What's Left of Civil Disobedience
After weeks of feeling on edge about everything that's happening with government-mandated surveillance online, anti-crypto laws, and all of those fucking open source sellouts who are licking Microsoft's hole, I've decided to retreat into my favorite fetal position. I've got an old 1980s heavy metal CD cranked up, one of those big bottles of water with a nipple on top to drink out of, and the latest issue of On Our Backs so I can jerk off whenever the mood strikes. And goddamn it, I'm going on the Internet, and I want to make some trouble. You should too.
In fact, I'm compiling a list of things we can still do that are fun, transgressive, and (mostly) safe online. I have this sort of giddy apocalyptic feeling, as if we're in the last days of a free Internet, and I want to live it up. Here are my directions to digital anarchy ...
Thanks be to the power of human libido, there is still a massive pile of really dirty, explicit, twisted pornography on the Net. You can see people getting it on with animals, close-up photos of the insides of people's mouths, shit-eaters, cocks and tits PhotoShopped to massive proportions, women rolling naked in mud, men dressing up like robots and obeying naughty commands, and nuns and priests in flagrante delicto. If you visit www.link-o-rama.com you'll find a pornographic archivist's dream, complete with annotations full of expletives.
Violate copyright laws!
Now that Napster is gone, there are many other file-sharing programs whose directories are packed with gray-market songs, movies, TV shows, and pictures. Do you hate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as much as I do? Try www.edonkey2000.com and you can download the latest episode of Star Trek: Enterprise within a few hours of its airing. My favorite pastime is watching pirated Trek episodes that were taped in Scandinavian countries, because they include some of the weirdest-looking subtitles ever. And while you're at it, please use Dmitry Sklyarov's Advanced E-book Processor (hopefully a pirated copy) to copy your e-books onto all your computers. Mwah mwah mwah!
Rip Microsoft a new asshole!
How much longer will it be before you won't be allowed to inspect Microsoft products (or those of any large corporation) for security holes and announce them to the corporate drones who answer the phone at the help desk? Already, security experts like Niels Ferguson www.macfergus.com/niels/dmca/cia.html -- who refused to publish the security vulnerabilities he found in Intel's High Bandwidth Digitial Content Protection -- are afraid to post their discoveries for fear of reprisals under the DMCA. Act now, get a subscription to Bugtraq (www.securityfocus.com), and find out how you can contribute to the hacker community by figuring out all of the weaknesses in the latest releases of corporate software products.
How many months before you're no longer allowed to be anonymous or pseudo-anonymous online? If certain amendments to certain surveillance laws take effect, you'll never pretend to be firstname.lastname@example.org ever again. So get as many Web-based e-mail addresses as you can, put fake information in the sign-up form, and start making trouble. If you need to visit some porn Web sites at work or post obsessively to Slashdot (www.slashdot.org), then just visit SafeWeb (www.safeweb.com), a site that allows you to search the Web without giving away your identity to the other sites you visit. As a bonus, SafeWeb also prevents your browser from recording where you go in its cache, so if your boss or the feds or your mom start snooping to find out where you've gone on the Web, all they'll find out is that you went to SafeWeb. And get a damn PGP key (www.pgp.com) while you're at it, OK? That way you can encrypt all of your e-mail.
Where else but the Internet to meet other shit-disturbers and like-minded politicos who want to organize a revolution? Find out what Marxists think about nationalism (www.badsubjects.com), what anarchists will do if our civil liberties are stolen from us (www.geocities.com/bivernico/anarchis.html), and what sex radicals really want (www.greenerypress.com) . Join mailing lists (anonymously, if you like), post on message boards, send passionate requests. Whatever you do, don't shut up. Ask questions. Enjoy your freedom.
Annalee Newitz (email@example.com) is a surly media nerd whose brain is on fire. Her column also appears in Metro, Silicon Valley's weekly paper.