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The Internet Government Technology

Internet Is Easy Prey For Governments 314

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-tubes-are-belong-to-us dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Douglas Rushkoff writes on CNN that the revolution in Egypt starkly reveals the limits of our internet tools and the ease with which those holding power can take them away. 'Old media, such as terrestrial radio and television, were as distributed as the thousands of stations and antennae from which broadcast signals emanated, but all internet traffic must pass through government and corporate-owned choke points,' says Rushkoff adding that when push came to shove over WikiLeaks in the US the very same government authority was used to cut off "enemies of the state" from access and funding. Rushkoff suggests that we use the lessons of the internet to build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top. Back before the internet, many early computer hobbyists networked on Fidonet, a simple peer-to-peer network and now digital activists propose reviving such ideas with mesh networking over Wi-Fi networks that could connect inhabitants of an entire city without anyone having an internet service provider. 'Until we choose to develop such alternative networks, our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people will only serve to increase our dependence on corporations and government for the right to assemble and communicate.'"
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Internet Is Easy Prey For Governments

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  • Juxtaposition (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:03PM (#35122590)

    Amusing story coming right above one lauding the benefits of U.S. government regulation over the internet.

    • The lawful-chaotic axis is independent of the good-evil axis. Out of the nine hells, into the abyss...
    • The other article is about government regulation to reduce restrictions on internet access, not to impose them.

      Given that governments have been censoring the internet [pietersz.co.uk] successfully for some time, why is this a surprise to anyone?

      • Re:Juxtaposition (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 07, 2011 @05:12AM (#35124262)

        The other article is about government regulation to reduce restrictions on internet access, not to impose them.

        And if you are fool enough to believe with the mechanism in place it will not be used for other things... well then I have a whole shelf of history books to sell you that might make you think twice about power granted never being used or expanded upon.

        Doubly so with the very same government snuffing out domain names, the next step of course would be to mandate ISP's not allow routing to those addresses either...

        Is that so impossible to see coming down the very path you are helping lay the flagstones for?

        The funny thing that I am complaining about a hypothetical yet realistic threat; while Net Neutrality seeks to impose regulation to solve a problem we not only have not had but have no signs of having soon.

    • Re:Juxtaposition (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Monday February 07, 2011 @01:19AM (#35123534) Journal

      Amusing story coming right above one lauding the benefits of U.S. government regulation over the internet.

      I assume you're talking about an article on net neutrality. I think most supporters of net neutrality in the US also oppose the US President having an "Internet kill switch," and these two positions are consistent.

      There's a principle, in classic liberalism, of dividing up authority so that every authority is limited -- most famously, there are the "checks and balances" of the three branches of the US government, but I believe the principle goes well beyond that. The democratic principle is that the ultimate authority is the citizenry, and that is limited by the principle of civil rights, in which there are individual rights that are not to be taken away. The thing to be guarded against is unchecked power, in any hands.

      The point of the FCC regulating ISPs to enforce a policy of "net neutrality" is a check on corporate power, but it isn't a grant of unlimited authority over the Internet to the FCC. An Internet kill switch does sound like unlimited authority over the Internet.

      • Re:Juxtaposition (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iserlohn (49556) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:47AM (#35124170) Homepage

        What worries me most is that political discourse in the US is diluted down to a series of maxims, which are largely not only incorrect, but actively damaging to the nation. Cutting taxes is not always good, nor is regulation always bad. It's time people should think about the issues in a more nuanced manner and start to appreciate (and understand) the amount of complexity and difficulty in these issues.

    • Re:Juxtaposition (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fractal Dice (696349) on Monday February 07, 2011 @01:21AM (#35123540) Journal

      It's a question of checks and balances on powers. Like any social structure, the government can be a powerful force of good so long as there is a way to watch the watchers. However, the more central oversite you have, the more fragile the entire network becomes. What is clear from this incident is that old proverb that "the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it" is dead wrong - as a communication medium, the Internet can be functionally crippled within a region by poking just a few corporations.

