brain-rain.ch

Blog by Dominic Zschokke

The Inter­net is bro­ken. We need a new one: the Internext

#tldr: Decen­tra­li­zed net­works sprout up like mushrooms. They have the poten­ti­al to replace the old Inter­net domi­na­ted by mono­po­lies and sta­tes and to return free­dom to the inter­net users.

If you take a clo­ser look at the sta­te of the Inter­net today, you can only come to the con­clu­si­on that it is bro­ken, dis­tor­ted and misap­pro­pria­ted. What began as a pro­ject of aca­de­mics, rese­ar­chers, pro­gramm­ers, and crea­ti­ves has been tur­ned into a swamp of com­mer­ce, sur­veil­lan­ce, and cen­sor­ship by the eco­no­mic and governmen­tal sec­tors. On the eco­no­mic side, a few lar­ge cor­po­ra­ti­ons deter­mi­ne the desti­ny of the Inter­net. Ever­yo­ne knows Goog­le, Face­book, Micro­soft, Apple and Ama­zon: by the way, all US com­pa­nies. They mono­po­li­ze data, data streams, con­tent, adver­ti­sing, socio-eco­no­mic per­so­nal pro­files, and not least the tech­no­lo­gi­cal deve­lop­ment, that is the future of the Inter­net. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, con­su­mers are lazy enough to give the­se mono­po­lists their own per­so­nal data, such as e-mail, sur­fing habits, search histo­ry and docu­ments, as they can bene­fit from free ser­vices in return. The­se data are con­ver­ted into gold by being sold, tra­ded, resold, expan­ded, and then thrown back to con­su­mers in the form of tar­ge­ted and tailo­red ads. A bil­li­on-dol­lar busi­ness whe­re the con­su­mer only loses!

Of cour­se, the expen­ses of this gigan­tic sur­veil­lan­ce are bor­ne by the super­vi­sed ones them­sel­ves: pure, abso­lu­te mad­ness!

The sta­te actors, on the other hand, play “cyber­war” and “rob­bers & poli­ce”, mine and wire­tap free com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on and actively pro­mo­te the wea­ke­n­ing of the ent­i­re IT infra­st­ruc­tu­re boos­ting the black mar­ket by buy­ing secu­ri­ty holes. In other words, sta­tes use tax­pay­er money to buy cri­mi­nal soft­ware. To hunt cri­mi­nals, the ser­vices of cri­mi­nals are used. A twisted logic that is cer­tain­ly still deco­ra­ted with many abstru­se poli­ti­ci­an excu­ses. Fur­ther­mo­re, sta­tes — now also Switz­er­land — are releasing a nati­on­wi­de, dis­pro­por­tio­na­te sur­veil­lan­ce appa­ra­tus to their own peop­le, who, of cour­se, don’t mind in igno­ran­ce of the mat­ter or even becau­se of irra­tio­nal panic. In Switz­er­land, the BÜPF1 ensu­res that as of March 1, 2018, all con­nec­tion data of all devices is stored for half a year. Of cour­se, the expen­ses of this gigan­tic sur­veil­lan­ce are bor­ne by the super­vi­sed ones them­sel­ves: pure, abso­lu­te mad­ness! If the sta­te wan­ted to record all our inter­per­so­nal con­nec­tions and con­tac­ts in rea­li­ty, tho­se respon­si­ble would have long sin­ce been remo­ved from their demo­cra­ti­cal­ly trans­fer­red posi­ti­ons. The peop­le who are over­whel­med with the ope­ra­ti­on of their smart­pho­ne, just do not under­stand the pro­ces­ses in the digi­tal space and blind­ly fol­low a few wol­ves in sheep’s clot­hing. So we must the fact that the Inter­net, the basis of our modern com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, has been com­ple­te­ly under­mi­ned by demo­cra­tic or tota­li­ta­ri­an sta­tes, too. For examp­le, let ever­yo­ne judge for them­sel­ves whe­ther the serious secu­ri­ty holes (Mel­tdown & Spec­t­re2) that have exis­ted for years in modern pro­ces­sors, com­pu­ting units of any com­pu­ter, are a pro­duct of chan­ce, mis­plan­ning or deli­be­ra­te sta­te infil­tra­ti­on.

