Trump's Latest Nonsensical Announcement About Censoring The Internet

from the want-to-try-that-again? dept

While many of President Trump’s strongest supporters still insist that he’s “bringing free speech back,” the truth is that Trump has been advocating for censoring the internet since very early in his campaign for the Presidency. Of course, his position on this has never been entirely coherent — and he sometimes swings wildly around with his emotional ideas of what he likes, often with little basis into legal, political or technical realities. His latest is a bit like that as well. In a speech in Reno he suddenly burst out with a barely comprehensible policy position on keeping ISIS off the internet:

“I will tell you, we are going to start working very hard on the Internet because they are using the Internet at a level that they should not be allowed to use the Internet,” Trump said during a bill-signing event with the American Legion in Reno, Nev. “They’re recruiting from the Internet and we are going to work under my administration very hard so that doesn’t happen.”

Now, it’s one thing to argue for working on ways to disrupt ISIS recruitment online. I’m all for doing counter-programing, education and the like around that. But that’s a far cry from “they should not be allowed to use the internet.” That statement packs quite a wallop. And it’s easy to chalk it up to “Trump being Trump” and saying things without understanding the impact of what he’s saying (and without him really understanding the details behind these issues), but considering the attacks on free speech and on the ability to use the internet these days, we should be pretty vigilant about this stuff. And, somewhat ironically, you’d think that some of Trump’s most vocal supporters would be against him on this. After all, they’re the ones who keep getting kicked off various online platforms and complaining about how that shouldn’t be allowed. But if Trump actually comes up with a plan that says ISIS people can’t use the internet, that’s a clear recipe for excluding anyone you dislike from using the internet at all.

And, of course, all of this is a lot more complicated than people seem to think. Just in the last week, we’ve had two separate stories showing how YouTube’s attempts to stop terrorists and Nazis from using its platforms, both backfired badly — with the company actually taking down people calling out terrorists and Nazis.

There’s a larger point here beyond our President being unwilling or unable to deal with the nuances of his proclamations on who should and shouldn’t be able to use the internet: and it’s that these things are a slippery slope that involve a lot of tricky problems and many, many serious unintended consequences, even when done with care and thoughtfulness. Rushing into internet censorship because “terrorists bad” is going to be a hell of a lot more destructive to the free speech and free association rights of the public than it would be for actual ISIS members.

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Comments on “Trump's Latest Nonsensical Announcement About Censoring The Internet”

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Anonymous Coward says:

"I will tell you, we are going to start working very hard on the Internet because they are using the Internet at a level that they should not be allowed to use the Internet," Trump said during a bill-signing event with the American Legion in Reno, Nev. "They’re recruiting from the Internet and we are going to work under my administration very hard so that doesn’t happen."

Sure, he’s talking about ISIS here, but he could just as easily be talking about 4chan and sites like that recruiting more Alt-Right Trump supporters.

ECA (profile) says:

The fall of Rome.

Lets look back to the later years of Rome..
Politicians that had to much to do, and didnt fix much.
A military that had Dominated and been given Lands and such and all this had changed.

Officials making laws for favoritism.. Taking lands from 1 person and giving it to others BECAUSE someone paid them off..
Military commanders with Little to do, as they Had stopped expanding, and had to FEW to control what they had.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I was thinking the opposite:

My admittedly vague understanding is that the IPV4 router that connects you to the internet has just the one IP address on the public side, helping to anonymise a user on the local network. It also stops your local devices from being directly addressable from the public side unless you specifically forward ports to them.

But IPV6 gives all devices their own IP address addressable from the public side. By default your IPV6 address can include your MAC address, exposing the type of hardware you’re using and making tracking and identifying you even easier. (Thankfully, the major OSs have privacy extensions enabled by default to prevent much of this.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

NAT is not security. This was repeated several times throughout my education and it is true. If you find an open port in a NAT’ed network, you can be sure it will be leading straight to a device and an entrance into the network. You would be much better off in any case by using a good firewall at the border of your network (and at devices themselves). However I am aware that firewalls can be harder to maintain because if it is going to be really effective then the port/protocol needs to be linked to a specific source and destination.
Also the privacy aspects are limited and easily duplicated and improved through other means that are recommended in IPv4 networks as well, even when you are behind NAT.

Billp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Your MAC address is standard information under both IPv4 & IPv6, as it helps determine the correct PC to deliver to. MAC addresses are linked to the manufacturer of the Motherboard or Network controller according to the first part of the address, the second part is unique to that M/B or N/C. I am not aware of any way to mask or hide them, even a VPN (or TOR) will not hide your location or identity.

Ultimately the IP address range registered by your ISP will give you away, no matter how many proxies, routers, NATs or zombie systems you hide behind. Even without a MAC address link.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, but that would simply flag Republicans.

