We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Too many of our internet dreams depend on the internet being far less vulnerable to governments than it actually is.

- August, commenting on a posting at my place about Bitcoin.

I suggest comments about what August says about the internet: here. Bitcoin comments: there.

33 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I lack the knowledge to comment on how vulnerable the internet is to government in technical terms.

    What I do think is that the sheer amount of discussion out there renders the government voice, the government “narrative” to use the fashionable term, less important.

    I suppose it has been true for centuries that there was a vast mass of non-government words in books, but the news used to be very substantially dominated by a government-derived narrative (dammit, the term is useful, OK?). This trend increased when TV and radio became important.

    I think I pinched this idea from you. Something you wrote about Chinese bloggers talking away about their private concerns chipping away at state dominance irrespective of what they actually said.

  • I meant to say in my last, that this effect of the importance of the government narrative being decreased by the sheer mass of talk out there is pretty robust – like the physical structure internet itself its vulnerability is much reduced by having many locations.

    (Whether the physical structure of the internet still retains the polycentric robustness that it was originally designed for is another question.)

  • John B

    The powers-that-be only have to threaten the central ISPs, such as UUNET, with dreadful consequences and they would probably cave in to “acceptable norms”?

  • laidback

    I suppose it has been true for centuries that there was a vast mass of non-government words in books,

    Sort of. :) I’d say the key difference between the Internet and those other forms of media (books, radio, TV) you mention is licensing.

    Every medium you can think of since the advent of the printing press had some sort of licensing requirement imposed upon it by the State (no prizes for guessing why). Then the Internet came along and did away with all that.

    However, to be brutally candid, I suspect the real key to the success of the Internet is simply that it achieved widespread popularity before the State really twigged to what was happening. While it might be difficult for the State to stuff the genie back into the bottle, (though not impossible, certainly; think Japan and guns after 1588) I’ll be truly amazed if they do not succeed in the next five years (okay, three years).

    Times being what they are, this:

    http://www.noumenal.com/marc/unstamped.html

    might be worth a look. Or, for anyone who might have seen it before, way-back-when, another look.

    It’s a top-flight essay on where we’ve been and where we might well be headed for again if you and I are not careful and allow it to happen. Sure, it’s a bit dated (okay, more than a bit in some places) but it’s fairly short, I promise (probably no more than 3-4 printed pages). Even so, it covers a lot of ground in a fairly short space, and is (I hope you’ll agree) Really Quite Well-Written. Speaking for myself, I get goosebumps every time I read Joseph Swann’s rejoinder to the Bench.

    (Yeah, verily, that guy had Balls of Steel. Damn.)

    Next to Mr. Swann and his display of fearlessness, the next best bit is this one:

    “If, however, the millions could be herded into classrooms, if only for a brief time, they could be permanently immunized against Jacobinism, radicalism, subversion, blasphemy, atheism, and every other ill to which they were exposed by the east wind of social change. Their native reason, however crude and untutored, could be depended upon to accept the truths of religion and society as laid down before them by the superior classes…”

    I’m always amazed how many people in the 21st Century remain earnestly convinced that “free” (and compulsory! Don’t forget the compulsory part!) public education is some sort of “gift” that is disinterestedly given away; that quote tells it like it is.

    (Herded into classrooms, indeed.)

  • Laidback: I am still reading, but in the meantime I learned something that I didn’t know (duh). From that article: The Act was originally limited to two years. and: It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863. Heh.

  • Brian, I am a novice, when it comes to computer tech, but, could something like this be accomplished in the U.K. or the U.S. without State underwriting? Is it already being done by private individuals?

    The “this” link leads to a NYT piece titled U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors.

  • John Venlet: maybe its just me, but that would sound very encouraging, if the article didn’t begin with the words The Obama administration is leading…

  • Laidback: I’ve now read the whole thing, and it is very instructive. However, the way the copyright issue invariably creeps into discussions on freedom of speech, radically twisting and misrepresenting its underlying principle, is very problematic.

    Also, that quote on education was, if I am not mistaken (where’s Paul?), something Richard Altick wrote sarcastically – he was not quoting anyone from that period who said it with a straight face.

  • laidback

    Whether the physical structure of the internet still retains the polycentric robustness that it was originally designed for is another question.

    If you’re talking on a local level, maybe. If you’re talking between continents, maybe (or rather, probably) not.

