Saturday, October 16, 2010

Watch Your Domain!

The corporations that rule America are at it again (aren't they always), only this time what they seek could have even broader implications for freedom of speech and access to information in the Internet age, by a vast expansion of government power to control what websites you can see. There is proposed legislation in Congress (sponsored by the usual rogue's gallery of Republican and Democrat criminals) called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act:

The recording industry and movie studios have been clamoring for such a capability since the George W. Bush administration. If passed, the Justice Department could ask a federal court for an injunction that would order a U.S. domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain name, so that visitors to, for example, would get an error message.

“In today’s global economy the internet has become the glue of international commerce –- connecting consumers with a wide array of products and services worldwide,” said Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement announcing the bill. “But it’s also become a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property.”

The bill would direct injunctions at a piracy site’s domain registrar, if the registration was through a U.S. company. If not, the Justice Department could serve the court order at the registry for the site’s top-level domain. Registry’s for the dot-com, dot-net and dot-org domains are all U.S.-based, and thus within the courts’ jurisdiction. For domains not under U.S. control, the bill would demand that internet service providers in the United States block resolution of the address upon a court order, but overseas users would not be impacted.

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Interestingly, Obama (the great agent of hope and change) is much worse than Bush on the matter, having placed RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lawyers in key Justice Department positions. The Bush administration had reservations about a "copyright czar", but Barack Obama the Corporate/Bankster Puppet is going full speed ahead to enforce the phony "property" rights of private big business. Even without a new law, they've already started: "Operation In Our Sites" targets Internet movie pirates

In the first action carried out as part of the initiative, authorities executed seizure warrants against nine domain names of Web sites that were offering first-run movies, often within hours of their theatrical release. Seven of those sites were targeted for seizure by the SDNY. Agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also seized assets from 15 bank, Paypal, investment and advertising accounts, and executed four residential search warrants in several states.

ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton, joined on a Los Angeles soundstage by senior representatives from major movie studios, entertainment unions and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), made clear that the theft of such intellectual property is a serious crime and one the U.S. government has made a priority combating.

Ah, how warm and cozy! Immigration and Customs standing beside their masters, the capitalist corporations that rule the United States and enlist your tax dollars to do their dirty work against freedom.

In the Internet world, he who controls the Domain Name Server (DNS) is God. If I can control your DNS, I can direct all of your web accesses to sites of my choosing. I can intercept your on-line banking, and censor anything I don't want you to read. This is why DNS exploits are among the scariest hacking scenarios, and why the Internet engineers are always trying to harden the DNS system.

The best engineering in the world, though, isn't much use against a court order...

This is one reason why foreign Internet users have always protested keeping the top-level domain servers (.com, .org, .net) in the U.S. In the past the U.S. has always replied that "we're committed to Internet freedom, and those servers are safer here than anywhere else." Right now those assurances are ringing hollow -- and those overseas have a righteous "we told you so" coming.

So what's the Wikileaks connection? Recall the frequent and repeated use of the word "piracy" to describe the documents they had obtained. If this law were already in effect, the feds would have got a court order lickety-split to declare the Wikileaks site "dedicated to infringing activities." And then it would be a federal crime for your Internet provider, web host, or any other U.S.-based DNS simply to tell you what IP address is associated with RIAA and MPAA are at it again

That's right, the government could even use the new powers Obama is seeking to shut down whistle blower sites that track the criminal activities of that very government and keep the public informed of its crimes.

This is something that Bret "Ginx" Alan never seems to comprehend. When you give one entity an exclusive legal monopoly on the ultimate use of force to ensure that its orders are followed, you have no real recourse. Disobey, and they'll imprison or kill you. A private company (without the State's support) could never achieve that kind of complete control, yet Ginx worries more about the hypotheticals that might happen under anarchism after the state is dissolved than he does about the real abuses going on now that are only possible when we live under the thumb of the state.

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