Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Web of darkness

Pretty much every James Bond movie since the beginning of time has been about villains out to take control of the world. The villains usually do this by manufacturing a bomb with blue flashing lights all over it and a sign saying "Warning: This bomb will bring about the end of the world". They are foiled at the last minute by an immaculately dressed Bond floating/sailing/driving/flying/bungee jumping into the heart of the mess. But the problem with these movies, entertaining as they are, is the basic premise that someone would be able to "take control of the world".

Now that's all changed. Unknown to a lot of people outside the US (I was also only dimly aware until yesterday) there is an ongoing attempt to take over the internet. Which, in case you haven't yet realised, would be exactly the same thing as taking over the world. This awful piece of villainy is to be perpetrated using a bill called SOPA currently being pushed in the USA. As a result Wikipedia, a place I consider my second home, is offline today in protest (and therefore the link in the previous sentence is not to the Wikipedia entry on SOPA but to a video on the website of The Guardian). More precisely, English-language Wikipedia is offline though French, Italian and even Hindi Wikipedia are very much around. Please go check for yourself by following this link if you speak French and this one if you speak Hindi.

I can't tell you much about the consequences of SOPA, but can highly recommend this recent article from The Guardian. Meanwhile, if things get too bad then avid supporters of freedom of speech may consider getting into Onion Routing. Oops, you can't read about it on Wikipedia today. Try again tomorrow.

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