The End Of The Net as We Know It. . .

Unless something the scale of what happened yesterday, December 12, in Alabama happens tomorrow, December 14, the Internet as we know it will be gone.  The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to vote to end “Net Neutrality”.

Many of you have seen tweets, posts on Facebook or even received e-mails on this issue.  But what exactly is “Net Neutrality”.  It would be easy to go back to the old “information superhighway” that was used in the early days of the net.  But a better analogy may be an amusement park.  Many parks have “priority lanes” for some rides where users who pay for an armband or other pass can skip the lines.  With “Net Neutrality” there were no such lanes, all traffic passed with no special priority.

What looks likely to happen tomorrow is that providers will be able to give content the ability to “jump the line”.  This could be based on a fee a customer pays, a fee a site or service pays or even the whims of the provider.  A provider could also throttle or slow down a particular page; Comcast could give content from NBC priority and throttle content for ABC.  Verizon, my current provider, could make me use Yahoo.  The information security podcast Greynoise gave an excellent list of examples of what a post-neutrality net may look like; It’s not a pretty picture.

A better question may be, why?  There are a few obvious answers; Trump’s desire to undo everything Obama has done, the pro-corporate mentality of Trump, etc.  There may be something more sinister at play here though.

Trump knows how well “The Resistance” has used the internet.  It started almost as soon as he was elected; Disrupt J20 and the Women’s March, the actions around the ACA, and the Alabama Senate election all utilized the net to organize and mobilize.  Thousands of progressive podcasts, blogs and social media feeds bring information that the corporate media refuses to cover to an audience it could not have reached in decades past.  Who’s to say Verizon couldn’t be asked to throttle “Democracy Now”, or CenturyLink to give the NRA priority over “The Trace” (in the interest of disclosure, I was employed by CenturyLink from 2011-2015).

This would be nothing new.  Governments have always found ways to stifle, silence or stop dissenters.  The dissidents have found ways to persist in their resistance.  There are methods that could be used to get around artificial blocks to information, that is for another post though.

 

Advertisements

Another “Generation Gap”

One of the earlier posts to this blog concerned me feeling “stuck in the middle” between the Sanders and Clinton backers. I was too old to be part of Bernie’s Millennial base, but seemed too young for Hillary’s base.  I like to say I have seen things from all sides; I backed Bernie in the primary, Hillary in the general, and now see myself as a member of “The Resistance”.

But could there be a “Generation Gap” among “The Resistance”.  The actions of the “AntiFa” in places like Charlottesville, Berkeley, etc seem to have exposed one.  On one side, you have those who seem to say “Let the ‘alt-right’ speak,” their rhetoric will show them as the bigots they are.  Alas, Trump may have helped give the deplorable confidence to come out and spread the message.  A second group advocates for the kind of non-violent, pacifist, resistance of Martin Luther King, etc.  I more and more think that this approach may better be called passive-ism, as I have stated before, I think the “Community Defense” model of the Black Panthers, etc is a superior tactic.

These first two approaches are that of an older generation.  Some of the activists of the Millennial Generation and the trailing end of “Generation X” have gone “all in”.  They are the “Black Bloc”, the ones taking to the streets to battle the “Alt-Right”.   They are the folks recording the police, or “doxxing” fascists.  With the ideas of White Supremacy, or at least White Superiority, resurgent, resistance through direct action may be the best option.  As an old anti-racist poster I once saw said “Pull them up–before they take root”.  Perhaps a better phrase for now if “Cut them down, before they spread”


Choosing My Battles

I had a guest for part of this past weekend.  One of my Facebook friends came to visit some of his family.  I had to pick him up at the train station and we did go out for a late dinner.  The conversation centered around two things; the McGregor-Mayweather fight and my life.

I felt at times like I was being analyzed and interrogated at the same time.  But there was one thing I took away, I need to put me first a bit more.

One aspect of this may be me scaling back on my resistance activities a bit.  Fear not, I am not giving up the fight.  I just may be picking my battles based on two separate, but related questions; “Do I have the time” or “Can I make the time”.

And much of what I do when I’m not on the streets may still be helpful when I do take to the streets.  I want to learn how to search for information that can be used to out fascists, yes I want to learn how to “doxx” people.  I want to be able to better defend myself and others against fascists, etc.  I may even want to finish starting my app–again.

A Maverick’s Last Ride?

I stated once before that one of my college alma mater’s coaches had a “24-hour rule”.  You had 24 hours to revel in a victory or sulk in defeat.