    Unfortunately, I have to throw up my hands here and admit that most of my firsthand knowledge of backbones dates from the early 21st Century (practically the stone age) and likely could do with a deal of updating. I choose to believe that things internationally (if not locally) are far more robust in 2011 than they were roughly a decade ago, but I don’t honestly have the answer for you (though someone else here might have kept current). I’m afraid that, for myself, coming to terms with horseless carriages and this new “electricity” stuff that all the young kids are talking about now is quite overwhelming enough.

    I remember reading this:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass.html

    way-back-when (note: not a short read) and being impressed with how flimsy the Internet (apparently) was between continents at the time (not to mention the Minnesota example contained therein).

    I found myself in the industry (don’t ask) a year or three after that article came out and was then given a poster-sized map of the FO backbones that showed them crisscrossing the globe. I remember being quite impressed with how cobwebby (technical term) it all looked within continents, but I also remember thinking that, relatively speaking, there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of connections between continents. It didn’t take a genius to see that there were chokepoints a-plenty, at least in terms of marine cable traffic.

    I have no idea how a similar map of the InterTubes might appear today.

    Re vulnerability, I do remember the marine cable cuts from early 2008 in the vicinity of the Middle East. I don’t recall any country going completely dark as a result, but let’s just say that people noticed. Not to mention a memorable example much closer to home about a year later. That time, someone took a pair of cutters (i.e. this was no accident) to four FO cables in one location, then repeated the procedure a short time with an identical number of cables in a different location. The result was that a non-continent-sized (but still pretty impressive) area was rendered fairly Internet-free for about half a day, much to the irritation of anyone who happened to be in that area at the time.

    At any rate, the near-decade of Calendar Time that has passed since I had to fool with any of this stuff is approximately an eternity in Internet Progress Time, so I’ve no idea how the picture has changed meanwhile. For all I know, a lot more stuff currently passes through satellites in the way of Net traffic than did around the turn of the century.

    (Anyone?)

  • Alisa, it’s only the idea I am interested in, sans the State.

  • John: I obviously agree, it’s just that the state has this peculiar tendency to co-opt all the good ideas and turn them into bad ones. Oh well, we’ll see what happens with this one, I guess.

  • laidback

    Also, that quote on education was, if I am not mistaken (where’s Paul?), something Richard Altick wrote sarcastically – he was not quoting anyone from that period who said it with a straight face.

    This seems to be the context (albeit taken from a summary):


    After the crisis of the last decade of the 18th century, education for the lower classes in the 19th century became a way to actually prevent Jacobin uprisings and multitudes of other sins through, basically, indoctrination (141). Adam Smith found that people who worked all day “tend to lose their mental flexibility and powers of discrimination,” therefore becoming susceptible to propoganda (141).

    Altick almost [emphasis mine] sarcastically writes: “If, however, the millions could be herded into classrooms, if only for a brief time, they could be permanently immunized against Jacobinism, radicalism, subversion blasphemy, aetheism, and every other ill to which they were exposed by the east wind of social change (141).

    Education seemed to be the way to turn the lower classes more moral, mannered, orderly, and productive (142-43). The goal of education was to “reform English social structure, not to enrich people’s intellectual or emotional lives” (143).

    .
    .
    .
    Fair dinkum? :)

  • laidback

    Laidback: I’ve now read the whole thing, and it is very instructive.

    Thank you: I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I’m unclear as to whether that essay is a Golden Oldie in terms of popularity, but I’m guessing it’s still fairly obscure.

    However, the way the copyright issue invariably creeps into discussions on freedom of speech, radically twisting and misrepresenting its underlying principle, is very problematic.

    Agreed.

    However, my point in linking to the essay was to try to illustrate that, until the Internet came along, it was much easier for the State to put the smackdown on an author who wanted to distribute anything in the way of their own information, regardless of whether the author did or didn’t want others to reproduce (i.e. disseminate) it on their own. In the case of something like, say, radical tracts, I can imagine the author would be only too pleased at someone taking the original material and going bananas reproducing it.

    Copyright as viewed today is typically associated with an author’s right to control the reproduction of their own works. Copyright as viewed within the context of that essay has more to do with the State controlling an author’s ability to produce/reproduce their own works (i.e. you needed the leave of the State to enter the publishing game in the first place).

    The latter is a subject I find fascinating as a matter of historical interest; I find the former quite tedious. So I apologise if it looked like I was trying to introduce the former subject and start up the usual never-ending debate over copyright.

