Black March is coming…

black march

I’m a musician and DJ, I help to run a record label and have been involved in running live music events, promoting independent music and writing about it online for many years – I love music and the people that make it, but I don’t have much love for the music ‘industry’. Like most big business entertainment, the music biz leeches off the hard working and the talented, makes huge profits and routinely fucks over both the artist and the consumer.

Have a look at this link if you are still in any doubt about who this parasitic behemoth really benefits. It aint the musician.

These are the people that are lobbying governments worldwide to monitor online content, censor and remove websites they don’t like, and they support the introduction of draconian litigation such as the now infamous SOPA, PIPA and PCIPA bills, to defend their industry.

While I completely support the musician’s right to earn a living from their craft, clamping down on internet freedom is not the way to defend it. A free internet is vital for a free world. If governments and corporations have increased powers over internet content that freedom is threatened. The web is the most powerful tool we have for self-expression, inducing social change and for the dissemination of great art and music. We cannot allow these people to take that away from us.

This is why I support the Black March campaign.

Content Blocked

From the 1st of March 2012 to the 31st, we ask you not to buy any music, DVDs, computer games or books – don’t even torrent a song! Wait till the 1st of April and buy it then. No one will actually lose any money, but the visible dent in their profit margins for the first quarter will send a powerful message to the corporations and organisations that wish to push these online censorship measures. We can stop this going through. Wikipedia and others going dark last month, and the attacks by Anonymous have already made policy makers hesitate. If music consumers join the fray, they will have another powerful enemy. Vote with your wallet and support Black March – boycott the music industry next month.

Some of my friends have expressed concerns that this campaign will somehow hurt small labels and record stores, who of course have nothing to do with lobbying for increased control of internet content. My answer to this dilemma is very straightforward. Buy the music you would have bought in March now. And spend more again in April. Of course you should support the small businesses and record labels you respect. This isn’t about them. This about sending a message to the industry as a whole, the big distributors, the fat cats and to governments around the world. We will not tolerate internet censorship in any form.

If you care about online freedom, please get involved in this campaign. If you wish to see a fairer music industry, buy music directly from the artists and from small record shops. Fuck Universal. Fuck Disney. Fuck News Corporation. Fuck Sony Music Entertainment. Support freedom and creativity.

Sorry for the rant peeps! If you’ve read this far I salute you. Peace out.

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On Thin Ice

David Attenborough's Frozen Planet

I recently read online that the final episode of David Attenborough’s latest epic, Frozen Planet, would not be shown in the US or China due to it’s apparently “controversial” angle on climate change.

On Thin Ice says nothing we haven’t already heard a million times about the polar icecaps melting – but it tells the story with amazing pictures of global warming’s effects on these regions, a calm and concerned narrative by Attenborough, and a lot of incontrovertible evidence. This was too much for some it would seem.

The BBC defended it’s decision to sell the series to 30 countries as a six-parter, with the 7th episode missing – stating that this was due to a difference in style rather than content (bullshit).

The good news is that Discovery Channel has backtracked under public pressure, and has now decided to show On Thin Ice on the US network, after a Change.org petition gathered 84,000 signatures complaining about this apparent censorship. Discovery Channel denies that the petition had any influence on their decision (more bullshit).

The episode itself is awesome. I watched it last night on BBC iPlayer and it is the best in the series in my opinion. It should still be available there to watch for viewers in the UK. Check it out

Save the Internet!

save internet
The internet is the most powerful tool for true democracy humankind has ever possessed. It allows people to communicate, collaborate, mobilise, express themselves, publish their own work and undermine “the construct” in myriad unforeseen ways. The Internet has changed our planet and how we perceive it and it has changed what we believe is possible. International borders and social boundaries are rendered permeable. Information is now free. The floodgates are wide open! Would the Arab Spring Revolutions have happened so quickly (if at all) without social networks? Would the global Occupy Movement ever have got off the ground without Twitter and Livestream?

Corporations and governments see this as a threat to their system, as capitalism teeters in the balance, such “digital anarchy” can no longer be tolerated. Their fightback begins as the worst bill in internet history is about to become law.

More information

PROTECT IP (S. 968)/SOPA (HR. 3261) creates the first system for Internet censorship – this bill has sweeping provisions that give the government and corporations leeway and legal cover for taking down sites “by accident,” mistakenly, or for NOT doing “enough” to protect the interests of Hollywood. These bills that are moving very quickly through Congress and can pass before Christmas aim to give the US government and corporations the ability to block sites over infringing links posted by their users and give ISPs the release to take any means to block peoples’ sites, including slowing down your connection. That’s right, some say this bill is a workaround to net neutrality and is bigger than net neutrality.

