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<nettime> more falling apart of the internet
Jeremy Beaudry on Thu, 13 Oct 2005 00:36:40 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> more falling apart of the internet


On Oct 12, 2005, at 7:36 AM, lsi wrote:

> The real problem here seems to be
> the existence of a central core.  The real solution, therefore is  
> to remove the
> central core from the DNS.  At the end of the day, the root servers  
> are single
> points of failure and ripe for attack.  The DNS must be redesigned  
> to make it
> completely distributed, improving resiliency and security while  
> also removing the
> problem of who gets to be King.

then:

"But a new report from the OpenNet Initiative, a human rights project linking
researchers from the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School and Cambridge
University in Britain, once again raises tough questions about the use of
filtering technologies - often developed by Western companies - by autocratic
governments bent on controlling what their citizens see on the Web."

So: what's the connection here? Does a decentralized DNS make the implementation
of these kinds of filtering technologies more difficult? (Excuse my
less-than-conversant knowledge of DNS / ICANN issues.) According to the NYTimes
article, it seems as if repressive regimes like Myanmar can basically purchase
this software (from a US- based company) right off the shelf and be running it in
no time at all with little effort.  Kinda knocks the wind out of the great
democratization of information / communication that someone once said the Internet
was...

jb

******************

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/12/technology/12filter.html

October 12, 2005
Study Says Software Makers Supply Tools to Censor Web

By TOM ZELLER Jr.

It should come as no surprise that the Internet in Myanmar, the southeast Asian
state once known as Burma and in the iron grip of a military cabal for decades, is
heavily filtered and carefully monitored.

But a new report from the OpenNet Initiative, a human rights project linking
researchers from the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School and Cambridge
University in Britain, once again raises tough questions about the use of
filtering technologies - often developed by Western companies - by autocratic
governments bent on controlling what their citizens see on the Web.

Myanmar "employs one of the most restrictive regimes of Internet filtering
worldwide that we have studied," said Ronald J. Deibert, a principal investigator
for the OpenNet Initiative and the director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Center
for International Studies at the University of Toronto.

Myanmar now joins several nations, including China, Iran and Singapore, in relying
on Western software and hardware to accomplish their goals, Mr. Deibert said.

Microsoft, Cisco and Yahoo, for example, have all come under fire recently for
providing technology or otherwise cooperating with the Chinese government to
enable it to monitor and censor Internet use.

In the case of Myanmar, the regulations and customs are quite clear.  The Digital
Freedom Network, a human rights group based in New Jersey, notes that among things
forbidden by Myanmar's Web regulations, introduced in January 2000, are the
posting of "any writings directly or indirectly detrimental to the current
policies" of the government. The rules also forbid "any writings detrimental to
the interests of the Union of Myanmar."

As with their six previous reports, OpenNet researchers combined a variety of
network interrogation tools and the cooperation of a volunteer in Myanmar "who
remains anonymous as a safety precaution," the report noted, to test the
accessibility of various Web sites.

Sites like Hotmail, which offer free e-mail services, were routinely blocked,
forcing Myanmar citizens to use one of the two officially approved (and easily
monitored) Internet service providers for their e-mail.

And of 25 sites dealing with Burmese political information and content - from
freeburmacoalition.com to burmalibrary.org - a full 84 percent were blocked.

"There's a cat-and-mouse game going on between states that seek to control the
information environment and citizens who seek to speak freely online," said John
Palfrey, the director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and
Society and a researcher with the OpenNet Initiative. "Filtering technologies, and
the way that they are implemented, are becoming more sophisticated."

Not surprisingly, repressive governments have been eager buyers of those
technologies.

The OpenNet study suggests that Myanmar, which has long been under American
sanctions, including the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, has recently
migrated from an open-source filtering technology to a proprietary system called
Fortiguard, developed by Fortinet, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

That upgrade, which appears to have taken place as the OpenNet researchers were
conducting their analysis, may have made censorship even more efficient and
widespread than reflected in the new survey.

For its part, Fortinet says that it uses "a two-tier distribution model,"
according to a company spokeswoman, Michelle Spolver, meaning that the company
sells all of its products to resellers, who sell to end-users.

"Our intent is to fully comply with the law, and Fortinet does not condone doing
business with U.S.-embargoed or sanctioned countries," Ms. Spolver said.

Yet the Fortinet system appears to be hard at work in Myanmar.

"The Myanmar state has put out a Web page talking about it, we've procured a block
page that has hallmarks of Fortinet's system, and have heard from people on the
ground that it's being implemented," Mr. Palfrey said.

"It's related to the problems that Yahoo and Microsoft and others are facing in
China," Mr. Palfrey said, "but here the issue is that these technology security
companies are directly profiting from the censorship regime itself."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
jeremy beaudry
http://meaning.boxwith.com
http://opensource.boxwith.com
http://BERLIN.placeinplaceof.net


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