Pakistan Officially Bans All Encryption Online

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

This was rumored about a month ago, but now reports are coming out that the Pakistani government has issued orders to all ISPs in the country, telling them to block any user from using any "technology that would allow them to privately browse the internet." The notice to ISPs specifically calls out VPNs, saying that they are illegal because they make it impossible to monitor. The Pakistani government insists that they really only mean that militants should be blocked, but that does not appear to be clear at all in the statement to ISPs. The report also notes that the Pakistani government has become more aggressive at blocking websites, including blocking all of Rolling Stone, because someone in Pakistan didn't like a Matt Taibii article, and they're so clueless they can't figure out how to just block a URL.

In the meantime, we're wondering how various companies that rely on encrypted information, such as banks, will deal with the order, which pretty clearly says that the government has "prohibited usage of all such mechanisms including encrypted virtual private networks (EVPNs) which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring." Do they just ignore it? And will users give up their VPNs just because the government hates such security?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Profit!

    1. Ban Internet Encryption
    2. ???
    3. Profit!

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    "And will users give up their VPNs just because the government hates such security?"

    No, we will prevail as always.

    The more they push, the more the genie gets out.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Someantimalwareguy, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    In the meantime, we're wondering how various companies that rely on encrypted information, such as banks, will deal with the order, which pretty clearly says that the government has "prohibited usage of all such mechanisms including encrypted virtual private networks (EVPNs) which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring." Do they just ignore it? And will users give up their VPNs just because the government hates such security
    It may actually precipitate those same banks leaving the country altogether OR working with Government handlers to place monitoring equipment on site with the banks to capture unencrypted comm going in and out of the VPN.

    Regardless, it is going to hamper their already fragile economy and make Pakistan a less attractive business environment than it already is going forward...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    Re: "And will users give up their VPNs just because the government hates such security?"

    Banning encryption is damage.

    The Internet routes around damage.

    Therefore either Pakistan just began removing it's self from the Internet OR it's users will ignore the ban (great hope for success) OR this will encourage the installation of less flawed leaders (great hope for success; actually we need some here too...).

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:40am

    Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    This is idiotic on many levels, it's like an onion of stupidity!! Everyone who complies becomes a trivially easy target for hackers (gov't or otherwise). I don't however, see Al Qaeda/Taliban saying "ok guys, stop encrypting our evil plans, because the gov't says so". It's enormously complex and expensive to enforce, so good luck actually catching anyone. All this does is expose lots of normal Pakistanis to surveillance (what they want) and fraud (collateral damage they are clearly indifferent to).

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    DB, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Evil Bit

    Just implement RFC3514

    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3514

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Tim, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    Pandora Pakistan Pandora!

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    ... don't you mean "an ogre of stupidity"?

     

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  9.  
    icon
    dfed (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    May as well ban masturbation.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    I'm pretty sure he means onion, because this stupidity can only be the result of layers upon layers.

     

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  11.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    Ogres have layers.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    Yah. Also it makes you cry.

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re: Evil Bit

    I need to hand in my information security badge. I never would have thought of such a simple solution. I guess I just suck.

    If someone can implement IP-over-carrier-pigeon, this must be trivial.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    May as well ban masturbation.

    Pakistan is an Islamic country, masturbation is already banned.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Evil Bit

    "...IP-over-carrier-pigeon..."

    Two words: packet droppings

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    And I bet it's firing blanks as well. The legislation, i mean...

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    Pitabred (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    It's a cake of stupidity

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Vision of the Future

    The TD trolls are no doubt thrilled. This is exactly what they want for the entirety of the internet, after all.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    You know what else has layers? Parfait! And everybody loves parfait!

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    Unless it was made out of meat and vegetables.

    But then that would be a Shepherd's pie. Shepherd's pie is good too. Bad analogy.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    Re: Vision of the Future

    Actually, I'm thrilled too. I get to sit back and watch it fail. Hopefully, with the cautionary tale of Pakistan That Was on the books, we can put this idiotic notion behind us.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    V, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    It's just the beginning

    I can't wait until Egypt and Lybia - and their new "democratic" governments - do the same.

    Arrogant and ignorant westerners somehow think that democracy is a GOOD thing in the Middle East.

    Ironic... since I'm sure most people there would "vote" to destroy the west.

    And by MOST, I mean... the vocal, armed minority will vote for it, while the oppressed, quiescent and ambivalent masses, stay safe in their homes - figuring that it's just more of the same stuff.

    Look at Iraq. Without their buffering presence in the Middle East, Iran has roamed unchecked in their ambitions. How long before they are nuclearly armed and annex Iraq?

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    I really wish this cake was a lie...

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: It's just the beginning

    Yes! Finally, someone who speaks the truth. This will leave the world in a shambles, ripe for the Illuminati to take over and institute their new world order, using technology developed at area 51 based on alien gear recovered from Roswell. They will proceed with their plans, including the castration of all left handed people, the installation of JFK (not dead) as the leader of their new religion, and the insertion of RFID tracking chips into the right hands of all first born sons.

