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

04.02.09

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

2 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Gravatar

    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

    Gravatar

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 31/10/2014: Rubin Leaves Google, Neelie Kroes Ends EU Career

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO Is More Corrupt Under Battistelli Than Under Alison Brimelow: Part VIII

    After Brimelow, with all her flaws and her scandals, an even worse President is installed who then abolishes oversight and seemingly brings his old friends to the EPO, creating a sort of subculture that is impenetrable to outsiders



  3. Claiming That Microsoft 'Loves' Linux While Windows Update Bricks Devices With Linux

    The sheer absurdity of claims that Microsoft -- which not only attacks those who distribute Linux and GNU but also blackmails them, takes them to court, or bricks their products without any liability -- 'loves' Linux



  4. Protectionist Reign: Corporations in Complete Control of Everything With Domination Over Patent Law

    How multinational corporations, joined by the corporate press that they are funding, promote a corporations- but not people-friendly patent policy in north America



  5. Links 30/10/2014: GNOME 3.15.1, Red Hat Software Collections 1.2

    Links for the day



  6. Links 29/10/2014: Ubuntu Touch Tablet, Puppy Linux 6.0

    Links for the day



  7. Links 28/10/2014: SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, Canonical OpenStack Distro

    Links for the day



  8. Links 28/10/2014: PiFxOS, The Document Foundation in OSBA

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft is Bricking Devices With Linux (Yet Again!), So a Microsoft Booster Spins/Paints Linux Devices as 'Fakes'

    Microsoft delivers rogue drivers through Windows Update and they brick Arduino microcontrollers



  10. How Bill Gates Continues to Pass Wealth From the Public to His Own Bank Account

    Having put a universal tax on many things (not just computers) and evaded tax using the classic 'charity' trick, Gates is now buying the media, the schools, politicians etc. and earns as much as 10 billion dollars per year while the public is taught that Gates is a giver, not a hoarder of the worst kind



  11. Links 27/10/2014: Lenovo Unbundling, Linux 3.18 RC2

    Links for the day



  12. IRC Proceedings: September 14th, 2014 – October 25th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  13. Links 25/10/2014: KDE Mockups, Update on GNOME Outreach Program for Women

    Links for the day



  14. After Infecting Unity -- Successfully -- Microsoft's Partner Xamarin Wants to Infect Unreal Engine With .NET

    Xamarin continues to spread dependence on Microsoft to more gaming frameworks, not just platforms such as GNU/Linux, Android, and even permanent-state devices



  15. Taking Microsoft Windows Off the Grid for Damage to Businesses, the Internet, and Banking Systems

    Microsoft's insecure-by-design software is causing massive damages ([cref 27802 possibly trillions] of [cref 13992 dollars in damages to date]) and yet the corporate press does not ask the right questions, let alone suggest a ban on Microsoft software



  16. City of Berlin Does Not Abandon Free Software, It's Only Tax Authorities

    A Softpedia report that says the City of Berlin is moving to Microsoft Office is flawed and may be based on a poor translation



  17. Nadella a Liar in Chief at Microsoft, Pretending That His Anti-Competitive Practices Are Unfortunately Imposed on Microsoft

    The nastiness of Microsoft knows no bounds as even its assault on GNU/Linux and dirty tricks against Free software adoption are characterised as the fault of 'pirates'



  18. Reuters Writes About the Demise of Software Patents, But Focuses on 'Trolls' and Quotes Lawyers

    How the corporate media chooses to cover the invalidity of many software patents and the effect of that



  19. Links 24/10/2014: Microsoft Tax Axed in Italy, Google's Linux (ChromeOS/Android) Leader Promoted

    Links for the day



  20. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  21. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  22. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  23. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  24. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  25. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  26. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  27. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  28. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  29. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  30. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts