The enormous collateral damage of the Digital Economy Bill

Dear [MP’s name]

As your constituent I would like to alert you to key problems with the Digital Economy Bill currently being debated in the Lords (1). Specifically I’ll address those parts which relate to combatting copyright infringement through file sharing. I do not defend breach of copyright, which I recognise as an infringement of civil law. However, I would like to point out that this bill is the product of intense lobbying funded by multinational rights companies who are prepared to compromise the civil rights of their entire customer base for the sake of a holding pattern for their obsolete business model.

I have three main concerns, which I’ll outline briefly below.

1. The need for proportionate punishment which avoids collateral damage.

Under the current terms, the account holder is held responsible for the actions of each person who uses their connection, and everybody who uses the connection is punished along with the transgressor. Moreover, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are subject to heavy fines if they refuse rights holders’ demand for the personal details of infringers. ISPs oppose this bill (2).

Society is dependent on internet to the extent that we can reasonably consider it a utility comparable to water, gas or electricity. We pay our bills, access services, and shop on it. We learn on it – I work in a higher education institution which, under current terms, could be disconnected from the internet, a devastating collective punishment. Universities oppose this bill (3).

My neighbours, two teachers, could be disconnected if one of their two school-age sons were to illicitly share files over the family internet connection. Disconnecting the many small businesses along Barkingside High Street which depend on internet access could be fatal. The Federation of Small Businesses opposes this bill (4).

2. Low standards of evidence and poor appeals process.

Currently the bill permits unspecified technical measures – most likely involving a period of disconnection from the Internet – to be levelled at individual accounts holders on the basis of three letters of accusation from a rights holder. Infringers take measures to mask their identity; frequently the account holder is not the infringer. Because the courts are bypassed, there is no recourse to legal aid in an appeal.

3. Poorly-defined measures and secondary law-making powers.

Currently, the bill entitles law-making on the fly independently of Parliament and the Lords. It is unreasonable to expect the public to accept this bill on the understanding that the Secretary of State will decide the law later by Statutory Instrument. We cannot leave UK law open in anticipation of future, hitherto uninvented forms of transgression; this is particularly absurd given that the bill singles out broadband users and ignores mobile phone connections and established forms of file sharing such as disc and USB drive. It is particularly strange that a sliding scale of fines is not under debate. A fine would limit the collateral damage, and the terms of payment could be negotiated according the the income of the account holder.

I’d like to make the following urgent requests prior to the Commons debate on this bill:

  • Read the Open Rights Group’s briefing for MPs (5)
  • Back EDM 1997
  • Campaign for proportionality in this bill, and for a fine rather than disconnection.
  • Call for legal safeguards for individual internet users, including a clear appeals process with access to legal aid, be written into the bill before it is passed.

I have left a message to arrange an appointment, and look forward to discussing this further with you.

Yours sincerely,

[My name and addresses]
(1) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/001/10001.i-ii.html
(2) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7079982/TalkTalk-would-fight-Digital-Economy-Bill-in-court.html
(3) http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/~/media/Files/members/consultations/2010/DEB_response_Puttnam%20pdf.ashx
(4) http://www.fsb.org.uk/policy/trade_and_industry
(5) http://www.openrightsgroup.org/assets/files/pdfs/p2p-briefing-print.pdf

(N.b. this omits the privacy concerns – ISP’s being forced by OfCom to divulge personal details of account holders to rights holders; possible end to anonymous file sharing.)

Patrick Philippe Meier on Evgeny Morozov

With Iran in mind I’m reading iRevolution with interest. iRevolution is run by Patrick Philippe Meier, doctoral scholar of individuals’ use of technology in times of crisis, of digital activism in oppressive regimes, and of the Internet as a form of political control. It’s a very good blog.

Evgeny Morozov spoke at the RSA a while ago (vid and mp3), and now he’s in Prospect. His view is that dictators and the bloggers and commenters in their pay benefit more from the Web than dissident activists do, and it’s a view which seems to be gaining some ground. He believes that after a slow start, the repressive regimes are finally and irreversibly appropriating the technologies, and the free world should take responsibility for assisting the dissidents.

Patrick Philippe Meier had lunch with him. They take different views strategically and tactically.

