Shadow Internet Story Fishy

Sunday’s report by the NYT on the ‘shadow internet’ being funded by (a paltry) $2 mn. in State Dept. money iis either a psy-ops plant or another sign that the US government can’t help but undermine itself.

Joe Lieberman has advocated an internet kill switch. Members of the Senate keep introducing bills to censor the Internet, pushed by the entertainment industry. Luckily, a few, like Oregon’s Ron Wyden, care about freedom of speech. The NSA and other spy agencies keep trying to expand their access to your private mail.

So either State doesn’t realize that the techniques they are developing for dissidents can be deployed in the US, or the small program is being trumpeted in a desperate attempt to mollify groups such as Anonymous.

9 Responses

  1. Shouldn’t we be pleased that the government is undermining itself in this way?

  2. From what I’ve been seeing on Twitter, dissidents–particularly in Iran–have been making use of these technologies even without assistance from the United States.

    That’s not to say that the U.S. Government has done nothing of value. DARPA has contributed to *some* open source and cryptography projects and the NSA has contributed code to SELinux, literally security-enhanced Linux that has been adopted by many distributions. And these projects have been ongoing for many years. They’re nothing new.

    But other projects more immediately useful to dissidents, such as TOR and various proxy schemes, have had little or no support from the U.S. Government, and the proxy schemes require a quick-footedness that I doubt the government is capable of.

  3. .
    The State Department isn’t any more serious about opening up closed societies than Soros and his hobby OSI.

    Right after Operation Desert Fox, December, 1998, State & CIA both rejected the idea of sneaking a clandestine Internet capability similar to the “Internet in a Suitcase” into Iraq. Of course, the technology was less sophisticated. At a cost of over $200 million, a contractor offered to smuggle in 5,000 mesh-tethered terminals, human-powered generators and a small number of expendable ground stations (which would have to be replaced as they were discovered and destroyed by Saddam’s Mukhabarat.)

    Again in early 2002, the contractor offered to implement an updated version, with 10,000 thin client terminals, assuming that better HumInt capability within Iraq would be in our interests. Note that, at the time, the CIA and the entire US Intel Community had ZERO spies in Iraq. We bought our Iraq HumInt from “allies” who were playing us.

    DIA rejected it because it wasn’t off-the shelf.
    CIA rejected it because it was “not invented here.”
    A guy at the Iraq Desk at State (Callahan) said that there was no way to sneak anything past the Mukhabarat; they were invincible.
    TSWG never replied directly, but indicated that they were more interested in things that went “boom.”

    And Jon Peiser at OSI said that they had already pretty much succeeded in opening up Iraqi society, because they spent $20,000 a year to beam Arabic language radio in the general direction of Iraq from Prague (no kidding!)

    Maybe the current State Dept really does want to support dissident freedom of speech. But that would be a change from historical policy.
    That’s more of a CIA thing, and that agency has repudiated this technology.

    • Well, Halliburton had no trouble sneaking out of Iraq’s bank account, over one billion dollars of Iraqi oil revenues. They also had no trouble at all sneaking the oil out of the country without paying for it.

  4. Doesn’t matter if we have the same machines operating in the US because our media is dominated/owned by the government-industrial-military complex anyway, so they wouldn’t be disseminating information that seriously challenges the system.

  5. Or maybe the State Department just doesn’t hold the same views on this as Lieberman and certain other Senators. The government is not a monolithic entity with a single coherent point of view.

  6. When the government flips the internet kill switch, they will inadvertently flip the corrupt government kill switch.

    To effectively shut down the internet, they will also have to shut down TV, telephones and cell phones.

    Even then, there will still be AM radio, FM radio, ham radio, CBs, and let’s not forget, many roads leading to Pennsylvania, Ave, Washington, D.C., where “We the People” can peaceably assemble and demand that our representatives address our grievances before we summarily fire them and kick them out of our White House, our Congress and our Supreme Court.

  7. Democracy lends itself to inconsistent results and policies, simply because people are complex.

    I realize the US government is compromised to a great degree at this point – but not fully.

    It is very possible both that the pro-democracy shadow internet story has roots in well-intentioned truth AND that it is vulnerable to misuse by pro-corporate interests.

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