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Ian Clarke and Freenet in the Crosshairs

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the the-changing-of-the-times dept.

493

EMIce writes "John Markoff of the New York Times writes of Ian, "Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared. ... Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes." Wasn't freenet originally about dissent? Mr. Markoff appears to be re-writing a history that he probably only knows through a handful of lexis-nexis searches." Update: 08/01 18:32 GMT by T : Ian Clarke wrote to point out his comment posted to the story which lays out the actual subject of his Defcon talk.

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Heh... (-1, Flamebait)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214534)

I think he's also in favor of Child Porn being "Free Speech". Or is that up for review also?

I'll have to see.

Re:Heh... (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214594)

Hm. Back to the old "Political Dissent" angle.

Yeah.

Re:Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214652)

That may indeed be up for review. For before we decide whether Child Porn is free speech, we have to decide what CP is. Anyone under 18 engaging in sexual activity? Does that activity include kissing? Hugging? Fondling? Dancing?

Is a picture of a naked child CP? How about a topless 17 year old? How about a girl in a wet t-shirt?

There is some material that is obviously easy to classify as CP. However, there is a great deal of matter that is questionable. Considering the penalties and hysteria involved, the question of CP as free speech may not be as easy to answer as you think.

Notable quote (3, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214542)

"The classic use for Freenet would be for a group of political dissidents in China, or even in the United States."

Yeah.

Because the United States and China are so similar when it comes to oppressing free speech and jailing political dissidents. It's clearly impossible in the US to criticize the government, or even have imagery of the president with a bullet hole in his head on the tob banner of your web site [immortal-technique.com] .

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

(Note: traveling to Afghanistan, training in Taliban camps, and planning to blow up buildings in downtown Chicago with radiological dirty bombs is not "free speech".)

If you're looking for trampling of free speech, you needn't look to the government; you need only look no further than our own academic institutions [thefire.org] .

Re:Notable quote (3, Funny)

HyperChicken (794660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214622)

You can't oppose US bashing here -- This is Slashdot!

Re:Notable quote (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowdog (154277) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214633)

>If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

Your post is very dismissive, on the basis that free speech is decently protected in the US. But I think one goal of Freenet is to protect the anonymity and privacy of information providers that use it. Free speech by itself does not do that.

Re:Notable quote (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214720)

Its worth pointing out here for people who don't understand what "free speech" means in the context of the Constitution that the First Amendment does not protect you from the consequences of your speech, nor does it guarantee you or anyone an outlet for your speech.

It also does not prohibit private organizations from suppresing speech they disagree with on their privately owned forums, which means that the editors of Slashdot are well within their rights to delete posts such as this for no other reason then they dislike my use of run-on sentences.

Re:Notable quote (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214905)

You're right that the First Amendment protects only your ability to speak and publish whatever you want. Of course it therefore does protect you from some consequences: if your speech is met with execution by the police, it's hardly protected by the government. Speech can not be responded to with actions that stop the speech. It can be met with opposing speech - which is exactly the only way to really stop unwanted speech: countering their argument.

You're wrong about the scope of the First Amendment. The Constitution does not instruct merely the Federal government in its acceptable actions. The Constitution is based on the realization that governments are a product of the people, created by us to protect the rights we have. The right to free speech, like any other right, is not some narrow, situational privilege. It's an essential part of our humanity. Whether the government or a private entity infringes those rights, they're being infringed. And it's the government's purpose to protect them from infringement. So the government is required to stop private parties from infringing those rights.

There is, however, the competing right for people to be secure in our private places (Fourth Amendment). So I am free to exclude people from places I control, like a blog/discussion. However, we have learned from our centuries of democracy that exclusion of people from private places on basis of race, gender, ethnicity etc are detrimental to our free society. Rights can be abused. It's important to keep the reality of the human events foremost in mind, and the legal model that we use to manage those events secondary, in the service of the human events.

Re:Notable quote (0)

benjcurry (754899) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214647)

I think some of Mr. Karl Rove's actions might qualify.

Re:Notable quote (1)

donleyp (745680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214696)

Unsubstantiated accusations and innuendo do not constitute valid logical argument. If you have some examples why not list them, with references, instead of just repeating the "Big Lie" that liberals have been spewing for the last five years?

How do you get your DNC talking points delivered? FAX? E-Mail? Tin-foil hat?

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214782)

OK, forget Karl Rove, since right now it's just an allegation. All the proof is in the article that was printed in the paper: SOMEONE in the administration worked with a newspaper article-writer to print a CIA agent's name in the news.

You can deny it all you want but I can go to the library and pull the damn thing up on microfiche.

FOX NEWS of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214799)

oh, wait thats your source. I beg your pardon.

Re:Notable quote (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214902)

Freedom of speech is irrelevant without the education to wield it properly. The current state of U.S. education kind of makes overt opression kind of irrelevant, too. His post illustrates that nicely. Maybe the Freenet will give dissident a kind of standing off where they can avoid all the static out there.

Re:Notable quote (1, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214651)

Arguably, free speech is best protected by getting tools like this out in the wild before they're needed.

The refusal of the secret service to allow demonstrations anywhere near the president ( "free speech zones" ) and the recent raids on server farms hosting indymedia websites could be described as state-sponsored restrictions of free speech.

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214685)

Not just near the president, near anyone who is somehow related to politics: Free speech zones at DNC [vulnwatch.org] , for example.

Re:Notable quote (4, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214964)

You know, things like that used to piss me off. Then someone laid it out for me.

If you have a group, say the Republicans, trying to have a meeting. Then another group, say PETA, wants to protest. The city says that PETA can have a protest, but it must be a few blocks away from the Republicans.

What right to peacibly assemble has been infringed?

None.

The guys at PETA want to disrupt the Republican's right to assemble. Not the other way around. By seperating the groups, everyone can assemble and no one has their rights removed; either by the government or by each other.

Now, you can be an anarchast and claim that anyone should be able to assemble at anytime, but that'd just lead to chaos. The Republicans would be trying to talk while the PETA guys are yelling. The PETA guys would get their asses stomped by the Republican rednecks. Someone would kill a dog or eat a steak just for show. It'd be terrible.

Seperating the groups does not mean that anyone's right to speech has been removed.

Echelon and the Patriot Act (4, Interesting)

iendedi (687301) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214661)

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.
Here you go: Patriot Act [loc.gov] ... More on the Patriot Act [epic.org]

Truth is, the U.S. is probably locked down a bit tighter than China these days. Does China have one of these [fas.org] ? Through Echelon and the Patriot act, you can say the wrong thing and have nice black suits show up within 24 hours to take you away without a warrant, hold you indefinitely without a trial and completely ignore any constitutionaly protected rights you think you might have.

