Ruggedising the Internet

Mike Masnick writes a little article forecasting the engineers re-writing the single points of failure out of the internet. He entitles his article, Building A More Decentralized Internet: It’s Happening Faster Than People Realize. He cross references to two articles written by himself back in 2010, Operation Payback And Wikileaks Show The Battle Lines Are About Distributed & Open vs. Centralized & Closed and The Revolution Will Be Distributed: Wikileaks, Anonymous And How Little The Old Guard Realizes What’s Going On in which he, more accurately, recognises the current and future power of distributed and private networks. It should be remembered that these predictions all occurred before the Arab spring and the recent protests in Turkey and the state responses to the use of networks.

Masnick predicts that the judicial and informal non-judicial attacks on certain sites on the internet will lead to an engineering response and that the single points of failure will be remediated. He points at an article in the New Yorker, The Mission to Decentralize the Internet, which discusses the barriers to mass adoption of superior distributed solutions and some of the ideological history.

One of the responses to today’s challenges is at this manifesto for an Internet for the 21st Century, which is hosted at wauland.de, with the hashtag #ybti, an interesting identification of the inadequacies of even the best today. I also need to check out the key note proceedings of the 30C3, the Chaos Computer Club; not sure if any of these act as an alternative manifesto. The manifesto calls for,

Our concept for a new Internet is based on the following design principles:

• ubiquitous end-to-end encryption, removing the necessity to trust any third parties that might access our data while it is being transmitted or stored
• obfuscation of transmission patterns, preventing the analysis of social relations, behavior patterns and topical interests of the participants in a network
• decentralized authentication mechanisms, removing the necessity to trust centralized certification authorities that can be compromised
• multicast technology, because we need to interconnect billions of users without the need for centralized server farms
• distributed data flow and storage, making bulk collection of data economically unattractive
• consistent use of free and open software, putting the system under permanent public scrutiny and giving users control over their computation

The comments in Mike’s article are gratefully short of the usually bile about piracy and at least one contributor points at DNS as one of the choke points. A contributor called ninja says,

One of the next steps on the Internet that must take priority is the development of a decentralized DNS system that can be trusted. And encrypted. There are many developments in the DNS field such as the recent DNSSEC and that OpenDNS initiative to encrypt DNS queries (I’m using it but I honestly don’t know how to check if it works!). Then bittorrent will evolve into a huge cloud hdd making it virtually impossible to take down files from that big cloud. I’m guessing tor may evolve into something that will be used everyday too to ensure privacy and anonymity.

and so adds a storage medium to the list of SPOFs.

One of the replies to the comment about DNS points at Zooko’s triangle. I documented my researches on P2P DNS at this article on this wiki which like the New Yorker article point at Bitcoin’s name services, Namecoin.

Interesting initiatives obviously include TOR and the EFF pointed me at the Tahoe-FS, which has its home here…. The pirate browser and Diaspora suggest with TOR that peer-to-peer is the way to go but the stranglehold that the ISPs have on connectivity in the US and Europe will remain a choke point. Another initiative I discovered while writing this article is Project Meshnet. We or maybe our municipalities will need to build peer to peer connectivity, which may work well and easily in the towns, but will be harder to build in rural areas. DIY is hard since the use of the radio spectrum is highly regulated but I know that the anti-HADOPI campaigners and some US municipalities have considered building mesh networks from wifi or wifi max appliances; in the UK this is currently frowned on by the ISPs and inhibited by the Digital Economy Act although this is struggling to become Law. (I need to remember the story about someone switching their hub OS where they had originally used Linux because the radio spectrum regulator didn’t want the radio ASIC device driver source published because it allowed an illegal and unlicensed use of the spectrum).

While tidying up the office, I came across a ghard copy of this, “Decentralized Infrastructurefor Wikileaks”, which has some good ideas.

My personal experiences recently are firstly in moving into a flat in London, where I was legally able to piggy back of my neighbours connections using BT WiFi and alternatively, the difficulties friends living in more rural areas have found in getting connected. At the moment only massive multi-national corporations can afford the cable or satellite networks that alllow the internet’s connectivity but it’s possible the entry point is coming down, shown the way by Facebook’s purchase of Ascenta. to begin to execute on the vision expressed in this white paper by Mark Zuckerberg.

When will they give up with the Digital Economy Act? (It’s coming up to it’s 4th anniversary and they still have no time table for its implementation.)

ooOOOoo

Bruce Schneier points to Whatsapp’s adoption of end to end encryption for all content. The comments are as ever worth reading and don’t degenerate into foolish argument. I like, “Encryption is a honeypot”, encrypted broadcasting kills the usefulness of meta data and the idea of running Whatsapp over TOR. DFL 9 Apr 2016

I have installed the Related Articles plugin and between me and it, the following links might be useful.

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2 thoughts on “Ruggedising the Internet

  1. Bruce Schneier pointed out the arrival of Whatsapp’s end to end encryption which provoked a comment that encrypted broadcasts eliminates meta data; only the designated target can read it, a bit like bittorrent in reverse.

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