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Internet Is Easy Prey For Governments

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the all-your-tubes-are-belong-to-us dept.

The Internet 314

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Douglas Rushkoff writes on CNN that the revolution in Egypt starkly reveals the limits of our internet tools and the ease with which those holding power can take them away. 'Old media, such as terrestrial radio and television, were as distributed as the thousands of stations and antennae from which broadcast signals emanated, but all internet traffic must pass through government and corporate-owned choke points,' says Rushkoff adding that when push came to shove over WikiLeaks in the US the very same government authority was used to cut off "enemies of the state" from access and funding. Rushkoff suggests that we use the lessons of the internet to build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top. Back before the internet, many early computer hobbyists networked on Fidonet, a simple peer-to-peer network and now digital activists propose reviving such ideas with mesh networking over Wi-Fi networks that could connect inhabitants of an entire city without anyone having an internet service provider. 'Until we choose to develop such alternative networks, our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people will only serve to increase our dependence on corporations and government for the right to assemble and communicate.'"

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Juxtaposition (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122590)

Amusing story coming right above one lauding the benefits of U.S. government regulation over the internet.

Re:Juxtaposition (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122604)

The lawful-chaotic axis is independent of the good-evil axis. Out of the nine hells, into the abyss...

Re:Juxtaposition (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123186)

Leave it to an Emo to choose the benevolent dictator.

Re:Juxtaposition (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123310)

You could try with some other type of emo than a security emo, though - this generally seems to have been the rule rather than the exception in the past, with violent/totalitarian/controlling consequences as the result. You need some other types of emo thrown into the mix for balance, I think.

Re:Juxtaposition (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123202)

The other article is about government regulation to reduce restrictions on internet access, not to impose them.

Given that governments have been censoring the internet [pietersz.co.uk] successfully for some time, why is this a surprise to anyone?

HF (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122592)

Shortwave radio is unstoppable.

Re:HF (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122626)

Shortwave radio is unstoppable.

And since we can do IP over shortwave, the internet is unstoppable. Well, provided you aren't trying to download something like the bloated abortion that is Slashdot 3.0.

Re:HF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122720)

Problem is it is stopable. with a lazer and a 2k lb

Re:HF (3, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123018)

It's jammable, and has the bandwidth of a capillary. My friends who live on an oceangoing sailboat get their email over HF and data rates are so skimpy that they have to ask their friends not to quote them on replies.

Shutting down US would be harder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122610)

Not impossible, sure, but there are a lot more ISPs and broadband providers in the US.

Re:Shutting down US would be harder (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122712)

Really? If they got Comcast and Sprint/AT&T to shut down service, that would pretty much cut off the entire state that I'm in. Are you up for traveling hundreds of miles to get to that "competing" service provider during some sort of a major national event?

Re:Shutting down US would be harder (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123090)

That's why I have a D-Star repeater connected to a Native Sovereign Nation's broadband hub that has a direct fiber connection to Seattle Internet eXchange. I'm the lead for the Tribal Emergency Management Communications team.

If all that fails well just go fishing and smoke what we catch.

Re:Shutting down US would be harder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122786)

Anything that depends on cables = easy to shut down.
And remember even "wireless" internet still needs wired base stations to operate.

HAM radio FTW.

Let's do it for free! (1)

JesseBikman (1002865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122628)

...profit?

What, no ad hoc radio internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122630)

I'm pretty sure you can connect a computer to a radio broadcaster as well as anything else.

And that's not even touching a satellite connection, which can be with any number of companies and providers, sometimes they can even have nothing to do with your local country.

Note all of this assumes you haven't pissed off the US government. Or your own government. Or Anonymous.

Re:What, no ad hoc radio internet? (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122828)

This problem really comes down to economics and convenience, rather than any fundamental technological limitation.

All sorts of ways of going around The Man and Big Telco exist(802.11i and pre-standard variants, AX.25 links, RONJA setups, more or less jury-rigged fiber runs between buildings, 802.11A/B/G/N directional antenna links, etc.) Trouble is, without some critical mass of users, you either have nobody to talk to and/or make yourself fairly visible to the hypothetical repressive authorities.

As with internet anonymity schemes like Tor and Freenet, so long as just using the comcast line is cheaper and easier, getting Joe User onboard is going to be a challenge. Should the situation change suddenly(as in Egypt) Joe will have a hard time getting onboard at the last moment. Most of the 'internet-alternative' stuff is much easier to buy and set up when you have internet access...

Perhaps a more serious problem, longer term, is that shutting down the internet is a very crude solution, one that smart authoritarians are going to want to avoid: Why cut off a major business tool and supply of soothing porn and entertainment? Why push activists off a medium that feels anonymous(but is comparatively easy to tap and monitor programmatically) and onto a wide variety of ad-hoc solutions, many of which will have to be chased down by your street-level jackboots and creepy HUMINT types one by one? The capabilities of malicious actors to keep the internet functioning almost perfectly, while compromising or blocking undesired material are only going to increase as time goes on.

