Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

CYXYMU and “the nuclear option”

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There’s been enough said about the specifics of the Facebook/Twitter/LiveJournal outage last week connected to attacks on Georgian blogger “CYXYMU.” net.effect offers a detailed analysis of the politics involved, but I’m not so sure of Evgeny Morozov’s belief that this represents an effective step forward in the silencing of dissent. Read the net.effect piece, but consider the following as well –

1.  Are sites like Facebook, et. al., really going to generate “terms of service censorship” to delete users who become targets of cyberattacks due to free expression? I’m not so sure. There are certainly enough people who can identify (and amplify) when such considerations go into effect, and I’m not convinced that explicit censorship wouldn’t reverse the explosive growth of these sites, or open up an angle for new competition. Then again, maybe that’s simply achieving the same effects…

2.  When you attack a site with 250M users, like Facebook, you’re naturally going to attract undue attention to a situation that otherwise wouldn’t have been given another thought. I’m not convinced that won’t lead to greater political blowback at some level for Russia (even if in no way connected to the attack), even if it’s something as simple as a more aggressive cybersecurity policy (remember, there’s still an ongoing debate between the U.S. and Russia about cybersecurity).

3.  Why assume a static architecture? “Terms of service censorship” would be easy, certainly. But I’m not so sure that this attack hasn’t just handed over a new set of creative ideas – not to mention funding – on how to make the platforms more robust. A big maybe. But there’s clearly a public good issue that works to the advantage of folks like CYXYMU. Even with “terms of service censorship,” attacks like these – because they inflict damage on the network as a whole – are still likely to focus efforts on how to protect the network as a whole, which ultimately benefits individual cyber-dissenters. Imagine for a second that this were an actual military attack against an entire city, just because that city was home to one vocal individual. Even if you kicked that individual out, wouldn’t the chance of a future, similar individual be incentive enough to improve your defenses against a similar attack?

Written by Mark

August 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Technology

Tagged with , ,

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