      What this has me thinking about is what equipment should I add to my disaster kit to enable me to participate in assembling an ad-hoc community network in the event that the Internet is not available due to natural disaster or deliberate disruption.

  • No ideal solutions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:11PM (#35122636)

    As much as people complain about some government/company having the ability to do 'something', completely decentralized systems are also subject to wide spread abuse that is nearly impossible to stop. Think about the proposed "mesh" networking - you traffic goes through who knows whom's device, your IP address comes from where? Your DNS queries come from who knows where? If I can feed you your IP address and DNS results and your data passes through my network - then I own you. Witness what has happened with even fairly simply systems such as SMTP. The world is inundated with SPAM because the system in inherently decentralized and it is impossible to verify where email is coming from. Put all your network traffic through a decentralized system and no one is going to be happy with the results. You think SPAM is bad? You've not seen anything compared to what would happen if you could not say where your IP/DNS/Traffic is from.

    • Exactly. And this is not a matter of "trading security for liberty", using existing tech/systems for something like this would result in it becoming almost instantly unusable from all the interference. It'd effectively be like letting every fucker in the world man your backbone. Maybe there's some way to circumvent this problem without using any central trusted node though, maybe using some sort of "soft core" of trusted nodes together with end-to-end encryption - I haven't given it a lot of thought.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:52PM (#35122874) Journal
        You could likely plop Freenet on top of a mesh network without too much tweaking... IP assignment would be a bit of an issue; but if you went with V6 you could probably just choose at random and assume that collisions are highly unlikely.

        Trouble is, of course, that Freenet is a pain in the ass to use, largely because its design has had to take those issues into account. They aren't totally intractable, the system does work, and somebody skilled in the art could probably whip up a cute little 802.11i mesh router/Freenet cache node device that would be set-and-forget and(in mass market quantities) under $200 a pop... It would still be dog slow and hard to navigate, but at least it would be easy to set up. The odds of that actually happening, though, seem fairly remote. A preconfigured m0n0wall or PFsense variant might be more economically plausible, if no more likely to see mass uptake.

        The world isn't completely impossible without a set of trusted hosts and backbones and sites; but it sure does make a lot of things much easier....
        • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:54PM (#35122884)

          Freenet has improved greatly in speed in the past few years. A year ago I found it quite usable for light web browsing. Sure if you want to leek 1 TB of something it's not going to cut it, but if you haven't tried it in awhile give it another spin.

          • A problem I now remember with freenet-style encrypted caching is that it's highly likely you're (if even partially) hosting CP on your computer/access node.
            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              "A problem I now remember with freenet-style encrypted caching is that it's highly likely you're (if even partially) hosting CP on your computer/access node."

              Well, that is unfortunately one of the dark sides to freenet....but I'd guess it isn't a problem really, unless YOU are trying to view the stuff....and from what I'd read in the past (someone correct me if I'm wrong)...since everything cached on your node is encrypted...no one could get your cache and see exactly what is on your harddrive there...and

              • Well, I can't speak for most folks, but the main problem for me is the fact of enabling the distribution of child porn, from a moral perspective. Not from a thoughtcrime sexual-morality perspective, mind, but from the "sexual abuse/rape victims will lead the rest of their lives knowing images of their abuse circulates on the internet and is being jerked off to on a presumably daily basis" perspective.
              • Surely you could still be prosecuted for accessory to the crime? aiding and abetting?

                And that of course leaves aside all the moral questions about whether it would be right - do you buy off the freedom afforded by assisting something which is wrong, morally and legally?

    • by sauge (930823)
      Perhaps the impetus for IPV6 with encryption. I also believe, the underlying mesh network will require a protocol that TCP/IP runs on top of to answer the (important) questions you put forth.
    • I'd rather have the data go through random computers than ones controlled by corporations.
      • by c6gunner (950153)

        I'd rather have the data go through random computers than ones controlled by corporations.

