Libel insurance for bloggers has existed for some time, either in explicitly-purchased libel insurance or through homeowner’s insurance. The association with the latter confuses me, but I guess it has to go somewhere. Eugene Volokh wrote about libel insurance for bloggers in July of 2007, and the Citizen Media Law Project added to it.
However, there doesn’t seem to be a widely-available, or even narrowly-available healthcare insurance for professional bloggers. I think most insurance companies would consider bloggers to be self-employed, but most bloggers don’t make enough money to afford self-insured premiums (with exceptions such as John Chow, who is Canadian and has social healthcare anyway, and Shoemoney).
Before I muse further, I must disclose that I am not a lawyer nor insurance agent, nor do I have a keen understanding of the insurance market. I have no affiliations with any insurance company, other than being a consumer of services. I am musing, here, folks.
Healthcare is expensive—approximately $12,000/year for the benefits which PA teachers receive. I’m sure this much higher for the self-employed, such as bloggers.
However, if a group of bloggers banded together to get a group rate for health insurance, that group would certainly get a lower rate. Think of it as a union for bloggers.
Exactly what level of healthcare provided wasn’t specified, with Blogger & Podcaster simply saying that “this is a big issue for bloggers/podcasters looking to leave their day jobs and go full-time.” Ultimately the devil will be in the detail but immediately every US based blogger who blogs for a living is going to want to look at whatever they are offering; even if it’s a basic healthcare package it’s a whole lot better than having no healthcare coverage in country that (unlike most of the rest of the western world) does not provide universal healthcare.
While this might work, it’s tied to being involved with an advertising network. Not all bloggers want advertising on their blogs, and those that do might prefer another network, such as Federated Media or TTZ Media, or even simple ones such as Google or Yahoo!.
What I propose is this: an organization of bloggers who sign an agreement to abide by a certain code of ethics and agree to link to the organization’s site so that others can join. The group—a non-profit—arranges health insurance coverage for members (prescription, hospitalization, dental, etc.). They pay less for group health insurance, which is sponsored by the organization and served by a major carrier (I would suggest one that is based from a university, such as UPMC) or a health savings account. They could maintain the insurance so long as they abide by the code of ethics and maintain that link.
If the organization really wanted it to spread, there could be some kind of affiliate marketing scheme to go along with it. If someone joins using your affiliate ID, then pays premiums for so many months, you get a month free.
If the group grew sufficiently large, it could even consider offering 401K or other niceties offered by traditional companies.
I suggest the name International Union of Bloggers or Union International of Bloggers, because the acronym “IUB” works in almost every language which uses the Latin character set, even though some languages would reorder the noun and adjective, thus making it UIB. It could “IBU” or “BUI”, as well.
There might be a non-profit in existence that could handle this, too.
Does this already exist? Or am I behind the times and/or out of the loop?
In order to get in on the contest, post at the BIOS_LEVEL forums thread. To get another two entries, give us a linkback with the text BIOS_LEVEL or Linux advocacy.
I know some people like pre-made linkback text, so it’s at the bottom of the post. Remember that you still must post in the forums in order to enter. If your linkback is on a protected page (MySpace/Facebook, etc.), post a screenshot!
BIOS_LEVEL, a Linux advocacy and computer review web site, is giving away a few Crucial Memory T-shirts in its first contest! To enter, post in the contest thread. You can get two additional entries if you linkback from your blog, site, or social networking profile with "BIOS_LEVEL" or "Linux advocacy" as the anchor text! Go post now!
<a href="http://www.bioslevel.com">BIOS_LEVEL</a>, a <a href="http://www.bioslevel.com">Linux advocacy</a> and <a href="http://www.bioslevel.com">computer review</a> web site, is giving away a few Crucial Memory T-shirts in its first contest! To enter, post in the <a href="http://bioslevel.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=261">contest thread</a>. You can get <em>two additional entries</em> if you linkback from your blog, site, or social networking profile with "BIOS_LEVEL" or "Linux advocacy" as the anchor text! Go post now!
I’d like to read his sources of information, i.e. proof of parts of claims, but it seems to make sense. Notably, though, is the lack of media coverage of the incident. If this really was a big deal, wouldn’t more major news outlets be investigating it? Wouldn’t even the underground news services be reporting on it more?
We could quite possibly be in for a very interesting couple of weeks.
