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This Issue: Their Internet or Ours?
What happened to the Internet? Some thirty years ago, the Internet,
which up to that time had been a communications network used by the U.S.
military and a handful of elite academic institutions, was becoming
available to tech-savvy members of the public. Electronic Mail (E-mail)
was coming into wider user. USENET discussion groups and Bulletin Board
Systems (BBS), which allowed users the ability to share information and
engage in discussions with like-minded individuals, were proliferating.
In the late 1980s, Tim Berners-Lee developed the Hypertext Transfer
Protocol (HTTP), a key break-through which made the World Wide Web
A fundamental dimension of the Internet of that time was its hostility
to any form of commercial or corporate use. Many systems expressly
forbad all advertising or the use of email to send commercial messages
of any kind. Servers were run by non-profit institutions.
But the very openness of the Internet made it possible for companies
to set up their own Web presence. Commercial Internet Service Providers
sprang into being. There was no governing authority which could stop
them, and with limitless amounts of money and resources at their
disposal, within a few years their presence swamped the anarchic early
Internet. Aspects on Internet management were privatized by the U.S.
government. Private companies were created to sell Internet domain
names, requiring any organization with a website to pay an annual
licensing fee to a private company. If there were disagreements about
the use of a domain name, large corporations would almost automatically
prevail over small non-profits.
In the new millennium, these trends accelerated. New forms of
communications networks were created, and nearly all were controlled by
corporations. Cell phones used networks owned by private companies: an
inefficient and wasteful, but very profitable, approach. Social media
and communications apps sprang into being, and even though they are
perfectly suited to being controlled co-operatively by their users and
the workers who maintain them, they are almost all corporate.
As the Internet became privatized, the dominant corporations were no
longer content to merely publish advertising in the manner of the print
media. Now, they entered the business of spying on their users:
gathering every possible piece of information about them, and then not
only using that information to target their own ads, but also selling it
to any other commercial entity with the budget to pay for it. The
state, in the form of its national security establishments, get to
access the data as well.
Governments did everything they could to facilitate the
commercialization and corporatization of the Internet, but they also
have their own agendas. A key preoccupation for a government is
maintaining its own legitimacy. The mainstream media, including online
media platforms, play an important part in what Noam Chomsky and Edward
Herman called “manufacturing consent.”
But a problem with the Internet is that it allows for alternative
points of view to be disseminated as well. Even though alternative media
and individual bloggers have nowhere near the reach of the commercial
and state media, some at least have attracted large audiences because
they challenge the official narratives. They have helped to undermine
the credibility of governments and mainstream media because they
continually challenge their lies and distortions. Those in power see
this as a major problem, and an intolerant affront.
The result has been another set of manoeuvres to push these insolent
challengers deeper into the shadows. One part of this corporate-state
offensive has been legislation to end “net neutrality” in the United
States. Whereas previously all information on the Internet moved in the
same way, over the same available bandwidth, now corporations that
control the technical infrastructure are allowed to give priority to
some information, while slowing down other content. This will mean that
websites owned by companies able to pay for better service will be
served up fast, while those who aren’t able to pay will be slowed down.
Given the nature of the Internet, where people expect to click on
something and then see it instantly, sites that take five or ten seconds
to load because they are on the slowed infrastructure will lose a huge
percentage of their users.
Meanwhile corporations like Google and Facebook, in the name of
combating ‘fake news’ and ‘anti-social’ views, are taking steps to
downgrade or effectively eliminate views critical of the status quo.
Google has changed its algorithms to downgrade or disappear content from
many alternative websites. Facebook is filtering its newsfeeds to
ensure that the ‘news’ being shared comes from ‘reputable’ sources. By
reputable sources, they mean the corporate media.
What can we do? The articles in this issue help to explain the
dimensions of the problem. They offer some tools, for example tools for
protecting your privacy and securing your devices, and they make some
suggestions, such as moving away from corporate platforms to the extent
that you feel able to do so.
A couple of other suggestions:
1) Try to avoid sharing any news articles that appear in the mainstream media.
2) Do share content that appears in the alternative media and on
alternative websites (e.g. Connexions!) When we share content directly
(whether in social media, by email, etc.) we give a boost to critical
views and analyses, and help more people to find them and see them.
As always, we invite you to
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Open Source Software
Open source software is computer software which explicitly gives
developers and users the right to study, change, and distribute the
software to anyone. Open source software is often developed in a
collaborative public manner. Prominent examples of open source software
are the GNU/Linux computer operating system, the Mozilla Thunderbird
Email program, the Mozilla Firefox web browser. Open source software is
distinct from free software. Software developers have used the terms
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), or Free/Libre and Open Source
Software (FLOSS), to describe open source software that is also free
software. Learn more
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open
internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? Regulatory changes to
abolish “net neutrality” have cleared the way for corporations to censor
and manipulate what content Internet users will see. That, says
Jonathan Cook, could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability
to make its voice heard in the public square. The net is being reshaped
to become the exclusive plaything of huge corporations, determined to
squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwidth. Meanwhile, the
tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social
mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical
footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet. Read more
Keywords: Access to Public Information - Internet/Equality of Access
The War Against "Fake News" is a War on Us
Barely a day passes without a new development in the war on social
media -- that is, the war on us. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is
throwing his weight behind the campaign to dumb down the internet, has
promised to reduce the amount of news available through his platform's
feeds so that we get back to using social media as a means to share
films of cute kittens or promote ways to spend more money on
consumables. That will make the advertisers much happier.
