Censorship

U.N. Out of My Inbox!: New Spam Rules May Limit Internet Freedom

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Don't worry—the UN's already checked=

Internet users, beware—a little-known United Nations body may soon give the government the right to poke around your inbox.

As Senior Editor Peter Suderman recently reported, nations in the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are scheduled to meet in December at the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT) to discuss proposals and finalize negotiations over Internet regulation rules. These proposals have been kept under wraps—that is, until the watchdog website WCITleaks.org released official documents on Friday, revealing plans to control the Internet on an international level. Sounds scary? Well, it is.

Leaked proposals from nations like Russia, China, and the Arab States uncover plans that may give the U.N. power to intervene on issues of Web content filtering and cybersecurity, while legitimizing government censorship. One such proposal, supported by Russia, Egypt, Rwanda, and Algeria, aims to add an international legal definition of spam to the ITU's existing treaty. The establishment of such a definition would provide governments a legal excuse to inspect personal emails in the name of fighting the spam menace. And while the document notes that the United States does not support the inclusion of a spam definition, delegates from the U.S. have made little attempt to prevent authoritarian nations from pushing legislation that may greatly limit online freedom.

Other provisions listed in the 212-page document include a provision from China that "encourages Member States…to take appropriate measures for ensuring network security"—a mildly-phrased addition that the Internet Society calls "a very active and inappropriate role in patrolling and enforcing newly defined standards of behaviour on telecommunication and Internet networks."

Internet regulation is frightening, no doubt, but internationally recognized justification for governmental snooping? Now that just bytes.

The folks at Tech Liberation Front parse the implications of WCIT preparations here.

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  1. …delegates from the U.S. have made little attempt to prevent authoritarian nations from pushing legislation that may greatly limit online freedom.

    Well duh. They support it. This gives them plausible deniability.

    “It wasn’t us, it was those darned Arabs and Russians. Those wacky dictators, what are you going to do?”

    1. CYBER TERRURZZ!!1!!

  2. These proposals have been kept under wraps?that is, until the watchdog website WCITleaks.org released official documents on Friday, revealing plans to control the Internet on an international level.

    Whelp, the SlashDot crowd will finally be happy.

    1. Dude, that was TOTALLY Zen.

      Respeck…

      1. I have certain…powers.

        1. Compulsive coprophagia generally isn’t considered a “power”.

          But it would make for an interesting X-Men villain.

          1. I have other powers!

            X-Men?!?

            1. Flatulence is *not* a mutant power. And you’re *barely* good enough to be a DC villain, and that’s putting it generously. You’re more of an Archie’s kind of baddie, and that’s iffy. You’re such a disgrace.

              1. Actually Epi and I form a super-villain team, what with his aforementioned “ability”, and my newfound power to emit large quantities of Ovaltine from my rectum on command. We fit together hand-in-glove.

                1. Jeez Jimbo! The Immodium not working? I may just have to anastomose you two lurrrrv boyids and make a mini Human(ish) Centipede…

                  And remember what Johnny Cockran said!

                  1. Eh, it went away for a couple of days, then came back. I’ll probably hit up the clinic in the next few days for some quick meds.

                  2. Actually after reading up and looking at what I’ve been eating, I’m terrified that I’m getting adult-onset lactose intolerance. Which means I will kill my wife and family, and then myself. Reroll, and hope to get reincarnated as a rich trust-fund baby. Because I cannot go through life without eating cheese. I smear Velveeta on my head and in my beard and push mozarella sticks up my bum, I love cheese so much.

                    1. Rumor has it eating yogurt can help with lactose intolerance. On the downside though: eating yogurt.

                    2. Meds for lactose intolerance.

                      Ask about one of these. I’m not shilling, but Lactaid has gotten the best results in patients for some reason, although the generic form, lactase, is the same in all of them. It’s what I RX.

                      Lactose intolerance may not be related to celiac concern, and may simply be an imbalance in gut flora, E. coli speficially, as it is E. coli that produces lactase and enables humans to consume and utilize animal milk, like cow’s and goat’s milk and cultured yoghurt or a pro-biotic may help to restore your normal flora. I do suggest getting a stool CX just to be sure.

                    3. I prefer my solution. Yours doesn’t have enough murder.

                    4. I prefer my solution. Yours doesn’t have enough murder.

                      Well, I’ll off them for you as my fee, and you can up your karmic chances. I recently converted to a rogue sect of Pastafarianism that requires human sacrifices. It’s a win/win.