That is America today and some people are not so happy about it. People like Ian are sticking their necks out and being good Americans. You aren't trying to tell us he's not a PATRIOT are you?

Re:Echelon and the Patriot Act (3, Informative)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214793)

How do you justify your comments? You claim the USA PATRIOT Act abridges Constitutionally protected free speech. Where is the "no free speech" part of the USA PATRIOT Act? Really, where? There are 3 parts to the act:
  1) The USA Act - extending on FISA as a set of restictions on Federal investigations.
  2) A set of money laundering laws to trap international funds used by terrorists.
  3) A set of awards to victims of terrorism.

You claim that saying the wrong thing can have you taken away without a warrant. How? Are you claiming that FISC warrants do not count as warrants? Perhaps you want a phone call with 24 hour notice before any police action is ever taken so that criminals have plenty of time to handle any personal matters before the cops show up.

You claim you may be held indefinitely without trial. I assume you are referring to Guantanamo Bay. Did it ever occur to you that there are no citizens of the United States being held there? Since when does our Constitution apply to citizens of other countries? Since when does it apply to POW's?

Basically, you have painted a completely malformed picture of the United States that may easily be used as fuel for those who hate the United States. You are free to do so. Nobody is going to arrest you. Nobody is going to search your library records. How is that not free speech?

Re:Echelon and the Patriot Act (1)

timster (32400) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214958)

Hi! The word "citizen" does appear in the Constitution, mostly regarding eligibility for elected office, but not in the Bill of Rights.

The Constitutional restrictions apply to all actions of the Constitutional government, no matter where it is operating.

Re:Echelon and the Patriot Act (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214963)

Wait, what?

Since when does our Constitution apply to citizens of other countries?

Select parts of the constitution only apply to citizens. Otherwise, everyone is entitled to the rights specified in the constitution (right to trial by jury, court appointed lawyer, etc.) The constitution is not merely a document defining the powers of the government, but a document on human rights that ALL PEOPE ARE ENTITLED TO. Hell, it took the country another 150+ years to fully realize it.

Since when does it apply to POW's?
Wait, I thought they weren't POWs but Unlawful Combatants. At least that's what Dubya's saying so they don't get coverage under the Geneva convention. Which means they're criminals arrested by the US and thus subject to the laws regarding our legal system.

Nobody is going to search your library records.
We don't know this, now do we? Nor can we know since they can't legally speak about such incidents!

The only one who's painting a malformed picture is you, tainted with a rosy color.

Re:Notable quote (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214673)

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it. search CNN my friend I can give plenty of examples when the US government violated privacy. The biggest one is the phone tapping power the DoD seems to have. Terrorism happens, and no matter what one tries to do, as unfortunate as it may sound, the terrorists are determined enough that they will find a loophole. We should be spending our time not eavesdropping on our muslim neighbor's conversations (I know it happens. Dont tell me it doesnt) and fix up our crime issues, get rid of drunk driving, among other things. Free speech and privacy are violated all the time in this country in order to "secure our country" from some vague and obscure threat.

Re:Notable quote (1)

donleyp (745680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214735)

He specifically asked for violations of the 1st Ammendment (free speech). Privacy is protected by the ... oh wait ... there is no ammendment protecting privacy. Maybe you're referring to the 4th ammendment? The one about unreasonable search and seizure. I'll agree with that, but your post as an argument against the original poster's premise is terminally flawed because you are not even talking about the same legal principles.

Re:Notable quote (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214771)

I know ;) I told him to search CNN for it. However, other posts mentioned the patriot act, which is a huge example.

Fallacious arguments (1)

donleyp (745680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214873)

Unless you can point to a specific clause in the Patriot Act that abridges free speech and violates the first ammendment, I must reiterate my assertion that you are using a fallacious argument and confusing two distinct constitutional principles.

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214779)

He was asking a poor question then, Political Dissidents in the USA, while their free speech is protected, still have need for something to protect their privacy.

Amendment protecting bad spelling. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214956)

Spell three times: "amendment", "amendment", "amendment".

Re:Notable quote (1)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214896)

The task was to find "actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech." You claim that "CNN... can give plenty of examples when teh US government violated privacy."

I'm sorry, but free speech and privacy are two different issues. Can you say that the government sucks? Can you flat out lie and claim that you shot up heroin with Bush last weekend? Can you make a movie in a juvenile attempt to make everyone believe the government is out to get them? Of course. We have free speech.

As for privacy, I did search CNN. I did find articles where a person claimed that they had their privacy violated. In the end, a judge decided that their privacy was not violated. I'm sure I'll find a real one if I look hard enough, but that doesn't mean that we don't have free speech.

Re:Notable quote (1)

MathFox (686808) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214678)

Managing a website can cause you a significant headache in the USA: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/01/10/18 5236 [slashdot.org] . Luckily, in the end :things worked out nicely for the webmaster this time http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/10/23 55201 [slashdot.org] , but how many days did this guy spend in jail innocently?

Re:Notable quote (2, Funny)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214682)

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

Don't be so naive. The USA PATRIOT Act has to abridge our free speech. Why? Because everyone says it does. I know, there are those who have put time into reading it and know that it limits the power of the FBI and CIA, but they don't count. We're in the age of blogs. True or not, I'm believing whatever a nerd with a computer tells me to believe because I want to be a cool nonconformist just like all the other cool nonconformists.

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214684)

FIRE is a bunch of bullcrap. I attend UMass, and know/have met many people involved with the entire incident that brought FIRE to our campus.

When someone who is known to be racist, to have made racist comments, and to actively discriminate draws a picture of himself as a KKK grand wizard, it is not really a joke, it may be an attempt at humor, but it is not _just_ a joke, ha ha, we are really very welcoming, etc.

Yet suddenly FIRE comes over saying that this persons first ammendment right is trammpled. He was kicked out of office for the above action, which, was committed in a school governemnt office. He was not booted for the exact content of what he said, but for 2 reasons:
1. As a public front for a political organization, you should not make statements that reflect poorly on the organization as a whole. If you do make statements, then prepare to face the outcry.

2. He and other students were engaged in drinking alcoholic beverages when the pictures of the offense were taken. Alcohol is not allowed in the school offices, plus several of the students pictured consuming alcohol were 21. Oops, gee big surprise that you get fired.

Nothing to do with free speech, everything to do with acting like an idiot.

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214691)

Just because we cannot legally be prevented or jailed for such speach, doesn't mean we have no reason to want to be anonymous. Someone with a political career could destroy it by publically making unpopular comments. And even non-politicians could draw unwanted reactions from coworkers or management. Perhaps someone truly dedicated to a cause should be willing to live with these troubles, but those somewhat less committed may want to use such a service.

