STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Internet Censorship Fear Campaign?
By Staff News & Analysis - July 10, 2010

Conroy puts internet filter on backburner … The [Australian] Federal Government has deferred the introduction of its mandatory internet filtering program. Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy says the filter will not be put in place until an independent review can be carried out into what content would be banned. The review, which Senator Conroy says is likely to take about a year, will look at what makes up "refused classification" rated content. Senator Conroy says internet service providers Telstra, Optus and Primus have agreed to block websites known to contain child pornography in the meantime. "I applaud these industry members for taking this stance, for stepping up to the plate, in recognition that there is some content that is not acceptable in a civil society," he said. "This approach is consistent with what is happening around the world." The Government announced the filter two years ago as part of its cyber safety program to protect children from pornography and offensive material. Last year it ran tests on the system. Senator Conroy had intended to introduce the legislation in the first half of this year, but deferred it to later in 2010. – ABC

Dominant Social Theme: There will be ups and downs, but the Internet will be controlled – and soon!

Free-Market Analysis: We have written previously of Internet censorship and have often pointed out the difficulties of making censorship stick with the current technology. Recently, the Internet has been hit with a spate of articles explaining how censorship is being implemented around the world

Other efforts are being made as well. ACTA (standing for "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement") is reportedly a Trojan Horse for global Internet censorship. According to reports, a hush-hush international treaty is being prepared (led by the Anglo-American axis of course) to use the Internet to enforce Draconian copyright regulations – and this in turn would have a severe impact on the flow of free-information on the 'Net. The treaty apparently even contemplates prison for those who would share certain types of copyrighted information, unknowingly or not.

So … we don't doubt that the Internet is under attack, and is indeed being censored, filtered and generally monitored (ACTA being another effort). However, here at the Bell, we believe new technologies are difficult to stop. We recently noted the following: "The Internet is the province of creative hackers now, and extremely bright children and adults. It is a prime example of FA Hayek's spontaneous evolution. … Certainly, the princes of the era tried to control the Gutenberg press. They tried to license Bibles. They invented the concept of copyright, apparently. They confiscated and blacklisted books and various sacred texts. But the press, a new idea at the time, was unstoppable. It was the hot, new technology. Everyone wanted a piece of it."

To read the full article, click here.

In Australia, (see excerpted article at the beginning of this analysis) the government has seen fit to back away from its Internet scheme. Meanwhile in America, as CBS recently reported, "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reversed itself, announcing that it will no longer block TSA employees, using work computers, from accessing websites that contain a 'controversial opinion.'"

More pushback. Before It's News reports that Senator Joe Lieberman's (DI-Conn) Internet Kill Switch Bill has hit a road block: "It appears that the effort to pass a cyber-security bill is going to get a bit more tough then expected. Late last month, officials from Cisco, IBM and Oracle sent a letter to the main sponsors of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, S. 3480." The letter reportedly raised concerns about some provisions of the bill and has prompted considerable additional debate. Reportedly, House versions are not going smoothly either.

Is Google out of China? PC World tells us of a compromise that allows Google to continue to provide search services in China as well as Hong Kong. "On Friday, China renewed Google's Internet Content Provider license, meaning the Google.cn domain will stay alive for at least another year. But getting China's approval required a concession: Google may no longer redirect people to its uncensored Hong Kong site, as the company was doing since March. Instead, Google.cn includes a home page link to the Hong Kong site and a search bar that's restricted to music, products and translation. By not including Web search, Google.cn avoids censorship while giving people the option of unfiltered search through Google.hk."

Google made a concession but still provides access to a more fully searchable address via its Hong Kong link at the bottom of the page. And then there is this from NetworkWorld.com:

Researchers tout new weapon in Internet censorship arms race … Georgia Tech School researchers will demo content hiding "Collage" at next month's Usenix security conference … Trying to get out in front of what they call a censorship arms race, a team of researchers has come up with technology that lets users exchange messages through heavily censored networks in countries such as China and North Korea in hidden channels via user-generated content sites such as Twitter or Flickr.

