TPP, CISA, Cryptography, and the Future of The Web


Hello again Badgers. I contacted you before explaining how thanks to the work of clever math and crypto nerds, true censorship on the web has been made essentially impossible.

To recap, the Tor anonymity network (and the Tor browser) can be made to look indistinguishable from any other encrypted channel on the net, and large corporate interests are too dependent on good crypto to let it be legislated away. Rachel and Hannah brought up some good counterpoints which I’m going to address. Also, the full text of the TPP has since been released, and I’ve had the … distinct pleasure of reading the entire Intellectual Property section — all 80-some pages — more on that in a moment.

Rachel remarked that on a web where anonymity tools are outlawed, it would be difficult to download Tor to get started. This is known as the ‘bootstrapping’ problem. It could indeed be an issue, and would make it harder for newcomers to start browsing anonymously. You’ll basically need a friend that already runs Tor to give you a copy on a thumb drive. This is akin to the samizdat era of underground books in the Soviet Union — passing forbidden usb drives under the table, swapping CDs with the latest bitcoin client, or the latest anonymous messenger, and so on. Those samizdat books may have been forbidden, but everyone knew someone with a copy. That brings me to the second point Rachel brought up — you guys were just talking about the bleak atmospheres of cyberpunk worlds — well, it is my rather firm estimation that a censorious cybernetic future is already on our doorstep. Alex Jones and the like may be bombastic, but sadly I think they are much closer to the truth than the joyfully prancing masses. Yes, that future is already upon us, and yes, you and other irate minorities are going to need to go underground.

Yes, we’ll need to hang out in the back-alleys of the dark web, but so will millions of others. It’s going to be one hell of a back-alley party, to the point where the main difference will be that it will run a little slower than the regular web,and it will be frowned upon by the authorities — and that’s all. But to be an activist, you will not need to be a hacker per se — but you *will* need a decent knowledge of anonymity hygiene. This is out of the scope of this letter, but I and many others are working on spreading this information before the curtains come down.

So, the other point was raised by Hannah — hers was the concern about backdoors in encryption mandated by the TPP. Two things: first, I haven’t found anything about backdoors in the TPP itself, and second, it is not encryption that will be back-doored. The NSA has amply demonstrated that it is much easier to hijack a network device than to attack the encryption itself. Protecting yourself against network ‘implants’ as they call then, is going to be part of anonymity hygiene.

Finally, a tiny bit of Good News, Everyone about the TPP. I think the concerns over domain registrations requiring a real name are overblown. The language in the document is the same as what is already required, that the domain owner’s contact info be accurate. This still permits anonymizing middlemen registrars “domains-by-proxy” and such, as the way it works today is they are technically the owners of the domain. The rest of the Intellectual property section is just as scary as you’ve discussed — crazy copyright enforcement, even longer time periods, and even a provision for copyrighting existing genetic information. But at least it doesn’t require you to give your real name to register a domain. Anyway, keep up the good fight. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m here to help you get through the worse, and you’re helping make it better.

John Smith

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