Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

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Is the Internet a "US colony" Now?

F-Secure’s chief research officer Mikko Hypponen argued that the internet had "become a US colony" at the expense of democracy. "We’re back in the age of colonisation," he said. Bruce Schneier of The Atlantic mentions one reason for power play on the Net: 'The Internet has emboldened traditional power as well.'

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    Oct 27 2013: Update
    Is this proof that the Internet is not a US a colony?

    Japan refused NSA request to tap Asia's Internet
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/27/world/nsa-asked-japan-to-tap-regionwide-fiber-optic-cables-in-2011/#.Umzx41PYN0t
    • Oct 27 2013: Hi Poch,
      I read that Japanese news piece about the NSA. The NSA have a non-stop mind set.
      To the NSA Leaders, everything is a secret. Their world revolves around collecting
      the gossip of the world.

      The NSA is powerful due to 15 Senators blindly writing them checks. For 45 years now.

      It is all about the Next War.
      I suppose, if you've spent all your money on guns and ammo, you will want to shoot.

      If the War makers killed everyone on the planet, thinking they were all Terrorists, they
      wouldn't stop there. They would find a reason to kill all their Camels too.

      Read my piece above, about today's Bush-Obama debacle. 2002 through 2013.
      Obama must be hiding under his bed.
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        Oct 27 2013: 'It is all about the Next War.
        I suppose, if you've spent all your money on guns and ammo, you will want to shoot.

        If the War makers killed everyone on the planet, thinking they were all Terrorists, they
        wouldn't stop there. They would find a reason to kill all their Camels too.'

        I just love your new poem.
        • Oct 27 2013: Sic 'em Poch,

          As an American who paid taxes and enjoyed freedom, I hesitate to bring down
          the government with more than words. Yes, I am dissatisfied with the tone of
          our Washington DC idiots. But we the citizens of America can change things.
          So, the only question is -- Will we?
          I like to answer questions when I know the answer. -- NO !!!
          ===
          The internet until recently, say about 1999, was damned good. Not as dedicated
          to commerce, and advertising at that point in time, was respectable as to amount.

          Back then America was 4th or 5th in users, Australia, Japan, and I think Finland,
          leading the way.

          I used to go to a coffee shop and research, of all things, bin Laden on the Israeli's
          secret service websites. Fun stuff, as they chased him around the world.

          Microsoft brought out XP, and it changed the world for me.. My computer was fun.
          Google was fast, and you could find things. Many great Search Engines, Data-
          Bases galore. WoW
          Not so today....

          Today Google is a trap. Advertiser Controlled. Yahoo just shut down Alta Vista.
          Excel Spreadsheets, a poor replacement for Lotus123, are being Leased in 2013
          by Microsoft Office, one year at a time for $99, or monthly for $9.

          I bought Windows7, it was crap, then Windows8, and the jury is still out, but they
          did offer Windows8.1 to help. But the sneaky bastards stole my Office2003 Excel.
          It magically disappeared. But I am a crafty opponent. lol

          I foresee, a new arrival on the internet scene. The need is there. When it becomes
          common knowledge that we all are being spied on and that the NSA surveillance's
          are being stored to possibly be used against us at any time in the future, Americans
          will look elsewhere for Operating Systems, and Verizon, AT&T, and Microsoft will be
          a thing of the past. I hope they take Google with them.

          Poch, Is it just me? I think I lost my train of thought here...? Duhhh, getting old..
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    Oct 26 2013: Be it thirty pieces of silver, intelligence gathering, industrial espionage, or any source gathering .. nothing is new. What amazes me is that we go willingly and complain that it has occurred. Say you make a video which you are naked and send it to your boyfriend / girlfriend and it goes viral all over the world where should the initial responsibility be. Being mad at the other person is silly ... making the movie was dumb ... it is your fault.

    I do not excuse the USA or NSA for their acts .... I am concerned that a world leader of any country would be mad about their cell phone conversation being monitored. The app to do that is available in almost any electronics store and available to the general public ... I'm sure there is a you tube video somewhere that shows you how. What amazes me is that no one has said why are you discussing "secret" / government issues over the cell phone.

