USA Surrendering The Internet

Cutting Off Limb.jpeg.JPG

So here we go again, we cut off the hand (and arm) despite the face.


We are recklessly giving up control of the Internet, specifically of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the Domain Names Servers (including all the DNS root zones like .com, .net, .gov, etc.) that handle all the addressing of our Internet traffic.


Despite repeated cautions from many in industry, academia, and government not to do this, we are moving ahead anyway with tomorrow being the transition date!


Why would we give away anything, let alone control over the awesome technological power of the Internet that we depend on in some way for virtually every activity we do these days?


Aside from non-explanations of “fulfilling historic promises” to cede control (i.e surrender the Internet out of fear that other countries will challenge us and set up their own alternate DNS’s) and nonsensical talk of “protecting Internet freedom” by giving it away to authoritarian regimes and despots–there seems to be no REAL reason to do this drastic action that weakens our country and puts our technology, commerce, critical infrastructure, and national security at risk!


Rather than defend the Internet that the USA invented (specifically DARPA), here we go again in fear and weakness going in the wrong direction–surrendering and giving up control of the web.


If you love the Internet and recognize how important this asset is to us, then like an FCC Commissioner said this week, you should be worried about what the h*ck we are doing to the freedom (vice censorship) of the Internet and to ourselves . 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Freedom Is Worth It

Respect.jpeg

This was a photo I took of a sign in my daughter’s old high school.


It says, “Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment.”


That is a great principle, which I was reminded of today in sitting for an IT certification exam–how lucky we are to live in a country that affords us respect to be ourselves…to speak, write, and practice as we believe. 


In this case, the certification exam was typically given on Saturday, but as a Sabbath observer, I was able to provide a request for an accommodation, and was able to take the exam this morning, Sunday.


What was absolutely amazing to me though going for the exam at this designated fancy facility, in Washington, D.C.–and with two proctors–was that I was the only one taking the exam today.


This was not just some lip-service tolerance for differences, but rather true respect for diversity, even when it’s not convenient and it is costly. 


I have got to say, how grateful I am to be part of a society where we are free to be who we are–what can be more amazing than that?


I feel this all the more when we are at a time in history when still so many in the world are battling dictatorships, demagogues, terrorist and corrupt regimes that impose harsh restrictions, censorship, monitoring, and severe punishments on those who don’t follow the dictates of the authority holding power. 


When we fight those restrictive regimes–from ISIS to Communism–that are looking not just to hold, but to spread their clutches on power and abuses of freedom–we are really fighting to be who we are and that is a serious fight worth having. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Keys To Good Government

The Keys To Good Government

Peggy Noonan hit it right on the head in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The fear of giving up privacy, she said, is of a “massive surveillance state,” and this is not overblown.

The crux of this concern is that if Government (or I would add hackers) can intrude on citizen’s private communications and thoughts, then eventually people will self-censor.

No privacy does mean government control.

As Noonan makes clear, violations of citizen privacy is not just a threat to the Fourth Amendment protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, but is a bona fide danger as well to the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech.

People should not be afraid to think critically and creatively because of what the government may do to them (and their families) for disagreeing with fraud, waste, abuse, special interests, and stupidity.

Rather, politicians should fear being criticized and not re-elected for violating the duty to rule justly and as true representatives of the people.

However, when government and politicians can listen in, see, and know what the lawful opposition in thinking and doing, then they are given virtually absolute power.

And absolute power does corrupt absolutely.

We should not change our underlying values of freedom and become a nation of routine digital interrogation of everyday John Doe’s.

Terrorists, traitors, anarchists, and hostile nation states should be pursued and given no rest or privacy from our intelligence, law enforcement, and warfighters.

But well-meaning citizens should be free to think, feel, and say what they believe in the best interest of the country.

Upright citizen’s should never have to fear an unjust government, but rather corrupt politicians should be concerned about violating the fundamental rights of the people.

At least two keys to good government are privacy and free speech. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Empirical Perception)

>Architecture of Freedom

>

In the United States, we have been blessed with tremendous freedom, and these freedoms are enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, in many countries around the world, people do not share these basic freedoms and human rights.

Now in many countries, the limitation and subjugation of people has extended from the physical to the virtual world of the Internet. People are prevented through filtering software from freely “surfing” the Internet for information, news, research and so forth. And they are prohibited from freely communicating their thoughts and feelings in email, instant messages, blogs, social networks and other communications media, and if are identified and caught, they are punished often through rehabilitation by hard prison labor or maybe just disappear altogether.

In fact, many countries are now insisting that technology companies build in filtering software so that the government can control or block their citizen’s ability to view information or ideas that are unwanted or undesirable.

Now however, new technology is helping defend human rights around the world—this is the architecture for anonymity and circumvention technologies.

MIT Technology Review (May/June 2009) has an article entitled “Dissent Made Safer—how anonymity technology could save free speech on the Internet.”

An open source non-profit project called TOR has developed a peer to peer technology that enables users to encrypt communications and route data through multiple hops on a network of proxies. “This combination of routing and encryption mask a computer’s actual location and circumvent government filters; to prying eyes, the Internet traffic seems to be coming from the proxies.”

This creates a safe environment for user to browse the Internet and communicate anonymously and safely—“without them, people in these [repressive] countries might be unable to speak or read freely online.”

The OpenNet Initiative in 2006 “discovered some form of filtering in 25 of 46 nations tested. A more current study by OpenNet found “more than 36 countries are filtering one or more kinds of speech to varying degrees…it is a practice growing in scope, scale, and sophistication.”

Generally, filtering is done with some combination of “blocking IP addresses, domain names… and even Web pages containing certain keywords.”

Violations of Internet usage can result in prison or death for treason.

Aside from TOR, there are other tools for “beating surveillance and censorship” such as Psiphon, UltraReach, Anonymizer, and Dynaweb Freegate.

While TOR and these other tools can be used to help free people from repression around the world, these tools can also be used, unfortunately, by criminals and terrorists to hide their online activities—and this is a challenge that law enforcement must now understand and contend with.

The architecture of TOR is fascinating and freeing, and as they say, “the genie is out of the bottle” and we cannot hide our heads in the sand. We must be able to help those around the world who need our help in achieving basic human rights and freedoms, and at the same time, we need to work with the providers of these tools to keep those who would do us harm from taking advantage of a good thing.