Adult Industry Blog
Having been around Adult for about 20 years now, one thing I have noticed sort of bugs me.
Where did all the Holiday Gifts go from program owners, hosting companies, ad brokers, and all the other folks that should give a little gift during the XMas, Kwanza, Hannukah and other Winter Solstice holidays to follk they bill or benefit from?
At Wasteland / Spicecash. we continue to send a half gallon of Vermont Maple Syrup, an NFL-Branded toaster for a favorite team, and so on. But I have noticed that the flow of holiday gifts seem to have fallen off the annual schedule for lots of folks in "austerity mode".
Sure, Netbilling continues to send leather bomber jackets and crystal clocks. Good for Mitch! But from what I can see, most everyone else has tossed holiday giving into the ditch.
Not wanting to sound preachy, but these little gifts to your best employees, vendors and clients are what make us a little human for a few weeks of the year. A $10 gift certificate at Barnes and Nobles for someone that has done great biz for you in the last year is a no brainer for building loyalty.
And, an obscure old British holiday song for ya....
"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat;
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha-penny will do;
If you haven't got a ha-penny then God Bless You!"
Merry XMas, Kwanza, etc...
Go shopping, gang! Ten bucks at a time will set you apart as a "good guy"
If you are an average consumer, watch the news, or are involved in the tech field, you no doubt are aware of the growing concerns about today’s technology increasingly encroaching on personal privacy.
We often think about online privacy in terms of the web forms we fill out, and the marketable data that we reveal about ourselves, but the issue of online privacy protection is becoming “internal.”
Having turned 50 this year, my doctor advised me that it was time for a colonoscopy, as a means of preventative screening. We all hear about the “Pink Ribbon” campaign against breast cancer, which has an excellent record of accomplishment in encouraging women to have breast exams and mammograms, because early detection results in higher survivability.
Consider this post to be the start of my informal “Brown Ribbon” campaign to encourage men to do likewise and have a colonoscopy when they hit 50, as it could save their life — but I digress, as this is not about how I lost my anal virginity, but of the privacy implications presented by the process.
When I arrived at the endoscopy center for the procedure, the cute young girl at the counter asked if I had read and understood their privacy practices, despite seeing my signature and initials in the spots where they were required.
“Miss, I came here to have a camera shoved up my ass,” I told her. “I didn’t expect much ‘privacy.’”
She blushed and had to leave the counter to go giggle with her co-worker over that one, while my lovely wife stood there rolling her eyes and telling me to behave.
The whole situation is absurd and shows just how far (especially in California) the push for privacy is going to extreme lengths. Are the steps making consumers safer by protecting their privacy? I doubt it.
Now, there is a small collection of images revealing a far more detailed view of the inside of my ass than I ever hoped to see. They are accompanied by a map of my plumbing, with little “X’s” to mark the spots where each photo was taken, and I now assume that this document is stored online somewhere, which means that security systems nonetheless, it is “available” to others.
I cannot think of a more invasive technology or a more insecure media to store the results.
Well, maybe I can, since these images were at one time and place; but another medical technology may be even more intrusive and less secure: the UP24.
According to its maker, the UP wristband communicates with the UP app on a user’s smartphone to reveal personal performance metrics, helping you “understand how you sleep, move and eat so you can make smarter choices.”
Think of it as a “black box” recorder for your body — one that lets others know when you are awake and available to receive their advertisements, for example.
Given these developments, it is clear that the issue of online privacy will persist into the near future, bringing with it evolving legislation and consumer attitudes. When dealing with something as personal as porn consumption, privacy protection will become an ever more important factor to sales, making it an action item in any adult website’s business and marketing plan.
Okay, I gotta admit something. I'm sure by this point of reading my blog, you've figured out that I really like toys. A LOT. As in adult toys but I do admit that I have quite a few assorted non-adult toys lying around my house because they give me happiness to see them and I occasionally play with them, too.
Now we're upon the Christmas season where toys are bestowed upon youngsters with wild abandon - screw that January MasterCard bill! Parents flock to Toys R Us as if the apocalypse is going to break loose on December 25 and their kid has to have every toy on their wish list. But why do those kids have to have all the fun?
When I meet someone, especially someone who has dating, or, more appropriately, fucking on their mind, they jokingly say to me "I bet you have crates of sex toys" and I respond with a completely straight face "yes, I do." I DO have at least a dozen big Rubbermaid containers of adult toys stacked in my garage, so full they oftentimes threaten to pop off the lids. There's sex toys that are common, sex toys that are hard to find, sex toys that have been discontinued long ago, sex toys in their box, sex toys out of their box, sex toys that are my favorites that I keep saying I have to take out of the crates in the garage and deposit them into my bedroom chest of drawers so I can have them at the ready but using them in my garage is just so much more fun and nasty.
I just love toys, that's all I can say.
So why is it that when we get a toy as a kid, our faces light up, we jump up and down, we squeal in delight and think there's absolutely nothing else better in the world in that moment? When we get an adult toy in a store, many times people sheepishly walk in, make their purchase (praying to God that it's in an opaque bag that no one can see what they bought), and slink away in their car, feeling shameful and perhaps guilty that they bought something to use themselves or spring on their lover that night. Maybe the neighbors will think "Hey, what's 'a matter? Ya ain't getting any?" or that they need lubricant because they're not turned on enough. Maybe they feel guilty because they're buying something their girlfriend was too nervous to get or didn't want their name and address associated with buying something on the web. Maybe they just don't want to admit they like buying sex toys and would feel much more relieved if Toys R Us had an adult section, which actually would be a pretty good idea!
One of my fondest Christmas mornings was sharing it with a lover who decided to surprise me with an adult version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Unbeknownst to me, he had 12 unwrapped, battery-filled sex toys under the bed, and with each passing refrain of "On the Twelve Days of Christmas, my true love gave to me...." and voila! Another sex toy appeared! I anxiously tried each one as it was unveiled and I'm glad that I didn't keep stuffing them into myself as the refrains keep repeating themselves. It was one of the best grown up Christmases I ever had!
I say let's take back the fun and pride in buying a toy that will make us feel good! If you work in an adult store, try sharing the enthusiasm like a kid on a candy high, letting the customer know that getting an adult toy they really want to have for themselves or wrap up and put under a tree is as good as it gets.
And don't forget to play! With your toys, with role playing, with sex. Play with your toys like kids do only this time, it'll a lot more fun and Mom doesn't need to pick up after you.
