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Dutch government wants to censor the Internet

Dutch minister of Justice, Hirsch Ballin, is being pressured by dutch christian and labour parties to force Dutch ISP's to start censoring the Internet:

A translation of the dutch article:

AMSTERDAM – The NOS [Dutch Broadcasting Institute] on friday reports that a majority of the Dutch parlement have demanded that internet providers be forced to block child pornograpy.

Currently, providers have the freedom to cooperate with blocking activities, but they are not required to. The Korps Landelijke Politiediensten [red; Dutch National Police Corps] keeps a list of websites that spread child pornography, which ISPs can use to filter. The UPC cablecompany is the only one currently using the list.

The CDA [red; Christian Democrats], the ChristenUnie and the PvdA [red; labour party] parties have demanded that minister Hirsch Ballin forces ISP to start blockin child pornorgraphy, according to the NOS. The topic has been a long-running point of discussion between Hirsch Ballin and Internet providers.

First off, I'd like to explain that I am NOT AT ALL for child pornography or anything of the sorts. That said, censorship is never the solution to a problem. If you're thinking 'But what about..', NO! Censorship is never, ever the solution to a problem.

Now, who is this blocking of child pornography supposed to help (or stop)? There are only three possible answers: The children, the people trying to get their hands on child pornography or the people who accidentally stumble upon child pornography. Does this solution really help any of these parties? No. Children featured in child pornography are already hurt, so it doesn't help them. Paedophiles looking for child pornography aren't going to be stopped by this blocking. They'll simply use any of the existing routing networks such as Tor, which don't allow blocking, or they'll find some proxy in a foreign country. The only party it might help are people not actively looking for child pornography but who see it by accident. But come on, have you ever encountered child pornography by accident?

A big problem with this kind of blocking is that it is about fighting symptoms instead of causes. We shouldn't be blocking this content; we should be prosecuting the people hosting it and those that are actively looking for it. By blocking child pornography you run the risk of hiding the actual problem. It appears as if something is actively being done about child pornography, but the problem is still there; except now it's hidden from the public's view. And paedophlies? Where will they go for their needs? Underground, perhaps, making them harder to trace? Or will they simply create their own supply, harming even more children in the progress?

Another problem is that once you start censoring, where do you stop? Right now, the Dutch government is planning on blocking child pornography, terrorist sites and sites with content possibly useful to terrorists (bomb-making manuals, etc). Next up? Who knows? Sites presenting views our government doesn't agree on (anti-religion, discriminating sites, right-wing, left-wing)? Where does it stop? As we all should know, when looking at history, it won't stop anywhere. The entry barrier to censoring is high, but after that it's just like dancing: Getting on the dance floor and making the first step is hard, but after that, all bets are off.

And something that hasn't been discussed by our government is: Who monitors the monitors? Right now, there are no plans for actually making anybody accountable for what gets on the censoring list and what doesn't. Smells ripe for abuse to me.

So we're looking at a system that won't actually help anybody. A system which, in fact, will do more harm than it'll do good. A system that's open to abuse and can only lead to an uncontrollable, unmonitored system.

Sounds like another good idea by our government to 'think of the children!!'.

History of the Free Software Movement

Found an interesting read over at O Reilly's website:

The GNU Operating System and the Free Software Movement, by Richard Stallman.

China bans reincarnation

The Chinese government has outlawed the practice of reincarnating for Buddhist monks in Tibet without their permission.

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

From Wikipedia's article on the Dalai Lama:

Despite its officially secular stance, the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has claimed the power to approve the naming of high reincarnations in Tibet. This decision cites a precedent set by the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, who instituted a system of selecting the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama by means of a lottery which utilised a golden urn with names wrapped in barley balls. Controversially, this precedent was called upon by the PRC to name their own Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetan Buddhists in exile do not regard this to be the legitimate Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama has recognized a different child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as the reincarnated Panchen Lama. This child and his family have been taken into 'protective custody' according to the PRC, and all attempts by members of the EU parliament and US government to garner guarantees of the family's safety have been denied by the PRC. There is some speculation that with the death of the current Dalai Lama, the People's Republic of China will attempt to direct the selection of a successor, using the authority of their chosen Panchen Lama.

