2019 Artist Enemy Countdown #2: Kirsten Fiedler/EDRi.org

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Kirsten Fiedler is the Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager for the European Digital Rights Organization.   An umbrella organization of “digital rights” organizations across Europe, North America and Africa.  A high percentage of their member organizations receive funding from Google and other US digital monopolies.  100% advocate policies that match Google’s copyright policies.

Now don’t be confused by the term “digital rights.”  Fiedler/EDRI do not mean actual human digital rights.  Judging by their actions and communications Fiedler/EDRi.org must be talking about the “digital rights” of the monopolistic US platforms like YouTube and Facebook. For their advocated policies allow the digital monopolists to monetize copyright infringement with impunity. Human rights? Not so much.  EDRi would like see copyright weakened even further “in the digital marketplace” (as if digital marketplace is separate from the overall marketplace for culture). As artists well know, for all practical purposes copyright is unenforcible in the “digital marketplace” and this has resulted in a dramatic market failure that depresses the value of music across the board.  Think it’s hard to feed your family now?  Wait til Fiedler and EDRi get their way.

Now some regard EDRi and Fiedler as ignorant do-gooders that don’t understand the consequences of their actions.  I disagree.  I think they know exactly what they are doing. For Ms. Fiedler and EDRi engage in the most sinister form of corporate copyleftism: declaring they are “for artists rights” while pushing policy and talking points that are indistinguishable from policy positions of the Pirate Party and Google. These policies are clearly intended to strip authors of any copyright protection.

But that’s not all. Fiedler and EDRi frequently engage in clever disinformation campaigns that wildly distort the truth.  Look at the comic Fiedler is fond of distributing with EDRi’s propaganda materials:

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(Mimi and Eunice comic. Copyright notice states: “♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.” We are for artists choice. Copyright allows an author the CHOICE to enforce their rights or not.  Piracy eliminates choice). 

This is the old Pirate Party BIG LIE. “We’re not ripping off artists we are ripping off the giant corporations.”  Every artist knows what bullshit this is and so do EDRi folks.  (tl/dr in digital realm many royalty streams, but especially songwriter royalties flow directly through to artists without any label/publisher intermediation, and what about the 60% of professional performers that are independent?).

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In fact it is clear that EDRi is working hand in hand with the Pirate Party. Above is a guest post from EDRi on the EU Pirate Party Medium account. Pirates Party really? Didn’t the founder of the Pirate Party call for the legalization of child pornography? These folks are far outside any Overton window of political respectability.  As a result it’s fair to question not just Fiedler’s judgement, it’s fair to question her morality when she makes common cause with the Pirate Party.  What’s next an alliance with far right white nationalists?

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Oh wait they look like they’ve already started. See tweet above.  I guess Fiedler is one of those “ends justify means” personalities.

And the sinister nature really shows in the campaign Fiedler and EDRi waged against Article 13.  For Fiedler/EDRi were willing to use deliberate misinformation (some would say outright lies) to defeat article 13.  What kind of people do this kind of thing?

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Screenshots 5-7: Gee the UN Human Rights Rapporteur surely is not collaborating with a corporate funded astroturf group.  There must be some mistake.  Also: there are no “censorship machines;” “upload filters” are already in use on all major platforms for pornography, terrorist content and in some cases copyright; no possible reading of language of Article 13 would “ban memes;”  and Wired magazine sadly caters to its biggest advertisers (Silicon Valley) reprinting propaganda with no critical analysis, that’s EDRi retweeting Wired magazine’s article that is almost completely sourced from EDRi generated documents. 

Just three examples. But they all repeat the censorship canard.  It is impossible to overstate just how far from the truth is the claim that article 13 would result in censorship. It’s not even in the same time zone as the actual language of the directive. EDRi’s claim of censorship would seem to exist in a dystopian parallel universe in which copying wholesale artists works without permission is a digital platform’s “free speech.”  Fundamentally Article 13 is about encouraging trillion dollar digital platforms to license works uploaded by their users. If users can’t upload works? It is because Google has decided to hoard its profits of $31billion a year rather than bother licensing works.

Similarly the frequent use of the term “upload filters” by Fiedler and EDRi is another kind of disinformation.  Platforms already use upload filters for pornography, terrorist propaganda and copyrighted works from certain firms. Article 13 doesn’t create these things. They already exist.

It is telling to note that both the terms “upload filters” and “censorship machines” originated 6 months earlier with the Google funded/staffed Open Media astroturf group. This is the group that was caught spamming the EU parliament with robotic emails, tweets and phone calls.   I’m gonna take a wild guess and say these terms were the work (or certainly inspired) by Jacob Glick the former International Head of Public Policy & Government Relations for Google. These terms are after all so Googley (circa 2012). Glick was (is?) board member of Open Media when these terms surfaced.  BTW we briefly considered making Glick one of the top five artist enemies but it appears the guy now works for a reading glasses startup in Kitchener Ontario. While not a lower circle of hell its got to be close.  Naming him an artist enemy would be like kicking a dog.  Instead the award goes to Fiedler.

