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It turns out that three network routers, the devices that sit in the data centers that make up the backbone of the internet, flaked out at the same time and dropped many of the packets some of our users were sending to the Unseen.is servers. Routers are usually computers that are based on Linux and most of them can be hacked by the big security agencies. That three of them would have a problem like this isn’t just highly unusual, it’s actually something suspicious and indicates that they were being targeted to degrade our service and make our customers upset. Here’s a story that came out yesterday (Feb 7th) that talks about this exact subject…the NSA and GCHQ have programs to do precisely this sort of thing and HERE’s the PROOF! If you ever doubted it, this is how they will censor the web in the future (before they go to full lockdown of the internet).
In China, they just blockade the whole thing, to show people who’s really in charge and it’s up to groups like Falun Gong to break through it to let people in China know the truth…or get blamed for a fault in the Great Firewall (when they didn’t do anything). In the West, they’ll need to be more subtle, the peasants might get restless because they still believe they have human rights.
Based on screen grabs from our computers, it appears they can target certain sites, web pages (we’ve seen this with Before It’s News, but finally here’s the proof), individuals and regions and degrade the performance of the internet to prevent access. Most people will just assume “the Internet is having a bad day” because they will talk to friends who can still get to a site or story and assume something is wrong with their computer or local connection. If you can’t see or get something, you might assume it doesn’t exist, like an email you never received. You don’t miss something you never had.
I call this a “soft” Great Firewall and we’d been warned about this by several former military intelligence people. The switch can be flipped at any time and to any degree. To do this you’d need to control or be able to hack your way in to any router on the internet, including those owned by individuals. You should assume the major national security services all have this capability. Some services have their own switching gear at critical locations, I’ve known this since 1997, as our ISP at the time pointed out “the NSA room” that was intercepting and duplicating email and web site visit data. Things have definitely advanced since that time and there is now a Shadow Internet, controlled by these spy services that not only hoovers up data and sends it back to the big data center in the sky. They now actively degrade the internet to censor it.
First, let’s look at the traceroute, the program we use to see if the internet is behaving or not. This program sends packets to the final destination, and receives delivery confirmation from every stop along the way. Doing this, we’ll know how fast it goes, as well as how many packets are lost along the way. Once you go over about 30% packet loss, we have a hard time connecting to the Unseen.is server in Iceland.
The first thing you’ll notice on line 10 (London) and line 17 (the last router in Iceland) are the large percentage of lost packets. This degrades the performance getting to the server in Iceland. Line 17 is the last router you touch at our data center in Iceland, it’s just a few feet away from our servers and you can see the other hops are all behaving normally. According to our ISP, the only customer that was having problems with their switch was Unseen.is. That shows targeting of packets based on a web site.
Notice the high percentage of dropped packets at the same time in London, over 40%.
Once our ISP made a fix to the router in Iceland, the next morning, notice what happened to the router in London:
Now, 88% of the packets were being dropped in London!! Try to get through that!!
Kind of interesting that as soon as one of the routers got repaired that the other one acted up even more?!? This is definitely a good way to block traffic to a site, just degrade the performance until people can’t get through, but don’t make it a 100% blockage. It would be a good bet that they also have tools to see exactly who and how many people are getting bounced from a web page or site.
We had another user in the Midwest run a traceroute a couple of hours later (they are on Central Time, we’re on Pacific) to see what was happening from there, as they had problems reaching the site earlier:
That’s a Cable and Wireless switch in Germany dropping 27% of the packets (line 10) and it had been acting a lot worse earlier in the day, this was the screen grab they captured. We had THREE routers dropping a lot of packets at the same time. Some other users didn’t have any glitches at all, people in India were not affected, but people in Thailand were affected.
Things are now back to normal today. The London hop is still a bit high and we’ve notified our ISP about this. Performance to Iceland is normally quite good, so this is definitely an anomaly.
What does this attack mean for Unseen.is?
First, we’re encouraged about the state of our encryption. It must be pretty good because it takes a lot of work for a security agency to do a truck roll in Finland to hack into our new product manager’s computer and then to control these routers to degrade the traffic to our web site. They wouldn’t waste their time on easily broken “military grade” encryption.
The other point is we will need to make a priority of developing our anti-blocking technology. It’s becoming obvious that the internet in the West is becoming more like China’s every day. In China, because of the lack of transparency, they have managed to hide a large scale live organ harvesting program. We certainly don’t want to see anything like that happen anywhere else. Watch this video:
One thing is for certain — protecting communications and free and open communications are critical for the future of the world.
