Blown To Bits

China and the U.N. Propose to End Internet Anonymity

Monday, September 15th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

CNet’s Declan McCullagh reports a very important story:

A United Nations agency is quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous.

The “IP Traceback” drafting group would alter the underlying Internet protocols so that the origin of communications could be identified. Leaked documents from the group cite suppression of political opposition as one of the uses of the technological innovation.

Formal requirement of such technologies in the U.S. would presumably be illegal under the Constitution, but the U.S. National Security Agency is participating in the talks. There are ways other than blanket legal requirements to make such surveillance technologies the accepted norm in practice.

The economic power of China gives it new power. This could be a critical first case in which the world shifts its practices away from openness and toward government control in deference to the economic power of China.

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