Tech-Politics


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I wrote a comment on a news story posted by +NBCNews on Google+, linked here:

https://plus.google.com/+NBCNews/posts/4RDWkGGXokZ

It reads as follows:

+Jimmy Norris The reason you don’t see other party members being elected is that the legacy media doesn’t take them seriously, so they don’t get the same press coverage.

Meanwhile, the people who own the legacy media like to keep us divided, “red vs. blue”. It’s “trolling for dollars” — good for ratings, and supports the status quo. Look who is in power in DC, and look who owns the legacy media. This is no longer “red vs. blue” but “up vs. down”.

Fortunately, this new media, this Net, is an end-run around the established structures that abuse the populace. For instance, take the Arab Spring — could it have happened without the Net? I doubt it.

By the way, I guess you could say I’m a “war veteran” as I served during Gulf War I. But I never saw combat, nor did I even end up in Iraq. And U.S. troops were effectively in & out in something like a month. Much different than today.

I firmly believe everybody has a conscience — just that some people learn to not listen to it. There are vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan today who were taught to ignore their consciences, and many have crises. Meanwhile, that word — conscience — is almost never used nowadays, even though it is more important than ever.

What our governments seem to have forgotten is that there will always be people of conscience to blow the whistle on evildoers. Maybe our governments should learn to be on the right side of history, rather than authoritarian, oppressive, and draconian.

And finally, for those of who who think “it can’t happen here in America”, I have only this to say: It already has.

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Dear Senator Boxer,

The reform we need to see on the Internet is not redundant legislation to protect megacorps, but new legislation to protect the rights of We the People.

I am co-founder and CTO of Sonic.net, Inc., an Internet Service Provider here in California.  Since we opened our doors in 1994, we’ve seen much change on the Net — and not all of it has been good.

For example, our latest industry challenge is reinstatement of the requirement for incumbent carriers to offer loop and sub-loop fiber to competitive carriers.  This would fix the damage to our industry from the Triennial Review Order/Triennial Review Remand Order that currently grants an effective monopoly to incumbent telecom carriers — a monopoly to infrastructure bought and paid for by consumers many times over.

If this infrastructure were to be opened up to other competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC’s), the well-known capitalist mechanisms of true competition would vastly improve the reach and cost of broadband in the U.S. As it stands now, we — the country that invented the Internet — groans under the weight of duopoly trusts in virtually every U.S. market, which is regarded through most of the first world as third-rate service.

( Indeed, if it weren’t for the FCC’s program of “multimode competition” — where incumbent cable operator “competes” with incumbent telecom carrier — there would probably be no need for discussions of “network neutrality”.  Free and competitive markets would naturally adjust and remain neutral, punishing any internet service provider that tried to bias traffic. )

Another matter is one very dear to me, the matter of consolidation of media conglomerates in U.S. legacy media.  This has left a terrible bias within U.S. legacy media, which would be terrifying, were it not for alternative media available over the Net.  It’s no wonder that the last few years of Pew polls on the subject show that today, more Americans get their news from the Net, rather than newspapers.

As Milton posited in his _Areopagetica_ of 1643: when Truth and Falsehood grapple, Truth always wins in a free and open encounter.  But that cannot work if we enact legislation to codify China-esque censorship in our U.S.  Because — as we’ve seen happen in other countries already — once a censorship mechanism is in place, it becomes an “attractive nuisance”, where misguided leaders co-opt that censorship for other uses.

So when I see the PIPA/SOPA issue framed in terms of the events of the last four years, I can’t help but be cynical about the construction of such draconian and onerous censorship mechanisms.  Bluntly put:  without the Net, there would have been no social networks to facilitate the Arab Spring.  Without the Net, there would have been no President Obama in the White House.

During President Obama’s 2008 campaign, he would talk much about ending up “on the right side of history.”  Frankly, supporting PIPA/SOPA in any form is to cozy-up with the wrong side of history.

Because for Truth to win, the encounter must be free and open — without censorship.

We’ve seen it before, over and over again:  DHS abuses the tools they have been given, and there is no doubt that they will abuse such a censorship tool.  And with the SOPA/PIPA Internet blackout, We the People spoke with one voice, saying:  do not censor this.

