EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


The War Against USENET Symbolises an Assault on Free Speech

Posted in Boycott Novell, Google at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Child-molesting terrorists who ‘pirate’ films are to blame (the classic excuses)

THE CONSTANT WAR on the Internet is a war against disruptive means of business and communication. The Web is perpetually under threat because, as Richard Stallman put it, you need to “value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history.”

One person who speaks a great deal about the use of laws against modern communication in a digital age is Professor Lawrence Lessig and here is a very recent talk of his where he covers important points that he routinely repeats:

Because this talk is very long, we are unable to produce an Ogg version and we apologise. I’ve personally asked him to make his talks available in free formats.

Appended at the bottom we have references which show the ongoing war on USENET [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; the material is mostly self explanatory and the references are all from 2008. Also compare Microsoft’s role [6] (spying and profiling) to Google’s role [7] (accumulation, retention, and dissemination) in USENET.

In this post, we wish only to pass on the details of an experience encountered by one of our readers, who put to the test some comparable services to investigate potential throttling. This needed to be reorganised and clarified, so he summarised his experiences as follows:

Before last Monday, I was using individual.net to access Usenet via port 119 without any problems. Starting Monday, I started experience some extreme problems with speed of access to Usenet. I used to be able to download a complete list of active newsgroups in under a minute. Now it takes 10 minutes or more to do this. The speed problems did not affect any other service except for Usenet to individual.net.

Here is a little table showing my experiments to trace the source of the speed problem:

>From home DSL connection (in the USA):
  -- slow to individual.net port 119
  -- not slow to individual.net port 80
  -- networks to individual.net: Covad, Level3, Telia, DFN
  -- not slow to motzarella.org port 119
  -- networks to motzarella.org: Covad, Level3, Mcbone, Fdknet

>From another shell account in the USA:
  -- not slow to individual.net port 119
  -- networks to individual.net: Cogent, DFN

Both my ISP and Individual.net deny doing any sort of rate limiting or traffic shaping on port 119. My experience with motzarella.org tends to exonerate my ISP and their upstream, level3.net. From the fact that I have no speed problems from another US-based shell account to individual.net, that tells me that there is no rate limiting on their end or with DFN. My primary suspect for the cause of the speed problem is Telia.

We’ve already inquired in the IRC channel, hoping to see if anyone has had negative USENET experiences. When asked whether “anything has changed recently,” said balzac: “I think ISPs are freezing USENET out.” Some people are already aware that politicians — along with the media industry — are shutting down such servers gradually, claiming that USENET is antiquated anyway. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is done also for political reasons. USENET is not centralised enough for them, so there is no control over content (censorship cannot be imposed).

Will people be told the truth though?

“Both “individual.net” and my ISP deny doing any kind of rate limiting,” says our reader. “I have also tried connecting from different networks and I also noticed the slowness from an old Unix shell account I have. The upstreams of my DSL account and the Unix shell account have level3.net in common. [...] Either somebody made a mistake or they are deliberately trying to slow down Usenet. If it’s the latter, then no doubt the RIAA/MPAA has pressured the network provider into doing it on the theory that they are curbing copyright infringement in binaries newsgroups. Ironically, “individual.net” does not carry binary newsgroups so they would have missed their target here.”

If essential channels of communication are under attack, then it ought to be publicised somewhere, even if does not fit the central theme of this Web site. The issue is important to us because this site now drives 6-7GB of traffic per day and some influential companies really don’t want it to exist.
[1] Comcast to shut down free Usenet access

Comcast is just the latest of the large ISPs to buckle under to MAFIAA pressure from the music and movie cartels, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve to get away with this.

[2] Usenet: Not Dead Yet”

Over the last few years, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other organizations looking to eliminate the illegal swapping of digital media files have attacked the problem through the courts, publicity campaigns, and other means.

[3] Comcast, NetZero latest providers to bow to Cuomo’s Usenet campaign

But in reality, Cuomo’s pressure tactics have misfired. They led Time Warner Cable to pull the plug on some 100,000 Usenet discussion groups, including such hotbeds of illicit content as talk.politics and misc.activism.progressive. Verizon Communications deleted such unlawful discussion groups as us.military, ny.politics, alt.society.labor-unions, and alt.politics.democrats. AT&T and Time Warner Cable have taken similar steps.

[4] Verizon offers details of Usenet deletion: alt.* groups, others gone

Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups–out of roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist. In a press release, he took credit for the companies’ blunderbuss-style newsgroup removal by saying: “We are attacking this problem by working with Internet service providers…I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.”