We’re on the right track with Unseen. Get your free account at Unseen.is today.
Network neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—is a principle that EFF strongly supports. However, the power to enforce equal treatment on the Internet can easily become the power to control the Internet in less beneficent ways. Some people have condemned last week’s court decision to reject the bulk of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order as a threat to Internet innovation and openness. Others hailed it as a victory against dangerous government regulation of the Internet. Paradoxically, there is a lot of truth to both of these claims.
Violations of network neutrality are a real and serious problem: in recent years we have seen dozens of ISPs in the U.S. and around the world interfere with and discriminate against traffic on their networks in ways that threaten the innovative fabric of the Internet.
At the same time, we’ve long doubted that the FCC had the authority to issue the Open Internet rules in the first place, and we worried that the rules would lead to the FCC gaining broad control over the Internet. The FCC in particular has a poor track record of regulating our communications services. We are not confident that Internet users can trust the FCC, or any government agency, with open-ended regulatory authority of the Internet.
Look at what happened with radio and television. Though it’s charged to regulate our media landscape in the best interest of the public, the FCC opened the doors to unforeseen levels of media consolidation. That consolidation has contributed to the gutting of newsrooms and a steep decline in diversity of viewpoints and local voices on the air, as independent broadcasters across the country shut down, unable to compete with big media monopolies. One of the best protections for the open Internet is probably more competition among ISPs, but the FCC’s history doesn’t leave us hopeful that it is the right entity to help create and defend a competitive Internet marketplace.
And the FCC sometimes makes rules that narrow our freedom to communicate and innovate, like the Broadcast Flag Rule—the bit of DRM that broadcasters wanted to use to prevent the home recording of television—which EFF fought so hard to defeat in 2007.
So while we are hesitant to task any government agency with the job of regulating the Internet, we aren’t thrilled about giving that power to the FCC.
The many faces of network discrimination
However this plays out, we think it’s important that the public understands what network discrimination actually looks like. The recent debate about network neutrality has involved a lot of speculation and “what-if” hypotheticals. This is strange because we have a clear, documented history of the kinds of non-neutral, discriminatory practices that ISPs have actually deployed in recent years. Here are a few ways ISPs have throttled or blocked content in the past. We stand firm in our opposition to this kind of behavior:
- Packet forgery: in 2007 Comcast was caught interfering with their customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing;
- Discriminatory traffic shaping that prioritizes some protocols over others: a Canadian ISPslowed down all encrypted file transfers for five years;
- Prohibitions on tethering: the FCC fined Verizon for charging consumers for using their phone as a mobile hotspot;
- Overreaching clauses in ISP terms of service, such as prohibitions on sharing your home Wi-Fi network;
- Hindering innovation with “fast lane” discrimination that allows wireless customers without data plans to access certain sites but not the whole Internet;
- Hijacking and interference with DNS, search engines, HTTP transmission, and other basic Internet functionality to inject ads and raise revenue from affiliate marketing schemes, from companies like Paxfire, FairEagle, and others.
Individually and collectively, these practices pose a dire threat to the engine of innovation that has allowed hackers, startup companies, and kids in their college dorm rooms to make the Internet that we know and love today.
How can we prevent these practices and ensure neutrality over our networks? The FCC tried, and while the agency was somewhat successful in putting the brakes on the kind of network discrimination ISPs would rather see, the FCC used poor legal reasoning to enact weak rules.
What was wrong with the FCC’s network neutrality approach
The Open Internet rules of 2010 that were rejected by the court last week were deeply flawed and confirmed our fears about heavy-handed Internet regulation. The FCC initially claimed that it had“ancillary” authority under the 1996 Telecommunications Act to enact the Open Internet rules. That means that although the FCC did not have explicit authority from Congress to issue network neutrality rules, especially after classifying Internet service as an “information service” and not a telephone-like “common carrier” in 2002, they still professed a broad authority to regulate the Internet.
That claim of ancillary jurisdiction, if accepted, would have given the FCC pretty much boundless clearance to regulate the Internet, and to claim other ancillary powers in the future. Even if you happen to like the FCC’s current goals, who’s to say we will still like whatever goals the agency has next year and the year after that?
We had serious issues with the initial Open Internet Order, as we explained in our comments to the FCC. For one, the Order allowed ISPs free rein to discriminate as long as it was part of “reasonable efforts to… address copyright infringement.” This broad language could lead to more bogus copyright policing from the ISPs. We’ve already seen companies use inaccurate filters to blocknon-infringing fair use content online, a practice we continue to fight.