So congratulations Ms. Fiedler you are 2019 Artists Enemy #2.  Good work.  See if next year you can get to #1.  The devil always needs more souls.

 

 

 

 

2019 Artist Enemy Countdown #3: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

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Scientists have concluded the Senator’s official photo likely violates the Myspace Rule: profile photos may not be older than (Current Age/10) – 1 years. 

The longtime democratic Senator loves to boast about his progressive bona fides but when you look at his legislative record a different story is told. Sure he’s progressive on social issues but on everything else? He appears to be in the pocket of monied Silicon Valley interests, broadcasters and hedge funds. For our readers the key issue is Wyden reliably supports legislation and policies that enrich anti-union right wing billionaires and impoverishes union performers and songwriters.

Examples

IRFA or (the Orwellian named) Internet Radio Fairness Act. This was his bill. It would have slashed digital radio royalties to (largely union) performers as much as 70 percent. The beneficiaries? The Silicon Valley VCs backing all these digital broadcaster. Fortunately the bill was withdrawn. What kind of “progressive” tries to pass a law that slashes wages to workers while enriching a cartel of mostly right wing billionaires? Disgusting right?

Not convinced? How bout the recently passed Music Modernization Act? Parts of the bill were controversial, but not title II the so-called “Classics Act.” The Classics Act restored digital royalties to pre-1972 performers. Wyden was the lone senator who opposed the Classics Act.

A little background. In 2012 digital broadcasters in apparent coordination (Hello FTC? Is this thing on?) stopped paying royalties to performers who had the misfortune of recording before 1972. The justification the digital broadcasters used was a tortured interpretation of how the 1976 copyright act and a 1995 amendment interacted. In short an unintended highly questionable loophole.

However the loophole provided a significant break to digital broadcasters. Some estimate the broadcasters got a 15% reduction in what they would have paid out to artists.

Why on earth would a “progressive” Senator support what is essentially a vast transfer of wealth from largely union performers to mostly right wing billionaires?

In this age of fake everything, Wyden is the fakest of all progressives.

Now consider Wyden represents the City of Portland and your head may begin to spin.

Portland has come to rival Nashville and Austin for its music economy. Portland produces groundbreaking new bands each year and is also home to many musical innovators from earlier generations. It’s also home to many labels and CD Baby the commercial heart of the DIY music industry. There are likely tens of thousands of folks employed by Portland’s music economic cluster.

On the other hand Silicon Valley has a cluster of Silicon Valley server farms out in the remote Eastern Oregon high desert. Oregon taxpayers subsidize these low employee operations (500 jobs statewide?) through tax subsidies and perhaps most importantly low cost hydro electric power from Columbia river.

Every subsidized low cost megawatt the Silicon Valley lampreys suck up is a megawatt that Oregon taxpayers have to source from higher cost higher carbon sources. Does that sound like the kind of policy that benefits Wyden’s constituents or Silicon Valley billionaires?

Oregonians deserve better than the false progressive Senator Wyden.

It’s not to early to think about primarying the Silicon Valley apparatchik. 2022 is not far away. And who knows it could be even sooner…No one has ever really delved into the curious story that Wyden’s son started a “hedge fund” in his father’s Washington DC basement. Who gave junior the startup money? He started the fund immediately after leaving a financial firm owned by one of Wyden’s most prominent donors. Hmm. That smell like pay to play to you? It’s strange enough it deserves some real scrutiny.

Congratulations to Sen Ron Wyden: 2019 Artist Enemy #3

#AnybodyExceptWydenIn2022

2019 Artist Enemy Countdown #4: Prof David Kaye UN Special Rapporteur Human Rights

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UC Irvine Professor David Kaye has been the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression since 2014.  So in this time Kaye has spent a lot of time advocating for the protection of journalists in autocratic states all over the world.  Selflessly traveling to some of the most dangerous and repressive places on the planet to protect free expression. A true advocate for human rights!

Nah.  Just kidding.   The dude mostly sits in his cushy offices at UC Irvine in Orange County California scolding first world countries with robust free speech protections like Canada and the EU for proposing modest improvements to copyright protection regimes on internet platforms.  As a result Kaye is protecting internet monopolies from having to pay artists. What an idiot.

Q. Best way to repress/discourage freedom of expression?

A.  Defund it.

You can tell this guy never spent any time living in the real world working for a living. You think he’s ever considered market forces and free expression?  Nah, that would require venturing outside of his academic bubble into the real world.

But even more disturbing, while Jamal Khashoggi was being dismembered the UN Special Rapporteur was largely devoting his energies to undermining Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive by falsely claiming that Article 13 is a four alarm free expression emergency.  It violates the UN Human Rights Declaration!!!!

