Experiences From Blacking Out For A Day

Curtailed blinds, going dark

Yesterday’s blackout was an interesting experience. But before I say anything else, let me yay Mike Masnick of Techdirt who has been the hero through this whole ordeal.

Masnick blew the whistle early on these laws on Techdirt and spared no energy in diving down into details and what they meant. He has been absolutely key for safeguarding free speech this time around. Hat off and tons of respect.

Ben Huh notes that where the rallying words of the 1960s were Peace and Love, those of today are Openness and Free Speech. I think that’s an acute observation – perhaps because I’ve made the exact same observation in my view of political cycles, that every 40 years, a new generation reconquers democracy (and is always abhorred by the old guard of its time).

As I have had time to reflect on today’s events (seeing there’s no Reddit to absorb my attention of the day), I become more and more convinced that this is not really aimed at the end-users, but at all the mid-level businesses which are on the verge of replacing the Disneys and TimeWarners as kings of the hill. As I wrote yesterday (an article which never showed, of course, because of the blackout):

The SOPA/PIPA laws are exactly what would be needed to recentralize control over communications, simply by threatening all the mid-level players susceptible to litigation into submission. We would lose the entire midlayer of players and be stuck with Disneyesque entertainment giants at the top, and the activists untouchable by law who run their own encrypted, invisible, untraceable infrastructure at the other end.

(If you have not heard of the laws, they essentially allow the copyright industry to turn off entire websites at the pointing of a finger. All sites with user-generated content would be targeted, specifically including Facebook, Twitter, every article with a comment field, etc.)

For us to win this war, those free-infrastructure activists must ascend to the top of the information distribution chain.

This is about the players just barely still on the top who are kicking away the ladder for those in the middle, and forcing the activists on the bottom to build a new and improved infrastructure, one that is impervious to censorship attempts (and therefore also to the copyright monopoly as a whole). Ironically, even if the lobby does win this particular fight, it will therefore eventually be their downfall.

For more background, you should also look at this 14-minute TED talk describing how the copyright industry is trying to kill copying and sharing, period, turning time back to the time where we all were television couch potatoes. This doesn’t seem like a revelation, but the talk shows how profound it is, how sharing has always been possible (not to mention legal) and the copyright industry is now trying to kill it by essentially killing due process as a concept. I wish all legislators would take a quarter out of their time to see and absorb this.

But with that said, what really struck me from yesterday’s blackout was something else.

Blacking out was really hard.

We’re become so good at keeping things online that deliberately taking them temporarily offline was really hard to do, because nobody has done it before on that scale. Our profession keeps things going, operational, up. That’s what we’re good at. And when we’re trying to take them down deliberately, it turns out we’ve been so good at constructing a system to keep it up that it stays up anyway, so we have to sabotage a safeguard to keep it down. And another. And another.

As I installed the first pieces of go-dark code on Falkvinge on Infopolicy, they didn’t work. Did not. As this was at twenty to midnight, there was no time for deeper soul-searching, so I went to WordPress’s plugin directory and searched for “SOPA”. About a gazillion blackout plugins turned up. On my fifth attempt, I found one that worked and did what it needed to do — not just black out the site temporarily, but also tell search engines just that so that they don’t think that this site has permanently turned into a single “go away” page.

Technically, this is done through HTTP codes. (HTTP is the language spoken between your web browser and my web server.) When you fetch an ordinary web page, the web server tags it with the number 200, meaning “OK”. What I also had to do was to change this number to 503 for the day, meaning “Temporarily Broken”, so that Google would know that the page reading “Down just for today” to human visitors also had a tag saying “This is a temporary outage, do not take as actual content” to Google coming to index my site. Otherwise, all my articles would disappear from Google, which would be a very undesirable side effect.

That worked. It was now half past midnight and I was getting frustrated with being past the go-dark point and still being readable. It worked. For a short while.

