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[liberationtech] Internet is designed for surveillance

Lucas Gonze lucas.gonze at
Wed Jun 26 14:27:44 PDT 2013

Bob, can you give examples alternatives to pipes owned by service providers?

On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 12:39 PM, Bob Frankston
<Bob19-0501 at> wrote:
> I realize it's very hard to give up on the idea of networks but they are no
> more necessary for communicating than railroads are for travels. Nice options
> but not the only ones.
> As you note the idea of rent-seeking is at the heart of the matter. Being
> around when the fathers and mothers of the Internet were putting it together
> gives me useful perspective -- I know that Ethernets are not really networks
> and that we have connections between islands of connectivity.
> This means that connectivity is not a service -- just something we do with
> what we find lying around. The hierarchies, DNS, backbone were expedient
> engineering hacks that are not at all fundamental. We stay with them because
> we are stuck with the idea that we communicate within pipes like we did with
> telegraph wires but the Internet gives as an alternative (as I wrote in
> and go into far more detail in
> In I provide an alternative funding model which
> doesn't require today's constructs merely to make bits billable.
> Once we aren't confined to pipes we can then do very decentralized protocols
> and view mechanisms like the DNS as applications rather than plumbing.
> Intercepts and all that may be legal -- but we aren't obliged to talk into
> their microphones.
> Bob Frankston
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb [mailto:ei8fdb at]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 15:15
> To: liberationtech
> Cc: Bob Frankston
> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Internet is designed for surveillance
> Hash: SHA1
> 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>
>> 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]:
> - --------------------------------------
> Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb
> IO91XM /
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