Happy holidaze and toy shopping!
And now, the Joke of the Blog?
Q. What's the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts?
A. Beer nuts are about $1.49 and deer nuts are under a buck.
Q. What were you before you were Mama's little baby?
A. Daddy's little squirt.
On the twelve days of Christmas... see ya on the next blog!
Last month, another distasteful use of your personal information by Google came to light: The company now will attach your name and likeness to advertisements delivered across its products without your permission. Including pornsites that you were silly enough to look at while you were logged in to your GMail account. You too can now have your smiling Google+ photo and real name right next to the rich text snippet for some porn site you accidentally visited from a deceptive google link.
OUCH! As happens every time the search giant does something scary, evil or stupid, Google's plan to turn its users into unwitting endorsers has inspired a new round of jabs at Google's famous slogan "Don't be evil." While Google has deemphasized the motto over time, it remains prominent in the company's corporate code of conduct, and, as a cornerstone of its 2004 Founder's IPO Letter, the motto has become an inescapable component of the company's legacy. Famous though the slogan might be, its meaning has never been clear. In the 2004 IPO letter, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin clarify that Google will be "a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains." But what counts as "good things," and who constitutes "the world?"
The slogan's significance has likely changed over time, but today it seems clear that we're misunderstanding what "evil" means to the company. For today's Google, evil isn't tied to malevolence or moral corruption, the customary senses of the term. Rather, it's better to understand Google's sense of evil as the disruption of its brand of (computational) progress. Of course, Google doesn't say so in as many words; the company never defines "evil" directly.
But, now that over the past years Google has gone from a nice, offbeat little company (with a really nice employee vegan-friendly cafeteria) that simply wants to make our lives better, to what, for lack of a better way to describe it, "A New World Order", we seem to be seeing more and more evil coming down the cyper-pike just about weekly now. Want free, stolen porn? Just hop on Google, grab your stick and double click and a whole world of stolen porn on Tubes, Torrents and File Sharing sites are presented to you (after the first 3 pages of Wikipedia, Redbook and Ladies Home Journal results), and just before the traditional legitimate adult industry websites (read paysites) even come up.
Same goes for pirated software. Google search "Photoshop" and after the obligatory Wikipedia articles, the first one that comes up are links to Youtube videos that show you, step by step, how to go steal a copy of it from a torrent, and then how to disable its security so it can't "call home" for detection by Adobe as being on your computer. But, how are they making money from promoting piracy, other than becoming a first-stop destination for anyone looking for just about anything, and the more you go there, the more data they harvest about your wants, needs and desires? Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman — a product of Harvard’s college, law school, and economics PhD program — believes that Google has done a nice job of rope-a-doping the legal community that has been trying to hold it accountable. In his report, he says,
"Last week, Google's 10-Q disclosed a $500 million charge "in connection with a potential resolution of an investigation by the US Department of Justice into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers." Google initially declined to say more, but a Wall Street Journal report revealed that the charge resulted from Google's sale of advertising to online pharmacies that break US laws. While Google has certainly profited from selling advertisements to rogue pharmacies, that's just one of many areas where Google sells unlawful advertisements. Here are six other areas where I've also seen widespread unlawful AdWords advertisements:
- Advertisements charging for something that's actually free. I've documented scores of AdWords advertisements that attempt to trick users into paying for software that's widely available for free -- charging for RealPlayer, Skype, WinZip, and more.
- Advertisements promising "free" service but actually imposing a charge. I have also flagged dozens of advertisements promising "100% complimentary" "free" "no obligation" service that actually comes with a monthly charge, typically $9.99/month or more. Promising "free" ringtones, these services rarely ask users for their credit card numbers. Instead, they post charges straight onto users' mobile phone bills -- combining carrier-direct billing with deceptive advertising claims in order to strengthen the illusion of "free" service.
- Copyright infringement - advertisements touting tools for infringing audio and video downloads. For example, media companies uncovered Google selling advertisements to various download sites, typically folks charging for Bittorrent clients. These programs helped users download movies without permission from the corresponding rights-holders, which is a double-whammy to copyright holders: Not only did labels, studios, artists, and filmmakers get no share of users' payments, but users' payments flowed to those making tools to facilitate infringement.
- Copyright infringement - advertisements touting counterfeit software. For example, Rosetta Stone in six months notified Google of more than 200 instances in which AdWords advertisers offered counterfeit Rosetta Stone software.
- Advertisements for programs that bundle spyware/adware. At the peak of the spyware and adware mess a few years ago, distributors of unsavory software used AdWords to distribute their wares. For example, a user searching for "screensavers" would receive a mix of advertisements -- some promoting software that worked as advertised; others bundling screensavers with advertising and/or tracking software, with or without disclosure.
- Mortgage modification offers. Consumers seeking mortgage modifications often receive AdWords advertisements making deceptive claims. A recent Consumer Watchdog study found AdWords advertisers falsely claiming to be affiliated with the US government, requiring consumers to buy credit reports before receiving advice or help (yielding immediate referral fees to the corresponding sites), and even presenting fake certification logos. One prominent AdWords advertiser had previously faced FTC litigation for telemarketing fraud, while another faced FTC litigation for falsely presenting itself as affiliated with the US government. Other advertisers suffer unsatisfactory BBB ratings, and some advertisers falsely claim to have 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
In a related story this week, CNN Money jumped on the fashionable bandwagon, blaming what they decry as the meldown of corporate tech infrastructure on..... You Guess It! PORN! In REALLY BIG HEADLINE FONTS, CNN announced:
Want to stop nasty worms from spreading on corporate networks? It would help if bosses stopped going to porn sites.The CNN photo editor stayed up all night making this little clever gem. A little more solid journalism might have been a better use of resources? Nice Apple Keyboard though!According to a recent survey by software firm ThreatTrack Security, 40% of tech support employees admit they've had to clean an executive's corporate device after the boss visited an infected porn website.The survey, conducted in October, shows that while it's generally gotten easier for companies to defend themselves from outside attacks, bosses' bad habits make it difficult to keep up. Here are some other mistakes executives make:
- 56% got malware from clicking on a bad link or getting duped by a fake "phishing" email.
- 47% attached an infected device, like a thumb drive or smartphone, to their PC.
- 45% got a virus when they let a family member use a company computer.
- 33% installed a malicious app on their company device.