    Has anyone looked at face book lately or you tube. People will put anything and everything on the web. I do not have to have the computer power of NSA to gather information on Sally Mae .. or Billy Joe ... they put it out there.

    If you sign up for Obamacare ... where does that information go? There are about six major agencies that will share that information. You have a file .... if you apply for a store card from your grocery store every purchase goes on your record. Answer a survey, buy a car, respond in any way ... example: what web sites you visit ... cookies ... big brother knows it. Companies sell your "info".

    Blame the USA ... NSA ... or the boogie man. At the end of the day it still boils down to you. There will always be someone out there to take advantage of you stop helping them.

    In most cases YOU are YOUR OWN worst enemy.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Oct 26 2013: 'What amazes me is that no one has said why are you discussing "secret" / government issues over the cell phone.'

      I've been amazed by that too Bob and generally how netizens carelessly put sensitive info online.
      I definitely agree with your bottom line. Thanks for your sensible feedback Bob.
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    Oct 25 2013: The history of technology shows that all new technologies are eagerly grabbed at by those in power to see in what way the new technology can be exploited to increase and consolidate their power.
    The internet is no exception.
    But the current 2.4 billion users of the internet who have now been "colonised" may yet also use the internet to cohere into a singular voice-for-change, as well a uploading "real news" for all to see, and sharing ideas for the good of all. It might yet turn out to be not just a top-down spying-&-control mechanism. Technology is an ambivalent beast. In this respect I agree with Nadav Tropp's comment below.
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    Nov 9 2013: If the prediction by Marvin Ammori (below) becomes reality, American netizens will lose much of their online freedom. Then I think we can safely declare that the Net is a US colony.

    'The neutral and level playing field provided by permissionless innovation has empowered all of us with the freedom to express ourselves and innovate online without having to seek the permission of a remote telecom executive.

    'But today, that freedom won’t survive much longer if a federal court — the second most powerful court in the nation behind the Supreme Court, the DC Circuit — is set to strike down the nation’s net neutrality law, a rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010...'
    http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/11/so-the-internets-about-to-lose-its-net-neutrality/
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    Nov 7 2013: A very relevant update:

    Surveillance and Human Rights: A balancing act or two sides of the same coin?

    'From the high-level pre-event on “Cyber Ethics” when Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert opened his remarks by mentioning the “E” word-- “Edward”, as in Edward Snowden-- to the final main session on “Internet Surveillance,” surveillance and human rights was a major theme.

    'The “Internet Surveillance” main session, which included representatives from the U.S. government, Google, civil society, the technical community, and others revealed a critical difference in government views on the relationship between surveillance and human rights and are worth noting here...'
    https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2013/11/07/igf-2013-in-review
  • Nov 6 2013: Now?!?

    The United States is the inventor, distributor, arbiter and administrator of the Internet. Its operation falls under the Department of Commerce and its regulation under the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. This has been the case since the inception of the Internet. To claim that Internet has not ever been under the providence of the US a completely false statement and shows a serious lack of ability to look things up on Wikipedia (which I suggest Mr. Hypponen try next time).

    It is awfully nice of the US to let other countries use the Internet, especially since they use it for free (although they have to provide their own hardware). Obviously we get a return in increased commerce (probably one of the reasons the Internet falls under the Department of Commerce). But Egypt also administers the Suez Canal, and they very nicely let anyone use it, and in exchange Israel doesn’t bomb them. None of that means the UN should annex the Suez because other people happen to use it and the (somewhat coerced) pleasure of the Egyptian government.

    Should the Internet continue to be under the control of the United State? That is a different issue. I would argue yes because I don’t trust anyone else to do a better job and to date the United States has behaved as an excellent custodian to the Internet. Keep in mind China and Russia are also in the UN, who kidnap politicians of the opposite party before elections or just don’t have them at all. France is also in the UN, they think that pictures of the Eiffel tower are all copyrighted by some company who bribed French official to say it is. So is Germany, who thinks that the best way to stop oppressive governments is to oppress all history, reference, discussion or representation of their own previous life as the Third Reich that doesn’t conform to a set of state approved views on the matter.

