Worldwide Protest as U.S. Government Threatens to Censor Internet

Today Candlelight Stories joins with other sites to protest two proposed laws in the United States, called SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act. On January 24th, the U.S. Senate will vote on the PROTECT IP Act to censor the Internet, despite opposition from the vast majority of Americans. These laws give corporations the ability to sue any web site they feel threatens their copyrights in some way. They could essentially shut down any site simply by pointing a finger. So corporations would use this power to harm smaller competitors. The U.S. government could shut down any site or blog it had the slightest problem with. Censorship as practiced in places like China would suddenly become the norm here in the United States. China is a nightmare. We don’t want to do things like they do.

A free, open, uncensored Internet is a basic and fundamental right that must be preserved here in the United States if it is to have any chance at all on a worldwide basis.

Join us to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.

Here’s a massive list at the Center For Democracy & Technology of organizations, companies, web sites, blogs and individuals who are opposed to the censorship bills.

At the links below you can send your protest to Congress and learn much more about these bills and how they seek to end the open Internet.

Take action by contacting Congress via the Electronic Frontier Foundation. has a large selection of ways you can take action and black out your web site in protest.

Take action by contacting Congress via Google.

Boing Boing, Censorship, and Hypocrisy: Commenters, Watch Your Language!

This article incorporates adult themes and language.

This is a flat-out attack on the hypocrisy and thin-skinned holiness of a major blog that purports to stand for freedom of expression and open ideas.  The blog is  I’ve had my problems with the site before, having made comments that their moderators found to be excessive or too foul-mouthed for their rather puritanical tastes.  I say puritanical and I mean exactly that.

Boing Boing has a problem with genitalia.  You’ll see why in a few moments.

Continue reading

Amazon Shows Us Why DRM Must Go

1984Last week, unwittingly dealt an enormous body blow to the concept of Digital Rights Management (DRM) by remotely deleting legally purchased copies of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from all Kindle ebook devices.  The excellent TeleRead site devoted to all things e-book and e-reader has a very well-considered post about the dangers of DRM and how we must protect ourselves against a world where customers don’t really end up owning digital copies of things they buy online.

When Amazon can connect to your Kindle device and blow away the book you bought, it means that you never really owned it at all.  You’re a renter.  Get used to it.  Almost any online service you can think of that sells you a book or a piece of music can come into your device and zap your stuff.  They consider it their right to do so.  We need laws that make our digital purchases our very own property and forbid anyone from modifying or deleting them for any reason.

The TeleRead article draws the connection between the ability of a company like Amazon to zap books and government censorship.  Since the technology can zap books, it will zap books because governments will consider it an effective means of censorship.

Amazon Deletes Purchased Copies of ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ From Kindles

KindleWe have totally had enough of at Candlelight Stories and have completely removed them from advertising space on this site and permanently severed our ‘associate’ relationship with the company.  The reason is simple.  Over the weekend, Amazon went into customers’ Kindle ebook devices and deleted purchased copies of George Orwell’s classic novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.  Apparently, the U.S. owner of the novels’ copyrights either decided to change its mind about offering an ebook of the novels or complained about illegal electronic copies on Amazon.  So Amazon removed them from the site and then reached out into Kindle devices that are legally owned and whose owners had legally purchased Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm from Amazon’s own site and completely removed all traces of the novels from those devises.  I call it an eBurn.

What this means is that when you buy a Kindle ebook device you don’t actually own the device or anything on it.  Amazon does.  They can simply reach into your device and destroy any file they want to at any time, without your knowledge or permission.  I call that vandalism.  I think any company behaving that way should face a class action lawsuit and be investigated for violations of law.  I will not allow Candlelight Stories to engage in any further business with such a company and cannot recommend that anyone purchase a Kindle or any electronic file from whatsoever.  What Amazon did was basically like this:  imagine you go to buy a book for $14.95 at a Barnes & Nobel store.  Then Barnes & Nobel decides for whatever reason that they actually didn’t really want to sell you that book.  So they send an employee into your home while you’re out to remove the book from your bookshelf and leave $14.95 under your pillow.  That’s exactly what Amazon thinks it can do to you.  Appalling.  George Orwell must at this moment be laughing in his grave.  And the joke’s on Amazon.