  • laidback

    John Venlet: maybe its just me, but that would sound very encouraging, if the article didn’t begin with the words The Obama administration is leading…

    Speaking of things that are at least somewhat worrisome:

    American diplomats are meeting with operatives who have been burying Chinese cellphones in the hills near the border with North Korea, where they can be dug up and used to make furtive calls, according to interviews and the diplomatic cables.

    Just how are the North Koreans expected to recover these cell phones? I can just see all these poor, half-starved wretches lurching around, kicking random lumps of dirt in the hopes of finding a cellphone.

    Along those same lines: anyone else have visions of those “operatives” obtaining funding from the American diplomats mentioned, then swearing like mad that, yes, they’ve just buried five (maybe six) hundred phones, only for the “buried” phones to suddenly surface on the streets of NYC a couple weeks later? : /

  • Laidback: no no, yet again, I wasn’t suspecting you of anything subversive like that (FWIW:-)) – it just happens to be my pet peeve, is all.

    It appears that you and I were looking at the same webpage, only I missed that little ‘almost’ thingy. Have you actually read Altick’s book? Because I’d have to, at least some of it, in order to form an opinion on his view on the subject – seeing as I know nothing about the man.

    Copyright as viewed within the context of that essay has more to do with the State controlling an author’s ability to produce/reproduce their own works (i.e. you needed the leave of the State to enter the publishing game in the first place).

    Do you know this for a fact, or do you merely surmise it from the article? Because it could be very material to the aforementioned pet peeve.

  • Jamess

    My knowledge of technology is very limited – so please someone shoot me down if necessary…

    Couldn’t a virtual internet exist on people’s laptops/mobiles with no central storage place, only on different computers throughout a city? If people wanted information (e.g. to read a particular blog etc) enough to pay for it, my computer could tell any neighbouring computers that I’d pay for access to, say, Samizdata, and once I had that information, I’d sell it on to anyone else near me who wanted to pay for it. A Market would quickly develop where the best information is stored and transmitted to others.

    It would obviously only work in a high density area with a lot of mixing of people, and never be as good as the internet, and the information would need to be mainly text. But it might be much harder for the government to destroy and more effective than any underground press that might have operated in the past – which was quite effective at transmitting news that people wanted to hear.

  • laidback

    Copyright as viewed within the context of that essay has more to do with the State controlling an author’s ability to produce/reproduce their own works (i.e. you needed the leave of the State to enter the publishing game in the first place).


    Do you know this for a fact, or do you merely surmise it from the article? Because it could be very material to the aforementioned pet peeve.

    We could be talking past each other here, (these things do happen) but I guess I’m not clear on how I would conclude anything else from an essay entitled: “Controlling Dissemination Mechanisms: The Unstamped Press and the ‘Net.’” The gist of the essay seems pretty straightforward to me, but perhaps there’s a dimension to it I’m either not seeing or not appreciating (that sort of thing happens with me quite frequently).

    Or perhaps by “article” you’re referring to the Wikipedia entry you linked to afterward? Or the Richard Altick blurb I quoted later? I’m all at sea here.

    In the interests of avoiding confusion: I wasn’t talking about copyright in general, I was referring to it only within the context of the essay to which I originally linked (“Controlling Dissemination Mechanisms, etc.”)

    If there’s a larger conclusion you’re trying to draw with regards to copyright in general, I’m afraid I’m as much use as a catflap in an elephant house, sorry.

  • Laird

    Very interesting article, Laidback; thanks for the link.

    Apropos of that, here’s an interesting article about Bill Clinton’s proposal for the creation of a “ministry of truth” to vet the veracity of internet postings. The author finds this encouraging because he thinks it “demonstrates just how desperately and feverishly the political Establishment must go in futilely trying to resist its own demise.”

    I’m not competent to speak to the technical aspects of the government seizing control of the internet, but clearly the Powers That Be are getting nervous. I only hope that Laidback is correct, that it got away from them before they realized the danger it posed, and that the genie is now well and truly out of the bottle.

  • laidback

    Couldn’t a virtual internet exist on people’s laptops/mobiles with no central storage place, only on different computers throughout a city? If people wanted information (e.g. to read a particular blog etc) enough to pay for it, my computer could tell any neighbouring computers that I’d pay for access to, say, Samizdata, and once I had that information, I’d sell it on to anyone else near me who wanted to pay for it. A Market would quickly develop where the best information is stored and transmitted to others.

    It sounds like what you have in mind there is a sort of peer-to-peer network:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer

  • Jamess

    Thanks laidback, that’s exactly the type of thing I’m thinking of.