    Finally, Nibiru will round the sun, and the Illuminati will reveal themselves to be the grey, hidden and marooned here for millenia, awaiting the return of their home planet.

    They will flee with all the nubile young women and leave the rest of us to die as Nibiru's superior gravity rips our planet apart.

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    dfed (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    And yet I'll bet you'll find a stiff towel under every teenage boy's bed there.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    This is why pie is superior to cake in every way. You have Cake of Stupidity vs. Pie Charts. Everyone knows that Pie Charts show scientific data, while the Cake of Stupidity doesn't allow science and reasonable discourse.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    Do you mean "orgy of stupidity?" Orgies are more likely to have layers... of people getting fucked.

    Ogres may also have layers, but I have never taken one apart.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: It's just the beginning

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    Re: It's just the beginning

    I don't usually rate trolling but this one caught my eye. It was an admirable trolling attempt. You took something marginally related to the story and took it in an unexpected and completely bat shit crazy direction. Really, good try.

    However, you missed your audience. While anti-democratic, Islamic bigotry is a fruitful subject most places, we are more likely to respond to economic or business related trolling (ie freetard).

    Religion isn't a subject regularly covered here so it just feels out of place.

    Good luck next time.

    Troll Grade: D+.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    JH, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Misleading Title?

    First thing I thought when reading the title was "I guess Pakistan doesn't plan on having any e-commerce sites anymore" as the title seems to indicate that connections encrypted through SSL would be forbidden as well. However SSL encrypted connections such as those used at e-commerce websites do not facilitate private browsing. So they're really banning online anonymity not all online encryption.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Steganography

    The number of protocols that can be created are essentially infinite. To focus on the most popular part of the Internet, webpage: Little bits of errant characters in the invisible webpage comments, variable names, or picture binary data or in the visible text itself can all convey the information rather quickly and are probably used today anyway.

    On the other hand, watching over the Internet makes it easier for the government perhaps to catch a mass uprising. But if people en masse want something, shouldn't they generally (not always) get it? We wouldn't be talking about bombing each other. We'd most likely be talking about getting new people in power or improving some laws.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Misleading Title?

    I don't know where you work, but most office networks use VPN's

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Squid Lips, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

    The leadership in the World today never ceases to amaze me with how out-of-touch they are concerning the state of the World.

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: It's just the beginning

    That video is pretty awesome.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    "and they're so clueless they can't figure out how to just block a URL."

    Come on Mike. That's BS. You keep talking about how PROTECT IP is ineffective because it's really easy to get a new domain name. URLs can be changed in the blink of an eye. It would be technically clueless to block a URL. Not to mention that a quasy-infinite number of URLs can point at the same content.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    You cakist...

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 4:58pm

    India is proud of Pakistan, everybody can see what they do over there now :)

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    ike, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:16pm

    Is encryption of wireless signals still allowed? I sure hope so!

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

    Re:

    n1

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:16pm

    Re: However SSL encrypted connections such as those used at e-commerce websites do not facilitate private browsing.

    So how does the law define “private browsing”, exactly?

     

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

  42.  
    icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    Re: Misleading Title?

    SSL certainly *does* facilitate private browsing, at least from governments and service providers - you use SSL to tunnel your HTTP requests through another site (e.g. https://www.proxyssl.org/). You're still trusting the people hosting the proxy, of course, but that's a separate issue.

    A more secure mechanism can be to run your *own* SSL proxy on a virtual private server. Regardless, once you have an encrypted connection to play with, you can use it for all sorts of things, regardless of the actual mechanism used (with IPSec and SSL being the two most common choices on the net).

    The whole *point* of the encryption is that the ISP can't tell the difference between your connection to a bank and your connection to an SSL VPN (http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/SSL-VPN)

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Profit!

    Your explanation is incomplete. One of the commenters at the Copyright Alliance Blog explained how it works: you ban encryption so that people can't use it for copyright infringement, then you profit from the increased sales.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Profit!

     

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

  45.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    No that would make him a "pietard" or possibly a "pie apologist".

    :)

     

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

  46.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 8:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    No that would make him a "pietard" or possibly a "pie apologist".

    :)

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:32am

    Re: Re:

    How about shagging unsuspecting sheep and goats at night when the perps think no-one is looking, is that banned as well?

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:31am

    Re: Misleading Title?

    However SSL encrypted connections such as those used at e-commerce websites do not facilitate private browsing. So they're really banning online anonymity not all online encryption.

    You need cryptography 101 first lecture.

    Encrypted data appears to be random 1's and 0's so you don't know what it is.

    Therefore you can't tell whether it is banking data or a VPN used for something the government doesn't like.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:49am

    This is not about encryption

    block any user from using any "technology that would allow them to privately browse the internet."

    VPN

    A VPN is a PRIVATE NETWORK, if you are on a VPN you can access the internet from that network, but you are not doing it privately.

    They are not focusing on encryption at all, and do not even mention it, they just do not want private browing, or deliberate hiding of who the user is.

    They are just making what you talked about the other week about TOR exit nodes, if on that server is information that is from someone else that is illegal so is your TOR node.

    They want you to be accountable for your actions, and everyone who is responsible is and should be accountable.