After just a few minutes of sending this dark “temporary outage” page, CloudFlare – which is a distributed cache taking the brutal loads off of my server when I’m on Reddit’s, Digg’s and Slashdot’s front pages at the same time – had noticed I was sending these “temporary outage” codes with every page shown to my visitors. So CloudFlare reverted my outage from a visitors’ perspective, displaying the site as it looked before I went dark, with a little friendly notice “Hi! Unfortunately, this web server appears to have a temporary outage. Here’s what it looked like just before that outage happened.”

GAH! MOTHER OF ODIN! MY OWN SITE WON’T LET ME GO DARK!

After some 45 minutes, I had disabled pretty much every piece of cache, every piece of safeguard, every piece of watchdog, every piece of performance-enhancing layer on top of my blog, including CloudFlare. And only then, when it was naked, raw and completely un-enhanced, un-guarded, back-to-prototype-stage level, did the blackout work.

That was a very interesting experience, teaching me that we’re so good at building infrastructure for sharing and communicating that it’s almost impossible to take down, even when we try to do it ourselves.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Discussion

  1. steelneck

    You should simply have pulled the power cord from the server, google, G+, G-mail, youtube, facebook, twitter, yahoo, wikipedia and every major ISP there is too. But none of you did, i think that says something, no one did. This lame “blackout” did not accomplish anything what so ever. Nothing, not even a dent. With you as an example, you where more concerned about your indexing at google than to actually make a statement with your “blackout”, your server was running all the time.

    Compare it to a strike at some factory, what do you think would be accomplished if just a few do something half hearted and not a complete strike for real where the factory get closed down, for as long as it takes, until _real_ negotiations starts? I can tell you what happens, the empoyees would just be worse off than they where before and the few that only did something lame risk beeing unemployed afterwards. If you strike you have to do it for real with all your colegues onboard in a way that really hurts, and it will hurt in the wallet too since you wont get your paycheck. But if you are not prepared to do that, i guess it was not worth fighting for anyway. Google, Yahoo, all ISPs and the list goes on, they do not think this fight is worth fighting, that _is_ pretty obvious now.

    1. Zacqary Adam Green

      Actually, thirteen Senators pulled their support of PIPA in response to the blackout. And that’s just the ones who’ve announced it so far.

      It did something.

    2. BurritoBazooka

      *NEARLY EVERYONE* that was using the Internet within that week found out about SOPA/PIPA. And a substantial amount of the people that *they* know. It is a testament to what would happen if SOPA/PIPA would have been followed word-for-word. Changing people’s lives completely, in the name of the message, for that one day, was the only thing that would have gotten the message across to so many ordinary people that day.
      You cannot compare it to a strike. This is the Internet. Everything is different. Everything.

      Besides, it was just a day. Moaning about your precious interwebs being off for a single damned day does not accomplish anything what so ever. Nothing.
      Bypassing said blackout, for most static content, is as easy as finding a cached copy of the website, or turning off Javascript (on some sites). Wikpedia provided instructions on doing so, if you bothered to read their full statement.

  2. steelneck

    Look at it this way. Wikipedia and some others say about the same thing you do, they say it will be impossible to continue with wikipedia if this law gets passed. If that is true, then they have nothing to loose to really pull the plug, and not for a day. Pull the plug for as long as it takes. If that means the end.. well, in either case they did say it would impossible to run wikipedia anyway. So, did they lie or where they telling the truth? If it is true that they cannot run wikipedia with a law like that, they can just as well pull the plug now, there is nothing to loose.

    To pull the plug abruptly will create a public outcry. People will miss Wikipedia, badly, and that goes to an even larger extent for Google, G-mail and so on. But to not do it and the law gets passed and they try to adapt and so on in a downwards spiral, then we can tell the story about cooking a frog. No public outcry. People will adapt and the memory of the true wikipedia or whatever we value today will fade into obscurity.