    These are the people who should be in charge instead?
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      Nov 6 2013: I don't suggest that another country take charge of the Net but I think other countries should run their own Internet without oppressive censorship.
      • Nov 6 2013: I agree with your sentiment, or rather I agree that the Internet should be largely free of censorship. What I do not understand is what this has to do with the United States, a country that does not (and actually cannot) engage in Internet censorship. And beyond that I don’t understand the implication the United States is somehow engaging in aggressive actions against other countries through the abuse of Internet policies.

        Most countries that engage in wholesale Internet censorship do set up their own domain servers, and force all world domain server traffic through them. Effectively creating, as you say “their own Internet”. In this way these countries can easily control what comes in and goes out. Such countries include Iran, China and North Korea.
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          Nov 7 2013: "...the implication the United States is somehow engaging in aggressive actions against other countries through the abuse of Internet policies."

          As one commenter said, it's either the US do that or another country will.
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      Nov 8 2013: While the US's contribution to and maintenance of the internet is considerable, overall I think your statement here is too simple to be accurate, though what I have to say here is largely nitpicking. The US gov't created ARPANET, which many countries connected their networks to, but these countries already had their own networks prior. ARPANET established some of the main standards of the internet today, like TCP/IP and the OSI model. But the engineer behind the development of the OSI model (Hubert Zimmerman) was French, and drew from his experience working on CYCLADES, which was sponsered by the French government. Outside of ARPANET and the US gov't's initial control of the DNS system, any US contributions came from private companies.

      Today the US gov't runs some root name servers, but ICANN is a private company. Even with the root name servers residing in the US, other countries have developed parallel DNS systems (Cesidian for example). And it's debatable whether DNS constitutes "the internet" at all. You can connect to any server just by sending the IP address. Anonymous networks like Tor and i2p use their own TLD's. .onion and .i2p extensions are totally out of the realm of ICANN.
      • Nov 8 2013: The Internet as a network of networks; that is a perfectly acceptable level of abstraction. But I think the OP, and the talk (which I admittedly didn’t watch), are concerned with sociological, not technological, elements of the Internet. Including the Internet’s “lack of democratization” and the ability of the US specifically to censor or otherwise influence the Internet. So while I concede all your technical points, and I confess a bit of hyperbole, I don’t think that the distributed nature of the Internet protects it much from US influence (political, diplomatic or technological). Nor does its make-up protect other groups or nations from US interference should it choose to interfere. Nor has the US ever given any indication that it considers the Internet to be anything other than a sovereign resource, despite its global nature. So in that respect it is awfully colonial.
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          Nov 18 2013: I would agree that the internet isn't a global democracy, or nationless-collective commons, at least not without an incredible level of abstraction. I think there in lies the problem - our incredible, collective disillusion that is cyberspace. There is no such physical thing as cyberspace... it's an unhealthy abstraction of the truth. The internet's physical nature is nothing more than a bunch of companies that agree to link their infrastructure together, on confidential terms and behind closed doors.

          So I don't believe it's reasonable for any country to respect the internet as a sovereign territory, as much as I would like that. But they should certainly respect another country's infrastructure as soveriegn. A machine is physical property in a physical place with a physical owner, and whatever laws and soveriegnty that apply should be recognized.

          But this grand disillusion permeates much deeper than the internet. If I own a machine, is it not my machine? How can certain sequences of electronic patterns that my machine makes be owned by someone else? It's a grandiose disillusion, exploited on a grand scale. When I purchase a phone or a tablet, I need to run an exploit to get root access. And rooting my own machine is technically illegal in the US, and only allowed by exemptions to the DMCA that the Librarian of Congress has the sole authority to establish every three years.

          Meanwhile, my phone carrier can open up a serial connection to my phone over-the-air any time they please, push software updates to my phone with full root access and turn on the microphone if they so desired. CALEA law requires that my phone be tappable and accessable to the government. If we don't have sovereignty over our own property, how can we expect sovereignty for an abstract commons?

          We might as well be living in a world of wizards and warlocks, as people for the most part don't know shit about what goes on behind their screen.
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    Oct 28 2013: @George
    I am a Filipino, not a philippine. Correct your grammar.