The current Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that he will never be reborn inside territory controlled by the People's Republic of China, and has occasionally suggested that he might choose to be the last Dalai Lama by not being reborn at all. However, he has also stated that the purpose of his repeated incarnations is to continue unfinished work and, as such, if the situation in Tibet remains unchanged, it is very likely that he will be reborn to finish his work. Additionally, in the draft constitution of future Tibet, the institution of the Dalai Lama can be revoked at any time by a democratic majority vote of two-thirds of the Assembly. The 14th Dalai Lama has stated, "Personally, I feel the institution of the Dalai Lama has served its purpose."

Did you know? Secret anti-communism network in europe

Did you know that, after World War II came to an end, a secret organisation called "Gladio", funded by the CIA and NATO, was brought to life in Europe in order to (amongst other things) neutralise communistic influences? The organisation spanned almost the whole of West-Europe, including countries such as Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, France, the Scandinavian countries and more.

The organisation varied widely between countries and remained active (officially) until 1992 in at least the Netherlands. In some countries, the network deteriorated into terrorist organisations. Evidence has been found that in Italy, the organisation was involved in a bombing on the Italian Military Corps. In 1983 the Dutch government was forced to confirm that weapons found in a stash were related to NATO planning for unorthodox warfare. Earlier this year, investigators in the Netherlands found out that weapons had been illegally supplied to the Gladio network long after it had supposedly been dismantled in 1992. The same thing happened in Norway in 1979. Strong evidence was found in Germany that arms caches revealed by the person responsible for the 1980 Octoberfest bombing where related to the Gladio network.

More information on Wikipedia's English Gladio article. A Dutch article (with more information on Dutch specifics of the network) is also available.

A secret organisation brought to life in order to influence politics in a massive amount of countries… and it goes rogue and commits random acts of terrorism.. Amazing! Who would've thought something like that might happen?!

It's strange how today's 'freedom fighting' groups supplied with arms by western countries always seem to wind up being tomorrow's terrible terrorists. Maybe.. I dunno, but, you know, maybe we should stop funding these kind of things? Just maybe. Oh, and, also stop bringing secret organisations to life. They have a tendency to not work out very well, it appears.

Good news for the tin-foil hat wearers though: They can't call you paranoid now anymore. Big bad evil secret organisations really are everywhere! And to top it off, they're terrorists that are funded by your government, with your money, trying to stop you from exercising your right to democracy! Because, just in case nobody informed you yet: Democracy is great, unless you want to believe in something your government doesn't approve of, such as communism.

DDoS attack paralyses Estonia

Hackers Take Down the Most Wired Country in Europe:

At exactly 11 pm, Estonia was slammed with traffic coming in at more than 4 million packets per second, a 200-fold surge. Globally, nearly 1 million computers suddenly navigated to a multitude of Estonian sites, ranging from the foreign ministry to the major banks. It was a larger-scale version of what had happened to the Postimees, except that the entire country's bandwidth capacity was being squeezed.

The story is a little over the top, there's a lot of speculation and I doubt Estonia is 'the Most Wired Country in Europe', but it's still an interesting read. I wonder if the Europian Union has any plans on how to counter such calamities. Basically all that's needed is a good line of communications via which immediate action can be taken to stop traffic as close to the root as possible, I guess.

The world v.s. the U.S.

In a nutshell, because living abroad I know first hand what the world thinks of America and it is not a pretty picture at the moment. I want people to think of America as the land of freedom and democracy, not the land of arrogance and blind revenge. I want to be proud of America again. The U.S. media do a spectacularly bad job of informing Americans about what is going on in rest of the world. After Sept. 11, the U.S. could do no wrong. The entire world was on America's side. The invasion of Afghanistan was seen as completely justified. After all, the Al-Qaida leadership had to be decapitated. No one questioned that.

