Bonum Certa Men Certa

Growing Centralisation Means More Spying and Censorship

It's easier to collect, sell and hand over data when it's in few places

Subway - grand central station
Can't even enter the subway anymore (e.g. London's "Tube") without giving your identity

Summary: In order to tackle surveillance on the Internet we need far more than HTTPS and certificates (they do nothing to tackle spying at the endpoints); we need to move towards a decentralised and encrypted Internet where it's inherently difficult to track where people go and what they do

MINUTES ago I stumbled upon this headline about "smart [sic] collar for pets" (and their so-called 'owners'). Like kids who upload videos of their parents and grandparents, sometimes against their will and without implicit/explicit consent (it's harder to explain those concepts to children), here we have another vector for spying "by peer" (spying on non-consenting people nearby or close to those who are, e.g. Amazon "listening devices" disguised as "smart" assistants... assistants to spies basically). With fitness "trackers" and all sorts of "health"-related gadgets and "apps" that broadcast data to governments and private companies (farming people's behaviour/thoughts) we're not moving in a positive direction, are we?

One can only guess what comes next, but it's a futurist's challenge.

"We're working on making this site accessible in a P2P fashion."The surveillance of children and pets extends to humans and adults. Consent isn't needed from the subject of surveillance when that subject chooses to associate with those who disregard privacy or were told not to care (because "nothing to hide" or some similar malarkey). People will need to start caring and then speaking about such things; we already have sufficient volumes of leaks to demonstrate not only theoretical threats but practical harms. We know how society as a whole, individually as well as collectively, is harmed by 'mind farming' in social control media and various so-called services that spy on and simultaneously indoctrinate (or program) people. Centralised platforms (not just Web-based) are a core issue almost nobody talks about, not even the EFF it seems...

Central towerThe response to this cannot be limited to philosophical; it should also be technical (where this is feasible and we generally have the skillset). We're working on making this site accessible in a P2P fashion. We've taken the first step by self-hosting (at home) for small files, with examples such as this (IPFS). There's an uptime and resilience advantage associated with this (censorship resistance notwithstanding), as we recently saw in Groklaw's case. When it comes to security, remember what Bruce Schneier once said:

"The problem isn't the Internet. The problem is the horribly insecure computers attached to the Internet. I would rather rewrite Windows than TCP/IP."

TCP/IP is a perfectly fine protocol (UDP likewise, for DNS and several other purposes). The Internet is generally OK. It works. It's the World Wide Web that's getting troublesome, partly because of what Web browsers have become.

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