    As I've said earlier, I don't feel colonized by the US so I don't think I have to stop using US ISPs. I don't
    understand your question '...how to make it more realistic?' Sorry.
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    Oct 28 2013: @Frank
    Sorry the reply button was missing.

    LOL Hey coach. Easy on the thumbs up. You might need it for others.
    I have Ubuntu and Chrome OSses on USB. The problem is that no other OSses is as
    versatile as Windows so I continue using it.

    It's great hearing your story about your surfing history! I'd write a piece about it if I were you.
  • Oct 27 2013: In the 1930's the languages of Science and Math was French and German. Today, the language of Science and Math, especially Computer Science and the Internet, is English. Also, most of the companies that are the top earners on the Internet are US companies.
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      Oct 27 2013: That was keen observation Wayne. Anyway, I have nothing against English being the International Language. How we use language is another matter. Thanks Wayne.
  • Oct 27 2013: 'The Internet has emboldened traditional power as well.'

    October 27, 2013 -- The damaging U.S. NSA espionage scandal widens.

    A “Breach of Trust” by President Barack Obama's 2013 espionage activities against friendly
    nation’s Leaders, has widened considerably since George W. Bush initiated the practice
    in 2002,

    In 2002, the NSA and it’s private contractor partners in the Telephone and Computer businesses
    began phone tapping today’s German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the Leadership of at least
    35 other friendly nations.

    In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama was personally informed of this illegal phone tapping against
    the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The National Security Agency’s chief, General Keith Alexander,
    had briefed Obama on the operation against Merkel in 2010. “Obama did not halt the operation but
    rather let it continue,” a high-ranking NSA official said.

    Obama wanted to be informed in detail about Merkel, who has played a decisive role in the euro-zone
    debt crisis and is widely seen as Europe’s most powerful leader.

    As a result, two phones were monitored, as the NSA stepped up its surveillance of her communications,
    targeting not only the mobile phone she uses to conduct business for her conservative Christian
    Democratic Union party but also her encrypted official device. Merkel only acquired the latter handset
    over this last summer of 2013.

    Leaked NSA documents showed that Merkel’s phone had appeared on a list of spying targets since
    2002, and was still under surveillance weeks before Obama visited Berlin in last June 2013.

    Apparently the NSA General and his deputy are taking the President with them, when they resign.
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      Oct 27 2013: Great to see you again coach.
      Thanks for mentioning this Frank. I avoided doing that because I don't want to be accused of pulling
      our audience to one side.

      'Apparently the NSA General and his deputy are taking the President with them, when they resign.'
      I hope that happens IF Obama was guilty. I actually think Obama is just their puppet.
      • Oct 27 2013: Poch, Thanks for your quick response.
        My time is limited today, I have several race tracks to handicap for tonight's battle.

        The Telephone and Computer are joined at the hip. The NSA pays Verizon and AT&T
        $345 to set up an account and $100 per month to collect and transmit the data. At least
        that was the contract rates I read about a few years ago when the San Francisco office
        was being used to transmit the data. Microsoft is probably the most active collector, but
        everyone else got into the game too. The money was just too good.

        With the NSA soliciting both ends of the fiber-optic trans-ocean cables, you would have to
        believe they are not the only ones. Every nation wants every other nation's secrets.

        Intellectual Property Rights are going going gone. I fear some little NSA Guru is using my
        handicapping program to win races. The internet started good, but has this bump in the
        road to get over.

        The Canadian TV Program "Connections" would have had a field day with this NSA crap.
        The program would take an idea or a product, and show through it morphing, how the
        end result was obtained, and after some years, what it had become. Nothing like what it
        was in the beginning. The program was a delight. Look it up. You may like it.

        Like George Bush, Barack Obama. And that says it all.
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          Oct 27 2013: 'I fear some little NSA Guru is using my handicapping program to win races.'
          I'll feel the same way if I were you. Thanks for the 'Connection' tip. If you want
          more dirt about NSA, surf Activist Post.
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    Oct 26 2013: Not necessarily. The sleeping giant(China) is hacking lots of infos from US and other countries.
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      Oct 26 2013: That is just what Nadav meant when he said: '...if the US were to come out of the picture, someone else would take over the technical side of maintaining the web within a matter of days.'