But Iraq was a completely different matter. Bush, Cheney, and Powell said they had conclusive proof that Saddam had WMD and could attack at any instant. The rest of the world wanted to see the proof. No proof was forthcoming. The answer was "trust us." We now know there were no WMD. There weren't even factories or labs to produce them. Saddam was an evil dictator with evil fantasies but he was no threat to America. Yet former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said that the planning to invade Iraq began the day Bush was inaugurated. The administration simply misused the horror of Sept. 11 as a convenient excuse for doing something that was already in the works.

Let me tell you a short story. When I was in elementary school, the school was plagued by a bully. He was the biggest, strongest kid around and would beat up anyone he didn't like. We were all exceedingly polite to his face, but hated his guts behind his back. One day he was chasing some poor kid and he tripped and skidded a considerable distance, scraping his face on the rough asphalt of the playground. He was bleeding and in pain, screaming for help. But nobody came to help him. We all just walked away. George Bush is the world's playground bully. The world sees him–and by inference, America–as arrogant, self-centered, and mean. I spoke to Americans from dozens of countries at the DA caucus. Everyone told the same story–the world hates America. When talking to foreigners, I can tell them about the Bill of Rights or freedom or World War II, or whatever I want, but all they see is this big, stupid, arrogant, playground bully and a stolen election in Florida last time. I think America deserves better. I want America to be respected in the world again, and John Kerry can restore the respect America deserves.

Don't believe me that the world hates us? The Guardian, one of Britain's most respected newspapers, ran a column by Charlie Brooker last week ending with this paragaph: "On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed …" Then it gets so bad that I refuse to quote it. Maybe Brooker is a nut and maybe it was a joke, but the fact that a serious newspaper would publish this piece shows how deep the hatred of George Bush runs. And this comes from our closest ally. Imagine what people in Spain or Indonesia or the Arab world think.

– Andrew Tanenbaum,

It's true. Everyone I know hates Bush and the U.S. in extension. Further more, I'll personally never set foot in any of those fascist states until they get at least a basic level of human rights.

How I get my music and movies

I don't buy music CDs. They're more expensive than they should be, and the prices never drop, even if the CDs are old. I don't buy music online either, since it's usually even more expensive than a CD, it has stupid DRM (Digital Restriction Management) restrictions, and you don't even get the nice booklet. How can something that has no costs for physical production, worse quality than the real product and less value for your money cost more than the real thing? I don't buy movies (DVDs) either, because there's all kinds of restrictive stuff on them such as regions and DRM copy restrictions.

DRM that's meant to keep you from copying media is illegal in the Netherlands. We've got a law that says you can make backup copies of media you buy. Fair-use probably also allows me to convert media I've bought so that I can listen to it in my car (if I had one), or on whatever device I happen to have. It's also legal in the Netherlands to make copies of music and movies for your friends. Since DRM prevents these things, it's illegal. Why would I buy a product that is too expensive, restricts my rights and is also illegal?

Instead of buying content, I download it. I download massive amounts of music and movies, and I never pay for any of it. And I don't have to feel guilty about it, because it's legal in the Netherlands. I can download as much as I want, but distributing contents is illegal (unless it's to some close friends).

In the Netherlands, we pay a tax on empty CDs and DVDs. Legislators assume everybody buying empty, writeable media is a criminal. It's not even a case of "Guilty until proven innocent", because there's no way to escape the tax, short of illegally importing empty media from across the border. What if I just want to make backups of my personal files? The money's supposed to go to the record companies. It doesn't always get there apparently, but it's the idea that counts. I don't want my money to go to the record companies, because they're greedy bastards that keep breaking the law and violating my rights. So I don't buy empty media either. I've got a big fat Internet connection and harddisk space is cheap, so why would I keep my stuff on CDs or DVDs?