This incredibly sensational, alarmist, and FUD-spreading report focuses on a group of people called “Anonymous,” a very common term which the reporter seems to have confused with the common usage of anonymous on the web: a user who posts without logging in. Slashdot calls them Anonymous Cowards (thus the headline on the Slashdot article “AC = Domestic Terrorists?”). Major Internet image forum 4chan is featured multiple times throughout the report, and its not-logged-in users post as Anonymous.
Here’s the video. A painstakingly-taken transcript follows.
They call themselves “Anonymous.” They are “hackers” on steroids, treating the Web like a real life video game: sacking web sites, invading MySpace accounts, disrupting innocent peoples’ lives. And if you fight back, watch out. Phil Shuman tracks down these “hacker” gangs in this FOX 11 Investigates.
REPORTER (Words appear on screen)
Destroy. Die. Attack. Threats from a gang of computer hackers calling themselves “Anonymous.”
MYSPACE KID (on screen)
I’ve had seven different passwords and they’ve got ‘em all so far.
REPORTER (showing Anonymous Motivator-style image)
They attack innocent people like an Internet hate machine.
BLACKED-OUT MAN (“Anonymous Credo” on screen, masked voice)
We are anonymous. We are strong. We do not forget, we do not forgive.
Those who fight back face death threats.
VOICE MAIL (showing phone, masked voice)
I’m gonna f***ing slit his throat.
REPORTER (showing stadiums)
Anonymous has even threatened to bomb sports stadiums.
BLACKED-OUT WOMAN (showing van exploding as demonstration)
I believe they are domestic terrorists.
REPORTER (montage of screen captures from image board sites)
Their name comes from their secret web sites. It requires anyone posting on the site to remain anonymous. MySpace users are among their favorite targets. People live David.
MYSPACE KID (David)
…The next thing I knew, I had a bunch of naked guys on my profile.
REPORTER (showing montage of homosexual erotica)
Anonymous hacked his site and plastered it with gay sex pictures. His girlfriend left him.
She thought that I was cheating on her with guys.
They crashed his computer with a virus and used his own email to infect everyone on his friends list.
I have 90 friends and it killed 32 of my friends’ computers.
Now David was apparently just a random victim. We found his MySpace password on an underground hacker site linked to “Anonymous.” There were literally thousands of stolen passwords on that site, and victims are left wondering, “Why is all this happening to me?”
[They] will tell you, “We want to wreak chaos, disorder, and ruin peoples’ lives.”
REPORTER (showing random pics from forums)
This hacker, who wants us to hide his identity, spent months checking out sites linked to Anonymous.
They get laughs. They enjoy doing this. They get what they call “lulz.”
REPORTER (letters on screen with image board in background, then showing screenshots from Habbo Hotel with swastika and then an animated image of Hitler)
“LULZ” is a corruption of L O L, which stands for laugh out loud. Anonymous gets big “lulz” from pulling random pranks. For example, messing with online childrens’ games like Habbo Hotel. The pranks are often anti-semetic or racist and always posted on the Internet.
(showing an image board’s /i/ Invasion board, then a thread marked HARRY POTTER SPOILER ATTACK)
But truely epic “lulz” come from raids and invasions, branded on the Anonymous web sites with an “i”. Like their nationwide campaign to spoil the new Harry Potter book ending.
LOUDSPEAKER IN SHOPPING CENTER (British accent)
Attention shoppers! Voldemort kills ****!
Their most notorious stunt? A bomb threat seven football stadiums which drew national media attention [Seattle, Oakland, Houston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Miama, New York].
OTHER REPORTER VOICE (van explosion footage)
The claim is that the vans would be detonated in the stadiums.
One man was arrested last year after posting the threat now thought to be a hoax, he’s pleaded not-guilty and awaits trial. This hacker finally got fed up.
I decided to either shut them down or stop them or simply prevent as many raids as possible.
Anonymous branded him as a “lulz killer,” accusing him of ruining their fun.
They said they would rape me, they would kill me.
This mother also said she is fighting Anonymous. Her whole family’s been under attack.
They posted pictures of all of us.
Anonymous also posted their home address and phone numbers.
Pretty much said, “You’ve got the information now. [tr. note: visible cut here] Do what you need to do. Go. Go. Go.”
Death threats started pouring in.
VOICE MAIL (masked voice)
You kid’s a f***ing Emo bitch and I’m gonna f***ing slit his throat!
