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Annual "Freedom to Connect" meetings in Washington, DC bring together people who believe  connecting to the Internet is a basic right for everyone.  The Internet we wish to build and connect to should be fast and charge the same rates to anyone who wants a ticket to ride.   Our fight -- the fight of any politically active person -- for freedom to connect, for great bandwidth worthy of a great nation, for net neutrality -- all this has now been made harder by the imposition of government surveillance on the Internet.  This burdens any politically active person with the possible need to build anonymity and encryption technology into the Internet, as well as presenting any activist with potential threats to their activism.  Here are suggestions of people we should bring to Freedom to Connect meetings to explain this new threat to both our freedom and our Internet.  The suggestions were well-received at the last (5/2012) meeting.   


As great as our speaker agenda is, are we missing something?
J. I. Nelson, Ph.D
at Freedom to Connect 2012 May 21

"...the Internet and e-mail are the most surveillance-friendly media ever
--M.A. Caloyannides, Mitretek Systems, writing in
Institute for Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) SPECTRUM, 5/2000 p. 47.
"The internet is the most liberating tool for humanity ever invented, and also the best for surveillance. It's not one or the other. It's both."
--John Perry Barlow, co-founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2012
"While I care a lot about government spying on US citizens ... I am not sure that he'd [James Bamford] be a fit for F2C"
--David Isenberg, organizer, Freedom to Connect, March 2012
Freedom to Connect is great because great speakers keep us ahead of the curve. But aren’t we missing half the Internet story, its dark side?  Think about whom you'd invite and state those concerns.  Freedoms don't come easily.  Everyone here understands that we face a tough game.  Here are a few suggestions:
The Internet backbone is tapped in major American cities.  Duplicate packet streams go to the Nat’l Security Agency (NSA).  Search "AMAZON: Wiring up the Big Brother Machine" for Mark Kline's book and then invite him to tell us where we stand now.
You live your life on the Internet -- got a good backup or archive of all that? 
Some of us knew of the government's big data storage center in San Antonio (search "470,000 NSA"), but it took James Bamford to find the NSA’s 1 million square foot Internet data complex in Bluffdale, UT (search "WIRED Bamford").  If you succeed enough to become a person of interest, you probably can’t dig up records of donated  cash and context for everything you’ve done, but someone else may sit you down and  tell you about it.
Jake Appelbaum has been in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and Hong Kong training activists how to avoid the surveillance now built into the Internet (search TOR Arab activists Jacob Appelbaum).  But the Internet anonymity methods Jake taught activists fighting for civic society happen also to be used by whistle blowers on our own  government's secrecy.  Jacob Appelbaum is now a "person of interest" whose  computers and cellphones are so routinely impounded at airports that he never travels abroad with them anymore.  From Alexandria Egypt to Zucotti Park, this is a story Jake should be invited to tell us here.
EFF first saw problems overseas, and gave us: "A Practical Guide to Internet Technology for Political Activists in Repressive Regimes."
Then the problems came home.  EFF offered a how-to guide to Fight Government Spying:  A Primer on Surveillance Self-Defense (details behind the primer:  Here at F2C meetings, EFF board members and legal staff have spoken before.  It is time to have them again.  Search "EFF Internet eavesdropping" while  you wait. 
The government commands, and Domain Name Service (DNS) ceases – your  Website name  disappears.  Following the seizure of 82 domain names by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, forget about the sanctity of the Internet's "root servers".  Then Senator Joe Lieberman speaks, and your Website itself goes dark just as PayPal,  MasterCard and VISA cut off your funding so you can't afford to buy and site new servers someplace else.  Freedom on the Internet is only as strong as your weakest intermediary.
I was pleased to meet John Perry Barlow at the first Washington, DC Freedom to Connect meeting (2005).  Looking at Internet providers and other corporations today, Barlow sees arbitrary power.  "We now have private organisations with the ability to stifle free expression.  These companies have no bill of rights that applies to their action – they only have terms of service."   What’s Barlow’s new project with Daniel Ellsberg? It is time for Barlow to speak again at F2C. 
At F2C, a policy goal is the separation of whomever runs fat, dumb pipes from the Comcasts of the world,  who will push their own content.  Separating "pipe" and "content" ownership will someday get corporations out of our way.  Good.  That leaves us with our own wealthy, powerful, and governing entities sitting on the data, sitting on the switches, and saying nothing to nobody.  F2C is not a meeting of the unaware.  We come here to face reality and fight for change.

F2C has always looked at the impact of the Internet on society, and the backlash.  F2C has always had something more precious than policy in Washington DC:  reality contact. Freedom to connect to the ultimate surveillance tool is not the freedom we seek.

J. I. Nelson, Ph.D.
Society for Neuroscience
jerry (at) nelsonic (dot) org

How warrantless wiretapping works

Nothing in your piece is contrary to my technical knowledge of encryption, telephony, vice recognition or data mining techniques.  I found it lucid, compelling and informative.  Thanks for that.
Edward A. Youngs
Bell Labs, Bellcore/Telcorida, USWEST

Mini-Tutorial:  The National Infrastructures for Voice and for Data Communications

Great papers, and required reading for anyone who wants to start getting serious about this field.
Tim  (Prof. Timothy Wu)
Columbia Law School

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