What this means in practice is that, thanks to the New York state attorney general, Verizon customers will lose out on innocent discussions. Verizon is retaining only eight newsgroup hierarchies, even though over 1,000 hierarchies exist.

[5] Usenet Villified In NY Deal With ISPs

Time Warner Cable will turn off all newsgroup access, while Sprint plans to cut access to the whole alt.* segment. Verizon may follow Sprint’s example.

Blocking all newsgroups does appear to be a broad approach to a problem involving a minority of such groups. As with the Internet in general, not everything in Usenet poses a threat. But no one wants to be tainted with even a suggestion of being soft on child porn, hence the rush to apply censorship with a sweeping axe rather than a skillfully-wielded scalpel.

[6] Microsoft Shuts Down Netscan (Usenet groups Analytics Tool)

Microsoft Netscan system has been scanning and collection activity of all newsgroups since 1999 but unfortunately, things are about to change.

[7] Deja Googled

Google was, thus, compelled to offer free access to the CONTENT of the Deja archives to alternative (non-Google) archiving systems. But it remains mum on the search programming code and the user interface. Already one such open source group (called Dela News) is coalescing, although it is not clear who will bear the costs of the gigantic storage and processing such a project would require. Dela wants to have a physical copy of the archive deposited in trust with a dot org.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. aeshna23 said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm


    I get so angry that the fight against child pornography is held to justify any stupidity or evil imaginable. I’m a moral pluralist, that is, I believe that there are many values and that these values can’t just be reduced to single (unidimensional) yardstick. We have to make rational decisions among different values that can’t be weighed a single scale against each other. We must balance our needs for freedom and economic and technological progress against the possibility that a child will be molested (that is, if we grant the rather questionable assumption that child pornography causes molestation when paedophilia could be causing both child pornography and molestation).

    Here’s a concrete example of how preventing child molesting doesn’t trump everything: we could just castrate all men above 18 and keep the semen of 17 years old boys to fertilize women. I’m sure this would reduce child molestation.

  2. Lauren said,

    May 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm


    or we could kill all women so there wouldn’t be any left for men to rape

What Else is New

  1. EPO Did Not Want to Take Down One Techrights Article, It Wanted to Take Down Many Articles Using Intimidation, SLAPPing, and Psychological Manipulation Late on a Friday Night

    Recalling the dirty tactics by which the European Patent Office sought to remove criticism of its dirty secret deals with large corporations, for whom it made available and was increasingly offering preferential treatment

  2. The European Private Office: What Was Once a Public Service is Now Crony Capitalism With Private Contractors

    The increasing privatisation of the European Patent Office (EPO), resembling what happens in the UK to the NHS, shows that the real goal is to crush the quality of the service and instead serve a bunch of rich and powerful interests, in defiance of the original goals of this well-funded (by taxpayers) organisation

  3. Microsoft Once Again Disregards People's Settings and Abuses Them, Again Pretends It's Just an Accident

    A conceited corporation, Microsoft, shows not only that it exploits its botnet to forcibly download massive binaries without consent but also that it vainly overrides people's privacy settings to spy on these people, sometimes with help from malicious hardware vendors such as Dell or Lenovo

  4. When the EPO Liaised With Capone (Literally) to Silence Bloggers, Delete Articles

    A dissection of the EPO's current media strategy, which involves not only funneling money into the media but also actively silencing opposing views

  5. Blogger Who Wrote About the EPO's Abuses Retires

    Bloggers' independent rebuttal capability against a media apparatus that is deep in the EPO's pocket is greatly diminished as Jeremy Phillips suddenly retires

  6. Leaked: EPO Award of €880,000 “in Order to Address the Media Presence of the EPO” (Reputation Laundering)

    The European Patent Office, a public body, wastes extravagant amounts of money on public relations (for 'damage control', like FIFA's) in an effort to undermine critics, not only among staff (internally) but also among the media (externally)

  7. Links 27/11/2015: KDE Plasma 5.5 Plans, Oracle Linux 7.2

    Links for the day

  8. Documents Needed: Contract or Information About EPO PR/Media Campaign to Mislead the World

    Rumour that the EPO spends almost as much as a million US dollars “with some selected press agencies to refurbish the image of the EPO”

  9. Guest Post: The EPO, EPC, Unitary Patent and the Money Issue

    Remarks on the Unitary Patent (UP) and the lesser-known aspects of the EPO and EPC, where the “real issue is money, about which very little is discussed in public...”

