Episode 5 – Cybersecurity For Cats On The Internet

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Full Transcript/Essay

Net Neutrality

Chances are, that by now you’ve heard of the concept of “Net Neutrality“. It basically means that everyone connected to the internet should have equal access to all web sites on the internet. Right now, we are quite dependent on the internet as a society, and can currently find infinitely unique sources of information. But the big telecommunications players want to change that, just as they did with radio waves and televisions decades ago.

For many years now, a handful of the biggest phone and cable companies have wanted to create premium lanes on the web and make sites pay more money to use them, with preference to their business partners of course. Everyone else will get the slow lane. One group working on this next paradigm is named Internet2. They said “the internet is dead,” by the late 90s, and have built a super fast fiber-optic network for “more than 200 U.S. universities in cooperation with 70 leading corporations, 45 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions of higher learning as well as over 50 international partner organizations.” Many fear that when the time is right, the big corporate stakeholders will stop providing widespread access to the current internet, and replace it with this much more controlled and censored system. It might only have a few thousand sites on it, and people without site licenses would be limited to space within a site, like we currently have on MySpace. They will also argue that we must give up our anonymity if we want to be safe on the internet.

In the future, will you be able to rely on broadcasting your voice via universally public lanes? Will you be able to afford getting your voice heard through mainstream toll roads? We must continue to fight to maintain our net’s neutrality, and we have recently seen threats like the big Google-Verizon deal. So if you like cat videos, and you haven’t already, please go to SaveTheInternet.com NOW to sign their petition, and call your representatives in Congress to tell them to protect net neutrality.

Another potential censorship threat is bill introduced in the Senate on September 20th, S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. Media outlet Broadcasting & Cable reports that “the bill would give the Justice Department more power to shut down Web sites that illegally stream or sell TV shows and movies. After the bill was introduced, there was almost immediate pushback from fair use groups concerned the bill could throttle services like YouTube before they ever got started….The bill as introduced would give Justice more power to pull the plug on U.S. sites it found to be offering ‘infringing content’ by suspending the domain name of the offender.” So this bill is also worth investigating more and please consider signing the petition against this “Internet Blacklist bill” by browsing to demandprogress.org/blacklist.


Also right now in Congress, there are bills with bipartisan co-sponsors named the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 (aka the PCNAA, S.3480, H.R.5548). When the original version of this bill was first introduced last spring, John D Rockefeller IV (aka Jay Rockefeller) had this to say:

When the internet was invented, everyone fell flat on their face they were so thrilled and the world began to do business in a different way. Now both President Bush’s Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, who I greatly respect, and President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence Admiral Blair, who I greatly respect, have labeled cybersecurity perpetrated through the internet as the number one national hazard of attack on the homeland…. So I mean it really almost makes you ask the question, “Would it have been better if we had never invented the internet, and had to use paper and pencil or whatever?” – and that’s a stupid thing to say, but it has genuine consequence. – Jay Rockefeller on CSPAN

There are some basic threats parroted by political leaders to justify centralizing command for “cybersecurity,” including claims like…

#1. Common email spam and computer viruses are a significant problem. But I argue these issues are inherit in our free internet and we will continue to combat them by downloading software patches and spam filters as needed.

#2. Hackers (or cyber-warriors, cyber-spies, cyber-terrorists, or cyber-criminals), foreign or domestic, will continue trying to hack into publicly web-accessible banking systems and the Open Government Initiative, Gov 2.0, where we see more government forms and services going online. But I argue this does not justify changing how the rest of the internet works…those services are responsible for their own security if they wish to interact on the public internet. Furthermore, as well-known computer security and cryptography expert Bruce Schneier says, “in the cryptography world, we consider open source necessary for good security; we have for decades…. For us, open source isn’t just a business model; it’s smart engineering practice.”

#3. Hackers might hack into our country’s power grid and bring down large swaths of our access to electricity and other core infrastructure. But I argue just as with highly sensitive military systems and top secret information, there is no reason that these systems should be connected to the public internet if they are so vulnerable. Such systems should be on completely separate networks using Open Source security solutions, and should not need to infringe on the free internet.

This bill currently in Congress amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other laws to “enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the United States.” As CNet said on June 10th, 2010, it will “grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet” during a state of emergency. On June 20th, Joseph Lieberman said this on CNN:

Cyber war is going on in some sense right now. … And we need this capacity in a time of war. We need the capacity for the president to say, Internet service provider, we’ve got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country, or we’ve got to put a patch on this part of it. The president will never take over — the government should never take over the Internet. Listen, we’ve consulted, Senator Collins and I, who are proposing this bill, with civil liberties and privacy experts. This is a matter of national security. A cyber attack on America can do as much or more damage today by incapacitating our banks, our communications, our finance, our transportation, as a conventional war attack. And the president, in catastrophic cases — not going to do it every day, not going to take it over. So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax…(LAUGHTER)… take a look at the bill. And this is something that we need to protect our country. Right now, China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in a case of war. We need to have that here, too.Joseph Lieberman on CNN, 6/20/2010

So instead of keeping critical and “vulnerable” infrastructure systems off the public internet, the solution being promoted is to give the White House a kill-switch for the web (via the big Internet Service Providers). This may only apply to emergency situations, but we also know very well that such situations can be easily manufactured by rogue elements of the corporate-industrial complex (see Episode 3 of the Wiki World Order report on False Flag attacks). It is also ridiculously difficult to transparently prove the source of sophisticated cyber attacks, so today’s cyber emergency situations can be easily manipulated.

Surely, as internet users we should keep educating each other to stay safe online, and to some extent our government will always need to spend resources on cyber defenses (ideally in fully open source processes). But similar to the War on Terror and “defensive” biological weapons research, we cannot fuel industries for yet another arms race. We do not want to design offensive cyber-weapons to be used preemptively against other countries or groups (as it appears we already are). We do not want such programs in the hands of secretive organizations like the National Security Agency. We must instead use more of our resources to work towards resolving the root causes for which such terrorism is a symptom.

And it must be noted that there are big industries already capitalizing on these promoted threats. On May 17th, Wired’s Danger Room reported that “Booz Allen Hamilton — the defense contractor that’s become synonymous with the idea that the U.S. is getting its ass kicked in an ongoing cyberwar — has racked up more than $400 million worth of deals in the past six weeks to help the Defense Department fight that digital conflict.

We must also ensure that the recent release of military information by WikiLeaks does not lead towards clamping down on the internet, as some executive branch narratives have hinted.

I strongly recommend that all my listeners absorb the Intelligence Squared US debate from June 8th titled “The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated.” It is a superb discussion of both sides of these issues, with just about the best participants anything mainstream could hope for…which is what makes Intelligence Squared debates so great even though their discussions still have blind spots.

Sure, very few bills will end up passing right now, so late in this session. But on September 21st, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Reuters that the draft bill of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act is “something that we hope to be able to pass before the end of the year, if we can.” So whether you like online news, games, sitcoms, soap operas, sports, cat videos, or researching the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group…your free access is at risk.

And remember, last year the Patriot Act was renewed under President Obama and we are still LOSING the fight to restore our Constitution and non-digital rights. So please tell your representatives in Congress to reject the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act and help defend against recent attacks on net neutrality. Tell them we should instead move any vulnerable infrastructure systems to separate, secure networks based on open source security.

We must constantly defend our internet, because it is the single biggest threat to the establishment, the Corporate-Industrial Complex. And remember…

Every time you trade cyber-privacy for cybersecurity… the NSA kills a kitten video.

Every time you trade cyber-privacy for cybersecurity... the NSA kills a kitten video.