Patrick addresses a number of Evgeny’s arguments, with references to some more recent literature. He calls for fewer anecdotes, more data and scholarship, and more attention to people as opposed to tools. From near the end:

“I disagree with Evgeny’s recommendation that the West should be prepared to step in and help the dissenting voices, providing free and prompt assistance to get back online as soon as possible. I’m not a big fan of external, top down intervention models. They don’t work in the field of conflict early warning and conflict prevention. In fact, they fail abysmally.

I would rather take a people-centered approach, local-training-of-local-trainers, something I have referred to elsewhere as a bottom-bottom approach. In other words, lets help foster more resilient digital communities by helping to build internal capacity that minimizes the need for external intervention and maximizes self-learning.

This is why I’d recommend watching a little more Tom & Jerry. Jerry often finds himself trapped in his little mouse hideout because Tom has a gazillion mousetraps set up right outside. If Tom also starts censoring the Internet and blocks the use of mobile phones as well, then Jerry needs to draw on more than just technology to get out of this tight spot. External intervention is hardly possible in some circumstances but if Jerry is somewhat conversant in nonviolent civil resistance, he’ll have a few creative tactics up his sleeve to get him through to the next episode.”

Extremely interesting.

(In defence of anecdotes – anecdotes, in their place, are what you use to form the hypothesis to get the funding to collect data about the new and so-far unstudied phenomenon.)

Incognito blogging; a few things on pseudonymity

I was appalled to learn that for no good reason Mr Justice Eady had ruled to expose ‘Jack Night’, incognito blogger from the Lancashire Police Force and recipient of an Orwell Prize.  When Eady was quoted:

“…the judge said it was often useful, in assessing the value of an opinion or argument, to know its source.”

and

“More generally, when making a judgment as to the value of comments made about police affairs by ‘insiders’, it may sometimes help to know how experienced or senior the commentator is.”

I thought that was a crock. I’ve written before about withholding identity on the Web, advocating a different idea of accountability which involves readers applying their critical faculties to the writing itself rather than, as Justice Eady seems to favour, judging a piece on the basis of the identity of its author. For example, if a piece is didactic but not transparently evidenced, doesn’t flag gaps or areas of uncertainty, passes off opinions as statements of fact, employs rhetoric while being fundamentally insubstantial, is generally one-sided, or doesn’t articulate its reasoning processes, then it should be recognised as a polemic or partisan opinion piece, and given according influence and status. We can do this ourselves; we don’t need a name. This should be the focus of any transparency trend.

It is interesting to note that, for judges, “source” merely means name, not reputation.  Judges – and specifically, it should be noted, scoundrels who are guilty of misconduct themselves – tend to strongly value their own privacy. In contrast, bloggers who hope to withold their names are not asking for their misconducts to be hidden. Pseudonimity, unlike anonymity, permits an identity – i.e. some accountability – without attaching this to the name by which you are known in the eyes or your state, or your family and friends.

The best thing I’ve read on this is Catherine Bennett in yesterday’s Observer. I think it’s an excellent piece and cute with the conceit of sunlight-as-disinfectant constrasted against the shadowy obscurity Night Jack required to write candidly. She observes:

“Blogging’s revival of anonymity, long after publishing and journalism moved on to personalities, is surely one of its more interesting achievements. For as well as liberating writers to be more mischievous or truthful than they would dare to be under their own names, anonymity also means they must be judged, at least at first, on merit. On the net, there is not even the imprimatur of a publishing house, newspaper or loyal circle of influential supporters to reassure new readers.”

I think that most bloggers I know of would agree with that.

In the US, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment – see for example McIntyre vs. Ohio Elections Commission.

Here’s a guide to anonymous blogging from the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

A worrying post-script, Bozeman, Montana local government employers are demanding that job applicants surrender their login details for social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, I feel less vindicated in my decision to be pseudonymous on all of them than I thought I would. It’s not just that I’m politically committed and occasionally indecorous, and therefore would be exposed to prejudice – it’s that people should refuse to allow prospective, or even just putative, employers to dominate their prospective employees personal – and private – lives in this way.  I think in this situation I would try to persuade the employers to treat these login details as they would references. I’d stall until I had an invitation for interview, or better, a job offer. Then, I’d refuse to provide them, and get an equal opportunities or human rights lawyer on board if they told me to sling my hook.

But so far, Bozeman’s candidates have acquiesced.

A thought experiment about copyright in a digital age

I value Henry Porter’s column on privacy and digital rights in The Observer of a Sunday. But today, in an abstruse windmilling piece about copyright he really lost me with his baseless conservatism. A little further below is a thought experiment on escaping restrictions on copying what is freely reproducible, while attending to the need artists have of an income.