    If a peer-to-peer network can become sufficiently popular and large I think it would be very hard for the government to clamp down to hard on the internet. The harder it tried, the more people would be willing to pay for information from other sources and the more efficient an alternative internet structure would work.

  • Laidback, in the article you linked it says:

    The state’s regulation of the dissemination mechanism took many forms, [one of them being] copyright legislation which vested copyright in an owner perptually — no firm or individual could publish a work except the copyright owner. By 1774, this was written out of the law.

    You then proceed to say:

    Copyright as viewed within the context of that essay has more to do with the State controlling an author’s ability to produce/reproduce their own works (i.e. you needed the leave of the State to enter the publishing game in the first place).

    My question was whether what you said is something you surmised from the above quote (and a couple of additional references to copyright in that article), or do you know this to be a historical fact from other sources.

    To your last question: no, I am not looking for larger conclusions re copyright in general (at least not at this particular moment), just trying to find out more information on that particular legislation as mentioned in the above quote.

  • Andrew Zalotocky’s comment from a couple of posts ago seems pertinent here. “deploying all the institutions of the Establishment”, etc, in this case to make the Internet into something scary that people want protecting from.

    “But it only works if the public believes that those institutions and the people within them have moral or intellectual authority, and that belief is steadily declining.”

    I hope so.

    I don’t think governments can technically stop people putting what they want on the Internet, but they can be a real nuisance.

  • laidback


    Laidback, in the article you linked it says:

    The state’s regulation of the dissemination mechanism took many forms, [one of them being] copyright legislation which vested copyright in an owner perptually — no firm or individual could publish a work except the copyright owner. By 1774, this was written out of the law.


    You then proceed to say:

    Copyright as viewed within the context of that essay has more to do with the State controlling an author’s ability to produce/reproduce their own works (i.e. you needed the leave of the State to enter the publishing game in the first place).


    My question was whether what you said is something you surmised from the above quote (and a couple of additional references to copyright in that article), or do you know this to be a historical fact from other sources.

    I’m going to preface this latest outbreak of keyboard diarrhoea by saying that I really, really, really did not want to go here. Connecting the dots is something best left to people like James Burke.

    That said:

    Whenever a new information dissemination mechanism (or “medium” if you prefer) pops up, there has been a fairly clear-cut historical pattern that soon follows. In the particular case the essay explores, (print media) a new medium came along and the State undertook to control and regulate it. Why did/does the State make the effort to do this? Because ideas are dangerous things that have the potential to threaten the existing social social order. Different people might have different ideas about what States do and don’t do, (and ought to do) but I think it’s pretty safe to say that preserving the existing social order is one of the primary goals of any state (it’s right up there with wealth extraction).

    In the case of the printing press, the physical machinery itself was regulated as well as the output. That is, if you wanted to operate a printing press, you first had to obtain the leave of the State (printing press licensing) and the State then had a great deal of say in what you did or didn’t do with the output of the printing press. As the essay goes into, the State made an earnest effort to ensure that only Officially Approved publications rolled off the press, and it then used another mechanism (the one of taxation) to ensure that printed materials were expensive, and that only the relatively wealthy would have access to them.

    Fast forward to the 20th Century and the advent of new mediums: radio and television. Nonethelesss, the same type of pattern manifested itself: if you wanted to broadcast anything on the TV or the radio, you were required to obtain a license from the State to do so. Likewise, if you were a license holder, and you invited someone to your radio/TV station to discuss something, you ran the risk of losing that license if your guest happened to discuss or display something that displeased the authorities. Words like “obscenity,” “sedition,” and “treason,” are, after all, pretty flexible ones (witness the current debate over whether Bradley Manning is a hero or a traitor).

    Which brings us to the present day: the Internet. The problem the Internet poses to the State is that it is a medium that allows anyone with access to it the ability to be their own broadcaster of information. In that respect, it’s much the same as a printing press or a radio station.

    “But what about licensing this time around?” you may ask. To which I would answer: the Internet has become a medium that has permeated the globe before the State, by and large, has had time to do its usual licensing schtick and control/curtail the use of the medium through things like licensing and taxation.

    The point to the essay was to demonstrate that, all the high-tech, gee-whiz aspects of the Internet that people get carried away with aside, it is, among other things, a medium that allows the dissemination of ideas. In that respect, it’s exactly the same as books, radio, and TV. The only real difference between this new medium and the older ones is that the State is only just now getting around to regulating it and attempting to restrict its use after it has been in popular use for more than a decade.

