Let’s take a brief look at what’s happened recently, prior to the whole wikileaks cablegate releases:
- US Government seizes the domain names of 82 websites, without any due process
- UK coalition government plans to try and end net neutrality mirroring US moves
If net neutrality ends, then broadcasters and news and entertainment corporations with deep pockets can pay to put their content in front of ISP users. There’s no incentive for the ISPs to prioritise or perhaps even carry packets to the second-tier domains. Thus we end up with lowest denominator content being the norm. Not that different from what we currently receive from our broadcasters. Obviously, this is a comfortable place for both the the media industry and government to be in. It’s the status quo. Channel 5, ITV 2, 3 & 4, 24/7. No Wikipedia, no Vimeo, no blogs, and so on.
If a government can both lean on hosting and other internet companies to stop providing their services to sites that the government would rather not see, and yet at the same time exercise the ability to remove a company from the internet by confiscating their domain, at what point will one threat follow another? Is it feasible that a US ISP who provides hosting to wikileaks, and who refuses to stop serving them, will then have their own domain confiscated?
So, to me it seems that some heavy-handed governmental censorship is not far in the offing. Wikileaks is just the start and so I’m siding with the Internet on this one.
Paul Carvill expresses this much more eloquently than I can:
“The free distribution of data, and resistance to top-down evaluation of the merit of that data, is what the web excels at. It is more important now than ever before that individuals are allowed to publish and consume information as they see fit, within the bounds of the law. The world wide web, must be allowed to operate neutrally and independently of governments and corporations, including domain name registrars, ISPs, data carriers and other and infrastructure providers. Everyone who uses the web benefits from such independence, and should promote and support it wherever possible.”
The Tech Herald has a detailed roundup of the wikileaks events this week.
Twitter has played a big part in my involvement. On Friday I saw Nic Ferrier tweet:
what about a campaign to get absolutely everyone to add wikileaks to their domain?
Tom Morris responded:
@nicferrier Zone file edited for tommorris.org. That’s the sort of activism I can actually do. ;-)
And then by Friday night, there were a ton of hosts and subdomains pointing at the changing wikileaks IP:
WIKILEAKS: Free speech has a number: http://184.108.40.206
Saturday brought the mass-mirroring project:
Twitter has been stalwartly been letting wikileaks news through. At one point it seemed to be the only place to get the current IP of the official site.
There was an Etherpad being collaboratively edited on Friday, but that’s no longer available.
What a difference a weekend makes
In just three days, 3rd – 5th December, wikileaks went from a couple of official domains along with some unofficial mirrors that were being DDOS-ed off the web, to having hundreds of working official mirrors and a full-text search of all the currently released documents. Score one for the Internet.
Still in doubt? http://sowhyiswikileaksagoodthingagain.com/