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What happened to nature?
Olena {The Wizard}
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Immortal since Aug 5, 2009
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    The End of Anonymity
    There's been a lot of talk recently about the changes in Net Neutrality laws, and the possibility that they may change drastically in the coming years, thus disallowing for free communications between peers.

    It's worrisome that Google, monolithic as it is, keeps popping up in these conversations as being not-quite-for neutrality...

    In the latest, CEO Schmidt was quoted:

    "Privacy is incredibly important. Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It's very important that Google and everyone else respects people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things. But if you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it's not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity. There are no systems in our society which allow you to do that. Judges insist on unmasking who the perpetrator was. So absolute anonymity could lead to some very difficult decisions for our governments and our society as a whole."
    "The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it."

    via Network World

    It sounds like a lack of anonymity is protection for the people, and since we get to "keep our privacy", who will complain?
    But how far is the tagging going to go? At this point in time it's possible to log on to any PC and anonymously access and upload information online... if that ability is taken away, if there must constantly be a number associated with my self a personalized set of statistics which correspond to my number, is that not an invasion?
    As if Google doesn't already hold such information, anyway... Sadly I only recently discovered that little gmail "feature" that saves every search one has ever conducted. Or what about "Foursquare", charmingly named after the childhood game, but logging every willing participant's steps OFF-line as well?

    Not to mention, the possible future problem that some are calling "tiered internet"; here.
    Basically that if wireless takes over as the future medium of online operations, things don't look good for our cyber-freedom.

    "Save the Internet" adresses the new Google/Verizon pact, but I don't know much about it yet.

    Certainly this directly concerns everyone at SC... how will we proceed?

    Wed, Aug 11, 2010  Permanent link

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    BenRayfield     Wed, Aug 11, 2010  Permanent link
    We're just talking about how to start, but  may be our only way out of internet censoring, lack of privacy, and monopoly prices. For example, Verizon charges $2 per megabyte for internet access on my cell phone, but for $75/month at a business where I rent a "server" computer (which is just a normal computer with an internet connection thats not censored), I'm allowed 125,000 megabytes (1 terabit) per month (many people using it at once). Its internet connection is fast enough to use all that. The cell-phone infrastructure can not be so slow that the price has to be nearly $2. Thats 3300 times more money per megabyte if I used it all. Therefore Verizon is holding a monopoly (or cartel or whatever the one is where they make illegal agreements with the others in power) price over me, which is why I don't have internet on a cell-phone. If we build our own wireless solar-powered internet infrastructure ("the sticker network"), then we can obsolete such monopolies of cell-phones, television, radio, and other ways they control us.

    One more example of Verizon charging more than things are worth: I know the cause of this because I build audio software and understand some about compression software in general. Verizon uses excessive  which decreases sound quality so they can use less bandwidth (which I pay a high price for) to send sounds between 2 phones. It sounds ok for normal voices, but if somebody talks in a strange way or if I'm listening to something other than voice through the phone, their lossy-compression audio software prevents me from hearing over half of it. Verizon has low quality sound, which they could avoid if they spent 1 more dollar per month per person. I know how to estimate costs of technology. Only a monopoly/cartel could get away with that. I'd go to a different phone business, but they're probably all part of the cartel.

    Lets create  as an open-source hardware and software combination.  is an example of how to create open-source hardware (no patents) the same way as open-source software.
    Olena     Wed, Aug 11, 2010  Permanent link
    Interesting... I'll have a look at that, thank you Ben!

    Here's more to add to this discussion:
    "Mad at Google?"
    "Google vs FB in Social Networking"
    CoCreatr     Sun, Aug 15, 2010  Permanent link
    Some of the privacy arguments that Bruce Schneier has noted, are valid for anonymity as well. It is about the faulty premise that privacy/anonymity is about hiding a wrong. Some of the comments on his blog are illuminating.

    There may be something else brewing in the background if these guys are right. The video is not what it seems, check for a minute before you decide whether this is for you.

    nagash     Sun, Aug 15, 2010  Permanent link
    I think privacy and anonymity are two very different things.
    think about your bank account, it's private, but not anonymous...

    I'm all for freedom, but as a internet developer for more than a decade, I understand the need for validating/tracking user data and location. people freak out about big companies holding information about them, but in the end it's just about money.
    nobody wants to read your personal diary, they just want to show you the right ADs and make some profit out of your consumer habits. so far, all the information one shares in twitter, facebook, foursquare and sorts are consensual and voluntary. as long as it doesn't change, I'm okey.
    Olena     Mon, Aug 16, 2010  Permanent link
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Didn't watch the video yet but I'll look into that.

    Nagash —
    You're probably right about premature panic. I'm not a developer, so it's good to get someone's perspective who knows what they're talking about.

    I'm not terribly worried about something so casual as a diary, but my automatic reaction was more of a feeling of freedom slowly being infringed upon until we can't do much to regain it.
    Those services are voluntary now, but from this latest news, it seemed as though that kind of tracking might become mandatory...
    For me, facelessness or invisibility holds an incredible amount of that freedom, but that doesn't mean it would be used for evil purposes.