Re:Notable quote (4, Informative)

kschawel (823163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214694)

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

Alien and Sedition Acts [wikipedia.org] , specifically the Sedition Acts. From wikipeida:

The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against government or government officials.

I think that qualifies.

Re:Notable quote (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214839)

This act long ago expired in 1802. I imagine that the grandparent poster meant something a little more recent. :-)

Re:Notable quote (3, Insightful)

Rolan (20257) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214851)

The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against government or government officials.

None of which are forms of speech protected by the Constitution.

Re:Notable quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214908)

Both scandalous and malicious are protected.

Scandalous == Watergate.

Malicious == illegitimate lovechild brought up as political dirt.

Re:Notable quote (1)

Puk (80503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214926)

How's that for circular logic? If the law was held constitutional, then it wasn't constitutionally protected free speech. Or, if you're not just worried about the legislative branch, then spraying protesters with hoses and/or tear gas is fine, since if it happens, either the beatdown was legal, or the speech wasn't constitutionally protected.

This is why Freenet is useful. Even if, right now, speech is doing pretty well in the U.S., it wasn't always and won't necessarily always be. Not to mention that people might be chilled from speaking for plenty of reasons other than overt legal threats -- both in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Re:Notable quote (2, Informative)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214875)

The Acts were all repealed or expired by 1802, and ultimately contributed to the Federalists' loss in the election of 1800.
I think you are a little out of date.

Re:Notable quote (2, Funny)

youknowmewell (754551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214913)

Quick, get Thomas Jefferson on the phone! John Adams has killed free speech! Our freedoms are being trampled while big corporations get bigger and richer and more powerful! This is a heinous crime against humanity and it must be stopped!

The US is going down the tubes, the book 1784 was right! It was just 14 years late...

Re:Notable quote (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214919)

So, these acts are still in effect, then?

Good to know.

...

I think I should have perhaps said "currently", or even "remotely recently".

Neocon whining (1)

Knome_fan (898727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214706)

Wow, how did I know that I'd be treated to a post like the parents after reading the article...

First off, he did in no way compare the US and China. All he did was state the obvious (from his point of view anyway), that a technology like freenet can protect free speech wherever necessary.

Now I think we would all agree that it is necessary in China, but how saying that it would also protect free speech in the US, when and if necessary can be constructed to mean US==China is beyond me.
You'll probably have to be a neocon ideologue getting your worldview from far right wing websites like the one the parent link to, to "misunderstand" the quoted sentence in this way.

And btw., maybe you should read up on some US history. A google search for McCarthy or J. Edgar Hoover might provide you with some clues.

Re:Notable quote (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214724)

It's clearly impossible in the US to criticize the government

That depends. Is your wife a CIA agent?

Re:Notable quote (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214819)

That depends. Is your wife a CIA agent?

If she were, apparently she'd either directly or indirectly approve trips to Africa for me, her husband, to disprove what she would call "crazy reports" of Iraq trying to buy uranium from Africa. Which it actually did do [washingtonpost.com] [1], by the way.

[1] "According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998."

Re:Notable quote (2, Informative)

interiot (50685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214725)

If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.
That's easy. The constitution and the federal and state laws have many many rules. Some of them are in conflict. It's not always clear which of the rules in conflict trumps the other. When there's some disagreement about which one should win, some people have legitimate room to say that the first amendment is being overruled. Our speech isn't being "trampled" per-se, but it is being limited, and some of the limits may seem kind of silly in some cases.

Re:Notable quote (1)

digitalrevolution (904258) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214804)

Lawyers and Politicians confuse things, not the Constitution. I don't think your ancestors were confused about what they wre fighting for when he defended the constitution.

Re:Notable quote (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214865)

It's worth noting that it is nearly always legally actionable whenever someone utters/prints an untruth that relates to another person or organization in any sort of demi-public forum. Fraud, Libel, and Slander cover a hell of a lot of ground.

Like a lot of things in the constitution, your right to protected free speech ends when it starts hurting other people/organizations/multinational corporations etc.

Re:Notable quote (2, Interesting)

pohl (872) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214755)

Your request f or a "provable" example betrays how naive you are. There is no way that the suppression of free speech by the government would be so overt in such a politically savvy nation. If you want to look for suppression of speech, look for those things surrounded by the protective shield of plausible deniability, such as the Plame affair [wikipedia.org] . Or look for subtle forms of coercion, such as denying "access to the president" to reporters that stray from the pattern of lobbing softball questions in press conferences. Or look to suppression by corporate proxy of people who lose their jobs for being critical of the president during an election. Or look for the the goverment leveraging the fear of terrorism to abridge the right to assemble in protest of world trade conferences.

Re:Notable quote (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214768)

Somtimes [phxnews.com] the government just destroys your wife's career, blowing the CIA front company and any operations or sources she may have been involved with, past or present, if they don't like what you write in the papers.

Re:Notable quote (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214788)

Although the United States is probably the best country for protections of the freedom of speech, the US government does regularly suppress speech.

Take Miller vs. California, 1973. Activist supreme court ruled that any obscene speech is not to be protected and that the government may censor it.

Oddly, in the same breath, you also reference a site which documents infringements of freedom of speech in public institutions: those funded and sanctioned by the government? Aren't they infringing freedom of speech as agents of the government in these cases? How else could you infringe freedom of speech unless you were an agent of the government?

Re:Notable quote (1)

hahiss (696716) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214796)

(Note: traveling to Afghanistan, training in Taliban camps, and planning to blow up buildings in downtown Chicago with radiological dirty bombs is not "free speech".)

Well, okay, sure; since none of those actually are speech acts anyway, I'm game. Of course, I hope you'll agree that the government shouldn't arrest people who travel to Afghanistan or those who train in para-military camps of any sort. (That would be freedom of association rather than speech.)

But, since you're looking for examples of the US squashing dissent, you ought to look up the FBI's COINTELPRO (COunter INtelligence PROgram) of the 20th century. Basically, they infiltrated and destroyed dissent groups---including several attempts to undermine the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr.

And rather than ask slashdot for examples, maybe you could use google. Thanks.

Re:Notable quote (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214797)

How about Bush excluding people who haven't drunk his neocon koolaid from his Social Security rallies? Which are government operations, not just the campaign events he turns them into. "Not as bad as China" is not an acceptable standard for my country's freedom.

Re:Notable quote (1)

pohl (872) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214878)

"Not as bad as China" is not an acceptable standard for my country's freedom.

Well put!

Re:Notable quote (1)

nuffle (540687) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214966)

"Not as bad as China" is not an acceptable standard for my country's freedom.

