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01 January 2017 @ 07:49 am
December Days 30 - Censorship is Damage to the Network  
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

The Internet Archive intends to copy itself to Canada in case the incoming administration gets censorial. Public libraries intend to keep the minimum of data and logs possible to prevent privacy intrusions by government order. People become creative and inventive in the ways that they route around censors and others who wish to stand in the way of information. Onion routing, for example, or the use of the virtual private network.

If you are confronted with keyword filters, then it's simple enough to find pages with images or videos that contain the information requested. (Not so great for the visually impaired, but I'll bet there are audio and other means that do the same.) Blacklists can be brute-forced, somewhat, to find things that aren't on the list. Whitelists can be turned into an aggravation headache for IT with deluges of requests. Port blockers can be tunneled around, credentials forged or stolen. Essentially, as technology advances, the technology to fool it advances as well. (It's a great line from My Teacher Flunked The Planet.)

But this also applies to social situations well. The Ashley Madison hack showed us that there were more than a few people who needed or wanted to route around the covenants they had put themselves in, without necessarily wanting to it being able to dissolve those agreements. People who don't want to be spied on by others, which could be partners, employers, or government entities, use library computers for their work and Internet searches. Or check out library materials for use in their lives, so that they can explore ideas and identities without having to deal with the judgment of others.

This is why it is essential that devices that are in your possession be under your control. What's phoning home on you is important to know. I also don't like having to make decisions between installing an operating system on a smartphone of my choosing and not being able to partake in cultural phenomena, but that also happens when someone gets overbroad and zealous about making sure a phone has never had anything that might lead to modification done to it.

Getting back to the actual point that started this post, the decision by the Internet Archive should be seen as good practice - since a lot of the servers that power websites and other things are located in the United States, it seems life a very prudent idea to have an off-site backup, in case the political climate shifts so strongly that the information in the Archive is at risk. Or in case bad things happen at the data center that houses the archive. I think it's a rather telling sign, though, that people who are dedicated to archiving and documenting what has happened online are making sure that they have plans to be outside the reach of the incoming administration. It's pretty bad now in surveillance and secrecy, thanks to the cover of fighting the Concept War, but they stayed put for that time. Now they're looking to move. While you can't easily stop things that want to be out in the open, because networks reroute around damaged nodes, you can make it difficult for anyone who wants to speak that truth.

It is my sincere hope that such measures do not become necessary to do one's work.

(And that any of you suffering under censorship of any form find the way to get out and tell the truth about it all.)

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