unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
I'm increasingly convinced that all schools from the primary to higher level should establish new classes on the history and functioning of the internet. Every adult in the world should be forced to attend at least a semester of such a class. Policymakers who are involved in regulating the internet should be forced to attend and come back for remedial classes at regular intervals, because they need a well-developed bullshit radar to deal with the horrendous policy proposals that are lobbed at their heads all the freakin' time.

Read more... )We've seen a lot of bad recommendations for internet policy in the recent past, a lot of it related to misguided copyright enforcement initiatives, but this is really special. No anonymity? Constant oversight? Only real pictures as avatars? No using languages that the internet police doesn't speak? How on earth does this sort of baffling nonsense make it into the recommendations of an official body made up of grownups with brains?

The noxious influence of business interests is strong in this one; EDRI calls the whole initiative "little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry". What's kind of shocking here is not that business interests are trying to influence policymaking, though. That's been happening ever since businesses and policymaking came into existence. The real issue is that these sorts of recommendations have some chance of getting somewhere. They may or may not make it into law, but they will almost certainly end up influencing the policymakers who will lay eyes on them. Far too many of these people have no earthly idea how the internet works and what is necessary to keep the internet gears from turning. They don't have the necessary background knowledge and practical experience to recognize these "recommendations" for the harmful crap they are the moment the papers land on their desks. I shudder to think that serious lawmaking people will be looking this over, nodding along and assuming these ideas are very reasonable and terrorist-stopping.

Nobody can be expected to have a thorough grounding in every topic in existence, but the internet is no longer a "special" issue that you can ignore until some proposals come around, at which point you call in a "nerd" to explain things and tell you what to do. Knowing about the workings and needs of a functioning internet is as essential for a 21st-century public official as knowing about traffic rules. Every time you make a new rule, you should consider the effect it will have on the internet, and you should know how to do so. Back to school for everyone.
unjapanologist: (Default)
The author of that funny video about how the copyright industries trumpet absurd numbers on piracy-related financial and job losses has written up an informative extended version of his talk in which he explains where he got the numbers for his calculations. It's worth checking out, mainly because it makes clear that there frequently are no reliable sources for the staggering, terrifying, and mostly imaginary numbers on piracy-related economic losses. And consequently, that there is no factual basis for many laws and proposals for laws that include restrictions on online freedoms in the name of enforcing copyright law - SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, the DMCA, and other acronyms.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
There seems to be some confusion around here and elsewhere on the interwebs that ACTA is something local, like the EU equivalent of SOPA/PIPA. Unfortunately, ACTA is a treaty that was secretly negotiated and quietly pushed through by many governments from around the globe. It's already been signed by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. Many EU countries also signed, although some of the national representatives who did so immediately regretted it and confessed that they had no idea what they'd put their signature under.

But ACTA can't become law in any EU country unless all individual countries also ratify the treaty and the overarching EU parliament also approves it. That's what the big push right now is all about: the EU countries, even those whose representatives already signed, will all dodge ACTA if the parliament decides to shoot it down, which it actually might. There is also still a chance that individual countries might still backtrack, and Poland already halted the ratification process. This is a nice example of the EU's "nothing happens unless every country agrees" ethic actually working for good instead of just stalling things: if one national government wakes up and gets ornery about something quiet and nasty like ACTA, they can actually save the citizens of all other EU countries, because some kinds of big treaties and proposed laws cannot be turned into actual law in any EU country unless everyone agrees they're a good idea.

I'm not certain what people from the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea can still do to prevent ACTA from becoming law in their countries, or even if it already is law in some of them. That all depends on the political process in those countries; like with the EU, a signature may not mean automatic ratification. There must be activist websites about ACTA for all of those places that inform citizens if there's still something they can actually do. For instance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a US perspective on ACTA here.

unjapanologist: (Default)
My own gut reaction upon reading that Obama had made it -"Thank god I won't have to look at the other guy anymore"- was another reminder to me about the influence of striking looks on a fictional character's popularity. I got up at an ungodly hour this morning to watch the US presidential election results come in, but pesky CNN managed to call the race exactly five minutes before I got behind the computer, making me miss the big moment. Oh well. I got to watch the concession and acceptance speeches in real time. Listening to Obama and his huge crowd of supporters was actually a pretty damn emotional experience -we may gripe and groan about the US now and then (okay, a lot) here in Belgium, but sometimes I wish we could display the kind of spirit that I saw in Grant Park. While my country is a very good place to live and I feel lucky to have been born here, there are a lot of whiny and very passive people.
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