Researchers with the Georgia Tech School of Computer Science will demo the technology known as Collage for the first time at next month's Usenix security conference and ideally have a working package the public can download by the end of August. The researchers will have a test version of the Collage tool here.

Collage has two components: a message vector layer for embedding content in cover traffic; and a rendezvous mechanism to allow parties to publish and retrieve messages in the cover traffic, according to one of the Collage authors Sam Burnett, a researcher with Georgia Tech.

Burnett says Collage isn't designed for mega-downloads of videos or large files but rather is directed at getting blog posts and other smaller missives through censored sites. "Text messages for most people would be the perfect amount," Burnett said.

Collage uses user-generated content as "drop sites" for hidden messages, the researchers state in their paper on the system. "To send a message, a user embeds it into cover traffic and posts the content on some site, where receivers retrieve this content using a sequence of tasks. Collage makes it difficult for a censor to monitor or block these messages by exploiting the sheer number of sites where users can exchange messages and the variety of ways that a message can be hidden," they state.

The idea that the Internet is easy to censor, or that governments can simply pull a switch (Lieberman's idea) to somehow shut it down is obviously somewhat simplistic. Government itself is not a very effective entity generally when it comes to creative uses of technology (with the possible exception of the military). For the most part, government has trouble providing any sort of service efficiently; the idea that it can become a rigorous controller of Internet content is somewhat questionable to say the least.

It is to a degree, from our point of view, a kind of fear-based propaganda. It inculcates a feeling of helplessness – which is in fact what the power elite hopes to accomplish. The whole idea of purveying fear-based dominant social themes (as the elite does) is to frighten people into giving up their wealth and control over their own lives to conveniently created third-party authorities, many of them global in nature. The meme that the handful of rich families and individuals that make up the power elite are a kind of "magic lizard" – unstoppable and implacable – is, at least to a degree, a kind of psychological trickery.

We are not offering up muzzy-headed optimism here; only trying to counter the elite meme that the Internet (in rock star Prince's words) is "over" and is soon to be nothing more than a device for spying on people around the world. Of course, this IS a prevailing view in some quarters. We are certainly aware that many in the alternative media believe that the Internet was in fact created to provide people with a tool that they would use – but one that would ultimately be converted in a facility of absolute control and infinite tracking ability.

Certainly, there will be many attempts to control the Internet going forward, but there will be defeats as well. It is worth noting that the report about ACTA was leaked to a Google Group much as emails were leaked a while ago that showed in detail the nature of the global warming fraud. Here's how Boing Boing reported the discovery:

Someone has uploaded a PDF to a Google Group that is claimed to be the proposal for Internet copyright enforcement that the USA has put forward for ACTA, the secret copyright treaty whose seventh round of negotiations just concluded in Guadalajara, Mexico. This reads like it probably is genuine treaty language, and if it is the real US proposal, it is the first time that this material has ever been visible to the public. According to my source, the US proposal is the current version of the treaty as of the conclusion of the Mexico round.

Another leak! Another furor. Let us see if ACTA survives and how damaging the leak will be. Perhaps the Internet will now do to ACTA what it did to global warming. We can see from these leaks and others that the Internet is far more than a collection of websites, it is an effective resource for sharing information, both important and otherwise. Information creates knowledge – which is propagating as we write. Generally, the tight grip that the elite, especially in the West, had in the 20th century is gone now. The damage to elite plans to centralize global governance or build a truly international one-size-fits-all currency is likely significant. When everyone is well-attuned to your top-secret plan, it's simply not so top-secret anymore!

After Thoughts

Elite plans in the 20th century were hush-hush and the groundwork was meticulously laid for their acceptance. In the 21st century, elite programs such as global warming seem clumsy, badly implemented and are as a result, neither persuasive nor, increasingly, entirely effective. Time will tell if the powers-that-be can regain more complete control over the Internet and over the flow of sociopolitical and economic information. But we think the game has already changed. Blame the Internet, if you are one of about 6,000 toiling within the elite's power structure. If you are one of about six billion others, this is probably good news.

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