Tag Archives: copyright

The Right to Internet Access

How essential is the Net? How vital is access to the Internet at all times? Does being cut off impair or maybe even threaten modern life? If you’re one of the many who would argue that yes, the ability to get online is absolutely basic to life, work, society, and entertainment, you’re not alone. And in a landmark ruling, the highest court in Germany agrees with you. Recently, the German Federal Supreme Court ruled that consumers can demand damages – financial compensation – for service outages. The case involved a suit by a man who lost his DSL connection for 2 months. For Germans, the decision places Internet access in the same small class of assets protected because they are necessary to survive and function in modern society. These  include homes, telephones, and automobiles. Consider that: loss of Internet access is deemed as big an inconvenience as losing a car! This means that sanctions denying access may not be applied. German Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said, “The judgment of the Federal Court shows that for an informed life, the network has become  fundamental. It is a realization that the use of the Internet is a civil right.” This is not the first time a government had declared Internet access is a basic human right. France was first to do so back in 2009. Finland went even further later that year when it declared it would provide each citizen with … Continue reading

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The 3D Replicator Revolution Is Here

While the world has been suffering through the Great Recession and many still worry about all the manufacturing jobs lost overseas, the next industrial revolution was quietly launched in garages, basements, and labs right here at home. This new method of producing goods will cause greater changes and more social upheaval than anything since Henry Ford started up his assembly line. This new technology is called 3D printing and it will change how we make everything from what we wear and what we eat to the vehicles we drive and the jobs we perform. 3D printing will give the average person the freedom of expression and specialty crafted goods which was once the exclusive realm of royalty and the super-rich. Not just in the abundance of “bespoke” objects available as customized products or reproductions of rare artworks, either, but in terms of the sheer variety of things also. The ability to render mathematical expressions in solid form gives designers, engineers, and architects a tool of incredible power. Since the 1980s, expensive professional devices have been able to prototype new gadgets. But the tech is now finally poised to enter the consumer market. 3D printing is, of course, the latest step in the digitization of the world. It may be helpful in imagining the effects of this new way of doing things by recalling how digital 2D printing altered everything. Before the invention of the personal computer, printing was an established … Continue reading

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CISPA: The Fight for Privacy Continues

The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. That has been demonstrated once again in the ongoing legal struggle over privacy on the Internet. The celebration and congratulations among the people who united to defeat SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act“, the last proposed draconian legislation aimed at protecting copyright and intellectual property, had not even ended before another such bill was proposed. This one is called CISPA, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act“, which indicates it’s a somewhat different beast than SOPA, directed against hackers rather than file-sharers. (You can download a PDF of the actual bill, H.R. 3523, here.) It’s not quite SOPA risen like a zombie from the grave, but it is written in such ambiguous language that many privacy advocates consider it even more insidious and potentially harmful. CISPA, opponents claim, allow “cyber entities” such as ISPs, social networks, and cell phone and other service providers, to circumvent Internet privacy laws. It allows the government to monitor online communications if it suspects any kind of cybersecurity threat to be involved. And since the bill does not really define cybersecurity, that leaves the door wide open, allowing virtually anyone to be spied on for any reason. Not only the government is given this power. If a cyber entity thinks a threat is involved, it can take action. The only safeguard built in is that it cannot be done for “unfair competitive advantage”. All that’s … Continue reading

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