        Then you're a fool. There's really no other way to put it. If you'd rather put yourself at the mercy of millions of people who have no oversight and no incentive to not abuse you, than at the mercy of a handful of large bodies which are monitored by users, experts, and competitors, you are a naive idiot, and I am shocked that you've managed to survive past your pubescent years. It's much more likely that you're simply trolling.

    • More than that, think about how a "mesh" would break down with human nature. We need only look at what happens with most torrent peers, everyone throttles their upload speed to like .5 bytes per hour. Most people connecting a mesh would say "Sounds great, but I don't want it to interfere with MY connection saturating downloading. It's only as reliable as a majority of users can be, plus most commercial grade equipment just doesn't stand up to heavy traffic use either.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      You think SPAM is bad? You've not seen anything compared to what would happen if you could not say where your IP/DNS/Traffic is from.

      I don't too much care from where (what IP address) it's coming from as long as I can certify the identity of the party I'm discussing with and have just enough control of the channel for a conversation not to be cut down.

      If you think the above is childish, thing again... if it doesn't work inside, try to step out of the box while at it (mesh for transport, peer-to-peer, encrypted, with enough control over the level of trust: paranoids may exchange their public encryption keys encrypted themselves using one-

    • That's some terrific inside-the-box thinking you're doing there. You think man-in-the-middle is something that will only happen if we create mesh networks? Try setting your work computer to promiscuous mode in the office tomorrow. You already are receiving everyone's packets.

      Freenet has never lived up to its promise, but its core idea of spreading encrypted files to more nodes, the more that the encrypted file is demanded, suggests that we can come up with novel and interesting ways to make ad-hoc mesh n

  • ...our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people...

    Ha ha, he made a funny.

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      ...our insistence on seeing the likes of Facebook and Twitter as the path toward freedom for all people...

      Ha ha, he made a funny.

      In the words of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, "That's not funny. That's just sad."

  • Also treasure trove for spooks, cops and what else have you?
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:17PM (#35122666)

    The Internet was actually designed to be distributed ... true story.

    It only happens to have a few large choke points because its economically effective to do so.

    Believe it or not it is entirely possible for the Internet to be used over terrestrial radio ... in fact ... it can be done by 'amateurs'! In fact ... it already is!

    Right now the Internet has these choke points because theres no reason other than FUD not to have it that way. Should the actual need for a more diverse infrastructure arise due to the government going psycho than we'll shift gears and make it go that direction. Yes, it'll suck for a period of time to start with until new links are added, and we'll probably have to lose things that consume massive bandwidth for pleasure like youtube ... but rest assured, porn will make sure we recover promptly.

    Its just silly to spend a bunch of money for a bunch of links that aren't needed and all the installation costs that go with it.

    The Internet works pretty much exactly like fido net when you use UUCP. The difference is simply how you dial the phone line ... the data is actually STILL traveling over the same fiber and copper as it did when you sent your fidonet mail up to your mail hub and distributed back to other nodes.

    As for seeing Facebook and Twitter as a path for 'freedom of the people' ... well that just makes you sound like a freaking idiot. Neither of these sites provide anything that wasn't already done before them on the Internet as well in more traditional methods. Old idea, new theme, new fad ... not a world changer. The only difference is now we're paying attention to someone hundreds of miles away from us that has no bearing on our lives what so ever, instead of the people in our own neighborhoods. Its just a different popularity contest.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 06, 2011 @11:31PM (#35123062)

      As for seeing Facebook and Twitter as a path for 'freedom of the people' ... well that just makes you sound like a freaking idiot. Neither of these sites provide anything that wasn't already done before them on the Internet as well in more traditional methods. Old idea, new theme, new fad ... not a world changer.

      I tend to disagree, what with millions of people congregated around the same services. Most people I know (personal experience, not scientific) check their Facebook 10-20 times a day compared to once a day (if that) for e-mail. Those who tweet, tend to tweet often. Yes, message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists, and so on were around long before this, but I don't think there were ever this many people on one unified service that is used near-ubiquitously.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        I tend to disagree, what with millions of people congregated around the same services. Most people I know (personal experience, not scientific) check their Facebook 10-20 times a day compared to once a day (if that) for e-mail. Those who tweet, tend to tweet often. Yes, message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists, and so on were around long before this, but I don't think there were ever this many people on one unified service that is used near-ubiquitously.