It does no such thing and Professor Kaye knows it.

As we detailed on this blog previously David Kaye has written virtually identical screeds (one to Canada one to the EU) to support his highly questionable views that forcing trillion dollar internet companies to do a better job protecting authors from copyright infringement is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Kaye supports his argument by disingenuously  switching (in footnote citations) between elements of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and then things that are not in the real Article 19 but from a private foundation that has the similar name Article19.org.  Footnote formatting rules make it almost impossible for non lawyers to tell the difference between the two.  We earlier called this “academic phishing” as it relies on mistaking on official document for another similarly named document of questionable provenance.

Kaye also supports his arguments by citing something called the Manilla Principles. A binding international treaty right?

Nah.  It’s just a private document created by a group of NGOs, many funded by Google and Open Society Foundations; and others that don’t seem to exist at all. The Internet Research Agency is likely impressed.

If you haven’t grasped the level of fuckery here take a moment to think about it. This  would be like the stagehands at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland (writing from backstage right now) producing a document called The Portland Principles that among other thing gives stagehands “the right to leave burning bags of canine feces on doorsteps of corrupt UN Special Rapporteurs.”   When confronted by authorities they would simply claim The Portland Principles gave them the right.

The whole sad David Kaye saga is chronicled here.

Not going out on a limb here by saying David Kaye willfully misleads the reader into thinking Universal Declaration of Human Rights says things it doesn’t. This is a gross violation of his obligation as a special rapporteur; academic and as a decent human being.   Why does this guy still have a job?

Ladies and gentleman I give you 2019 Artist Enemy #4: UN Human Rights Rapporteur David Kaye.  Congrats professor.  Now go work for Google.

(See former UNHRC Rapporteur Frank La Rue https://archive.google.com/advisorycouncil/ )

2019 Artist Enemy Countdown: #5 Derek Slater Google Public Policy

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Derek Slater is ready to run through Chinese walls!!

Despite the fact you’ve never heard of this guy, he has had a profoundly negative effect on the market value of your works.

As a senior public policy executive at Google his fingerprints are all over every proxy driven campaign against any meaningful copyright reform. You see the status quo is very good for the legacy internet monopolies like Google.  They are not liable for their users/customers infringing activity yet are still happy to monetize infringing activities through advertising and data mining.  Whether it’s an offshore pirate site with an Adsense account or unlicensed videos on YouTube, Google efficiently converts copyright infringement to cash.

But the ripoff doesn’t stop there.  Google’s willful blindness to infringement in turn drives the price of music down across the board.  For example the only reason Spotify must keep its royalty deficient ad-supported free tier is cause they must compete with YouTube and Google monetized piracy.  Without all that free music out there, Spotify could conceivably jettison the free tier and a substantial portion of those spins would thereafter be on the subscription tier. The subscription tier pays approximately 8 times as much per spin as the free tier.  Economist call this distortion a “market failure.”  That’s a fancy way of saying Google with a market cap of $730 billion USD is taking money directly out of your pocket and food from your kids mouths.

So it’s no surprise that any proposed legislation, court case, trade treaty or pro-copyright news article that remotely threatens Googles obscene profits (31 billion last year) is met with a cloud of misleading talking points and out and out disinformation.  Usually disseminated by Google funded bloggers, academics and astroturf groups.

But this year we saw the disinformation from Google go out in a particularly disturbing way.  Google used its YouTube platform to feed disinformation about EU article 13 to our children to help lobby parents. “Mommy the EU is gonna ban YouTube.”  Political advertising to children?

FTC? FTC? Hello? Hello?  Is this thing on?

Derek Slater, Senior Public Policy & Government Affairs Manager at Google, we believe the buck stops with him. 2019’s Artist enemy #5.

 

 

 

Is Pirate Party MEP Coordinating with Group Committing Criminal Charity Fraud?

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Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has been touting a dubious online petition against article 13.  Despite claims to be acting on behalf of internet “users” the petition seems to be a fundraising effort by a “charity” group operating the website SaveTheInternet.Info.

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SaveTheInternet.info gofund me page claims the group is a German charity. 

The problem is the  “charity” does not appear to be a charity at all.  According to our German sources the SaveTheInternet is not registered as a German charity as they clearly claim. That’s a misrepresentation.  I am not a lawyer but a plain reading of the laws in the US concerning soliciting funds for a charity would make this criminal fraud in the US.  Since the group is soliciting funds worldwide using the Redwood City California corporation (GoFund.me) I would argue this is a violation US law:

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I suppose I could be wrong but there have been prosecutions for similar activity in the US. How is this any different?

On top of that I imagine that the German government has similar if not more strict laws on charities, solicitation of funds and misrepresentations.

