10.28.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Becoming Robust to Censorship is a Technical Challenge for Web Sites That Publish Suppressed Information and Supportive Material

Posted in Site News at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum fcb0f8018ad1afe99a276a0593c5859f

Summary: Being at the mercy of third parties indebted to corporate patrons (or banks), sometimes in “reputation” or “political correctness” or “safety” clothing, is a topological issue; we need to teach more people to self-host and exercise full control over speech and information (never let those with money and power decide who can speak and who cannot)

THIS video seems timely for 2 reasons: one is the ‘self-censorship’ in Techrights (requests to remove some things, which we cannot do because of the way we’re technically structured) and the second is the extradition case of Julian Assange (see this new Snowden video if you’ve not seen it already).

“The Internet was designed to be mostly decentralised (to withstand and endure nuclear wars for example), but the Web is increasingly monopolistic and centralised; at the same time, a lot of people have been manipulated into joining Social Control Media as if that’s a substitute or an outlet for journalism.”The video does not focus on Wikileaks, but for analogy’s worth we use some examples from Wikileaks. One thing we’ve learned over time is that some degree of anonymity — not the same as removing actual information — might be needed. We can have operational transparency without revealing too much about the structural aspects (topology), which can make it easier to target individuals with bribes and/or threats. Over the past few years there have been many attempts of many different kinds to censor, suppress, and even de-platform us. With a bit of diplomacy we’ve managed to withstand all these attempts, but no doubt it hasn’t ended and won’t end as long as we provide a platform for suppressed views and censored (elsewhere) material. The video was supposed to be quite short, but it ended up lasting over an hour. We still have a lot of stories to tell about our experience, but the short story is, self-hosting and things like IPFS, Gemini, IRC, text-only media (e.g. bulletins) help improve robustness; moreover, they act as a sort of deterrence against SLAPP and ‘cancel culture’ (which still happens silently in big IRC networks). The Internet was designed to be mostly decentralised (to withstand and endure nuclear wars for example), but the Web is increasingly monopolistic and centralised; at the same time, a lot of people have been manipulated into joining Social Control Media as if that’s a substitute or an outlet for journalism. We need to push back against those trends.

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