Stop Ireland’s SOPA

Before the end of this month the Irish Government will introduce a very vague copyright protection law. It won’t be debated in the Dáil as it will be enacted by a ministerial order. Protection of copyright is a laudable endeavour but when so little is known about the amendment or how it’s implemented it’s impossible to figure out how it will affect us. Once IRMA get a whiff of any more power or influence you just know they’re going to abuse it! Remember the infamous “3 strikes” rule?

Before I go any further, here’s how you can help. Sign this petition or use this contact form or this list to contact your local TD to express your misgivings and anger at this law being pushed through so quickly.

From the stopsopireland.com website:

SOPA is the name of a piece of US legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, recently proposed in the US. It caused an Internet-wide outcry due to its far-reaching implications; way beyond simply closing access to outlaw file sharing websites, it would have enabled law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing material posted on a single blog or webpage.

A similar proposal is about to become law in Ireland. And while 7 million Americans contacted their representatives to say No to SOPA in the US, Irish citizens will not get that chance because the new law in Ireland is not being voted on in the Oireachtas.

Instead, the law is being enacted by ministerial order. This new law will give music and movie companies the legal leverage to force Irish ISPs like UPC, Eircom and mobile networks to block access to sites suspected of having copyrighted material on them. It also means judges can order ISPs to block access to sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter where an individual user from anywhere in the world has shared infringing material.

As I mentioned in my Wikipedia post, this law might already be illegal:

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a landmark case for protecting free speech in the fight against online piracy. In a decision issued today on the Scarlet Extended SA v SABAM case, the Court stated that web filtering systems used to prevent illegal downloading on peer-to-peer networks was incompatible with fundamental human rights.

Minister Sean Sherlock will be on drivetime (RTE Radio 1) after 6pm this evening to talk about this law. I hope he comes to his senses.

Oh, it is very easy to bypass any spying the music and movie industries force on Irish ISPs. All you need is an encrypted tunnel to a remote host outside the country. If Irish ISPs ban users from using tools like that then you can say goodbye to a huge number of IT jobs. I rely on these tools every single day of the week to do my work.

More links:

Next in the firing line of laws that will limit consumer freedoms is ACTA but let’s get one bad law stopped before we move on to the next one, ok?

The image above taken from No Shit, Sherlock website. Thanks Sean Sherlock.

SSH Socks Proxy for Android Phones

Android has had VPN support for donkey’s years but I could never get it working. I tried pptpd and xl2tpd but pptpd didn’t work (and has security holes) or the configuration is daunting and lengthy when all I want is a simple proxy.

There’s also HTTP proxy support built into Android. It’s exposed in Samsung and other ROMs at Settings->Wireless and Network->Wi-Fi Settings, Advanced. Apparently this app sets things up correctly too. I’m not sure if it’ll do authentication however unless you add the username:password in the hostname. I also don’t want to install Squid on my public internet server!

So, the holy grail of proxying would be doing so through ssh. Nothing else to install on my server and I get an encrypted tunnel through the internet and out of Ireland which might be a good thing to protect my privacy from the prying eyes of the Irish Government. A far more mundane reason is the security of my data from others on a public wifi network. (Aside, on what will the record companies blame the falling numbers of CDs sold when the Irish version of SOPA is passed?)

The good news is that you can now create an ssh tunnel from your Android device. The bad news is that it has to be rooted to make the most of it. Go grab the SSH Tunnel app and you’ll be sending data through your remote host in no time. There’s also a beta version that uses an OpenSSH native binary rather than a Java implementation. I haven’t tried that yet, the stable version worked fine for me.

You can stream Netflix through it, and browse the net, post to your blog or whatever else takes your fancy. All through a secure tunnel to a remote server.

In case you’re interested, it’s simplicity itself to do the same thing on Linux or Mac computers using the installed ssh client. On Windows just use Putty!

Wikipedia is down is it?

Today is the day kids have to read books to do their homework. But seriously, SOPA and PIPA, bills being considered by the U.S. Congress could have far reaching implications for anyone who puts content online. It’s really going to hurt the U.S. economy and by extension any country that exports into that country. If you live outside the U.S. many of the websites you use every day will be affected by this law, and if a non U.S. website is blocked then they could lose significant website traffic and suffer financially.

Broadsheet.ie (who have gone black along with other well known websites) quoted this Boing Boing post which you can’t see either because it’s gone black today:

Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.

In related news, EMI Ireland threatened to sue the Irish Government for not doing enough to stop copyright violations. Legislation is due this month but I haven’t heard anything in the news since. One wonders how they’ll deal with this ruling by the Court of Justice (thanks ILUG):

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a landmark case for protecting free speech in the fight against online piracy. In a decision issued today on the Scarlet Extended SA v SABAM case, the Court stated that web filtering systems used to prevent illegal downloading on peer-to-peer networks was incompatible with fundamental human rights.

For more on this read Will Ireland block the internet to save CDs? The likely answer is “Yes”. (Thanks Talideon!)

Here’s a great examination of SOPA and PIPA by Reddit sysadmin Jason Harvey. It’s lengthy but here are a few snippets:

Facilitation of criminal violations

The potential for abuse in this language is painfully obvious. “Facilitation” can often be argued as simply teaching or demonstrating how to do something. Under this definition, a site could be targeted for something as simple as describing how to rip a Blu-Ray. This language also makes it clear that the legislation is not solely targeting sites “dedicated to theft”.

If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments. This places a measurable burden upon the site’s technical infrastructure. It also damages one of the most important tenets of reddit, and the internet as a whole – free and open discussion about whatever the fuck you want.

Why this doesn’t actually stop piracy

This legislation is aimed at requiring private U.S. entities to enforce restrictions against foreign sites but does nothing against the infringement itself. All of the enforcement actions can and will be worked around by sites focused on copyright infringement. U.S. citizens will still be able to use foreign DNS servers, new advertising and payment networks will pop up overseas, and “infringing sites” will still be linked to by other foreign sites and search engines. In fact, tools used to circumvent these forms of internet restrictions are being funded by the U.S. State department to offer citizens under “repressive regimes” uncensored access to the internet. When the dust settles, piracy will still exist, and the internet in the U.S. will have entered the realm of federal regulation and censorship.

See also sopastrike.com, Google’s Take Action page, Reddit.com and the Reddit SOPA FAQ.