        Well, about 2.5 years ago over one billion of people believed that "house prices never go down".
        Do you believe that now Internet and communications is no longer possible without FaeceBook and Twitter?

      • by bussdriver (620565) on Monday February 07, 2011 @02:31AM (#35123786)

        I can't stand it... I'm going to help plant the seed since its taking too long and I'm busy (and can't see profit which I need more of today than goodwill.)

        Facebook is a walled garden. Unlike some other closed companies they will try to interconnect to survive as well as create as much lock in as possible but these APIs and contracts are purely business related and therefore are limited in their scope and adaptability (obviously the choke point is an issue.)

        This isn't microsoft, its merely a contact system with idiot proofed 'home pages' and addictive web games. Twitter is in a much better position; but it too is at risk for open or distributed alternatives (think if your email all had to go through hotmail.com how long that would have lasted... but today we are just fine with this??)

        An open set of protocols and secure IDs would provide a flexible completely open alternative to the centralized proprietary network. We could develop an application layer social internet to mirror how the internet killed off the private networks and their networking stacks. Facebook might live as a search engine / directory for these IDs like how google helps you find URLs - but it won't be the only place like it is now.

        I see something akin to openID but with PGP, GPG keys as well as contact and identification data available; each bit of data being encrypted with different keys. Your ID could float around openly and freely without the associated data and you could search for it among many catalogs and interlinking services -- plus private facebook like services - but you've be able to migrate or incorporate other services without deals between facebook and others. My email can be made public and people can find me but naturally it has spam issues - but I'm not talking about having open contact data with the IDs-- a high school can list student IDs without other data and your app can discover the connections.

        Sure there are privacy issues; not much worse than already being dealt with behind closed doors - security by obscurity (that is, obscure because you can't see inside facebook like you can an open system.) Governments likely are building/have social connection linking systems in addition to easy access to cutting edge corporate systems.

        The problem with email was spam; its a messaging system not a "permanent" reference like many people's cell phone number has become. This is where I'm not so keen on OpenID either... There are multiple issues each needing some serious thinking and design work-- unique IDs separate from your verified identity - search engines could find the ID over the web and you can find the ones who are the person-- they accept you and you've got a private social network which can securely be formed within that group to share data. I guess I'm for long numeric IDs like phone numbers; we can remember those.... besides you have directories to help find the numbers and if you place that number around with your name enough the connection will be made outside a formal 'networking' system. At least then I can see this John Doe is not that John Doe because their IDs differ (or he changed IDs losing all the benefits.) This lets you stamp things with your ID-- sure it can be faked-- let it! Authentication issues would be separated and optional.

        lots of options... john.doe.3546871 for example (ignoring changing names) but not to tie your ID to a 3rd party name like facebook.com, country, etc. duplicates are possible; can't avoid that-- its distributed and open- but since authentication is a side issue it doesn't matter. Your legal full name hasn't been good enough for generations already. Perhaps a simple string format... with recommendations on picking a more unique name (yet another service somebody could provide.)

        Multiple RFCs needed. Many creative uses are possible with multiple loosely coupled aspects of such a system. email integration means no facebook email; IM too; games too; authentication systems integration; certificate and domains; dating services; address/ema

    • by Eil (82413) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @11:35PM (#35123078) Homepage Journal

      The Internet was actually designed to be distributed ... true story. ...
      Right now the Internet has these choke points because theres no reason other than FUD not to have it that way.

      No, it's actually quite a bit more complicated than that. The Internet as we know it has a minimum of three "choke-points" that prevent the Internet from ever being a fully distributed network:

      1. Backbones, which are so incredibly expensive to deploy and maintain that only governments and large telecommunications companies can afford to have them. Mesh networks are by definition much slower and and more inefficient than a star-topology network and cannot scale globally given current state of the art in technology. And if they could, there's a whole world of reliability and security questions to be answered.

