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Save the Internet: Why tech nerds, journalists and musicians all hate Verizon
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Anonymous Illuminati Exposed
Exposing the internet hackers anonymous as an Illuminati asset. “Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for -fai…

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SEO and IPAs – 5 Internet Marketing “Food Groups” – SEO and IPAs is the fun, weekly hangout where entrepreneurs discuss SEO, marketing, and more! This week on SEO and IPA, Patti i…

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Today, The Hindu reported that Navyana, a Delhi-based publisher, has cancelled its agreement to publish an English translation of Joe DCruzs Tamil novel, Aazhi Soozh Ulagu (Ocean Ringed World). As a writer, Mr. DCruzs credentials are not in doubt he has won the Sahitya Akademi award, and his book has been extremely well-received in the Tamil-speaking world. It turns out, however, that after the agreement had been signed, and the translation completed, Mr. DCruz took an overt political stance in support of Narendra Modi. According to Mr. Cruz, the publisher expressly told him that they could not release [the book] because of my political stand.

Navyanas stand raises troubling free speech issues. Its important, however, to be clear on what precisely the problem is. There is nothing unconstitutional about Navyanas act, and (subject to the workings of contract law), nothing illegal about it. As a publishing house, Navyana is a private party, and Article 19(1)(a), that guarantees the freedom of speech and expression to all citizens, does not reach purely private relationships such as that between a publishing house and its contracted authors.

The fact that this was a private decision to rescind a book contract on non-literary grounds brings up parallels with the recent Wendy Doniger controversy. Parallels do exist, and they are undeniable. However, once again, let us first parse out the differences. In the Doniger case, Penguin withdrew The Hindus under the looming threat of an ongoing lawsuit. The Doniger controversy therefore implicated issues of cultural suppression through the mechanism of archaic, speech-suppressive laws like Section 295A of the IPC. It raised important issues, therefore, of how consistent our criminal laws are with our constitutional guarantees, and with the idea of a liberal, inclusive polity more generally. Since the criminal law is a creature of the State, we had a case of private parties using or co-opting State power, through the legal system, to suppress speech. Navyana, however, was not being sued, and no law draconian or otherwise was involved in its decision to rescind its agreement. The State, therefore, is not involved here unless it is through the more indirect way of contract law.

This brings us to what is really at stake here, and why despite it ostensibly being a private relationship between private parties Navyanas action raises free speech concerns. We tend to envision the paradigmatic cases of free speech violations being the State suppressing unpopular speakers and jailing dissidents, or the Censor Board refusing pre-release licenses to politically controversial films, or centrally books being banned. Yet if we think about the issue more deeply, it is easy to see that in todays world, free speech does not exist in a vacuum. Effective exercise of free speech that is, making your voice heard, reaching an audience (or as the case may be, readers), even communicating in a meaningful way depends upon a complex economic, political and social infrastructure. Components of this infrastructure include the television, newspapers, publishing houses and more recently the internet. If free speech is to mean anything at all, it must also include access to the vehicles of effective communication. Conditions of access are regulated by the gatekeepers of these vehicles, and in the society that we live in, the gatekeeper are more often than not private parties, such as newspaper editors, TV Channel owners, and so on.

If the purpose of free speech is to sustain our democracy, and in the words of the great American judge, Hugo Black ensure a free flow of ideas from diverse and antagonistic sources, then the greatest enemy of free speech is orthodoxy political, cultural and social. There is a particular danger when the orthodoxy is imposed by the State, working through criminal law or otherwise. But when the flow of ideas is dependent not only on the State, but also on private gatekeepers, then privately imposed orthodoxy becomes just as dangerous, just as stifling, and ultimately, just as destructive of free speech. As the free speech scholar Jack Balkin puts it, in order to thrive, our democracy depends upon a robust public sphere of discussion and opinion, and today, the control over that public sphere, and the power to shape that public sphere, rests as much in the hands of private parties (like Navyana) as it does with the State.

The Indian Supreme Court has understood this issue. In his famous dissenting opinion in Bennett Coleman, Justice Mathew expressed his concern with how big newspapers had monopolised the news market, and through economies of scale, were able to drive prices down so as to effectively exclude newer and smaller newspapers from entering the field. For Justice Mathew, this was a central issue of how meaningful free speech depended upon access both for speaker, and for the listeners, who would be deprived of a diversity of opinions, if only big, established newspapers controlled the flow of information. And similarly, in the case of LIC v. Manubhai D. Shah, the Supreme Court, in upholding the right of reply in case of a newspaper editorial publicly impugning someones credibility, affirmed the simple idea that if my voice cannot be heard, then I am not really speaking in any meaningful way.

It is a shortcoming perhaps a necessary shortcoming of our legal system, that it cannot always reach private action. Whether the system should be reformed is another question. But although Navyana like Penguin before it has every legal right to rescind its contract with Mr. DCruz, its position as free speech gatekeeper vests in it the moral and ethical responsibility to protect and promote the freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas, not to hinder or suppress it. It is that responsibility that it has failed to live up to.

Let us be clear: Navyana is free to refuse to publish any book that fails to meet the artistic or literary standards that it sets. It is also free to state, in advance, that its specific goal is to promote a certain kind of writing feminist, or religious, or leftist, or Scientologist or whatever and that nobody else need apply. This case, however, falls within neither of those categories. Admittedly, the reason for Navyanas decision was neither artistic merit, and not even that Mr. DCruzs politics had crept into his book in a manner that was inconsistent with Navyanas stated mission (the connections between the aesthetic and the political are far too complex to be discussed here). This was a case where a publishing house rescinded an agreement for no reason that had to do with the work, but for reasons that had to do with the authors politics. That is the definition of private censorship, and is extremely problematic.

