of corporations and the fear of ... well, everything by politicians, the internet is under legal threat like never before.


.  .  .  .  .

In addition to these self inflicted problems, there are several technical issues that are either causing or will shortly cause some serious issues in the way the internet operates

- IPv4, the system that uses the standard "dotted number" for IP addresses (like is running out of addresses. There is a replacement, IPv6, but it's been adopted very slowly and many older devices on the internet don't yet fully support it.

- Spam. Up to 90% of all email traffic is now spam (and up to 5% of all internet traffic is Spam or DDOS, see below). The costs of spam, both direct and indirect, are estimate din the tens of billions of dollars.

- DDOS, or Distributed Denial of Service. Thsi is where a large numer of computers (usually under control of someone other than the owner) is used to flood a particular site with traffic, essentially making it unavailable. It can be used by groups like Anonymous to attack sites that they disagree with, or by organized crime through large collections of botnets for purposes such as blackmail. Whatever the cause, it is a large and growing problem.

- Proprietary vs. Open Standards. This is the big one. People who buy and use computer systems (intelligent ones, at least) love open standards. The main reason is that it commoditizes computer equipment and software, allowing competition on a level playing field between vendors and guaranteed interoperability. Businesses, on the other hand, hate it for those same reasons. That's why companies like Microsoft and Apple have constantly introduced their own standards and fought so hard to subvert as many open standards as they can. I've talked about this before and at greater length here. The simple fact is that open standards lead to a global, integrated internet and proprietary standards lead to a Balkanized, fragmented internet. The value of a network grows with each additional device connected to it, proprietary standards directly damage the value of the internet as a whole. Some of the protocols that the Internet is based on are showing their age and are due for upgrading or replacement, expect the largest and wealthiest vendors to work at subverting this process for their own benefit.


.  .  .  .  .

Now obviously I don't think the internet is just going to disappear one day. But unless we

- Get rid of the insane intellectual property laws we have now

- Have judges start recognizing electronic data as personal effects as deserving of protection as paper documents

- Work with other countries to solve some sticky engineering problems

- Work on supporting open standards (by law if necessary)

we'll see the internet degrade and become something far short of what it could be. I don't want to look back in 20 or 30 years and see the 2000s or the 2010s described as "The Golden Age of the Internet".


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Apparently got shut down recently


That's a bummer.

A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.


let piracy thrive


What if people only wrote, or composed, or painted, or sculpted, or built stuff 'cause the spirit moved them, and not for money?


Would that be so bad?


The Hollywood schlock-machine sure thinks so.



It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Yeah, it would be bad

HankP's picture

people should get renumerated for their art, especially art that costs quite a bit to get created. But paying off an artists's grandkids and great-grandkids seems pretty excessive and I can't see how that's helping to create new art.

I blame it all on the Internet

I'm still not entirely sure how Disney


basically gave Congress a big bag of money and told them to extend copyright, Congress complied, and then SCOTUS upheld something that's pretty clearly unconstitutional.  It's just a cavalcade of awful from start to finish.

It was a 7-2 decision


I guess "limited times" just means "less than infinite":


To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.


I don't know of any clearer case that shows how obselete the notion of a public good is in the US.


But very few artists benefited from creative ideas


in the public domain. Furthermore:


"With eternal copyright, the knowledge that our great-great-great-grandchildren and beyond will benefit financially from our efforts will no doubt spur us on to achieve greater creative heights than ever seen before."

More to the point


What if people only downloaded, shared, or copied the results of these labours of love when the spirit moved them, and not for monetary gain? Would that be so bad?

The desire to share ones deeply felt aesthetic experiences with intimates is just as old and just as compelling as the desire to create, compose and build.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

I'd Say We All Benefit. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .from an environment where people with artistic talents can make a living at it rather than having to do it as a hobby, as long as the source of income is mostly or wholly private. That being said, the entertainment industry is going to wind up shooting itself in the foot if it keeps overreaching--being ticked off over these new bills seems to be a bipartisan supermajority situation, at least among those who are paying attention.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

In So Many Ways it is Far Worse than even You Make Out...



...the most recent and glaring abuse is that of


It's a little hard to figure out what's more ridiculous about the U.K. tourists banned from entering the U.S. after Twitter jokes: Is it how seriously U.S. security folks take their Twitter or how shocked and appalled the Daily Mail is about it? On the one hand, damn, U.S. security really took one tourist's tweets way too seriously: "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America," read one, according to The Daily Mail. "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!" read another, per the Register. When the tweeter, Leigh Van Bryan, got to Los Angeles with his friend Emily Banting, the pair was stopped and then formally denied entry because U.S. authorities who'd read Van Bryan's tweets thought they were coming to commit crimes. "Federal agents even searched his suitcase looking for spades and shovels, claiming Emily was planning to act as Leigh's 'look out' while he raided Marilyn's tomb," The Daily Mail reported. Wow, immigration authorities. Overkill!

Van Bryan tried to explain to the authorities that it was all a misunderstanding. All that stuff about Marilyn Monroe was a Family Guy riff and, per The Daily Mail, "Despite telling officials the term 'destroy' was British slang for 'party', they were held on suspicion of planning to 'commit crimes' and had their passports confiscated." The Daily Mail was shocked—shocked!—that the U.S. authorities didn't take the pair's word for it , locking Leigh up with "Mexican drug dealers," the paper claimed. Those security types really don't understand the young people. Besides, how could anyone deny Banting's airtight explanation that her friend meant no harm? "We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweet. He would not hurt anyone. He is gay."

A fascist police-state society comes celephane wrapped in it's own stale stinking death wish....And without a sense of humor.


The Tweets:



[url=]Tweet2[/url] by [url=]traveller2000me[/url], on Flickr

[url=]Tweet3[/url] by [url=]traveller2000me[/url], on Flickr

The Deportation Order, actually a request to withdraw the request to enter the United States, not an unreasonable out having been held in a cell for 12 hours...I'd want to leave the United States Too

[url=]Tweet 4[/url] by [url=]traveller2000me[/url], on Flickr

Yes, I know that these are British twits and you'd like to have not an ounce of sympathy for them...

[url=]Tweet[/url] by [url=]traveller2000me[/url], on Flickr

The problem isn't social media, though it is bad enough, but if the feds or whoever wanted to intercept your emails, your posts to TheForvm, or your down load history as to anything, they could...if they can pick out a single tweet out of the multitudes, they can pick out anything you or I might send.

They probably won't, LEA would have no reason to, and even if they did, it is almost random that they would act on this intercepted to yourself or whoever is reading this missive.

But obviously, see the deportation of these young Brits, this ability can be misused...almost on a freakishly random basis.

Ain't nothin` you can do about it...or not much, not much you can do even to protect yourself, I don't think.

People think I'm being a little cranky about Fascism coming to's already here; invited in and given an honored place at our collective diner table.

Please remember:

[i]No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.[/i]

Meditation #17 By John Donne From Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1623), XVII

Ain't nothin` you can do about it...or not much, not much you can do even to protect yourself, I don't think.

Keep your heads down, Gentlemen. This could get very, very terrible.

Best Wishes, Traveller

It's funny Trav

HankP's picture

I was just thinking the other day about how great it was that I could enjoy my last birthday going out with you and Harley last April. I wonder if I had tweeted about it ahead of time with any kind of hyperbole if we would have been "questioned" about it.


It's pretty clear from the example that you posted that everything we do online is being watched. I keep telling you guys, the National Security State will be the death of us all. I don't know if you've ever listened to the Firesign Theatre, one of their running jokes was that the US lost WWII - after all, we were fighting against fascism.

I blame it all on the Internet