OVER the next decade, approximately five billion people will become connected to the Internet.
The biggest increases will be in societies that, according to the human rights group Freedom House, are severely censored: places where clicking on an objectionable article can get your entire extended family thrown in prison, or worse.
The details aren’t pretty. In Russia, the government has blocked tens of thousands of dissident sites; at times, all WordPress blogs and Russian Wikipedia have been blocked. In Vietnam, a new law called Decree 72 makes it illegal to digitally distribute content that opposes the government, or even to share news stories on social media. And in Pakistan, sites that were available only two years ago — like Tumblr, Wikipedia and YouTube — are increasingly replaced by unconvincing messages to “Surf Safely.”
The mechanisms of repression are diverse. One is “deep packet inspection” hardware, which allows authorities to track every unencrypted email sent, website visited and blog post published. When objectionable activities are detected, access to specific sites or services is blocked or redirected. And if all else fails, the entire Internet can be slowed for target users or communities.
In other cases, like in Ukraine, sites are taken offline with distributed-denial-of-service attacks, which overwhelm a server with digital requests, or else the routing system of the national Internet system is tampered with to make entire sites mysteriously unreachable. Entire categories of content can be blocked or degraded en masse; in Iran, we hear that all encrypted connections are periodically severed and reset automatically.
How common is each tactic? Reliable data can be scarce. Measuring patterns of censorship brings its own risks: If you repeatedly check whether “objectionable” content is being blocked, you risk becoming a target yourself.
And while the technologies of repression are a multibillion-dollar industry, the tools to measure and assess digital repression get only a few million dollars in government and private funding. Private and academic centers like the Citizen Lab in Toronto are building detection tools, but we are still in the early days of mapping the reach of digital censorship.
Of course, detection is just the first step in a counterattack against censorship. The next step is providing tools to undermine sensors, filters and throttles.
Again, the groundwork is being laid. For years, a vibrant community of engineers from San Francisco to Beijing have collaborated on circumvention technologies to shield dissidents from surveillance. One such tool, called Tor, has been used by tech-savvy dissidents around the world for over a decade.
Our travels have taken us to North Korea, Saudi Arabia and other countries grappling with repression. Yet when we meet dissidents and members of harassed minorities, we are surprised by how few of them use systems like Tor.
Trust is perhaps the most fundamental issue. In Iran, online bazaars sell services that promise secure access. Yet rumors swirl that these services are covertly provided by the Iranian government, and can be monitored or terminated at any time.
Scalability is another problem. One popular approach, virtual private networks, allow users in a repressively censored place like Syria to “proxy” the connections through a computer in a more open place like Norway. But when thousands of users connect to a single intermediary, the repressive government notices, and shuts them down.
The Latest on: Internet Freedom
via Google News
The Latest on: Internet Freedom
- America is drunk on a warped idea of freedom, and now it’s killing people | Will Bunchon June 28, 2020 at 10:20 am
The refusal of millions of Americans to wear masks is the lethal result of decades of selling folks on freedom without responsibility.
- ‘Face Mask Exempt’ Card From Freedom to Breathe Is Not Endorsed by ADAon June 26, 2020 at 2:44 am
The Freedom to Breathe Agency is circulating a Face Mask Exempt card that the ADA warns is fraudulent. Learn about the origins of the group here.
- T-Mobile, Freedom Internet join NLconnecton June 26, 2020 at 12:07 am
The broadband industry group NLconnect has welcomed new members T-Mobile Netherlands and Freedom Internet. In total, seven new companies have joined, including Allinq, Van Gelder Telecom, H2B IT ...
- African regional court rules Togo 2017 internet shutdown was illegalon June 25, 2020 at 9:33 am
In response to the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice’s ruling today that Togolese authorities illegally shut down the country’s internet in September 2017, the ...
- ECOWAS Court upholds digital rights, rules 2017 internet shutdowns in Togo illegalon June 25, 2020 at 6:03 am
Community Court of Justice ruled that the September 2017 internet shutdown ordered by the Togolese government during protests is illegal and an affront to the applicants’ right to freedom of ...
- No Internet Access? Amid Protests, Here's How to Tell Whether the Government Is Behind iton June 24, 2020 at 1:03 pm
Government-mandated Internet shutdowns occur far more regularly than you might expect. Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement on May 25, millions of people ...
- Julian Assange’s U.S. Extradition and Bitcoin’s Battle for Freedom of the Interneton June 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm
The extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be seen as a threat to free speech, and cypherpunk ideals, everywhere.
- A new Trump appointee has put internet freedom projects in crisis modeon June 23, 2020 at 9:55 am
There are so many countries and individuals who need this support right now,’ says former OTF president One of the US government’s strongest forces for internet freedom is in danger, and supporters ...
- US Media Agency reform triggers fears for global internet freedomon June 23, 2020 at 9:44 am
Critics fear for freedom of the press with a Trump ally now running the US Agency for Global Media. But more unsettling still may be the implications for free access to the internet around the globe.
- Dictators are Besieging Internet Freedom—and Trump Just Opened the Gates | Opinionon June 22, 2020 at 11:43 am
The Trump administration is quietly dismantling the Open Technology Fund, the tiny but impactful agency that seeded projects like Signal, Tails OS and WireGuard—vital to activists and journalists in p ...
via Bing News