Yesterday, July 28, we went from one to the other in a matter of one vote.  When Senator John McCain (R-AZ), cast the 51st vote to defeat the “Skinny Repeal”, the last effort by the Senate GOP to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

What is odd is that his vote that Tuesday was what allowed the debate to start.  If he was opposed to repeal, why bring the bill to the floor?  Twitter has been wondering this as well.  I have my own answer.

Senator McCain is trying to leave a legacy, in my opinion.  He was diagnosed with brain cancer and may want the image of him looking Mitch McConnell in the eye, and giving the “Skinny Repeal” the “Thumbs Down” to be how he is remembered.  For a lot of people, it will work.  For folks that can remember more than the last 15 minutes, it won’t.

Showing His Hand?

Besides building the border wall, promises to deport Muslim refugees and people of color, and rebuild the industrial economy, one of the other reasons many people decided to vote for Trump was to have the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.

Alas, these efforts have been met with massive resistance, to get the legislation to pass the US House required two votes.  The Senate is on now its third delay, ironically because Senator John McCain need surgery.

I cannot help but think that in some way, Senator McConnell has tipped his hand a bit.  There may not be enough votes to even bring the bill up for a debate, if McCain’s vote didn’t matter, they would press on.

I only hope that the resistance smells blood, and seizes this opportunity to push for killing this bill and advance a proposal that benefits all Americans.

We Are Better Than This

Wednesday’s shooting during a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball game was unique not only because it put members of Congress under fire, but that the shooter seemed to espouse anti-Trump and anti-GOP ideas.

The first thing that impressed me was the quick response from Senator Bernie Sanders distancing himself and his movement from the shooter.  A far cry from the silence from Trump and the GOP about how their rhetoric may have fueled the Portland stabber.

But, perhaps on the heels of the successes of Anti-Fascist activists at the “Stand Up to Sharia” events, the media is starting to put some focus on the more radical factions of the American Left.

Now there has been an “Insurrectionist Left” for several decades.  I remember the anti-war rallies of the early 2000s conducted by ANSWER that would bring groups calling for the overthrow of American Capitalism.   I count among my allies several self-described anarchists and communists.

But I would still like to think we are better than the Oathkeepers, etc.  We can still put our faith in the electoral system, at least for the moment.  We can rally and phone bank as opposed to arming ourselves for an insurgency.

Now that is not to say that our opponents will play nice.  A recent incident at a Harrisburg, PA equality rally may show that Trump has given the bigoted a sense of power and invulnerability.  This still may mean a change in tactics among the left, including needing to make greater use of Anti-Fascists for protection against both reactionary allies and police that from what I see far too often as protecting the reactionaries than the affected communities.

Liberte, Equalite, Sante Mentale

For those of you that have forgotten their French, the title is a turn on the French motto.  It would translate as “Liberty, Equality, Sanity”.

Last Sunday, May 7, the French went to the polls in an election that had echoes of America’s.  We had a centrist running against a nationalist, or fascist.  There were fears of left win apathy helping the radical candidate win, but these were unfounded.  The centrist candidate won a convincing majority.

How did this happen?  To begin with, the French election was a direct one.  There was no Electoral College, the candidate who had the most votes won.  Second, it was on a weekend, people did not have to take off of work, etc to vote.

A third, and perhaps main reason, is that voters in France, perhaps like those in the Netherlands, saw what has happened in the United Kingdom and the United States.  The chaos that has come from the “Brexit” and the resistance Trump has spawned may have convinced French voters to “Hold their noses” and cast votes against the greater evil.

Of course, the French also have experience being under fascist rule, and though most of those who lived under it have passed, they may still have stories passed down.  That or they teach that part of history right.

The 42-Year Old N00b

On Saturday, April 22, I made my first appearance at a “Hackers” conference.  The Rochester Institute of Technology played host to the 7th annual “B-Sides” conference.  The theme “Crypto Cold War” could not have been more appropriate, as we seem to now be embracing the old “Evil Empire”.

I did have a good time, but realize that I have a lot to learn.  The two technical talks I attended; one on Assembly Language and the other about hiding code had me in a bit of a haze.

The non-technical talks were a little easier to bear.  A talk on physical entry made me realize that once one gets into a building, they usually have fairly free rein.  A talk on robust defense got me to thinking that when it comes to security, one may need to “think small”.  A talk on communication made me wonder how often a company tries to make itself the victim, instead of the customers.

A final talk on outwitting “Crackers”, folks who attempt to break into systems, given by an Army Intelligence Officer was a bit of a disappointment.  His focus was more on innovation then exploitation.

I would have never thought two years ago, I would be at an event like B-Sides.  Of course, I didn’t expect the country to decide to make such a hard right turn either.