Your heart is breaking. You need to keep your family safe.
She installed electronic security, a phone tracing system, and bought a dog. Then she started tracking down Anonymous members and called in the FBI, but fears they won’t act until it’s too late.
They’d only do something about it if one of us ended up dead. Probably.
Some of the victims told us they just hope Anonymous will get bored and forget about them. But insiders say, “Don’t count on that.”
BLACKED-OUT MAN (showing motivator: Anonymous–Because none of us are as cruel as all of us)
According to their creedo, they never forget.
Phil Shuman, Fox 11 news.
A pick-apart, from the top:
The anonymous credo is a joke. From what I could find, it’s actually an oft-used reference to the Bible, specifically Mark 5:9. The KJV version of the verse is “And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.” Legion is a demon whom Jesus commands out of a Gerasene man. Read the first 20 or so verses of Mark 5 if you want to read the whole story.
This verse has been adapted by many, many, many people, organizations, bands, and the like. A simple Google search yields thousands of results. The latter part of the verse has been adapted, added to, and adopted by many as a mantra meaning something like, “We are many people, but we act as one.” Thus comes the phrase “We are legion. We do not sleep. We do not forget. We do not forgive.”
I wasn’t able to verify that some of the screen captures were of 4chan.org, but they are certain of image board software similar to that which 4chan uses. The /i/ board on 4chan is not Invasion, but is Oekaki, a board for doodles and scribblings. However, I did pretty much find out who the kid is that “Anonymous” is targeting. He’s a frequenter of 7chan.org, another image board site, and some other users played a joke on him and he didn’t find it funny, but instead opted to contact Fox 11 and spill the beans, attempting to call media attention to the matter. I won’t post the link here, but a little bit of searching on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a parody of Wikipedia, will yield that which you seek.
2-, 4-, and 7chan users, as well as every other #chan user out there, are not all hackers (a term that is already bastardized by the media). Hackers are computer enthusiasts who explore systems in order to learn what makes the system work. Once a hacker uses a discovered vulnerability to his or her advantage, he or she crosses the line and moves to the “dark side”, persay. Hackers should not be confused with these malfeasant hackers, often called crackers. Eric S. Raymond’s How to Become a Hacker has a word on crackers.
The MySpace profile hacks are probably a result of the kid using images from another web site or being a victim of a MySpace worm. These worms are frequent and it’s unlikely that he was singled out. They also only affect Internet Explorer, so the 30% of the web that uses something other than that piece of crap is pretty safe. If MySpace was to close these holes in its own code faster or implement security more effectively, MySpace worms would be a thing of the past.
I believe that the bomb threat thing was too far. It started out as a joke, then was taken out of context by the authorities. Yes, any threat is a threat, but it was still taken out of context and sensationalized without that context.
The rest of the report is a typical *chan conversation taken out of context and without explanation. I’m by no means defending their actions—there is a point of taking things too far—but this report presents an alarmist, sensationalist, yellow journalism-style overview of this world without explaining any part of it.
From what I can tell, though, “Anonymous” is not a group. It’s not a “secret, underground group of hackers bent on chaos and destruction.” “Anonymous” is a mentality associated with anonymity on the Internet, and the players in this particular portrayal of the mentality are doing little more than bullying in the digital age, guys being stupid guys, /b/tards as they’re called on the *chans. Step into a school these days and you’ll find little difference.
The bullying should be taken seriously, but the media has an ethical responsibility to report carefully and, for heaven’s sake, Google a bit before presenting quotations out of context.
BTW, I got a really good laugh from the reporter’s usage of “epic lulz.”
By now, you’ve probably heard about the "bomb scare" in Boston that was really a part of a viral marketing campaign for Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
If you haven’t here’s a brief summary: a marketing agency established a viral marketing campaign for ATHF in which fans were asked to make light boards with images of the Mooninites holding up a middle finger. The campaign was conducted in all major cities, and most cities just took the boards down when found. Boston, however, reacted frantically, believing the boards to be bombs and shut down, well, half of the city for a day. A pair of Bostonians were arrested and released on bail. Now, Turner Broadcasting, parent company of Cartoon Network, which airs ATHF, has apologized.
One Bostonian said, "We’re the laughing stock". Yes, Boston, you are. However, you are not alone.
The media drove this to a terroristic-threat level.