Cisco reports 36% of viruses and malware come from search engines. Online Video at 22% but not porn videos. Social Networks @ 20%. Where's all this evil porn? Ummm... Excuse Me, CNN? The four bullet points you list have nothing to do with porn! It's a well documented fact that the vast majority of viruses and malware come not from pornsites, but high traffic mainstream ones. Tech Republic and Cisco published some interesting findings on this. Read it and please then shut up about the "porn problem".
We more or less expect this sort of shoddy Yellow Journalism from Fox, and most recently Time Magazine, but come on! CNN was sort of the last vestige of liberal and more-or-less accurate, inflammatory mainstream media. It's almost time to pull the plug, only read The New Yorker, listen to National Public Radio and get a new rolodex for all of my data archiving needs. As part of my job at a porn company, I probably visit several hundred porn sites per week to ferret out our movies that have been stolen and are being promoted by Google links.
Never ONCE in 12 years have I ever gotten a virus. But then, I know enough not to download shit from the internet, porn or not! Viral payloads typically come with special offers for ringtones, screensavers, free software and apps to database your DVD collection on your GameBoy. Not Pornsites, you dummy. Pornsites want you to come back again and again so maybe they can sell you something. Not infect your computer. So, 56% got malware from clicking on a bad link that was probably on Google to a Pharma company, 47% got it from sticking a thumb drive in their laptop that they borrowed from their uncle Lenny who is into some strange guns and ammo lifestyle, 45% got if from letting their kid use their computer to surf for gaming cheats, and the remaining 33% got if from a "malicious app" that they most likely got for FREE from the Google Play app store (which is a notorious cesspool of infected Android games, cookbooks and flyfishing apps).
This now begs the question, "What does Google define as Evil?"
In an NPR interview earlier this year, former Google CEO and executive chairman Eric Schmidt explained the Google policy of "Don't Be Evil" with some paradigmatic dodge-and-parry double-speak, saying "So what happens is, I'm sitting in this meeting, and we're having this debate about an advertising product. And one of the engineers pounds his fists on the table and says, that's evil. And then the whole conversation stops, everyone goes into conniptions, and eventually we stopped the project. So it did work." NPR then goes on to say,
Schmidt admits that he thought it was "the stupidest rule ever" upon his arrival at the company, "because there's no book about evil except maybe, you know, the Bible or something." The contrast between the holy scripture and the engineer's fist is almost allegorical: in place of a broadly construed set of sociocultural values, Google relies instead on the edict of the engineer. That Schmidt doesn't bother describing the purportedly evil project in question only further emphasizes the matter: Whatever the product did or didn't do is irrelevant; all that matters is that Google passed judgement upon it. The system worked. But on whose behalf? Buchheit had explained that early Googlers felt that their competitors were exploiting users, but, exploitation is relative. Even back in the pre-IPO salad days of 2003, Schmidt explained "Don't be evil" via its founders' whim: "Evil is what Sergey says is evil.
And, in the "strange but true" section, Google "barges right in" with yet another odd development.
In the meantime, when everyone was blinded by Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Google getting hacked by the NSA and other annoying things that people were complaining about (including Google), the news broke that Google now has FLOATING BARGES in San Francisco and Portland, Maine. Tech reporters have been suspiciously been eyeballing these floating fortresses for a while now, but the mystery is officially over. The odd structures in San Francisco Bay and Portland Harbor are indeed owned by Google, who has fessed up ownership of the project and vociferously denies that these are data centers. The company issued the following statement: “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where
people can learn about new technology.” Although Google’s statement has both dampened down and ignited some of the speculation regarding the project, the secrecy with which the barges were constructed still raises some eyebrows. Building on water rather than land meant that the company could avoid filing public permits, and US Coast Guard officials who inspected the barges signed non-disclosure agreements. Plus, as the barges are probably soundproofed inside with a lining of hundred dollar bills, nobody can even hear what might be going on in there. But, I sort of have to call "B.S." on their explanation (as much good as THAT will do anything). "An interactive space where people can learn about new technology."
Really? I can almost buy that for San Francisco Bay if there weren't TWO of them there. But Portland, Maine? Not exactly the place to spend a boatload of money (pun intended) to build an interactive space for the unemployed toothless fishermen of Maine to go learn all about Google Glasses.
I'm almost hoping that they are building robotic dinosaurs in there and, as their last flip of the google-bird to the world as they finally get taken down, hit the BIG RED BUTTON on the barges, unleashing Google Godzillas as some over-the-top form of revenge on everyone that just got fed up with their greedy, unethical antics. It might just be my imagination, but has anyone else noticed that Google is looking more and more like a classic "Bond Villain"?
Maybe the French will fix it all. The US and most other countries seem pretty incapable of controlling this modern-day Jurassic marrow and soul sucking Beast from Hell. Yet, as usual, I digress, so in a last ditch attempt to salvage this article from sounding like James Joyce on Guinness, let me offer some final thoughts that might pull this all together. THE TAKE-AWAY
- Google is not your friend. Yes, the Chrome browser works a TON better than Firefox, Safari or that evil piece of junk, Internet Explorer and I highly recommend it if you can manage to download it and set it up in a safe way that Google doesn't suck down your browsing history, personal information and blood type (if Google takes over the Obamacare websites tech)
- Anything you read on the internet from "mainstream media" about porn or adult entertainment is now simply horse hockey. Yes, we had a nice recess from abuse from "Fifty Shades Of Grey" (mainstream media made a LOT of money off of that), but just realize anything you read now about porn from a mainstream media website or news source is going to try to make you feel afraid of it. Or disgusted by it. Or think Hitler invented it. It's their way of boosting readership by blaming every ill of society and the net on porn. Don't believe it.
- Porn surfing and consumption is, and has been, created as a very safe experience for you by all of us in the responsible adult industry. We have worked hard for 20 years to gain your trust and patronage. Don't let mainstream scare you. We are on your side to bring joy to your panties and get a reasonable amount of money from you to pay the actors and operating expenses. Yeah, go watch a free vid on a tube once in a while, but realize the good stuff is over at the paysites, DVD stores and other places that charge a bit of money. Fair is fair, and we aim to please!
Article Originally Published At EroticScribes.com
Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the adult industry trade association, will open its call for nominations for the 2014 Board of Directors Friday November 1, 2013. There are five board positions up for election, out of 13 board seats.