Information is pretty cheap these days, there’s talk of ‘information glut’ and ‘information overload’. Professional journalists no longer have a monopoly on researching and breaking news of social value. Whaddaya know – there is a lot of talent and wit out there after all. I value the penetration and reach of citizen journalism, and I value the rigour and ethics of professional journalism. The onus is on the professionals to find new models of income generation – to distinguish themselves from people like me. And if they can’t, we take a lesson from that. But I think they will be able to.

Henry Porter harks back to an age of elite-producers – I don’t. The vision lies in the way we interact with the glut of information – emails, blog posts, web pages, media bits. This is Google’s enterprise. When Henry Porter refers to Google as:

“a parasite that creates nothing, merely offering little aggregation, lists and the ordering of information generated by people who have invested their capital, skill and time”

this is the most breathtakingly unjustifiable diminishment I’ve come across in ages.

We owe to Google a number of revolutionary interfaces and algorithms, some gorgeous visualisations and some sweet office products. Google Earth and its mash-ups. Google Maps, including Street View (which helped me plan a new route to Paddington and execute it seamlessly and in a hurry; which helps people look for new homes). My integrated, overlapping, selectively-shared calendars. Threaded email. All new, all ground-breaking, all so, so helpful.

Google is better at helping us to interact with and share data in creative ways than any other single software company I can think of (and it doesn’t matter if I’m wrong – the thrust of Henry Porter’s argument – which failed to acknowledge the creativity of Google’s coders – was content-authors v. “parasites” in general). Google is not a parasite any more than a baker is a parasite for profiting out of the reworking of wheat. Google is an enterprise. I know ‘entrepreneur’ is a dirty word for some people – for me they are simply designers. They rework materials in ways which bring them to more consumers than before..

Google will attempt to capture our data and profile us in order to improve its core business, which is advertising. The corollary of this profiling is potentially very dangerous (Henry Porter is a stalwart in highlighting this). The price we pay for the pervasiveness of Google is that we need to watch it closely and to criticise it minutely. We can do this. Or we have to opt out. We can opt out. Or we have to cooperate globally to develop new anti-monopoly models for the Web.

But what really got me thinking was his comments on copyright, which nudged my existing views into radicalism.

“Google presents a far greater threat to the livelihood of individuals and the future of commercial institutions important to the community. One case emerged last week when a letter from Billy Bragg, Robin Gibb and other songwriters was published in the Times explaining that Google was playing very rough with those who appeared on its subsidiary, YouTube. When the Performing Rights Society demanded more money for music videos streamed from the website, Google reacted by refusing to pay the requested 0.22p per play and took down the videos of the artists concerned.

It does this with impunity because it is dominant worldwide and knows the songwriters have nowhere else to go. Google is the portal to a massive audience: you comply with its terms or feel the weight of its boot on your windpipe.”

So, taking down your video from its own equates to treading on your windpipe? Come on. I mean, come on. And if it weren’t Google that owned YouTube? If YouTube were commons – free and open? Would Billy Bragg let his video be shown for free?

No he would not. Because Billy Bragg wants to earn from royalties (God knows what Henry Porter wants).

And this is when I set myself off on a thought experiment. I haven’t read widely on this subject at all, so maybe it is superficial, stale, or just plain senseless. But until somebody enlightens me, think on the following scenario.

Imagine you wrote a novel. It would be a digital file. If you and I were friends, you might give me the text – perhaps by email – and I would rework it for my e-reader. Digital files can be kept and given away at the same time – giving it would cost you nothing. And yet going by the old publication model, you’d expect to lock down your file with copyright and sell it as a hard-copy book and – with digital rights management (DRM) to prevent copying – an e-book. Seventy years after your death, your text would pass into the public domain.

But imagine if we drew a line under this old way of doing things and designed a new model – this time beginning from the premise that it is unethical to attempt to prevent the reproduction of what can be freely reproduced. There would be no more royalties and bookshops would be decimated or more.

Imagine we also accepted the necessity of giving the artists we love an income which enables them to practice their art.

What would we do?

I’d be inclined to reconceive the idea of revenue as an idea of income. So the product of the labour – here, the book – is free, but the artist requires an income. How would we raise an income? Currently, artists – let’s say ‘authors’ here – struggle unsupported to produce their first pieces of work, and it is only if those pieces gain critical recognition that an advance or grant is forthcoming. Many authors find it hard to attract funding and don’t make it to the shelves, let alone to the high-traffic parts of websites or bookshops where the promoted works are.