    The essay is useful because it gives us an idea of just what it is we can expect as the noose tightens: we’ve been here before. The State has been faced with runaway mediums in the past, and its reaction this time around is not likely to be much different than its reaction on former occasions: it’s going to put the smack down and do its best to control the new medium until it finally A) largely succeeds or B) becomes convinced that controlling it is impracticable and gives it up as a bad job.

    The real question is: how long will it be until we can get to point B in this particular case? It’s obvious from Bill Clinton’s chatterings last month (as mentioned by Laird) that controlling the Internet is an idea that has appealed and continues to appeal to the the political classes.*

    *To be fair, Clinton himself did not suggest the idea of a Truth Ministry: the host of the progam he was on did. All Bill C. did was to take the topic and display a willingness (if not eagerness) to further explore it. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Hillary C. said some time ago:

    “We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function… .”

    Anyway…..did I succeed in answering your question?

  • Laidback: no, you didn’t, but that’s OK – it was OT anyway, and I assume I can find the information by other means. Besides, you have instead answered Brian’s actual question, and did it quite well too. I don’t think that there is any other plausible way to connect the dots.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a danger with the internet – not directly related to government intervention.

    This danger is thinking one is making more impact than one is, in fact, making.

    Most of what is on the internet (including what I am typing write now) is background “noise” – most people (the vast majority of people) will never read it.

    Even those people who are really interested in politics and current affairs (a minority of people) will mostly go to well known sites – sites they know of outside of the internet (things the BBC site in Britain – or the sites of the major networks and newspapers in the United States).

    Matt Drudge (from the 1990s onwards) managed to break that a bit – as he was not known outside of the internet, but made himself known via the internet.

    But this is very rare (Glenn R. did it also – but then, as far as large numbers of people are concerend, that was about it).

    Then the left came in – in massive force (with vast financial backing) and things like the Daily Kos, Move.on and the Huffington Post really had a big impact.

    The pro freedom side has not really managed to fight back – although there have been efforts.

    The latest being Glenn Beck – who (from the end of June) will be concentrating on the internet.

    However, till the ordinary person (the person next door – who one talks to over the garden fence) says “I read on ….. site last night how government spending is really going up, this “cuts” stuff is a huge LIE” the governments of the world have little to worry about.

    Why hit dissent when only a small minority of people are influenced by it?

    Sometimes “quantity is its own quality” – or would rather have most people having experience of sites which give them the pro liberty position (even a “dumbed down” one) than a handful of people getting the real hard core stuff (although there should be room for both) – for if most people just have the “mainstream media” to go on…..

    To correct Lincoln…..

    Sure one can not “fool all of the people all of the time” – but one does not have to.

    In a democracy all one has to do is fool the majority of people (at key times) and the road to Hell is opened.

  • laidback

    Laidback: no, you didn’t, but that’s OK – it was OT anyway, and I assume I can find the information by other means.

    Sorry, I gave it my best go, but I guess I missed the mark.

    (It’s been suggested that I become a professional limbo dancer due to the ease with which things pass over my head.)

  • laidback

    Why hit dissent when only a small minority of people are influenced by it?

    I agree it’s a small number at present, but that’s not to say it will always remain small.

    Ideas are tricky things in that it’s difficult to tell when, exactly, a given idea will reach a tipping point and a concept that few people were initially familiar with is suddenly something that everyone knows.

    As Shrodinger’s Dog said in another thread:

    The internet has only been around about fifteen years. Quite possibly, its effect on politics and society generally thus far has been minimal. But over the longer term it could change both more than anyone can imagine.

    Perhaps the large scale potential for change is only now, fifteen years on, being grasped by politicians and the like. So while the threat might be small now, I’ll be very surprised indeed if the State allows the Internet to remain its relatively unregulated, unrestrained self for much longer. Those recent Middle Eastern uprisings might have served as a wake-up call for western politicians, too.

    I agree that it’s possible to make the case that the InterTubes act as a sort of safety valve, and that people who might otherwise spending their time, say, organising, end up frittering their time away typing things few people will ever read.

    The thing is, safety valves don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. And then where are you? :)

  • Indeed, Laidback. These things (as all things human) can be quite unpredictable. Also, to play off the Lincoln reference made by Paul, not only do you not need to convince all the people all the time, quite often you don’t even need to convince the majority at first. Sometimes it takes a relatively small group of people and the right circumstances to reach a tipping point – that’s what happened with socialism, after all.