      But I think what China is doing is beneficial. It makes US see what he is doing. Thanks Dian.
  • Oct 26 2013: You are right, Obama has a lot of f-ing nerve saying he wants to be able to "turn off" the internet! Who in the F--- does he think he is? I still do not understand why he is not in jail for war crimes.
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      Oct 26 2013: I think if someone had the power to turn off the Net and does it will
      incur the wrath of the whole world. So only a dumb or insane someone will do that.
      Thanks Keith.
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    Oct 26 2013: Here's a related question worth exploring:
    Can NSA spying be considered surveillance?
    Snowden rebuts Sen. Diane Feinstein’s statement that NSA spying “is not surveillance”
  • Oct 26 2013: It started in the Pentagon but I don't buy your idea They lost control long ago.
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    Oct 26 2013: In what sense do you think the internet is a US colony ? There is no central body controlling the internet, but the internet is a global system of interconnected networks.
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      Oct 26 2013: I didn't claim that the internet is a US colony. I asked the question.

      When Mikko Hypponen argued that the internet had "become a US colony" at the expense of democracy,
      he added that 'its dominance over the web gave the U.S. too much power over foreign countries...'
      That might be one reason for his claim.
      http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/security/384973/the-internet-is-a-us-colony
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        Oct 26 2013: I just read the article and I think Hypponen is a bit too dramatic. One has choices which internet service provider to use.
        He also argues for open source software being saver than closed source software. I can't see how open source where everybody can check every detail of the source code can be saver than closed source.
        Conclusion: I don't feel myself colonized by the US and keep using the internet as usual. Even in the case the US govt. should spy on me, which I think is only a remote possibility, I don't really care because there is nothing I'm hiding.
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    Oct 25 2013: I forgot to mention that Brazil and Germany are already planning to disconnect from America's internet.
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      Oct 26 2013: What do you mean with "disconnecting" ? Do you mean blocking the IPs of US websites ?
      I think you are confusing something. What German businesses contemplate is to stop using US internet service providers because of the NSA issue, but that is not the same as disconnecting from the US internet.
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        Oct 27 2013: I only borrowed that word from the article writer. But I think you're right. It probably meant stopping using US ISP's.
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      Oct 27 2013: What does it mean 'disconnect from America's internet'? I am wondering is there anyone who can get disconnected from American internet giant? Even China blocked Youtube,Facebook,Twitter,etc,is far from being disconnected from America's internet.
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        Oct 27 2013: You can 'disconnect from America's internet' by stopping using US Internet service providers George.
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          Oct 28 2013: Since you are a philippine,are you willing to stop using US internet service providers? And how to make it more realistic?
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    Oct 25 2013: 'But the current 2.4 billion users of the internet who have now been "colonised" may yet also use the internet to cohere into a singular voice-for-change, as well a uploading "real news" for all to see, and sharing ideas for the good of all.'

    Excellent of you to mention this Joshua. It addresses the problem of the disunity of activist groups --
    if only the major groups would join together you can imagine the power. Thanks for your thoughts.
  • Oct 25 2013: I've found the exact opposite to be true in fact.

    Information is one of the corner stones of power after all, and if the internet has done anything, its make information much more widely available. Secrets are also now much harder to keep then they used to be. Traditional power has actually been on the downtrend in recent because of this, among other things, though its still quite the force to reckon with still.
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      Oct 25 2013: Hi Nadav
      Do you mean US does not control the Net or the Internet has not emboldened traditional power?
      Anyway, thanks for your feedback Nadav. I agree with most of it.
      • Oct 26 2013: Both.
        Just because a disproportionate amount of the servers is in the US, and because they're good at monitoring the internet doesn't mean they own it. No one person or entity does. Monitoring does not equate control, and if the US were to come out of the picture, someone else would take over the technical side of maintaining the web within a matter of days.

        As for traditional power, the flow of information used to be much more easily manipulated or stopped outright. Today, keeping secrets and hushing up stories has become much more difficult, for corporations as well as governments.
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          Oct 26 2013: '...if the US were to come out of the picture, someone else would take over the technical side of maintaining the web within a matter of days.'

          Good point Nadav.