No ideal solutions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122636)

As much as people complain about some government/company having the ability to do 'something', completely decentralized systems are also subject to wide spread abuse that is nearly impossible to stop. Think about the proposed "mesh" networking - you traffic goes through who knows whom's device, your IP address comes from where? Your DNS queries come from who knows where? If I can feed you your IP address and DNS results and your data passes through my network - then I own you. Witness what has happened with even fairly simply systems such as SMTP. The world is inundated with SPAM because the system in inherently decentralized and it is impossible to verify where email is coming from. Put all your network traffic through a decentralized system and no one is going to be happy with the results. You think SPAM is bad? You've not seen anything compared to what would happen if you could not say where your IP/DNS/Traffic is from.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122686)

Exactly. And this is not a matter of "trading security for liberty", using existing tech/systems for something like this would result in it becoming almost instantly unusable from all the interference. It'd effectively be like letting every fucker in the world man your backbone. Maybe there's some way to circumvent this problem without using any central trusted node though, maybe using some sort of "soft core" of trusted nodes together with end-to-end encryption - I haven't given it a lot of thought.

Re:No ideal solutions (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122874)

You could likely plop Freenet on top of a mesh network without too much tweaking... IP assignment would be a bit of an issue; but if you went with V6 you could probably just choose at random and assume that collisions are highly unlikely.

Trouble is, of course, that Freenet is a pain in the ass to use, largely because its design has had to take those issues into account. They aren't totally intractable, the system does work, and somebody skilled in the art could probably whip up a cute little 802.11i mesh router/Freenet cache node device that would be set-and-forget and(in mass market quantities) under $200 a pop... It would still be dog slow and hard to navigate, but at least it would be easy to set up. The odds of that actually happening, though, seem fairly remote. A preconfigured m0n0wall or PFsense variant might be more economically plausible, if no more likely to see mass uptake.

The world isn't completely impossible without a set of trusted hosts and backbones and sites; but it sure does make a lot of things much easier....

Re:No ideal solutions (3, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122884)

Freenet has improved greatly in speed in the past few years. A year ago I found it quite usable for light web browsing. Sure if you want to leek 1 TB of something it's not going to cut it, but if you haven't tried it in awhile give it another spin.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122964)

A problem I now remember with freenet-style encrypted caching is that it's highly likely you're (if even partially) hosting CP on your computer/access node.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123128)

"A problem I now remember with freenet-style encrypted caching is that it's highly likely you're (if even partially) hosting CP on your computer/access node."

Well, that is unfortunately one of the dark sides to freenet....but I'd guess it isn't a problem really, unless YOU are trying to view the stuff....and from what I'd read in the past (someone correct me if I'm wrong)...since everything cached on your node is encrypted...no one could get your cache and see exactly what is on your harddrive there...and prosecute you??

If that is not in fact the case, then I'd be very hesitant to run a freenet node.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123140)

Well, I can't speak for most folks, but the main problem for me is the fact of enabling the distribution of child porn, from a moral perspective. Not from a thoughtcrime sexual-morality perspective, mind, but from the "sexual abuse/rape victims will lead the rest of their lives knowing images of their abuse circulates on the internet and is being jerked off to on a presumably daily basis" perspective.

Re:No ideal solutions (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123216)

That's why you're an Emo. "Emo" is shorthand for "appeal to EMOtion", which is a common logical fallacy authorities use to render docile passive people like yourself. And, judging from the content of your post above, it seems that you have a nasty case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Spineless folks like you will not be effective when the shit hits the fan on the day the increasingly-oppressive government went too far. Perhaps you can do your part and post a viral video [youtube.com] of yourself on Youtube:

" How dare you F*cking federal government people cut of my access to Perez Hilton!!!!1!!!! "

Re:No ideal solutions (2)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123174)

Surely you could still be prosecuted for accessory to the crime? aiding and abetting?

And that of course leaves aside all the moral questions about whether it would be right - do you buy off the freedom afforded by assisting something which is wrong, morally and legally?

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122700)

Perhaps the impetus for IPV6 with encryption. I also believe, the underlying mesh network will require a protocol that TCP/IP runs on top of to answer the (important) questions you put forth.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122938)

I'd rather have the data go through random computers than ones controlled by corporations.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123024)

I'd rather have the data go through random computers than ones controlled by corporations.

Then you're a fool. There's really no other way to put it. If you'd rather put yourself at the mercy of millions of people who have no oversight and no incentive to not abuse you, than at the mercy of a handful of large bodies which are monitored by users, experts, and competitors, you are a naive idiot, and I am shocked that you've managed to survive past your pubescent years. It's much more likely that you're simply trolling.