  10. Saving the Integrity of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Some timely perspective on what's needed at the European Patent Office, which was detabilised by 'virtue' of making tyrants its official figureheads

  11. A Call for Bloggers and Journalists: Did EPO Intimidate and Threaten You Too? Please Speak Out.

    An effort to discover just how many people out there have been subjected to censorship and/or self-censorship by EPO aggression against the media

  12. European Patent Office (EPO) a “Kingdom Above the EU Countries, a Tyranny With ZERO Accountability”

    Criticism of the EPO's thuggish behaviour and endless efforts to crush dissenting voices by all means available, even when these means are in clear violation of international or European laws

  13. Links 26/11/2015: The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, Running Sans Systemd Gets Hard

    Links for the day

  14. EPO Management Needs to Finally Recognise That It Itself is the Issue, Not the Staff or the Unions

    A showing of dissent even from the representatives whom the EPO tightly controls and why the latest union-busting goes a lot further than most people realise

  15. Even the EPO Central Staff Committee is Unhappy With EPO Management

    The questions asked by the Central Staff Committee shared for the public to see that not only a single union is concerned about the management's behaviour

  16. The Broken Window Economics of Patent Trolls Are Already Coming to Europe

    The plague which is widely known as patent trolls (non-practicing entities that prey on practicing companies) is being spread to Europe, owing in part to misguided policies and patent maximalists

  17. Debunking the EPO's Latest Marketing Nonsense From Les Échos and More on Benoît Battistelli's Nastygram to French Politician

    Our detailed remarks about French brainwash from the EPO's media partner (with Benoît Battistelli extensively quoted) and the concerns increasingly raised by French politicians, who urge for national or even continental intervention

  18. The Sun King Delusion: The Views of Techrights Are Just a Mirror of EPO Staff Unions

    Tackling some emerging spin we have seen coming from Battistelli's private letters -- spin which strives to project the views of Techrights onto staff unions and why it's very hypocritical a form of spin

  19. Links 25/11/2015: Webconverger 33.1, Netrunner 17 Released

    Links for the day

  20. United They Stand: FFPE-EPO Supports Suspended Staff Representatives From SUEPO

    An obscure union from the Dutch side of things at the EPO is expressing support for the suspended colleagues from SUEPO (more German than Dutch)

  21. Censoring WIPR Article About Censorship by EPO

    A testament to how terrified journalists have become when it comes to EPO coverage, to the point of deleting entire paragraphs

  22. Censorship at the EPO Escalates: Now We Have Threats to Sue Publishers

    Having already blocked Techrights, the EPO's management proceeds to further suppressions of speech, impeding its staff's access to independently-distributed information (neither ordinary staff nor management)

  23. Response to Bogus Accusations That EPO Staff Protests Are Really an Attempt to Derail UPC

    Common myths about staff protests in the European Patent Office (EPO) debunked, with some additional background and general perspective on recent events, the unitary patent (UPC) and so on

  24. New Heise Article Makes It Clear That 'Nazi'-Themed Accusations Against the Suspended Board Judge Were Insufficiently Substantiated

    The personal attacks on a judge who was illegally suspended (a so-called 'house ban') increasingly look like the management's own campaign of defamation, mostly intended to marginalise and punish a judge who spoke about serious charges against VP4 (Željko Topić)

  25. Links 24/11/2015: Asus Chromebit CS10, Second Linux 4.4 RC

    Links for the day

  26. European Central Bank Staff Committee Adds to Growing Pressure on Abusive EPO Management

    The staff representatives of the European Central Bank E-mail their colleagues -- with European Central Bank managers' approval -- regarding the European Patent Office and its attacks on staff unions

  27. Gross Violation of Workers' Rights in EPO: Denial of Christmas Vacation/Leave for Slower Workers

    A look at an E-mail from within the EPO which shows how Christmas is used to squeeze staff, urging them to work even faster (despite speed gains) or lose their Christmas leave

  28. The Bogus Narrative Floated by EPO Management: Our Judges and Examiners Are Armed and Violent

    A look at the union-busting and protest-crushing moves from high-level EPO managers, who are trying to convince politicians that they do so in an effort to stop terrorists and neo-Nazis

  29. Support SUEPO or End Up Like They and Some of the Boards Did

    SUEPO, the fast-growing staff union of the EPO, increasingly needs the support and protection offered by action and participation from staff

  30. NRC Handelsblad (Dutch Evening Newspaper) Speaks About EPO's Refusal to Accept Court Orders From The Hague

    Article explains the depths of the issues inside the EPO and the unacceptable immunity that management at the EPO continues to exploit, shaming or discrediting the very notion of the rule of law in Europe


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts