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Jimmy Wales Threatens To Obstruct UK Government Snooping 198

Posted by timothy
from the different-kind-of-man-in-the-middle dept.
judgecorp writes "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has threatened to encrypt communications between Wikipedia and UK users in order to frustrate the proposed Communications Bill, known as the Snooper's Charter, which would give the UK government the right to routinely track citizens' web and phone use. Wales was addressing the committee which is scrutinising the Bill before it is considered by Parliament."
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Jimmy Wales Threatens To Obstruct UK Government Snooping

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by netwarerip (2221204) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:11AM (#41247399)
    Nice to see someone has a pair of balls. Not very common on an adult named 'Jimmy'.
  • Threat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:19AM (#41247503)
    It is interesting to refer to this as a "threat" -- what exactly is being threatened here? There is nothing illegal about using cryptography in the UK, and the UK has a key disclosure law. It is only logical for people to use cryptography when they have good reason to suspect that untrusted third parties might be reading their traffic, and frankly, we should have been encrypting our communications from the start.
  • Snooper's Charter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:21AM (#41247523)

    How does a bill like this even get proposed in this day and age? What ever happened to privacy?

    I'd hate to make the ridiculous V for Vendetta reference.. but yikes. The UK really isn't supposed to be going that way.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:32AM (#41247719)

    Because *threats* get more publicity than *action*. Especially when the action is this simple (force HTTPS), but the threat is phrased as something more complex (defeat the government's system).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:35AM (#41247767)

    Perfect response to the many people saying the same thing over and over... 'why not just DO it??!??!?'. They're threatening for now because it would require a significant financial and time investment to follow through. There's also the chances of downtime, server overload, etc... that needs to be taken into consideration. With Wikipedia's reputation, at least from all i can tell, of having a solid and stable domain, it wouldn't do well to fight on a stance like this and cripple itself in the process.
    Besides, with the widespread use of Wikipedia, it's a good way to get the word out there to the millions who use the site daily.
    I've said it before, and will reiterate now...
    V for Vendetta's view of England seems to be coming closer to reality with every passing year.

    -- Valor958

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camionbleu (1633937) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:48AM (#41247947)

    Yes, a good gesture indeed. However, encrypting the packets will not prevent traffic analysis by the UK government. To avoid that, individual users will have to take their own security measures (such as using Tor). Nevertheless, it's nice to see high-profile opposition to the Communications Bill.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @10:50AM (#41247985)

    Shouldn't Jimmy Wales be more concerned with how he's going to keep scamming users for more money with his stupid "pledge drives"? Seems like Wales is trying to be another boneheaded Assange-like figure and make up wild accusations just to try and get a media spotlight.

    You know most of the time I disagree with down-modding people. I prefer to call them out instead, tell them why they're wrong and why their reason is faulty. I think that's more useful for the rest of the readers even if the asshat in question is too stubborn to admit obvious fault. Obvious fault like "it's a voluntary donation, why shouldn't people be free to make a gift when they want to", etc.

    But you, sir, are making me reconsider that point of view. There's no reasoning with people like you. You don't like Wikipedia, its administration, or anything about it, that's fine, don't use it. No one is going to force you to access the site. But that's not good enough, no not for you. You can't stand that other people derive value from it and want to see it prosper, and some of those people are willing to back that up by putting their money where their mouth is. You call this a "scam".

    Naturally everyone who disagrees with you is "stupid". If I like a beer you don't like then clearly I have substandard taste. If I like a song you don't like then obviously I know nothing about music. If I use an OS you don't use then of course I am a brainwashed fanboy. Yeah, I know how you think. There's lots of people like you. I wish there were other habitable planets our technology could reach, so then the rest of us can leave all of you to your own devices instead of having to partake of the taint you promote on this planet.

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oGMo (379) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:23AM (#41248481)

    Well, he could act. And then make the press release. To me, that's the better course of action. It would prove he means business.

    You're missing the point. Action is undesirable. Threat of action means that people scratch their heads and wonder what it means, what the fallout could be, if their political careers might be impacted. Possibly unrealistic worst cases are made. If not, an ultimatum ("next friday") is delivered. Stirs things up, gets people wondering and talking (like this!).

    Action, on the other hand, leads only to the question "is there a major outcry, and how long will it last?" Most people don't notice unless they can't access the site. Doesn't actually accomplish much, unless outcry can be sustained for a considerable period of time, which would require a lot more than "we're going SSL-only" ... like UK-wide wikipedia blackout. And that hurts more than it helps.

  • by tolan-b (230077) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:35AM (#41248665)

    With HTTPS there's less caching going on in general so it's a bit slower. Doesn't bother me but it's definitely a valid reason.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:48AM (#41248897)
    UK GOV: We can't read it so it must be pedophile terrorists trading MP3s.
  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nkwe (604125) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:20PM (#41250327)

    Well, he could act. And then make the press release. To me, that's the better course of action. It would prove he means business.

    You're missing the point. Action is undesirable. Threat of action means that people scratch their heads and wonder what it means, what the fallout could be, if their political careers might be impacted.

    Also you can only take a given action once. Once you have forced SSL, you don't get to force SSL again. If on the other hand you threaten action and you get what you want, you can threaten action again in the future. Sure it is possible that someone may call your bluff and if you threaten action too many times without following through you will be dismissed as "crying wolf", but you at least get a couple of chances.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:30PM (#41250489)
    I think we're missing the point here. Wales is threatening to make a statement, one that will demonstrate the stupidity of the bill. The simple measure he proposes will immediately mask the content of all traffic between wikipedia servers and their users. Yes, there's still a record that a user visited this or that IP address, but the point being made is that technology should, can, and will easily bypass ill-conceived government moves like this.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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