Here is the GoFundMe page:

https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-internet-info

 

 

Boaty McBoatface Uses Fight For the Future Dialer Tool to Lobby Rand Paul on HR 1695 from…Scotland — Music Technology Policy

MusicTechPolicy is reporting that the Google astroturf group “Fight For the Future” is deploying robo call tools against US. Senators. Google is again trying to hack our democracy.  Fortunately Scottish anti-astroturf superhero Boaty McBoatFace the is on the case.  

We’ve said for years that Google shills use a variety of dodges to create the impression of grass roots support among legislatures–when it really isn’t there.  We think this because all of the snakes in the grass roots seem to be online, so rarely offline that it may as well be never.

One of the big dodges is that the shilleries have autodialing tools that allow anyone to call a number and be connected to “their” Member of Parliament, Senator, Representative.  That way the location of the person making the call is masked from the person receiving the call.  All you need to know is a postal code in the member’s district, state or country and the dialer will connect you.

The assumption is that the calls originate locally in at least the same country, but they don’t.  That way a dedicated group of likeminded people anywhere in the world can, as Susan Crawford once said, “geek around the nation state.”

We saw this entire saga play out in Europe over Article 13 where millions of phone calls and emails were lobbed at the Members of the European Parliament, yet less than 1,000 people showed up to protest across all of Europe.  Article 13 sailed through its vote as Members of the European Parliament voted down the Google version of the bill–emphatically.

Well…now we are seeing Google shills Fight for the Future pulling the same stunt in the United States.  Another “break the Internet” situation being blown out of proportion using Google’s usual scare tactics.  A bad look in a post-Cambridge Analytica universe.  Here’s how it looks (lobbyists behaving badly):

Boaty demonstrates perfectly the entire scam, and guess what–it works both from Europe to the States and from the States to Europe. And frankly, probably from anywhere to anywhere.

Well…just one thing to say to Mr. McBoatface: Alba gu bràth, laddybuck.

via Boaty McBoatface Uses Fight For the Future Dialer Tool to Lobby Rand Paul on HR 1695 from…Scotland — Music Technology Policy

At This Point We Have to ask Ourselves: is Google Opposed to Article 13 or the Nation State Itself? PT 3

This is very rough.  I feel an urgency to get this all out to the public. Why? Currently there are at least three major and coordinated efforts by Silicon Valley (well mostly Google) to undermine regulations and authority of national governments.  The EU copyright Directive, The Canadian Copyright Consultation and the Register of Copyrights Bill in US.  I’m publishing, revising and adding additional material in real time in hope that’s people will look at all these efforts from the broadest possible perspective. First two posts are here and here. Part  II has been heavily revised since original publication. 

Active Measures: Cyberturfing

This series examines the dilemma liberal democracies face as Silicon Valley companies, especially the information monopolies like Google and Facebook, exert power in the political realm.  I framed the choice as such:

  • Do technology companies and their allies sit at the apex of power and determine what sort of world we live in? The boundaries and limits of our government, our commerce and our liberties defined by their algorithms and business models?  Government is simply a janitorial service that cleans up the negative externalities.
  • Or do democratic institutions sit at that apex?

In Part I I outlined a basic history of internet exceptionalism, and then noted that when this pernicious notion is combined with techno-determinism you end up with something I call “internet imperialism.” Fundamentally internet imperialism challenges the legitimacy of representative governments and tries to unwind 400 years of the liberal democratic order, by removing vast swaths of human social and commercial activity from purview of institutions legitimized by the consent of the governed.

In Part II I drilled down into the ideas contained in A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, and how the adoption of this creed by commercial internet companies was to their commercial advantage (cost shifting negative externalities), and put them on a collision course with the authority of the nation state.

Specifically internet companies currently use both active and passive measures to diminish the authority of the nation state.  I broke them down into four broad categories

  • Cynically pushing a fiction that “cyberspace” has its own geographical space that is outside national geographic boundaries;
  • Intimidating democratically elected officials by activating online mobs, sometimes real but largely artificial (cyberturfing);
  • Spreading disinformation using proxies while simultaneously denying use of such proxies (“little green men“); and
  • Pressuring non-pliant governments, by openly appealing to centrifugal forces that threaten those governments. Including, opposition parties; ultra-nationalist parties; extreme voices on right/left; and even separatist movements (The Catalonian Candidate))

The first method is more or less passive. Internet companies suggest cyberspace is its own geographic space and outside national boundaries. Thus they claim national laws don’t apply. I examined this in great detail in part II.

However the next three measures are what I would term “active measures” whereby technology companies directly (or indirectly through proxies) run information campaigns against governments in order to intimidate officials thus diminishing the scope of governance and permanently damaging the ability of that government to effectively govern virtual territory.  In the framework I am using for this essay (internet imperialism) these measures can be seen as offensive operations that allow internet companies to expand and hold virtual territory.  Sometimes these campaigns go farther (as they did in the EU) and seek to harm these governments outside the venue of cyberspace  by stirring up passions of regional separatists, ultra-nationalists and extreme voices on the right and left that seek to dismantle democratic institutions. Because these last three measures bear more than a passing resemblance to hybrid information warfare I should introduce the concept.

