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[ NNSquad ] Re: Ex-AOL CEO Calls for Internet Censorship -- Demonstrates His *Utter* Cluelessness

Authentication: Authentication is the process of determining whether someone
or something is, in fact, who or what it is declared to be.

Vouch: to give a guarantee : become surety

Of course your meaning can vary but it's useful to distinguish between
saying something is authentic and taking responsibility. I've come to accept
that I can't send mail to any arbitrary system because the default
assumption is that, barring evidence to the contrary, I'm a spammer. I use a
third party (DynDNS) to vouch for me in taking responsibility for the claim
that I am not a spammer. It doesn't matter who I am, just that I am not a
spammer. Authentication doesn't scale for email.

This is an important distinction because it's about my behavior and not some
assumed intrinsic property associated with me as a given person.

The desire for authentication is problematic because it assumes that there
is an intrinsic good or bad that is associated with me. Some can argue that
knowing who I am force me to take responsibility for what I do but doesn't
really help much because it's about the agent not the behavior. I might be a
nice guy but do something stupid. (Or vice versa)

Vouching is also far more flexible. We can choose various mechanisms for
vouching for the behavior and possibly results.

Our language tends to blur these distinctions but when we are discussing
policy issues we need to take care to communicate by being careful in our
use of words and how others might interpret them. Vouching (and its cousin,
verification) allows for anonymity and persona. It allows for growth and
evolution of ideas as well as people.

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Barry Gold
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2010 10:22
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Ex-AOL CEO Calls for Internet Censorship --
Demonstrates His *Utter* Cluelessness

Lauren Weinstein wrote:
> Ex-AOL CEO Calls for Internet Censorship -- Demonstrates His *Utter*
> http://bit.ly/bSulVb  (Barry Schuler's Synapsis)
>    Barry Schuler loudly proclaims:
>    "WikiLeaks is in the news this week and I can assure you this isn't
>     a 36 hour news story.  This is a big deal and the circumstances
>     around WikiLeaks might mark be the beginning of the end of the
>     Internet as we know it."
I think we can learn something from what's going on in China: it _is_
possible to censor the Internet, in the sense that you can block the
casual and/or clueless from the sites you don't like.  The more
dedicated information seekers (and those who already understand How
Things Work) will simply find a way around your blocks.

What this means for sites like Wikileaks: The government may -- at
considerable cost in both money and our freedoms -- be able to prevent
information from getting out to the general public, but those who really
want it will still get it.  As a consequence, using "SECRET" or "TOP
SECRET" to keep embarrassing information private may work (for a
while).  But the "clueful" will almost certainly include enemy spies, so
it will be completely useless for keeping secrets from other countries.

This is, of course, completely backward from the supposed purpose of our
Classification system.  It won't stop the bureaucrats from trying.

Also, Schuler _does have a point: one of the side-effects of "Web 2.0"
(the rise of user-generated content) is that many of our traditional
social controls have broken down.  Privacy?  Forget about it -- anything
you let anybody else know about may end up on the internet.  Double that
if you let somebody take photographs or recordings, but even casual
conversations can be recalled, summarized (accurately or in-) and
posted.  And once out there, there is no recalling it.

What he calls Journalistic Integrity: not precisely the right word, but
it's true that in the days when it cost money to distribute information,
reporters and editors usually
  a) tried to fact-check things before publishing them
  b) when something was nominally classified or simply private, editors
would stop and think, "is this important enough to justify printing it
and letting everybody and his k/i/d/ b/r/o/t/h/e/r/ spy know about it?"

Similarly, we are subjected to a constant barrage of advertising, scams
of various sorts, viri and other malware. Some newsgroups have become
completly useless due to spam.  If Vint Cerf and Jon Postel had seen
this coming, I wonder if they would have designed more authentication
into the Internet.

And many sites _are_ rather cavalier with what should be private
information.  Facebook is a particularly notable bad actor, but it's not
the only one or the worst one -- just the biggest.