Say Goodbye to the U.S.-Dominated Internet

departing shipU.S. Army Corps of EngineersThe National Security Agency has had such an easy time of it when it comes to tapping telephones and Internet traffic because the international network through which all of that data runs is largely an American phenomenon. That's current fact, but it's not written in stone. There's no particular reason why the world should continue routing its communications through a country whose government has a known penchant to eavesdrop. And there's no particular reason why Internet users around the world should continue to entrust private data and security to companies based in the U.S. and highly vulnerable to the NSA's snoopy ways. In fact, the U.S.-dominated Internet may be a ship that has sailed.

Writes Brian Fung at the Washington Post:

One of the reasons electronic surveillance tools such as PRISM work so well is because much of the world’s Internet traffic goes through U.S. servers. The American companies that own and operate that equipment can be subpoenaed and the data handed over to the government. Voila — intelligence secured!

But that works only so long as the traffic keeps going where intelligence agencies want it to go. There are signs now that the gravy train of easy data is coming to an end. Foreign companies who once considered hosting their information on U.S. servers are beginning to change their minds. And they’re not the only ones. Governments are growing more wary, too.

Not having an American connection has already become something of a selling feature for companies offering communications security. After closing the doors of his encrypted email company, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison cautioned, "I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States." Mega promises a new encrypted email service based outside the United States, with privacy-friendly Iceland mentioned as a possible home. German telecoms advertise that they have home-grown security on their email that relieves users of the risk of using American services (though experts blast the move as largely marketing hype). And secure voice communications and texting outfit Seecrypt touts its base in South Africa as making it immune to U.S. laws.

As in the German example, a lot of this is sales patter. And, frankly, if you think the NSA is unreasonably intrusive, try Britain's GCHQ or France's DGSE. And those are free-ish countries with a tad more restraint than the likes of China or Russia.

But privacy and data security are suddenly a big part of the world's conversation. Not everybody cares, but enough individuals, companies and governments do want to keep their conversations private to invigorate an industry that can locate it itself in friendly locales and offer services around the world.

Going forward, more of the world's communications traffic is likely to be encrypted and running through services based outside the United States. Some of the trust placed in new services be misplaced and the NSA and its sister spy agencies around the world will still be looking to drill its way into the flow. But meeting privacy expectations and defeating the spooks shows every sign of being a popular service and a lucrative marketing niche.

Outside the United States.

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  • anon||

    And, frankly, if you think the NSA is unreasonably intrusive, try Britain's GCHQ or France's DGSE.

    Goddamnit, just because they do it more is not an excuse to do it at all.

  • Metazoan||

    I don't think that's the point. I think he's saying that there are problems with other countries, as well, so the rush to put services outside the US may not be so fast.

  • anon||

    Well, it's in a standalone paragraph, and he already admits there are plenty of places that value privacy higher than America does. It could go either way I guess; could be deleted and the entire post would have the same meaning.

  • RBS||

    Considering who wrote it I'm going with Metazoan's interpretation.

  • Killazontherun||

    Perhaps we'll see the Cryptonomicon solution. A sultan of a tiny island fiefdom encourages companies to use his territory for their encrypted resources. He's just an urbane rich guy with a title. There's nothing in it for him to spy on you. We need to find that guy.

    Speaking of Stephenson, it's the Diamond Age, bitches!

  • NeonCat||

    Still the Age of Sugar-Freeing, so far.

  • Rhywun||

    I want to be a Vicky. Monocles and orphans fit right in.

  • Hyperion||

    But this is all good in the end. You see, when the NSA loses control over being able to snoop on the entire worlds internet, they can concentrate on the real enemies, US citizens.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Isn't there another important story going on right now? Rhymes with Dort Would Hooting?

  • bmp1701||

    Tort Stood Fruiting?

  • Hyperion||

    Fort Wood Rooting?

  • Loki||

    Wart Could Scooting?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Fork Lude Cooting?

  • Spiny Norman||

    Short rude tooting?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Good, we're going to fuck up our economic dominance in as many ways as possible, as quickly as possible. Let's get it over with, so I can start looking for new locations.

  • Paul.||

    With or without Roadz?