Active Measures: Smells like hybrid information warfare

Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy and foreign electoral intervention. By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution. –Wikipedia Contributors.

While on first brush this may seem rather strong to compare Google interventions in the democratic processes of sovereign nations as warfare, this is largely because most people have a 19th century view of warfare as purely kinetic operations.  In the last 50 years the information component of war has grown in importance.  In the last 10 years it is arguably the most important and effective component of modern warfare.

I’m confident both United States and Russian military thinkers would agree that nations on the periphery of the Russian federation have been yanked in out of the Russian sphere of influence largely via hybrid/information warfare.  Kinetic operations were only used as a last resort.  Think of simmering conflicts in Ukraine and Georgia.  While ISIL has used stunning displays of violence to claim and hold territory, the group largely used this to further psychological campaigns and thus weaken opposing security forces. These forces “melted away” with little kinetic warfare. ISIL was able to expand its territory dramatically with a few thousand fighters.  If you step back from the violence, ISIL has largely conducted an information war.

Kinetic operations are relatively unimportant in modern warfare, so even though Google lacks kinetic elements, the rest of its operations are strikingly similar to the modern techniques used by state actors and terrorist groups.

Remember that a group or nation does not need to gain territory or achieve a clear victory to benefit from hybrid war. Simply weakening “adjacent” nations or opponents may produce tangible benefits.

In the case of Google and other Silicon Valley companies virtual territory is a desirable prize.  Any weakening of a governments will or ability to govern parts of cyberspace is commercially beneficial. Internet platforms like Facebook and Google are at the base of these ecosystems and thus able to monetize most traffic and activity within these virtual colonies. The “larger” these virtual spaces the more revenue these platforms generate.

Weapons of Information Warfare and Google’s Superiority Over EU Parliament: Google campaign against EU Copyright Directive

These are the five key elements of information warfare.  These were summarized from a broader work on information warfare by Martin Libicki(1995)

The key five elements are:

  • Information Collection
  • Information Transport
  • Information Protection
  • Information Manipulation
  • Information Disturbance, Degradation and Denial.

In information warfare the side that is able to dominate in all these weapons categories is impossible to to defeat.  At least without resorting to kinetic operations.

Information Collection

Google by the design has an extraordinary advantage over the EU Parliament.  Its Android OS, Gmail, Website analytics and ad networks give it crucial information on virtually everyone on the planet.  The EU government?  Not so much.

Information Transport 

More than 90% of all web searches are conducted through Google’s search engine.  Also the default mobile search in the Apple iOS is Google. Android is a wholly owned Google product.  Most people click on the first few results. Google does not have to block information to suppress opponent information. They simply down rank links. Look at the screenshots below. These searches were conducted using private browser and VPN to minimize “browsing bubble” effect on search results.


Fig 1 and Figure 2 Search results for Article 13. Because Google controls transport of information, information that supports its commercial interests can be pushed up in rankings. Information that damages its commercial interests can be down-ranked. 

Information Protection

“By scrambling its own messages and unscrambling those of the other side, each side performs the quintessential act of information warfare, protecting its own view of reality while degrading that of the other side.” -Martin Libicki

Information warfare is about distorting reality.  To win in information warfare your reality must win out over opponents reality. Even actual positivist reality.

It’s not just enough to control the information flow. In information warfare a entity must protect information that the other side could use to damage your capabilities.  In the case of Google they are expert at “Google washing” or obscuring damaging information.   There is no better example of this than the Google’s own “transparency report” that confuses opponents searching for “Google Transparency Project.” (Google Transparency Project is generally critical of Google).
Which result would your typical MEP staffer click on? By outranking adversary’s competing information,  Google partially shields  itself from damaging information.  Remember Google controls the Information distribution channel.  Essentially Google through the power of its search engine has the power to encrypt damaging information while decrypting and disseminating information that harms its opponents.

 

Information Manipulation 

Information manipulation in the context of information warfare is the alteration of information with intent to distort the opponent’s picture of reality. This can be done using a number of technologies, including computer software for editing text, graphics, video, audio, and other information transport forms. Design of the manipulated data is usually done manually so those in command have control over what picture is being presented to the enemy, but the aforementioned technologies are commonly used to make the physical manipulation process faster once content has been decided. – 1999 student paper a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University (Megan Burns)

In this instance we see Google proxy SaveYourInternet.eu (see section on proxies). conduct a three step process, that allows them enormous command and control over information directed at MEPs.

Step 1.  Google proxy creates disinformation and images to share.

Step 2.   Google proxy Open Media (see section on proxies) creates technological tools to distribute the misinformation.

Step 3. Some real constituents use these tools.  But the tools were also used en masse by unknown allied parties.  Tell tale signs of automation were also present; Late night activity, massive retweets of low follower accounts, identical emails etc etc. See here and here. 

