interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Internet governance’

Tell Vic Everything: Stop The ITU Internet Coup

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 2, 2012

ITU Logo a red lightning bolt on a globe Governments around the world are seeking to assume control of Internet Governance through the International Telegraph Union. Oh, wait, the organization changed its name to International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.) in attempt to deal with modern telecommunications issues.

An essential problem, however, is that the organization itself continues to function as it did in the 19th century. This is an antiquated hierarchical international association of countries. The ITU does not welcome, nor even listen to the concerns of citizens. It exists to paternalistically impose the policies it makes in secret, behind closed doors, on the world. This would have the effect of turning the Internet as we know it inside out. The Internet is Mine, and yours, and theirs. It doesn’t belong to governments, but to all users collectively.

An ITU Coup would strip us of our freedom to use the Internet as we wish, whether for recreation, community or business. We would be forced to follow Orwellian authoritarian edicts that would grant local governments unassailable unilateral power to control what is on the Internet. I might be prevented from selling my books, you from selling your songs, she from sharing recipes, while he might locked out of the Internet entirely. Citizens would have no recourse, our governments would just be following orders.

An organization like this is far less accountable than even our supposedly democratic First Past The Post electoral systems we presently struggle with in Canada, the US and the UK.  If this organization assumes authority over the Internet, it would absolve our local governments from any requirement to follow local laws regarding citizens rights.  It would make it so easy to grant Security Forces and Secret Police agencies the wherewithal to pracfrom the ITUtice warrantless surveillance and website takedowns, without any pesky requirement to convince Parliament or Congress that these draconian surveillance are needed.

Governments keep trying to make treaties like ACTA and TPP and laws like SOPA/PIPA.

Canadian Flag - Close up of Maple Leaf

In Canada, we’ve been protesting and pushing back against a majority FPTP government that wants to dispense with due process and allow unprecedented warrantless access into our digital lives without requiring the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Yet Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews keeps trying.  I have no doubt Vic Toews would support an  ITU Internet takeover because it would support his agenda.

If ITU takes over, everything from privacy to free speech could be purged from the Internet.   If this comes to pass, we won’t be able to stop bad laws like SOPA or treaties like TPP or ACTA. Not a very happy thought.

We need to speak out against this now, so 2012 doesn’t become the new 1984.

The Internet Defense League has posted a video.   You can watch the video  below, but if you’re uncomfortble giving up so many javascript permissions you can just read the subtitles as a plain text version underneath.

Fight for the Future and Access collaborated on this short, informative video about a serious threat to the free and open internet that could have devastating effects for human rights and free expression around the globe.

How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.

“The Internet gives us the freedom, to talk with friends, make art, start a business or speak out against our governments, all on an unprecedented scale.

This isn’t a coincidence.

The Internet’s design came out of open inclusive discussions by a global community of scientists and engineers, So there was no pressure from above to lock it down.
But now a government controlled international body is making a play to become the new place where the Internet’s future gets decided. It’s called the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU). And in December the worlds governments will meet, to decide whether to expand its mandate to making important decisions about the net.

The ITU could pose a risk to freedom of expression on-line everywhere.
Here’s why. First the basics.

Nobody owns the Internet.

It’s a collection of independent networks around the world. Anybody can build one.
The common standards on which the Internet was build grew out of open on-line discussions,
not on the priorities of a particular government or company.

But now let’s meet the ITU!
First the ITU is old. Really old. Not CDs old, not rotary phone old, telegraph old, as in Morse code. When founded in 1865 it was called the International Telegraph Union. Unlike the Internet the ITU was not build on open discussion among scientists and engineers. Instead only governments have a vote at the ITU. And these votes take place behind closed doors.

If governments succeed in giving the ITU more power to make decisions about the Internet, we get
an old-school, top-down, government centric organisation replacing the open bottom-up governance
that made the Internet so world-changing. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.

The ITU is not transparent.

The ITU’s draft proposals aren’t public, and its “one country – one vote” model gives governments all the power.
They get to make decisions about our Internet, without us even knowing what they’re discussing, and then tell us, once the decision is made.  What kinds of decisions will be considered at the ITU meeting this December?
Well, here’s some actual proposals that have leaked:

  • cutting of Internet access for a number of broadly defined reasons;
  • violating international human rights norms;
  • giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent;
  • defining Spam so broadly that they could justify blocking anything from photos of cute cats to human rights campaigns.
  • And new rules to charge online content providers to reach users, which could mean less content going to the developing world, and blocking sites that don’t pay up.
  • But the really scary part: the countries pushing hardest for ITU control are the same countries that aggressively censor the Internet.

In Russia, making a YouTube video against the government can get you two years in jail.
In China you can’t even get to most social media websites.
And Iran is trying to build its own national Internet and email network, to keep the entire population under its control.

Now the ITU also does good work:
They help the developing world establish telecommunication networks and expand high speed broadband connections. And existing Internet governance isn’t perfect.  The US has out-sized influence and authority when it comes to this.
But we need to fix these problems in a way that preserves the openness, pragmatism and bottom-up governance, that made the Internet so great.

This December our governments meet to make their final decisions about the Internet’s future.
It’s up to us Internet users, in every country of the world, to tell them: to stand for the open Internet.
If everyone who sees this video speaks out and contacts their government, we’ve got a chance of winning.

Help us share this video and visit this site to speak out and contact your government right now!
Let’s use the Internet’s global reach to save it!
Tell your leaders to oppose handing over key decisions about the Internet to the ITU.”

— “How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.” English Subtitle Text  by Michelle Matthew.