    What i am trying to say is that things obviously have to become much worse for things to happen, much worse and when things finally start to happen it will get ugly. None of the big players that have a big stake in this are doing anything that acually have an impact to talk about. They obviously do not think it is worth it and i suspect some of them even like the thought of where this is leading. I do not think facebook has anything to fear, on the contrary since they are so big (even you support them on your blog), things like this will only strengthen their position as the big one since they can handle it. I can even imagine they supporting laws like this behind closed doors. A bit like it has become with patents, they benefit only the big and strong that already have the power and money to handle it.

  3. DavidXanatos

    Pulling the plug is not a strike its just staying at home without an excuse.

    If yll this sites would just pullthair plugs no one form the noob sphere would know why wikipedia or google is donwn, ant his wouldnt acomplich anything.

    those one must stay onlien but just with a different message.

    1. steelneck

      If all the big ones first say that they are going to draw the line in sand and then do it, every single person that use a computer on this planet would know why. We would have seen war-headings in every newspaper world wide, containing everything from support to accusations of power abuse, just like when big organisations of workers go on strike. But this is obviously not an issue that big, obviously. No single step is for big corporations, that already have the muscles to handle the consequences in courtrooms and their market share will only grow when small players go under. There is no line in the sand and that means more draconian laws in small enough steps time and time again as long as there are those pushing politicians in the other direction.

      Where do you think the line is for a big carrier of international internet traffic, where is the line when they say they can no longer do business and actually let the fiber go dark? There is no line, they will just bow until it is way too late to do anything. We are going to burn down the library of Alexandria once again. Most companies behave like that, companies do not have any moral or responsibility about things like this and that goes the other way around too, which is why it is dangerous for society when they can buy politicians like they obviously can in the USA. It is a form of corruption but people do not call it corruption when companies sponsor politicians by millions of dollars. The Google “don’t be evil” is just empty marketing words and the same goes for just about any company there is since “evil” many times is to obey and do nothing, they do not have a line in the sand, companies don’t.

      Hans Rosling once said in a TED-talk:

      “I always regarded the corporate sector to be like the horse on the old farm, it was the force of the horse that brought food on the table. My grandpa tuoght me to be very polite to the horse, never talk bad about the family horse, to pet it and we did not eat the horse, it was sacred. But one thing they never did with the horse, they never asked the horse for advice. That is how we should deal with the corporate sector.”

      The strongest force in any country is the people of it, those few times they actually get together and draw that clear line in the sand, but by taking things in small steps the line get pushed further and further away.. This is a scenario that repeat itself time and time again throughout history.

  4. buglord

    I didn’t feel like the blackout made any impact personally, I mean sure, you got that popup but only place I even looked was wikipedia, and I could still use the site normally, and ofc that’s not what would happen, but if that’s supposed to represent it, then I’d say “your blocking sucks horribly”…

  5. Micke

    MPA, som företräder de mäktiga mediebolagen i Hollywood, vägrar stödja de amerikanska politiker som röstar emot SOPA. Utredning påbörjad:
    http://torrentfreak.com/white-house-petitioned-to-investigate-mpaa-bribery-120122/

  6. Micke

    Banbrytande forskning visar att ett litet nätverk av företag kontrollerar hela världsekonomin.

    Nyligen har några komplexitetsteoretiska forskare tröskat igenom enorma databaser med finansiell information, och har mha matematiska metoder noterat vilka företag som äger vilka andra, etc. Det visade sig att några få företag ägde alla andra, ofta via bulvaner. Dessa få företag var företrädesvis Investment Banker på Wall Street. Japp, namn som Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan, etc.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

    Mao det finns ett litet hemligt nätverk som kontrollerar resten av världen. Läs forskningsartiklarna ovan.

  7. Micke

    Bill Gates ägde 50 miljarder USD, när han var världens rikaste man. Nu flyttar han sin förmögenhet till sin välgörenhetsfond så hans listade förmögenhet krymper. Dock är det skattelättnader på såna fonder, och hans fond växer mer än den delar ut. Han förmögenhet växer, och han är rikare än nånsin. Avancerad skatteplanering. Han har lovat att ge bort alla pengar innan han dör, om han menar allvar så borde hans fond krympa i rasande fart.