Amazon has gotten into the habit recently of engaging in digital censorship and then apologizing once they get wind of a public outcry.  They then try to spin their bad behavior as a technical glitch that won’t happen again.  They have replied to this latest debacle by saying that it happens ‘rarely’ and that it will not happen again.  We do not believe them.  What this episode proves beyond any shadow of doubt is that the company can press a button and blow away any book you may have purchased.  Refunding the purchases simply does not make up for this grotesque behavior.  So, when you buy a Kindle, you really don’t own anything.  You are simply renting a little portable Amazon cash register that Amazon retains full rights to.  Companies like Amazon are building distribution systems that make censorship as easy as the press of a button.  How far are we willing to go in allowing just a few companies to control the distribution of most of our literature and reference material.  If that handful of companies decides it doesn’t like the politics of a certain kind of literature, it can blow it away completely by pressing a button or entering a simple code.  Book burnings have never been able to eradicate ideas so efficiently.  We now have something new: the eBurn.  No company that cared in the slightest for literature or for books would ever behave this way for any reason.  I am disgusted and horrified by Amazon.  I actually bought a television through Amazon.  Now I’m wondering if they can get inside it and delete my favorite TV shows.  My digital camera.  Can they blow away my vacation photos?

We have an excellent open-source web browser called Firefox, we now desperately need an open-source ebook device that allows us to purchase from any bookseller in any format available.  Hey, Mozilla, are you listening?

Oh, and by the way, here’s a technology writer to stay away from.  He actually says he thinks it’s a good idea for Amazon to sneak into Kindles and destroy books: Read his dimwitted comments on nothing other than

But here’s a writer who understands the problem.

Here’s a New York Times article about the eBurn.

Freedom of Speech and Thought: Endangered?

As I was browsing around my favorite blogs today, I stumbled across this Washington Times book review of Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction by Nigel Warburton.  Here’s a quote from the review:

Mr. Warburton, a philosophy lecturer at Open University, opens with that famous Voltaire quip, “I despise what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it,” explaining, “Freedom of speech is worth defending vigorously even when you hate what is being spoken.”

I agree completely with Voltaire.  This concept of the freedom to offend people with one’s speech is extremely important.  It is also something that Western culture is losing sight of.  There’s a lot of talk on blogs about ‘hate’ speech.  There are laws against certain kinds of hate speech.  I have always thought that the only legitimate limitation to free speech is that which prevents harm to others.  Emotional harm doesn’t count.  My attitude toward free speech is ‘if you can’t take the hate, get out of the fire.’ I have every right to offend you.  You have the right to offend me.  I have the right to shock and disgust you with my words.  Once you limit my right to do these things with words, you side with people who would eventually strip away all right to speech that disagrees with what they want.

The National Geographic pictured here shows the censorship of its cover by Iran to hide a photograph of a couple embracing.  It does seem that most censorship is performed by people with some sort of religious motivation.  It is most obvious in countries like Iran, but it is also happening here in the U.S. where the more religious people get the more they tend to want to limit freedom of speech or expression in their communities, schools and libraries.
Continue reading

Apple is a Nightmare of Censorship

andasgamecensorLook at the image to the left.  If that image disturbs you to the point of banning the comic book, you are unintelligent.  No doubt about it.  It disturbs Apple so much that they’ve removed the comic book from their App Store.  Clear censorship.  The comic book is by author Cory Doctorow who has written many fiction and non-fiction books.  Most of his work supports open source creativity and remix culture.  I suspect that there’s more to Apple’s censorship of this work than meets the eye.  Apple hates open source stuff.  They lock down their products like nobody’s business.  They even think it’s illegal for you to make your own applications to load onto your own iPhone or iPod Touch.

Recent events at Apple and Amazon paint a disturbing picture of what is going on with these technology-based companies as they try to handle creative content.  It seems that the more efficiently a company designs and builds technology, the more interested they become in controlling and censoring content.  This is the fundamental core of fascism.  It is a very dangerous idea to give control of publishing and content to these companies.  It must not be allowed to happen.  They do not care one whit about freedom of expression.

What has become very obvious over the past year to any discerning observer is that Apple is a far right-wing conservative organization with truly frightening ideas of what content should be made available on a publishing platform.  Censoring the image of the Ork getting his head chopped off in a comic book is just what I would expect from an Islamic fundamentalist group or a right-wing Christian organization.  If the Taliban opened their own app store, I doubt they would publish an application that features a bikini-clad female chopping Muhammad’s head off.

So here it is –  for all intents and purposes as far as creative expression is concerned: Apple = Taliban.

I think Apple has some very smart engineers and designers working for it, but is burdened with a high-functioning nitwit at its helm: Steve Jobs.  We hear a lot about how smart this fellow is, but he appears to be about as clever as your average car salesman.  Apple needs to dump this guy quickly and figure out how to run itself as a content distributor because Mr. Jobs is not up to the job.

In the 21st Century you don’t run around censoring creative work in the United States of America.  You do that in China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Singapore, Burma, etc.

I would suggest Mr. Jobs apply for a job in one of these places.  They would simply love to have him.