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[liberationtech] Rise of a Cybered Westphalian Age

liberationtech at liberationtech at
Mon Jul 18 19:55:07 PDT 2011

On Sat, Jul 16, 2011 at 01:50:14PM +0200, moritz at wrote 2.5K bytes in 64 lines about:
: Title :   Rise of a Cybered Westphalian Age

I've read through this document a few times now. I keep coming back to
a few thoughts.

The first thought is that this is a military paper for a military
audience. It is eactly how I would expect a military person to write
about the future of the Internet. Or at least they Internet they want to
see happen. 

A second thought is about a conversation I had with the Ambassador of
Human Rights from Sweden.  We discussed a variety of topics in our time
together, but one that kept coming up was the militarization of the
Internet and subsequent effects. The ideas that the Internet is
primarily a military space and can be commandeered as needed, that the
Internet is a physical entity and the network effects are no different
than the pioneer towns and frontiers every nation has experienced
throughout its history, and that most people don't understand the
technological capabilities available to those on the Internet and how
they can fundamentally differ from real world experiences.

Each one of these topics is a paper of its own, but suffice it to say that
the military view of the Internet is very different than a human right's
view, or a commercial view, or even a child's view of the Internet.
Never underestimate the ability of two horomone-flushed teenagers to
circumvent any rules to spend time together. An example could be
teenagers from Party and other well-to-do families in North Korea. The
military view of these actions is subterfuge, treason, and imminent
threats to control and order. To the teenagers, it's just two people
wanting to hang out and talk about their lives.

The third thought is that this mentality of being under seige and
needing to take defensive and offensive positions to real or imagined
adversaries on the Internet is such a binary position that any other
states, ternary or otherwise are simply dismissed as shades of gray in a
black and white battlefield. I have no doubt that US Military networks
and computers are being attacked by sophisticated unknown parties across
the Internet. I've also had conversations with people in the chain of
command about ICMP packets (ping) being weaponized and clearly the
threat of an adversary. When someone ping sweeps a network range, it's
assumed this is only a weaponized assualt on a network, where every
packet sent increased the total attack count. Heck, I pinged the
gateway at a place once and the network admins were convinced I was
trying to attack the network. In reality, I was just trying to figure
out how overloaded their network was by getting an average latency
between me and the first hop. It's something every network admin does
thousands of times a day. This is how one arrives at statistics like
'billions of attacks'.  

It seems the military answer is to change the Internet into a space it
understands, make the rules that play to their strengths, and treat
it like a battlefield. Again, this is a paper by military authors for a
military audience. I've heard this vision of the Internet many times
over the past two years. 

I also wonder if some politician in China had an orgasm that some part
of the American military justified, even complemented, the Chinese model
of Internet censorship.

Thankfully, the US military and government aren't of one mind and
action. Everyone is entitled to their thoughts, opinions, and freedom of

pgp key: 0x74ED336B

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