      2. DNS. In theory, DNS can be decentralized when zone authorities don't overlap. In practice, almost everybody "subscribes" only to the root zone, which is controlled by ICANN.

      3. IP address space. IPs are assigned by central authorities, to ISPs, and then to users. All of this is tracked and logged somewhere, so your IP is effectively your signature around the net, even if the IP changes frequently. When my web server logs a page view from a given IP address at a given time, there's a very good chance that I could root out the specific human behind that mouse click given enough motivation and/or money and/or influence. Point is, if you can be tracked, you can be censored or otherwise denied access to the network.

      Believe it or not it is entirely possible for the Internet to be used over terrestrial radio ... in fact ... it can be done by 'amateurs'! In fact ... it already is!

      Radio will never be an acceptable way to route around physical Internet connections permanently because the bandwidth is inherently much lower. And even if it wasn't, the ability to communicate with any decent distance requires a license which happens to be granted by the government. The license comes with content restrictions as well (only non-commercial traffic is allowed, no obscene language, etc).

      Replacing the Internet as it currently stands is not feasible. The only logical way to keep the Internet open and free in the long term is to demand from our governments laws which guarantee online privacy, freedom of speech, and bona-fide net neutrality at the same time that we invest in tools and technologies that empowers users to protect themselves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Treaties and promises are only as secure as the guns behind them can make them. We may demand from our governments, they may make promises and guarantees, but in case of serious civil unrest, they will most certainly kill the internet if they deem it beneficial for them to do so. The only way to prevent that is to decentralize the system. An analog-modem speed internet that always works is worth a lot more than a gigabit internet that doesn't work when it's needed the most.

      • by inKubus (199753)

        I do want to say, however, that like the parent I remember a time before everyone had broadband or other reliable, always on connections and UUCP was the way it was done for those types of sites. SMTP and newsgroups are built aroudn the same idea of unreliability.

        So basically a server supports it's local area by phone modem, radio modem, in person terminals, etc. and then connects to the outside world as much as possible. When it does get a connection, it copies as much as it can from it's upstream provid

    • by Odinlake (1057938)
      Bulls eye, several times over. I look forwards to a time when "Internet" is a mesh of WiFis organically recovering from physical attempts at sabotage in seconds, but saying that one want us to "build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top" is just silly. It's a matter of materials and economics - as long as we need to rely on kilometres of cables, we will need to rely on whoever controls the kilometres of cables (which for economical reasons will have to be just a few large p
    • by Eskarel (565631) on Monday February 07, 2011 @01:23AM (#35123546)

      Twitter and Facebook actually have more impact than you'd think.

      To start with, it's not in anyway abnormal for people to visit Facebook all the time, or for facebook to contain all sorts of random inanity, making it a perfect way for people to communicate covertly. The signal is simply lost in the noise. Everyone goes to these sites and so it's not at all unusual for any given individual to be doing it. Some forum, or blog, or chat room specializing in this sort of thing on the other hand would stick out like a sore thumb to anyone looking.

      The other important thing is that it spreads information to the outside world. Millions of people are on these sites, so even a small group of individuals can spread information about what's really going on to most of the world.

      Essentially yes, Facebook and Twitter aren't doing anything that wasn't possible before, but they are doing it with orders of magnitude more people. I don't like either site particularly much because I don't care about the details of other peoples lives very much, nor do I particularly want to share the details of mine, but to say that connecting millions of people all over the world to the same core data network isn't a fairly big achievement and doesn't change the world is pretty naive.

    • by TheSunborn (68004)
      <quote>

      <p>As for seeing Facebook and Twitter as a path for 'freedom of the people' ... well that just makes you sound like a freaking idiot. Neither of these sites provide anything that wasn't already done before them on the Internet as well in more traditional methods. </p></quote>

      That is true with one big exception. Normal people do know how to use Facebook. They have no idea about what a mailing list is or how to setup one.

