Stormy Weather Ahead for Kopimists
As a religion, we do not actively engage in political debate of any kind. When SOPA and ACTA were up for debate, we politely abstained from railing against the injustices brought about by specific pieces of legislation or particular congresspersons. Unfortunately, fellow Kopimists, a very different assault on our ability to worship is happening now. It is much harder to see, and much harder to stop, than any public piece of proposed legislation. It is the willful filtering and censorship of the internet by the very private entities that provide the service, internet service providers (ISPs), in the United States of America.
Hogwash you say?!!? Not in my country you say!!?!! The original CNET News article can be found here.
There is nothing secretive or conspiratorial about it. Several major ISPs that provide internet service for millions of users are going to start automatically monitoring your activities. If they THINK that you are infringing on someone’s copyright, then they’ll notify you. They’ll keep records of all potentially infringing acts. If your internet connection continues to be used for potentially-infringing activities, they will send you more notices, and eventually they may decrease your bandwidth or temporarily suspend your internet service. These are not small, obscure ISPs we’re talking about. These are Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon.
If a telecom company were to set up monitoring software for telephone lines to identify and record any conversations that they deemed inappropriate, there would be an instantaneous and immediate shift in subscribers. Law-abiding people would flee the service to use other, less-intrusive services simply for the preservation of their privacy. Due to the limited infrastructure and relatively small number of companies running broadband services, for many people that is just not possible. Many users will not have access to an internet connection run by a non-privacy-invading company.
Now, in order to determine if you’re potentially infringing on copyright law, the ISP will need to determine 2 things: what internet locations you are visiting, and what type of data is being exchanged with those websites. This is effectively the same as being forced to wear an ankle bracelet in exchange for being on a piece of private property (like a store or college campus). Once this infrastructure is in place, it is almost laughably easy to abuse it.
As Kopimists, we respect the free flow of information. We want to share our data, and we want others to share theirs. How, then, could someone stop their ISP from determining what websites are being visited? It is called Tor, and it can be found here. Please look into it, and set up a relay if you can. It is important to note that Tor is used for legitimate governmental and private communication EVERY SINGLE DAY by thousands of users. The people who run Tor are amazing individuals, working almost tirelessly to help Kopimists and other like-minded individuals use the internet for creative, life-improving purposes, even when their service providers or governments would force them to do otherwise. Tor has proven particularly useful in opening up internet-based lines of communication in countries where governments actively censor free speech between individuals and the outside world. There are many informational videos about Tor on their website as well as YouTube and perhaps hundreds of interesting articles on a variety of websites. There information is there for you to learn. Please, learn about Tor and support this wonderful system.