You must be an FSC member to make a nomination. Active FSC members will receive an email form that allows them to nominate candidates for election (sent through survey service Vertical Response). Any member making a nomination must supply contact information for each candidate.
Candidates must be active FSC members.
The FSC 2014 Board Elections Schedule is as follows:
November 1 – Call for nominations
November 4- Record date – individuals must be members by this date in order to be eligible to nominate, run or vote in the election
November 22 – Nominations close
November 25 – Slate of nominees announced
December 2 – Ballots sent
December 19 – Elections close
December 20 – Results announced
“This is a great opportunity for FSC members to take ownership in their trade association by nominating and voting for Board Members,” said Diane Duke Free Speech Coalition CEO. “It is the Board of Directors that sets the policy, direction and tone for the organization and member participation in the election is not only welcome, but also greatly appreciated.”
For more information about the election process or to join FSC, contact (818) 348-9373, or email@example.com.
I’ve written before about the importance of supporting the industry organizations that support the industry, as without your financial and other material aid, they simply cannot carry on with their missions — regardless of the nobility of their goal or the dedication of the staff and volunteers that make it all happen.
The latest example of the threat to representation resulting from a lack of capital can be found in the Stop File Lockers project — an antipiracy initiative targeting file lockers and the stolen adult content that they thrive upon.
With so many observers blaming piracy as a main factor in the ongoing demise of the adult entertainment industry, one might think that there would be widespread support for any program boasting the track record of success that Stop File Lockers has earned by not only pursuing pirates, but the billing companies, hosting providers and other enablers that profit from this trade in stolen goods — but one would be mistaken for thinking so…
On October 1, Stop File Lockers chief “AdultKing” announced that this antipiracy campaign would close due to a lack of industry support. Not the kind of “support” gained from virtual high-fives on a message board, but the kind of real support that stakeholders within the industry could have provided.
According to AdultKing, since the Stop File Lockers project began in June of 2012, it has played a role in the shutting down of hundreds of file lockers and other piracy sites, with more than a thousand Paypal, Pazya, Moneybookers and other third party accounts shut down in addition to the closure of around 100 merchant accounts (and more than 60 more shut down with third party co-operation). Three third party billers lost their ability to accept Paypal, while hundreds of file locker resellers on eBay had their listings of file locker vouchers and memberships terminated, adding to the campaign’s success. Various blogs, forums, image hosts and link sharing sites have also been shuttered by the project.
Despite these tangible successes, the project’s primary sponsor pulled its funding, while promises from other firms never materialized; leaving Stop File Lockers a reported $15,000 in the hole, and needing a new source of financing to continue operating.
“My commitment to the project has never waned, however the harsh reality is that what we did cost money. Resources used included distributed cloud server time for detection and verification systems, legal costs, back end systems, international couriers for paper based evidence, technical services such as programming and scripting of tools, conference call facilities, travel and accommodation for meetings, video conferencing, lease on office space and so on,” AdultKing confided. “Without ongoing financial support it’s impossible for any one person to mount an operation as extensive as the one we were running. As it is we ran on the bare necessities to get the job done and not one single participant in the project (other than professional service providers) was paid. All the collaboration was done by volunteers including myself.”
“The issue basically boils down to flogging a dead horse. The funding has dried up [and] there are expenses that need to be met in order to keep going. Those expenses cannot be met, therefore we close,” AdultKing explained. “There has to come a point at which one asks why they should continue to prop up such a project when the majority of the online adult industry couldn’t care less if there was piracy or not.”
The proclamation was met with a renewed wave of public support, with AdultKing committing another year of his time for free, if a reliable source of funding can be found to the tune of around AUD $10,000 monthly. In the meantime, he covered the immediate costs with a contribution from one of his non-adult businesses, to provide a month long respite during which new sponsors, including small companies with recurring payments, could be obtained.
“I need to make it clear that this project lives and dies by the support it receives,” AdultKing concluded. “So if you want to see us continue then now will be the time to show your support.”
The CopyControl.org site lists a dozen current contributions to the Stop File Lockers campaign, totaling $1,180 to date (not including an undisclosed amount that was given by an anonymous donor) — with half of the listed donations occurring at the $30 level.
None noted a status of “recurring,” so it’s unclear how much ongoing support the effort will receive beyond this first round of renewed funding. It is also important to note that while this latest round of fundraising has been underway since around October 6, that the donation record only lists those contributions received from October 21-24.
If others were made prior to that date, they are not listed.
Before writing off the request, consider that piracy affects everyone in this business, whether they are content producers and rights owners or not.
“There are people in this industry that are being affected by the outcome of piracy that don’t own websites or own the content that is produced, but are feeling the loss of industry income by not having regular work because profits have declined so far [that] producers are cutting back,” BlackandBlueMedia commented. “Those people include performers, sales people, camera men, makeup artists, publicists, Production Assistants, retailers and location managers among many others. Those people have never made the big bucks that a content producer/owner does, so having a way to help support the fight against piracy that can be worked into their personal budgets is very cool.”
“Beaner” was a bit blunter; noting that if 233 people cannot pay $30/month for the cause of fighting piracy (the amount the initiative needs), then “adult is dead.”
Of course, we could easily substitute “for the cause of protecting children from porn” or “for the cause of protecting free speech,” in the cases of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) or the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) respectively — the point remains the same: without your support, the organizations working to help you do business cannot survive; making the long term fate of these valuable institutions the ultimate barometer of the adult entertainment industry’s health and vitality.
Sink or swim, it’s in YOUR hands now…
Between Google, Wikipedia, Bing, RedBook and the Ladies Home Journal, there aren't many mainstream media or tech outlets that haven't stuck an angry finger up the butt of Porn lately to supress it, take away its traffic and simply be annoying in a destructive way.
Even that bastion of free speech and civil liberties (?), the ACLU, fell victim to corporate cowardice and censorship this past weekend at the hands of Facebook! Now how the hell did THAT happen? Well, it was the result of the ACLU posting a blog article on their site covering their First Amendment fight with some stodgy town fathers in East Cupcake Kansas about a bronze statue that showed.... OMG..... BREASTS! The blog posting covered a group of citizens organized by the nutbar American Family Association that believes the statue to be criminally obscene (it isn’t), and has begun a petition process to haul the sculpture to court (really, they are).