      This is also the reason that Skype is used ins
  • such as terrestrial radio and television

    The ETs take offense to such blatant exclusion. Somebody call the ACLU!

  • Bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:22PM (#35122702)
    The problem is that even the 'basic' information dissemination sites these days are bandwidth-intensive. Facebook / Twitter - They're unusable on a low-bandwidth connection what with all their imbedded features. Heck, even the 'new' Slashdot is barely usable on my older system.

    ...so not only do you need new networks, you need 'light' interfaces to those networks, a la Lynx or the WAP browsers we were using on our phones a decade ago.
    • Re:Bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Securityemo (1407943) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:30PM (#35122742) Journal
      Text works very well for communication. Slashdot is basically a lightweight BBS with graphics and UI as convenience features. It would not lose anything by being translated into a text-only medium.
      • A text-only medium -- like usenet?

        • Yeah, but with a BBS the impetus isn't on the user to filter out all the noise that invariably will flood the system. On the other hand, usenet is/was completely distributed, which was sort of the point.
      • Slashdot is basically a lightweight BBS with graphics and UI as convenience features. It would not lose anything by being translated into a text-only medium.

        I'd go farther and suggest that reading Slashdot using something other than a web browser (think usenet/email client with proper threading support) would be an improvement. At least for the reader. For the corporate overlords, it would most likely mean a loss of advertising revenue, so this mutt user isn't holding his breath.

        There's probably still an

        • For maximum portability, you should just be able to "telnet in". But I think this "API" thing the major sites have caught on to may be something - you could have a simple BBS type terminal interface, and then a protocol on another port giving access to the same data, so you could write/use a local client if you wanted to.
      • by Warll (1211492)
        And it would still not unicode.
      • with graphics and UI as convenience features.

        Heck if you look at the way people talk about slashdot whenever it changes its style, you would think that the UI and graphics are annoyance features.

    • Nothing forces you to use the Twitter or Facebook websites: a desktop or mobile client (there are dozens) will use the API and only transmit the text.

    • I suspect that that would be one of the more solvable problems, if (and only if) site operators cared.

      Even without getting into not-terribly-well-supported-on-normal-PCs oddities like WAP, gzipped plaintext/basic HTML hasn't gotten any slower over time, just less common(and the performance of the endpoints has improved enormously, so you don't have to worry about little things like "will my markup language be crippled enough to render within the memory allotment provided by a 1990's Nokia?"). Even a few
      • Yeah, it would be as easy as simply putting up an alternate, ultra-low-fi version of the site. Most people would use the normal version, so ad revenue probably wouldn't be an issue.
        • by iamacat (583406)

          I would personally find the version of a web site without large images and streaming video a huge improvement.

  • I think you could make a case for requiring Mesh network support in all commercial/residential wifi routers. Upon losing their upstream, the routers automatically revert to mesh mode on a VLAN providing connectivity for Civil Defense purposes, emergency management, in case of storms or regional outage.

    Yes it would be slow, but since most smartphones have wifi, and would be able to use some messaging services and web access even if only local. (But there would be no reason it would be limited to local if s

    • Ah, but what if I jam or fool the router into thinking it has lost it's upstream, and stand ready with a high-strength antenna as the closest and strongest node that the router can see?
      • by icebike (68054)

        How do you "jam" a router that has an upstream into thinking it doesn't?

        And how does the fact that not every exploit imaginable to a devious mind is yet solved make mandatory mesh better than long term disaster outage (or a government induced one)?

        • On most current consumer-grade routers, by flooding any accessible table or cache. But you can easily and trivially fix that problem? Yes, but not thinking deviously beforehand was what allowed utterly stupid things like ARP cache poisoning to be possible in the first place. Most security issues that seem really hard to fix now due to sheer proliferation and backwards compatability could have been averted if people would just have thought about security when designing them
  • A few issues (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:32PM (#35122754) Journal
    I've thought of this a bit from time to time, but there are two issues with wireless mesh networking (on a large scale) that I think will cause problems.