Agreed. I cannot understand how people justify some of the United States' actions by saying "Well, it's a lot better here than (China, Iraq, Russia, whatever)". Is Gitmo a gulag? No. Does that make it ok? Not even close. The United States I love isn't just the best country in the world, it's far and away the best country in the world. Lately, it's been sinking down to pretty good.

I criticize my country because I love it.

Re:Notable quote (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214806)

I'd argue the following are provable examples of the U.S. government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech:

1. DMCA protection of algorithims used in commercial DRM encryption code.

Information here: http://www.legal.wao.com/decss.html [wao.com]

Computer code is copyrightable. In that sense, it is equivalent to speech; the government should not be able to arbitrarily repress it. However, the code for DeCSS, which does not violate either patent or copyright restrictions, is, according to the DMCA, illegal to reproduce or posses, since it is a circumvention mechanism. This is strange, since the DeCSS code is merely speech, you can reproduce it verbally, as a set of sentances describing it out loud, or on a teeshirt, in a few lines or perl code. This is odd; arguably, anything that is copyrightable *is* constitutionally protected speech.

There are more examples of this kind of nonsense here: http://www.chillingeffects.org/ [chillingeffects.org]

This is stuff that according to copyright qualifies as speech; why isn't it protected by the 1st amendment? It's not copyrighted by the media cartels or by inventors; this is new, original, non-patent-encumbered code.

2. You make exceptions for 'terrorist' subjects, but how far does this extend? Should all court cases regarding terrorists have absolutely no public record?
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p01s02-usju.htm l [csmonitor.com]
I find this appaling. We need more transparency, not secrecy. I find it *very* difficult to believe that these minor cases contained such earth shattering material regarding national security that the public can never know what happened. If anyone 'leaked' anything that occured at these hearings, you can damn well bet they'd be thrown away for good.

Even the defendant, who is unable to explain to anyone, including family members, just why they are in jail. What the heck?

The U.S., as a whole, has enough strength to give up some advantages to the 'terrorists' regarding secrecy. I'm not asking for terror-speach to be permitted. But it disturbs me when the government conducts all its operations in secrecy.

Re:Notable quote (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214811)

Are you kidding?

Is it still free speech when you have to go to a "free speech zone" [amconmag.com] to do it? That is absolutely restricting people's freedom of speech and freedom to peaceably assemble. "Provably". Admit it.

The only difference between the current US administration and Mubarak [canoe.ca] is that Mubarak hasn't yet figured out what's tasteful and what's not. Arresting Immortal Technique for making a cartoon of GW with a bullet in his head wouldn't look very good. You stop the demonstrators before they get to the demonstration. You don't arrest your political oponents, you just make sure the contested election is decided by a political body that swings your way. And no, I'm not trying to say that the Democrats are above this.

P.S. In order to trample free speech, it has to be the government. Your link is partisan PR.

Re:Notable quote (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214959)

Does unlimited free speech and movement trump the safety of elected officials/dignitaries/world leaders/etc.?

I say, no, it doesn't.

You know damned well that there are some people in those groups who want to do more than just talk.

And note you say "peaceably" assemble. Some of these assemblies are hardly peaceable, and claiming the police always incite any unrest is a copout, and false somewhere from some to most of the time.

Re:Notable quote (3, Interesting)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214821)

(Note: traveling to Afghanistan, training in Taliban camps, and planning to blow up buildings in downtown Chicago with radiological dirty bombs is not "free speech".)

Ah, you refer, I presume, to Jose Padilla? Good. I've been wanting to ask some questions of someone so well-informed on the matter.

  • What justifies the administration holding him completely incommunicado - without any communication with family, friends, or a lawyer? (C.f. the Fifth Amendment.)
  • If he is, in fact, guilty of a crime, when may we expect the trial? (C.f. the Sixth Amendment.)
  • What assurance does any other U.S. citizen have that they may not be designated 'enemy combatants' and similarly 'disappeared'?

Note: he may well be guilty. The administration may well have evidence to that effect. I hope that is the case, as the idea that they would just imprison a guy for three years with no evidence is even scarier.

But if they have evidence to justify such an imprisonment, then what possible excuse can there be for not putting him on trial with it?

Re:Notable quote (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214898)

But if they have evidence to justify such an imprisonment, then what possible excuse can there be for not putting him on trial with it?

That's likely just it: the evidence is manifestly circumstantial, and might not result in the type of punishment sought, or indeed, even a conviction.

It's not against the law to go to Afghanistan and train in terrorist training camps.

It's not against the law to suddenly convert to radical Islam.

While he might have been planning on blowing up buildings in Chicago with radiological dirty bombs, what proof do we have that he would have followed through?

These are all reasonable assertions.

But the more important question is, when does the US, under the auspices of the military, have the power to seize persons who may be intending to cause direct significant harm to the US, but have not yet caused said harm, and may indeed even be US citizens?

If the answer is "never", we may be in philosophical disagreement here.

Re:Notable quote (1)

Shaper_pmp (825142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214837)

"Because the United States and China are so similar when it comes to oppressing free speech and jailing political dissidents."

Give it ten more years of a fundamentalist republican-dominated government, and another successful bid by the next Neocon-backed Bush replacement (and hey, Arnie after him, right?), and I think you'll find the trend unmissable.

"It's clearly impossible in the US to criticize the government, or even have imagery of the president with a bullet hole in his head on the tob banner of your web site."

Yeah, you can have your token meaningless protests (but don't think they haven't been noted at some point by the Secret Service or FBI), but the current regime in the US has a far sneakier advantage than that - an institutionally corrupt government process, the facility for well-off special interest groups to effectively purchase their very own laws and control of a broad swathe of the mainstream media have lead to a situation where the large majority of Americans seemingly just don't care any more. There appears to be the perception that it doesn't matter which puppet you vote for - it's still the same bunch of rich white guys with their hand up his ass.

Why go to the trouble of "disappearing" someone and risking making them a martyr when you can just keep Joe Public fat 'n' stupid enough that he won't bother to lever his ass out the couch to go marching even when the (attempted, brief) revolution comes?

"If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it."

Oh FFS. How about Phil Zimmerman's prosecution for exporting "munitions" without a licence? Or the unprecendented-in-the-West restrictions on what scientists in many disciplines are allowed to discuss with their international colleagues?

Granted, these aren't as serious as stringing you up by your toenails for calling the president "stupid", but then the long slide towards totalitarianism very rarely happens all in one go. And what are the extra provisions in the PATRIOT Act (supposed to be short-term and temporary, now voted into permanence) if not a concerted attack on the Constitution?

"If you're looking for trampling of free speech, you needn't look to the government; you need only look no further than our own academic institutions."

Yeah, universities have been known to trample free speech. But you know what?