                    5. Grrrr. “…specifically…” Dammit!

                2. Wonder Twin powers – ACTIVATE!

                  1. You guys are just jealous of what Jimbo and I share.

                    1. A rich millieu of VD?

                    2. If I had a superpower it would be the ability to make my enemies shit their pants on command. If their intestines be empty, I could teleport my shit into the intestines of my enemies and force it out with a psychic fist. The entire government apparatus from NPR mailroom clerk to Senator would be wearing Depends in fear of my semi randomly distributed sense of justice. Any day Schumer or Lieberman, or Obama talks chump (left with the bill? Very leader like of you, jerk) are talking into a mike is a day there be no randomness to my methodology. As an added bonus I would teleport my farts to the noses of my enemies as well. No shitting or farting for me. My victims would be doing all the dirty work for me here on.

        2. Look out, he’s about to activate the Glib Ray!

  3. delegates from the U.S. have made little attempt to prevent authoritarian nations from pushing legislation that may greatly limit online freedom.

    Because interfering would suggest that the US isn’t serious about Net Neutrality. And the US is still very serious about NN.

  4. The establishment of such a definition would provide governments a legal excuse to inspect personal emails in the name of fighting the spam menace.

    Considering that spam hasn’t actually been a menace for years, that makes it pretty obvious that it’s just a ruse for being intrusive.

    And if they think spam really *is* still a menace, well, talk about fighting the last war.

    1. Of course, the establishment of such a definition would also provide private citizens a legal excuse to inspect government emails. Right?

    2. It’s still a menace, it’s just that it’s under control. The fact that untold millions go to keeping it that way is economic deadweight loss.

      But nothing could possibly be done by the U.N. to make it any less of a menace, so they should just pass a resolution saying that spam is bad and send it a sternly worded letter, then call it a day.

  5. Now that just bytes.

    No good can come of this.

    1. Two words: Carrier pigeon.

      One word : shotgun.

      1. Hah! The UN will make that illegal!

        1. Not for the Only Ones and the Top. Men.

        2. Fine, Falconry then??

          1. Hah, falconry is more regulated in the US than is shotgun possession even in England.

  6. Internet regulation is frightening, no doubt, but internationally recognized justification for governmental snooping? Now that just bytes.

    ARRGGGHHHH…was this really necessary? Puns. Are. Evil.

    Don’t countries like Russia, Egypt, Rwanda, and Algeria already do whatever the fuck they want with internet traffic within their borders anyway?

    1. See Gojira’s comment at the start of the thread. This allows “respectable” governments to snoop and blame it on the “other” guys for bringing it about.

    2. Bad puns are bad.

      Don’t countries like Russia, Egypt, Rwanda, and Algeria already do whatever the fuck they want with internet traffic within their borders anyway?

      Now it will be enshrined into international law!

  7. Why can’t we just withdraw from the UN, deport the non-US citizen employess and push all this shit into the East River?

    1. According to the UN, the copyright on this work is currently unknown.

      W.T.F.

    2. That “shit”, sir, is an important piece of artwork. It’s symbolic of the UN’s military effectiveness.

      I have always felt it’s the single most important piece of political art, ever.

      1. Hey! Look out there! The redcoats are coming!

        Don’t shoot ’til you see the blue of their helmets!

  8. You should already assume any mail you send in plaintext is read by govmts if they want to read it. This has been true since like 1996.

    1. Fortunately, all my Hit and Run comments are in code.

      1. I thought the squirelz hated Unicode?

        1. It has yet to be determined exactly what they hate besides freedom.

          1. Squirelz hate really awesome posts which is why they flag them as spam while allowing the dorky anon-bots free reign.

      2. The ultimate encoding, insane, harmless sounding gibberish between your more lucid minded comments concerning the smashing of the state thereof.

        1. Whoa there, Pal: using words like “thereof” definitely gets you on the list.

          1. Damn that class in Latin that makes me wrap up sentences in the artifice complete manner of unnecessary to English construction adpositions!

  9. Tech Liberation Front? Do they believe in stealing computers and stereos and releasing them into the wild?

  10. What I don’t understand is the actual implementation of this – how would gubmints monitor inboxes? The only way to do that is if the mail providers were complicit in that scheme, and would make people who run their own mail servers (like myself) un-monitorable (unless they literally hacked my server) and would make people leave these complicit e-mail providers in mass. Not to mention that the amount of email amassed by entire countries is mind-blowingly huge. How they would manage, index, and search something like that would take infrastructure and software comparable to Google’s… It just doesn’t seem possible.

    1. How they would manage, index, and search something like that would take infrastructure and software comparable to Google’s.

      Just *think* of all the jobs saved or created!