Peop­le need to rec­laim and get back con­trol of their com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and data.

The Inter­net has moved away from its ori­gi­nal pur­po­se, com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on bet­ween peop­le, has beco­me a self-ser­vice store and mar­ket­place of per­so­nal data. Face­book, for examp­le, a plat­form that offers peop­le the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sha­re images, inte­rests and opi­ni­ons, uti­li­zes and sells the pro­files of their users to adver­ti­sing com­pa­nies or other inte­rested par­ties. Of cour­se, the users agree with this by accep­t­ing the terms of use unread. Face­book knows its par­ti­ci­pants insi­de out, may­be bet­ter than they know them­sel­ves. Is that a fair deal: com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on vs. Sale of the per­son pro­fi­le? That is just the down­si­de of the­se cen­tra­li­zed and mono­po­li­zed com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on plat­forms. The users actual­ly sell them­sel­ves wit­hout being awa­re of it. Anyo­ne with an Andro­id smart­pho­ne should log in to myactivity.google.com3 to find out that Goog­le is log­ging their ent­i­re digi­tal and real life. Which app was updated when? Whe­re was the user? What was she or he loo­king for? The­se data are recor­ded the­re on the second. (Note: Pay atten­ti­on to your log­in details). Sta­te aut­ho­ri­ties can only dream of it. Howe­ver, all this actual­ly has not­hing to do with the inter­net that Tim Ber­ners-Lee4 desi­gned 27 years ago. At this point, a line must be drawn. Peop­le need to rec­laim and get back con­trol of their com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and data. This is pos­si­ble in the near future, wit­hout cen­tral mono­po­lists, wit­hout cen­tra­li­zed ser­vices, wit­hout cen­tral ser­vers, wit­hout total sur­ren­der of his life and soul.

The next net­work gives peop­le con­trol over their data and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on.

The­re are several ways to pro­tect yours­elf from this abso­lu­te sur­veil­lan­ce and con­trol of com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on. Howe­ver, in the end, the­se patches only reveal how bro­ken the Inter­net alrea­dy is. That’s why it’s high time to reinvent the Inter­net. The next net­work gives peop­le con­trol over their data and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on back. And this is not an unrea­listic visi­on of the future, as the tech­no­lo­gies are rea­dy, and count­less pro­jec­ts for a decen­tra­li­zed, dis­tri­bu­t­ed and encryp­ted Inter­net are in the star­ting blocks. The core tech­no­lo­gy that will power this Inter­net is the Block­chain5. It is an encryp­ted, non-mani­pu­la­ta­ble, dis­tri­bu­t­ed chain of tran­sac­tions or actions. This tech­no­lo­gy is pai­red with Bit­tor­rent6, Tor7, DHT8, encryp­ti­on, file split­ting and dis­tri­bu­t­ed file sys­tems. Here is a brief over­view of various pro­jec­ts that are stri­ving to design a decen­tra­li­zed and secu­re Inter­net. Inci­dent­al­ly, this inclu­des the «Solid» pro­ject by “Inter­net Inven­tor” Tim Ber­ners-Lee.

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed inter­net plat­forms:
Bea­ker brow­ser9
Zero­net10
Peer­gos11
Sub­stra­tum12
Solid13
Maidsafe14
Block­stack15

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed Mobi­le Mes­sen­ger:
Ring16

Secu­re Bit­tor­rent cli­ent:
Tri­bler17

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed tra­ding plat­form:
Open Bazaar18

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed soci­al plat­forms:
Scut­tle­butt19
Sphe­re20

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed file sys­tems:
Inter­pla­ne­ta­ry File Sys­tem (IPFS)21
Dat Pro­ject22

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed sto­rage:
Storij23
Sia24
Bit­dust25

Decen­tra­li­zed Face­book repla­ce­ment:
Dia­spo­ra26

Dis­tri­bu­t­ed com­pu­ting power:
Golem Pro­ject27

The “old” anony­mous net­works:
I2P28
Fre­e­n­et Pro­ject29 (not to be con­fu­sed with the Ger­man e-mail pro­vi­der)

Yet, mone­tiza­ti­on of the new Inter­net can not be in the inte­rests of the users. At the moment, that’s alrea­dy hap­pe­ning enough.