1. That's got nothing to do with the complaint about the government, and
2. Universities are private organisations. They can do what they like with their students. In return, students can choose to flock to a given institution or can choose to avoid them like the plague. Try avoiding the US government without emigrating. Try comparison shopping for governments.

Executive Sumamry:

The US's slide towards totalitarianism has begun, and it'll take positive action to turn the trend around. Indifference wil lonly accelerate the process.

Claiming that any small group within the US practices totalitarian behaviour is no excuse for the government to do the same, especially when it's like comparing apples and oranges. Totalitarianism's always bad, but "someone else is doing it" is a pathetic excuse.

Re:Notable quote (1)

donleyp (745680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214962)

When you start sputtering "fundamentalist republican" this and "neocon" that, you make it obvious that you're not up for serious, logical argument.

I'll ask you the same question I asked another poster: How do you get your DNC talking points delivered? Did your tin-foil hat start buzzing and order you to post on /.?

Just a few off the top of my head. (5, Informative)

Irvu (248207) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214895)

At the DNC and RNC conventions protestors (even licenced ones) were either a) moved to fenced-in areas well away from the conventions or (in the case of the RNC conventions blocked off and arrested non-violent marchers (with permits) (see here [2600.com] ). I'd consider these pretty unambiguous attacks on "the rights of people to peacably assemble and petition their government for a redress of greivances." !st Amendement to the Constitution of the United States [cornell.edu] .

In other notes we have violations of due process in the case of Jose Padilla and other U.S. Citizens. For example Article III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed." Which requires jury trials for those accused not secret military tribunals. Amendments V and VI also speak to this subject:

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.



And before you jump on the point I would point out that the Military Tiribunals are not being convened against members of the U.S. Military ('
In service in war or in time of public danger') so that clause of Amendment V doesn't give carte Blanche for them.

On another note both the USAPATRIOT act and various federal laws dealing with drugs routinely allow for the unwarranted search and seizure of private property in some cases such property is not returned even when no conviction takes place. This would be (IMHO) a violation of Amendment IV of the constitution which states:

Amendment IV


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


While we're on the topic of drugs. Excessive punishments and jail times have routinely been employed in this area noteably including California's 3-strikes policy which leads to life in prison even for 3 minor crimes (any 3 frauds including possession). Agasin in my opinion this would be a severe issue with Amendment VIII:

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


As a key point I would also mention this amendment:


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Which one should keep in mind when attempting to limit the scope of "our freedoms".

I'm certain that there's a few other examples that might be argued such as COINTELPRO under which the FBI disrupted and harrassed Civil Rights and Anti-War groups during the 1960's and 70's. (see here [icdc.com] ) Many of the restirctions that were put in place (e.g. use of FBI informants/undercover agents to investigate/infiltrate groups that were not accused of any crimes) have been recently rolled back in the name of the "War on Terror".

Re:Notable quote (1)

B11 (894359) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214900)

Because we know the Feds are using the Patriot Act to spy ONLY on Terrorists (as they define terrrorists). We can trust that the government won't spy on, or harrass dissendents or people that otherwise disagree with it.

By that logic, we should all allow the Feds to read our email and listen to our phone conversations. I mean the only people with something to hide our terrorists. Am I right?

Just because our government is not as oppressive as China does not mean we shouldn't be wary of their actions and always be diligently protecting our rights.

Right (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214951)

Because if America is superior to China, a still-stalinist-in-many-ways entity that probably qualifies as the most successful fascist nation in the world, then Americans don't need extralegal protections on their freedom of speech?

Wait, no. That's silly. There's a massive gray area between "Stalinist China" and "free", and anyway, America being superior to China now says nothing about the future. One would think that strengthening our guarantee to freedom of speech through technical as well as legal means could only be a good thing.

In the meantime, the government is far from the only entity which "political dissidents", as your quote puts it, might have to fear; any number of private or corporate entities, or persons, might be fully capable of in some way retaliating against some individual for exercising their speech, and in such circumstances the individual would generally have no legal recourse to first amendment rights.

Except, oh wait, it appears you feel that way already:

If you're looking for trampling of free speech, you needn't look to the government; you need only look no further than our own academic institutions. [thefire.org]

Oh, wait, never mind. And here I thought you were actually trying to discuss freenet, or the article. Nope, it looks like you're just trying to create a straw man by implying that the article means to speak of "dissidents" as only needing to fear the government, all so that you can tear it down by plugging a right-wing organization which exists to demonize academic institutions just for getting all huffy when people speak out against minorities. Which all may well be a suitible or potentially interesting topic for discussion, but seems almost entirely offtopic for this article.

But in answer to your question, it seems examples abound where exercising free speech in public results in negative and undesirable attention from the government, thus making it fair to say that yes, freenet might be in some circumstances a useful tool for avoiding such things. [slashdot.org] I provide that link simply because it was the most recent example in a story on, well, slashdot.

bits want to be free (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214558)

fund the arts with an income tax. first post?

Mitnick Exploitation Guy? (4, Informative)

ponds (728911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214559)

Don't we already know John Markoff's tactics all too well?

Re:Mitnick Exploitation Guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214714)

Re-writing history is certainly something reporter John Markoff is expert at.

Just switch it off (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214560)


it's obvious the Internet is more hassle than its worth, perhaps we should just swicth it off, sell all those routers and put the whole thing down to a "bad idea"

it seems all this "freedom" is way too much hassle, even for so-called civilisied countries with all these Hackers/Phishers/Worms/Spyware/Trojans/Spammers/Te rrorists are just going to use it to kill our family and destroy the world

switch it off

Re:Just switch it off (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214592)

They're crackers dumbass, not hackers.

Re:Just switch it off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214833)

No. That's a thin dry biscuit. A hacker is somemone who breaks into computers.

Definition is typically defined by use. Most people mean person who breaks into computer systems when they say "hacker"

Re:Just switch it off (2, Funny)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214609)

It's too late for that, the internet is designed to not being able to be shut down...

The Internet is kind of like Terri Schiavo. (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214645)

Both were once young, vibrant, and full of potential. Then there was a turning point in their lives. They became dumb, bloated, and shells of their former selves. After a long-fought battle, it was finally time to pull the plug. The post-mortem autopsy would reveal that the damage was irreversible and no amount of therapy would have helped.

Re:Just switch it off (2, Funny)

Knome_fan (898727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214786)

Didn't you learn anything here?

In order for /. mods to understand sarcasm, you'll have to clearly mark your comments as being sarcastic.

That way, at least some of them will understand what you are trying to say.

So please, the next time around, put [sarcasm] tags around your post, followed by a short disclaimer that your post is indeed intended to be sarcastic and maybe add a link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm [wikipedia.org] for good measure.

Hope this helps.

The writeup for this article is confusing (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214590)

Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes." Wasn't freenet originally about dissent?