Another way might be for you to publish your work – on Scribd or on Lulu – for free. Perhaps in installments. We would preserve the ‘attribution’ aspect of copyright which gives credit for a work. Maybe we would also impose some law restricting derivative works – this is important but I don’t want to go into it now.

And when you have readers, and maybe even a few reviews under your belt, and you are keen to begin your next work, you get an account on a site which is a cross between Just Giving and Pledgebank, but more formalised. This site is designed to allow you to collect donations from people who want you to write another book. You make it clear that you can only embark on your next work if a given amount of money has been donated – if this amount is not achieved by a certain time then everybody else gets their money back if they say they want it back. You set the terms of a contract, or you just collect the donations. Just as you would with a publisher, you produce a treatment for the book which piques the interest of your prospective funders. You tell people how much you needed to be able to write the book (say £35k – or some amount which factors in your tax, your pension contributions, your savings pot, your roof repairs, and so on – you are as transparent as you want to be, or feel you can get away with). You perhaps explain that if 100 people donated, each would need to give an average of £350, or if 1000 people donated, £35, or if 10,000 people, then £3.50.

You are funded by myriad tenners and fivers from the people who want to be your readers, rather than a single advance from a publisher who wants to profit from distributing your work according to derelict distribution models.

Or maybe you don’t want to be a small-business person. Maybe you need an editor. This is where publishers come in – only perhaps now we call them ‘producers’ rather than ‘publishers’. Or perhaps ‘publisher’ is still appropriate. Maybe the publisher organises the pledges, and your target collection amount includes the fee of the editor and the fundraiser, typesetter, illustrator, etc. The cost of producing the book goes up but if the reputation of your team is good – if you are loved and your work is breathlessly anticipated – people would pay your advance. Think Joseph Stiglitz, J.K. Rowling, Ian Rankin. Or if a publisher was like a record label (i.e. a trusted brand) then maybe the publisher could collect on its own behalf, and work according to the established model.

Except once the book was written, it would be free. You (or your publisher) would be collecting for your next book. Maybe you never stopped collecting. You’d also have revenue from readings, appearances and the other things authors earn from which can’t be reproduced in a click. Security of income would be no less than the current model – perhaps it would be greater, since the author would control the terms.

And what this means is that (because this goes for sound copyright to, or anything that can be effortlessly reproduced) Billy Bragg, Bono and Cliff could stop trying to lock down their stuff. And Henry Porter could stop calling Google a parasite and concentrate on protecting our data.

This is a sketchy post, but it’s bedtime so I’m going to publish it anyway. I’m particularly hoping that Sarah will read this and – as a writer – let me know what she thinks.

“Copyright extension is the enemy of” creativity and learning. No to the EU extension on sound copyright.

Updates – scroll to the bottom.

This post contains arguments and resources on sound copyright to persuade you to write to your MEPs now (more at the bottom).

The EU votes on copyright extension on 23rd March. The big stakeholders in the music industry – namely the BPI (i.e. back catalogue owners) superstars and creators who think an extension will earn them more than it’s actually predicted to – have lobbied for an extension of sound copyright term (for disambiguation see this UK Copyright Service overview of current law for different media – and note that the licence they use is Creative Commons licensing) from 50 years to 95 years – that’s nearly double. The UK government is currently supporting 70 years. The evidence is against them. From Sound Copyright’s briefing:

“The Commission estimates the performers’ share of new sales revenues from the proposed extension at 10%. However, this conveniently ignores their own statement that redistribution will be highly skewed in favour of the top earning 20% of performers. From that 10% share “between 77% and 89.5% of all income … goes to the top 20% of earning performers”. For the vast majority of performers the projected extra sales income resulting from term extension is likely to be meagre: from as little as 50¢ each year in the first ten years, to as “much” as €26.79 each year.”

and moreover:

“Each major label would be expected to gain €8.2million—€163million over the 45 year term. That, in turn, works out at €205,000—€4.075m per label per year. This is a windfall for record labels.”

Or those who own the rights to the back catalogues. More evidence via the links towards the bottom.

