It would be safe to say that Steve Wozniak is something of a geek icon. Not only is he credited with inventing the personal computer, but his contributions to the world of electronics engineering are of no small consequence. He never wanted to be a business tycoon or really become anything more than an engineer, and that may be the one thing that makes him such a superstar in the geek world.
Lately, he’s been making some very bold statements concerning the future of the cloud and the Internet as we know it. On RT’s YouTube channel, an interview with him went live this morning that carried a bold headline. Wozniak: Web Crackdown Coming, Freedom Failing gives the impression of a fairly grim reality to come. Is this statement really accurate?
In the interview, Wozniak discussed the situation surrounding Kim Dotcom’s legal battles over MegaUpload, a file-sharing site that was recently targeted by law enforcement agencies in an international action due to piracy concerns. Pressing charges such as racketeering and unwarranted data confiscation are just a few of the actions being taken by these legal bodies to force an extradition from New Zealand so Kim Dotcom can be tried in the United States. This seems like a fairly extreme action to take against someone who is wanted for something as non-violent as piracy. Other arguments state Kim Dotcom really didn’t do anything wrong outside of hosting a file sharing service that users utilized to pirate copyrighted content. Where are the SWAT teams and international legal movements against YouTube and other media sharing sites prone to copyright infringement?
As a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Steve Wozniak knows a thing or two about the tightening of the digital noose around the necks of users throughout the world. Wozniak believes that there are limitations to free speech as described in the US Constitution, though it is that freedom that separates the United States from being more like Soviet Russia.
Looking at the reality of today, I can’t help but to agree with Steve Wozniak. Not only have our freedoms to speak and interact with others online being limited more and more, but the very dangers we hope to avoid as a nation are becoming a reality for us, today.
We live in an age where a corporation can file a claim and take away our ability to use the Internet without trial or sufficient evidence. Regulations like PIPA and SOPA have threatened our freedom to interact with others online. The RIAA has already partnered with top ISPs to “police your traffic” in order to combat piracy. It doesn’t hurt that many of these ISPs are owned by the content creation companies that do silly things like issue takedown notices for content they don’t even own or sue people who haven’t even been identified by name.
Even the Mitt Romney campaign isn’t immune to the RIAA’s sting. A campaign ad was pulled after a DMCA takedown notice was filed against it.
Piracy is a terrible thing, but until the algorithms used to detect and report copyright violations are perfected, the risk of having your voice silenced by needless actions by corporations with deep pockets appears to be much greater.
LockerGnome’s own Craighton Miller suffered a false DMCA takedown on one of his YouTube videos this summer. WMG (Warner Music Group) had one of his videos taken offline because it claimed to own the content within it. The content in question was a public domain background he used during a brief moment in the video that looked similar to the one used by the musician in a music video produced by WMG. The result: Craighton missed out on 30 days of ad revenue from the video while WMG took the entire time failing to respond to his counter-claim.
Is a Web crackdown inevitable? I’d say it’s already well under way, and we haven’t even discussed WikiLeaks.
What do you think? Is free speech and personal property being put at risk by corporations with the power to censor? Do you believe a full-scale crackdown is coming?
Photo: Gnomedex (video above)