Isn't that exactly what protecting dissent is? A very common definition of the word is someone who disagrees with the reigning government in their country. So I don't see this sudden change of motive that is being implied here.

Re:The writeup for this article is confusing (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214681)


The writeup isn't confusing...the article itself is, and purposefully so.

From TFA:
While Freenet attracted wide attention as a potentially disruptive force when he introduced it in 2000, it proved more difficult to use than file-sharing programs like Grokster and Napster, and did not achieve the impact that he envisioned.

Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes.
In the second sentence, Mr. Markoff insinuated that the original purpose of Freenet wasn't to protect political opponents of repressive regimes, when in fact Freenet's stated purpose was always, and still is, to combat censorship.

In other words, Mr Markoff is intentionally distorting established history for his own ends, but given his history, that's not too surprising.

John Markoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214605)

John Markoff writes an innuendo-laden attack piece on someone who created a piece of security-related software and thinly disguises it as "news". ...and you're surprised?

Don't help Markoff (1)

Phantasmo (586700) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214634)

John Markoff is a hack who will write anything that will get him published. Now that Mitnick's out he's trying to find a new source of revenue - that means attacking anyone operating "in the grey."
Remember in Takedown when Mitnick beat up Shimomura? I'll bet that we'll be seeing a best-selling novel by Markoff in which Clarke is a heroin-dealing child pornographer. Just give it time.

Re:Don't help Markoff (1)

shareme (897587) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214943)

Lets clear the air.. Kevin admitied certain direct acts in his legal conviction.. Those same exacts were described verbatim in the book takedown.. Now do y9ou have some proof any untruths?

So anyone.. (1)

Idealius (688975) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214637)

..actually get this thing to work?

Last few times I tried it I could never get it to REALLY connect, just spurts, an image here, an image there.

Re:So anyone.. (2, Informative)

g0tai (625459) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214697)

Freenet's not really something you can just start up like eMule or BitTorrent (exeem, azureus(spelt) etc), but it is designed from an 'always on' perspective... If you left it on for at least a couple of days and allowed it to get to know other (reliable) nodes, you would notice it is considerably faster when the network is in a working state..... Even though it does have a sort of 'load and go non-permanenet' mode, it does take ages to get it to do sod all. Have patience, and if you've not got any of that ;) then join the mailing list and complain! :)

Usenet: first and last p2p network (4, Interesting)

donleyp (745680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214643)

They talked about Usenet in the article. The fact is that Usenet news is still very much alive and there are tons of copyrighted material floating around on it. There's also lots of legitimately published stuff too. Does anyone know of any efforts by RIAA and others to shut it down? ISP's have been carrying the alt.binaries.* groups for as long as I can remember. Have there been any legal challenges to that?

Re:Usenet: first and last p2p network (1)

team99parody (880782) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214702)

Usenet may still be alive, but it's less and less P2P and more centralized every year. As evidence, for you Usenet feed which peer's too you connect to; and is the usenet data you provide to peers fo a similar scale as the data you recieve from peers?

If you answer is "I get my usenet feeds from one of the large commercial suppliers; and I send my usenet data to no-one" it's really not P2P anymore.

I think it would be really cool to join or set up more traditionally P2P amateur usenet though (with small enough newsgroups that can be handled by a DSL line). If anyone knows of such a project I'd be quite interested in joining.

Re:Usenet: first and last p2p network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214917)

No need for such a project. Text-only Usenet is still very decentralized. It's the binaries that have become the exclusive domain of commercial providers. This has happened for a simple reason: the decline of Usenet's popularity coupled with the ever increasing requirements for maintaining a full Usenet service. Most ISPs simply gave up when the total feed grew above 1TB/day.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about the commercial providers. As long as they comply with DMCA takedown notices, they're safe.

A Problem Freenet Faces (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214660)

A problem Freenet faces is highlighted by the Scientology debate -- and I don't mean if Tom Cruise is right for Katie Holmes.

In order to accurately discuss Scientology you need access to documents they claim are copyrighted and sell only at extornist prices. Open informed discussion brings lawsuits.

Yet free speech via Freenet brings charges that it is just a method used to violate copyrights.

How do you reconcile these two, divergent views?

On religious texts and copyright (2, Interesting)

GORDOOM (149962) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214859)

(voluntary disclosure: I am a practicing Catholic in full communion with the see of Peter, and a Canadian citizen)

I've actually thought about this a bit myself - partly about the Scientology problem, partly about the fact that copyright law makes it essentially impossible to post complete, up-to-date copies of Catholic liturgical texts and such online. I would be inclined to suggest the following:

Any "official" sacred writing or liturgical text of any religious group, or any translation thereof, is automatically in the public domain.
(From a Catholic context, this would include Scripture itself, the contexts of the "official" liturgical books - the Missal, the Breviary, the Ritual, etc. - and other similar materials published by the Church herself, possibly including the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For other religious entities, I don't know enough about the details to comment in an informed manner.)

Now, this would in many ways solve the whole Scientology problem. If they are a religious group, then all these texts they're trying to protect would be public-domain, and so they couldn't suppress public dissemination and discussion of them using copyright law. If they insist on protecting these texts under copyright, then they're no longer a religious entity, but a business, and that opens them up to government legislation.

Freenet's unavoidable accusations (4, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214672)

Whenever freenet pops up in any discussion, there are two points discussed.

* Child porn
* Political propoganda

These are two of the untouchable evils that are used to condemn Freenet. The rest of the world really doesn't see the point of an organized data store distributed accross machines based on constancy of use.

After all, political dissidents are an essential measure of the health of a country. One with too little or too much of those indicate either fascism or anarchy. Democracy essentially says that the minorities shall not get what they want (ie the minority is defined as people who voted for something other than the majority) - it should technically have some disgruntled citizens. If you believe otherwise, please stop buying more shiny things.

Anyway, like I like to say "Technology is a sword, both sides use and misuse it". And the essential sarcastic comment about "Freenet can be used for terrorist communications".

As opposed to... (1)

shadowmatter (734276) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214692)

Mr. Markoff appears to be re-writing a history that he probably only knows through a handful of lexis-nexis searches.

Slashdotters, in turn, appear to comment on the story they probably only know through reading the headline or the submitted blurb.

- shadowmatter

"cause" and "effect" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214709)

""John Markoff of the New York Times writes of Ian, "Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government"

So anyone have any anecdotal examples of were Freenet has actually helped any Dissidents?

Re:"cause" and "effect" (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214716)


"So anyone have any anecdotal examples of were Freenet has actually helped any Dissidents?"

That's a tough one, since the absence of evidence is the entire point of the system.

