Threat Wire 0002 – Take action for a FREE and OPEN Internet

  • Google’s looking for you to pledge your support for the free and open Internet.
    • From Google’s landing page at google.com/free and open “A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”
    • Google goes on to state that “the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty” and that “proposed changes to the treaty could increase censorship and threaten innovation”
    • The event Google’s referring to is the World Conference on International Communications. It’s happening on December 3rd and aims to review a regulation from 1988 concerning telecommunications.
  • Let’s take a step back and understand who these ITU people are, how we got here and what this might mean for the Internet.
  • So which is it? Is the UN for Internet Freedom or as Google and others surmise, is their ITU a secretive organization with confidential proposals on Internet governance?
    • To understand that let’s take a moment to briefly review how the Internet we know and love came to be, from government to private, and hopefully, open.
      • 1969 – Internet born, first two nodes (UCLA and SRI at Menlo Park, CA) connect to form what would become ARPANET – the first packet switched network setup by the US Department of Defense for use by universities and research labs
      • 1973 – The U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recruit Vint Cerf from Stanford University to develop a method of unifying networks. The answer was RFC 675 – what would become TCP/IP – or the underlying protocol of the Internet.
      • 1989 – The World becomes the first dial-up Internet Service Provider for the general public at a time when access is restricted to academic researchers and the military
      • 1995 – NSFNET, a network run by the U.S. Government’s National Science Foundation, ends sponsorship of their backbone service and lifts the final restriction for commercial traffic on the Internet
      • The Internet is privatized – Hooray! But it isn’t anarchy…
    • The Internet, which is for the most part made up of private networks, is ruled by non-government regulatory bodies
  • What I understand from this is that the Internet has grown from government project to privatized public utility with access being considered a basic human right. For this reason the ITU faces scrutiny as their confidential model flies against the spirit of the Internet.
  • But not all proposals are secret anymore
    • dot-nxt.com, an information service covering Internet policy, made all of the documents they have related to the WCIT available publicly on November 22nd.
    • They state “Any organization divested with the power to make significant and binding change must be obliged to properly account for the views of those it is impacting”
  • Google isn’t the only one resisting the ITU. The European Union voted last week in favor of a proposal which would see the EU’s 27 nation states, which account for nearly 14% of the 193 ITU nations, voting against the ITR proposals.
  • Critics also point out that the ITU has no enforcement. The treaties do count as international law so states are bound to observe them. But there is no enforcement mechanism if they don’t.
  • This isn’t the first time Google has urged citizens to take action
  • Can the Internet win this round?
    • The only thing an individual can do is be informed and make their government aware their concerns. Ultimately the ITU treaties are voted on by member governments. One vote per country, each vote being equal.
    • You can get more information about the WCIT and how it may impact our Internet freedom from:
  • What are your thoughts on Internet Governance? Should it be in the hands of the worlds governments? The United Nations? The corporations like Facebook and Google hosting services? The communications companies like British Telecom or AT&T who lay the cables? The citizens? Let us know in the comments.

1 Comment

  • jasonhalstead
    Reply

    I love the new shows’ focus, but it’s completely stirring my tin-foil hat urge. Every time I actually pay attention to what “the man” is doing and how much more control and power they are trying to funnel upward turns me in to chicken little in a foil hat debating if we landed on the moon…

    The recent Internet block in Syria (flashback to Egypt) has me thinking again about researching how to make an open access wireless mesh network that is also encrypted on a per host or connection base. The desired end result would be a redundant public network that’s also secure and private from your network neighbors. Considering your recent Hak5 episodes, long hops to neighboring cities could be at lower frequencies as a backup connection. My biggest hurdles, conceptually, is breaking the tree structure of IP addressing; and encrypting traffic so it can’t be sniffed by other network users. I don’t see how addressing would be assigned without a central point of vulnerability (DNS attacks could be catastrophic for an entire city) yet still be routable. Non-Technical concerns would be legal responsibility of exit node operators, such as me providing a fiber connection to the traditional Internet and taking the heat for network users traffic if not-so legal.
    I think a grassroots WAN is the best sure fire way to prevent internet blackouts like the ones we’ve seen in Syria and Egypt. Thoughts?

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