    First: routing will be a pain. On a small network, you can have a routing table in each host, which over time learns the shortest rout to a particular destination, but routing tables for a large network would be a pain. How do you know who to send a packet to next?

    Second: Even if you solve the routing problem, at some point there are going to be huge bottlenecks. For example, the wireless routers located next to Google's headquarters are going to be vastly overloaded. And before you talk about some kind of caching mechanism, realize that Google likely has multiple OC256 lines, each of which has enough bandwidth to saturate a hundred 802.11n devices (numbers from here, sometimes my math is bad [wikipedia.org], but the point is, even if you manage to cache 95% of the stuff across the internet, it's still not enough).

    I'd like to see mesh network working at a large scale, but these are some real problems that need to be dealt with.
    • It could only be large scale is in overall size, not routing capacity.

      First: you don't use routing tables. You flood.

      Second: I didn't think this is about supporting google, replicating the internet content, or doing other super bandwidth-heavy things. It's about building basic infrastructure for people to communicate.

      • Flood? In other words, you want one person to be sending out orders to the rest? How is that useful? I'm not sure you've thought this through. If you start flooding a lot of messages, you're going to max out your bandwidth quickly. The whole point of routing tables is so that different people can communicate to each other without saturating the bandwidth of the whole network.
        • Strange as it may seem, the parent is right - a lot of modern ad-hoc routing algorithms don't automatically keep their routing tables up-to-date -- instead, they flood the nework with a "where is so-and-so" message when they need to send a message to a certain host they don't already know about. As the reply is flooded back from the destination node, every other node learns how to reach it, and the path is built up by the forwarding nodes in the reply, so that when it finally gets back to the initiator, it

  • by klingens (147173) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:34PM (#35122770)

    Controlling mass media.
    Seize and hold the newspapers, the radio stations and TV stations. That has been the highest priority for every faction coup, revolution or uprising, pro or contra, for the last century. The Internet is just a newer medium but the same principle applies. Today you don't just occupy newsrooms, printshops, broadcast towers and satelite uplinks but NOCs or DSL concentrators too, that's all.

    And as for the much talked about "Internet kill switch", that is a red herring which is so dead, it smells rather awful by now. "Physical access trumps everything" and whoever has the power has this access. Network admins are not known for owning, and using, weapons om an effective way.

    Nothing to see here, move along citizen.

    • That has been the highest priority for every faction coup, revolution or uprising, pro or contra, for the last century. The Internet is just a newer medium but the same principle applies.

      Indeed. It also follows that while the general strategy remains, the tactics change depending upon the technologies in play. It's very hard to control all the mobile phones, but not as hard to control all the border routers.

  • Define "internet". Is something bigger than just Google, Facebook or Twitter. You can have local internet social sites, cutting/controlling a few external connections don't need to be full outage, as local ISPs and sites could still provide social communication, and by one method or another give access or import "global" news. Those local ISPs or access providers could be taken as choke ponts too, but still they are better than the old BBS systems in the same game. You just need a p2p social networkinging p
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @10:43PM (#35122816)
    Just because the writer can't imagine a time before tweeting doesn't mean it's Twitter that provides the right. That is a natural right, and in the US it's protected from government interference by the Constitution. That's not to be confused with use of a network of computer networks being a "right," or using a private company's microblogging service to set up a flash mob with the right to assemble. People managed to speak and assemble long before companies, schools, and government agencies started peering their networks.
    • by artor3 (1344997)
      Ah, but now the companies have learned how to handle that. Just flood people with propaganda about how they can't trust the government (see: TFA). Next thing you know, people are calling net neutrality a government regulation. The very people who are concerned about censorship start demanding that the government allow businesses to censor the net.
      • by ScentCone (795499)

        people are calling net neutrality a government regulation

        If it's enforced by the government, that's exactly what it is.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          people are calling net neutrality a government regulation

          If it's enforced by the government, that's exactly what it is.

          So, who's actually enforcing the constitution?

          • by ScentCone (795499)

            So, who's actually enforcing the constitution?