Re:"cause" and "effect" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214850)

The most visible movement is the weird "Freenet-china" [freenet-china.org] , which is actually a code fork made some years ago. I have no idea if it tracks the current code or what.

The devs have said that they are a bit insane though, since current Freenet has known weaknesses in that if it is illegal to run a node in the first place it isn't too hard to find them (e.g. the current protocol can be detected by layer 7 filters) given a well funded adversary. Hence the darknet stuff coming in 0.7, and later probably some steganography. It is not really ready for use yet in a truly hostile regime like China. Perhaps they think it's the best thing they have for the time being.

Godless P2P. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214904)

So basically we have to take it on faith that Freenet is being used by Dissidents then?

Obvious? (2, Informative)

globalar (669767) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214746)

This article doesn't seem to be about Clark. What Markoff appears to be saying is that the struggle corporations have with "protecting" copyrighted material is similar to the challenges repressive governments face with censorship. Tools such as Freenet challenge both. Advocates like Clark typically find themselves disagreeing with corporations and governments. Communication technology and individual liberty makes no distinction between information. /.'s should already know this well.

Fundamental problems (2, Interesting)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214753)

If you're going to let anyone onto the network, you may be letting undercover government agents onto the network.

If you're going to transmit data from point A to point B, points A and B have to know something that makes the other unique among all possible points.

If you're going to make the network 100% anonymous and available, it'll get blocked by administrators afraid it will be abused, like Tor.

How long until the courts squish it? (3, Interesting)

UninvitedCompany (709936) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214770)

I wonder whether the courts will continue their strategy of balancing 1st amendment rights and copyright protection. Though the Grokster ruling was a big win for the RIAA and Hollywood, it left P2P intact as a legitimate technology, with the betamax-like reasoning that it has noninfringing uses.

When freenet becomes common enough, government and industry will have to resort to Old Fashioned Police work, trying to trick file sharers into trusting them, then exploiting that trust in an investigation. I have no doubt that we will see that for highly objectionable content, such as child porn and terrorist communications. It won't be worth it for infringement cases, though.

The real question is whether the courts will be bold enough to make the technology unlawful based on the widespread criminal uses that are sure to develop. Stay tuned.

Full Article Text (1)

confuted (865791) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214795)

Article Text follows to avoid registering:

New File-Sharing Techniques Are Likely to Test Court Decision

By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: August 1, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, July 31 - Briefly buoyed by their Supreme Court victory on file sharing, Hollywood and the recording industry are on the verge of confronting more technically sophisticated opponents.

At a computer security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, an Irish software designer described a new version of a peer-to-peer file-sharing system that he says will make it easier to share digital information anonymously and make detection by corporations and governments far more difficult.

Others have described similar efforts to build a so-called darknet that aims to shield the identities of those sharing information. The issue is complicated by the fact that the small group of technologists designing the new systems say their goal is to create tools to circumvent censorship and political repression - not to abet copyright violation.

Such a stand is certain to test the impact of the Supreme Court ruling in June against Grokster and StreamCast Networks, publishers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software, a number of legal specialists and industry executives said. The court ruled unanimously that the publishers could be held liable for the copyright infringement that their software enabled in the sharing of pirated movies and music.

The Irish programmer, Ian Clarke, is a 28-year-old free-speech advocate who five years ago introduced a software system called Freenet that was intended to make it impossible for governments and corporations to restrict the flow of any kind of digital information. The system initially used a secure approach to routing between users and employed encryption to protect the information from eavesdroppers who were not part of the network.

Unlike today's open peer-to-peer networks, the new systems like Mr. Clarke's use software code to connect individuals who trust one another. He said he would begin distributing the new version of his program within a few months, making it possible for groups of users to establish secured networks - available only to them and those they choose to include - through which any kind of digital information can be exchanged.

Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared.

Mr. Clarke lives in Edinburgh and is employed by a music recommendation site, www.indy.tv. While Freenet attracted wide attention as a potentially disruptive force when he introduced it in 2000, it proved more difficult to use than file-sharing programs like Grokster and Napster, and did not achieve the impact that he envisioned.

Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes.

"The classic use for Freenet would be for a group of political dissidents in China, or even in the United States," he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. But he acknowledged that the software would also surely be used to circumvent copyright restrictions, adding, "It's an inevitable consequence of our design."

Industry executives acknowledge that even with their Supreme Court victory, peer-to-peer technology will continue to be a factor in illicit online trading.

"Everyone understands that P-to-P technology is, and will remain, an important part of the online landscape," said Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America. "But the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in the Grokster case will help ensure that business models won't be based on the active encouragement of infringement on P-to-P or other networks."

Initiatives like Freenet are certain to complicate industry and government efforts to restrict the digital sharing of proprietary data.

To join a darknet, a potential user must be trusted by one of the existing members. Thus such networks grow as part of a "web of trust," and are far more restricted than open systems.

In June, Ross Anderson, a prominent computer-security researcher who was a pioneer in developing early peer-to-peer networks, published a technical paper detailing how it was possible to resist industry attempts to disable such networks.

He also published a second paper trying to anticipate the market reaction to curbs on file sharing like the Grokster ruling. The paper, "The Economics of Censorship Resistance," predicts the emergence of closed networks like the new Freenet, as well as "fan clubs" focused on specific digital content, which would be more difficult for the industry to combat.

Mr. Anderson, who traces peer-to-peer networks back to an ad hoc networking system called Usenet pioneered over telephone lines in 1979, said his research group was collaborating with computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a next-generation peer-to-peer network, to be unveiled in a few months. Like Freenet, it is designed to be impervious to censorship and to permit secure communications in potentially hostile environments.

He said that his own early development work in peer-to-peer networks, known as the Eternity Service, had been inspired by a legal battle between the Church of Scientology and Penet, an Internet operation based in Finland that was known as an anonymous remailer.

In that case, an Internet user was using the remailer to post church documents anonymously on online bulletin boards.

"I had not the slightest idea back in 1996 that music would be an application," he said. "I was motivated by the Penet case and by the fear that some of the freedom we'd got from Gutenberg's invention of cheap printing might be lost."

Legal skirmishes over anonymous peer-to-peer networks have already taken place in both Europe and Asia.

In Japan last year, Isamu Kaneko, the developer of a file-sharing program called WinNY, was arrested after two users of the program were charged with sharing copyrighted material through the system. The Kaneko case is pending.

After Mr. Kaneko's arrest, development of the system was continued under the name Share by an anonymous programmer, according to information posted on the Web.

Share uses encryption to hide the identities of users and the material that is being exchanged, in the manner of the new Freenet that Mr. Clarke described.

On a separate front, the recording industry has sued users of Blubster, a peer-to-peer network designed by Pablo Soto, a Spanish programmer, who built privacy features into his system.

