If you have been paying attention to the internets today, you would notice that Anonymous launched an all out attack against the music industry and any copyright related websites including the justice.gov, fbi.gov, copyright.gov, mpaa.com, riaa.com, wmg.com, bmi.com and more. You can see pictures with timestamps in my Google+ Album here.
Over 5600 Hackers gathered together to choreograph this attack after a very prominent website, Megaupload, was taken down for copyright infringement. No details of the copyright infringement have easily surfaced, but Megaupload is a relatively simple channel to trade pirated virtual goods, knowingly or unknowingly.
Just a day ago, protests broke out on the internet regarding SOPA and PIPA, two bills, which if passed, would ruin the internet as we know it and make it a playground for frivolous claims of copyright infringement from the entertainment industry and its affiliates. And heck, it could been be used as a weapon by competiting businesses to knock people out of the game. The protest was held by major players, everyone from Wikipedia (who blacked out completely for a day) to Google had some sort of protest or message. Thousands of online businesses and websites also followed. A list can be found at sopastrike.com where my company Esotech is also listed. Millions of letters went out and thousands of phone calls were made to local house and senate representatives as a result of these efforts.
“Guilty until proven innocent”
This is the fundamental tenet behind SOPA, your website goes down before you are notified, and then you have to fight the legal system to get it back up. Win or lose, you get nothing as compensation. There is no bond here folks. Whether you are Facebook.com or hosted at Geocities; if you have anywhere that someone can upload copyrighted material to your site, or if you use it yourself, knowingly or unknowingly, you are liable, and immediatly bannable from the United States DNS servers (Also destroying any trust we have in DNS, but that’s another story). There are plenty of articles on why SOPA is Bad.
The protests seemed very successful, just check out this chart. It looks like we were making progress…then suddenly…Megaupload is gone. They didn’t even need SOPA to be active to do it! But Why? Why NOW? Why a Day after a huge public uproar about Censorship?
The internet was outraged of course, millions visit megaupload every day. Out came the hackers, and the new modified low orbit ion cannon began to fire, this time with both unwilling and willing subjects creating a DDoS on government and music industry sites. The firepower came from the people. Links to the cannon on Social Media sites such as twitter, hidden as updates on the whole Operation by Anonymous, allowed millions of computers to bombard these websites shutting them down for minutes if not hours at a time. Some were hit harder than others, and some bounced on and off. But the point was made, people are pissed.
We come back to the simple question of why today?
I believe the reason has to do with discrediting the opponents of SOPA, the tech guys, as being anarchistic nutcases that are against the American people. I think it also had to do with the government wanting to show the technology community, that it can do whatever it wants. Big or small, they can bring up charges of copyright infringement and shut you down, with or without SOPA.
Its a power play, and it can go one of two ways:
- The acts that happened today are seen as a reason to enable DNS filtering, and those who opposed SOPA and PIPA are seen as irresponsible and incapable of diplomacy, further fueling the fire of censorship and corporate domination of the internet.
- The reason for the acts today are discussed: The reasons and effect that a sudden disruption / takedown of a service like Megaupload has on both users and Megaupload as a Business. This disruption could make even more of the nation aware of the issues regarding SOPA and PIPA, ensuring that our internet remains free from censorship as people rally behind the hackers as defenders and retributors instead of anarchists.
…unfortunately the media is on their side and will display it in their favor to bring SOPA back to the table. Remember, they control television and news media. Never has the fight for something like this been so fierce. This is a historic time. This is a fight for something that has never existed, but was expected to be a human right…the free flow of information through technology. Most websites, and indeed, social media platforms developed on the idea of sharing content between users, but SOPA and PIPA oppose this idea, labeling the internet as a medium for piracy, and anything that RISKS promotion of piracy, should be shut down. Imagine the innovation that would have been stifled had this been in effect while Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Google were developing? With a lawyer at every turn, no one is going to want to develop for the internet anymore…it would cost too much just to be compliant with this silly bill.
The entertainment industry is trying to indirectly control the internet by introducing the only things they know they have control over because of their vast wealth: law, lawyers and lawsuits. If these acts change Congressmen’s stance on SOPA and PIPA we could be in a world of hurt, the internet will change as we know it, our favorite websites will disappear in seconds, without notice. The entertainment industry needs to stop seeing its end users as opponents instead of customers.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how the next few days pan out…I hope you all will be watching as closely as I will.