Lastly, independent of the merits of this case, Navyanas decision is problematic because it merely adds to a public culture where private and public censorship is becoming the norm rather than the exception. For every Salman Rushdie, for every Taslima Nasreen, for every Wendy Doniger, and for every Joe DCruz, the foundations of our societys public commitment to free speech are weakened, and the fragile edifice moves one blow closer to crumbling. Free speech liberals should accept Navyanas legal right to do what it did, but nonetheless condemn its actions with the same vigour that they condemned the actions of Penguin.

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Public Stories, Private Censorship

The Internet Income Show: Episode 13 – Lucrative SEO Strategies
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The freedom and openness of the Internet are at stake after the U.S. government announced plans to end its contractual oversight of ICANN, some critics said Thursday.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administrations announcement last month that it will end its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to operate key domain-name functions could embolden other nations to attempt to seize control, some Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said.

All hyperbole aside, this hearing is about nothing less than the future of the Internet and, significantly, who has the right, the ability and the authority to determine it, said Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican. Should it be decided by a few people in Washington, Beijing, Moscow, Sao Paolo or even Silicon Valley or should it be determined by those who use and stand to benefit from it?

Goodlatte suggested that other countries would try to control ICANN after the U.S. ends its contract. The U.S. can rightly take credit for the freedom that exists the Internet today, he said during a hearing. When we let go of that final link, will that institution be safer from those efforts to regulate the Internet, or will it be more exposed because it no longer has the protection of the United States?

The Internet engineers, companies and civil society groups involved in ICANN wouldnt allow a government takeover of the organization, supporters of the NTIAs plan said. I cannot imagine the Internet engineers that I know agreeing to do any of the parade of horribles that people are concerned about, said Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat.

Separately, the technology subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Thursday to approve the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act, which would require a U.S. Government Accountability Office study about the effects of the transition before it happens. Members of that committee raised similar concerns in a hearing last week.

President Barack Obamas administration opposes the bill because it raises questions about the U.S. governments long-term support of a multistakeholder governance model at ICANN, said NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling.

Strickling assured Judiciary Committee members that the agency would not give up oversight of ICANN unless it is satisfied that the organization has a transition plan in place that prohibits a government takeover.

Several Republicans committee members questioned NTIAs move to end its contractual relationship with ICANN as soon as late 2015, but Strickling defended the plan, saying one of the main reasons for the change is to remove the perception in some countries that the U.S. has too much control.

While the NTIAs contract for ICANN to operate the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions is largely symbolic, the move would show the world that the U.S. supports a multistakeholder governance model at ICANN that it has advocated since 1998, Strickling said.

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End of ICANN contract puts Internet freedom at risk, critics say

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ReportersWithoutBorders: UK is enemy of free speech (05Apr14)
Reporters Without Border brands the UK as an enemy of Free Speech, especially on the internet. The British government / spies target journalists to find out …

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Since New Jersey legalized Internet gambling in November, offshore operators have intensified efforts to entice gamblers in the state to their unauthorized sites, according to an executive at one of the companies authorized to offer online gambling.

“There’s increased activity by offshore operators again into New Jersey, driving heavy promotions. There’s new companies coming now who are actually trying to capitalize on that opportunity,” Norbert Teufelberger, chief executive of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment P.L.C., said in a March conference call with investors.

“It’s quite amazing how high the criminal energy can be, but we are quite confident that the [Division of Gaming Enforcement] will shut that down quite efficiently and soon,” said Teufelberger, whose Gibraltar firm is partnered with Borgata in New Jersey.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed it was “aware of this issue and is taking steps to coordinate an appropriate response to this illegal activity,” said Kerry Langan, a spokeswoman.

Asked for details, Langan said only that “the illegal activity is offshore companies offering online gaming to New Jersey residents without licensing or approval” by authorities.

John Shepherd, a spokesman for Bwin.Party, said Friday the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 did not stop all overseas companies from allowing people in the United States to gamble online.

“It’s only companies like ourselves that switched off,” Shepherd said.

The legalization of Internet gambling in New Jersey made people aware they could play poker and other casino games online, Shepherd said.

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Unauthorized sites said trying to entice legal online gamblers in N.J.

Latest World News – Inside Story Americas – Policing the freedom of the internet
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Latest World News – Inside Story Americas – Policing the freedom of the internet – Video

Apr 042014

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Apr 032014

Future Islands singer Samuel T. Herrings performance on David Letterman blew up the Internet. Get acquainted with indie rocks next big thing.

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A closely watched Internet free-speech case is headed to the Virginia Supreme Court this month, with many businesses that live and die by online reviews rooting for the owner of a small, suburban carpet cleaner. In early 2012, Joe Hadeed, owner of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc., arrived at his office atop a 70,000-square-foot warehouse in Springfield, Va., to discover a critique posted on …

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Yelp Reviews Brew a Fight Over Free Speech vs. Fairness

Apr 022014

More than 65% of participants in a global BBC poll believe the internet has brought greater freedom, but many think this comes at the cost of increased government surveillance.

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Web 'brings freedom and scrutiny'

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