Take action at http://www.whatistheITU.org

Internet cables connected to a router

…giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent…

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DDoS?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 18, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

Words chosen to mislead have long been a potent tool in the arsenal of political repression.

Title Panel from Nina Paley's minute meme
As technology changes our lives in ways we struggle to understand and special interests with power and large budgets push for sweeping changes detrimental to our interests, people can’t protest if they don’t understand what the conversation is about.  That’s been a huge problem in the area of copyright law reform; the copyright lobby has tried to make people believe that culture shouldn’t be freely shared by equating copying with theft.

Yet copyright infringement and theft are very different things under law. To push back against this misinformation campaign, Nina Paley regularly deploys both her great talent and intelligence to say the same thing over and over again: copying is not theft.

Like most people, I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to the Internet while I was busy raising my child, but the Internet was itself evolving from a marvelous toy into a necessity of life. Today the Internet has become incredibly important to the economies of the world. In Canada UBB needs to be stopped because it unreasonably inflates the cost of Internet access purely to satisfy corporate greed, at a time when it is increasing important for all citizens to have Internet access in order to function. As important as that is, it is a little thing compared to the importance of Internet freedom.

top left Julian Assange, top right "Keep Us Strong", bottom left WikiLeaks Logo, bottom right Earth from space

above the law?

WikiLeaks is absorbing the brunt of heavy attacks that could much more easily be deployed to silence and/or remove ANY citizen dissent. The first wave of attacks against WikiLeaks were DDoS attacks, which are clearly against the law. Yet the only credible perpetrators of these attacks would be agents of “the establishment,” in particular, governments and/or banks who believe themselves threatened by the release of Cablegate documents.

I grew up in the 20th century. My grandpaprents fled their homeland during a revolution. Adolph Hitler not only roamed the earth, but very nearly conquered it. The Cold War left citizens of earth wondering when the world would blow up, and there was a seemingly endless string of holy wars and ‘Police Actions’ and human rights abuses. It is neither unreasonable or alarmist to believe that Tom Flanagan was absolutely serious in calling for the assassination of Julian Assange. Living in a world where the young men in a helicopter can casually mow down civilians and journalists but the young man of conscience believed to have exposed it finds himself incarcerated without due process in conditions reminiscent of those suffered by the fictional Count of Monte Cristo. Perhaps worse; under military arrest, unconvicted of *anything,*Bradley Manning is actively physically prevented from exercise and constantly watched and tormented using methods commonly employed for brainwashing and torture.

A very difficult thing for me to understand is what has been called DDoS attacks over the past few weeks. I’ve spent a fair bit of time trying to understand what was happening in microblog conversations with people I know and respect as intelligent thoughtful people concerned for freedom.   [Thank you especially to @inkorrupt and @lxoliva for helping me both think about and begin to get some understanding of this difficult subject.]

My eyes were opened further by MEP (Member of European Parliament) Amelia Andersdotter in her blog. Further, Ms. Andersdotter pointed me to Green Pirate: A Look at DDoS Net Activism

Both the technology and the jargon are so new the words don’t mean the same thing every time make it very easy to spread misinformation. But the biggest reasons that DDoS has been equated with vandalism rather than protest is that DDoS attacks traditionally use malware to secretly break into innocent people’s computers and illegally harness them, and turn them into a “botnet army.” In fact, this is precisely the kind of attack that has been made against WikiLeaks computers since Cablegate.

Richard Stallman's Guardian article is a Must Read: "The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control"

That is NOT what “Anonymous” does, Richard Stallman explains in the Guardian article: The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control

A black & white remix of the UN Globe surrounded with a laurel wreath, an "invisible man" with a question mark where the head should be

Anonymous is not making zombie armies, they make their protests with their own computers. They are not very anonymous either, as evidenced by the kids who have been caught. As in Gandhi’s time, public awareness can be raised by arrested protesters. Peaceful protest succeeds by making the population aware of injustice. Isn’t it ironic that Anonymous is not engaged in illegal “cracking,” unlike the authoritarian DDoS attacks illegally targetting WikiLeaks.

Still, can Anonymous protesters be breaking laws by simply visiting a website?

Of course they can. Laws are written by governments, and can be made to cover anything.

Under repressive regimes, laws are made to benefit the ruler(s) and imposed on the populace, enforced with fear and repression.

In democracies laws are supposed to be made for the good of society. But citizen oversight is necessary to ensure special interest lobby groups don’t succeed in passing legislation contrary to the public good. This is why free speech and dissent are necessary and whistle blowers should be legally protected.

But if individuals can legally participate in DDoS attacks today, I won’t be surprised if our lawmakers rush to make it illegal tomorrow. If they do, they won’t stop the protests, anymore than it would have been possible to stop the civil disobedience inspired by Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King. The right of digital assembly should be accepted as a legitimate form of digital dissent but I think it will take some time before most of us understand it well enough to get the idea.

The most important thing is that they are fighting for their future.

What we need is a new word to differentiate between DDoS attacks of repression — like those illegal used against WikiLeaks servers –and
DDoS personal protests being undertaken by the members of Anonymous.
Maybe instead of calling the Anonymous protestsDDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)

we should be calling them Civil Rights Denial of Service protests, or

CRDoS

“States seek to imprison the Anonymous protesters rather than official torturers and murderers. The day when our governments prosecute war criminals and tell us the truth, internet crowd control may be our most pressing remaining problem. I will rejoice if I see that day.”

Richard Stallman The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control



Image Credits

Copying Is Not Theft by Nina Paley Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
WikiLeaks Wallpaper remixture laurelrusswurm by CC by-sa
Richard Stallman by webmink under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

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