  • anon||

    Where we're going, we won't need ... roadz.

  • ||

    Why don't you make like a tree and beat it?

  • anon||

    Collectively, we are probably the greatest collection of trivial knowledge the world has ever known.

  • ||

    I pride myself in my useless knowledge. A SQL CROSS APPLY statement? Fuck memorizing that, that's what the internet is for. But dumb shit Biff says? I have that shit locked down.

  • Greendogo||

    Yes. Thank you. Finally a Man who gets it.

  • Hyperion||

    I think that the core of our political elite class, IOW Obama, Reed, Boener, McCain, Feinstein, etc., are now convinced that they cannot control the entire world. They are scared about this, because it's always been the plan.

    So what is left to keep them in power? Isolate their slaves, the US citizens, from the rest of the world. Cut off their internet communications, cut off their ability to do business or take residence in other countries (See FATCA), create terrorists threats around the world that are hostile to US citizens.

    The final nail will be to build that fence that McCain wants. Then we will all really be slaves to a political elite class and there will be no escape. We'll effectively be the new and improved PRNK.

    Every time someone laughs at conspiracy theories like this, the feds do something to shock them even more, you know, like militarized police terrorizing citizens, IRS punishing political enemies, and finding out that NSA is spying on all of us? What's next? Nothing of course, this is all just a conspiracy, nothing to see here, move along.

  • thom||

    (See FATCA)

    How did this not get acronymed as FATCAT?

  • Paul.||

    Say Goodbye to the U.S.-Dominated Internet

    So that means France can shut down my internet connection if I say something mean?

  • Irish||

    I think it's more likely that places with free speech and comparatively unintrusive governments will pick up the slack.

    Say hello to an internet boom in Toronto or Valparaiso, Chile!

  • ||

    Canada has free speech? Think again, boy-o.

  • Irish||

    Compared to Europe?

  • ||

    Slightly. And I would put Quebec pretty much on a par with Europe.

  • Paul.||

    I would rate them about the same. Of course, "Europe" is an amalgam of different countries. Some less so, some more so.

  • Irish||

    Of course, "Europe" is an amalgam of different countries. Some less so, some more so.

    Yeah, but Western Europe is generally awful. Most of Canada isn't as bad as France or Scandinavia.

  • ||

    Canada has no First Amendment. They have hate speech councils or whatever those things are called. It's fucked up.

  • anon||

    I knew most countries didn't have any guarantees on freedom of speech that actually meant anything (most qualify it with "as long as it's safe!"), but I didn't realize just how far the US is ahead of the world on that frontier.

    Hong Kong is the only place in the world on the list that I find comparable.

  • Gorilla tactics||

    section 13 of the human rights commission, the courts just struck it down less than a year ago. Canadians are actually gaining more free speech under stephen harper

  • Paul.||

    There is good news in Canada on "you hurt my feelers so you're going to jail" provision:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2.....ights-act/

    Good news tempered by the fact that it's in the hands of Top Men:

    “Virtually every other Western democracy has these kinds of civil law controls on hate speech,” Warman said. “Now, Canada just moves one large step further out of line from realizing that these kinds of controls are necessary and imperative.”

    Producing and disseminating hate speech remains a crime in Canada, but regulating it will fall to the courts, not to human rights tribunals. Under the Criminal Code, spreading hate against identifiable groups can carry up to a two-year prison sentence.

    Hooray!

  • Irish||

    “Virtually every other Western democracy has these kinds of civil law controls on hate speech,” Warman said. “Now, Canada just moves one large step further out of line from realizing that these kinds of controls are necessary and imperative.”

    BUT MOOOOOOM! ALL THE OTHER KIDS ARE DOING IT!

  • ||

    There are no hate speech laws or cases of people getting in trouble for Twittering here in Czechia that I know of. But I wouldn't want to be rely on the Czech bureaucracy or court system to be an effective arbiter of internet free speech.

  • NeonCat||

    Would you say it's… Kafkaesque?

  • Paul.||

    But I wouldn't want to be rely on the Czech bureaucracy or court system to be an effective arbiter of internet free speech.