Where the ACLU ran afoul of the new mainstream morality is they included a photo of the statue which, as most blog posts do, got automatically posted to the ACLU Facebook page. The ACLU got word on Sunday that the Facebook post had been deleted, and was no longer viewable by their Facebook followers or anyone else. Then, astoundingly, on Tuesday morning they discovered the ACLU had been blocked from posting for 24 hours, with a message from Facebook warning them of the dire consequences for repeat violations of its no-porn policy.
The theory of how this happened is Facebook, famous for its privacy invading facial-recognition technology, also has bare booby recognition detectors. Now, EVERYBODY knows that although you can post photos of beheadings and mutilation on Facebook, don't even THINK about posting up a titty shot. Even if it's a family photo showing a baby breast feeding.
To seal the deal with the cyber-sniffing Facebook censor technology, the woman in the bronze statue has a rather remarkable rack that must have set off a five-alarmer at the Facebook's little NSA wanna-be division of public morality. What the ACLU then discovered is what those of us in the adult entertainment industry have known all along about the corporate giants that now control our information and set the standards for what you can and can't see: there is no easy way to contact the media corporation that did the takedown, or even any sort of online appeals process for little boo-boos like this one.
The ACLU is not just your average Joe on the street and within a few days, it's probably certain that a liberal Senator or Federal Judge that are ACLU members stuck a nine iron up Mark Zukerberg's butt at the 19th hole of the golf course. It all ended quickly. Peace was restored to the ACLU realm, and Facebook sent a rather spineless bullshit apology:
We apologize for this error. Unfortunately, with more than a billion users and the hundreds of thousands of reports we process each week, we occasionally make a mistake. We hope that we've rectified the mistake to your satisfaction.
Facebook then restored the original post. The ACLU forgave them. Hmmmm.... Spineless knows no bounds and the ACLU is right up there with the EFF for this sort of mainstream corporate ass kissing (fundraising is a tricky issue they say). The astounding thing in this matter is that the ACLU did not even hint at a defense of posting a boob pic of a bronze statue covered in bird poop, but deflected to its political importance. Shame on you for pandering and bowderlizing this into your fundraising strategy. You posted a boob photo. Defend it. In a subsequent post, ACLU spokesman Lee Rowland hinted at his organization now getting a bit more aware of digital censorship, saying
My colleague Jay Stanley has highlighted the dangers of corporate censorship before here on the pages of Free Future. He argues that as the digital world steadily eclipses the soap box as our most frequent forum for speech, companies like Facebook are gaining government-like power to enforce societal norms on massive swaths of people and content. A business primer from our colleagues in California illustrates how heavy-handed censorship is as bad a choice in business as it is in government.
Most of us remember in a combination of amusement and horror back in the Bush Administration when then Attorney General John Ashcroft demanded putting drapes over the naked bits of statues in Washington D.C. (as just an added touch to his horribly failed war on porn). But there is a new enemy to free speech and it's not the government - it's the corporations which are a far more impossible foe to defeat. Governments, at least in the US and other NATO countries, have some checks and balances and although difficult, citizens can unite and through the due process of the constitution, changes can be made to happen. Well. Aside from the NSA. On that, go pound sand, buddy, and be careful what you write or say or think.
But, corporations are different. They are kingdoms unto themselves and unless they do something REALLY stupid, are pretty much exempt from anything unless hit with a class action suit (which takes years and usually doesn't work), petitions to boycott their goods and services (which RARELY work), or enough pissing and moaning on twitter to get a damage control reaction. Trusted source that knows about these complex issues, Stewart Tongue, adds:
The real danger is that the current climate creates a symbiotic relationship between giant companies in need of regulatory preference and governments seeking back channels for squelching opposition without drawing legal challenges or the attention of the public" said Stewart Tongue of Engine Food. "From a legal perspective, Freedom of speech only covers pure and direct government prohibitions, but with programs like Prism and the dark work of the NSA, the idea that large conglomerates like FaceBook, Google or others might be used as proxies to interrupt and curtail free speech with no possibility of a successful legal challenge by Free Speech advocates is more than just a fleeting possibility.
As for the ACLU's little brush with the new reality of corporate censorship, I'm glad somebody other than pornographers and erotic ebook authors are now getting a taste of this bitter pill. Maybe they will spread the message before it's all just too late to fix, or at least loudly protest, and we end up back in some version of 1955 Middle America morality. Will the ACLU or EFF have the spine to take this on? I seriously doubt it, but would love to see them shift focus onto mainstream corporate censorship. I suspect they won't though. Too much money at stake from sponsorships. Dream on......
More Commentary like this at EroticScribes.com - Take a look.
Yes. We knew this was coming. Once mainstream got done gutting the porn industry for search engine results and any chance of mainstream placement, talented folks (mostly women) that write saucy sex novels for a living were next in line to be lead into the "porn ghetto" like a post modern porn scene from Schindler's List.
As of yesteday, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, WH Smith and other eBook stores are taking a radical response to last week’s “news” that they sell boundary-pushing adult content in their ebookstores. They are now deleting not just the questionable erotica but are also removing any ebooks that might even hint at violating cultural norms. I sort of could see this coming in the wake of some censorship developments in the porn industry's newly stoked interest in eBook publishing to bypass Google filtering. This new story twist began when The Kernel discovered last week that, much to their dismay, Amazon was selling legal adult content!
The books are sold as Kindle Editions, the name Amazon gives to books that can be cheaply and quickly downloaded to its portable Kindle device. Available titles include Don’t Daddy (Forced Virgin Seduction) and Daddy’s Invisible Condom (Dumb Daughter Novelette). As with “barely legal” pornographic films, which seek to satisfy base urges associated with illegal and immoral acts while circumventing laws against depictions of underage sex, many of the titles listed on Amazon protest loudly that rape victims are “over 18”. Similarly, the “daddy” rapists in many incest stories are revealed in the small print to be “not blood related”. But few reading the titles of these books will be fooled about the supposed erotic intent of the volumes.
Now, anyone that has ever wandered into the Kindle Store's "erotica" section knows that Amazon has long been probably the biggest seller of smut for years. Type in a Kindle-only search for "Erotica" (that's code for "Porn") and get 118,662 prurient and steamy results (1,056 of these being totally FREE)! Has Kernel author Jeremy Wilson been living in a cave and just now discovered porny text, or is he simply pulling a "David Cameron" act to get some page views by yelling fire in a crowded sexually-phobic theater?