I don't have to feel sorry for the artists either. They get their money from the tax on empty media. Except from me of course. But if the law can be ambiguous, so can I. Besides, those poor artists should stand up to their record companies and distributors and demand fairly priced CDs and DVDs and renounce DRM.

I've got 8000 pieces of music on my computer. Let's say the average CD contains eight songs. That's a thousand CDs. I'd consider €10,- for a CD that's just been released a fair price. An older CD, say, a year old, should cost a maximum of €5,- to €7,- euro's. So let's say €6,-. Most of my music was older than a year by the time I downloaded it. Perhaps 2% was just released. That would be twenty CDs.

20 x €10,- = €200,-
980 x €6,- = €5880,-
Total: €6080,-

So, the record industry could have had approximately €6000,- of my money in their pocket instead of €0,-, all because they're greedy bastards. Too bad folks, but I don't really feel sorry for you.

Here's what the government should do:

  • Remove the tax on empty media.
  • Break the Record Industry's cartel
  • Demand fair prices on CDs
  • Outlaw Digital Restriction Management when it breaks the law.

"Better stuff in the US than in the so called Dutchlands"

Armchair-bumm's got something to say about the 'so called Dutchlands'.

Movie transcript:

Yeah, I'm a Dutch person, and I'm from the United States, and I just want to say I went to look up some stuff in Holland, and I was hoping to see some cool Dutch people, and I was kind of like schocked to see that, like, there's not a lot of Dutch people there any more. I was like not impressed, and there's better stuff in the United States then there is in the so called Dutchlands, the like, Netherlands. And I think the society is really sick there now. And all these Indian types and Ghandi types. I wish I'd never would've looked that stuff up, and I was really offended that I saw that in my former home country. And I uh don't think those people belong there in my country.

Well, to you I say… glad you moved to the U.S, and I, uh, like, uh, like, like uh… hope you stay there and don't you's ever comes back here now ya hear? Dumb racist pig. At least we've still got basic human rights here in the Dutchlands.

Via GeenStijl.

"Beatrix is een hoer"..

"Beatrix is een hoer"…

En de politie zijn een stelletje laffe honden die niets beters te doen hebben dan onschuldige mensen op te pakken. Ga eens boeven vangen of zo?! En waarom beeldmateriaal in beslag nemen?

Illegal U.S. citizen spying continues

Unauthorized spying on U.S. citizens' international tele-communications will continue, as an appeals court in Cincinnati dismissed the case brought against the Bush administration to stop the surveillance activity.

The illegal wiretapping program was authorized by Bush after the 9/11 events and allows the monitoring of (amongst others?) international telephone calls e-mail.

"The Bush administration is basically left free to violate an act of congress with impunity – the foreign intelligence surveillance act, which congress adopted over 30 years ago to prevent the executive from engaging in precisely this kind of unchecked surveillance," Goodman [ACLU] said.
"They are effectively saying you can't show that you've been wiretapped and you'll never be able to show that you've been wiretapped because the whole thing is so secret."

The reason the case was thrown out: The appeals court panel ruled that the groups and individuals (ACLU on behalf of other groups including lawyers, journalists and scholars) who brought the lawsuit did not have the legal right to bring the challenge. Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, a Sixth Circuit judge (appointed by Bush naturally), said: "The plaintiffs failed to show they were subject to the surveillance and therefore do not have standing for their claims."

Kind of hard for the people that do have standings for their claims to sue, as basically everything from McDonald's coffee-recipe to how many sheets of toilet paper Bush uses on the toilet has been classified under the National Security/Terrorism Threat strawman. So, if you want to sue, it has to be you who they've been spying on or the case will get dismissed. But you can't know you're being spied on, since everything is classified.

Land of the Free indeed.