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PRISM: What you won’t hear the Americans say (but what you should be very scared of).

The recent revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden about the US’s PRISM program, have, in the US, mainly centered on how the NSA could be spying on American citizens which may or may not be against the constitution. The details seem to suggest that so long as the data collected is 51% or more, between non-Americans, then it’s all good. The EFF/ACLU are upset that American’s are being spied on.. and simultaneously missing the much larger point:

Since when did it become “OK” for the US to conduct surveillance on every foreign internet user?

The big thing the American constitutionalists are up in arms about is these discoveries in relation to their constitution’s 4th amendment – their protection again unreasonable searches and seizures – the oversight role of their judiciary and the requirement of ‘probable cause’.

It seems that whilst American foreign policy frequently talks up the virtues of their country’s bill of rights, they don’t feel this applies to “the rest of the world”.

The US disregards non-american's privacy in the name of it's own security.

The US disregards non-american's privacy in the name of it's own security.

Unfortunately, this means that for non-Americans, most of the world, we know that any traffic to/from the US is being spied on as a matter of course, and I think that is significant cause for concern.

The NSA director says:

“The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”

The concept that one can lose one’s privacy, without oversight, in the name of “American Security” is something I find upsetting? Does unauthorised copyright usage also threaten US security?

Use Gmail? NSA seen it.

Use Facebook? NSA knows you.


William Hague, our esteemed foreign secretory” says: “law-biding members of the public had ‘nothing to fear’”.

Personally, I think he’s a bit of a bellend, and, more crucially, wrong.

Pet Shop Boys- Integral

Pet Shop Boys- Integral


A radical experiment in empathy…

Can you imagine what it would be like to someone else’s shoes? Can you understand why they’re there? What they feel?

Sam Richards: A radical experiment in empathy

Sam Richards: A radical experiment in empathy

Sociologist Sam Richards’ TEDxPSU sets an extraordinary challenge: can you understand — not approve of, but understand — the motivations of an Iraqi insurgent? And by extension, can anyone truly understand and empathize with another?


The 5 best, anti-SOPA protest songs

So with the blackout of Wikipedia, Reddit and everything, Rick Falkvinge got me thinking.

If the iconic singer songwriters of the labour movements were Arlo Guthrie and Billy Bragg, who are the iconic singer songwriters of the Digital Rights movement?

I’m genuinely interested if you have a suggestion.

To help you consider the question, here are 5 of the best anti-SOPA protest songs:

Stonebreakers10′s Anti-SOPA ballad:

Stop the SOPA Song

Stop the SOPA Song by Stonebreakers10

Funk Vigilante’s epic funk-rap-metal internet anthem:

INTERNET FIGHT SONG! (Anti-SOPA/PIPA/ACTA song – Funk Vigilante)

INTERNET FIGHT SONG! by Funk Vigilante

Leah “ObamaGirlCreator” Kauffman’s catchy pop-piano song:

"Firewall" (Say NO to #SOPA and #Protect-IP)

Firewall by Leah Kauffman

Cheezburger Network/The EFF fronted by Laugh Pong’s American Pie parody:

The Day The LOLcats Died – #SOPA #PIPA Protest Song

The Day the LOLcats died by Laugh Pong

Dan Bull’s dystopian, futuristic crowdsourced rap:

SOPA Cabana (by Dan Bull)

SOPA Cabana by Dan Bull

Contact your representative today:

Make your own song?
It’s not too late to have a bit of fun and sing about what SOPA would do. Need some inspiration?
Here’s some parodies of popular songs that haven’t been recorded yet.

Honourable mentions
Those that didn’t quite make the cut:


Megaupload vs the world

For those of you that don’t know, Megaupload is an American web service that lets you send large files across the internet

Why do these services exist? XKCD explains:

Every time you email a file to yourself so you can pull it up on your friend's laptop, Tim Berners-Lee sheds a single tear.

File Transfer © XKCD

Sadly, but not unusually, XKCD is spot on – and that’s the reason that over the past few years Megaupload has gained a large following – racking up more registered users than the population of Russia.

Recently, in the United States, big media lobbying organisations have been trying to paint the company in a bad light; the company is frequently vilified by the RIAA and MPAA as a rogue site “dedicated to destroying their business models”.

It was therefore an incredibly PR coup for Megaupload when they released a track last night where P Diddy,, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West sang their support to the site – #megaupload was even trending on twitter for a while.

Now you might have thought this blog post would end here. Megaupload score massive PR coup. Lobbying organisations back down briefly, and then continued sustained attack. But no, it was much more entertaining.

In response to the video, Universal Music Group (UMG) issued a DMCA Takedown request to Youtubeclaiming the video contained copyrighted content that they owned.

Megaupload has filed a counterclaim with Youtube pointing out they “own everything in this video. And we have signed agreements with every featured artist for this campaign”, but the video still remains offline and Megaupload accuses the lobbyists of using “dirty tricks”.

Several things are certainly clear:

  • Megaupload have scored a PR Coup
  • UMG have secured the campaigns success by invoking the Streisand effect
  • I suspect the story will not end here

Anyhow, what is this video that’s causing all the controversy?

Here it is: