How Wikileaks & Operation Payback Have Exposed Infrastructure That Should Be Decentralized, But Isn't

from the real-trend dept

The classic line about how “the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it,” is certainly being proven true yet again these days, but there is an interesting corollary that might be worth considering in this as well: which is that sometimes these attempts at censorship expose the need for new routes, and those routes are quickly created.

We’ve been pointing out repeatedly for a while now that the real issue we’re witnessing with things like Wikileaks and Operation Payback is the confusion a centralized/closed system has when it comes up against a more distributed and open system. Much of what we’ve seen concerning both Wikileaks and Operation Payback over the past few weeks is exposing the cracks in the system where things that should be more decentralized and distributed are not.

However, it seems that each time new centralized intermediaries spring up to cause problems, all it’s really done is to drive more people to figure out ways to create more distributed and decentralized alternatives. We’ve already discussed a more decentralized DNS system, but now the EFF is listing out a variety of distributed and decentralized projects that it hopes will help people route around censorship attempts.

As the EFF notes, many of those individual projects probably won’t succeed or catch on, but others will. In a few years, it will be interesting to look back and see just how many new, more distributed and decentralized infrastructure systems really came out of the “fights” we’re seeing splashed across the news today. The real shame, of course, is that the US government, who has been speaking so forcefully about being against online censorship over the last year or so, may ultimately be the leading cause for these new infrastructure tools to be built, and not because it supported them directly, but because of its current attempts at censorship.

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Companies: wikileaks

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Comments on “How Wikileaks & Operation Payback Have Exposed Infrastructure That Should Be Decentralized, But Isn't”

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24 Comments
Freak says:

Re: Re:

Easier to locate? Debatable. It’s already pretty easy to locate with some googling. Drawing the line and grouping up all the tiny groups of ‘infringement’ is the difficulty.
Harder to get rid of? Well, you’d have to get rid of nearly everyone running the p2p network to get at one site’s DNS. Who owns the TLD? How do you force ‘them’ to do anything?

Compare to, say, everyDNS.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“A .p2p domain? Making it even easier to locate illegal activity? LOL”

Its not the .p2p domain that is the thing you should be worried about. It is the fact that this one step to making the internet totally Anonymous. The internet is a set of physical routers. We are heading towards a layer of encrypted software based routers (similar to onion routing) on top of that physical layer. Once that happens there will be almost no way to track people via IP address, and no way to shut down web sites you don’t approve of.

“sounds like the pirates are running out of not just time but ideas as well.”

Actually this is a the exact opposite of what you are hoping for. We are move towards a decentralized more resilient internet. Where domain names can’t be taken on a whim. Where all your precious content is available to anyone at anytime with out any risks. Where the 29-99 year old crowd will become just like the 14-28 year old crowd.

Foot meet bullet …

Dean Landolt (profile) says:

not a shame at all

> The real shame, of course, is that the US government, who has been speaking so forcefully about being against online censorship over the last year or so, may ultimately be the leading cause for these new infrastructure tools to be built…

It’s an embarrassment, yes. But not a shame. It’s a gift, plain and simple. Intent is irrelevant — as you’ve noted DNS is especially in need of a swift kick in the ass. It’s about time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Time to let Manning Go

Good idea. We can let all those silly terrorists go too, they have only proven that the US shouldn’t have been there to start with. Perhaps we can turn out Charles Manson too, after all, he didn’t really do anything except show us we had one too many people on the planet.

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