Re:No ideal solutions (0)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123156)

I'd rather put the government at the mercy of the mob because it is that wild unruly mob that is really starting to enjoy the internet. Government tries to take away the internet or the corporations try to strangle it, well, it is just a wee bit too late. The mob that is really starting to get into the internet will quickly degenerate into a 'BORED', wild angry lynch mob if anybody tries to take it away. Nothing is more easy to fire up than a bored, frustrated mob, instant angry protesters, whose fury will only build as the boredom and frustration builds.

It is pretty obvious that the internet it better at keeping the populace busy and content than the idiot box. The only catch, the truth tends to dominate on the internet, simply because it is not subject to that old mass media 72 hour news cycle. Where you can spread a lie to hide the truth and the public will start to forget about it a few days latter. The internet exposes the lie and the liars and keeps it alive for years after as well as shining a light on the truth right through to the next election cycle, that's what really freaks are the psychopaths and narcissists that are currently running the system. They can feel the end approaching, which is why they are ratcheting up the fear, hate and ignorance. It seems 'you can't have one without the other' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwoRMAC461A [youtube.com] .

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122968)

First of all for your DNS woes you could use Google or Open DNS. Everything else could be solved if every site used SSL. Then again if every site used SSL we wouldn't need a system like this.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123048)

SSL only protects you from the man in the middle(and, at that, only if none of the certificate authorities your browser trusts can be leaned on...)

If you are talking to https://www.facebook.com/ [facebook.com] ; but facebook is talking to the feds, SSL isn't going to save you from much more than getting your password sniffed at the coffee shop. In a hypothetical repressive scenario, 'cooperation' on the part of large enterprises, whether coerced, purchased, or voluntary, is to be expected.

Worse, your SSL security depends on those certificate authorities you choose to trust(or very carefully vetting the details of a site's certificate every time you visit, to look for suspicious changes). Again, in a hypothetical repressive scenario, it is only reasonable to assume that one or more commonly-trusted certificate authorities would be "invited" to kindly generate cryptographically valid certificates for domains of interest to be used for man in the middle attacks.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123178)

More than that, think about how a "mesh" would break down with human nature. We need only look at what happens with most torrent peers, everyone throttles their upload speed to like .5 bytes per hour. Most people connecting a mesh would say "Sounds great, but I don't want it to interfere with MY connection saturating downloading. It's only as reliable as a majority of users can be, plus most commercial grade equipment just doesn't stand up to heavy traffic use either.

Re:No ideal solutions (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123254)

You think SPAM is bad? You've not seen anything compared to what would happen if you could not say where your IP/DNS/Traffic is from.

I don't too much care from where (what IP address) it's coming from as long as I can certify the identity of the party I'm discussing with and have just enough control of the channel for a conversation not to be cut down.

If you think the above is childish, thing again... if it doesn't work inside, try to step out of the box while at it (mesh for transport, peer-to-peer, encrypted, with enough control over the level of trust: paranoids may exchange their public encryption keys encrypted themselves using one-time-pad or by steganography in dead-tree newspaper adverts).

Freedom? (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122658)

...our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people...

Ha ha, he made a funny.

Re:Freedom? (2)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122784)

...our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people...

Ha ha, he made a funny.

In the words of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, "That's not funny. That's just sad."

Re:Freedom? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123196)

Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy.

Not just that (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122664)

Also treasure trove for spooks, cops and what else have you?

It doesn't have to be that way ... (5, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122666)

The Internet was actually designed to be distributed ... true story.

It only happens to have a few large choke points because its economically effective to do so.

Believe it or not it is entirely possible for the Internet to be used over terrestrial radio ... in fact ... it can be done by 'amateurs'! In fact ... it already is!

Right now the Internet has these choke points because theres no reason other than FUD not to have it that way. Should the actual need for a more diverse infrastructure arise due to the government going psycho than we'll shift gears and make it go that direction. Yes, it'll suck for a period of time to start with until new links are added, and we'll probably have to lose things that consume massive bandwidth for pleasure like youtube ... but rest assured, porn will make sure we recover promptly.

Its just silly to spend a bunch of money for a bunch of links that aren't needed and all the installation costs that go with it.

The Internet works pretty much exactly like fido net when you use UUCP. The difference is simply how you dial the phone line ... the data is actually STILL traveling over the same fiber and copper as it did when you sent your fidonet mail up to your mail hub and distributed back to other nodes.

As for seeing Facebook and Twitter as a path for 'freedom of the people' ... well that just makes you sound like a freaking idiot. Neither of these sites provide anything that wasn't already done before them on the Internet as well in more traditional methods. Old idea, new theme, new fad ... not a world changer. The only difference is now we're paying attention to someone hundreds of miles away from us that has no bearing on our lives what so ever, instead of the people in our own neighborhoods. Its just a different popularity contest.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way ... (4, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123062)

As for seeing Facebook and Twitter as a path for 'freedom of the people' ... well that just makes you sound like a freaking idiot. Neither of these sites provide anything that wasn't already done before them on the Internet as well in more traditional methods. Old idea, new theme, new fad ... not a world changer.