I am not at all into IP, but don’t ask me for an alternative to safeguard creators against competition on an open market against behemoth corporations who take their stuff and undercut them. That’s one trouble with markets – they tend to bring out the realist in people. IP law introduces the principle of public interest into the two extremes – monopoly for the creator forever and a free-for-all in which the creator fails to earn a living at all. Basically, the public interest – access to cultural and scientific heritage – is expressed in the time-limitation of copyright. For more  about this see the Billy Bragg link at the bottom.

Last years Times letter – copyright extension is the enemy of innovation – fought convincingly on the ‘benefits to creators’ front*. Another more recent letter coordinated at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Policy at the University of Bournemouth, to Culture Minister David Lammy – this emphasises needless criminalisation of and growing unrest among the end users.

You can get the 2006 Gowers Review of Intellectual Property free of charge from Her Maj’s Treasury. It made a number of recommendations about intellectual property (IP) in a digital age, notably number 3 – for the European Commission to retain copyright at 50 years. The University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law (in a study for the European Commission) also found the case for extension to be flimsy (p6-7 of that summary – not entirely comprehensible explanation but the sentiment is clear, see too this letter). However, there is every chance that the EU will be argued into ignoring these recommendations. The US offers much longer (there is mounting pressure against the bonkers copyright law in the form of an inspiring and gathering campaign for the scientific and cultural commons).

Still not convinced?

  • Watch The Open Rights Group short vid – How Copyright Extension Actually Works.
  • Watch Becky Hogge of the Open Rights Group at the Sound Copyright conference.
  • The most recent and most entertaining thing I’ve seen in the past week – watch and/or listen to James Boyle talking about his book (free download – on my iLiad – if youre getting an (e)reader, make sure you can do this with it) Public Domain – Enclosing the Commons of the Mind at the RSA.
  • The RSA is also behind the 2006 Adelphi Charter – a short and readable  position which seeks to balance innovation, creativity and IP in a digital age. It flags public interest and rights to education, health, employment and cultural life.
  • From the US, listen to Larry Lessig, founder of a place I wish I followed more closely, Stanford University’s Center for the Internet and Society and chair of the licence scheme for individual creators, Creative Commons.
  • Alternative revenue? The Nine Inch Nails business model is talked about.
  • Relevant (because he is in favour of copyright extension, and because while most people love the artists they love, they have little love for the record industry and will nick music if they think that paying for it mostly serves that industry) read and listen to Billy Bragg (in strangely-presented Register pieces) on the difference of interests between artists/performers and the industries who use them for revenue. He argues “don’t keep clobbering the end user” and he argues against “life of copyright” deals which deny artists revenue from recorded work and hike up the price. He has co-founded the Featured Artists Coalition to, among other things, make the case for royalties from work which is used by, say, Google, YouTube and Nokia. He wants a reconfiguration of the music industry around the artists rather than the companies. If he had his way already, the current debate about extending copyright would be very different because the predicted gains of the record companies would be vastly less as a proportion, and the debate would be straightforwardly about balancing artists’ interests with public interests without the public having to tactfully point out that the principle beneficiaries of copyright extension are the record companies and the superstars. But he doesn’t, and they won’t.

Contact your MEPs to turn up to the session* on 23rd March and vote against copyright extension and in favour access to our shared cultural heritage. I based my message round:

*One thing I’m not sure about is “the session”. I’d like to have given details, but they weren’t to hand.

Update 28 Mar 09

After a cooling on the extension, this from Music Week:

“The industry has been dealt a savage blow in Brussels today with the European Council throwing out a revised term proposal.”

On the midnight news last night they said that UK government, which favours the extension, swung round because there was no guarantee that the royalties would reach the artists (when did it ever not look like it was going to be a record company scoop?) I don’t fully understand the jargon “session fund” and “clean slate proposal” and no time to find out. But this is at least good news for now.

In other good news, the EU failed to pass a draconian 3 strikes and you’re banned from the Internet law against illegal downloaders.

Ars Technica feature on software patents

Timothy B. Lee reviews the current state of US software patenting on Ars Technica – lots of links.

I completely reject the idea of patenting anything abstract. I still need to think about where I stand on copyright – the arguments aren’t so straightforward.

I used to be against all forms of patent or copyright – I thought of them, and still do really, as consolidating power of the enterprising time-rich, money-rich, intellect-rich over those who aren’t.  The opportunity to profit financially from an idea and its actualisation by making it exclusive is not one I’ll ever support. However, in the context of the campaign for an academic boycott of Israelis – often justified with reference to particularly strong pressure to be gained from excluding Israeli scientists with their disproportionate inventiveness – I’ve come round to entertaining an idea of them as incidental protections for individuals and groups who might otherwise be taken from – plundered – at the same time as being grievously ostracised.

