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[liberationtech] IGP Blog :: Technology as symbol: Is resistance to surveillance technology being misdirected?

Alec Muffett alec.muffett at
Tue Dec 27 11:22:55 PST 2011

> | But do we have any control over how that technology will be used?
> Actually somewhat yes, the American government's arming of other countries
> is an excellent point of leverage for inducing foreign regimes to behave in
> a certain way. Materiel is not a completely durable good, requiring
> servicing and upgrades. It was this dependency that was probably the origin
> of the Egyptian military's fracture with the Mubarak regime. There are
> countless instances where servicing aircraft and other weapons was a way for
> the US to pressure a point with another country.

Since this was not directed at me I'll just pick up on one point that
I touched upon in the previous e-mail.

* Regards hardware: technology goods can be serviced by anyone who has
(or steals) the parts.

* Regards software: updates can be downloaded / installed by the same
restriction-bypassing methods that geeks use in any other sphere of
online life - technologies that enable watching American streaming
movies in Europe, or which help you run Apple's OSX on generic
"Hackintosh" personal computers.  Technologies which permit an
activist to be anonymous on the internet could _also_ permit a
repressive regime actor to update their firmware without leaving an
audit trail a-la Blue Coat.  That'll be the next step for Syria et al.

* Regards intellectual property: restrict access to that and
repressive regime actors will just roll their own, in time; the pros
and cons of that are another argument entirely.

In short: with IT there is no control over it as "materiel" - a word
which implies weaponry - because computer and network hardware is not
military materiel, it's dual-use.

Anyone else here forgotten that the Playstation 2 used to be an
export-controlled supercomputer?


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