a nice mix of pipes and brazilian music
the real title for this post should be “why i don’t give a fuck about [SOPA](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOPA), and why the american internet must come to an end” but it was too long.
if you follow any mainstream website like wikipedia, reddit, facebook, etc, you may have noticed a generalized panic around something called SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. basically, some politicians in the united states want to change the internet context in a way that makes it very hard for website owners to accept user generated content. just go through the wikipedia article if you want to look more into it. explaining it is not the main focus of this post
just to contextualize, and help whoever doesn’t know how the internet works, i’ll do a short run-down about how things work, how they evolved, and why SOPA is basically irrelevant unless you’re living in the united states.
the internet is a collection of
tubes connections arranged all over the world, connecting millions of computers. in order to know where something is, the internet we use (mostly, since i’m simplifying) uses a thing called TCP/IP, which is basically a little envelope with an address on it. that address is the [IP address](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv4), which a huge number (232 addresses for the current version). since people aren’t good at memorizing big numbers, someone came up with DNS (Domain Name Service), which is basically a phone book with names (like google.com) and equivalent addresses (in this case, [188.8.131.52](http://184.108.40.206/) for example). if you click that link you will still be taken to the google page.
it all works because at some point everyone agreed to use the same phonebook, the one provided by [ICANN](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICANN). here’s the catch: for .com, .net or .org, it is ICANN that controls the server (the directory with the addresses). now, ICANN is a non-profit corporation in the united states, which means it is governed by united states laws.
thanks to the nutty laws the united states have, the FBI and other entities can seize those top level domain names because the .com, .net, etc are united states domains anyway. here’s the catch though: if you use a domain from another country, e.g., .au, .pt, etc, the entities that assign and maintain the addresses are local to the respective country. this means that if your website is hosted in your country with your domain, you have nothing to worry about
these laws, if anything, will contribute to show that the internet as is is overly dominated by united states corporations and policies. facebook, twitter, google, etc, are all united states companies. but what if they were to be taken down by the new laws? what would happen? absolutely nothing. every other website that doesn’t run on an united states server would continue operating as usual.
recently we saw the power of this when the united states seized the domain names for wikileaks. they merely moved to a swiss domain name (from wikileaks.org to wikileaks.ch).
the software, the pages, content, etc, can be moved around the globe thanks to the distributed nature of the internet. the connections are owned by private companies, but these companies so far have kept from filtering any traffic, which means that it’s still possible, when faced with idiotic national laws like the ones in the united states, to move somewhere else.
this website however, has a .com domain, which means its address is under the united states jurisdiction. i might change that soon. let me just say i’m not happy about the way due process has been ignored in most of the recent cases, such as megaupload. my server is also in the united states, so moving all my stuff would be pricey, but worth it if these human rights issues remain unresolved
it is frequently flaunted by talking heads how the united states constitution is so unique in protecting fundamental rights. well, it most certainly isn’t the only one doing that, and this argument is usually one of pure ignorance. if facebook or twitter were to move to portugal for example, they would not only enjoy a better constitution without lobbying laws, but also be forced to comply with labor laws. if anything, tech companies love the united states because it allows them to make their own rules, their own labor laws, and their own censorship standards. in any civilized country, this would not fly.
this is why i don’t give a fuck about what the united states does or doesn’t in terms of their own internal policies. they are the worst example to follow.
i urge any netizen to look up their local internet and copyright laws and stay informed. during the next couple of years, we will see a deluge of changes in internet laws inspired by the united states debacle. it is essential that national policies aren’t drawn up out of united states fanboyism, but according to their people’s will and constitutions. and to do this, all we have to do is ignore the noise coming from the united states and beat to our own drum