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. Munich Press, Münchner Merkur, Slams the Munich-based EPO

    Pressure on Benoît Battistelli to leave (or be fired) grows as the cronies whom he filled his office with have become a huge public embarrassment to the decades-old European Patent Office



  2. The Shameless Campaign to Paint/Portray Free Software as Inherently Insecure, Using Brands, Logos, and Excessive, Selective Press Coverage

    Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software



  3. National Insecurity and Blackmail, Courtesy of Microsoft

    British members of parliament (MPs) outsourced their communication to the number one PRISM company and they are paying the price for it; The US Navy's systems continue to be unbelievably insecure (Windows XP), despite access to the world's biggest nuclear arsenal



  4. Microsoft Keeps Shrinking

    As the era of shrink-wrapped software comes to an end so does Microsoft, whose effort to become a 'cloud' company with online operations has been miserable at best



  5. They 'R' Coming: More Microsoft Money for the Linux Foundation

    The problem with having Microsoft in a Linux Foundation initiative, the R Consortium



  6. Speculations About the EPO's Possible Role in DDOS Attacks

    Readers' views on who might be behind the attacks on this site amid confirmation that it's on the 'targets' list of the EPO



  7. Links 30/6/2015: Linux Mint 17.2, OpenMandriva

    Links for the day



  8. Techrights Confirmed as a Target of EPO Surveillance, With Help From Control Risks Group (CRG)

    Unveiling the cloak of secrecy from long-term surveillance by the European Patent Office (EPO) and a London-based mercenary it hired, bypassing the law



  9. Google's Fight to Keep APIs Free is Lost, Let's Hope Google Continues Fighting

    SCOTUS refuses to rule that APIs cannot be considered copyright-'protected', despite common sense and despite Java (which the case is about) being Free/libre software



  10. Patent Trolls in the Post-Alice World

    A round-up of news about patent trolls in the United States, some of whom are are doing well and some of them not as well



  11. DDOS Attacks Against Techrights

    Information about some of the most recent DDOS attacks against this Web site and the steps to be taken next



  12. The Patent System Not What it Used to be, Large Corporations and Patent Lawyers the Principal Beneficiaries

    A look at some recent patent stories and what can be deduced from them, based on statistics and trends



  13. After Intervention by the Council of Europe Comes a Detailed Summary of the Situation in the European Patent Office (EPO)





  14. IRC Proceedings: May 31st - June 27th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  15. Links 28/6/2015: Manjaro Linux Cinnamon 0.8.13, VectorLinux 7.1

    Links for the day



  16. Williamson v. Citrix Online (at CAFC) Reinforces Alice v. CLS Bank (at SCOTUS) in Crushing Software Patents

    More patent news from the United States, again serving to indicate that software patents over there are getting weak (harder to defend in court or acquire from the patent office)



  17. Proskauer Rose LLP is Cherry-Picking Cases to Make Software Patents Seem Eligible Despite Alice v. CLS Bank

    Naming and shaming those who are trying to reshape the consensus despite a rather consistent pattern of software patents being rejected



  18. IAM Biased: How IAM 'Magazine' Glorifies Patent Stockpiling

    A look at the bias of one of the most overzealous sites for and by patent lawyers



  19. PATENT Act No Longer in the News... and That's Just Fine

    Putting the PATENT Act aside for the time being, for it has little or no impact on the really problematic patents



  20. The Latest Lies From Microsoft's PR Apparatus/Public Face, Mr. Nadella

    Having spread the outrageous lie that “Microsoft loves Linux” (whilst obviously attacking it in many ways), Microsoft's CEO (essentially Bill Gates' right-hand man) says Microsoft is “one of the biggest contributors to Linux kernel” (because of proprietary software it tries to contaminate it with while violating the terms of the GPL)



  21. Microsoft Jack (Schofield) Promotes Microsoft's Proprietary Lock-in and Calls People Who Recommend Free/Libre Software 'Trolls'

    Jack Schofield, writing for a Bill Gates-funded paper despite claiming to have retired, promotes Microsoft Office and insults all those readers who do not agree with him



  22. The Council of Europe Slams the EPO as Political Pressure Grows for EPO Management to Obey the Law

    Battistelli et al. come under yet more fire as politicians -- many of whom from Battistelli's home country -- become better informed of the EPO's management fiasco, abuses, and scandals



  23. Operating Systems Usage Based on Technical Site Statistics

    ome numbers to show what goes on in sites that do not share information about their visitors (unlike Windows-centric sites which target non-technical audiences)



  24. Links 27/6/2015: Wine 1.7.46, SparkyLinux 4.0

    Links for the day



  25. Proprietary Software on Top of Proprietary Software (AV on Windows) Only an Illusion of Security

    Remarks on the recent revelations about code and communication interceptions targeting insecurity firms and Microsoft's claim that 'transparency' alone would be enough to assure security



  26. The EPO's Circus of Nepotism, Corporatism and Gross Abuse is Promoting the Unitary Patent

    The shameful management of the EPO, which Benoît Battistelli constructed based on his nefarious self-serving agenda, keeps pushing forth in a direction that greatly harms European citizens while mistreating the EPO's technical staff (scientists and examiners)



  27. Links 26/6/2015: Ardour 4.1, GNOME 3.17.3 Released

    Links for the day



  28. An Estimated 1,000 EPO Staff in Munich Demonstrated Against EPO Management Yesterday Afternoon

    Earliest coverage of yesterday's protest against EPO corruption and abuses



  29. Microsoft Windows So Insecure That Even Fonts Are Remotely Exploitable

    Windows userbase is once again under serious threat and high risk because something as simple as fonts (rendering of text/pixels on the screen) isn't done securely in Windows



  30. Microsoft is 'Buying' the Media Ahead of Vista 10 Launch

    Signs serve to indicate that Microsoft is already tightening its grip on technology news sites, ensuring that they give Microsoft disproportionate levels of coverage


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