Sad Day For Net Users In NZ As Goverment Internet Filter Goes Live

According to an article on Scoop Independent News New Zealand has joined the ranks of nations with really aggressive, secret internet filters operated by the government.

Apparently two NZ ISPs, Maxnet and Watchdog, have already implemented the filter and three more, Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone have stated that they will be implementing it.  Only three ISPs, Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom have said that they will not be using it.

Another blow to freedom of speech on the internet as net filtering by governments becomes more and more prevalent.  First China, North Korea and Iran, recently Australia and now New Zealand.

The US government has recently spoken out against government filtering of the internet, with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton saying that “Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our society, or any other, pose a threat to our economy, our government and our civil society.” She then said that the US is committed to helping people to circumvent government internet filtering.

One can only hope that this isn’t just more of the same meaningless hollow drivel that the currently way too liberal US government is famous for and that it will lead to some real support of technologies that are designed to prevent internet censorship such as TOR, Freenet and Anonymous Remailers.

Technorati Tags: censorship, internet filter, freenet, remailers, tor, new zealand

GPS To Become More Problem Than Benefit

I’ve always thought that GPS systems in vehicles was a very two sided thing.  On the one hand you have the convenience of having reliable navigational aids available on demand.  There’s no need for futzing around with often difficult to manage paper maps, they can locate your position to within a very close margin of error and most units these days can also provide some very sophisticated route planning along with step by step directions to make finding an unfamiliar location almost painless.

On the other hand the obvious downside is that they can also easily be made to keep records of your travels, routes, destinations, stops along with date and time stamps for everything.  All it takes is a system such as OnStar to either misuse or allow that data to leak and you lose any hope of privacy concerning when and where you travel. In fact, OnStar type systems also have the ability to remotely monitor audio from withing your car and even disable the vehicle so that it won’t start.

Now enter the government.  It seems that federal fuel taxes are expected to be phased out by 2020, leaving an obvious gap in revenue.  According to one article that I read, one option that is now under consideration is the idea of using a “by the mile” road tax to replace the current fuel tax system.

I can’t help thinking that the government, who can’t even seem to dredge up the sensibility to use discount faucets or cheap coffeepots and bathroom fixtures instead of spending two and three times (or LOTS more!) as retail value (can you say $14,000 toilet seat?) and has shown a growing tendency to track and monitor citizens (remember warrantless wiretaps and NSA email snooping?) will almost certainly use the GPS records that it ostensibly will use for calculating road tax bills and add it to it’s growing thirst for “Total Information Awareness”.

If you think that this sounds a bit extreme just think about the rate at which our privacy is slowly but surely being etched away and it won’t sound so extreme.  Big Brother is indeed watching you and not only that but he’s becoming more of a voyeur by the second.  It wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out someday that new electronics (computers, TV’s, cellphones, basically anything involving communications) are required to come equipped to permit government snooping and tracking of your activities with said device.

“Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to kill me.”  –Anonymous

Technorati Tags: federal fuel tax, gps tracking, surveillance, government snooping, gasoline tax, privacy, road use tax, nsa, email snoopng, gps, onstar, domestic spying, travel records, illegal surveillance, illegal wiretapping, warrantless wiretapping, travel habits

New Version Of Mixminon Message Sender Released

After a LONG time without updates, version 1.2.5-Beta of Mixminion Message Sender is now available.

There’s been several changes / tweaks in the code (see the changelog below) and I’ve created a new distribution that includes Mixminion ready to run “out of the box”.

I have not yet been able to compile Win32 binaries of the latest version of the Mixminion software so it’s still using version 0.0.7.1.  When I am finally able to, I’ll include Mixminion 0.0.8alpha3 (or whatever version is current at the time.).

I’ll have a new edition of the Freenet MMS page inserted sometime over the next few days.

Changelog:
05/18/08 -1.2.5-Beta
Bugfix: error in mail2news gateway selection code caused @m2n.4096.net to be ignored.
Code is fixed, but the gateway isn’t working as of this release.

Removed @newsanon.org from mail2news gateway list since it’s been confirmed down
for quite a while.

Created a second distribution that includes mixminion already set up so that it’s
ready to run “out of the box”

Changed dummy packet generation to allow creating multiple packets,
default set to 3 packets at a time.

Changed “Clear form” command so that it sets the mail2news gateway to @m2n.mixmin.net instead of “None”

Set default update interval to 2 hours if “Auto Update Servers” is enabled.

Changed minimum possible hops from 2 to 3 to insure minimum safe anonymous path

Changed maximum possible hops to 29 after experiments showed it to work

Changed SURB generation so that first and last hop select boxes and Number of hops
droplist control the SURB path

Made the ‘get path’ routine into a subroutine that’s now called from several places
instead of duplicating code

Technorati Tags: Anonymity, anonymous, anonymous+email, freeware, mixminion, mixminion+gui, mixminion+message+sender, Open+source, program, remailer+client, Software, type+III+remailer, type+III+remailer+client, win32+mixminion+gui

Answer To A Freenet Question

I recently received an email asking about something I said on my unofficial freenet 0.5 download page.  After answering, I decided that it’d be worthwhile to share that answer for anyone else who might have any passing interest in my opinions.  (with the addition of fixing a few typos and a broken sentence or two that were in the original.)