    Not that I’m suggesting a picture any rosier than the one Paul sees: whatever happens, a lot of suffering is sure to lie ahead, a lot of broken bones – and indeed, lives. After all, that’s what it took the last time around, as can be seen from that article Laidback linked to. But freedom (i.e. life) does always win in the end. I always think of those trees whose roots are entrapped under blocks of concrete and asphalt in the streets of any city you can think of: the concrete and the asphalt always end up broken by the roots – it’s only a matter of time.

    a professional limbo dancer

    Anything you can do, I can do better – especially that!

  • laidback

    But freedom (i.e. life) does always win in the end. I always think of those trees whose roots are entrapped under blocks of concrete and asphalt in the streets of any city you can think of: the concrete and the asphalt always end up broken by the roots – it’s only a matter of time.

    I’m sure the quotation is hackneyed as all get-out by now, but whenever I see a politician skip away scot-free from their latest atrocity, or some statist dirtbag discuss stealing from people as though it were a natural, everyday (even commendable) undertaking, I try to recall these words from Gandhi:

    When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.

    Of course, Gandhi could have helped move things along a bit if he’d had a few main battle tanks at his disposal, but still, damn inspiring stuff.

  • Jamess, it is called a mesh network(Link), and there is a lot of work going on right at the moment.

  • laidback

    Jamess, it is called a mesh network(Link), and there is a lot of work going on right at the moment.

    Ah, yes, there you are. That sounds much more in line with what Jamess had in mind.

    I don’t know if Jamess caught this link that John Venlet helpfully posted earlier, but it’s worth a look.

    The worrying thing? Well, at the risk of sounding like a Perfectly Cynical Bastard, (who, me?) I have a tough time believing that the same government making earnest noises about an Internet “kill switch” is also simultaneously interested in developing technology that would make such a kill switch much less effective.

    Okay, sure, I suppose it’s entirely possible in a bureaucracy the size of the US government that the left hand can lose sight of what the right hand is doing. However, a more probable explanation is that the sooner these folks get their grimy little hands on an emerging technology, the sooner they can start work on developing countermeasures for it.

    I would also be Really Quite Surprised if the government-funded implementations didn’t feature a backdoor of some kind. I don’t know how many people reading this recall the Clipper Chip, (if you do, I’m sure my reference just elicited a sharp bark of laughter) but the whole key escrow scheme made it obvious that the US government was perfectly okay with the concept of its subjects being able to transmit information securely…….so long as that same government retained the ability to read it at will. Which, of course, meant that the information wasn’t being transmitted securely at all.

    Anyone else get a cheap laugh out of this line in the NYT article?

    Mrs. Clinton has made Internet freedom into a signature cause.

    Really? Well, in addition to the infamous “gatekeeper” quote I referenced in an earlier post, it seems that Hillary Clinton made the below remark as well:

    Anytime an individual or an institution or an invention [emphasis mine] leaps so far out ahead of that balance (the balance contemplated by the Founders) and throws a system, whatever it might be — political, economic, technological — out of balance, you’ve got a problem, because then it can lead to the oppression of people’s rights, it can lead to the manipulation of information, it can lead to all kinds of bad outcomes which we have seen historically. So we’re going to have to deal with that.

    This, to me, is not indicative of someone with a “let the chips fall where they may” outlook on life. I’m willing to take bets that when she makes reference to “bad outcomes,” she’s referring to outcomes that statists like her are unable to control.

    Anyway, it’s certainly a welcome surprise to hear that the US government is so keen on promoting human rights worldwide (who knew?) and frowns upon governments that adopt the policy of violating them. With any luck, they’ll soon start walking the walk as well as talking the talk, eh?

  • What Laidback said.

  • Paul Marks

    If censorship and so on comes in a big way to the internet (in the United States – it already exists in lots of other countries) it will come via “net neutrality”.

    The government “protecting” people against those evil internet service providers (the cable companies and so on) who want to make money by offering better service to a high paying (normally commercial) customer than to Joe Blogger (like us).

    Joe Blogger is outraged – why should he have less quick and effective service than (say) the Ford Motor Company?

    So he strongly supports the government’s efforts to “protect” him (in the name of equality) and finds that nice Progressive companies (like Google) support the noble crusade against the cable companies (and so on) as well.

    Of course the government will “protect” us all via such organizations as the F.C.C. – made up of people from the (Marxist) “Free Press” organization, and all sorts of little regulattions will come in…. to influence the (de facto government owned – for if they set the prices and conditions of operation the government will own the system in all but name) internet.

    But it is “paranoid” to write in this way.