Any particular country’s MEPs can be targeted by SaveYourInternet.eu. As images indicate Axel Voss was being automatically targeted when image was captured. This suggests some sort of command and control directing the flow of false information (non-existent outraged mobs) at Voss. This is classic cyberturfing.  MEPs on the receiving end of these tweets, emails and calls imagined they faced real opposition from their constituents.  Turns out they really didn’t.  See dismal Pirate Party rallies opposing article 13.

Information Disturbance, Degradation and Denial.

“Spoofing is a technique used to degrade the quality of the information being sent to the enemy. The enemy’s flow of information is disturbed by the introduction of a “spoof”, or fake message, into that flow. The technique works because it allows you to provide “false information to the targeted competitor’s collection systems to induce this organization to make bad decisions based upon this faulty information,” Cramer 1996

Thousands of tweets against copyright directive have been sent to MEPs from fake twitter accounts,  The United State’s FCC recently faced a similar situation when it turned out that many of the millions of comments it received on net neutrality were fake. oenemy’s flow of information is disturbed by the introduction of a ‘spoof’, or fake message, into that flow.” Zoom out and there is an grander fake message: thousands of constituents are outraged by the copyright directive.

Finally as  evidenced by the automated tweets, SaveYourInternet.com targeted specific MEPs at different times. “provide false information to the targeted competitor’s collection systems to induce this organization to make bad decisions based upon this faulty information.” See targeted robo tweets below. 

Hundreds of automated tweets an hour directed at MEP Beatriz Becerra.  Quite surprising since it’s the wee hours of the morning and the frequency of tweets seems to be increasing!?

So you got it?  A Google funded webpage using automated tools to misinform and mislead a member of EU parliament, using what often appears to be fake twitter accounts.  What do we call this?

“Another way to disturb the information being received by one’s opponent is to introduce noise into the frequency they are using. Background noise makes it difficult for the enemy to separate the actual message from the noise.” -Burns 1999

Again see above.  The volume of automated tweets makes it impossible for MEPs to “hear” information that Google does not want them to hear.  Say voices of artists and other creators that might be in favor of the copyright reforms.

“Finally, overloading is technique used to deny information to the enemy in both military and civilian settings. By sending a volume of data to the enemy’s communication system that is too large for it to handle, one causes a crash or severe degradation of the system’s ability to deliver information. The system is so busy dealing with the overload, it is unable to deliver the essential information to those who need it.”

By flooding MEPs with thousands of Spam messages, phone calls and emails, the fake information overwhelms all other information that might be useful to MEPs as they consider this bill.

A similar thing happened to the US FCC in May 2016 as it considered rescinding so called “Title II” authority over “net neutrality.”  Late night TV comedian John Oliver stirred considerable interest in the net neutrality debate (apparently with the help of former Google outside counsel Marvin Ammori). Reports of a DDos attack on the FCC comment system quickly surfaced. This has since been publicly debated. However David Bray the then CIO of the FCC later noted in a Medium post:

When the events of 08 May happened, my quick analysis of the ratio of 35,000 API requests per minute we were receiving per minute, relative to the number of 90,000 comments being filed in the first half of the day, indicated that ratio to be extraordinarily high and lopsided (the Team also relayed that the API requests were continuing to increase, so we were seeing at least 2 million API requests per hour around the middle of the day — yet not a similar number of comments being received). Separate from actual people wanting to comment, I was concerned we were also being spammed by something automated. If this continued, it might deny system resources from actual people wanting to comment on the high-profile issue.

There is no doubt that John Oliver generated hundreds of thousands of comments.  The open question, still hotly debated, is whether this overload of the comment system was automated and if automated was this perpetrated by groups for or against Title II net neutrality authority?  Certainly there is evidence of automated identical submissions from both camps.  Regardless the overloading of the comment system made it difficult for FCC commissioners to “hear” the true voices of their constituents.  The information on the channel was “disturbed,” “degraded,” and “denied.”  The true signal is not distinguishable from the noise.  This ultimately is the point of Cyberturfing.  Impose a manufactured online mob “signal” over the actual signal from constituents. This doesn’t exclude the possibility that an overwhelming majority of the constituents agree with the cyberturfed signal. The problem is that it’s a fake signal and it disturbs the relationship between elected officials constituents. Jam the channel that carries “consent of the governed”  And obviously this sort fakery can be used in all sorts of nefarious ways to undermine the proper functioning of representative governments.

For instance discouraging elected officials from imposing regulations in domains that internet firms regard as their virtual territory (internet imperialism).

This is what appears to be happening in the EU as they debate the Copyright Directive.

Part four we will look at the use of proxies (“little green men”) to deliver disturbed and degraded information.

