Mixed Messages: US Talks Of Cleaning Up 'Rogue' Internet... While Underwriting Censorship-Proof Shadow Internet

from the follow-along dept

It appears the US government is giving out mixed messages these days. On the one hand, we keep hearing about the need for laws to stop "rogue sites," to punish Wikileaks, and to shut down online black markets and alternative currencies like Bitcoin... but then you have President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton constantly praising the importance of internet freedom.

To make matters even more confusing, the NY Times now reports that the State Department has been funding the creation of various tools and services to help dissidents route around online censorship:
The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.
The article also discusses "stealth" networks being deployed in various other countries as well. It's a fascinating article, and while I'm not sure that these projects are really quite as interesting (or, in some cases, workable) as the article and the project cheerleaders suggest, it is certainly nice to see the US government supporting such projects. It just seems pretty odd that it's doing it at the same time as it's supporting efforts to censor other forms of internet communication at home. Of course, all that needs to happen then is for people to use the same "stealth" technology here at home as well...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Would You Trust a US Government version of TOR?

    Yeah, I thought not.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    DEAR DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

    WE TOLD YOU WE WANT THIS [EXPLETIVE] INTERNET [EXPLETIVE] CENSORED!

    SIGNED,
    [250 corporation names]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    umccullough (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Freedom for all but ourselves...

    Sounds to me like our government is pretty busy making sure the rest of the world is free-er than we are.

     

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  4.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Would You Trust a US Government version of TOR?

    I have a feeling a USG approved TOR network would involve very little work to setup.
    It would only require one webpage:

    "HTTP 404 Error: File not found.
    Your Intellectual Property address [REDACTED] and login time [REDACTED]
    have been recorded and your computer is now seized persuant to [REDACTED]
    pending a full investigation. Thank you for using the United States TOR Network.

    Next time just bend over."

     

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  5.  
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    Steven (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Freedom for all but ourselves...

    It's just like all the other NIMBY (Not in my backyard) policies.

    Nuclear. Yes, just NIMBY
    Wind Power. Yes, just NIMBY
    Freedom. Yes, just NIMBY

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    It's pretty comical to try to draw a parallel. Insane, actually.

    The fight for human rights in places like China or Afghanistan doesn't mean that we cannot be civilized in our own world. Censorship of what should be free speech, such as the right to religion or freedom of political expression isn't in the same category as stopping pirate websites or shutting down scammers. Freedom isn't an absolute, it has it's limits as well, and those are solidly in US law (and the laws of most other "western" nations.

    You don't have to support piracy to support freedom fighters in other countries. To try to make the connection is laughable, and seems more than a little desperate.

     

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  7.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Freedom for all but ourselves...

    It's not about freedom, it's about control. They struggle to control our own internet, and they'd like to control the internet of other countries too, but they can't if those countries control them first. "Freedom", in this case, is just a tool they use to undermine the control of others. No more, no less.

    Today, we use our tool to undermine a dictator we don't like. Tomorrow, we install our own dictator, and then the tool becomes obsolete.

     

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  8.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re:

    Censorship of what should be free speech, such as the right to religion or freedom of political expression isn't in the same category as stopping pirate websites

    Why do you think religious speech should be tolerated? Couldn't someone from China argue that the free expression of religion undermines society, just like you argue piracy does?

    "But wait", you say, "My preferred speech is a right! It's speech that I don't like that should be criminalized!"
    "Exactly!" says the Chinese official.

     

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  9.  
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    vastrightwing, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    No mixed message

    Government believes in an open and free internet except when big business pays to have it censored. Where's the confusion?

     

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  10.  
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    Aerilus, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Why don't they just do satellite internet cell phone infrastructure and any land based infrastructure is vulnerable to attack or control put a hughesnet satelite or position some older one where it can be reached then ship them modems and you have a distributed infrastructure that cannot be destroyed by an oppressive government. might be slow but hey

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    Expert trolling, you get an A+

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Doesn't read like a troll post; it's not inflammatory enough.

    Frankly, I wish it were.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    "Of course, all that needs to happen then is for people to use the same "stealth" technology here at home as well..."

    Of course people are not going to use government sponsored technology, it will be full of backdoors.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    A message from the Administration

    Ixnay on the ublicpay ileshareingfay. Use the encrypted networks, ya ninnies! We got about all the campaign contributions we're gonna get, so just pretend like what we did worked, and do your pirating under the radar. Get it? Good!

     

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  15.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    Re:

    "You don't have to support piracy to support freedom fighters in other countries. To try to make the connection is laughable, and seems more than a little desperate."

    That was a semi rational argument. What is happening to you?

     

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  16.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You can tell because it's using the latest shill talking point: "desperate".

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Of course, if you look at all the propaganda from Western media about, say, Libya for instance, OF COURSE they want to offer the "insurgents" internet.

    Those insurgents (actually a minority of the population) are the ones that will allow the almighty US of A to remove Gaddafi, a greatly loved ruler that will NOT listen to the US, to simply put in a drone that will bow to US pressure.

    cough*Iraq*cough*Afghanistan*cough*

    If anyone with half a brain actually researched Libya, they would know he is loved, did lots more for his country and people and any predecessor, and is probably much more loved than Osaba, err Obama.

    So yeah... with their propaganda campaign and their agenda to rule the world, this should not surprise anyone by a long shot.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    Re:

    You don't have to support piracy to support freedom fighters in other countries.

    Oh you mean terrorists? Yes let's support them.