I tend to disagree, what with millions of people congregated around the same services. Most people I know (personal experience, not scientific) check their Facebook 10-20 times a day compared to once a day (if that) for e-mail. Those who tweet, tend to tweet often. Yes, message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists, and so on were around long before this, but I don't think there were ever this many people on one unified service that is used near-ubiquitously.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123070)

I think you fail to appreciate how limited RF bandwidth is and how trivial transmitters are to track down. Needless to say, your post is mostly nonsense.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way ... (5, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123078)

The Internet was actually designed to be distributed ... true story. ...
Right now the Internet has these choke points because theres no reason other than FUD not to have it that way.

No, it's actually quite a bit more complicated than that. The Internet as we know it has a minimum of three "choke-points" that prevent the Internet from ever being a fully distributed network:

1. Backbones, which are so incredibly expensive to deploy and maintain that only governments and large telecommunications companies can afford to have them. Mesh networks are by definition much slower and and more inefficient than a star-topology network and cannot scale globally given current state of the art in technology. And if they could, there's a whole world of reliability and security questions to be answered.

2. DNS. In theory, DNS can be decentralized when zone authorities don't overlap. In practice, almost everybody "subscribes" only to the root zone, which is controlled by ICANN.

3. IP address space. IPs are assigned by central authorities, to ISPs, and then to users. All of this is tracked and logged somewhere, so your IP is effectively your signature around the net, even if the IP changes frequently. When my web server logs a page view from a given IP address at a given time, there's a very good chance that I could root out the specific human behind that mouse click given enough motivation and/or money and/or influence. Point is, if you can be tracked, you can be censored or otherwise denied access to the network.

Believe it or not it is entirely possible for the Internet to be used over terrestrial radio ... in fact ... it can be done by 'amateurs'! In fact ... it already is!

Radio will never be an acceptable way to route around physical Internet connections permanently because the bandwidth is inherently much lower. And even if it wasn't, the ability to communicate with any decent distance requires a license which happens to be granted by the government. The license comes with content restrictions as well (only non-commercial traffic is allowed, no obscene language, etc).

Replacing the Internet as it currently stands is not feasible. The only logical way to keep the Internet open and free in the long term is to demand from our governments laws which guarantee online privacy, freedom of speech, and bona-fide net neutrality at the same time that we invest in tools and technologies that empowers users to protect themselves.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way ... (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123110)

Bulls eye, several times over. I look forwards to a time when "Internet" is a mesh of WiFis organically recovering from physical attempts at sabotage in seconds, but saying that one want us to "build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top" is just silly. It's a matter of materials and economics - as long as we need to rely on kilometres of cables, we will need to rely on whoever controls the kilometres of cables (which for economical reasons will have to be just a few large players, i.e. states). If we rely on satellites we rely on whoever controls the satellites. I just hope it will remain infeasible to control radio waves in the air.

Opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122674)

Funny, I got the opposite impression, that Egypt failed. It is easy to thwart the government, to work around them.

Hops (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122690)

And only 246 hops to reach Slashdot... response times blow out to 30 seconds instead of sub-second response times. I don't think so...

Re:Hops (2)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122724)

You could use a distributed caching system, like freenet. But that seems to have worked out to be very clunky.

Re:Hops (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123042)

And only 246 hops to reach Slashdot... response times blow out to 30 seconds instead of sub-second response times. I don't think so...

You make a valid point, but the hacker in all of us should be seeing that as a challenge, not as a show-stopper.

If we really want a distributed, mesh-like network architecture (and I use that term loosely), we could have it without a huge amount of work. As with all things Internet, we'd have to appropriate a bunch of tools, invent a few others, cobble them together into a shape which they weren't really intended to take, then somehow find the means to play nicely together....

... Sounds a lot like the way the Internet itself came about, doesn't it?

Sure the basic elements were very much designed, but compare that to the amount that was appropriated or just whipped off in a half-assed way -only to be formalised and made robust later. So there may be 249 hops between me and Slashdot, but you know what? They'll be my hops.

The problem we face today is that centralised networks are not the way to go [imagicity.com] . They are nothing more than a hold-over from the telco era, in which big monolithic networks made some kind of sense. More and more as the years go by, they have proven to be the problem, not the solution.

Having spent much of my professional life on the frontier (literally -first in the Canadian Arctic and now in the South Pacific), I've never really had the luxury of waiting for the telcos to bring me the services I need. That's why I'm inclined to agree with anyone who sees the danger in any network that aggregates too much traffic. Experience has taught me to look at them as nothing more than choke-points

I'm pretty pessimistic about our prospects though. The big problem is that the vast majority of consumer devices are network-dependent now. The iPhone's great crime is not that it indulged an entire generation of hipster-wannabes but that it blurred the lines between device, network and content, causing marketers to package everything together. This means that it's harder than ever before to be network-agnostic and to focus instead on unmediated end-to-end communications.

Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted. I don't think I'll be applying for an Internet license when they become compulsory.... I'll miss it, though.

Extraterrestrial Exclusion (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122698)

such as terrestrial radio and television

The ETs take offense to such blatant exclusion. Somebody call the ACLU!

Re:Extraterrestrial Exclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122824)

Do you mean ET is a euphemism for the chosen? How could you write an open source licence that would exclude them. I've tried to make my AI available only to non-supporters of Rothchildlandia and my egroups got attacked with kiddie porn from some NY adult graphic business.

Bandwidth? (4, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122702)

The problem is that even the 'basic' information dissemination sites these days are bandwidth-intensive. Facebook / Twitter - They're unusable on a low-bandwidth connection what with all their imbedded features. Heck, even the 'new' Slashdot is barely usable on my older system.

...so not only do you need new networks, you need 'light' interfaces to those networks, a la Lynx or the WAP browsers we were using on our phones a decade ago.

Re:Bandwidth? (4, Insightful)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122742)

Text works very well for communication. Slashdot is basically a lightweight BBS with graphics and UI as convenience features. It would not lose anything by being translated into a text-only medium.

Re:Bandwidth? (2)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122772)

A text-only medium -- like usenet?

Re:Bandwidth? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122820)

Yeah, but with a BBS the impetus isn't on the user to filter out all the noise that invariably will flood the system. On the other hand, usenet is/was completely distributed, which was sort of the point.

Re:Bandwidth? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122944)

Slashdot is basically a lightweight BBS with graphics and UI as convenience features. It would not lose anything by being translated into a text-only medium.

I'd go farther and suggest that reading Slashdot using something other than a web browser (think usenet/email client with proper threading support) would be an improvement. At least for the reader. For the corporate overlords, it would most likely mean a loss of advertising revenue, so this mutt user isn't holding his breath.

There's probably still an entry in the FAQ that describes the dilemma.

Re:Bandwidth? (2)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123088)

For maximum portability, you should just be able to "telnet in". But I think this "API" thing the major sites have caught on to may be something - you could have a simple BBS type terminal interface, and then a protocol on another port giving access to the same data, so you could write/use a local client if you wanted to.

Re:Bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122892)

> Facebook / Twitter - They're unusable on a
> low-bandwidth connection what with all their
> imbedded features

I thought that tweets were limited to 140 chars?
Is the user interface that bloated?

Facebook is unusable because it isn't cool enough
to support *any* of my browsers.

Usenet was great, even on 14K POTS modems, until
people simply stopped running it. Can't get a
feed anymore. :-(

Find a way to keep the spam off of usenet, call it
Usenet 2.0 or something, and start it up again.
Maybe add something similar to slashdot style moderation.

Re:Bandwidth? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122900)

Nothing forces you to use the Twitter or Facebook websites: a desktop or mobile client (there are dozens) will use the API and only transmit the text.

Re:Bandwidth? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122950)

I suspect that that would be one of the more solvable problems, if (and only if) site operators cared.

Even without getting into not-terribly-well-supported-on-normal-PCs oddities like WAP, gzipped plaintext/basic HTML hasn't gotten any slower over time, just less common(and the performance of the endpoints has improved enormously, so you don't have to worry about little things like "will my markup language be crippled enough to render within the memory allotment provided by a 1990's Nokia?"). Even a few of the web2.0/xmlhttprequest/etc. tricks that avoid reloading the entire page just to change a single element might actually have improved things; were they not lost in a sea of embedded videos, huge images, and ads and tracking cookies from 25 different overloaded 3rd party advertising outfits' servers.

The result would look like being punched in the face by 1992; but setting up a super-basic HTML form frontend for something like twitter would likely be substantially easier than hacks like the phone-based twitter relay that they were/are running for the Egypt affair.

The market has moved away from webpages that can actually be loaded over a V.32 modem or equivalent in something resembling useful time; but all the old stuff should still work, and is a more or less proper subset of what contemporary web-designers know. Things like large images, streaming video, and VOIP have some hard constraints; but switching back to basic text(and not embedding lots of 3rd-party crap) would be a matter of modest effort...

Re:Bandwidth? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123074)

Yeah, it would be as easy as simply putting up an alternate, ultra-low-fi version of the site. Most people would use the normal version, so ad revenue probably wouldn't be an issue.

Re:Bandwidth? (2)

iamacat (583406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123272)

I would personally find the version of a web site without large images and streaming video a huge improvement.

Re:Bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123318)

Off topic, but this is something that really bothers me about the direction mobile browsing seems to be going since the handsets such as the iPhone significantly increased the number of people who use the internet on their phones. Because Safari and other mobile browsers on competing handsets display the same internet we are used to using at home on desktops with broadband connections reasonably well, I have a feeling that web developers will be less likely to optimise their sites for mobile users or provide a separate interface that cuts all the crap and makes effective use of the bandwidth available.

