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One of the many justifications used across the world by agencies, governments, regimes etc for spying on us and filtering internet feeds is that it actually protects us. By that they generally mean by employing these tactics they are able to catch more terrorists, paedophiles and various nasty people using the internet for their naughtiness. In fact in many sectors of society if you argue that the internet shouldn’t be monitored or filtered then you will often find yourself grouped with these unsavory characters. Now just to clarify I’m not talking about carefully targeted surveillance and filtering on suspects (fair enough on that) but the general broad monitoring and filtering on an entire population on the off chance of picking up something interesting !
The problem is that it’s utter rubbish for one very good reason – it simply doesn’t work. It’s all very well a Government thinking that they can routinely pick up terrorists by swooping on a Facebook page – but in reality what sort of hardened operatives are they going to pick up? One thing for sure they won’t be very clever – in fact you’ll probably pick up the likes of these two harmless muppets who tried to organise a riot on Facebook. Their riot attracted no rioters and they were picked up and sentenced to four years (which will probably be reduced to 2 weeks on appeal).
Now to be honest I don’t know about you, but I might be prepared to concede a large part of my liberty and privacy if I thought the world would become a genuinely safer and better place. However picking up the likes of these two hardly meets that criteria.
The point I’m trying to make is that when internet filtering, censoring and surveillance techniques are utilised the only people who are affected are those with nothing to hide, plus perhaps a few thick criminals/terrorists who are probably of limited danger. There are many ways to circumvent filters, there are lots of ways to communicate anonymously and all those who need to are doing just that.
Do Al Qaeda communicate through Facebook, My Space or Twitter – I suspect not. Do they send out their orders by emails in clear text with PDF attachments detailing their targets – of course they don’t. They’ll be using TOR, encrypted emails, hidden web sites and communication networks on the Dark web. There will be codes, ciphers and carefully devised communication methods and strategies plus loads of other stuff on here The Ninja Proxy!
Of course they might be like this lot from the rather funny film Four Lions –
But I suspect not.