    In this country, Elena Kagen looks out for your internet free speech.

  • np||

    "Yes" and "depends on exactly what kind of speech" and "depends on which European country" (not all of which are part of the EU) because that particular freedom, which itself has been separated from principle, is also separated into various bits.

  • bmp1701||

    I think it's more likely that places with free speech and comparatively unintrusive governments will pick up the slack.
    In other words, we'll have to rely on an Internet hub being established on the Ayn Rand Nationaless Space Station.

  • Irish||

    I'm personally looking forward to floating servers that exist on retrofitted cruise ships.

  • Hyperion||

    Those make good drone targets.

  • Paul.||

    Submarine servers using VLF frequencies to do internet. Welcome to 56k download speeds!

  • Ted S.||

    56k is good enough for text-based email. Maybe it will stop people from posting those fucking gifs substituting for video. ;-)

  • anon||

    Oh, child, I remember the days we had to try to look at porn (pictures only, mind you) with 28.8k modems.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Ayn Rand Nationaless Space Station

    Matt Damon is right! Elysium is a real thing!

  • anon||

    MATT DAMON!

  • np||

    Antarctica. Seriously.

  • anon||

    Think there's some kind of bullshit world treaty not to colonize Antarctica or whatever.

  • Gorilla tactics||

    yeah there are a lot of claims on it, but some of it is still the wild west open frontier. I always used to dream about colonizing antartica and using huge ass space mirrors to heat it up and terraform it.

  • Redmanfms||

    Think there's some kind of bullshit world treaty not to colonize Antarctica or whatever.

    Those treaties mean fuck-all to people who are not party to the treaties and have the intention of creating an independent nation there.

    Though, having been to McMurdo, except for a visit to marvel at its magnificent desolation, you'd be hard-pressed to get anybody to go there. And forget about anything resembling self-reliance.

  • Paul.||

    Embargo. Seriously.

  • Loki||

    the Ayn Rand Nationaless Space Station.

    That's what we'll call our L-5 space colony.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Switzerland* is to banking as country x is to internet privacy. We need to find country x

    *Switzerland isn't what it used to be in this regard.

  • Hyperion||

    As long as most countries can be bullied into anything by the US, that's not going to happen. Fortunately, the age of US bullying is going to come to an end soon, as our economy will no longer be able to sustain it.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Basically, we need a new Switzerland. I'm think Indonesia.

  • Loki||

    Perhaps the Isle of Man? While they rely on England for defense they do have their own domestic government, & insanely low taxes.

    Not sure if they fall under the purview of Britain's GCHQ or not though. If so that's an obvious deal breaker. Maybe Iceland then?

  • Lady Bertrum||

    You people are too Euro-centric. Forget Europe (or nearly Europe U.K.). Think Asia. Asians have both the need and the geo-political power. They'll need a local that offers a Hong Kong/Switzerland like environment.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Dominica offers passports for $100,000. Free Country Project!

  • Gorilla tactics||

    not a bad idea, its like the charter city thing

  • croaker||

    Big bullseye for hurricanes, though.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Step up to the plate, Iceland.

  • LynchPin1477||

    So not only have they violated basic freedoms, but they've managed to destroy future wealth in the process. Keep on saving or creating all those jobs, ass holes.

  • Paul.||

    IT's 'cause people haven't paid their fare sharez. There's plenty of money, we just haven't shaken you hard enough yet.

  • anon||

    There's plenty of money, we just haven't shaken you hard enough yet.

    The Progressive's position on just about everything right there folks.

  • sarcasmic||

    If the rich paid their fair share, then they wouldn't be rich, now would they?

  • Paul.||

    That's the goal.

  • croaker||

    Tax the rich
    To feed the poor
    Until there are
    no rich no more

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Oh, no. I'm not learning a bunch of Cyrillic IP addresses.

  • Paul.||

    Cyrillic won't last long as the enamel ones.

  • fish_remote||

    Cyrillic won't last long as the enamel ones.

    http://instantrimshot.com/

    Ladies and gentlemen....Paul will be here all week!

  • ||

    Yes you Я!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You just said, "Yes you I." Or, phonetically, "Yes you ya." YOU'RE SENDING MIXED SIGNALS.

