The Internet Kill Switch | Coming To Us All | And How To Defend Against It | How To Create Ad Hoc Networks And Other Suggestions To Keep Us In Touch

Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.

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Patrick Miller and David Daw
PC World

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen inEgypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi
Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you. If you’re trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can’t rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts–essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you’re in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn’t really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven’t tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly, just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client like Pidgin or iChat, and you’ll be able to talk to your neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.

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Related: Egypt’s Internet Kill Switch: Coming To America

The Economic Collapse
Jan 31, 2011

This past week was a perfect example of how the “Internet kill switch” is rapidly becoming one of the favorite new tools of tyrannical governments all over the globe. Once upon a time, the Internet was a bastion of liberty and freedom, but now nation after nation is cracking down on it. In fact, legislation has been introduced once again in Congress that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” that he would be able to use in the event of war or emergency. Of course there would be a whole lot of wiggle room in determining what actually constitutes a true “emergency”. The members of Congress that are pushing this “Internet kill switch” bill want the U.S. to become more like China in this regard. In China, the Internet is highly controlled, highly regulated and highly censored. In fact, China has shut down the Internet in entire regions when they have felt it necessary. So what Egypt did in shutting down the Internet this past week is not unprecedented – but it was quite shocking.

Organizers of the protests in Egypt had been using the #Jan25 hashtag on Twitter and had been communicating with each other via Facebook, and so the Mubarak regime thought that they could significantly derail the protest movement by shutting down the Internet.

It has been widely reported that approximately 88 percent of the Internet in Egypt was shut down at one point.  Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer of an Internet monitoring firm known as Renesys, described on his blog just how complete and total this Internet shutdown in Egypt actually was….

“Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world.”

So how was this all done?  How could such a large section of the Internet be taken offline so rapidly?  Well, a recent article on MSNBC described how it works….

According to David Clark, an MIT computer scientist whose research focuses on Internet architecture and development, a government’s ability to control the Internet depends on its control of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the private sector companies that grant Internet access to customers.

“ISPs have direct control of the Internet, so what happens in any country depends on the control that the state has over those ISPs,” Clark told Life’s Little Mysteries in an e-mail. “Some countries regulate the ISPs much more heavily. China has in the past ‘turned off’ the Internet in various regions.”


Whenever the subject of Internet censorship comes up, China always seems to be involved in the conversation.  China has more Internet users than anyone else in the world, but they also have the tightest controls.

The Chinese government is absolutely obsessed with “maintaining order” and it has shown that it will go to extreme lengths to quell dissent.

For example, the government of China cut off the entire Xinjiang region from the Internet for nearly a year after civil unrest erupted there in 2009.

The Chinese government is so sensitive to political dissent that they even began censoring the word “Egypt” on a number of micro-blogging websites this past week.

A recent article posted on Raw Story explained what happened….

On the sina.com and sohu.com sites, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter, which is censored in China, a query with the word “Egypt” returned the response: “According to the laws in force, the results of your search cannot be given.”

Isn’t that bizarre?

Nothing like that would ever happen in the United States, right?

Well, don’t be so sure.

Last year, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman made the following statement to CNN’s Candy Crowley….

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too.”

That statement should chill you to your bones.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman wants Chinese-style Internet censorship to come to the United States.

In fact, as mentioned above, legislation that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” has been introduced in the Senate once again, and in fact it has already been approved by a Senate panel.

The legislation has bipartisan support, and it is being pushed this time by Maine Senator Susan Collins, who is a ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

This bill, S.3480, is entitled “The Protecting Cyberspace As A National Asset Act of 2010“.  It would create a brand new government agency (as if we needed more of those) known as the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.

This new agency would be given extraordinary power over the Internet – including the power to completely shut down the Internet for 30 days.

Collins insists that this new law is necessary because it would enable us to protect the Internet against “cyber threats” before they could cause serious damage.

While that may sound good on paper, the reality is that giving the government an “Internet kill switch” would create opportunities for tremendous government abuse.

Wired recently ran an article that detailed some of these concerns….

A congressional white paper (.pdf) on the measure said the proposal prohibits the government from targeting websites for censorship “based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Oddly, that’s exactly the same language in the Patriot Act used to test whether the government can wiretap or investigate a person based on their political beliefs or statements.

Of course we all know how that turned out.

It has been revealed time after time after time that the U.S. government has been investigating large numbers of people based on their political beliefs.

The Internet is a great way for people to express and share their political thoughts and ideas, but it is also providing a way for governments around the world to watch and track dissenters.

For example, major news websites in China now require users to register their true identities before they are able to leave any comments.  This enables the government to be able to identify (and potentially deal with) anyone that does not express the “right” views.

In the same manner, the Obama administration is now proposing the introduction of a “universal Internet ID” for Americans.  The program is being touted as “voluntary”, but how long do you think it would be before a whole host of government agencies started to use these universal Internet IDs to watch, monitor, track and control the Internet activities of tens of millions of Americans?

The following is a video news report from CBS News about these new universal Internet IDs….

 

So where does all of this Internet censorship end?

Well, the truth is that it is only going to get tighter and tighter as the years go by.

Eventually you will probably need a government-issued license to put up websites such as this one, and in fact someday you will probably need a government-issued license before you can even log on to the Internet.

So enjoy this era of relatively unlimited Internet freedom while you can, because it is rapidly coming to an end.  Tyrannical governments all over the globe are realizing that in order to maintain “control” they must place a much tighter grip on the flow of information on the Internet.

If you live in the United States or another nation where there is still at least a limited amount of liberty and freedom, it is going to be important to let your representatives know that you do not want Internet censorship and you certainly do not want any sort of an Internet kill switch.

Liberties and freedoms are incredibly precious, and once they are taken away they are very difficult to get back.

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http://www.prisonplanet.com/u-s-u-k-companies-help-egyptian-regime-shut-down-telecommunications-and-identify-dissidents.html

Democracy Now
Feb 2, 2011

 

Doing the regime’s bidding, British-based Vodafone shut down Egypt’s phone and internet service. The American company called Narus — owned by Boeing — sold Egypt the surveillance technology that helped identify dissident voices. We are joined by Tim Karr of Free Press and CUNY Professor C.W. Anderson. Karr outlines how communications was shut down in Egypt and discusses the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, a proposed Senate bill that could lay the foundation for blocking communications in the United States in the case of a “national threat.” Anderson traces the activist roots of Twitter to U.S. protests at the 2004 Republican and Democratic conventions. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: Social media and online networks played a key role in the early organizing of the Egyptian uprising. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak underlined their power last week when he tried to shut down the internet and cut off most cell phone communication. U.S. officials led the push for Egypt to restore online access, but it was an American company called Narus, which is owned by Boeing, that has aided Egypt’s harsh response by selling them the technology that made this repression possible.

To talk more about this, we’re joined by Tim Karr, campaign director with Free Press, and C.W. Anderson, an assistant professor of communications at City University of New York. C.W. Anderson has been looking at the role of Twitter in the rebellions in Egypt and elsewhere, by those who were able to access the service.

So, Tim, let’s begin with the issue of Vodafone and Narus. Explain how, in one fell swoop, the country could be plunged into digital darkness.

TIM KARR: Well, it’s interesting. What we’re seeing is the same technology that has enabled freedom movements around the world is also being used to target and track down political dissidents. In the case of Egypt, we have a company called Narus, as you mentioned—it’s now owned by Boeing—that sells what’s called Deep Packet Inspection. It allows the Egyptian telecommunications companies, many of which are run by the state, to open up online communications, to look at texting via cell phones, and to identify the sort of dissident voices that are out there. And it goes beyond that. It also gives them the technology to geographically locate them and track them down. We had a similar problem happen in 2009 in Iran, when you had Nokia Siemens, which was a Finnish-German joint venture, selling technology to the Iranian Telecom Authority, which was also owned by the Revolutionary Guard there, to be used to track down and imprison cyber-dissidents there. And Egypt has a very sophisticated internet infrastructure, which, again, is a double-edged sword, because it’s made it very easy for the government to shut it off, while at the same time allowed for this sort of outpouring of dissidence. And the Reporters Without Borders has taken a deep look at internet abuses in Egypt and ranks it as one of the largest internet enemies.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the difference between Narus and Vodafone. What roles do each play?

TIM KARR: Well, Narus provides a technology that sits on routers throughout the Egyptian network, that filters and spies on communications. It’s a surveillance technology. Narus was started by Israeli security experts. And they specialize in selling this. They sell it to other governments. Vodafone is a mobile phone technology system. The Vodafone Egypt is another joint venture there that also has a large Egypt control, which allows them to pull the switch on cell phone communications.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the bill that’s being introduced here—I think it’s by Senators Lieberman and Collins—that would allow the U.S. government to shut down civilian access to the internet?

TIM KARR: Yes. The bill is somewhat inelegantly called the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. It was introduced in the last session.

AMY GOODMAN: Say it again?

TIM KARR: It’s Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. It was introduced in the last session.

AMY GOODMAN: Don’t say that three times fast.

TIM KARR: That’s the last time I’m going to say it.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll have to censor you.

TIM KARR: It was introduced in the last session by Senators Lieberman, Carper of Delaware, and Collins of Maine. It made it through the Homeland Security Committee in December, but it died by the end of the session. A Wired story from earlier this week indicated that they intend to reintroduce this bill. And the problem with the bill is that it creates in the executive branch the capacity to cut down what they call critical—to shut down critical infrastructure in the case of a national threat. So, we are—at Free Press and others, ACLU and others, are trying to make sure that that legislation, if it goes forward, doesn’t have that specific language in it.

Full story here.

Sent from my iPhone 4


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