Labourhome’s Alex Hilton needs £ for legal fees

Via Modernity – a member of the Conservative Party (via Labour and RESPECT) is suing Labourhome blogger Alex Hilton for libel. Alex has a high chance of winning because after the initial complaint he did things by the book – however it will be a struggle to recoup his costs. He ends:

“I would be very very grateful if readers would consider donating any sum towards my legal costs. I built Labourhome two and a half years ago as an open forum for Labour supporters because I believed it was needed. I’m in court because of the freedom of this forum and I can tell you the whole situation is pretty depressing.”

Go on, chuck him a few notes (scroll down for PayPal). After all, with UK libel laws in their current state, it could be you next.

I am getting a bit fed up of our libel laws. People with flimsy cases bring them to the UK because we’re so hard on the defendant. One such example of libel tourism, the 2006 High Court ruling in Jameel and Others v. Wall Street Journal Europe, was supposed to help journalists but a) I don’t quite understand it and b) it hasn’t.

I’ve seen a lot of proposed measures and reforms (e.g. abolish defamation law, adjudicate out of court, mass speak out campaigns to make vexatious litigation socially unacceptable, suer has to prove malice, burden of evidence on suer) but I’m finding it hard to evaluate them

I took a while to go hunting for a UK group lobbying for reforms which I could join or support in some way, but couldn’t immediately find one.  Anybody know of such a group?

Happy Birthday Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group is 3 years old (hence the gift of a new badge over there –> – I’m so glad I stuck it on before David Hirsh linked to me and I got 300 hits)

Goals:

  • To raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses
  • To provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists
  • To preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world
  • To collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations
  • To nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts

Here’s their annual report (which is aborting on my e-reader for no apparent reason).

If Muteboy were around we could go to the Christmas party, but he isn’t, Matt will just raise an eyebrow and I don’t want to go on my own :-/

Because I’m rushing to see Forget Baghdad @ British Museum now, I’m simply going to rip off his post:

“The UK Open Rights Group has now been around for 3 years, and they have released their 2008 Review of Activities. It shows how busy the group has been, and also how much more they are needed.

It seems that a week doesn’t go by when a CD isn’t lost or a laptop isn’t stolen containing personal data. Surveillance, ID cards, RFID passports, all are being touted as necessary to keep us secure. But when it’s so poorly implemented, it becomes a liability, and is it really necessary?

As more and more music is bought and distributed digitally, the ORG has a part to play in ensuring that you own the music you bought, rather than just owning a license to play a file which can be revoked at will.

There are many more issues. The review describes the problems that face not just the ORG, but everyone living in the UK. Happily, the ORG is making great progress in advising, guiding, and where necessary, stopping the powers that be. The review is packed with info on work with the grassroots, the press and behind the scenes with policymakers, and it shows that ORG is now a respected digital rights advocate and also looks forward to expanding our operations in the coming years.

As one of the Founding 1000 members, I can show you these fantastic badges. I need to choose one to put in the sidebar, but in the meantime, here they all are. As you can see, I was member number 192!

Now that I live in the US, I’ve joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is the US equivalent of ORG. It’s been around longer, and has more permanent staff, and it’s had some very high profile cases, including suing President Bush, the various Attorney Generals, and the NSA. I’m proud to support them both.”

Harry’s Place is going nowhere

As in

We will not be intimidated”

(Michael Cushman at the 2008 UCU Conference, in support of a motion of dubious legality under anti-racist law.)

Back from Siberia, read the irrepressible David T.

“Let’s be clear – the issue here is not Delich. Rather, it is the blending of the perspectives of the neo Nazis, the Islamists, and the far Left. Even if we accept Delich made a ‘mistake’, it would be one which simply could not have happened, were is not for the poisonous rhetoric, and vicious racism that has characterised the debate over Israel/Palestine. It would have been impossible without the coalescence, over the past decade, of the coalitions which have constituted both RESPECT and the STWC. What, after all, is the fundamental difference between linking to neo Nazis and carrying a placard bearing the slogan ‘We Are All Hezbollah Now”?”

One more thing, Joe Quinn – the fanatic Jenna Delich linked to on David Duke’s site – reckons Mossad did the Madrid bombings and are behind Al Quaeda. I’m telling you, the conspiracy theories are out to get me.