 

 

 

It Appears a YouTube Employee is Behind Campaign to Recruit Children to Lobby Against Article 13

I’m adding to MusicTechPolicy’s excellent article on how YouTube appears to be directly appealing to teens and pre-teens via YouTube to oppose Article 13.  Since MTP published this story we found this slideshow.  It provides YouTubers and YouTube channels with false facts and instructs them on how to spread misinformation on social media.  The slides also contain links to memes, jpgs and gifs, that appear to be created in house at YouTube. Why do we think this? Someone forgot to anonymize all the download links and the metadata indicates most digital assets were uploaded by a Marc Hertz.  We don’t know this person works for YouTube.  But according to LinkedIn someone named Marc Hertz is in charge of all the editorial content for Youtube including the YouTube Creators blog. 

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 10.11.38 AM

What are the odds?  We reached out to Marc Hertz for comment but received no response. 

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Read more on the Music Tech Policy.

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Google uses YouTube to recruit children into their lobbying effort against Article 13.

via YouTube Recruits Children to Lobby Against Article 13 — Music Technology Policy

EFF Points Spam Email Machine at Senate Register of Copyrights Bill

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Boaty McBoatface? See here. 

Backstory

The US Senate is considering a bill that would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee.  A version of this bill passed the house unanimously a couple years ago. The backstory here is that it’s largely an historical accident that the Copyright Office is in the Library of Congress.  Nevertheless the Librarian of Congress appoints the Register of Copyrights.  This was fine for many years as libraries and copyright holders were generally in agreement on scope of an authors copyright protections.

That all changed in the internet age as library organizations became increasing hostile to copyright protections. Formerly staid organizations like the American Library Association or  Library Copyright Alliance began to file Amicus briefs opposing copyright holders in far afield cases like Viacom v. YouTube or BMG v. Cox.   I suggest that anyone interested in digging deeper examine the copyright amicus briefs filed by the following organizations:  American Library Association, Library Copyright Alliance and Association of Research Libraries.  Especially those briefs written by Jonathan Band (A Google funded scholar naturally).

As Librarians have become uniformly ideological and hostile to robust protections for authors it has become imperative that the Register of Copyrights become independent of the Library of Congress.  Especially after the current librarian Dr. Hayden forced the last Register of Copyrights to resign by restructuring her job so it mostly covered point of sales in the Library of Congress gift shop.  

I shit you not.  You read that correctly.   If there was ever a case for a constructive termination lawsuit…

But it is worse than it looks.  Specifically the Register of Copyright was forced out because she made the mistake of noting that the Google/FCC land grab “unlock the box” would invalidate  private contracts between copyright holders and broadcasters.

In the wake of this shameful episode the House of Representatives quickly passed Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, (H.R. 1695) 378-48.  As close as you get to bipartisan consensus these days!  The bill has been languishing in the Senate, but recently there is new momentum to get the bill through the Senate.

The EFF’s Google Funded Cyberturfing

And right on cue Google funded EFF has sprung into action with a round of misleading propaganda that savages the former Register of Copyrights, AND a webform lacking any meaningful safeguards to prevent robo-spamming of US Senators. Readers of this blog will know that this leads to cyberturfing, the automated sharing of messages to create the illusion of grassroots opposition.   This blog, the Times of London and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung all covered the outrageous cyberturfing of the EU parliament as the EU considered updating EU copyright laws.

The EU spamming campaign was conducted by Open Media a Canadian group that is funded by Google and directed by former Google Canada Policy Director.   We half jokingly referred to it as a Canadian hybrid cyberwarfare attack on the EU parliament. Apparently that was no joke. We understand the EU has since launched an investigation.  The Open Media campaign used webforms almost identical to those now being deployed by EFF. These webforms lack any safeguards to prevent multiple messages using automation.

After the controversy generated by the Google funded spam, it’s shocking to see the EFF deploy the same tools against US Senators.  Recently I was contacted by an ethical hacker, who wished to assist us by demonstrating how easy it is to disrupt democracy when webforms lacking safeguards are employed to message politicians.  Here is her simple demonstration. Using a widely available browser plug-in, she sent 20 messages to 2 senators in 2 minutes.  The automation was slowed and restricted to a single browser tab to not rouse suspicion (and annoy the retiring Senators Heller and Flake).  But with 50 tabs this simple program could spam all 100 senators a dozen times a minute.  Watch video:

EFF could prevent this by adding a few simple things:

Captchas
IP geolocation verification
Email verification
Phone verification

And then allow only a single submission from each, IP, email or phone number.  The fact EFF doesn’t employ these simple features suggest they don’t care the forms can be used for automated submissions.

Finally, remember who we are dealing with here. It’s always more awful than you think with these folks.  This is not the first time the EFF has exhibited such contempt for democratic institutions and processes.  Just read the EFF’s ur document, A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by their founder John Perry Barlow.  From the very beginning the EFF has explicitly rejected the authority of duly constituted governments. They even reject the fundamental idea of The Enlightenment, consent of the governed, seeking to replace it with the ‘voice of liberty.’ Whatever the fuck that means. These are dangerous people. They must be called out on these tactics and investigated.  At the very least their tax exempt status should be revoked.

