Last night I wrote a manifesto trying to sum up all my thoughts in my internet censorship investigation. As I made it completely out of the blue as a sketch it was in my mother tongue (spanish) but today I decided to translate it, just in case anyone who don't speak spanish wanted to read it. The original is in this link. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this! I'd love to read them.
I’m only twenty-one, but still, since I can remember, Our routine has changed considerably. When I was a toddler, internet was already a thing, but even tho, my firsts steps on the internet were unorganized, webpages were simpler and communication was slower (email, forums, etc). Some others, more veteran, will even remember the internet incoming in our lives. We trust on the internet for communicating , work or study. A new era of information has been established.
At first, users on the internet were a few students, scientists and businessmen and women, but now we’re all users. This phenomenon should not be ignored, we’re living an era motivated by money, but this virtual environment is built over open and decentralized information, selflessly promoted by programmers and users. The internet meant a new state model, but free, without a core, a government to control everyone, and users don’t take part in a social structure, ideally all the users are equal. This system, which could be thought as chaotic, not just worked, it worked so good it became the roots of our current society. Far from being chaotic, it raised what we can call “netic or the net ethics, a ghost in the net that inspire the users.
This potential, tho, this society scope, isn’t ignored by governments and private entities. A clear example of this is the huge and wide BigData investigations. This decentralized system of sharing information could be a powerful tool like no other, but sadly it could be interpreted as a weapon, too, for some of this governments and entities. At the same time internet appears, so does the censorship of it. All around the world, different countries try to establish control over the internet through censorship and surveillance. This is the case of China, Russia, USA, UK, Arabia Saudi, India, Vietnam and so it goes. These countries censor, manipulate and surveil their users, but far from being punished for it, they are sometimes clapped by the users. This entities use protection and fear as a shield against privacy arguments.
It’s inescapable to feel down about this stage, but fortunately not everything is negative. At the same time internet, censorship and first digital society steps appeared, so did the hackers (calling hackers those who are interested and curious about tech, not crackers) that anticipated the internet potential in society, as well as the fear it will raise. Different hackers such as Mitch Kapor, Perry Barlow, Wozniak, Gilmore or Stewart Brand founded and co-founded the EFF, and openly defended speech freedom and privacy on the internet. In this scenario the first Hacker Con appeared (ironically in 1984) where also these issues were discussed (not only out of virus did the hackers lived, but also out of criticism). We don’t need to go back that much, tho, we can talk about a guy widely known in techculture. Edward Snowden is an example of the netics we alked about before and, as Goldstein in nineteen-eighty-four, Snowden is considered both a traitor and a hero, depending on who you ask. Julian Assange was also involved in the internet boom, and tagged it as “one of the best things humanity could have”, in its ideal state. Getting even more closer to our days, MalwareTech, this guy who stopped the ransomware and was also recently arrested by the FBI, told me in a brief conversation about his idea about anonymity on the internet and how he thought there should be anonymity for all the users, no middle ground on that, but he also thought it was probably, not possible.
As we can see through history, those hackers who has approached to investigate internet society and politics, has similar ideas but different opinions. This is why, leaded by those hackers, some associations are created in order to defend ourselves as a group. And not only I’m talking about programmers, also journalists, as they suffer censorship in their own bones. So not only the EFF or TOR project fight against internet censorship, so does Reporters sans frontiers (journalists without frontiers). Julian Assange, mentioned before, is a clear example of how hacking and journalism can stick together well. This can be also seen in cases like Kosovo crisis in 1999, media could not officially show what was truly happening (executions, rapes, and such leaded by the government) but the EFF released a safe server users could freely use to send messages and tell the truth.
“We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. Eric Hughes wrote in his Cypherpunk manifesto (1993). John Gilmore, wrote in “Privacy, Technology and Open Society about his will to take advantage the internet potential in order to make the society understand the power of privacy. Internet privacy and digital rights let us be active and critic members of society, in this lies its significance. How can we be useful in this fight?
For the users, some “healthy routine should be expected, such as using alternative browsers (I2P, TOR), non intrusive OS like Linux or spend some time taking advantage of decentralized communication to read the news.
But we, as hackers, as programmers and engineers, we can reach further. Hackers could be considered wizards by those who are far from terminals and code lines, these wizards can, as they already did, change the path of society. Hannah Arendt explained in his work “About Revolution that the word “revolution has its origin in “restoration which leaded in some confusion. But in this case I find the concept perfect. Hackers doesn’t want to create something new, but they want to ask for what Internet was supposed to be in its origin, as it was thought by its creators, which doesn’t make it less of a revolution. To keep ourselves in a coherent path, we don’t aim for individualism, we fight for a community, in which you don’t need to start a thing, you can just participate on it, or start it and let other keep it (open source).
The potential, the tools, the digital and social structure is already there. Only the programmers, hackers and engineers are left.
Top comments (5)
Interesting stuff. I don't know much about all this, so you could certainly educate me. You talk about Linux as being non-intrusive. I assume that other OS are intrusive. Could you give concrete examples of what that intrusion looks like?
And please, speak to me as if you were talking to a small child. Not sure I could handle a lot of technical terms on this subject :D
Sure! by invasive I mean that the OS having access to contacts, calendar, mail, location and such, not only for the OS company itself but for third parties. In this article is explained how it works, for example, in Windows 10. I'm not sure how does it work in Apple, they had some troubble with the FBI after denying to set a backdoor or to bypass some of their devices, but the thing is that we cannot be sure how does the OS work on behind. The good thing about linux is that it's possible to see what's actually happen on the OS and with your data, if you know how to read it. If I must point to a very secure OS I would suggest TAILS, it's based in debian (which is already very stable and secure), its internet communication relies on TOR (ip is hidden even in not-browser internet usage), it's portable (in a pendrive) and it's amnesic, which makes it invisible for the hardware we are using after we take it away form the pc. But even if we don't go that further, I'm speaking about respecting a logical amount of privacy.
I read the article you linked to and read this:
That's Windows stuff. Makes me think of: Everyone is guilty until proven innocent. To that end, we'll need to know everything about everybody...
Mhmmm... I might change a few things I use then.
A little experience:
When someone asks me how to contact me and I say Telegram, they look at me as some kind of strange person. Do you use Whatsapp as everyone or Messenger? they replied looking for a middle solution. And I always finish talking about why I prefer Telegram (and currently Signal) than Whatsapp: security measures, support open source and what your article said (but with messages context) about security measures.
The part everyone goes crazy is when I tell them that Messenger (the Facebook app for messages) knows your location even if you turned off the location option. So, Facebook knows when I'm with someone that is not my (sentimental) partner? Aha, I say
What I learned in all these years of using Signal and Telegram is if you talk to other people about freedom, they probably won't understand. Tell them they were spied in their most intimate moments..well, expect some anger and (real) fear
I recommend this reading: thenextweb.com/eu/2017/06/09/pirat...
It is a dystopian vision, but unfortunately, mostly correct.