Sometimes I feel a little envious of my friends who are using older handsets and can browse cut down websites with minimal interfaces and no graphics because they don't have to wait so long for things to load, and when it does, they needn't faff around zooming in to the right part of the page and trying to click on tiny links with their fat fingers.

Ham Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122704)

Just another reason for everyone to support amateur (ham) radio. Most people think ham radio is stuck in the 1960s with Morse code, etc, but the hobby now has several million people who communicate using computer-based digital modes, 24 hours a day. This includes use of TCP/IP over shortwave, VHF, UHF, even through a number of ham radio satellites that are built by hams and dedicated to global communication, free of charge and with absolutely no governmental interference. If the corporate infrastructure goes down, ham radio will be there. It would be nice if more people understood the progressive nature of the hobby!

Re:Ham Radio (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122792)

Well, there's the fact that (as I understand it) you need a license/training to use ham radio equipment. The kind of people for whom this sort of stuff would be attractive to might not really be in the mood for that. Also, how much does the equipment for, say, setting up a PC with a radio transciever/antenna/satellite antenna for digital communication cost?

why do we need to 'defend' ourselves from .gov? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122730)

scary?

Re:why do we need to 'defend' ourselves from .gov? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123172)

Yes. Very scary.

Mandatory Mesh (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122740)

I think you could make a case for requiring Mesh network support in all commercial/residential wifi routers. Upon losing their upstream, the routers automatically revert to mesh mode on a VLAN providing connectivity for Civil Defense purposes, emergency management, in case of storms or regional outage.

Yes it would be slow, but since most smartphones have wifi, and would be able to use some messaging services and web access even if only local. (But there would be no reason it would be limited to local if some method were provided for routers at the edge of the failure to join the mesh even when they do have upstream.)

You might be able to push this thru legislation if you sell it as a civil defense item. (Hey, I can dream can't I?)

Re:Mandatory Mesh (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122756)

Ah, but what if I jam or fool the router into thinking it has lost it's upstream, and stand ready with a high-strength antenna as the closest and strongest node that the router can see?

Re:Mandatory Mesh (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122836)

How do you "jam" a router that has an upstream into thinking it doesn't?

And how does the fact that not every exploit imaginable to a devious mind is yet solved make mandatory mesh better than long term disaster outage (or a government induced one)?

Re:Mandatory Mesh (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122908)

On most current consumer-grade routers, by flooding any accessible table or cache. But you can easily and trivially fix that problem? Yes, but not thinking deviously beforehand was what allowed utterly stupid things like ARP cache poisoning to be possible in the first place. Most security issues that seem really hard to fix now due to sheer proliferation and backwards compatability could have been averted if people would just have thought about security when designing them

A few issues (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122754)

I've thought of this a bit from time to time, but there are two issues with wireless mesh networking (on a large scale) that I think will cause problems.

First: routing will be a pain. On a small network, you can have a routing table in each host, which over time learns the shortest rout to a particular destination, but routing tables for a large network would be a pain. How do you know who to send a packet to next?

Second: Even if you solve the routing problem, at some point there are going to be huge bottlenecks. For example, the wireless routers located next to Google's headquarters are going to be vastly overloaded. And before you talk about some kind of caching mechanism, realize that Google likely has multiple OC256 lines, each of which has enough bandwidth to saturate a hundred 802.11n devices (numbers from here, sometimes my math is bad [wikipedia.org] , but the point is, even if you manage to cache 95% of the stuff across the internet, it's still not enough).

I'd like to see mesh network working at a large scale, but these are some real problems that need to be dealt with.

Re:A few issues (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122866)

It could only be large scale is in overall size, not routing capacity.

First: you don't use routing tables. You flood.

Second: I didn't think this is about supporting google, replicating the internet content, or doing other super bandwidth-heavy things. It's about building basic infrastructure for people to communicate.

Re:A few issues (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122916)

Flood? In other words, you want one person to be sending out orders to the rest? How is that useful? I'm not sure you've thought this through. If you start flooding a lot of messages, you're going to max out your bandwidth quickly. The whole point of routing tables is so that different people can communicate to each other without saturating the bandwidth of the whole network.

What is the first job in any coup? (3, Insightful)

klingens (147173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122770)

Controlling mass media.
Seize and hold the newspapers, the radio stations and TV stations. That has been the highest priority for every faction coup, revolution or uprising, pro or contra, for the last century. The Internet is just a newer medium but the same principle applies. Today you don't just occupy newsrooms, printshops, broadcast towers and satelite uplinks but NOCs or DSL concentrators too, that's all.

And as for the much talked about "Internet kill switch", that is a red herring which is so dead, it smells rather awful by now. "Physical access trumps everything" and whoever has the power has this access. Network admins are not known for owning, and using, weapons om an effective way.

