CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THE ARC OF BIG BROTHER: By 2025, the web will be governed by a system heavily influenced by governments

 

 

THE ARC OF BIG BROTHER:By 2025, the web will be governed by a system heavily influenced by governments

   

'Give it a break, Doris. Some poor soul couldn't take any more'

 

'Give it a break, Doris. Some poor soul couldn't take any more'

 

Last week’s emergency surveillance legislation may have sounded like something out of George Orwell’s novel 1984, but was cited as yet another real-life example of states trying to control their citizens. 

It’s been 65 years since Orwell described a fictional dystopian world of surveillance and manipulation by so-called Big Brother, and experts claim over the next decade this fiction is about to become fact.

The Net Threats report from Pew Research Centre details how, by 2025, the web will be governed by a system heavily influenced by governments, large corporations, and security services all trying to control our behaviours.

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More than 1,400 experts were surveyed for The Net Threats report by the Pew Research Centre. The report details how, by 2025, the web will be governed by a system heavily influenced by governments, large corporations, and security services (stock image pictured)

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More than 1,400 experts were surveyed for The Net Threats report by the Pew Research Centre. The report details how, by 2025, the web will be governed by a system heavily influenced by governments, large corporations, and security services (stock image pictured)

This could mean what we buy, read, watch and share will be restricted, and our surfing history stored for future use.

More than 1,400 experts, including analysts, editors and professors, were canvassed for their opinion.

MAIN THREATS FACING THE WEB

The Pew Centre report discovered four major threats facing the web: 

Actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control will lead to more blocking, filtering and segmentation of the internet.

Trust will be weakened, as a result of revelations about government and corporate surveillance - and will likely increase surveillance in the future.

Commercial pressures and influences will affect the flow of information, and make the web less open - a threat campaigners for net neutrality already fear following debates about internet fast lanes.

Efforts to fix the TMI (too much information) problem might over-compensate and actually thwart content sharing.

According to their responses, they believe actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control will lead to more blocking, filtering and segmentation of the internet. Trust will be weakened, as a result of revelations about government and corporate surveillance - and this will likely increase surveillance in the future.

And commercial pressures will affect the flow of information, and make the web less open - a threat campaigners for net neutrality already fear following debates over internet fast lanes.

Paul Saffo, managing director at Discern Analytics and consulting associate professor at Stanford University, said that by 2025 'the pressures to balkanise the global internet will continue and create new uncertainties.

'Governments will become more skilled at blocking access to unwelcome sites.’

Dave Burstein, editor of Fast Net News, added: ‘Governments worldwide are looking for more power over the net, especially within their own countries.

‘Britain, for example, has just determined that ISPs block sites the government considers ‘terrorist’ or otherwise dangerous.

In 1984, Winston Smith is told to control the flow of opinion using the government's language Newspeak (still from the 1984 Michael Radford film adaption is pictured). Experts feel this is already happening, in places such as North Korea, and predict that, by 2025, it will become more common place, and spread across the west too

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In 1984, Winston Smith is told to control the flow of opinion using the government's language Newspeak (still from the 1984 Michael Radford film adaption is pictured). Experts feel this is already happening, in places such as North Korea, and predict that, by 2025, it will become more common place, and spread across the west too

'This will grow. There will usually be ways to circumvent the obstruction, but most people won’t bother.’

The main criticism of such plans, and the main issue surrounding the data obtained, is its impact on privacy.

Raymond Plzak, from The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said: ‘The inconsistent protection of privacy, whether private information is voluntarily provided or not, as well as the inconsistent protection against exploitation will continue to be the bane of connected environment.’

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured) has condemned the UK's plans for an emergency surveillance bill, in what he described 'as increased powers of intrusion'

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured) has condemned the UK's plans for an emergency surveillance bill, in what he described 'as increased powers of intrusion'

He continued that if local, regional, national and international private and public sector companies fail to join forces and accept a universal way of handling these privacy issues, sharing data and being connected will become more limited by 2025. 

This will also have an impact on preventing content being shared around the world.

In 1984, character Winston Smith is told to edit reports and control the flow of opinion using the government's language Newspeak, and experts feel this is already happening, in places such as North Korea.

And they predict that, by 2025, this will become more common place, and widespread across the West too.

‘The increased Balkanisation of the internet is a possible outcome of the [Edward] Snowden revelations, as people seek to develop systems that are less accessible by the NSA, GCHQ and so on,’ said Professor Kate Crawford, a research scientist at the MIT Center for Civic Media.

‘Meanwhile, the dominant content companies may seek ever more rigorous ways to prevent the flow of copyright content within and across borders.’

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden recently condemned the UK's plans for an emergency surveillance bill, voicing concerns about the lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described 'as increased powers of intrusion'.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S pushed forward with plans to let internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.

The controversial 'fast lane' rules received heavy criticism from many companies that do business online, along with open internet advocates.

Under the plans for priority usage, Netflix for example, could pay extra to use fast lanes to get the maximum amount of bandwith to its customers.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed forward with plans to let internet service providers charge content companies, such as Netflix (pictured), for faster delivery of their traffic to users. The Pew report said such commercialisation of the internet is the biggest challenge to its growth by 2025

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Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed forward with plans to let internet service providers charge content companies, such as Netflix (pictured), for faster delivery of their traffic to users. The Pew report said such commercialisation of the internet is the biggest challenge to its growth by 2025

At the heart of net neutrality is an open internet in which all data being sent from websites to customers is treated the same, regardless of size or destination.

All this traffic is given the same priority along the same lanes and no site is given preferential treatment.

WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S pushed forward with plans to let internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.

The controversial 'fast lane' rules received heavy criticism from many companies that do business online, along with open internet advocates.

Under the plans for priority usage, Netflix for example, could pay extra to use fast lanes to get the maximum amount of bandwith to its customers, and maintain and improve streaming quality and reliability.

At the heart of net neutrality is an open internet in which all data being sent from websites to customers is treated the same, regardless of size or destination.

All this traffic is given the same priority along the same lanes and no site is given preferential treatment.

Although it seems like a fair model, in which sites that use the most bandwith pay the most money, campaigners claim it will drastically impact on industry competition.

For example, Netflix has the money to pay for better service, using the fast lanes, while smaller companies don't.

Although it seems like a fair model, in which sites that use the most bandwith pay the most money, campaigners claim it will drastically impact on industry competition.

Experts, including Glenn Edens, director of research in networking, security, and distributed systems at PARC said: ‘Network operators’ desire to monetise their assets to the detriment of progress represents the biggest potential problem.'

A post-doctoral researcher, who was not named in the report, continued: ‘We are seeing an increase in walled gardens created by giants like Facebook and Apple.

'Commercialisation of the internet, paradoxically, is the biggest challenge to the growth of the Internet. Communication networks’ lobbying against net neutrality is the biggest example of this.’

Earlier today, the Internet Association wrote to the Federal Communications Commission claiming that broadband providers could turn the internet into 'a pay-for-priority platform more closely resembling cable television than today's onternet.'

The group, which represents Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and others, urged the Commission to protect its open and neutral architecture, which is the force behind the internet's success.

PJ Rey, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Maryland, added that by 2025: ‘It is very possible we will see the principle of net neutrality undermined.

‘In a political paradigm where money equals political speech so much hinges on how much ISPs and content providers are willing and able to spend on defending their competing interests.

'Unfortunately, the interests of everyday users count for very little.’

While a former chair of an IETF working group concluded : 'Corporate influence on the political process will largely eliminate the public’s freedom to do as they please on the internet.

'I would like to see the internet come to be regarded as a public utility, as broadcast spectrum was, but I think the concentration of power is too extreme for that degree of freedom to happen.'

 

 

Emergency legislation will today be announced at Westminster to allow Britain’s spies to access data about the public’s phone calls, texts and internet use.

The laws will be rushed through Parliament amid mounting concern about the threat posed to the UK by jihadists returning from fighting in Syria.

Ministers and security officials have also voiced public fears about the damage caused by Edward Snowden – the fugitive US official who stole and leaked top secret documents on GCHQ intelligence gathering to the Guardian newspaper.