      1. That infrastructure and software development would be needed AFTER mail-carriers become complicit in the monitoring process. Why would anyone would use an e-mail service that shared their inbox with the government? People would flock to providers who DON’T share with the government and they would never be able to monitor people with private mail servers – like my own.

    2. I doubt they plan to index it. They’ll just want to pass it through a few regular expressions to see if certain words pop out. If you’re sending plaintext emails, all the gov needs is a router somewhere in the middle.

      1. That simply wouldn’t work. That isn’t how the internet works. The internet (at least in the US) doesn’t funnel through a SINGLE point and there are many ways to get to any destination. Not to mention they would have to filter EVERY single packet, every single byte of data and than read it to determine what is e-mail, what isn’t, etc. Not to mention IF the government could do this, people would simply encrypt their e-mail. What this article is talking about is simply not possible unless EVERY mail provider handed over full access to their storage servers.

        1. Shit, man, I’m a network admin. I know how the internet works. I’m not trying to imply they’d need a single router. I’m saying for any given router, traffic sent through it in plaintext is perfectly readable.

    3. Never, ever understimate the ability of government to regulate or ban something by sheer force of will.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7819230.stm

      From March all internet service providers (ISPs) will by law have to keep information about every e-mail sent or received in the UK for a year.

      1. If there’s any justice in this universe, Poseidon will sink that island to the bottom of the ocean.

  11. Why don’t the United States renounce membership in this shit-strewn failure of an organization?

    1. I don’t object to that, all I am saying is that it is completely impossible to monitor people’s e-mails (at least in the US). This is just hysteria propagated by someone who doesn’t understand how e-mail servers work.

      1. Sure, but that’s irrelevant to the moral argument. What a half-decent federal government would have done is, at the very first mention of this proposal, have its representative at the UN stand up, walk to the door, and yell “go fuck yourselves” on his way out of the conference.

        1. Unfortunately, our federal government isn’t even fractionally close to half-decent.

    2. Because people like them run this country? Eurocrats, UN, US, China, all pretty much the same.

  12. If Chad were still posting here, he’d be all for UN control of the internet.

    1. EXTERNAILTIES!!!1!one!!!111!!rio +20!!!11

    2. Technicalities aside, this is a fucking abomination. What has this international farce given us over its long, pitiful history besides nuggets of detestable authoritarian horseshit? Fuck the United Nations. I’m doubling on SIV’s proposal — push the whole fucking building into the river.

      1. Don’t forget to leave at least a foot of salt on the former building site, then pave the entire grounds over with ten feet of asphalt.

        For extra safety, put up a twenty-foot razor-wire fence around the perimeter.

        [building evacuation would be pointless, BTW. Much better to level it fully-occupied.]

        1. Awesome idea. Pack it full of dictators and war criminals and tactical-nuke it.

          1. From orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

            1. Don’t stop with the U.N. Take out NYC while you are at it. Don’t waste a nuke!

              1. Kill it. Kill it with nuclear fire.

          2. Awesome idea. Pack it full of dictators and war criminals and tactical-nuke it.

            So start by going down a list of Nobel Prize winners?

            1. That has an Obama’s To-Kill List kind of patina to it. Good one, Paul.

      2. What has this international farce given us over its long, pitiful history besides nuggets of detestable authoritarian horseshit?

        A couple of cool scenes in North By Northwest.

    3. That was one dumb motherfucker.

      1. Don’t be so mean. He was doing it all for the children. Except white children — they’re all privileged brats that be oppressin’.

        1. Unless they’re privileged brats of Team Blue parents.

  13. “…Senior Editor Peter Suderman…”

    Don’t let them push you around into such strict formality just because you’re new. Alternatively, assume a title for yourself and make the staff use it.

    1. May I suggest “God-Editor”?

      1. “Grand e-Mufti” sounds more exotic.

      2. I thought the God-Editor title was reserved to the Jacket (pbui).

  14. All the govt needs to know is who has been demonstrating in against the govt. Just check their email

    1. Probably not the Occutards’ e-mail, though, rsi. SPLC/NSA protocols recommend only checking people who use words like “freedom” and “Tenth Amendment” and “limited government” when looking for terrorists.

  15. OK wow so who comes up with all that crazy stuff?

    http://www.Anon-Browser.tk

  16. This has no effect on the US since the first amendment trumps treaties.

    And other countries are almost certainly reading through their citizens’ inboxes already.

    1. Wow, Tulpa… you’re awfully confident our government won’t go overboard and let Google use its awesome Chinese-market word-tamping powers here.

      I, however, remain skeptical of our robot overlords.

  17. And, yet, oddly from the same United Nations:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..72836.html

    I am confuse.

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