    Mexikanen Carlos Slim är väl världens rikaste idag?

    Låt oss prata om rika släkter istället.
    Den gamla släkten Rotschild, äger idag 600.000 miljarder USD. Rotschild har flera ggr räddat England från konkurs, enligt historiska källor. Rotschild finansierade Bonaparte, och hans fiende, och tog panter från båda. Oavsett vem som vann, behöll de panterna och blev ännu rikare. De äger världens största privata konstsamling, har skänkt 30 slott till olika länder. Rotschild som finns i London, är skälet att London räknas som finansstaden nr 1, inte New York. Världens rikaste släkt:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothschild_family

    Rockefeller (ursp Rockenfeller) är nästan lika rika. Rockefeller ägde ett företag som splittades i 24 mindre småföretag tidigt 1900. Ett av småföretagen heter idag Exxon, världens största företag. Det är allmänt känt att JP Morgan är Rockefellers bank, precis som SEB är Wallenstams bank.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockefeller_family#Family_wealth

    Guggenheim är nästan lika rika. Här nämns endast två av familjebankerna med tillgångar för 150 miljarder USD:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guggenheim_family

    Det sägs att några få rika äger allt i världen, och att rikedomen snedfördelas. Gissa vilka 12 släkter som äger allt? Det sägs att dessa 12 superrika släkter äger 75% av allting på jorden. Detta har jag inte kunnat belägga med länkar tyvärr. Men om nu dessa 12 släkter äger några banker, som kanske äger andra företag? Är det omöjligt? Även Federal Reserve ägs av stora Investment banker.

    Läs wikipedia länkarna, där länkas vidare till forskningsartiklar. Läs forskningsartiklarna. Alla dessa 12 släkter har tyska namn; Rotschild, Rockenfeller, Guggenheim, etc.

    En senator sade att amerikanska centralbanken Federal Reserve är privatkontrollerad, och i praktiken privatägd. Regeringen har begärt ut protokoll från mötena, men förvägrats protokollen!
    Läs “Birth of the Fed”:
    http://abolishthefederalreserve.org/
    Mao, det är några “rika bankirsläkter” som skapat och än idag kontrollerar FedRes. Undrar vilka släkter det kan vara…. Hmm….

  8. Micke

    På 1200 talet höll Judendomen på att dö ut. Då konverterade en krigisk stam i Östtyskland till Judendomen. Khazar judar, Ashkenazi judar som sen spred sig över världen. År 1931 så var 92% av alla judar av Ashkenazi ursprung, dvs tyskt ursprung:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews

    Resten av judarna hade spanskt ursprung (Sefardim), och andra ursprung. Mellanöstern judarna var inte mätbar andel, i praktiken utdöda. Se demografin över Israel idag, alla är från andra delar än Mellanöstern:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_israel#Jews

    Några år efter 1931 bildades Israel, som befolkades med judar. Dessa judar kom nästan alla från Östtyskland, dvs Ashkenazi ty de var 92% av alla judar. Mao, de judar som idag befolkar Israel härstammar inte från Israel, de kommer från Tyskland, Ryssland, Spanien, etc. Originaljudarna är alla utdöda. De har aldrig “bott i Israel i 2000 år”.

    Om detta skriver flera israeliska forskare. T.ex. professor Shlomo Sand i sin bok “the invention of the jewish people”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlomo_Sand#The_Invention_of_the_Jewish_People

    Även Israelen Arthur Koestler berättar om Ashkenazi ursprunget:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirteenth_Tribe

    Det är ju bara att konstatera att om 92% av alla judar kommer från Ashkenazi år 1931, så kan det inte finnas många originaljudar kvar.

    Detta är skälet att många judar idag har tyska namn: Rockenfeller, Rotschild, Guggenheim, Goldman, Sachs, Lehman, Greenspan, Bernanke, Beckham, Spielberg, Silverstein, Einstein, etc. Ser du nån berömd person med tyskt namn, så är han med stor chans Israel. Läs deras biografier på wikipedia, läs “early life” avsnittet.

