So you may have seen that yesterday, another news article went live about yet another instance of government censorship on a centralized media platform. Yes, again. This time it's the UK government and YouTube:
The YouTube permissions that Google has given the Home Office in recent weeks include the power to flag swaths of content “at scale” instead of only picking out individual videos.
They are in part a response to a blitz from UK security authorities to persuade internet service providers, search engines and social media sites to censor more of their own content for extremist material even if it does not always break existing laws.
-- Irish Times; see also TechDirt coverage
Seems a little bit too familiar? We've seen lots of similar stories on government censorship lately, and of course these extend farther than their intended effects. And it's not just censorship... as we all know, surveillance is on the rise, as we've written about before. (Of course, centralization leads to other problems too, like the entire lights-out-at-once of sites like Google Reader.)
The kind of broad-auto-censorship that's being described above with that story with the UK and YouTube just couldn't happen the same way in a fully decentralized network the way it can ever-so-easily in a centralized network. It's just a lot more work to send out notices to each and every site operator. Centralized targets are tempting and easy targets for this kind of thing, where punishing even legal activity is simple enough that we might as well, right?
Does it seem like month after month, week after week, these things keep getting worse? Does censorship and surveillance and a loss of the dream of the by-the-people-for-the-people web really make you... mad? Angry? Frustrated?
Yeah? Good. Let's do something about it.
We can rebuild the internet the way it was meant to be. We can take things back. But it's going to take effort and real work. And guess what? That's what we're working on. This is exactly the fight that MediaGoblin is in, the future we're trying to take on.
Awareness and speaking to government officials and so on are all good and critical steps. People should be aware of the rights they have and the rights that are being violated. We can and should try to pass laws and make legal movement... that's critical. But it's important to remember that even if we pass new laws, these programs were already unconstitutional. They were already breaking our laws and our rights, and there's no sign that these programs are shutting down anytime soon. We need to build better tools.
We're working on these things right now... you can read up all about the kinds of things we're working towards on our campaign page. If that sounds like it's a big challenge, it's because it is. But we can do it... with your help. We have a big community of volunteers, and we have the technical know-how to pull this off. But we don't have the kinds of huge budgets large corporate silo'ed projects have.
So, want to do something about the present state of affairs? Something revolutionary? Good! Here's some ways you can help, right now:
- Check out our campaign page and support us, however much you can. "Every bit helps" sounds like a tired phrase, but it's really true. We're built on the backs of individual supporters like you. Whatever you can give will make a huge difference.
- Spread the word about the campaign! The more people we get to know about what we're working on, the better chance of success we have. Help us get the word out there!
- Join our community! Set up a local instance for development or run an instance for your family and friends (or even use MediaGoblin as part of your business! This is a-okay as long as you give back any code you write!)
We do all this stuff because we believe in it. We want to make the internet a better place, and we can do it. But together, we can do it. Become a hero for the internet. Join our Goblin Force by supporting the campaign... you'll be a hero to the internet for doing so. Let's do this thing!