Anyone who has been following the WikiLeaks saga or the stories regarding the recent domain seizures by US government agencies and entertainment industry anti-piracy organizations has likely been surprised at the ease with which websites are able to be censored with little, if any, regard to the legal rights of the site owners. It’s no surprise that citizens’ rights advocacy organizations are beginning to take notice too.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the digital rights advocacy organization that recently spoke out against mass file-sharing litigation, put forth a “Call to Action” this week with an online post that points out how these recent events have “highlighted the vulnerability” of our centralized web operations to the censorship implemented by the government and its lobbyists.
Chris Palmer from the EFF writes:
“Sites hosting legitimate speech were caught up in an anti-counterfeiting raid by the Department of Homeland Security, EveryDNS stopped hosting WikiLeaks.org’s DNS, Amazon refused hosting service to WikiLeaks, and independent protesters conducted denial-of-service attacks on businesses refusing service to WikiLeaks. If the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA; the internet censorship bill introduced in the US Senate) or something like it passes, the threat centralization poses to First Amendment-protected speech may be unavoidable. Corrective action — designing, implementing, and deploying robust, fault-tolerant architectures — will improve the security and availability of the internet infrastructure generally, to the benefit of all.”
The post goes on to list a number of projects that are currently underway to promote the movement of decentralization. Among these is the Dot-P2P Project, a “.p2p TLD that is totally decentralized and that does not rely on ICANN or any ISP’s DNS service,” which we covered earlier this month.
Other decentralization projects include BitCoin, an initiative to create a “decentralized internet currency”, and The Tor Project, a free application and “open network” which aides web surfers in preserving their anonymity.
It’s certainly a pivotal time for establishing digital rights for citizens. In my opinion, we shouldn’t have to create alternate systems to avoid the oppression of governments and special interest groups, however. if that’s what it’s going to take to preserve our freedoms, then I am definitely supportive.