Regardless of his motivation, the frantic damage control at Amazon and the others was swift and is resembling wholesale slaughter of erotic fiction authors that, up until this point, could make a decent living by publishing naughty fare in eBook format. But, as with so many other forms of media these days, censorship is digging in its corporate cowardice claws once again.
U.K. bookseller W.H. Smith didn't even bother to start sifting through their eBook library to quarantine steamy sex books. They simply TOOK THE ENTIRE SITE offline! Here's what you get today if you go the their website:
A statement from WHSmith: Last week we were made aware that a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours. This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self published eBooks due to the explosion of self publishing, which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get their content published. However we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them. It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out. We offer over one million titles through our eBooks partner Kobo, many of which are self-published titles. Due to the massive amount of self publishing a number of these titles have got through the screening process. We are taking immediate steps to have them all removed. While we are doing this we have decided to take our website off-line to best protect our customers and the public. Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again. We sincerely apologise for any offence caused. In the mean time if you have any questions for our customer support team you can contact then here (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Okay, that's all very polite and British sounding, but is this limited to some "self published" authors that took one step over the line of what's "sexually acceptable" these days? No way! Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble have been removing whole swathes of erotica from the Nook Store and Kindle Store. And they are not just deleting the more questionable titles; B&N and Amazon appear to be performing keyword searches in the erotica section and removing everything they find.
Many authors have reported that their titles had been quarantined into censorship and pulled from the Kindle Store with little explanation beyond the statement that the titles in question violated Amazon’s policies on “Description, Cover Image”. Many don’t have a clue what that is supposed to mean and the guidelines for authors are not real clear as to what's acceptable. And, don't even bother trying to get in touch with a representative to assist you. You might as well try to make a phone call to Google to ask them. Good luck with that!
Sounds more like a romantic comedy to me! This one got banned, but Fifty Shades of Grey and The Bible are still available at Amazon! Go figure...
For example, one title that was swept up in the malstrom was Babysitting the Baumgartners. This ebook was unquestionably erotica, but based on the listing on Goodreads, it is not in the least bit questionable (other than the word babysitter in the title). This title is not listed in either the Kindle Store or Nook Store any more after previously being on the bestseller charts.
We're not talking about "illegal" content here gang. You know, Mexican Donkey Porn Stories and underaged characters. We're talking about totally legal erotic lit niches that some people really enjoy. Spanking and BDSM and Kinky Role-playing and such.
So, in one fell swoop, the retail outlets through outright censorship have taken us back to the 1950s when "Romance Lit" stayed within the parameters of hunky sea captains and damsels in distress, having sex in an "implied way" similar to Rob and Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke show (one foot must remain on the floor at all times, and it better be pretty NORMAL sex, please!)
Once your book gets kicked off of Amazon and the other shopping sites, it's not easy to get a title restored. Each banned title has to be approved by someone inside Amazon before it can be sold again. And due to the minimalist explanations provided by Amazon it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for authors to comply. Add to that if your re-submitted book with the now PG-Rated title and no "dirty words" in it gets rejected, there is a very good chance that the author's entire library will be kicked off and their publisher account closed.
As the word "Babysitting" seems to be on the death list at Amazon, I checked in with the publisher of Blushing Books who confirmed that one of their titles on Amazon, "The Babysitter" also hit Jeff Bezos' censorship trash can. The synopsis of the story reads, "Kate Mitchell, a rising star in the newly established branch of homeland security, is dismayed to learn her new assignment is nothing more than "babysitting" a wayward daughter of a US Senator. Her charge, Abby McDaniel is 'more than a handful', but Kate is determined to keep her safe, no matter how difficult it proves to be. Kate will do whatever is necessary to ensure her safety, including spanking her sexy little bottom. Abby McDaniel does NOT want a glorified "babysitter" in her life... even one as strikingly beautiful as Kate Mitchell. Determined to live on her own terms, she refuses to obey the rules of the sexy bodyguard even when her recklessness results in "discussions" over Kate's knee. Abby has a dark secret and is determined to keep it buried in the past. However, when a stalker threatens her future happiness and possibly her very life, only her beautiful and tough bodyguard stands between Abby and her stalker. Will Kate keep her safe or will Abby's rebellious antics get them both killed?" Reviewer: Aida
Okay. A merry romp through Homeland Security, featuring two adult women, one of which gets some spankings for being a bratty intel officer trainee. The first 10 pages of the Book Of Genesis is a whole lot naughtier than THAT! Bethany Burke, CEO of Blushing Books chimes in with this observation:
This purge of Amazon's is rendered even more absurd when you consider not what's gone, but what's still there. "The Babysitter" contains absolutely no mention or even suggestion of children in the description, and no children as characters. Yet POOF - its gone. Now, go to Amazon and type in "butt plug." You'll get an impressive-display of explicitly-illustrated and (in some cases) reviewed products, with no attempt to restrict access to any surfers whatsoever. I'd say your average ten year old could get a lot better "education" by perusing these full-color listings for things like the "anal beginners kit," or the "inflatable black dong" or another item (helpfully listed as the "best gift,") the "Golden Steel Bondage Fetish Plug Anal Butt Jewelry Small Unisex (Mint / Baby Green).
Luckily for readers, "The Babysitter" is still available on their website and I encourage everyone to go buy a copy. $3.95 is a cheap price to pay for a little good old-fashioned civil disobedience. Click here to go get it.
As expected, all ends of the author community and lit pundits about it are already saying stupid shit. Ranging from "Jane" at DearAuthor.com that sounds like a Nazi apologist and urging us to "just trust Amazon to do the right thing" (heavens, only 1000 authors died! it could be far worse!); To the usually intelligent PJ Vogt at NPR, pretty much saying that Mexican Donkey porn should stay on Amazon to give folks another option from shopping at Walmart for books!
Yep. everyone can find an agenda to pump on this one.
This knee jerk reaction on the part of Amazon, B&N, WH Smith, Kobo and others is affecting the livelihoods of hundreds of talented and hard working authors, none of whom have done anything worse than write and sell what readers want to buy. The overblown response to a couple of news stories is actually causing more damage than the content being vilified. And, beyond that individual damage, it is just another nail in the coffin of sexual freedom of expression that is now running so rampant in our new polite society.
Lube. I love it. It’s the juice of nature, the stuff that makes you go on for a long time. The perfect addition to a good round o’ sex whether you’re by yourself or with others. It’s the glue that holds sexual encounters together while keeping you apart and it’s the perfect upsell product for your customers.
