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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  • icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 16 Dec 2010 @ 12:40pm

    The EFF link is going to an https: which drops the connection (at least for me it does) - changing to just http: works though (feel free to delete this comment once fixed)

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

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 16 Dec 2010 @ 1:17pm

    Thats why I like this place 6 to 12 months after I predict something in the comments, you write articles on it. :)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2010 @ 1:32pm

    i want a framework where webapps could be deployed over a P2P type datacenter.

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

  • identicon
    Joe Average, 16 Dec 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Let it be said again.

    The revolution will be distributed. Because of this there will always be some group of determined netizens who keep some portion of the internet one step ahead of those who try to control it.

    I kinda like it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2010 @ 2:57pm

    All it has proven is that the anonymous internet isn't a very good thing, and that the risks are beginning to outweigh the returns.

    Remove the anonymous factor, and suddenly all the kids will be studying biology (the cute girl in class) instead of botting mastercard.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 16 Dec 2010 @ 2:57pm

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

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

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

    • identicon
      Freak, 16 Dec 2010 @ 3:26pm

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Freak, 16 Dec 2010 @ 3:27pm

        Re: Re:

        Also, I neglected to mention that the .p2p isn't for illegal activity. It's for legal activity that might face censorship, like wikileaks has.

        So regardless of whether it's easier to locate any kind of activity, it doesn't matter.

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

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 17 Dec 2010 @ 6:41am

      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 ...

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

  • identicon
    Dean Landolt, 16 Dec 2010 @ 3:11pm

    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.

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

  • icon
    wordsworm (profile), 16 Dec 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Time to let Manning Go

    I say it's time to let Manning go. He did the right thing in the face of overwhelming pressure. The guy has helped expose war crimes. He should be treated as a hero, not a criminal. Furthermore, the people who have committed war crimes should be taking his place and put on trial for their actions.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2010 @ 7:06pm

      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.

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

      • icon
        mattarse (profile), 17 Dec 2010 @ 12:22am

        Re: Re: Time to let Manning Go

        Hey how about we take a persons mention of a very specific situation and attack it with a complete strawman that has nothing to do with what he says?

        Oh shit - You already did! Good for you!

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

      • icon
        The eejit (profile), 17 Dec 2010 @ 2:34am

        Re: Re: Time to let Manning Go

        Wow, that's stupidity correlating with the power of 90 Fox Newsians. The US Government are the terrorists in Afghanistan. They're the terrorists in IP. They're the most openly corrupt government in modern times.

        So yes, we can lket those terrorists go - we don't need them to cause terror anymore.

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

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 17 Dec 2010 @ 9:11am

    Just a thought ... It occured to me that the WikiLeaks debate, and actions by the corporations involved, and government, will probably spill over into the copyright arena. Severely restraining what they will be able to do in the future.

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


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