Friday, January 27, 2012

The Politics of Internet Censorship: A Technological Critique

First of all, I just want to point out that the recent protests and other actions in relation to the issue of SOPA/PIPA (bolstered by varying degrees of blackouts on websites like Reddit, Wikipedia, and Google) quite likely amounted to the most politically active day in the history of the world -- in terms of people discussing legislation, issues of free speech, and governmental corruption. Furthermore, we are quite likely to see evermore people championing the cause of free speech (and challenging legal restrictions upon it through loopholes like copyright and trademark). These are very hopeful developments.

However, what I find particularly noteworthy is the kind of information that the government is looking to restrict... namely, access to art. On it's face, there are specious arguments about protecting artists and the profits of the movie and recording industry. These arguments have already been thoroughly dismantled by others -- in terms of artists thriving because of their works being spread and because artists created and thrived before any copyright laws existed. But the underlying issue isn't really about protecting artists -- or even corporatized industries profiting off of them. Rather, I feel, the issue is about the plain censorship of political dissent.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

There is a difference between a declaration of martial law and a draconian crackdown...

I would like to challenge everyone to examine more closely what martial law actually is, and then... consider what has effectively been declared with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 -- especially when taken together with previous legislation like the Patriot Act.  I won't condescend to explain here what the NDAA or the Patriot Act is (follow the links), but I'd really like people to take a moment for consideration about the implications of this growing body of overtly authoritarian, and even totalitarian, legislation.  While most cities and towns don't have tanks rolling through their streets every day, and while curfews are rare, I'd suggest that there are more subtle factors to martial law than these things.  Additionally, while a widespread crackdown and purge of assorted "radicals" hasn't occurred yet, I'd like to point out that the legislation in question allows, and paves the way, for precisely that.  This legislation is, effectively, a declaration of Martial law by the U.S. government.  While arguably few people have been subjected to the worst effects of this legislation, the declaration has been made and many people are, basically and technically, existing in violation of current U.S. law.  If you are living within the borders of the United States of America, you are living under martial law at this very moment. 

Finally, while I don't want to argue too much about definitions... the U.S. has more prisoners per capita (and in total numbers) than any other nation on Earth.  Wiretapping and other broad surveillance measures have been codified by the state.  American citizens can now be arrested by the military, detained, and imprisoned indefinitely without the right to a trial.  All of this amounts to the very definition of a totalitarian police state.