Blogs are different to newspapers. You can get away with greater subjectivity in a blog than you can in a newspaper. But newspapers cannot absolve themselves of their responsibility for pure objective fact by calling a particular section a blog.
So when Martha Gill wrote about Anonymous in the Telegraph blog, it was wrong. Her headline says it all: Anonymous have been exposed as hypocrites. Watch them try to wriggle out of it (6 November 2013). You can hear the glee in her voice – this is personal, not factual.
Anonymous responded with an open letter to the media in general. It accused Gill of being inaccurate in one of her two accusations (that their masks are produced in what she strongly implies is a sweatshop) and hypocritical in another (that Warner Bros benefits from every sale of a mask). On the latter, Anonymous suggests that royalties are a sad fact of life; and wonders how many Telegraph staff support Foxconn by using Apple or Dell, Sony or HP equipment. “Since 2010, at least 17 deaths occurred when employees committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the building. To use a phrase from Martha Gill’s article, these are certainly ‘unpleasant conditions.’”
But in reality, this incident is just a small local battle in a much larger war. Anonymous – and it’s not alone – believes that much of the media has been bought and usurped by government and big business; and supports the agenda of government and big business to the exclusion of truth. It is no coincidence that there is a nationwide (US) march against corporate media planned for next Saturday:
We are planning a march and rally in Washington DC to raise awareness of the privatization, corporatization, and monopolization of the mainstream media and the corruption of our fifth estate. The failure of the corporate networks to adequately cover critical social issues has allowed for the rampant corruption of our political and economic system to go unquestioned and unchallenged.
March against mainstream media
If you have already thought about this, it cannot be denied. A few (very few) newspapers have kicked back in recent months with the Snowden revelations (notably the Guardian, Washington Post and Der Spiegel); but it’s also noticeable that the Guardian is under threat of prosecution in the UK for doing so.
And if you want a specific current example of this media betrayal, consider an EFF blog from Thursday: How Can the New York Times Endorse an Agreement the Public Can’t Read?
The New York Times’ editorial board has made a disappointing endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even as the actual text of the agreement remains secret. That raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn’t yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.
TPP is the successor to ACTA. ACTA was defeated by European activism. It is dead. TPP allows the same provisions to be established everywhere else without European involvement. Once this is achieved, the new discussions on an EU/US trade agreement will be dragged into the same agreements – it will be inevitable.
But where is the mainstream media’s concern over either? In defeating ACTA, the people made it very clear that they do not want ACTA – more specifically the internet-controlling, copyright-enforcing aspects of it. To understand the great Battle of ACTA, read Monica Horten’s new book, A Copyright Masquerade.
Rather than accept the will of the people, big business and government withdrew, regrouped, renamed and returned from a different direction, calling it TPP and being equally if not more secretive.
The problem is that the mainstream media is not on the side of its readers, but on the side of its owners.
Quite simply, the majority of US news outlets are owned by the same media companies that are lobbying in favour of trade agreements that will take over control of what appears on the internet, who can see what, and who goes where. Quite frankly, we can no longer believe what we read in the press any more than we can believe what government tells us.
It’s a bit worrying that Cameron is all gung-ho about the EU-US trade agreement. “An EU-US trade deal, for example, could be worth £10 billion to the UK alone – in the end that’s not some abstract statistic, these trade deals matter, because they mean more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices,” he said, ushering in the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Actually, they mean more profits for big business and greater control for governments. Trade agreements never translate into ‘more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices’ for real people. At the most, they become, “well, it would have been less jobs, less choice and higher prices if we didn’t have the trade agreement.”
The trade agreement in question is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being discussed by the EU and the US. It will complement the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) being led by the US and encompassing the Pacific Rim. But make no mistake, TTIP + TPP = ACTA Mark II.
The European digital rights group EDRI shone some light.
“The Commission was careful to stress that TTIP was not a ‘new ACTA’. This too provided five minutes of hope that lessons had been learned and the same old mistakes would not be made again. Then, the discussion turned to transparency and the Commission confirmed that, as things currently stand, the level of transparency would be identical to what was done with ACTA.”
TTIP – a brief victory of hope over experience
The Commission said that the IPR (that is, copyright protection) element of the TTIP ‘would only include such issues where a problem was identified by stakeholders – just a narrow range of issues and only ‘geographic indicators’ have so far been selected.’
If the list of issues to be addressed in the “IPR chapter” is limited and only includes clearly identified problems, will the Commission undertake to publish details of each such problem that is addressed in the final draft? The Commission responded that it would not make such an undertaking, because it could not be expected to provide details of “every single detail” of the agreement tackling intellectual property. Suddenly, we had moved from a narrow, focussed exercise to address a small number of identified problems, to a list of measures that was potentially so long that it would be unreasonable to ask the Commission to explain what problems it was seeking to solve.
To paraphrase Churchill, concludes EDRI, “never in the history of mankind was so little meaning conveyed by so many words to such little effect…” In short, TTIP and its even more secretive partner TPP are ACTA returned.
My news stories today:
US difficulties over Megaupload case continue
In April we reported that a US judge voiced doubts over whether Megaupload would ever get to trial in the US; now there are doubts it will even get to the US.
31 May 2012
Military grade chips may not be as secure as we think
Sergei Skorobogatov and Chris Woods have discovered a backdoor into a military grade chip, permitting ‘a new and disturbing possibility of a large-scale Stuxnet-type attack via a network or the Internet on the silicon itself’.
31 May 2012
Today is a key day for ACTA in Europe
Three EU committees are today due to make recommendations on ACTA. So far, two have reported: do not ratify ACTA, they tell the European Parliament.
31 May 2012