NY Times Room For Debate – Can Google Beat China

More Than a Tech Problem

For years, innovative solutions to sidestep Internet filters have plagued Internet censors. Rebellious kids, hoping to sneak a peek around parental controls, have come up with some of the best of these ideas. Others are highly sophisticated open-source systems tended to by brainy PhD.’s and caffeine-fueled programmers.
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Google, China and a wake-up call to protect the Net (Globe and Mail comment)

By Ron Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski


Action is needed at the global level to ensure that cyberspace doesn’t slip into a new dark age

Google’s announcement that it had been hit by cyberattacks from China and that it’s reconsidering its services in that country has smacked the world like a thunderclap: Why the drastic move? How will China respond? Will other companies with interests in China, such as Microsoft and Yahoo, follow suit? What does it mean for the future of cyberspace?
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Policy@Google Tech Talk December 8th

I recently gave a Policy@Google Talk on December 8th 2009 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The talk was an overview of Internet censorship patterns worldwide, with a focus on the work of the OpenNet Initiative and some references to challenges around circumvention technologies. Google’s Free Expression point person, Bob Boorstin introduces….

Globe and Mail comment piece

I wrote a comment piece for the Globe and Mail today, which can be accessed here

In a time when every person’s digital life is now turned inside out and electronically dispersed and disaggregated, does it really make sense to think solutions lie in adding to that flood? Law enforcement and intelligence don’t need to sidestep court protections and civil liberties to meet the challenges of cyber crime – they need a new investigatory paradigm.

The Wild Wild Web – Canadian Lawyer Magazine

A few months ago when a Canadian research group exposed the GhostNet, a brazen cyber-espionage network, the story briefly made headlines. Most of us marvelled at the ingenuity and nefariousness of the alleged perpetrator, the Chinese government. Some may have momentarily fretted about implications for international security. But the man who helped break the GhostNet story, Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies, says the implications are at once more far-reaching and more immediate — especially, perhaps, for lawyers.

From Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Ottawa needs a strategy for cyberwar

National Post (comment)
June 30, 2009

Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski

Recently, the Canadian envoy to Iran was called in and admonished by Iranian officials for contributing to the destabilitization of the regime because of support for social networking tools, like Twitter and Facebook. The envoy must have scratched his head in puzzlement.

The Iranians’ furor was ignited by the work of our company, Psiphon, which is based in Canada and has actively engaged in a campaign to help Iranians bypass their country’s filters and exercise basic human rights of access to information and freedom of speech. On average, one Iranian per minute has signed up to our “right-2know” nodes — customized websites pushed into Iran that contain access to BBC Persian and Radio Farda — and more than 15,000 have used our service since the crisis began.

However, we have received no support from the Canadian government — not even a note of thanks. As far as we know, the Canadian government does not even have a cyberspace strategy (of promoting access to information and freedom of speech) about which a country like Iran would be irritated. As Canadians, we wish it did.

Psiphon’s activities in Iran are not the first of their kind to generate intense media interest. Just a few months ago, a related project of ours, the Information Warfare Monitor, published a report called Tracking GhostNet that discovered a cyber-espionage system infecting government ministries and embassies in more than 103 countries. The case was splashed across the front pages of newspapers, and produced a powerful curiosity about cyber security around the world that continues unabated.
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Vancouver Sun Article on "The Not So Free Internet."

Peter Wilson of the Vancouver Sun put together a lengthy feature article on the ways in which freedom of information exchange is being undermined on the Internet. I provided some background info and input.

The not-so-free Internet: From Chinese filtering to police access in Canada, governments are trying to regulate the Internet. But technology has a habit of bypassing everything regulators can throw at it.

Peter Wilson
Vancouver Sun
22 September 2005

Vancouver Sun
Copyright © 2005 Vancouver Sun

“The Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it.”
— John Gillmore, co-founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, circa 1992.

When Canadian Internet law expert Michael Geist tried to download his e-mail in a Beijing hotel room recently he ran into what he thought was nothing more than a technical hiccup.

“I’d be downloading and all of a sudden it would be cut off,” said Geist. “And at first I thought it was a coincidence and the network had a glitch.”

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