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Censorship Communications The Internet Your Rights Online

The Syrian Government's Internet Strategy 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the sunshine-and-unicorns dept.
decora writes "In a recent article on Al-Jazeera, Jillian York of the EFF speculates about the true nature of the Syrian 'hackers' who defaced AnonPlus. She references a University of Toronto analysis from May, which pointed out that the supposed independent hacktivist group the Syrian Electronic Army has a website that is hosted and registered by the Syrian Computer Society — a group that dictator Bashar Al-Asad used to run and that was founded by his brother. York has previously written about the mystery of the pro-Asad twitter floods of April, and the convenient unblocking of social media sites like YouTube and Facebook earlier in the year, which allegedly allowed the Mukhabarat to spy on and entrap opposition activists through forged SSL certificates. She also points out the numerous cases of Syrian bloggers being censored, arrested, and persecuted for their writings online. Is the Syrian example evidence against the vision of internet-as-liberator?"
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The Syrian Government's Internet Strategy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @12:07PM (#37179740)

    The model of the Internet as a liberator is flawed.

    As long as government can control things like DNS resolution and certificate signing then the people are at the mercy of the Internet. Regimes both here and abroad will use the Internet to turn citizens into compliant consumer cattle.

    For the Internet to be our liberator it must be decentralized and secure. No one agency must be able to control infrastructure like name resolution or authoritative certificate signing.

    What's more, we can't let their identity (that is, the identity the government assigns each of us) become compulsory in cyberspace.

    If they can't control the flow of communication and they can't control who communicates (by identifying them) then they cannot use the Internet to control the people.

    Up to now the Internet has interpreted censorship as damage and routed around it.

    The new Web buzzword.0 model of monolithic branded services, untrustworthy CA roots, and government identity is not designed to route around attempts at meddling.

    This is why revisions to empower the people must be decentralized and federated.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      WTF are you talking about? The things you are branding "Web buzzword.0" are as old if not older than the web itself. And the phrase "the Internet has interpreted censorship as damage and routed around it" is dumber than any buzzword and generally just nonsense spouted by wannabe radicals who spend their time "changing the world" by sitting in their mothers basement bitching on forums.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Read that again. The interactive web revolves around monolithic megaservices like Facebook and Twitter and Internet users maintaining identity at said services.

        The fact that we have a global packet switched network with every address theoretically routable to every other address (making things like Tor on 443 virtually impossible to block) is useless when the users themselves aren't thinking outside the domain facebook.com.

        The infrastructure can't route against censorship of Facebook or censorship by Facebo

    • For the Internet to be our liberator it must be decentralized and secure. No one agency must be able to control infrastructure like name resolution or authoritative certificate signing.

      Yes. But this is by no means enough. You fear the threat of governments, but you aren't nearly afraid enough of the undemocratic tendencies in non-government entities.

      Fact is, the internet is a place of great inequality. There are inequalities of technical skill, which favor certain classes. There are inequalities of money. T

      • by khallow (566160)

        What we need to do, to save democracy, is to start working seriously not just for freedom of speech online (which we pretty much have already), but equality of speech - what the ancient Athenians called isegoria. So that we get representative discourse, not discourse dominated by net-elites who through their advantages manage to drown out moderate and opposing voices.

        I hope you're not proposing some variation of the "fair doctrine", where I'm required to give equal time to the establishment (excuse me, "opposing") viewpoint as well as my own. If you are, I'd rather have the net-elites.

        • by Snotman (767894)

          Interestingly, the "fair doctrine" is not fair. I do not think the fair doctrine intends to present speech from Devil Worshippers. However, on the net, Devil Worshippers do have a seat without the "fair doctrine" so not sure why it is needed.

          • Fairness (not the fairness doctrine) is needed because on the net, groups like "Devil Worshippers" tend to be grossly overrepresented due to their fanaticism.

            Imagine that they decided to abolish elections, and just make decisions in parliament by voting among whoever decided to show up. Every citizen equally entitled to walk in and take a seat. And no pushing! That would make every citizen equal, right?

            Of course not. People understand why that would be a bad idea - some people would get there early, have th

        • Of course you'd rather have the net elites. You are part of the net elites (as am I).

          But no, I'm not suggesting something like the fairness doctrine. That was fundamentally broken legislation (and not just because it was ruled unconstitutional). I'm suggesting that individual sites/forum systems, like disqus, reddit or slashdot for that matter, start experimenting with democratic moderation systems again, to counter one by one the advantages certain groups have in dominating the debate. It can be as simple

          • by khallow (566160)
            While net elites was a rather ambiguous term, I was think more the people who had the most popular blogs or similar platforms on the internet. I might be a "net elite" but someone like Glenn Reynolds with hundreds of thousands of hits a day is more what I was thinking of as a net elite. No way that my slashdot posters are going to get the hits that an Instapundit post gets.
  • After twenty years of *world wide web* republicans and democrats still dominate the political scene with just as much surveillance and spamming.. Censorship is hardly necessary

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rilian4 (591569)
      Actually GOP and DEMs have instituted unheard of levels of surveillance increases in the last 20 years...not "just as much" as you claim.
      • Ahhh, sweet pedantry, if not for which, there would be no distraction. Would "at least as much" be more to your liking? I mean, seeing that most Americans are still in denial over these types of things, I do try to give them the benefit of a doubt

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The American propaganda system is the best in the world.

      • Hell no! Have you ever heard of Kim Jong-Il? Dude can fly, shoot laser beams from his eyes and bowl 500.

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        The American propaganda system is the best in the world.

        The American propaganda system is the best in the world that money can buy. FTFY

  • by jaymzter (452402) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @12:14PM (#37179828) Homepage

    Remember the disinformation campaign the Mukhabarat ran to make it seem that the innocent lesbian blogger they were persecuting was really just some American dude? Like we're fools or something!

    Free Gay Girl Now!!

  • Say it again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @12:19PM (#37179876)

    Identity is one of the most dangerous concepts of the 21st century.

    As long as the royal "they" (governments, big corporations) can tell us who we are then they shall remain in control.

    They can arrest Citizen #123-45-6789. They cannot arrest Anonymous Coward. They cannot arrest LibertyDude123. They cannot arrest anything from cyberspace without first identifying it in meatspace.

    If we're all Guy Fawkes then they are powerless.

    By resisting the creep of identity into cyberspace we can keep cyberspace free and available for social change.

    Anonymous Coward is immortal. He cannot be arrested and his ideas cannot be destroyed. What he says stands on its own merits, provoking thought in everyone who can access his message.

    • by drnb (2434720) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @12:39PM (#37180160)

      As long as the royal "they" (governments, big corporations) can tell us who we are then they shall remain in control ... If we're all Guy Fawkes then they are powerless

      Democratic (as in democracy, not the US political party) governments and corporations are already powerless. Governments are guided by our voting patters, or our apathy. Corporations are guided by our buying patterns, or our apathy. Neither can do more than we allow.

      Running down the street in a Guy Fawkes mask and breaking windows and setting cars on fire is powerless. That plays into the establishment's game, its what the system is designed to handle. What the politicians can not counter is you voting for someone else. What the CEOs can not counter is you buying someone else's product. Politicians and CEOs are both greed oriented, one craves votes the other money, we are the source of both so we are in control. Vote and spend wisely if you want change.

      • (1) Green products. Corporate CEOs did not introduce greener products because they decided to become good citizens. Rather they recognized a market opportunity. Someone experimented and offered a green product, and consumers displayed a preference for such products to some measurable degree. Consumers rewarded companies offering greener products, the profit incentive was aligned with greener products.

        (2) Offshoring manufacturing. Someone experimented and offered a product produced offshore, and consumers
  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @12:20PM (#37179892)

    It's not a liberator, it's not an educator, it's not an oppressor, it's just a tool.

    You can use it for those things, and many more, but it isn't any of them.

    • /\ This

      The standard /. anti-establishment rhetoric applies in the case of Syria, but it's not *always* a case of institution=bad; Individual=good.
      Mal intent can exist and manifest anywhere, be it Government, Corporations, or Individuals. A tool can be used for good and evil, it's up to the wielder. A Corporation or Government is easy to identify, but difficult to prosecute. An individual is easy to prosecute, but can be difficult to identify (if they're any good at covering their tracks).
    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      There is really no major difference between the internet and every other form of media that's existed, at least as far as this discussion is concerned. Radical books, newspapers, pamphlets and pirate radio stations have all contributed to revolutions in their time; and all have been used for propaganda and other authoritarian purposes. The internet is yet another tool for the radical, the propogandist, and everybody else too- it's scope for mass participation makes it very different from all those that came

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      It's not a liberator, it's not an educator, it's not an oppressor, it's just a tool.

      Okay so the Internet isn't magic or anything, that's no reason to call it names.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      It's not a liberator, it's not an educator, it's not an oppressor, it's just a tool.

      You can use it for those things, and many more, but it isn't any of them.

      And the beatings will continue until morale improves.
      You have to understand that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, his old man was a murdering dictator, why should he be any different?

  • by 0123456 (636235)

    If you're planning a revolution on Facebook, you're doing it wrong.

  • The answer is yes. It is evidence of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the internet.

    Some people on the internet have more power than others. It may be because they know how to forge SSL certificates, or just because they have the persistence, organization and time to post to forums all day long.

    We're used to these people being "good guys" more often than not. Libertarian-ish, atheist-ish, free software-ish. But there's nothing natural about it. What sympathetic traits the emerging net elites happens

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