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:52am

    Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    encrypted data on the internet lives inside plain text packets with readily readable header and footer files.

    The odd's of being able to determine the contents of that packet on its own is minimal or to determine if that data is encrypted or not.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:56am

    Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    so according to your theory, when data that is encrypted hits the internet, the net does not know anything about it, it does not know where it came from or where it has to go ?

    I think you have a way's to go before your up for 'internet 101'.

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:08am

    Re: Re:

    Pakistan is an Islamic country, masturbation is already banned.

    Statements like that show the degree of ignorance or stupidity that US citizens have been programmed to believe.

    So:

    "America then is a Christian Country, where masturbation is compulsory!!!!"

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:18am

    Re: Re: It's just the beginning

    let me guess ??? you get all you're 'news' from FOX ?

    You're all right into the G.W Bush cool aid, big time !!

    I thought you were all for freedom of religious expression in your constitution, and did not engage is raceism.
    "All men are created equal ?? "

    And here on TD you talk big about 'culture'!!!. Clearly you have no idea what other cultures are or what culture means. As you cannot accept any other form of culture but the "US Way".

    It's sad, but it is exactly why American is perceived as a group of hyprocrites and idiots, that these other countries will know far more about americans and america than most Americans do know.

     

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

  54.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: It's just the beginning

    ...Illuminatus?

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Nexusflame, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Finally a cure for my boredom.

    I know who i'll be targeting tonight...

     

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

  56.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    not if that destination is a proxy, and the real endpoint is described only in the encrypted content.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anon, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:49am

    Fearmongering

    First Egypt, Syria and Libya, now Pakistan will find its people revolt against its government. Fuck with the people, and they will lash out. Its only a matter of time.

     

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

  58.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    encrypted data on the internet lives inside plain text packets with readily readable header and footer (sic) files.

    True - but unless you have an exhaustive and up to date list of all the banks and other e-commerce sites in the entire world you can't prevent people from communicating with encrypted data without preventing some people (probably many) from using legitimate online financial services. (not to mention file lockers like dropbox) and VPN's used by companies, Universites etc.

    I think our overseas students are going to be really annoyed if they find they can't access the secure parts of our University's website because of this!


    The people they are allegedly aiming at can also use encrypted emails - and if you are a real bad guy you can use steganography to hide your critical data.

    So in the end all Pakistan will succeed in doing is to massively inconvenience almost everyone whilst failing to make any impact on their real target.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Chilly8, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Pakistan is different than in the USA. Such a regime would not be feasable in countries like the USA, where there are a lot of foreign business travellers. Big business depends on VPNs to access their networks.

    Any attempts to pass such a law will meet stiff resistence from the corporate America. Congress is very much bought and paid for by big busimess, and no Congress is about to vote for anything that might cost them the next election. Our congresscritters are very aware of this, which is why three known attempts to pass such laws in the USA never went anywhere. The 1997 proposed law that would have banned encryption, another one in 2003, and then the talk, a year ago, of banning such encryption, has been so far, just that, talk. Congress is not about to derail thier gravy train that keeps them in office.

    Congresscritters may be in favour or censoring the net, but they are not insane enough to risk losing the next election over something like that.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    Why dont you invent your own privacy tools for your overseas students. One commercial privacy service uses its own propriety protocol, which, unlike VPN, cannot be detected.

    Just have your software guys come up with a new proprietary system that cannot be detected as easily.

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Profit!

    South park for the win!

     

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

  62.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Misleading Title?

    Love to - but try getting that past our management - which always seems to prefer to buy in commercial stuff from elsewhere and ignores the expertise that resides within the academic schools!

    Besides which it really isn't worth it to us for a few students to access the site when visiting family overseas - dead annoying for them though.

     

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

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:58pm

    Re:

    Actually I'd argue that stuff like this is a perfect indication that they know exactly how the state of the world is starting to shape up.

    For quite possibly the first time ever in history, the more 'common' people are able to have a measurable affect on those in power, almost entirely due to the immense power of the internet.

    An example would be control of a populous via control of the information they have available to them. Pre-internet era, all a government would have to do to almost totally control the flow of information would be to control the top distributors of info, be it tv, newspapers, or whatnot, and then use those to mock, belittle, and discredit any of the smaller sources of info that didn't agree with them. Without a reliable outside source of information, the only info the people would have would be what those in power wanted them to have.

    Now compare that to the current era, where the sources of information are much more distributed, and it's possible for people from all over the world to share information about just about anything. In a system like that, unless those in power can somehow lock down peoples' ability to access that information, that entire form of population control has been drastically reduced, almost to nothingness.

    For those used to almost total control over those beneath them, this is a huge problem/threat they are now facing, so it stands to reason that they would lash out and do what they could to squash it before it gets too big.

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    Tommy, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 1:06am

    It's amazing how governments are willing to trade freedom for "security" The resent NSA stories led me to this post and for one thing I know am definitely getting a VPN/private proxy(eg, AegisProxy) to protect myself. While some individuals might justify security for freedom, a quote that makes alot of sense today applying to Pakistan as much as the US is "I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security." - Jim Garrison

     

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


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