Nothing to see here, move along citizen.

Choke points? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122780)

Define "internet". Is something bigger than just Google, Facebook or Twitter. You can have local internet social sites, cutting/controlling a few external connections don't need to be full outage, as local ISPs and sites could still provide social communication, and by one method or another give access or import "global" news. Those local ISPs or access providers could be taken as choke ponts too, but still they are better than the old BBS systems in the same game. You just need a p2p social networkinging protocol that could work even if your ISP is not connected to the world (not sure if i.e. Diaspora could apply there)

Hear Hear ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122804)

The US Government must be removed from any control on the Internet!

Otherwise, the Internet is just another tool of the US Fasist (Obama Regime) State Government (Federal Govrenment).

-308

Right to speak and assemble? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122816)

Just because the writer can't imagine a time before tweeting doesn't mean it's Twitter that provides the right. That is a natural right, and in the US it's protected from government interference by the Constitution. That's not to be confused with use of a network of computer networks being a "right," or using a private company's microblogging service to set up a flash mob with the right to assemble. People managed to speak and assemble long before companies, schools, and government agencies started peering their networks.

Re:Right to speak and assemble? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122896)

Ah, but now the companies have learned how to handle that. Just flood people with propaganda about how they can't trust the government (see: TFA). Next thing you know, people are calling net neutrality a government regulation. The very people who are concerned about censorship start demanding that the government allow businesses to censor the net.

Re:Right to speak and assemble? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123020)

people are calling net neutrality a government regulation

If it's enforced by the government, that's exactly what it is.

Re:Right to speak and assemble? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123198)

people are calling net neutrality a government regulation

If it's enforced by the government, that's exactly what it is.

So, who's actually enforcing the constitution?

Re:Right to speak and assemble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122914)

i think the point is that now the internet whater it is and whatever it represent has become very influential in what we consider to be our political and social partecipation . Being so tied to our way to comunicate and express that the lack of it can seriously un-stabilize our freedom. It is right to say that it is not a right but actualy a medium but we have no other medium with the same expressive power.

Hope big progress in the so called mesh networks.

PANs and sneakernets (1)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122840)

Back before the internet, many early computer hobbyists networked on Fidonet, a simple peer-to-peer network and now digital activists propose reviving such ideas with mesh networking over Wi-Fi networks that could connect inhabitants of an entire city without anyone having an internet service provider.

Maybe here's where the First World can learn (or relearn) from the Third World about low-cost information transfer. If the goal is simply to "communicate" to the masses, then why go through the hassles of setting up mesh networking? Why not just do what the "pirates" and drug dealers do? A quick exchange of goods in some back alley or, with the proper incentive, even right under the noses of the non-secret police.

I can imagine some activist walking up to such impromptu information kiosk (who could be merely a person standing in a corner) and for a modest fee getting a thumb drive or mini DVD-R of the day's news in glorious cellphone cam and RTF files of the next day's protest schedule. Alternatively, smaller late-breaking bits of information could be done via Bluetooth or similar personal area networks [wikipedia.org] . Multiply by thousands of more discreet exchanges between friends and acquaintances and you have one massive jam-tolerant (if not altogether jam-proof) sneakernet.

Re:PANs and sneakernets (3, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122958)

Or just bulk-write MicroSD cards and leave them in various places around the town. They're incredibly tiny, and can easily fit in a breath mint tin or other piece of identifiable (yet generally ignorable) piece of trash. Or just trade wristwatches - I carry 8GB on my wristwatch (thank you ThinkGeek :-)

Re:PANs and sneakernets (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123126)

The first thing any competent security agency would do, is to get officers/agents into a position of authority and trust inside the sneakernet. If you can't trust your neighbour or your "group leader", the concept falls apart. But if the united states defense departement hadn't tracked the position of these brazilian satellite pirates [wired.com] , they would have gotten away with it idefinetly.

Technical vs social problem (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122850)

The problem here is that we can't trust the government to manage such a critical piece of infrastructure. Technical solutions won't help, let's make the government trustworthy instead.

Québec, of all places, had an interesting experiment with a citizen's jury overseeing election contribution laws: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_citoyen#Au_Canada_.28Qu.C3.A9bec.29

Probably the right idea is to get citizens involved in their government more often and more closely, instead of this every-four-year indirect approach of selecting which Special Interest Group you want in charge for the next four years.

Effectiveness (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122926)

Here's the thing. The government has the capability to knock out internet access to maybe 95% of the population. However, those 5% are more than capable (and more than likely willing) to set up sneakernets, sat-uplinks, ad-hoc dial-up connections and the like. There is no way to entirely disable the internet without also crippling the army's comms- not to mention more mundane services like police, fire and ambulances.