Yeah, upsell. Just about every purchase of a sex toy or other sex accoutrement should have some good ol’ lube on the receipt, too: every anal toy, every pack of condoms, every insertable gizmo, every toy that can be used on the outside, so basically, that means everything. Lube is like what tires are for cars… sure you can buy a car without tires but you won’t get very far driving it. Lube will let you slide on for many miles and hours of pleasure without that pesky burning sensation or testing the fragility of those rubbers you’ve been hanging on to beyond their expiration date.
Let’s look at lube, my favorite sex toy.
I’ll briefly go into the ingredients in lube right now ‘cuz it’s a great idea for another blog but I’m on a tear right now about upselling the stuff.
Water based lube has a variety of ingredients depending on what kind you buy. Typically, those ingredients include glycerin and water and a host of other things that your customer may or may not want in their lube such as parabens, propylene glycol, and others. There are organic lubes and natural lubes, both of which have subcategories like wearing the incredibly non-sexy FDA Organic symbol on its label (more on that in another blog). Natural is, well, whatever the company wants to say it is and if a consumer is more comfortable with wanting to purchase the lube that boasts “natural” on its label, then so be it.
Silicone based lube is another story. It has no water in it and is basically made up of three, long syllabled ingredients that are tricky to decipher. Basically, the chemical makeup of silicone lube is like little ball bearings that just roll on each other but don’t stick to one another. Or your skin. Or your toys. It has the qualities of an oil based lube but is latex (condom) compatible. But it’s oftentimes a bitch to wash off your hands especially when you have to use your fingers for things like putting in batteries, opening condom packets (thank god for teeth but that’s another thing), and a host of other in-the-moment sex tricks that you need agile (and un-siliconed) fingers for. Silicone lube is not my personal favorite but I know I’m significantly outnumbered because I know PLENTY of people who love it.
Then there’s the hybrid category which blends together the best qualities of silicone and water based lubricants in one handy bottle. It’s easy to wash off yet can stay pretty slippery at the same time. I like the hybrids, that’s for sure.
There’s a lot more to know about lubricants and like I said, I’ll get to that in another blog.
So, here are my suggestions for making the lube sale as easy as the McDonald’s clerk asking “You want fries wit dat?”
Have samples of lube where the customers can test them out first. I know a lot of you are thinking “yeah, but that’ll trash a bottle of lube for every one I open.” Yes, it does BUT I can guarantee that you’ll sell a lot more that way instead of having them sealed up so no one knows the difference between them. Besides which, a tester bottle will last a long time since only a couple of drops are used during testing.
Educate yourself about the properties of lube and the features and benefits of the different types. Gosh, I guess I better get crackin’ on that next blog just so you can. Stay tuned.
Have tissues readily available next to the testers so customers can wipe their digits after smearing lube over them and don’t forget to have a handy little trash can to put the used tissues in. A lot of general merchandise stores have handy little desktop trash cans you can easily fit on a shelf or table. And why not brand that little trash can with a sticker from your store on it? Hey, it could never hurt!
I’m sure you’ve tested lube yourself and do you remember how you did that? Most likely by putting a drop or two of it on the back of your hand and taking your opposite index finger and smearing it around to get an idea of how that lube will work. Well, guess what? I don’t know about you but when I use lube, it’s to cut down on friction when I’m doing my ins and outs and not when I’m massaging it on my body so a better way to accurately test it out is to do this…
First, have your customer make a fist with their thumb facing up. Squeeze a little lube into the middle of the fist – you won’t need that much. At this point, they’ll have no idea of what you’re doing. Then either have them point up with their other index finger or, if they’re there with a partner, have the partner hold THEIR index finger up. Guide their finger into the fist and before they realize what they’re doing, THEY’LL BE FUCKING THEIR FIST! Yes, THIS is the way lube is used and it will quickly determine if they like the slickness, the consistency, the feel, the (perhaps) stickiness, and all those other things that make a lube their soon-to-be favorite.
And everyone will laugh their asses off doing it.
At my bricks and mortar store, Grand Opening!, I’d always encourage a customer to buy a selection of lube packet samples of different brands that I’d put together in the store in a small, sealable plastic baggie. This would easily help the indecisive lube buyer have the opportunity to try out different lubes without having to invest in a whole bottle of something they might not actually like after buying it (never a good thing for the customer or the store). Ask your distributor what brands of lube offer this size which are typically referred to as "foils," "pillows" or sample sizes. Usually, you can get them by the gross (144) and the prices can be pretty reasonable.
The small packets can be put together with packets of water based lubes, silicone based or put together a combination of both. I would package 6 different kinds with a sticker from my store on it and charge a fair price to encourage its purchase. I also told my customer to make sure they remember which one they were testing at the time because it’s really easy to have 6 little squished packets on the nightstand and forget about which one they liked the most. These sample packets were also great for traveling.
Speaking of which, make sure your store offers small bottles of lubricant under the TSA approved 3 oz if your customer is planning on a getaway. When they are up at the counter buying something that they may have mentioned was for that weekend scoot outta town, suggest they buy some lube with the “ya want fries wit dat?” enthusiasm while mentioning to them that you have lube in TSA friendly bottles. They will get exactly what you mean with your suggestion and often buy it then and there.
I am always amazed that stores will market their lube in one section only when we all know it can be used for many different things. How about having an anal lube section in… wait for it… the anal toy department?! That’s a light bulb moment! Cross market your lubes throughout the store with an assortment near the toy area and especially near the clit toy area of your store. Having lube to let your toy slip and slide on the delicate skin of your clit will bring many hours of pleasurable sensation without that irritating clit burn. Ouch.
If you happen to sell any kind of latex clothing, the kinkster customers will know that silicone lube not only helps getting into them more easily but also shines up latex really well. An easy opportunity to upsell in this department, too.
So there ya go. Selling lube should be one of the easiest things to do so stay well stocked, carry a wide variety, then let your customers slip into someone comfortable.
And I’ll get crackin’ on that next blog, too.
Here’s one for the October holiday…
Q. Why can’t witches have babies?
A. Because warlocks have hollow weens.
Q. What’s the difference between BEER NUTS and DEER NUTS?
A. Beer nuts are about $1.49 and deer nuts are under a buck.
In early 2012 when the news first went mainstream that the NSA was building its “Spy Center” in Utah, public reaction was much closer to Area 51-esque skepticism than the warranted level of alarm. However, recent events show that we can barely go a week without another accusation of the National Security Agency abusing its mass surveillance powers. Critics are blaming the Feds. The Feds are blaming the realities of the Digital Age. Me? Well, I’m blaming all of us.
