December 18th, 2012
From Techdirt, 2012-12-17:
China Tries To Block Encrypted Traffic
from the collapsing-the-tunnels dept
During the SOPA fight, at one point, we brought up the fact that increases in encryption were going to make most of the bill meaningless and ineffective in the long run, someone closely involved in trying to make SOPA a reality said that this wasn’t a problem because the next bill he was working on is one that would ban encryption. This, of course, was pure bluster and hyperbole from someone who was apparently both unfamiliar with the history of fights over encryption in the US, the value and importance of encryption for all sorts of important internet activities (hello online banking!), as well as the simple fact that “banning” encryption isn’t quite as easy as you might think. Still, for a guide on one attempt, that individual might want to take a look over at China, where VPN usage has become quite common to get around the Great Firewall. In response, it appears that some ISPs are now looking to block traffic that they believe is going through encrypted means.
A number of companies providing “virtual private network” (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to “learn, discover and block” the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
China Unicom, one of the biggest telecoms providers in the country, is now killing connections where a VPN is detected, according to one company with a number of users in China.
This is the culmination of at least 35 years of official concern about the effects of personal computers.
I’m old enough to remember. As soon as computers became affordable to individuals in the late 1970s there was talk about “licensing” computer users. Talking Heads even wrote a song about it (Life During Wartime).
The good guys won, the bad guys lost.
Then, even before the Web, we had the Clipper chip. The EFF was created in response. And again the good guys won.
Then we had the CDA, and then CDA2. And again, the bad guys lost and the lovers of liberty won.
In the West, the war is mostly over (yet eternal vigilance remains the price of liberty).
Not so in the rest of the world, as last week’s ITU conference in Dubai demonstrated.
I say – let them try it. Let them lock down all the VPNs, shut off all the traffic they can’t parse. Let’s have the knock-down, drag-out fight between the hackers and the suits.
Stewart Brand was right. Information wants to be free. I know math. I know about steganography. I know about economics.
I know who will win.