Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interesting times ahead

I found a very intelligent article about the SOPA failure and the Megaupload arrests and want to share parts of it here with you. The 'What's Next?' section is the most interesting part, because it raises important, valid questions about the future of the internet and those who depend on it for their livelihood.

Enjoy. [Edited for brevity]

Last week Megaupload, the most popular file sharing site on the Internet, was shut down, and the owners arrested, in raids across many countries, seizing computers, etc. Megaupload itself was already involved in several lawsuits with Hollywood companies. The people behind the site taunted the authorities. A lot of Anonymous members took this as their own personal battle, but in the end this battle won’t end up mattering much.

Back story: Megaupload was established in 2005, in Hong Kong, and had grown to become the biggest file sharing site on the web, with over 50 million daily visitors, and 180 million registered users. Of perhaps more interest, they charged a monthly fee for premium use. The owner, Kim Dotcom and other employees, made millions. They were living in luxury, thanks to the Megaupload success and this matters.

According to lawsuits filed by the US Justice Department, among other agencies, Megaupload’s main purpose was to conduct illegal activities, promoted the fact that they were hosting a lot of pirated content and rewarded users who uploaded lots of content. There were emails between employees showing that they knew full well that their servers were filled with illegal content. There were logs that indicate the users who were rewarded on the sites were picked because of the large amount of ripped movies they would upload. Getting behind this battle might be a lost cause.

Picking your battles

The government isn’t going after innocent websites as part of a misguided seizure. That would be gross misconduct. They aren’t going after some random business owner who was mistakenly targeted. They’re going after people who allegedly built an empire on crime, knew what they were doing, and profited financially. Money laundering is why raids were conducted by many countries and why arrests were made.

What followed was a mass retaliation from Anonymous. Sites were brought down, including the FBI, the RIAA, MPAA, and more, in protest to the arrests and the closure of Megaupload. This will not likely have any political effect. The raid on Megaupload was not because of the failure of SOPA. A case involving International actions around the world doesn’t get planned in less than a few months, sometimes years.

What’s next?

The US Feds do have way too much power and discretion as to how they apply the law on websites, especially foreign ones. SOPA and PIPA may be dead, but similar laws will emerge in the coming years. In the meantime, interesting developments evolve: Following the Megaupload closure, Uploaded.to which is another file sharing site based in Europe, decided to block all US internet addresses from using its service. This sends a much more powerful message.

Just think what would happen if suddenly the US internet user community found itself blocked from thousands of sites around the world. Blocked because the US passed laws that are so ridiculous, no one outside the country is interested in taking any risk dealing with it anymore. What if small business owners inside the US decided to start their new online projects using servers, email systems, online office suites, and so on, all based in other countries, because they don’t want to risk having biased agencies spying on them or controlling them? What if suddenly, the US cyber landscape starts emptying itself, with large chunks of data moving to other countries? When actual jobs start disappearing, and innovation moves offshore, because a few Hollywood monopolies always get their way in Washington, politicians will notice. This is what will make things move, not having the MPAA or the CIA site being down for a day or two.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kim Dotcom LOL

Dotcom great Chinese name