            I'll assume you're not a US citizen, and aren't familiar with the structure of the country's government. It's made of three branches: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Two are politically elected (so that change can come regularly) and the third is a lifetime appointment, so that politics plays a different role there. The legislature writes laws, and the executive signs off on (and executes) them. The courts weigh in - when asked - on whether those actions are in keeping with constitution.

            • by c0lo (1497653)

              So, who's actually enforcing the constitution?

              I'll assume you're not a US citizen, and aren't familiar with the structure of the country's government.

              Do you mind try answering again, please? Making a relation between the title of the post and the idea of "enforcing"? (who are actually the guarantors of the constitution? Are there any?)

              Granted, my first question should have been: does expression on Internet qualify for free-speech? I assumed a positive response to it. might have been wrong, though

        • by Rennt (582550)
          Not that there is anything wrong with that...
  • Back before the internet, many early computer hobbyists networked on Fidonet, a simple peer-to-peer network and now digital activists propose reviving such ideas with mesh networking over Wi-Fi networks that could connect inhabitants of an entire city without anyone having an internet service provider.

    Maybe here's where the First World can learn (or relearn) from the Third World about low-cost information transfer. If the goal is simply to "communicate" to the masses, then why go through the hassles of setting up mesh networking? Why not just do what the "pirates" and drug dealers do? A quick exchange of goods in some back alley or, with the proper incentive, even right under the noses of the non-secret police.

    I can imagine some activist walking up to such impromptu information kiosk (who could be merel

  • I believe that in this context the group of people who are advocating for things like civilian run mesh networks are not advocating that we *replace* the Internet as we know it today with these networks as so man Slashdotters seem to be assuming. They are not talking about having these systems in place for watching movies on Netflix, or for telling all your friends on facebook that you just farted.

    Rather, the point is so that in a state of emergency (i.e., the government has completely lost it's marbles an

    • by inKubus (199753)

      Build the network. Because that won't happen in the U.S. any time soon, but it is happening elsewhere and information wants to be free. Now, just because through leaks and stuff we now see that our country has kindof taken the place of honor at the table of assholes formerly headed by the British Empire, doesn't mean it's most likely in the "next few years" that the U.S. government will lose it's marbles. If it was going to happen, it would have happened when Cheney was running things. And it did, to a

  • by iamacat (583406) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @11:29PM (#35123058)

    Could do a lot worse than cutting Internet access. But if they are just after your mesh network, they could just jam it our cut out electrical power until laptop batteries drain. You can not solve a human problem using only technological measures. Any government powers sufficient to catch and prosecute crooks is also sufficient to abuse ordinary citizens. The only answer is democratic oversight and population educated enough to use it effectively.

  • You could slap a pretty front end on UUCP and set up wireless access points for Store and Forward. If two access points are within range of one another, they could transmit data immediately. Otherwise you could either use dialup or a war driver cruising around between access points with a laptop to send data around. It's just a matter of getting enough people to run access points and read the news groups to make it worthwhile most of the time.
  • >Rushkoff suggests that we use the lessons of the internet to build a communications infrastructure that cannot be controlled from the top.

    Even if they were jammed on a wide scale, a network of inexpensive, self-discovering networks would be damn difficult to control. Relatively easy to monitor, but tough to trace. The hardware is cheap enough, all we need is the reason to start assembling it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday February 07, 2011 @01:27AM (#35123562) Homepage

    Netnews, or USENET, has that property. Netnews really does interpret censorship as failure and routes around it.

    That remark was originally made about USENET, during an episode in the 1980s when Stanford's IT department tried to censor "rec.humor.funny" [stanford.edu]. Whenever two USENET peers connect, each gets any messages the other doesn't already have. Any messages that are censored across some links will be efficiently restored if there's any uncensored link. Even a low-bandwidth uncensored link is sufficient if the number of censored messages is small.

    In the Stanford case, while the main USENET feed was censored, a few departments had machines with dial-up USENET connections. That was enough to automatically circumvent the censorship.

    Something length-limited, like SMS messages, over a USENET infrastructure could be useful to have around.

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