‘Mass surveillance’ is the legitimized monitoring and data mining of people, governments, and businesses across the globe by the United States federal government. Ostensibly, its purposes range from furthering domestic intelligence and ensuring national security, to essentially whatever reason the NSA provides on any given day. So when it comes right down to it, mass surveillance means spying. Nothing new, right? Government agencies all over the world have used clandestine surveillance efforts to gather data for decades. So why the hysteria? Two words: the Internet. Per usual, the federal government is exploiting the lag between law and technology to further an allegedly altruistic agenda, while sacrificing basic civil liberties.
A quick and dirty breakdown of pre-Internet, U.S. surveillance policies: Regularly conducted by the FBI and/or CIA, domestic surveillance was typically subject to Fourth Amendment standards requiring a valid warrant. In contrast, overseas surveillance maneuvers were usually performed by the NSA and had very few restrictions. The veritable free-for-all of foreign intelligence operations was likely a result of the extremely covert nature of the surveillance, nonetheless, the NSA’s tactics weren’t questioned. Cut to the new millennium, where that distinct line separating foreign and domestic surveillance policies has been blurred into obscurity by the evolution of electronic communication and transactions. Intelligence data shows that millions of foreign citizens access American-based online services on the regular basis. The intermingling of foreign actors and U.S. citizens is unavoidable as the Internet is globally accessible. Taking advantage of this inevitability, the NSA is trying to have its cake and eat it too. Despite the potential for gross infringement of domestic privacy rights, the NSA maintained that flexibility was a key element in effective mass surveillance, but that Americans’ privacy was not at stake.
As much as we wanted to believe the NSA’s scout’s honor claiming to preserve domestic privacy rights, any benefit of the doubt was obliterated this past June when whistleblower, Edward Snowden became a household name. Snowden, a former NSA employee, took to the press and leaked classified information pertaining to the government’s mass surveillance operations. Snowden’s disclosures detailed the NSA’s tendency towards playing fast and loose with the U.S. Constitution, with certain intelligence programs teetering dangerously close the edge of legality. Within weeks of Snowden’s exposé, dozens of news stories surfaced alleging even more egregious abuses by the NSA’s analysts, ranging from allegedly inadvertent administrative oversights to willful violations for personal gain. As expected, the NSA came to the plate trashing Snowden and pledged to “review” the other allegations for intentional abuses, all the while guaranteeing that “most of the cases didn’t involve communications of Americans.” Suddenly I’m much more hesitant to take their word on that. How about you?
Honestly, I’ve always employed a healthy dose of skepticism when approaching statements and policies issued by the Feds. But all conspiracy theorist tendencies aside, all three branches of the federal government have repeatedly forgone the privacy rights of U.S. citizens in the name of mass surveillance. What’s even more unsettling is that such destructive tactics have obviously been occurring long before Snowden blew the proverbial whistle. For over a decade, federal agencies have executed a slow and steady expansion of their surveillance authority thanks to that legislative gift that keeps on giving: the PATRIOT Act. Each presidential administration since 2001 has exploited the notoriously controversial law to serve their respective political agendas, all under the auspices of ‘If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then don’t worry about it.” Overly invasive NSA surveillance programs like PRISM and XKeyscore undermine the fabric of public discourse, but were the inevitable progeny of knee-jerk reaction legislation like the PATRIOT Act.
The NSA continuing such expansive surveillance on its own people – especially with its current lack of legitimate oversight and public accountability – will undoubtedly result in a self-censorship backlash never experienced in the Information Age. Edward Snowden fled the U.S. as a fugitive and was forced to seek asylum in Russia. Journalists and publications involved in exposing the NSA’s compliance indiscretions are feeling the effects of intimidation tactics by law enforcement across the globe. The chilling effect of simply knowing that the NSA may be logging every key stroke, monitoring every email, and storing every credit card transaction, cannot be understated. Blogs shutting down, social media tightening the leash on user posts, etc. The true victims of NSA overreach are the unwritten books, the discarded film productions, the deleted blog posts. How many words will not be spoken, now that the world is aware of this behemoth information gathering machine? How is the average U.S. citizen supposed to reconcile fundamental American notions of freedom of press and speech with this Orwellian climate of fear? The chilling effect is even more pronounced when erotic speech is at issue, which has lived in the shadow of government censorship since its inception.
What seems to be happening all too frequently lately is the call to the public to rally against censorship at the hands of a supposedly democratic government. We saw it on January 18, 2012 (Internet Freedom Day) during the mass blackout of websites across the Internet in protest of proposed U.S. laws expected to harm online freedom. Will American citizens speak out against NSA spying abuses, and demand real accountability? Stopwatching.Us is a nonpartisan public coalition comprised of dozens of public advocacy organizations, gathered together for the purpose of stopping the chilling effect on free speech occurring at the hands of the NSA. On October 26, the twelve year anniversary of the signing of the PATRIOT Act, the Rally Against Mass Surveillance will occur in Washington D.C. The Stopwatching.Us coalition having already issued a letter to Congress voicing its concerns, is using the rally to call on the federal government to hold the NSA accountable for its questionable surveillance operations and just as importantly, reform the laws that supposedly permit such operations. With over half a million signatures on its petition reflecting the same demands, I’m cautiously optimistic that the anti-censorship lightning might strike twice thanks to the lobbying efforts of Internet freedom advocates like the EFF, ACLU, Public Knowledge, CDT, and many others. That said, a federal agency like the NSA is a force to be reckoned with, but that permanent role as Goliath in a fight to preserve domestic privacy does not place them above the law.
Government operations regulating communication in the Digital Age will always require that delicate balance between privacy, security and freedom. The NSA’s current surveillance operations forego the other two pieces of the puzzle in the name of national security. Sacrificing privacy and freedom, regardless of the reason in doing so, inevitably leads to censorship. The threat of “terrorism” pales in comparison to the threat of a government that has abandoned fundamental principles of due process, privacy, and free expression. The government of the people must decide how much privacy we are willing to sacrifice. The world is watching as Americans decide whether we will remain the home of the brave, or become the government shelter of the weak.