Note: Lest someone call me partisan, I’m going by traditional definitions:

"The US has two main political parties – the Evil Party (Republicans), and the Stupid Party (Democrats). Occasionally they will band together and do something both evil and stupid. This is called bi-partisanship."

This may be inaccurate during the Trump era.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

… that will only push people to non-US-based services.

Well, naturally, m’sieur, everyone around the world has the utmost confidence that Canada’s courts will vigorously protect unpopular speech under section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — notwithstanding any amount of pressure from your southern neighbors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Blockchains are becoming more popular by the minute. When such non-central systems are the name of the game on Wall Street, there is a problem. Trying to mandate backdoors will always be a losing proposition when the non-backdoored chains exist and thrive internally in TBTF-companies.

Dare I say that giving up on total net-surveillance and focusing on using tried and true court-enabled end-user surveillance is the only way get out of the tilting at windmills?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That may eventually be realistic, but not yet.

We’re still in the era of major Bitcoin and Ethereum thefts being common, with exchange hacks making tens and hundreds of $millions disappear and the Bitcoin owners being out of luck. As the saying goes, when you put yourself beyond the reach of the law, you put yourself beyond the protection of the law.

And that’s beyond all the fraud and ransomware and dark web purchasing happening with Bitcoin. Which is making it hard for investors to convert their Bitcoin back to cash. Which you would need to do, since we’re not even remotely in an era when you can make your day-to-day purchases – or most major purchases – with Bitcoin.

Sirwired (profile) says:

Meh... he'all forget all about it in a week

Since it doesn’t involve a pointless personal vendetta,, he’s probably already forgotten he said anything at all. And since it did not actually contain anything even vaguely resembling a coherent policy, and won’t give any sort of advantage to his minions or their corporate masters, I doubt we will hear anything about it again.

That man has a shorter attention span than a lab rat on speed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Meh... he'all forget all about it in a week

… since it did not actually contain anything even vaguely resembling a coherent policy…

• “Why Are Media Outlets Giving Commentary Space to Wannabe Censors?”, by Scott Shackford, Hit & Run (Reason), Aug. 23, 2017


Giving credit for “noticing it first” to Shackford’s Hit & Run piece, Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice today (Aug 24, 2017) seems to notice it too, writing under the caption, “The Left Rehabilitates Joseph McCarthy”:

Scott Shackford at Reason noticed it first, the sudden appearance of myriad op-eds arguing against free speech “absolutism.” . . .

But yesterday, Greenfield put a post up, “The ‘Cheap Speech’ Police” (Simple Justice, Aug 23, 2017) criticizing an op-ed in the LA Times by law professor Rick Hasen, “Speech in America is fast, cheap and out of control” (Aug 18, 2017).

It’s easy to focus on Trump’s obvious incoherence, and to get distracted by the clear political emnity between Trump and the vague, amorphous ‘left’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Poll: Americans wary of extending free speech to extremists

Americans wary of extending free speech to extremists”, by Kathy Frankovic, YouGov, Aug 24, 2017

Americans have always had a problem with free speech. Those in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll are no exception. While the First Amendment may protect speech, many Americans would not allow dangerous speech or speech many of them disagree with.

That’s especially true for speech associated with a group like ISIS. Most Americans – Democrats and Republicans – would forbid an ISIS supporter from making a speech in their community. . . .


(Ran across this just now, while I was looking for some polling results from July. Mike may remember that poll from last month — iirc, he tweeted or retweeted something about it.)

The Wanderer (profile) says:

A misreading?

"I will tell you, we are going to start working very hard on the Internet because they are using the Internet at a level that they should not be allowed to use the Internet,"

At first glance, I read this as "they are using the Internet at certain level, and them using it at that level should not be permitted". I.e., not "they should not be allowed to use the Internet at all", but "they should not be allowed to use the Internet at that level".

The article seems to be based on reading it as "they are using the Internet at such a level that they should not be permitted to use the Internet at all".

Leaving aside the fact that the latter idea sounds like it would apply more to kicking off heavy users of available bandwidth than to kicking off terrorists, do we have anything to indicate which meaning he intended?

lynn (user link) says:

re: misreading

That was exactly my thoughts, Wanderer.
Not sure if anyone has an actual interpretation from the speaker (Pres. Trump), or if this is just another example of what seems to be happening everywhere, i.e., adding/subtracting content to fit a narrative.
Whatever happened to giving people truth and letting them decide what it means? I’d like to think that others would read the actual statement and see what he actually said and not buy into what others want them to THINK he said. Doesn’t he make enough mistakes speaking that are real that we don’t need to fabricate something?
I suppose with the internet & Kardashians that has gone the way of horse & buggy.

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