We need to fight to keep the internet free from top-down control. Fight for our right to freedom of speech. Fight for YouTube and WordPress and for WikiLeaks. Fight for Red Eye! 😉

If you wish to express your dismay at these draconian plans, the US congress is currently debating this bill… let them know we aint happy. Sign the Avaaz petition below

“As concerned global citizens, we call on on you to stand for a free and open Internet and vote both against the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. The Internet is a crucial tool for people around the world to exchange ideas and work collectively to build the world we all want. We urge you to show true global leadership and do all you can to protect this basic pillar of our democracies worldwide.”

SIGN

Wikileaks vs. the banks

Uploaded by thejuicemedia on Jul 1, 2011
The banking blockade on WikiLeaks: not only is it illegal under current trade laws, it goes against the fundamental principles of freemarket capitalism. Another sign that the game is rigged?

Facebook Censorship- A Frightening Development

Big-Brother-Facebook
This week, during the royal wedding, 50 facebook groups have been shut down, all of them left-wing and anti-cuts groups. Perhaps not surprising, but certainly very frightening, this is one of many actions the current government has taken to repress its enemies and whistle-blowers. Facebook, it seems right to conclude, is no longer safe for activists. Perhaps it never really was.

I was suspicious of facebook initially. Reluctant to create an internet alter-ego, and wary of the information already present even in more traditional free email websites such as hotmail. I am the kind of person who deletes all her emails as she goes, and also the kind of person who is faced with sudden bouts of internet paranoia, especially when intoxicated- What if they are tracking me? What if they ‘know’. Of course, when I sober up, I remind myself I am neither a terrorist or a trafficker- and so not of enough interest to warrent that kind of financial investment… But even in the cold light of day, I am uneasy of a website through which any random acquaintance (or any random person if you are one of those incomprehensible people who feel no need for privacy settings) can see where I am going, who I am in a relationship with, and what I am into.

Still, despite my reservations, eventually I too was dragged into this weird world, this hazy extraneous self, my profile created by an insistent friend. She was appalled that I had not joined, and seemingly obsessed with this website. Her and her house-mates would sit in their separate rooms, not talking, but facebooking each other. I was actually astounded by this at the time, but now think nothing of doing it myself. More then any other website, facebook has begun to reflect and extend my conciousness. It serves as a map of my personality and opinions, my main method of communication, and an occasional massage for my self esteem.  I still worry about privacy and do all I can to keep it exclusive, but Facebook, I have since argued, is primarily a Good Thing. In an age when many feel a loss of the sense of community, Facebook allows you to see the village within the urban sprawl, connecting you with people and allowing you to map your relationships with others. I am hooked, and many others are with me, to the sense of community, the sharing of information, and the platform it gives for discussion. It politicizes people, it allows you to form groups and raise awareness, to express what you care about- and even to start or spread a movement. It used to be that I would tell a few friends about a protest I was attending, now I tell everyone I know, in the hope that as many as possible will be inspired to attend.

The power of the social network to turn these unstructured public debates into real, positive action was illustrated poignantly by the recent revolution in Egypt. Even the most apolitical of us could not fail to be moved by such an event. What a show of humanity’s unbreakable will, a blow for the downtrodden. A beacon of hope for those giving up on change. The megalomaniac ruling right, who had of course supported this repressive and, for them, economically viable regime, struggled in their tangles of lies, exposed as unarguably amoral and self-serving for anybody still unconvinced. This motivating event has changed the psychology of a generation for whom revolution resided mainly in the history books. The first televised revolution, the first true revolution of the new millennium, and it would have been far more difficult without social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Arguably sparked when the first of many activists, a 26 year-old woman, named Asmaa Mahfouz, wrote on Facebook: “People, I am going to Tahrir Square”, this was truly an uprising facilitated by the modern age. The message was to promote a movement which eventually led to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Groups such as ‘We are All Kaled Said’, ‘Operation Egypt’, and others led the rallying cries that were crucial to the revolution, mobilising huge amounts of people, reaching unprecedented amounts of protesters in an intelligent way, with discussion and pictures, and calls to contact those without internet by mobile and word of mouth. During the period of unrest, the regime cut off the internet connection for the entire country in an attempt to counteract the uprising.

The slow, queasy, shameful reaction of our own western repressive regimes was enraging to say the least. But they were taking notice. And they are now set to prevent anything akin to this from happening in the west.

The 50 facebook groups blocked included many anti-cuts protest groups, such as Bristol Uk uncut, No Cuts, chesterfield Stopthecuts, BigSociety Leeds and No quater Cutthewar, ArtsAgainst Cuts, and also socialist and anarchist groups such as Socialist Unity, Ecosocialists Unite, Firstof Mayband, Don’t Break Britain United, SWP Cork, York Anarchists (according to http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/04/mass-facebook-purge-of-activist-groups/) All groups promoting activism, and planning protests against the current government. That they were taken down at all is sinister, that they were taken down under this government and at a time when the high-profile royal wedding was angering dissidents and free thinkers across the uk, is altogether petrifying.