  • ||

    That's because you are always negging me.

  • Paul.||

    I see the problem as not one of security, but one of how big the law enforcement/security state's hammer is.

    You can build a system in this country (any country) that the NSA absolutely positively cannot crack. So, falling back on never underestimating the government's ability to blah blah blah, they simply hand you a "warrant" that says, "Hand your shit over, let us see it, or you'll rot in a prison for 99 years".

    I see this as just as likely to happen in any other country-- especially a country which may tacitly respect privacy, but has no strange document written by dead white slave owners that says they're not supposed to do it in the first place.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    but has no strange document written by dead white slave owners that says they're not supposed to do it in the first place

    What is this strange and confusing document of which you speak. I hast certainly not heard of such a thing.

  • Loki||

    Say Goodbye to the U.S.-Dominated Internet

    And also say goodbye to the economic boon that the internet has been for this country for the last 20-30 years.

    The U.s. governemnt: shooting economic activity in the dick for the last 236 years.

  • anon||

    The U.s. governemnt: shooting economic activity in the dick for the last 236 years.

    Hey, it got a brief respite with Coolidge.

  • Loki||

    True, and maybe the first few decades weren't too bad either, but for the most part it's been dick shooting all the way down.

  • bmp1701||

    Cleveland deserves to be placed alongside Coolidge on the very short list of presidents who actually did not like to interfere with the economy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Cleveland was also big into rooting out corruption in government. One of the best Presidents ever.

    Also - "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?"
    "Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!"

  • pmains||

    I hear he was one of Coolidge's pall bearers.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    The big tech companies are complicit. Once they reach a certain size they develop that incestuous we coopt you/you coopt us relationship with government.

    Eric Schmidt is a horrible human being.

  • anon||

    Once they reach a certain size they develop that incestuous we coopt you/you coopt us relationship with government.

    Of course. Why bother coming up with shit people want to buy when you can just take their money via government?

  • Paul.||

    The real problem is, again, law enforcement hammer.

    How many of us would let our billion dollar companies we built crash into the ground just to not comply with a National Security Letter?

    And from my reading, it's getting worse. They'll throw you in jail, so we're not even talking about fines any more.

  • Dweebston||

    For those of you in the know, is it possible to have my internet delivered by an international body rather than someone based domestically?

  • Paul.||

    No, not realistically because of the 'last mile of copper' or in this case, the last thousand miles of copper.

    I don't know how a foreign entity could provide you with internet without having a presence in this country.

    Now, with satellite based internet, all bets are off.

  • anon||

    With satellite don't you still have to have a 56k modem or something for upload traffic?

  • Paul.||

    No, I believe with expensive satellite tech it will go both ways...

    You can transmit to a satellite-- I don't know if anyone offers that at a consumer level right now.

    So the realistic answer to your question is probably in the affirmative.

  • bmp1701||

    I thought that current satellite internet downloads and uploads through the satellite dish. I have a satellite connection, and I think it's a two way.

  • Paul.||

    It may. In the early days of satellite it required a land line. If it's two way, what's your performance?

  • anon||

    His comment is still uploading.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Isn't it almost as good to VPN to a server outside the country? That way, any traffic inside the US is encrypted, no?

  • Paul.||

    Yes, but someone has to provide your initial connection.

  • Loki||

    Unfortunately satellite based communications can still be intercepted pretty easily. It's just RF, so anyone with a reciever can intercept it. Of course if it's encrypted, then it won't do any good for anyone who doesn't have the decryption keys, but a couple of national security letters will solve that problem as far as the NSA is concerned.

    Bottom line: there's really no way to not have the NSA potentially spying on your internet and email usage if you live in the US. And unfortunately even if you move to another country, if your data even comes through the US, Great Britain, or any of the other English speaking countries (Canada, NZ, Australia) you're pretty much fucked.

  • Dweebston||

    To be honest, I'm less concerned about being surveilled than I am about being curtailed. If the "net neutrality" hammer ever comes down on providers and the feds gain discretion over what people are allowed to access, I'd like to take my business to pirate coves overseas.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Come back, Sealand!

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