Currently Freenet is being developed by a group of five or six volunteer programmers and a single full-time employee who is paid by donations that Mr. Clarke has obtained.

He said that despite concerns that tools such as Freenet might be used by clandestine organizations intent on political violence, Mr. Clarke said he believed that the benefits of such anonymous means of communications outweighed potential harm.

"I think things like terrorism are the result of the absence of communication," he said.

He acknowledged that his system would not be infallible, bu neither would it be as transparent as popular peer-to-peer systems like Grokster and Gnutella.

Open file-sharing networks like Gnutella can be joined simply by obtaining a software program. The program connects a user to the file-sharing network and allows the user to publish content.

Computer researchers say that the term "anonymous peer-to-peer," when applied to darknets, is actually a misnomer, because the networks must exist in the open Internet and thus must have identifiable addresses where they can be contacted by other nodes of the network.

As the legal consequences for file sharing become clearer, there will be a proliferation of systems with features similar to Freenet, according to a range of industry specialists. In Silicon Valley, start-up companies like Imeem and Grouper are already making it possible to create groups to share digital information.

"Darknets are going to be with us," said J. D. Lasica, author of "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation" (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). "Serious file traders have been gravitating toward them. There is just this culture of freedom that people feel they're entitled to, and they don't want anyone looking over their shoulders."

Is John Markoff a nym for another NYT columnist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214828)

Hmm, another disingenous, intellectually dishonest NYT columnist with the intials JM (Judith Miller). What a surprise.

Blah blah blah... (0, Troll)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214892)

...piracy is bad. Middle men (RIAA/MPAA) are good. If you believe in file sharing then you are completely opposed to copyright and probably a communist. It's all crap if you ask me.

The way I see it, (and the people who originally drew up the concept of copyright), a copyright should protect the rights of the person who CREATED the work. Not the assumed rights of the distributors. Not the guy making millions while doing nothing. If it's a song, then the people involved in the actual act of composing, performing, producing and recording the piece should be covered by copyright. Not the corporation.

(Note: the following statements do not apply 100% across the board, but they do apply in the majority of cases) The problem with our society is that we have a surplus population of useless morons who have no ability to actually do anything productive. They are the "middle men". All they do is insert themselves into the middle of a transaction and do everything they can to make it seem like they have value. But they don't. For example, take the long distance business. We used to have a system that "just worked". It was called the Bell Telephone Company. Yes, it was a monopoly. But, the level of service provided was world class. Then the great American terrorist Ronald Reagan, broke up the monopoly and created the hellball we have today. All in the name of "competition". So what do we wind up with twenty some years later? We have a handful of really big, greedy corporations who provide shitty service.

Where's the competition? Oh yeah... that's right. I almost forgot about all the "mom-n-pop" long distance RESELLING outifts. They offer you long distance at various rates differing by only a few cents here or there. And they provide even shittier service because a lot of times their tehnical people are complete bumpkin morons. (Where I work, we have a nickname for AllTel in Southern-Ohio: Fred's Phone and Feed Service [in case you can't tell, I hate country folk]) We actually had one of their "technicians" attempt to test a T1 line with a butt set. So all of these small long distance services RESELLING you long distance that they bought in bulk from the big greedy corporations offer what exactly? Their long distance service sucks. Their technical expertise sucks. And for the quality of service, their prices suck. The situation is even worse with cell phones. Just think about how many shitty places there are to buy your cell phone service from with how many millions of plans. That's NOT helpful.

So... back to the whole file sharing concept and copyright. The RIAA and the MPAA are the useless middlemen in this whole fiasco. They have realized just how irrelevant they could become if the artists took the power of distribution into their own hands. The only way to preserve their stranglehold on the business it to outlaw the technology that could get the artists wider exposure without help from the RIAA or MPAA. So they focus on the piracy instead of working to make a system that actually works for them and accepting that they may have a smaller role in the future. They want it all. But in all of this, copyright has been twisted in order to protect the "rights" of a corporation. The artists get shit upon. In most cases musicians don't get to keep a lot of the money they make because they wind up paying it back into their record label for supporting them. It's an ugly and scammy system that's basically run by thugs. They are corporate rats that are pretty much a mafia that needs to be rubbed out. All this bullshit about P2P folks not believeing in copyright is total smoke and mirrors. Copyright in it's original form was fine. As it stands right now, it's terribly broken since it protects the people who need the least protection and ensures that the original artists don't get much unless they tow the party line. It's fucked.

Interesting assertion... (4, Insightful)

Linus Torvaalds (876626) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214910)

...shame the facts don't agree with it.

From the Wayback Machine archive of May 2000 [archive.org] :

Freenet is a peer-to-peer network designed to allow the distribution of information over the Internet in an efficient manner, without fear of censorship.

Another page from the Wayback Machine [archive.org] :

Freenet implements free speech, nothing more. It won't encourage or enable criminal behavior that wouldn't have happened without it, and it might actually help us better understand and deal with criminals. While our hope is that people under oppressive governments can use Freenet to describe their plight without retribution, it is also possible for a terrorist to publish on Freenet why he chose to bomb a building or hijack a plane.

Freenet's political goal isn't revisionist history. Implying that it's intended for copyright infringement is.

In Sweden... (1)

Psionicist (561330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214931)

This reminds me of a news broadcast in Sweden a year ago or so about - you guessed it - child pornography. They interviewed a guy at a children's rights organization and he particularly mentioned Freenet, he called it "an open door for pedophiles" and continued with some inane ramblings about how ISP's must monitor all traffic for greater good (tm). This also reminds me of http://news.com.com/Congress+threatens+P2P+network s+on+porn/2100-1028_3-5809223.html?tag=nefd.top [com.com] When will these people realize guns don't kill people, you can actually use a road for speeding, a scissor is a pontetial murder weapon and (gasp) in real life, in cities, people kill, murder and rape. Lets ban outdoors - think of the children!

Markoff Chain of Fools (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13214937)

How about the part where the RIAA spokesperson honestly refers to the Grokster decision as prohibiting only "active encouragement to abuse", while Markoff pretends that the Court decided that "enabling copyright infringement" is prohibited? Markoff's boundary is much more restrictive, which prohibits all kinds of legitimate transactions, than the actual law. He's always shilling for the corporate interest, from his New York Times soapbox.

He's planting a corporate flag in the conventional media wisdom of what people can do online. How many people will fear to exercise our actual rights, because they bought into Markoff's lies?

gToat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214938)

has steadil%y

An honest question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13214990)

Can anybody actually FIND an example of Freenet being used for political reasons (i.e. dissidence)? I've heard child porn is rampant (just what I've heard, that's the ticket) but I've NEVER heard of a single instance of it being used as (supposedly) intended.
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