The FCC’s rules also had troubling exceptions for law enforcement, permitting ISPs to engage in voluntary, non-neutral network management practices to fulfill any law enforcement requests. We opposed this exception when the rules were being considered, but the FCC did not adopt our recommendations. And by now we all know how overbroad law enforcement exceptions to gather user data can be. If you have any doubt, pick up a newspaper and read about how the U.S. government unconstitutionally collaborates with Internet companies for law enforcement purposes.
There are no easy solutions
In light of these threats it is tempting to reach for easy solutions. But handing the problem to a government agency with strong industry ties and poor mechanisms for public accountability to fix the very real problem of network neutrality is unsatisfying. There’s a real danger that we would just be creating more problems than we’d solve.
One alternative that would go a long way would be to foster a genuinely competitive market for Internet access. If subscribers and customers had adequate information about their options and could vote with their feet, ISPs would have strong incentives to treat all netowrk traffic fairly. The court agreed with us on this point:
“a broadband provider like Comcast would be unable to threaten Netflix that it would slow Netflix traffic if all Comcast subscribers would then immediately switch to a competing broadband provider.”
Another scenario would be for Congress to step in and pass network neutrality legislation that outlines what the ISPs are not allowed to do. But fighting giant mega-corporations like AT&T and Verizon (and their army of lobbyists) in Congress promises to be a tough battle.
Yet another option: empower subscribers to not just test their ISP but challenge it in court if they detect harmful non-neutral practices. That gives all of us the chance to be watchdogs of the public interest but it, too, is likely to face powerful ISP opposition.
These are not the only options. Internet users should be wary of any suggestion that there is an easy path to network neutrality. It’s a hard problem, and building solutions to resolve it is going to remain challenging. But here is one guiding principle: any effort to defend net neutrality should use the lightest touch possible, encourage a competitive marketplace, and focus on preventing discriminatory conduct by ISPs, rather than issuing broad mandatory obligations that are vulnerable to perverse consequences and likely to be outdated as soon as they take effect.
EFF is watching this issue closely, and we’ll continue to share our thoughts on how best to defend the free and open Internet on which we all depend.
Guest Post By Sartre, BATR.
The worst fears of all free speech proponents are upon us. The Verizon suit against the Federal Communications Commission, appellate decision sets the stage for a Supreme Court review. The Wall Street Journal portrays the ruling in financial terms: “A federal court has tossed out the FCC’s “open internet” rules, and now internet service providers are free to charge companies like Google and Netflixhigher fees to deliver content faster.”
In essence, this is the corporate spin that the decision is about the future cost for being connected.
“The ruling was a blow to the Obama administration, which has pushed the idea of “net neutrality.” And it sharpened the struggle by the nation’s big entertainment and telecommunications companies to shape the regulation of broadband, now a vital pipeline for tens of millions of Americans to view video and other media.
For consumers, the ruling could usher in an era of tiered Internet service, in which they get some content at full speed while other websites appear slower because their owners chose not to pay up.
“It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.”
What the Journal is not telling you is that this “uncharted territory” is easy to project. If ISP’s will be able to charge varied rates or decide to vary internet speed, it is a very short step towards selectively discriminate against sites based upon content. Do not get lulled into thinking that constitutional protective political speech is guaranteed.
Once again, the world according to the communication giants paint a very different interpretation as the article, Verizon called hypocritical for equating net neutrality to censorship illustrates.
“Verizon’s argument that network neutrality regulations violated the firm’s First Amendment rights. In Verizon’s view, slowing or blocking packets on a broadband network is little different from a newspaper editor choosing which articles to publish, and should enjoy the same constitutional protection.”
The response from advocates of the Net Neutrality standard, that is about to vanish, sums up correctly.
“The First Amendment does not apply, however, when Verizon is merely transmitting the content of third parties. Moreover, these groups point out, Verizon itself has disclaimed responsibility for its users’ content when it was convenient to do so, making its free speech arguments ring hollow.”
Prepare for the worst. The video, Prepare To Be Robbed. Net Neutrality Is Dead!, which includes frank language and expletives, provides details that place the use of internet access into question coming out of this appellate decision.
Analyze the implications logically. It is one thing to charge a for profit service like Netflix a higher fee to transverse the electronic bandwidth of a communication network. Selling a membership to an end user is the source of their cash flow. However, most activist political sites usually provide internet users free access to their particular viewpoint and source links.
Your internet service provider controls the pipeline that feeds your devices and data connection. No matter which company you pay for this service, you are dependent upon this union. A free WiFi link may well become a memory. Beaming a satellite signal, mostly is an alternative, when DSL, cable or other broadband is not available.
