Is Steve Wozniak’s Prediction of a Web Crackdown Inevitable?

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?

Is Steve Wozniak's Prediction of a Web Crackdown Inevitable?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)

6 comments On Is Steve Wozniak’s Prediction of a Web Crackdown Inevitable?

  • There is an extreme need for transparency – and that need is not going to diminish.

    We’re in the Internet dark ages, but won’t see it that way for another 100 years.

  • This is just another argument that the concept of intellectual output is property is flawed. That concept is the basis of copyright law which is mysterious to me since it assumes anything copyrightable maintains value for the same duration. That is obviously absurd, yet that is how we do it.

  • I can’t imagine that
    there is any such thing as Intellectual Property, unless it is an unusually
    outrageous oxy-moron. First movers who are fleet will profit, and followers who
    attempt to collect fees on a commercial basis deserve the ire of us all, and best
    could be deterred by private lawsuits for damages; the governments need only to
    provide the courts and the courtrooms.

    BUT if I have
    something and share it with you, or vice versa, neither of us owes the creators
    a dime nor are we pirates.

    Studies (Switzerland
    for example) found that the alleged owners of copyrighted works BENEFITED
    financially when non-commercial sharing amongst ordinary people was allowed or
    even encouraged, but did NOT benefit in any tangible way from governmental
    efforts at enforcing copyWRONG against ordinary non-commercial users.

    This so-called
    “owners” of so-called “Intellectual Property” in fact own
    privileges giving them control of commercial use of what they have created (or
    to be truthful, have paid others to create for them or even more commonly, have
    purchased from yet others).

    To HELL with Hollywood.

    I can’t imagine that
    there is any such thing as Intellectual Property, unless it is an unusually
    outrageous oxy-moron. First movers who are fleet will profit, and followers who
    attempt to collect fees on a commercial basis deserve the ire of us all, and
    best could be deterred by private lawsuits for damages; the governments need
    only to provide the courts and the courtrooms.

    BUT if I have something
    and share it with you, or vice versa, neither of us owes the creators a dime
    nor are we pirates.

    • Lee Jenna Tyler

      I’m gonna argue against that, to a point. I’m for open culture, against tamping down on the web, et al. I just think the copyright laws as applied to the internet are not evolved in the least. Say you wrote up a program and published it to a wiki or other for all to share through the kindness of your heart. And then you heard I was making money hand over fist calling it mine. You saw me interviewed on a yacht off the coast off Nice that I bought through your hard work and was being interviewed on (help us all) Entertainment Tonight. Wouldn’t you do something about that? Call up a friend, a lawyer, take to the web to have some action done? Well that’s the same feeling big corporations (which are comprised of Everyman) get when they have to have one less grip on a shoot site because of copyrighted material that gets used. And one less job for your cousin or someone. I could argue on here but you get my drift. It’s a fine line that no one knows how to find because of the new ‘go west young man’ outback that is the internet. Again, there just needs to be copyright laws that apply more to, in my way of thinking, incorporated papers and proving that against the infraction incurred. (See Steve’s point in the video about DotCom. I’m amazed that I’m arguing on this side of the fence because I’m usually on the other side but the laws are, as Chris alluded to, much like beheading and holding the head on a spike for all to see in the village when someone has merely stolen an orange because he’s hungry. I take your argument with Switzerland to heart. But when are the Swiss like us? Nothing against either; just two different animals. Like Transformers (the first one), the web is llike DNA exponentially increasing its learning and growth factors. Our known entities when it comes to rules (which are not 3RuleSafe) are not even at the starting gate as Bolt took off to grab a new world record. Mixed metaphors all over the place but I’m trying to draw on out culture to bring some meaning to a vast wasteland when it comes to our copyright laws and the EEW (my new name for WWW) – the EverEvolvingWeb. Its all good. We just need to work it out.

  • Property rights are one of the pillars to economic growth and critical to innovation. See William Bernstein’s fantastic book “The Birth of Plenty”. In fact the framers of the constitution believed the protection of property secured the protection of liberty.
    A few quotes from the founders:
    The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is
    not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public
    justice to protect it anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,”
    and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of heaven, they must be made
    inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.
    (John Adams)

    Property is surely a right of mankind, as really as
    liberty. (John Adams)

    Government is instituted to protect property of
    every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as
    that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government,
    that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man,
    whatever is his own. (James Madison)
    Their ideas and thoughts were heavily influenced by Locke’s “Two Treatises” several lines of which were lifted nearly verbatim into the Declaration of Independence. For Locke, property encompassed life, liberty and estate. Also one of the reasons China still does not match the US in innovation is due to its inferior property right laws, ip or otherwise. What incentive is there to invent, create or innovate if someone else can just abscond with the fruits of your labors?

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