Mirror Early, Mirror Often

The news over the past week was fairly disturbing.1 It could also be said that the concept of "net neutrality" is rather effectively dead in the United States of America. Those who might have championed it have also killed it with calls for censorship due to a recent outcry over banning "hate sites".2 The big questions over statuary and other monuments that came out of the recent conflict in the Virginia community of Charlottesville are what fuel this right now.3 Conservative writer Erick Erickson expects violence may increase based upon the current state of events.4

One website, The Daily Stormer, has been chased away from most of the public Internet which is otherwise known as "de-platforming". A variety of news sources have covered this remarkable chase. This has happened in the background of continuing protests and counter-protests with a flare-up in the Massachusetts community of Boston.5 Most recently the domain name registrar NameCheap revoked the registration of that site after GoDaddy and Google had both done so.6 There was even an attempt to request a so-called enhancement of Tor to block the site after it had retreated to being a hidden service there but the request was blocked as it would have been against the basic purpose and reason for Tor to exist.7 The Southern Poverty Law Center's intelligence project apparently has been taking action for multiple years to try to get some of these withdrawals of service to take place.8

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has spoken about the situation from an expressive rights perspective and noted that a slippery slope was present.9 The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that it was a small step to designate groups like Black Lives Matter as a hate group that needed to be eliminated from the Internet too.10 Similar concerns were raised by the CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, who withdrew his company's services from The Daily Stormer where he even noted that a member of his company's staff asked if that act was the start of the Internet dying.11

In light of all this recent news, I remain concerned. The Canadian commentator Rex Murphy has written, perhaps quite rightly, that these are quite crazy times in the United States of America.12 My work building off work at the Chaos Communications Conference on reviewing the Outernet satellite platform continues.13 The original plan was to present that work at OggCamp 17 but due to family circumstances as well as the unpredictable nature of my day job that did not happen.

Our very centralized Internet is very rooted in the United States of America. Twitter, RedHat, Netflix, FaceBook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and more are all companies headquartered in the United States of America. Parts of the Linux world are not headquartered here but major pieces are here let alone a major portion of core Internet infrastructure. This presents a signficant point of failure not in terms of these resources simply vanishing but in terms of the output becoming filtered quite hard. There need not be any governmental action to make it happen. If anything the howling mobs are causing statues to be pulled down across the United States of America. The Lincoln Memorial in the capital has been defaced over the past week.14 A bust of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago was set on fire.15 Multiple people are facing charges for toppling a Confederate statue in North Carolina.16

First the mob demands "net neutrality". Now it throws it away calling for "good censorship". What is next? Cultural hegemony through consolidation of Internet providers in the United States of America does lead to problems when the culture starts to go to war with itself.

Mirror early, mirror often, mirror locally.

  1. N.B. Not everything is available directly online in a free-as-beer fashion. Some items cited were found via Lexis-Nexis which is why footnotes are used in lieu of simple links.^

  2. Steven Overly and Ashley Gold, "Tech Firms' Fight against Hate Could Haunt Them," POLITICO, accessed August 20, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/19/tech-firms-fight-hate-backlash-241807.^

  3. Jon Schuppe, "As Confederate Statues Fall, so Might Markers to Other Controversial Figures," NBC News, August 18, 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/toppling-confederate-statues-fuels-opposition-other-markers-n793966.^

  4. Erick Erickson, "Here Is Why the Violence Is Going to Escalate, And Escalate Quickly," The Resurgent, August 15, 2017, http://theresurgent.com/here-is-why-the-violence-is-going-to-escalate-and-escalate-quickly/.^

  5. "Boston March against Right-Wing Rally Draws Thousands," BBC News, August 20, 2017, sec. US & Canada, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40980175.^

  6. Adi Robertson, "Namecheap Has Taken down Neo-Nazi Site Daily Stormer," The Verge, August 20, 2017, https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/20/16170370/namecheap-host-take-down-neo-nazi-hate-site-daily-stormer.^

  7. "23270 (Allow Tor Relays to Be Configured to Block Selected Hidden Services, Including Racist Hate Sites)," Tor Bug Tracker & Wiki, August 18, 2017, https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/23270.^

  8. Barbara Ortutay, "After Charlottesville, Tech Firms Banish Extremists," Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), August 18, 2017, B; Pg. 5.^

  9. Rachel Sandler, "Warning Issued Following Silencing of Stormer; Digital Rights Group Sees Dangerous Step for Free Speech," Dayton Daily News (Ohio), August 19, 2017, Z5.^

  10. Levi Sumagaysay, "Google, Other Tech Companies Warned over 'Dangerous' Banning of Neo-Nazis, Hate Groups," The Mercury News (California), August 18, 2017.^

  11. Matthew Prince, "Why We Terminated Daily Stormer," Cloudflare Blog, August 16, 2017, http://blog.cloudflare.com/why-we-terminated-daily-stormer/.^

  12. Rex Murphy, "American Madness; Politics In The U.S. Has Become Unhinged, And Not Just Because Of Donald Trump," National Post (Canada), August 19, 2017, ISSUES & IDEAS; Pg. A19.^

  13. Reverse Engineering Outernet (Hamburg, Germany, 2016), https://media.ccc.de/v/33c3-8399-reverse_engineering_outernet.^

  14. Miranda Green, "DC's Lincoln Memorial Vandalized with Spray-Painted Expletive," CNN, August 15, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/lincoln-memorial-vandalized/index.html.^

  15. Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek, "Alderman Says Lincoln Bust in West Englewood Burned," Chicago Sun-Times, August 17, 2017, http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/674297/.^

  16. Jonathan M. Katz, '4 Surrender in Toppling of Confederate Statue in North Carolina,' The New York Times, August 17, 2017, sec. U.S., https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/us/durham-duke-robert-e-lee-statue.html.^