Russian hackers? It’s EFF and Google funded brethren undermining our democracy.

 

 

YouTube’s New Media Order – Guest Post Volker Rieck

Translated from German.  Mr. Rieck notes YouTube’s use of its own platform to spread misinformation about Article 13 of the Copyright Directive.  How does one pass legislation that the information monopoly does not want passed? 

YouTube’s new media order- Guest post by Volker Rieck.  

The streaming platform is exploiting its community for its own ends in the controversy over copyright in Europe and hasn’t shied away from misrepresenting the truth.

The controversy surrounding European copyright reform has entered a new phase following the release of an open letter and a video addressed to the YouTube community. On 22 October 2018, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressed the operators of successful YouTube channels (“creators”) in a blog post and warned them that the implementation of Article 13 would result in numerous smaller channels being shut down and in important content becoming unavailable to viewers in Europe.


Screenshot from the YouTube Video on Article 13

Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the YouTube community would be placed at risk, Wojcicki claims, by the adoption of the new legislation. Even educational content like language classes or physics tutorials would be under threat, she maintains, if streaming platforms were to be made liable for the content on their users’ channels.

The YouTube boss completely ignores the purpose of Article 13: eliminating the copyright infringements that are currently rife on major video hosting platforms by inducing the platforms to take out paid licenses covering the content they provide. Platforms unwilling to take out licenses would have to find other ways to offer content legally or accept liability for rights infringements on the part of their users. The new directive attempts to close a legal protection gap that has enabled internet platforms to profit from content for many years without paying royalties to originators set at an appropriate level.

 

Wojcicki’s calculated move triggered the avalanche of outrage she sought to produce, and legions of creators passed the CEO’s dubious messaging on to their subscribers, in largely unfiltered form, in the days that followed. In a veritable game of Chinese Whispers, YouTubers outdid each other in their apocalyptic interpretations of the likely impact of Article 13 and their distortions of the content of the proposed directive. Wild claims circulated that YouTube channel operators would already see their livelihoods threatened in 2019, that Article 13 was a censorship law, and so on. The platform helped the videos made in response to its own appeal to become highly visible and to reach wide audiences by displaying them on user home pages and by categorizing them as “trending.” Three of the top 5 videos in the YouTube trending charts at the beginning of November transported these dystopian visions. A video from the channel “Wissenswert” (German for “worth knowing”) attained a number 1 ranking on YouTube even though the channel itself has a mere 300,000 followers. It has now been called up 3.7 million times, a twelvefold increase in the channel’s normal reach.

Screenshot: YouTube trending charts at the beginning of November, 2018

Many of the videos betray a lack of elementary knowledge regarding the EU legislative process. Even if the new directive is adopted early in 2019, its transposition into national law will still take quite some time. More grievous errors are also evident, however, with the channel “Wissenswert” even inventing an entire new EU institution, the EU Congress. Drastic forecasts predict that hundreds of thousands of legal actions will be taken against platforms every day as soon as Article 13 comes into force.

Journalistic balance, research and objectivity are in short supply on many channels run by private operators. Only a handful of channels have managed to take a more equivocal look at the situation. The channel “MrWissen2Go” operated by the public service network “Funk” provided an impartial fact check that could have mitigated the rampant hysteria – but didn’t make the top 5 list of trending videos on YouTube.

Screenshot from the Youtube Video by Mr.Wissen2go

The new YouTube media order is exploiting the YouTube community by deploying YouTube channels as propaganda outlets. In the process, a core issue has been elegantly relegated into the background: YouTube avoids any mention of why Article 13 could automatically lead to numerous smaller channels being shut down. YouTube seemingly finds the choice it is expected to make between taking out licenses covering protected content and/or filtering out illegal content unconscionable – even though it already possesses powerful filtering software (“Content ID”) perfectly suited to the latter purpose. The platform has also failed to explain its claims that educational channels are particularly at risk. And while the blog post by YouTube boss Wojcicki demands a compromise on the issue of liability for content and on Article 13, it makes no attempt to even sketch out what such a compromise might look like. The Google subsidiary YouTube has profited from a gap in copyright protection for years, and the precept of not accepting accountability for or paying for content hosted on the platform now seems to be so strongly ingrained in YouTube’s DNA that any proposal to implement liability rules automatically seems unreasonable and unacceptable.

Ultimately, the way YouTube channels have been pressed into the service of the platform demonstrates just how urgent the need for measured political regulation of the platform has now become and how easy it is for the platform to exploit the ecosystem of private and semi-professional pseudo-journalism it hosts for its own ends. At the end of her video appealto the community, the YouTube boss thanks her community for “building the next generation of media companies.” But let’s make that companies with zero accountability, please. And not have them do any research.