Encryption is the name of the game

There are three ways to force 'Net neutrality: self-regulation, FCC regulation and going darknet.

An old cipherpunk saying goes, "There's power in numbers -- large prime numbers." Encryption is a very powerful tool that's used by almost all companies to secure data in transit over untrusted networks.Up to now we've used encryption to protect against criminal elements, but what about using it to protect our data from service providers?

Encryption can shield our data from overzealous "traffic management," which is what some providers are calling it when they send a TCP RST to both ends of traffic that they don't like. I call that denial of service.

'Net neutrality sounds like a good idea. I wish we actually had some of that. I don't know about your provider, but mine discriminates against a whole bunch of ports, dislikes symmetric traffic and assumes that any sustained upstream traffic is file-sharing (no, it's my VoIP audioconferencing that your automated antipiracy dumbware just made unusable, thank you). So, in turn I make sure most if not all of my traffic is encrypted.

Lately the carriers and service providers seem to be on a self-destructive rampage. In a few short weeks, three companies managed to destroy the argument that 'Net neutrality is a theoretical issue by demonstrating how it can go wrong -- censoring rock bands, censoring political advocacy, attacking peer-to-peer protocols. The latest news came last week when several researchers reported that the traffic blocked by Comcast included not just BitTorrent but also Lotus Notes. Yes, that veritable hotbed of illicit activity -- corporate groupware. "Capricious censorship" is never far behind "narrowly targeted censorship."

Without wanting to trivialize the original context, here's a paraphrasing of Pastor Martin Niemoller's poem:

First they gave me asymmetry, and I said nothing because I was only browsing.

Then they blocked Port 25, and I said nothing because I don't run a mail server.

Then they blocked Port 80, and I said nothing because I wasn't posting Web pages.

Then they cut off my neighbor because she was using too much, and I said nothing because I was using less.

Then they blocked P2P, and I said nothing because I am not a pirate.

Then they blocked Lotus Notes, and I said nothing because I run Outlook.

Then they blocked instant messaging, and by golly, I got angry.

So, I decided to post on my blog, but blogging was not part of my subscription.

There are three ways to force 'Net neutrality: self-regulation, FCC regulation and going darknet. As the first two approaches slowly fail, my traffic increasingly is going dark. Those who would sacrifice essential neutrality for promised capacity deserve neither -- and will lose both.

Or as Alice said: "hPzkIcnPsJ6DhR/XOsorT3Llwdcw/qRNurcf2vIP3DWLBjQSe7T2MPNeTh8rKm9NAuZUV79KZ/SHr9woqbsarW"

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