The laws are intended to protect the 'capability' which the likes of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 are on the brink of losing

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The laws are intended to protect the 'capability' which the likes of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 are on the brink of losing

The law will force mobile phone and internet companies to store information relating to all recent telephone calls, emails and internet searches, so they can be accessed by security officials.

There are long-standing Coalition tensions over the issue of communications data. But officials insist the legislation is not intended to give the security services and police any new powers.

Rather, it is intended to protect the ‘capability’ which the likes of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 are on the brink of losing.

More...

Under an EU directive passed in the wake of the July 7 attacks, telephone and internet companies have been obliged to store details such as who a person calls, where from and for how long for a period of 18 months. 

It has proved crucial in smashing a series of terrorist plots, as well as organised crime syndicates and paedophile groups. 

But the directive was ruled unlawful by the European Court of Justice in April this year – with ministers given a strict deadline to re-write UK law or stop using the spy powers.

The MI5 headquarters in central London will be protected by the new laws it is said

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The MI5 headquarters in central London will be protected by the new laws it is said

After weeks of negotiations between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, agreement has now been reached to re-instate the powers.

This will be done by writing them directly into British law rather than relying on the now unlawful 2006 EU data retention directive.

Tory ministers remain adamant that further powers are needed to reflect changes in technology since 2006 - but accept this will now have to wait until after the 2015 General Election.

The Liberal Democrats remain implacably opposed to the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’ – which would have given police and spy agencies even greater powers to monitor every telephone call, email and internet search in Britain.

These three men all claim to have come from Britain and feature in an ISIS video featuring young British jihadists encouraging Muslims in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria

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These three men all claim to have come from Britain and feature in an ISIS video featuring young British jihadists encouraging Muslims in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria

In a speech last month, Mrs May said the security services need new surveillance powers to counter the ‘real and deadly’ threat from jihadists.

She said the conflicts in Syria and Iraq had created a haven for terrorists just a few hours from London by plane.

At the same time, the internet has become a ‘paradise’ for terrorists and criminals who can operate out of the reach of the authorities.

But Mrs May added that the powers used to defeat Britain’s enemies were not keeping up with new technology, leading to a collapse in Britain’s capacity to protect its citizens. 

Later this year, a report by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee into the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London, is expected to argue that - had MI5 had greater internet surveillance powers - it could have helped to thwart the plot.

When the National Security Agency intercepted the online accounts of legally targeted foreigners over a four-year period it also collected the conversations of nine times as many ordinary Internet users, both Americans and non-Americans, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.

Nearly half of those surveillance files contained names, email addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents, the Post reported in a story posted on its website Saturday night.

While the federal agency tried to protect their privacy by masking more than 65,000 such references to individuals, the newspaper said it found nearly 900 additional email addresses that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or residents.

Nearly half of NSA surveillance files contained names, email addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents

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Nearly half of NSA surveillance files contained names, email addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents

At the same time, the intercepted messages contained material of considerable intelligence value, the Post reported, such as information about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

As an example, the newspaper said the files showed that months of tracking communications across dozens of alias accounts led directly to the capture in 2011 of a Pakistan-based bomb builder suspected in a 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali.

The Post said it was withholding other examples, at the request of the CIA, that would compromise ongoing investigations.

The material reviewed by the Post included roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

It spanned President Barack Obama's first term, 2009 to 2012, and was provided to the Post by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted were catalogued and recorded, the Post reported.

The newspaper described that material as telling 'stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes.'

The material collected included more than 5,000 private photos, the paper said.

The cache Snowden provided to the newspaper came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to the Post.

By law, the NSA may 'target' only foreign nationals located overseas unless it obtains a warrant based on probable cause from a special surveillance court, the Post said.

'Incidental collection' of third-party communications is inevitable in many forms of surveillance, according to the newspaper.

In the case of the material Snowden provided, those in an online chat room visited by a target or merely reading the discussion were included in the data sweep, as were hundreds of people using a computer server whose Internet protocol was targeted.

 

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