  9. Micke

    Nu råkar det vara så att Hollywoods mäktiga medieföretag har kontakter rätt upp i Vita Huset. Alla medieföretagen drivs av tysk klingande namn. Läs t.ex. om Warner Bros, vilka grundade medieföretaget?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warner_bros#1903.E2.80.9325:_Founding

    Vad säger Marlon Brando om Hollywood?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlon_brando#Comments_on_Jews.2C_Hollywood.2C_and_Israel
    “Brando made a similar comment on Larry King Live in April 1996, saying “Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews”

    Så fattar du nu, varför Hollywood är så mäktigt?

    Israeliska lobbyn AIPAC styr i praktiken Senaten och Kongressen. Varje presidentkandidat screenas noga innan han släpps igenom. AIPACs VD fick avgå för att han avlyssnas när han säger att han ska få in massa lobbyister på höga poster i Vita Huset. Är det sant? Kan han få in massa AIPAC i Vita Huset utan vidare?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aipac#Steiner_resignation

    George Bush är AIPAC medlem. Hans far också. Bill Clinton likaså. etc. ALLA presidenter pratar på AIPACs årliga möten och stödjer AIPAC. USA går i Israels ledband.

    Läs på lite om AIPAC, och se att de styr Vita Huset. Kongressledamot skriver en bok efter 22 år, och säger att AIPAC styr allt. Läs recensionerna och se folks chockade reaktioner:
    http://www.amazon.com/They-Dare-Speak-Out-Institutions/dp/155652482X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327321500&sr=8-1

    När mediebolagen i Hollywood säger nåt, så gör Vita Huset som företagen vill. Vita Huset hotade ryssland med handelskrig om inte ryssland stängde ned en illegal MP3 sajt – så stor makt har hollywood företagen att påverka utrikespolitik för snöd vinning.

  10. Micke

    Vad säger Whoopi Goldberg? Man måste vara judisk för att göra karriär i Hollywood.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whoopi_Goldberg#Early_life
    She adopted the traditionally German/Jewish surname Goldberg as a stage name because her mother felt the original surname of Johnson was not “Jewish enough” to make her a star.

    Vem gjorde karriär utav Star Wars gänget? Harrison Ford. Vilket ursprung har han?

    Varför vill hela Hollywood släppa Roman Polanski fri från våldtäkten? Vilket land kommer Roman ifrån? Woody Allen?
    http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/film/article12017005.ab

    Varför avfärdar Whoopi Goldberg våldtäkten av 13åringen?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/roman-polanski/6245219/Roman-Polanski-backlash-as-Whoopi-Goldberg-says-director-didnt-commit-rape-rape.html

    Varför pumpar Hollywood ut filmer om Förintelsen? Varför gör Brad Pitt och Quentin Tarantino filmer som Inglorious Basterds? Då blir Hollywoods makthavare glada.

    Vad gjorde Tom Cruise när hans stjärna dalade? Jo, han gjorde Valkyria, en film om Nazi Tyskland och om judarna som offer. Och vips fick han roller igen.

    Varför fick Mel Gibson problem med att ingen i Hollywood bojkottade hans film “Passion of the Christ”? Jo, den var anti semitisk. Vad tycker Hollywood om såna filmer? Vad gjorde Mel Gibson efter att han sagt antisemitiska åsikter på fyllan? Hela Hollywood bojkottade honom, och Mel erbjöd sig göra en film om… Förintelsen.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/12/07/entertainment/main1102867.shtml

    Vad hände med Lars Von Trier i Canne? Han drog antisemitiska skämt, och hela Canne revolterade. Makthavarna revolterade. De som bestämmer.

  11. Micke

    Anti sionisten Lasse Wilhelmson har mycket mera information om _riktig_ makt och _vilka_ som egentligen styr, på sin blogg. Läs den bloggen. Mycket informativ.

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