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[liberationtech] Internet is designed for surveillance

Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb ei8fdb at ei8fdb.org
Wed Jun 26 12:15:22 PDT 2013


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Hello Bob,

I agree with you on the whole but I'm going to argue some of your points.

On 26 Jun 2013, at 17:03, Yosem Companys wrote:

> From: "Bob Frankston" <Bob19-0501 at bobf.frankston.com>
> 
> The current implementation of the Internet is hierarchical in that we get IP addresses from provides and then use a DNS that is rooted.

Well, its "decentralised hierarchical" I guess. To be fair, there is nothing from stopping you or I from running our own DNS servers. However, at some point, I guess it will have to get its answers from root servers.


> We go even further in requiring that we conform to conditions on our intent (AKA our use) of connectivity in order to get a temporary lease on something so fundamental as our identity in the guise of a DNS name. We go further by accepting the idea that we communicate within pipes owned by service providers who can dictate terms in order to extract a rent.

Someone has to build, maintain and expand the backbone infrastructure. I'm not for one minute saying the Verizon's, AT&T, Vodafone's of the world are the best to do this. But it is expensive. Nowadays telecoms operators are more interested in sponsoring sports stadia, or film events than paying for the hardware needed. Thankfully this is causing their destruction.

David Burgess from Open BTS said this about telecoms last year:

"....will be served by companies that look and work a lot more like Red Hat than like Nokia-Siemens. I see that vision too, and I see products (not projects, products) like OpenBTS and OpenBSC.....having places in that world. If we are correct about this vision of the future, then that small gathering of hackers.....may have held the seeds of a revolution that will fundamentally change a multi-trillion dollar industry." [1]

These are the kinds of projects are the way of the future, but they still rely on infrastructure companies to carry packets to reach maximum range.


> Once you accept such an architecture and such rules it seems disingenuous to act surprised when those whom we’ve put in charge take advantage of this control for whatever purpose whether for advertising or for our safety (real or imagined).

Why so?

We pay them for a service to provide us connectivity. We do not pay them to facilitate worldwide surveillance with no basis.

Governments and LEA enforce "legal interception protocols" and build in requirements for any nation who wants to build a 3GPP standard mobile phone network to install legal interception equipment. By this I don't mean Finfisher or other sickening weapons of mass surveillance.

Advances in communications technologies like LTE/SAE ("4G") have built into their core Deep Packet Inspection. This is there for network management purposes, but lets be honest, it can (and is) used for other reasons.

I would be amazed if any private individual asked ETSI (European telecoms Standards Institute) or ITU (International Telecoms Union) to require telecoms providers to install surveillance equipment. This is a legal battle.


> We may ask for restraint on the part of those who enforce the rules but every time there is an outrage (often called terrorist attack) we (perhaps not the same “we”) demand more surveillance.

We demand more surveillance because we have been blinded by the "more surveillance protects us". I have been happily surprised by the number of conversations I have had since this Prism story was released. 

The number of times I have been banging on to people about these topics. People are starting to consciously realise and importantly *becoming angry* about these events.


>  The ideas behind the Internet – the use of raw packets that have no intrinsic meaning in transit – should enable us to communicate without having to agree to all of these conditions and without subjecting ourselves to prior restraint.

For me the issue with privacy on the Internet s not that it *is* designed for surveillance. It's that it *was* designed for open, transparent communications within a restricted self-controlling group, who all-in-all had no intention of doing anything "bad".

I read an article about, I can't remember exactly who, (Vint Cerf, Bob Metcalfe, Bob Kahn) and they were asked what were they thinking about when they worked on early Internet protocols. There answer was (paraphrasing terribly): "I wasn't thinking about the military generals thats for sure."

While I have the utmost respect for the mothers and fathers of the Internet, they failed future generations by not building privacy and security into the founding protocols.

For me, as a result, we are now in the place where we are today - trying to fix the sticking plaster onto the big open cut.


> Even if we didn’t fully appreciate the idea of raw packets we still have to wonder why we accept a rent-seeking approach for something so vital as our ability to communicate.

I agree, but while it's not the *exact* same as road infrastructure, that is how I look at it currently. 

Originally the point of the Internet was to decentralise infrastructure - the nodes that move packets from Bob to Alice.

Now we have decentralisation in the end nodes - Joe running his Raspberry-Pi over his 3G connection on the side of a mountain. Or Frank running his SailMail e-mail programme running over HF SSB-Pactor powered by a community of ham radio ops which feed into ISPs.

For me the end node decentralisation has won. The battle is now with the as you say "rent-seeking" service providers.

This battle is not technology, it is legal. The technology to make an independent ISP is there. Has been for 10-15 years. The problem is getting the lawmakers to support them. 

How come all (or at least the majority) of the independent ISPs are gone in the USA?

> Where is the effort honor the Internet paradigm and move away from the presumption of hierarchy to a distributed approach that doesn’t assume that we must declare our intent merely to exchange bits?

Sorry I don't follow.

> At very least we should move beyond having rent-seekers in the path.

A-f*#king-men to that, Bob.


Thanks,
Bernard


[1]: http://openbts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/terminal-state-of-telecom-industry.html

- --------------------------------------
Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb

IO91XM / www.ei8fdb.org

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