No matter what method is used to surf the net, this decision clearly implies that internet access is now a privilege, at the effective discretion, if not mercy; of a provider that allow an account for service.
Next, consider the implication that search engines will use this decision to re-work their algorithms lowering their spider bots selection of sites that challenge the “PC” culture. Restrictive categorization used for years by Google, Yahoo and Bing can use this decision as cover to purge dissenting sites even more from their result rankings.
It is common knowledge that YouTube censors and targets certain uploads. One particular subject that experiences technical glitches is Fukushima. The video You Tube Censoring Truther Channels explains the drill. Add to the frustration are the ads, especially the ones with no skip option and imagine future requirements for uploading approval. What is next, a paid subscription to use and upload to the service?
Yes, the Ending Net Neutrality Signals A Digital Paradigm Shift. It also means that they could unfairly push sites like (add the name of your favorite sites) out of the way of users if they (the “PC” protectors) didn’t like them, acting as effective censors.
Stephen Lendman writes in Digital Democracy vs. Corporate Dominance: R.I.P. Internet Neutrality?
“Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online – and easier for companies to censor our speech.”
Corporate gatekeepers will control “where you go and what you see.”
Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable “will be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic…”
They’ll be able to “reserve the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders (while) sticking everyone else with the slowest.”
Doing so prohibits free and open communications. Censorship will become policy. Net Neutrality is too important to lose.”
Ready yourself for the inevitable results! According to Michael Hiltzik, Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords.
“In the U.S., there’s no practical competition. The vast majority of households essentially have a single broadband option, their local cable provider. Verizon and AT&T provide Internet service, too, but for most customers they’re slower than the cable service. Some neighborhoods get telephone fiber services, but Verizon and AT&T have ceased the rollout of their FiOs and U-verse services–if you don’t have it now, you’re not getting it.
Who deserves the blame for this wretched combination of monopolization and profiteering by ever-larger cable and phone companies? The FCC, that’s who. The agency’s dereliction dates back to 2002, when under Chairman Michael Powell it reclassified cable modem services as “information services” rather than “telecommunications services,” eliminating its own authority to regulate them broadly. Powell, by the way, is now the chief lobbyist in Washington for the cable TV industry, so the payoff wasn’t long in coming.”
In a digital environment, access to an internet that provides uncensored content at the lowest costs is a direct threat to the corporate economy. Innovation and creative cutting-edge services are clearly marked as competing challenges to the Amazon jungle of merchandising. The big will just get bigger.
Then the unavoidable effects from the “all the news fit to report” mass medium, intensifies their suppression of honest investigative journalism. Filtering out the alternative and truth media is the prime objective of this ruling. Eliminating political dissent from the internet is the ultimate implication. What would the net be like without access to the Drudge Report?
When the cable or satellite services bundle their programming into a “take it or leave it” format, the choices for the consumer becomes a major financial burden just to watch the few channels that have interest. Applying this pattern to the internet will cause even greater resentment.
Just look at the disaster from the Yahoo retooling. That Ms. “wicked witch” MM have pushed up the stock price, but ask any yahoo group member what they think of the new format. This is a classic example of how to turn off users and ruin your product.
Subscription services are playing with fire. With the collapse of the main street economy, the added fees to access content that is mediocre at best, is the actual fallout. Like the dinosaur TV networks, the corporatist sites risk total rejection from internet visitors.
Totalitarian culturalists are rejoicing with this latest damper on free speech. News by way of government press releases is pure propaganda. How did this happen?
For a short explanation history, Nilay Patel writes in The Wrong Words: How The FCC Lost Neutrality And Could Kill The Internet.
“The FCC tried to appease the out-of-control corporate egos of behemoths like Verizon and Comcast by pretending internet providers were special and classifying them as “information service providers” and not “telecommunications carriers.” The wrong words. Then, once everyone was wearing the nametag they wanted, the FCC tried to impose common carrier-style telecommunications regulations on them anyway.”
Credo Action believes that “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can undo the Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband Internet providers and allow them to operate outside of the legal framework that has traditionally applied to companies that offer two-way communication services.”
Such optimism seems naive in light of the real controllers of policy, much the same, for the Supreme Court coming to the rescue. Mark this court decision as the strategic destruction of the internet as a beacon of unfeigned free expression of information and open political speech. The programmers will be working overtime to set up layers of tasks, restrictions and huddlers to jump over. If you think Facebook censorship is bad, get ready for a purely governmental approved net along the Chinese model.