Thank you for your time and your service,

-Scott Doty
co-founder, CTO, and VP: Sonic.net, Inc.

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A discussion came up on a mailing list I frequent about the “economic cost” of SOPA.

Executive summary:  very, very expensive.

The email itself:

Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:47:30 -0800
From: Scott Doty <scott@sonic.net>
To: A mailing list for Foo Camp alumni
Subject: Re: [FooCampers] Economic cost of SOPA/PIPA implementation (for America)

Duane quoted:
>From the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property “Under the provisions on national treatment, the Convention provides that, as regards the protection of industrial property, each contracting State must grant the same protection to nationals of the other contracting States as it grants to its own nationals.”

I’ve always looked at this from the standpoint that some automated feed would be developed that would contain the names of domains to be blocked.  This is what the federal government, primarily the executive branch, wants:  an “internet kill switch” for selected domains, aka “Internet Death Penalty”.  I would be very surprised if the DHS wasn’t thinking of the same control they have through CALEA, as well as proposed “CALEA for broadband”.

I do not think any one government should have such a capability, let alone the executive branch of one government.  Because if they have their Internet Death Penalty, it _will_ be abused.

This isn’t CT — it’s their track record with the intercept powers given them under the Patriot Act, as well as bypassing the FISA courts that were supposed to keep egregious uses of intercepts in check.  Indeed, the FISA courts were designed for individual intercepts — not the mass monitoring that is going on today.

And I know one site that will be unviewable in the U.S., should DHS get their Internet Death Penalty:  Wikileaks.  (Which is a major impetus for all this nonsense in the first place.)  Think about it:  if they had had IDP before the Wikileaks fiasco, would it have been employed in stopping Wikileaks?  And if so, would there have been an “Arab Spring?”  After all — it’s fair to say that Wikileaks disclosures “destabilized the region”, which has been a huge Middle East boogieman since as long as I can remember.

And this isn’t just one isolated case — it is a systemic problem.  Our parent’s generation, who in our government tell themselves that they are “in charge”, act as if they have two parts authoritarianism and one part cluelessness in their makeup.  They act as though they do not have the _courage_ to trust We the People.  And the U.S. 4th Estate is all but destroyed, eschewing fact-checking for bullsh*t controversy — because, baby, controversy sells.

If you were to trust what passes for “news” today in our fair nation, you would be seeing serial killers behind every tree, and terrorists behind every bush.  A lot of people do see just that.  The U.S. media has trained We the People distrust our neighbors and our fellow countrymen — even if they aren’t Muslim.

I could go on, but you had a specific question:  what would be the “economic cost” of SOPA?  One could try to make the case that it would be very expensive, but I’m not sure that it would be accurate.  Because it can be done very cheaply and fairly automatically — DHS would have their blacklist (at a url or feed of some type), and ISP’s will be required to grab the IDP feed and use it.  Nameserver software would be modified.  And anyone DHS wants to penalize with Internet Death will go *poof* to the U.S. internet.

That’s the cheap part.

The expensive part will be enforcing the provisions that those in the U.S. may not circumvent SOPA mechanisms.  Because enacting SOPA would usher in a dark, cypherpunk, dystopian future, much like we all got excited about as teenagers.  Anyone with an eye toward freedom will be using anonymizing networks, such as tor, to reach the sites killed by a DHS IDP.  And it’s ironic that tor itself was developed for just this purpose, with funding from our own State Department — but for places like Iran and China.

It is said that the Internet regards censorship as “damage”, and routes around it.  So places like Finland won’t just be hosting web servers, but hosting vpn’s as well.  So part of your “economic cost” will be however much the U.S. government will spend with draconian, dystopian crackdowns on vpns and tor exits in Finland and other free countries.

Friend, this is bordering on crazy talk — but it’s exactly what SOPA proponents want to do.  And personally, I am fed up with these bad, bad bills moving to being one or two votes away from becoming law.  (Or actually making it into law, such as the new codification of indefinite detention in the last NDAA.)

There is a status link on here:  https://www.torproject.org/  if you want to try to estimate how many tor exits they’ll have to go after.  I’m not sure how you’d estimate the number of non-U.S. anonymizing proxies, or the number of existing anonymizing networks.

Hope that helps.

-Scott