Last week Zuckerberg clarified that what limited news you do receive
from friends and family through your feeds will be filtered to make sure
it comes from "authoritative" and "trustworthy" sources. In short, it
will come from one of the six US media corporations that control almost
everything Americans read and see, and much of what the rest of us do
too. Read more
Keywords: Corporate Agenda – Fake News
The conspiracy to censor the Internet
The drive toward Internet censorship is already far advanced. Since
Google announced steps to bury “alternative viewpoints” in search
results, leading left-wing sites have seen their search traffic plunge
by more than 50 percent. Facebook, Twitter and other social media
platforms have introduced similar measures. The campaign being whipped
up over Russian online activity will be used to justify even more
far-reaching measures. There are ongoing efforts to abolish “net
neutrality” so as to give giant corporations the ability to regulate
Internet traffic. The intelligence agencies have demanded the ability to
circumvent encryption after having been exposed for illegally
monitoring the phone communications and Internet activity of the entire
In one “democratic” country after another governments are turning to police-state forms of rule. Read more
Keywords: Censorship/de facto – Internet/Equality of Access
Cowardly New World: Alternative Media Under Attack by Algorithms
The only voices speaking the truth, says Kollibri terre Sonnenblume,
are those on the fringes and we must amplify them however we can. Some
* Read/view alternative media stories and share them in whatever venues you can.
* Stop consuming mainstream media and stop posting links to it.
* Actively support alternative media by donating money, time or other resources.
* Stop using Google as your search engine; Try DuckDuckGo. You will be surprised at how much you’ve been missing.
* Become the media: take your own photos or video and write up
stories yourself for whatever outlet will take your work, even if that’s
only your own blog.
Keywords: Alternative Media – Online Activism
Tips, Tools, and How-Tos for Safer Online Communications from the
Electronic Frontier Foundation. This guide by the EFF includes a whole
package of practical information, starting with an overview for those
new to computer issues; tool guides explaining different tools people
can use to protect themselves, such as the anonymous Tor browser, Tor
Messenger, encryption tools, privacy protection on WhatsApp, etc. There
is a guide for creating strong passwords, using Signal, privacy
protection on social media, and protecting your devices from hackers.
Keywords: Internet Security – Privacy Protection
Why I’m Saying Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft
Dan Gillmor makes the case for ditching products, operating
systems, software, and applications controlled by giant corporations.
Alternatives developed on open-source and community-developed platforms,
he says, have developed to the point where they are totally viable
alternatives. Using them, “I can get my work done fine. I can play
games. I can surf endlessly. The platform alternatives have reached a
stage where they’re capable of handling just about everything I need.”
“More important,” he adds, “I’ve moved to these alternative platforms
because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now
believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater
and greater extent, in the technology I use. Those values start with a
basic notion: We are losing control over the tools that once promised
equal opportunity in speech and innovation -- and this has to stop. Read
Keywords: Appropriate Technology - Software/Open Source
Website of the Week
Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide
mission to promote computer user freedom. Free software developers
guarantee everyone equal rights to their programs; any user can study
the source code, modify it, and share the program. By contrast, most
software carries fine print that denies users these basic rights,
leaving them susceptible to the whims of its owners and vulnerable to
surveillance. The FSF provides critical infrastructure and funding for
the GNU Project, the foundation of the popular GNU/Linux family of free
operating systems and the keystone of the Internet. Find them here
Keywords: Free Software - Copyright
Book of the Week
Ours to Hack and To Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision For the Future Of Work and A Fairer Internet
Edited by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider
The activists who have put together Ours to Hack and to Own argue
for a new kind of online economy: platform cooperativism, which combines
the rich heritage of cooperatives with the promise of 21st-century
technologies, free from monopoly, exploitation, and surveillance. Their
optimistic view is that it is possible to create co-operatively owned
and democratically controlled alternatives to corporate-owned and
controlled technology platforms. Read more
Keywords: Co-operatives – Public Participation
For an international coalition to fight Internet censorship
An initiative from the World Socialist Web Site addressed to
socialist, anti-war, left-wing and progressive websites, organizations
and activists. They call for the organization and coordination of a
broad coalition against Internet censorship and surveillance. Read more
Keywords: Censorship - Internet Activism
Aaron Swartz and the Fight for Free Information
Computer innovator Aaron Swartz took his own life after being
subjected to a merciless witch-hunt by the Department of Justice,
ultimately choosing death over 35 years behind bars for the crime of
releasing information. As someone who transformed the way we all use and
love the internet, Aaron should have gotten a medal of honour, not a
death sentence. Read more
Keywords: Information/Access to - Access to Public Information
From the Archives
Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Lecture on Art, Truth & Politics
In his Nobel lecture, the winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for
literature discusses what the search for ‘truth’ means in drama,
fiction, and art, and what ‘truth’ means in the realm of politics.