Of cour­se, not all gold is what glit­ters. Many of the­se pro­jec­ts are still in their infan­cy. Other pro­jec­ts of this kind undoub­ted­ly ser­ve to link a digi­tal cur­ren­cy to ser­vices. Yet, mone­tiza­ti­on of the new Inter­net can not be in the inte­rests of the users. At the moment, that’s alrea­dy hap­pe­ning enough. In addi­ti­on, such pro­jec­ts must necessa­ri­ly be open deve­lop­ments, so that the con­trol remains with the users. Pro­prie­ta­ry pro­jec­ts don’t con­tri­bu­te to an open, free Inter­net, becau­se this is again asso­cia­ted with a cen­tra­li­za­ti­on and mono­po­li­za­ti­on of the Inter­net. It is up to the reader to deci­de which of the above pro­jec­ts are “open source”. Howe­ver, it is note­wor­thy that the popu­lar brow­ser Fire­fox in ver­si­on 59 accepts the decen­tra­li­zed pro­to­cols of IPFS , Dat and Secu­re Scut­tle­butt. One may the­re­fo­re be curious about future addons that use the­se pro­to­cols.

This streng­t­hens the data and per­so­na­li­ty pro­tec­tion sof­te­ned to the worst in today’s Inter­net.

But what are the advan­ta­ges of a decen­tra­li­zed net­work? The­se decen­tra­li­zed net­works are first and fore­most incredi­b­ly cen­sor­ship-resistant. That will not appeal to demo­cra­tic or tota­li­ta­ri­an sta­tes. The data is just not cen­tral­ly on a ser­ver at a pro­vi­der, but encryp­ted and dis­tri­bu­t­ed among all par­ti­ci­pants in the net­work. Web pages and docu­ments will be hard to remo­ve becau­se hund­reds of thousands or even mil­li­ons of peop­le around the world need to be remo­ved from the web. Data is also stored red­un­dant­ly, so that the loss of per­so­nal data is almost impos­si­ble. Fur­ther­mo­re, the par­ti­ci­pants have an increa­sed con­trol over their per­so­nal data and what they reveal about them­sel­ves. The­re may even be some form of anony­mi­ty or pseud­ony­mi­ty. This streng­t­hens data and per­so­na­li­ty pro­tec­tion sof­te­ned to the worst in today’s Inter­net. In any case, cri­mi­nal pro­se­cu­ti­on will not be thwar­ted, as the lif­ting of the «Sil­kroad30» drug and wea­pons por­tal has shown. Solid, tar­ge­ted and tra­di­tio­nal inves­ti­ga­ti­on work will have to replace the non­sen­si­cal mass sur­veil­lan­ce of inno­cent citi­zens. Demo­cra­cy will defi­ni­te­ly be streng­t­he­ned. Not much is likely to chan­ge for copy­right hol­ders as they are alrea­dy facing a flood of copy­right infrin­ge­ments. Howe­ver, the pro­se­cu­ti­on and sup­pres­si­on of copy­right infrin­ge­ments is likely to be some­what more dif­fi­cult. Perhaps this will lead to a rethin­king of the con­tent pro­vi­ders, who con­si­de­red the fans of their pro­duc­ts as enemies.

The soci­al con­se­quen­ces of decen­tra­li­zed net­works will not be insi­gni­fi­cant and, at best, over­throw one or the other dic­ta­tor­ship as well as streng­t­hen “demo­cra­ci­es on the wrong side”.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/6 (2 votes cast)
The Inter­net is bro­ken. We need a new one: the Internext, 6.0 out of 6 based on 2 ratings
image_pdfimage_print

CC BY-NC 4.0 The Inter­net is bro­ken. We need a new one: the Internext by Domi­nic Zschok­ke is licen­sed under a Crea­ti­ve Com­mons Attri­bu­ti­on-Non­Com­mer­ci­al 4.0 Inter­na­tio­nal Licen­se.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*