    Perhaps you know better than I what the actual, possible consequences may be,
    but I'm not interested in a lifestyle where the option of dropping the connection is no longer available. It's like being collared and leashed.

    Here's an example of what I mean: "Anonymous Mexican blogger beats Mexico drug war news blackout"
    Article hosted by Google, no less.

    But my question is, if anti-anonymity laws come into effect, people like this will be traced, won't they? Not that they can't be now, but, how will we define criminal action? It seems that the people with information at their fingertips (if we get into tiered internet, it will obviously be those with the money to access prioritized information) would be holding too much power, like a new kind of Feudalism.
    Infinitas     Mon, Aug 16, 2010  Permanent link
    I'm all for freedom, but as a internet developer for more than a decade, I understand the need for validating/tracking user data and location. people freak out about big companies holding information about them, but in the end it's just about money.

    Agreed. But what happens when our hardly-transparent government decides to collaborate with companies such as Google, to obtain their data and use it to better monitor, aka spy on, private matters of citizens? They US govt has already tried to do it to a certain extent...

    When is the Precrime Division going to be created?
    Wildcat     Tue, Aug 17, 2010  Permanent link
    an interesting take on the issue comes from Danah Boyd, read it here : 
    CoCreatr     Sun, Aug 22, 2010  Permanent link
    Another take in HD video

    The internet as we've known it is in the process of being dismantled.

    Alex Jones

    Watch, verify and do what you feel needs to be done.

    Synapses to Self Defeating Goal .
         Sun, Aug 22, 2010  Permanent link
    The only way you can be sure to have your communications secure is through keeping it encrypted and keeping it off the record, along with authenticity checking.  is the only implementation I really know that covers this all in a way I feel is satisfactory.

    It's not all that hard to sniff out any plaintext data. Just don't do it. Even if you don't think you have anything to hide, that attitude right there opens you right up to becoming a victim of someone who doesn't give a damn about you.

    I think that for something like the sticker network to be totally good, is for modular (As in update-able) encryption to be made mandatory.

    There's a history to privacy on the internet, the development of the internet itself, and a lot of it has to do with the fine folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned them yet. The US government actually (and this repulses me) used to officially consider encryption under the same conditions as a weapon. The internet's infrastructure itself was a military creation. Then all the acidheads in our tripped out ways felt this was fucked up on a deep level, and have been taking creative measures to fix it, all in order to make computers FOR humans rather than AGAINST. We're still at it. There's a lot of well-recorded history behind it all. You likely wouldn't even be interfacing with your computer in the way you are now reading this if it wasn't for the sixties going down the way it did.

    If you wanna take the time to get really freaky deaky into detail about this and how it all relates to other understandings emerging as extremely powerful forces in our lives, such as cybernetics and political history, I found this documentary was a good primer:

    The problem is that those who consider themselves authorities are complete idiots when it comes to understanding technology on a practical level. All I need to say is "series of tubes" and I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about. Technology is showing them for the ignorant, manipulative, and insane people they are more than anything else has in a long time - They claim they know what's up but to those who really do (And even those who don't), the truth contrary to their version of it is obvious. System administrators will pretty much refuse to adapt to the ludicrous amount of work that it would take to actually monitor everything, as they have already with the RIAA attempting to pull that trick through trying to pass legislation. It sucks that those who do have control of the infrastructure, but really, us hackers have always been winning the whole way along, and I really don't see that changing any time soon - We're the ones who have created everything working what you're looking at now and whenever the control system tries to make its versions of things based upon their obsolete world-view, their junk tends to get put on the wayside because it's simply not as appealing. Would you rather have free, delicious microbrewery beer flavoured with spices or 7 dollar bottle of bud at a bar you don't want to be in filled with idiots? Same goes for open-source, liberty-minded projects vs. horribly broken proprietary alternatives.
    Infinitas     Tue, Aug 24, 2010  Permanent link
    HAH! Pre-crime technology to be used in Washington.
    The government even has plans to collect lifelong records on all residents starting at the age of five, in order to screen for those who might be more likely to commit crimes in the future.
    Another disturbing possibility for such technology comes in the form of a financial alliance of sorts between Internet search engine giant Google and the investment arm of the CIA and the wider U.S. intelligence network.
    Google and In-Q-Tel have recently injected a sum of up to $10 million each into a company called Recorded Future, which uses analytics to scour Twitter accounts, blogs and websites for all sorts of information, which is used to “assemble actual real-time dossiers on people.”
    The company describes its analytics as “the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence” and says it can also “predict the future”.

    I wonder if they are watching us right now...
    Olena     Tue, Aug 31, 2010  Permanent link
    Infinitas —
    What the Hell? That couldn't sound any more like Minority Report.

    & Thanks for contributing valuable resources, guys!