Saturday, June 15, 2013

Routing around damage

As the dust settles in the wake of the disclosure of the NSA's PRISM program, there has been a trend in the posts I see on Google+ and Facebook. Some organizations are calling for workarounds.

For example, The Pirate Party is planning its own social media network. If they adopt something like the Freedom Box, it could actually work. A social media network that is completely decentralized, free and ad-free is entirely possible, it is just a matter of time and determination.

If you don't believe me, consider the following for digestion. There are a number of community based Linux distributions that have zero ties to corporations, nor are they owned by them. Their repositories are distributed. If one goes down, another will pop up. That means that if I use community based distribution, no matter what any government does, I can always get a copy of a free operating system and get updates. However, the government can shut down Apple or Microsoft.

Traffic on the internet flows around damage. The PRISM program is damage to the internet. As awareness of the threat of PRISM grows, geeks will find ways to work around it. Then, they will make it easy to use and share it with their friends. After all, everything on the internet is code. Code is easy to write, distribute, modify and share. That is the open source way.

Glyn Moody is sharing his PGP key. Moody is a well respected Brit, author and commentator on technology trends. I like what he has to say. By sharing his key, he is permitting others to correspond with him, *privately*. What is PGP?

PGP stands for "Pretty Good Privacy". It is a method of encryption that makes it easy to send secure messages from point A to point B. PGP is Public Key encryption. I can use encryption software that uses the PGP algorithms to create two keys, a public key and a private key that is protected by a password. I share the public key with you and keep the private key.

When you want to send a secured message to me, you use my public key to encrypt a message. When I receive your message, I use my password protected private key to view the message.

The PGP system can be automated and its use simplified so that anyone can use it. It's free software and it's available on all computer platforms, namely, Windows, Mac and Linux.

It is unfortunate that to a very large extent, our government does not trust us. But is also important to remember how it got to be the way it is. We played a part in it. From the Reagan Revolution 30 years ago, we saw an incredible concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a tiny minority. How tiny? According to Larry Lessig, 0.05% of our population paid for 60% of election campaign contributions. That is a smaller set than the 1%, and they live in Lesterland.

If you want to know who's interests the government is protecting, it's theirs, those of the 0.05% - not ours. We should be focusing our attention on them to let them know how unhappy we are and what the rest of us are going to do about it. Apparently, that is already starting to happen.
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