Internet Censorship: The Internet Is Under Attack?
According to many key sources of internet trends, the recent governmental seizure of control over the internet has been perceived as a threat to global freedom. The internet culture has flourished from what once was the domain of the knowledgeable few, to what is often called "Web 2.0"; user generated and driven content, shared and open to all interactively and easily. Nowadays, most people between their childhood and retirement age will spend time online regularly. They do so to catch up on the latest news, kill time watching funny videos of cats, keep in touch with long lost friends and relatives, etc... The list of activities people perform regularly online is pretty endless, as new applications of the internet are coming along every day. Some of the things people do online are currently illegal, in quite a few countries, and for years now the governments of those (often developed) countries have been trying to figure out how to enforce laws on the internet. From copyright infringement to "Indecent Pornography", it has been a game of cat and mouse, as technology on both sides is developed to outsmart the other.
We were all made aware of this arms race when sites like Napster and The Pirate Bay were legally challenged, when news of sting operations on paedophile and terrorist networks hit the papers. We were glad of our Government's action against those who would harm or way of life. Now however, it is our governments themselves who are threatening our way of life; in a new development in this arms race, we the people are being targeted with internet censorship.
The ACTA has been implemented in several "Freedom Loving" countries such as Australia, America, and now the United Kingdom has followed suit with the Digital Economy Bill (The DEBill is now The Digital Economy Act since it was pushed through parliament... shouldn't have dragged my feet writing this blog...). Now we have internet censorship, blacklisted websites and filtered content.
Internet Censorship: Spreading The Word!
So as far as I can tell, the internet is going to become more strictly controlled, surveilled, filtered and censored worldwide. Copyright piracy, inappropriate porn and terrorist communication are simply convenient distractions, so that dissent can be monitored and controlled. If any of the videos in the internet censorship playlist are removed, or if you can no longer gain access to this page then you will know that I was right.
Since the development of the internet, it has been used to express opinions and information freely with the rest of the world. Don't allow this tool to be used to gag and control you, speak out against this right infringement. Several organisations have interactivist campaigns you can join to let your voice be heard; The EFF, The ORG, 38 Degrees and of course Project Freeweb.
If we do nothing, we are in very real danger of losing access to the "real" internet like other less than free countries with more extreme levels of internet censorship ( an obvious example is the People's Republic of China (oh no, I guess that my site's blocked there now...)). Internet superstars such as Tim Berners Lee and John Perry Barlow have declared their opposition to internet censorship. Internet deity Google have spoken out against the global trend towards internet censorship measures and the state controlling the web. Google even released this handy tool to see how much your internet content is being filtered. We have to all stand together and say "No, we DO NOT WANT internet censorship, filtered content or our internet to be arbitrarily cut off!". Of course as with anything online, you have an overwhelming choice of mediums for interactivism to convey such a message!
As we all know, Microsoft have done their level best to completely distort the way you see the internet, for many years now. Their browser, Internet Explorer (a massive misnomer, as is not that great an explorer, it's the one that got lost on the way to the shops and was never heard from again as it couldn't understand the simple directions a kind stranger offered along the way!), is written into Windows in such a way that everybody who uses a Microsoft Windows OS will at some point in their lives have had to use it, if only to download a better browser.
The rare occasions I have used IE in the past have indeed been to download better browsers, such as Firefox. I have only been using the internet comprehensively for the last five years, and I have used IE for a combined total of less than five minutes. I originally used it to download Opera, a fantastic free browser with many cool features like multi-tab browsing, session restore, password saving and of course, it's more secure than IE!
I used Opera for several months of my first exploits on the net, it was fast, reliable and rarely crashed. I found out about other alternative browsers, reports were split on them all, except for Firefox. Here was a browser that all users seemed to get along with happily, with its wealth of built in features, great availability of extensions, security, plug-in availability, it was all thumbs up!
I downloaded the latest version Mozilla Firefox 1.0.2, and I never looked back, it was awesome. I enjoyed adding extensions and playing with themes for my shiny new Firefox, the community that sprang up around it to support its Open Source code are very quick to release updates for new versions too. I used Firefox exclusively for over four years, as part of a minority, a community of people who wanted a better browsing experience.
More recently it seems as though Firefox has crept into the lead in regards to browser popularity, so now we are in the majority! I'd love to say it's official and this is categorical evidence, but it's not. It is however indicative enough for me to want to write a blog on the subject, which I hope is enough to mark the occasion. I believe the most part of Firefox's recent conversion rate success is due to the fact it was endorsed so highly by Google, with their Google Toolbar, and Adwords campaigns. Also the fact it does so well in test such as The Acid tests for browsers. There was also of course "Download Day", to try and take the world record for the most downloads of a new release of software in a single day.
I have been trying out a new browser this last year, Google Chrome, it is remarkably simple to use though it's full of complicated components. Here is how the latest browsers stand up to rigorous testing! I have always been a big fan of Google and their ethos "Don't be evil", and it really shows through browser. I'm looking forward to the time when Google release their Chrome Operating System, that they've been talking about recently. I have been using Firefox as my back up browser though, because it very rarely lets me down!