This was not all our current regime was doing to suppress free thought at the time of this national embarrassment. Police were given a ‘Shoot to kill’ order for protesters, whose banners were confiscated if considered to be ‘offensive’, squats were raided across the country, and we all ‘celebrated’ to the sounds of sirens day and night. Many arrests were made. Several activist groups were shut down. (see this link for an article about some of the squats which were raided in London, Bristol and Brighton http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/guy-aitchison/political-policing-in-britain-ahead-of-big-day). All the major newspapers featured leading articles praising the event and even the headlines in the Guardian and Independent for the day of the wedding, were, quite frankly, laughable- if not horrifying. It would seem that the government, partly in lieu of the upcoming loss of over 10,000 police officers, partly in lieu of further crackdowns, decided to see what they could get away with. David Cameron’s announcement to the people to party with abandon was really an attempt to cause a ruckus- so that they were able to test a limited police force, and so crimes against free speech such as the deleting of facebook groups and the blatant censoring of the left-wing media could take place without criticism.

When questioned about the shut-down of these groups, facebook has stated that the groups were  ‘technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a “fake name”.’ Fair enough. But it seems highly unlikely that these are the only groups for which this is true. Are all extremist right-wing groups, for example, without pseudonyms? Why, if this small violation of terms was the reason for the clampdown, were the only groups targeted those involved with left-wing, anti-capitalist activity? Even more sinister, this has happened before. ‘We Are All Kaled Said’ was also removed from facebook in november last year. (follow this link to a report from the time on the ‘We are all Khaled Said’ website about the closing of their facebook group) According to a pro-facebook article in  mashable.com ”The Page mysteriously disappeared as activists prepared to substantiate what would likely be rigged elections in November of last year. It turned out someone had likely notified Facebook that the Page administrator was using a pseudonym, a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.” The question is, who did such a thing?

At best, the groups were systematically reported by the authorities.  But this seems too convenient, it must take rather a while for the site to research and prove such a violation, let alone 50 of these types of groups on one day, the day of the royal wedding. It just doesn’t make sense. The government, the global corporate machine, has seen fit to silence voices of dissent. Not in China, Not in Egypt, but here, in the UK. And it is not just these activist groups that are being watched. This blogger has herself fallen victim to the facebook censorship machine. Am I on a list? I doubt it. I am, if anything, a prolific ranter, and peaceful protester. I am not worth police time. But I have had posts deleted- posts critical of the policing planned for the royal wedding, and I am not the only one. As the weekend went by, I saw more and more status updates from my more outspoken friends, about their debates being removed from their walls. I reposted mine 3 times. Third time lucky, I removed the word ‘shot’ from my post. Bingo.

I have encountered this before. I remember in the heyday of MSN messenger, I discovered that you could not update your MSN status to ‘I hate MSN’. This and swearing was automatically censored by msn back in the early noughties- I don’t use it now so I am unsure as to whether or not this  is still as obvious… but my point is that it is really not difficult to write software that does this kind of editing automatically. And, of course, simultaneously searches for keywords and builds a database of people who use such words, ready to investigate when they reach a certain quota. People whose profiles are then readily available for investigating authorities to peruse at their leisure- the same investivating authorities that obviously have enough power to shut down activist groups. Just as dangerous as the obviously planned and pointed destruction of fifty dissident groups, this kind of software can make it impossible for the individual to express… to share and promote their views- even to a select group of friends. Facebook has become a reflection of my mind- and I am apparently guilty of thoughtcrime.  It is nothing else but the worst kind of censorship, and a sudden threat to the internet revolution which is a movement away from the biased, corporate-led drivel of mass media.

We must fight this with all that we have. My initial reaction, which was to consider deleting my account, has quickly become resolve to defend my views more ardently, to be more outspoken than ever, and to encourage others to do the same. The fact remains that, with sheer volume, we can make it unfeasible for this type of thing to continue. It is still logistically impossible to police the internet efficiently. I shall remain on facebook, and if they do choose to investigate me, they will find me with my middle fingers pointed straight up, defiant. But let us also remember that this is symptomatic of a growing policy of repression- and let us be increasingly vigilant of our enemies.

Floatfly.

A Deep Dark Leap to the Right

There’s something in the atmosphere this weekend that isn’t good. For all the glorious weather and talk of fairytale weddings, something doesn’t feel right. Beneath the surface things are changing. They are testing the water. They are seeing what they can get away with…

Profiles are being deleted without warning or explanation. In the last 12 hours, Facebook has deleted over 50 sites. It may well be that these groups are technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a “fake name”. But the timing – on the royal wedding and May day weekend – is deeply suspicious. We don’t know for certain, but this purge of online organising groups could be linked to the wider crackdown on protest by authorities in Britain. Either way, it is a scandalous abuse of power by Facebook to arbitrarily destroy online communities built up over many months and years. These groups provide a vital means for activist groups to communicate with their supporters.”

Read more here