Note that I’m not against 0.7 so much as I prefer 0.5 for the reasons stated below.  I’m also aware that freenet in whatever flavor is still a work in progress and that in time things such as my opinion may change.  At the very least I think this is food for thought.

on the freenet 0.5 part of your website (http://peculiarplace.com/freenet/) you state:

“I personally believe that this is not a good idea because 0.7 still lacks features that many feel it should have.”

Could you please point out some of these features for me, that 0.7 seems to be missing? Does the 0.5 version provide these features instead of 0.7?

You also state “[…]the stable version (0.5) that a lot of freenet users consider to still be better and more anonymous than 0.7”, without giving any reasons. Why do people think that 0.7 is less anonymous?

One of the reasons I had for that was the lack of a functioning opennet capability.  Of course when I wrote that, opennet was still a far off concept that many on 0.7 were arguing strongly against.  Now that opennet is available on new installs 0.7 is scoring better in that regard.

Darknet is still something of a crap shoot in my opinion.  Making trustworthy darknet connections requires that you actually know the person whose node you’re exchanged darknet refs with and have reason to trust them.  For most people, that’s just not going to happen.

I’ve made the mistake of casually mentioning freenet to people in the past, only to watch their eyes glaze over as I then have to explain what it is and why it’s important enough to get involved with. Now I’m a lot slower to even mention freenet to anyone, let alone trust them enough to exchange darkenet refs with.

Even though there are somewhat secure means (encrypted frost msgs, etc.), there still remains the fact that most of the time, people are forced to exchange refs with people they don’t know and have no reason to trust in order to make darknet connections. There’s GOT to be a better way to deal with this. No, I don’t presently have any ideas, if I do come up with any I’ll be sure to publish them.

Another reason is embodied in this warning generated when the node starts up:

==
Note that this version of Freenet is still a very early alpha, and may well have numerous bugs and design flaws. In particular: YOU ARE WIDE OPEN TO YOUR IMMEDIATE PEERS! They can eavesdrop on your requests with relatively little difficulty at present (correlation attacks etc).
==

I realize that this vulnerability exists for 0.5 as well, however in 0.5 there is a much greater “plausible denyability” because 0.5’s opennet has a much larger number of open connections creates a greater level of transient requests than 0.7

0.7 however, doesn’t have nearly the number of open connections since it’s hard-coded to limit the total number of opennet connections to 20 and the maximum recommended number of darknet connections is 15 or so.  This, combined with the potential eavesdropping means that 0.7 nodes have less “plausible denyability”. Darknet only nodes having even less than opennet or hybrid nodes

As I understand what Toad has said about it, the only real cure for this is premix routing which would make it impossible (or as nearly so as is practical) for immediate peers to eavesdrop on requests or to attempt to snoop the contents of any given node’s datastore.  He has said that implementation of premix routing isn’t planned until 0.8

Yes, 0.5 would benefit just as much as 0.7 from the inclusion of premix routing, but because of the differences in how the two opennets work I think that 0.5 comes out with a greater anonymity and security, not only of the contents of a node’s datastore, but also in the anonymity of who is inserting or requesting what.

There’s also the matter of the node now handling inserts and requests to the degree that once the individual app initially hands it to the node, the app no longer has much say in how the transfers are handled because the node is processing everything.  I think that while there are benefits in being able to have the node handle everything like that, there’s times when it’d be better to do it the old way with the app handling things.

The final thing that a lot of 0.5 users don’t like one bit about 0.7 is the fact that while 0.7 is just great at moving small files or frost messages, it has turned out to be a lumbering dinosaur when it comes to inserting or requesting large splitfiles.


To illustrate the point about the number of connections, my 0.5 node currently has 172 connections to other nodes, some initiated by my node, others initiated by other nodes.  These connections persist for varying amounts of time and then new connections are made automatically.  No one node can really make even a good guess whether a request or insert that it receives from my node is coming from my node or is actually just being forwarded from another node or where it is in a chain that could be as long as twenty hops.

I also have an 0.7 node that I run periodically for a few days a week.  It has four darknet connections and sixteen opennet connections.  That’s not much of a crowd to hide in.


Technorati Tags: Anonymity, anonymous+network, anonymous+p2p, connections, darknet, file+sharing, freenet, freenet+0.5, freenet+0.7, freenet+project, hide+in+the+crowd, network, opennet, opinion, p2p, plausible+denyability, premix+routing, Security, toad

Japan to Regulate Online Communications?

I just saw a slashdot item that makes me wonder about the Japanese government…  They’re apparently getting some laws passed that are laying the groundwork for what has the potential to become an Orwellian regulation of online communications.

Oh, it’s initial purpose is going to be to stop piracy and illegal downloads & such, but the problem is that things like this have a way of growing until they finally get so big and invasive that they could make Orwell’s 1984 look like a walk in the park.

Here’s hoping that tools like freenet and anonymous remailers continue to be developed and kept able to defeat such regulating.

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