Whereas the search for truth in art is ambiguous and open-ended, he
says, a wholly different set of factors are in place in politics.
“Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any
of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence
available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the
maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that
people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth,
even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast
tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.” Read more
Keywords: Truth – Art
April 24, 1916
The Easter Rising - Ireland
Irish rebels launch a rebellion against British colonial rule.
They seize key buildings in Dublin and declare an Irish Republic,
independent of Britain. The rising is suppressed after six days of
fighting, and the key leaders of the rebellion are executed.
Nevertheless support for independence continues to grow in Ireland,
leading to another declaration of independence in 1919, and an
Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 recognizing the Irish Free State. .
April 25, 1974
Revolution in Portugal
Military officers in the Movimento das Forcas Armadas (Armed
Forces Movement) launch an attempt to oust the fascist dictatorship
which has ruled Portugal for decades. Hearing of the move, people
immediately flood into the streets and begin a campaign of popular
resistance and civil disobedience which results in the overthrow of the
April 30, 1977
Mothers of the Plaza del Mayo
A group of 14 mothers in Buenos Aires holds the first of a series
of continuing demonstrations demanding to know the fate of their
‘disappeared’ children. The ‘disappeared’ were victims of state terror
in the period of the ‘Dirty War’ of the 1970s and 1980s when the
Argentine dictatorship abducted and killed thousands of people suspected
of left-wing affiliations. The Argentine government publicly dismisses
Mothers of the Plaza del Mayo as “las locas” (the crazy women), and
simultaneously resorts to repression. Some of the mothers, including
their first president, Azucena de Vallaflor, are themselves
‘disappeared’, while others are arrested. Nevertheless the movement
grows and gains international attention.
May 3 – 13, 1926
British General Strike
British workers go out on a general strike. The strike is
triggered by mine owners who announce that they plan to slash miners’
wages, which have already been repeatedly cut (from œ6.00 to œ3.90) over
the course of the past seven years. When miners balk at accepting
another reduction, mine owners lock them out of their workplaces on May
1. The mine owners are in a position to sit out a long dispute because
they have just received a large government subsidy.
The Trades Union Congress calls a General Strike to begin on May
4. Close to two million workers go out on strike. The government sets
out to crush the strike, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston
Churchill playing the leading role, using the army and middle-class
vigilante organizations. On May 13, the TUC calls off the strike, though
the miners continue to resist for several months before being driven
back to work by hunger and despair
April 19 – May 5, 2018
Mayworks Festival - Toronto
The 33rd edition of Mayworks Festival of Working People and the
Arts will take place at various locations in Toronto. This year's
multidisciplinary program captures and expresses a conscious effort to
connect our past and current struggles for decent work with our dreams
for a better world in the future.
April 24, 2018
Mourn the Victims of Peter Munk: Confront Barrick Gold - Toronto
The media's response to the death of Peter Munk - valourizing a
man responsible for countless deaths, widespread sexual assault, and
the destruction of entire ecosystems - is a reminder of the power of
money. It sets a dangerous precedent - that whatever crimes you commit,
whatever devastation you cause, can be forgiven if only you share a
fraction of your stolen wealth.
Meanwhile, Peter Munk's legacy exists in many places – sites
that are marked by active resistance against the lies and impacts of
Join us outside Barrick Gold's AGM as we honour the victims and
uplift the demands of communities silenced by the drumming of Munk's
April 24, 2018
Ottawa Emergency Rally: Separate Oil and State #StopKM - Ottawa
Join us on the day the federal Liberals table legislation to
support the Kinder Morgan pipeline (NOTE: date TBC!) on Parliament Hill,
4:30pm to say enough! We will stand in solidarity with Indigenous-led
opposition against this broken pipeline plan. We will call our political
representatives to account. Bring pots and pans and prepare to be loud!
Please invite your friends, family and colleagues. Note, this
rally could be as early as this Thursday, we will change the date as it
becomes clearer when the legislation is to be tabled..
April 26 – 29, 2018
International Rosa Luxemburg Conference - Chicago
Rosa Luxemburg and Her Ideas: Engaging the Left and Impacting the World
Rosa Luxemburg dedicated her life to the fight against war, poverty,
exploitation and any kind of suppression. Yet today in the age of
neo-liberalism, we have the same problems as in the beginning of the
20th century. Luxemburg, a versatile Marxist theoretician, excellent
journalist, and effective agitator has left us a body of work that may
support and impact on the present left.
April 28, 2018
Pipeline Strategic Action Workshop- Nelson
Gathering to prepare and plan for more Kootenay-based action to stop
the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Non-violent action training and
decision-making with group building exercises and videos.
The Connexions Calendar is an online
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Connexions 2018. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share
and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit
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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here
This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201
Toronto ON M6G 1L9 Canada
Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link. All issues of OtherVoices are available on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm