enemies-of-the-internet

Did you know that your internet access is under serious threat?

If you use the internet for work, study or pleasure, big changes are afoot. Not everyone is aware that our online freedom is being eroded every day.

Too dramatic? Read on and make up your own mind. Media coverage of the issues below has been patchy at best, so we’re bringing to your attention seven of the internet’s worst enemies – some you may already be aware of and some may come as a shock.

1) Theresa May, UK Home Secretary

Tuesday May 1st is “CC all your emails to Theresa May Day”. Why? Because the Home Secretary wants to pass a law that will mean every email we send will be stored in a huge database by the government. If you think this is an outrageous breach of privacy, check here on 1 May when her email address will be revealed. Copy it into the CC field every time you email someone. If she wants to read all of our emails, so be it!

How you can help: share the link with everyone you know and help create 24 hours of spam at the home office. It’s only a small step but the campaign could potentially generate media coverage if everyone takes part.

2) CISPA

CISPA stands for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. CISPA will give the US government a free pass to access any online interaction in the US, setting a precedent for the rest of the world’s governments to be able to access data about everything you look at online.

The US Center for Democracy and Technology said it was “disappointed that CISPA passed the House in such flawed form and under such a flawed process.” President Obama is also against it, however CISPA passed the first stage of government on 26 April.

How you can stop it: the next stage is for CISPA to go before the Senate. If you live in America, sign the petition against CISPA now. If you don’t, share this post with someone who does!

3) The European Union

Everyone knows it’s bad to double dip. If you’ve ever watched someone dunk a breadstick into some hummus, take a bite, and then smear the saliva coated end back into the pot and bite it again, you have pretty much witnessed what greedy bankers and governments have done to our economy. The UK is feeling pretty despondent right now with the news that we’re back in a recession, but there’s always hope for the digital marketplace, which is still doing pretty well for itself, right?

Wrong. On 26 May 2012, a law passed by the EU will come into force that will require site owners to get users to opt-in to every single piece of ‘cookie’ information stored by the website. The user needs to be informed of what the cookies the site employs are used for (including 3rd party cookies). This is completely unnecessary and will seriously hamper our enjoyment of the internet, because the only way to do this will be to use popups on every site. It is also predicted to cost businesses in the UK’s digital industry £10 billion.

4) Mobile

Turns out that if you love something, it’s bad to try and keep it in your pocket. By next year, more people will use mobile and tablet devices to access the net than real computers. You’d think that increased accessibility would be good for our beautiful internet – but unfortunately not.

Browsing on a mobile or tablet is a very different experience – devices are ‘tethered’, which means you can only see the internet through apps permitted by the manufacturer of your device. If this sets the standard, we could one day soon find ourselves without the ability to go ‘off-road’ online. Content is gradually getting skinnier: every time an article is put into app form and not online, we lose a whole load of information that once would have been available on a web page.

5) Facebook

Have you tried to read an article posted on Facebook and been forced to register for a spammy application? Facebook’s increasing role as a micro-internet feels safe and familiar to many users. However, to stay within the safe walls of the Facebook garden means you’re basically relying on a giant database to provide you with content. Facebook’s policies omit anything that it considers to be bad taste – a staff guidebook leaked to the public shows that “images of breastfeeding would be banned if nipples were exposed, but deep flesh wounds and crushed heads would be OK.”

6) Famous People

Back in February, we blogged about how celebrities and politicians have been trying to make Google remove objectionable material from the web. When ex Formula One boss Max Mosely got caught with his Langhosen round his ankles in a Nazi-themed orgy with prostitues, he campaigned against Google for not removing the video. When people are allowed to remove content from search engines, the flood gates are opened for a whole world of censorship.

7) The British Government (Again!)

Not just content with monitoring your emails, Her Majesty’s government also wants to keep tabs on everything you look at online. If you think this would only be bad for people who have something to hide, try writing down every web page you view in a week. Most people probably confide in the internet more than their own families.

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet, said that by monitoring someone’s online usage; “You get to know more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites … or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.”

To coin author Jonathan Zittrain; we need some angry nerds. There has been a lack of media coverage of these issues – if you feel uncomfortable reading this information, please help spread awareness by sharing this post and raising the alarm before it’s too late.

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