    The so-called Freedom Fighters (actually a Western Media term -- never used by them there) are people who defy the government. For any reason. Be it good or bad. In the latest cases, like Libya, Syria, etc... they are terrorists trying to create a government coup. They are not fighting for anyone's freedom. They are free. The population loves their rulers. So let's give the insurgents guns, US intelligence and let's replace those hardasses that won't bow down to political pressure.

    Great mentality. Start thinking for yourselves. Read up on what's REALLY going on there and stop watching FOX and CNN you brainwashed drones.

     

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  19.  
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    TDR, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Fair enough, AC, but what about the claims about Gaddafi having unarmed civilians killed? I'm willing to believe they've been stretched by the mainstream media, I'm just wondering where they got that from if it didn't happen.

     

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  20.  
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    abc gum, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re:

    "The so-called Freedom Fighters ... are people who defy the government. they are terrorists trying to create a government coup. They are not fighting for anyone's freedom. They are free"

    You must be referring to the fifteen year old who was tortured and mutilated ... or maybe the many women who are raped ... or the elderly who suffer beatings for no reason - all this perpetrated by the Syrian dictatorship and its thugs in uniform.

     

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  21.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

    Re:

    Seen a body hit the ground yet on your 5'o'clock news or is the new meme if it not seen its real.

     

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  22.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 6:41pm

    ... but then you have President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton constantly praising the importance of internet freedom.

    It's almost like the figureheads don't really know what the real powers are doing.

     

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  23.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    Re:

    Suddenly the meme takes on a whole new face.

     

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  24.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 7:50pm

    Stealth modem...?

     

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  25.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re:

    Suddenly the meme takes on a whole new face.

    Lol, yeah, re-reading my comment, that sounded a bit conspiracy theory-ish.

    Either my blood sugar is running low or I need to re-tinfoil my hat, not quite sure.

     

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  26.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 8:27pm

    One man's rouge website is another man's free speech fighting website.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Would You Trust a US Government version of TOR?

    "Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion routing project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications."
    -https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en

    The US gov gave you TOR to begin with...

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 9:30pm

    This is NOT about giving these people free speech or an outlet to send a message!!! It's about getting better intelligence in that area. What better way to do it than to control the vehicle that carries the person!!

     

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  29.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 13th, 2011 @ 11:06pm

    Re:

    Websites wear makeup now? SWEET!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 11:15pm

    Re:

    No one said it didn't happen... and I don't condone it. However, did any mainstream media go interview the quiet population not revolting? We're only hearing the side of the story they want us to hear.

    And unarmed civilians? Come on, you have to do better than that. How do you justify the exact same thing in Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan? You keep fighting your war even after multiple evidence of war crimes and atrocities; committed by your own forces. Then you try to use it as defense? A little hypocritical are we?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Should we remove Bush/Obama and have them jailed for war crimes? Like THAT would ever happen... but for Gaddafi, yes let's remove it.. he's a threat (to us, not his own people). Great.

     

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  32.  
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    PRK (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 2:39am

    ICE vs Hillory Clinton

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if ICE seized the domains used in this new secret system?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 4:12am

    Re: Re:

    Huh? Yeah, I saw United-Statesians attacking unarmed civilians. A few dead bodies... children too. But news air at 6 o'clock, sorry to disappoint.

     

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  34.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    it is certainly nice to see the US government supporting such projects

    So, you don't believe that these efforts to ensure "freedom" for other countries internets is to encourage the people in those countries to go the route of Egypt, etc and over throw their governments, or at least start a civil war. At which point the US, acting as the worlds police force, steps in to "peacekeep" and "rebuild". They've realised, probably a while ago, that just assassinating a leader in a foreign country will results in far too much bad press for them, or if done very subtly an influx in conspiracy theories.

    I don't know, maybe I'm a bit too conspiracy nut myself, but that seems to be the obvious reasoning behind wanting to "help freedom" in other countries, regardless of home policies.

     

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  35.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Freedom for all but ourselves...

    Today, we use the tools of Internet freedom to undermine a dictator we don't like.

    Tomorrow, we install our own dictator 2.0, and then use the tools of Internet censorship, or PROTECT IP, etc like we do at home.

     

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  36.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    What you fail to recognize is that the tools of oppression and censorship are EXACTLY the tools to prevent piracy.

    The same poison that kills rats also can be used to kill people.

    When anyone points this out, you accuse them of being pro-piracy. Therefore it seems fitting to accuse you of being pro-oppression.

    The irony is that the UN just said . . . Internet access . . . human rights . . . blah blah (fingers in ears) I can't hear you . . . la la la la.

     

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  37.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: No mixed message

    Big Business sees the Internet as a new broadcast medium that is one-to-many. A means to sell products or manipulate public opinion.

    They want many-to-many communication stopped. The essence of P2P. All computers are peers. Each has an IP address. Any computer can send packets to any other computer.

    But computers that sell products are more equal than others.

     

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  38.  
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    pjcamp, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Silly American

    Freedom is not for you.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You must be referring to the fifteen year old who was tortured and mutilated ... or maybe the many women who are raped ... or the elderly who suffer beatings for no reason - all this perpetrated by the Syrian dictatorship and its thugs in uniform.

    I think he was referring to the insurgents, just like he said, not those other people. Big difference. Is that too hard for you to understand, or are you just trying to put words into people's mouths?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Poisoning the Well

    What they want to do is poison the well, but a poisoned well kills *all* those who drink from it, not just those you disagree with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 15th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Would You Trust a US Government version of TOR?

    Thanks for the correction! I'll change my question to:

    "Given what we've seen in the last year, would you trust any new version of TOR created by the US government?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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