I find it ironic, that just two days after publishing my post Fahrenheit WWW, which discusses the term censorship and what governments can get out of it (more out of the in-land point of view), a new bill was announced in the US, giving the president the privilege to limit or cut off the internet connection for a time period up to 30 days(!). All of that with the lame excuse of “Cyberterrorism”.
I don’t find it ironic, rather horrifying, that the congress needed less than a week to approve this NON-democratic, NON-liberal, NON-equal, NON-free, NON-… NON-… NON-… decision.
I ask myself the same question.
In my opinion, Cyberterrorism is a lame excuse coined by a specific group of people that have a lot of interests – that are not always for the good of all – to develop another control mechanism (remember the last post?) that would help them maneuver different processes to their own interest.
By processes I mean political, social, economical and anything else that can come to mind, because the internet has an effect on all of them.
I won’t deny that terror attacks do take place also online – Turkish attacks on Israeli websites, attacks on US government websites (origin is still not certain) and attack on Google accounts of Chinese right activists are just a few examples.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck…
It must be one.
I’m not denying the existence of Cyberterrorism, but I do dismiss it as a reason for the measures the US-Government is taking.
If any website, let’s assume the Pentagon, wants to protect itself from being hacked, they should invest in their own technology or even consider going offline when needed.
Furthermore, governments should invest their resources in making this world a better and equal place to live in, where no more terror is needed (and it doesn’t matter what kind of terror) because everybody everywhere has equal rights and equal access to resources (social, economical, education etc.).
After all, if I don’t want someone to break into my own home I lock the door, install a sophisticated alarm-system, buy a guard-dog and even purchase an insurance policy. But what I do not do is block all the routes in and out of my city, shut down all the airports, or enforce a curfew.
It just doesn’t work that way!
So what do they get out of it?!
Most discussions about this decision concentrate on means of in-land control that are made possible, such as filtering or censoring of websites like Wikileaks (which seems to be the pentagon’s no.1 target, even before good old Osama).
Those discussions are at most important and relate directly to my hypothesis in Fahrenheit WWW, but I aim to begin a new discussion.
So you have the right to freedom of speech only when you say what the government likes. That’s not a new concept. But as the topic of this post points out, it’s about the free world and that’s why I want to concentrate on the global perspective of this decision.
According to Wikipedia, the US has 310 million citizens.
So how come that one person, that not even all of the Americans have elected him, could have influence on the other 6,521,600,000 people that lives on our planet?
There are two kinds of people in the world: US and NON-US.
Or are there?
One would think that in cyberspace, a space without nations and borders, it wouldn’t matter anymore where you live or which nation you belong to (and those two don’t always correlate). But it’s important for us to remember, that a huge percentage of the internet traffic doesn’t just go through the US, but also major services are provided from there.
That is why I, a non-US citizen or resident, really concerned for the implications of that decision.
And here is my argument:
Scenario 1 – The dollar crashes (not much of an imaginary scenario is it?).
The US shuts off its internet, no trade without the New York Stock Exchange can be done, the dollar may be saved, but our economy crashes.
Scenario 2 – Another scandal of the US-Government is being leaked out (even less imaginary than a dollar-crash).
The US internet goes offline, we can’t Google it, we can’t Yahoo!-Search it, we can’t Bing-Search it, we can’t tweet it, we can’t even share it on Facebook / Digg / StumbleUpon etc.
Our free speech is being controlled, without even being within the physical or cybernetic boarders of the US.
It is not that all those services will practically crash if the US will go offline, most of them do have servers abroad, the services will probably continue to work partially in some countries, but those servers won’t be able to handle all the traffic in case that the US servers are down. Furthermore, in a case that the US goes offline, there is a big chance for the internet traffic outside of the US to significantly grow and load those servers even more.
Scenario 3 – “Cyberterrorism” attack on the US.
Again, the US internet goes offline; all other countries are suffering major influence and damages in many fronts: economic, communications, services (not just Google, but many other expensive and professional services in many fields are centered in the US) are not functioning.
Result – the US made their problem into our problem. Not they are suffering from online terror, we are suffering from online terror, we are paying for someone else’s (political) mistakes.
There is no better way to draw someone else to your side in a war. No better way to draw someone else into your war.
What I’ve tried to make clear in this post is that this mechanism produces a new type of control, one that goes over and out of the boarders of the US.
Maybe for the first time in history, one country, one person, can have control (through information!) on the rest of the world through actions done inside of its “borders”.