Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde has a new privacy-oriented startup. Today he launches the domain registration service Njalla, which offers site owners full anonymity, shielding them from the prying eyes of outsiders. “Think of us as your friendly drunk (but responsibly so) straw person that takes the blame for your expressions.”
On the better web Berners-Lee envisions, users control where their data is stored and how it’s accessed. For example, social networks would still run in the cloud. But you could store your data locally. Alternately, you could choose a different cloud server run by a company or community you trust. You might have different servers for different types of information—for health and fitness data, says—that is completely separate from the one you use for financial records.
Information is power, control, and supremacy.
Until recently the tools for mass communication were expensive and in the hands of a small number of gatekeepers. Then, the price rapidly fell towards zero. With the Internet and the World Wide Web (that just turned 25 years old) anyone can communicate with the world by words, pictures, sound, and video – 24/365 – on a shoestring budget.
Still, people need to know about you. So fame, reputation, and status are factors to take into consideration. But content, quality (in some sense) and virality is the new gold standard.
This has upset the people who used to be in power, like bigwig politicians. They used to have their press releases copy-pasted into the media news flow without too much hassle. Today they still are visible in the slowly dying mainstream media. But on the Internet, they have to compete for attention with everybody and everything else.
Also, media proprietors, the copyright industry and the big brick and mortar chains are upset – just to mention a few.
It could have been very different.
Tim Berners-Lee – who invented the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) together with his friends at W3C at Cern – decided not to patent this method of connecting the dots in the Matrix, but to give it to the world.
Alternatively, the Internet could have been in the hands of a few: Microsoft, Times Warner, Disney, Universal and some television conglomerates. It could have been compartmentalized with different protocols, specialized gadgets and used mainly to send information rather than allowing interaction.
Probably, there would also have been some sort of popular alternative run by enthusiasts – but it would have nothing like the impact of the WWW, where everybody interacts on the same platform.
Still, there are those who try to turn back time and change the outcome. This is the underlying context of the copyright war, the rationale behind political initiatives like ACTA, and an issue where Big Government and Big Business have coinciding interests.
At the same time, the Internet changes other markets like transportation and the hotel business. There is an emerging sharing economy. The Internet of things will change our lives in unforeseen ways.
The other side of the coin is that this technology might invade our privacy and be used for mass surveillance and political control.
This is a mix of spontaneous development (that politicians should keep away from) and some very political questions about privacy, data protection and the relation between citizens and the government.
A free and open Internet will provide endless possibilities and progress. And it will need Internet activism to stay free and open for all. That is, for instance, what this blog is all about.
The EU Commission is working on a new and updated legal framework for copyright. A draft has been leaked — and it raises some serious questions about what the EC is up to.
Most notably it covers “ancillary copyright”, a term used when it comes to Internet linking in relation to copyright.
From the beginning, this was about German and Spanish newspapers wanting Google to pay for linking to their material. This idea went down in flames, as Google stopped linking — and the publishers had to beg them to start linking again.
Now it seems that the EC is taking a new and broader approach to this issue.
The fear is that unless you have explicit permission to do so in every single case, linking to copyright-protected material (articles, pictures, video, sound) will become illegal.
This would be a fatal blow to the entire concept of a world wide web. Linking is the very neuronic system of the Internet. Having to ask for permission or seek among different sorts of licenses before you link could be extremely time-consuming and bureaucratic. People would rather refrain from linking all together.
One (of many) unintended consequences would be hampering the open, democratic debate online.
And old style media wouldn’t gain anything from it. Opposite, they would lose readers and clicks. (Like experience from Germany and Spain clearly demonstrate.)
The reasonable standpoint is that if you put something on the Internet, others should be allowed to link to it.
But that might not be the way the EC sees it.
• Ancillary Copyright 2.0: The European Commission is preparing a frontal attack on the hyperlink »
• Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda: EU Preparing ‘Frontal Attack On The Hyperlink’ »
• Leaked Draft Reveals EU Anti-Piracy Enforcement Plan »
“Today EFF is pleased to announce Let’s Encrypt, a new certificate authority (CA) initiative that we have put together with Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, Identrust, and researchers at the University of Michigan that aims to clear the remaining roadblocks to transition the Web from HTTP to HTTPS.”
More information at EFF: Launching in 2015 – A Certificate Authority to Encrypt the Entire Web »