Packet Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122928)

Back in the day my dad had on old 286 that booted off a floppy and was interfaced somehow with his CB and/or HAM radio setup. They called it packet radio, and from what I understand it was basically transmitting and receiving data packets over the air (big antennae on top of the house, neighbors loved us) much the same as data packets travel over the Interwebz now. I think we need to revive this technology and update it. Let the Robber Barons and their dogs (politicians) try to shut off millions of independent radio operators. I would ask my dad for details, but he passed away last year. RIP Poppy!

This is not about facebook, or YouTube... (2)

novalis112 (1216168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35122952)

I believe that in this context the group of people who are advocating for things like civilian run mesh networks are not advocating that we *replace* the Internet as we know it today with these networks as so man Slashdotters seem to be assuming. They are not talking about having these systems in place for watching movies on Netflix, or for telling all your friends on facebook that you just farted.

Rather, the point is so that in a state of emergency (i.e., the government has completely lost it's marbles and decided to declare martial law and thereby shutdown all civilian communications) these networks can be used to continue to take advantage of the kind of instant mass communications our society has come to rely on. The point is so that you can still contact your family back on the other coast, or tell your friends you're hosting a meeting to talk about how to handle the national guard unit stationed around your neighborhood for your own "safety", ...etc.

I think really, they just want to be able to send e-mail, and post in online forums.

Personally, I think it's too late. If, for example, the US federal government decides to "go Egypt on our asses", they're going to do it in the next few years, well before we have time to setup any sophisticated civilian run mesh networking. Our only hope is to make sure that such a thing never happens by pressuring our politicians hard, and getting our friends to do the same...

Could be based on extension of bitTorrent protocol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35122956)

It already supports distributed storage and is quite fast for small (web page-sized) files.

A potential problem where low-activity pages might not be propagated outside of the originating site -- and thus become single-point vulnerable -- could be easily addressed.

(Very viable: Right now I see 23 wi-fi networks, were a few years ago there were only three.)

Time to put up a LEO Satellite constellation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123002)

Low Earth orbit satellites died in the last decade due to being a solution in search of a problem. Allowing Internet access for repressed populations would be a good application for them provided the costs can be kept down.

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123004)

"Old media, such as terrestrial radio and television, were as distributed as the thousands of stations and antennae from which broadcast signals emanated"

And are at fixed, well known locations, where a couple of guys with guns can easily pay a visit.
 

Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123010)

You could just fix your government.

Any government with a modern military (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123058)

Could do a lot worse than cutting Internet access. But if they are just after your mesh network, they could just jam it our cut out electrical power until laptop batteries drain. You can not solve a human problem using only technological measures. Any government powers sufficient to catch and prosecute crooks is also sufficient to abuse ordinary citizens. The only answer is democratic oversight and population educated enough to use it effectively.

Re:Any government with a modern military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35123252)

Can they though? Whats the effective range of a signal jammer?

irony (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123082)

The irony is that the early creation of the internet was created by government. It's easy enough to send out a protest movement word for word if you have enough time to prepare but at the same time such a protest may not be backed up by other countries if your own government fought back. The internet allows everyone in the world who's connected to the WWW to know what's going on and people worldwide get to see what each others reaction is. With the internet, all it takes is one rebel to create an army but at the end of the day, it may have been your generation who voted for that government, so it is you to blame as well as the others in your country.

Age of staying under the radar. (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123100)

IMHO we are seeing the end of public-display of dissent.
1. Shoe bomber. Effect: Full body scanners.
2. Wikileaks, Effect: Discussion of Internet Kill Switch
3. TPB replacing DNS, Effect: More deep packet inspection

I hope people quit doing things publicly. We all know we can create mischief, but keep it on the down low. Otherwise, it unfortunately just makes life worse.

One thought to ponder.
Filesharing on the Freeway, a mobile Internet [ow.ly]

Re:Age of staying under the radar. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123234)

3. TPB replacing DNS, Effect: More deep packet inspection

They can inspect no matter how many packets or how deep they want, as long as they don't cut the internet (hint: encryption).

It Wouldn't Take Much (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123122)

You could slap a pretty front end on UUCP and set up wireless access points for Store and Forward. If two access points are within range of one another, they could transmit data immediately. Otherwise you could either use dialup or a war driver cruising around between access points with a laptop to send data around. It's just a matter of getting enough people to run access points and read the news groups to make it worthwhile most of the time.

I've been saying that for years (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123302)

>Rushkoff suggests that we use the lessons of the internet to build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top.

Even if they were jammed on a wide scale, a network of inexpensive, self-discovering networks would be damn difficult to control. Relatively easy to monitor, but tough to trace. The hardware is cheap enough, all we need is the reason to start assembling it.

Distributed free internet via WiFi (1)

Platima (1991130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35123314)

I guess something along the lines of http://www.wafreenet.org/ [wafreenet.org] is what is really being suggested (sorry if I've missed someone else mentioning it). I know a few people part of this network, and aside from the occasional expected segregation, it's rather well run.... Albeit small -Keith
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