WikiLeaks Supporters and Preparing for Trouble

Posted on 02/02/2011 by


As recent events in Egypt have made abundantly clear, corrupt regimes will allow nothing to stand in the way of their maintaining power. Frankly, these actions should be expected of the US government at some time in the future. It is a corrupt regime, and although perhaps not as obviously oppressive as Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, it can and should be called worse, because it supports Mubarak and his equivalents all around the world.

Information coming from Cablegate via WikiLeaks is, I am quite confident, going to be vastly augmented by positively explosive information which will come from Mubarak’s collapsed regime. Information about the Egypt-based US kidnapping and torture programme, for instance, will be more than just an embarrassment for the US government: it will be an immediate catastrophe. There is undoubtedly more horror which will be discovered, as well; not just low-level diplomatic chatter a la Cablegate, but actual secret documents from the depths of a world-wide intelligence network.

Needless to say, the US government will not be happy about this; in fact, I suspect it will collectively blow every gasket available to be blown. Depending on the ‘sensitivity’ of the information which arises out of Egypt’s crumbled dictatorship regarding the US government, this could be what triggers the kill-switching of US internet access. I’ve already laid out my reasons why in a previous post.

To summarise that post, the US government already has considered the ‘need’ for kill-switching the internet for ‘national security’ reasons, as evidenced by the new bill in the US Congress giving the Department of Homeland Security a legalised kill-switch method. Whether or not the bill passes, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if it doesn’t, the methods are already extant and in place for the US government to kill-switch the internet. Look at the bill as begging for forgiveness, (ie legalising an already extant system), rather than asking permission.

What I am suggesting is that WikiLeaks supporters in the US — and indeed elsewhere — should consider the US government already in possession of the kill-switch; at that is left is the excuse to use that kill-switch. Have no fear, I’m quite confident that some ‘national security’ issue will arise wherein the only ‘sensible’ thing to do is to kill-switch the internet. This is the “we must turn off the internet in order to keep it working properly” method of cyber-security, as the phrase goes.

There is really nothing that can be done to prevent this kill-switch from being used, nor is there anything to be done to remove it from the US government’s toybox. All that can be done is to prepare for what is coming, because an internet blackout is indeed coming, at some uncertain time. This cannot be predicted, only anticipated, and in my opinion it’s a sufficiently monumental overturning of everyday life that some steps should be taken for prudence’s sake.

I don’t think it’s worth my time or yours to get into an exhaustive list of everything which would happen, or things which should be anticipated, if the internet should be kill-switched. Instead, I suggest that you take some time to think about what would your life look like when the internet should suddenly go away. Think about those institutions you rely upon, and how they would operate — or not — when the internet is offline for a protracted time.

However, I’ll share a few thoughts, and these are all steps which I have taken myself. The Egyptians have shown us all that the fundamental asset is to be organised, calm, and community oriented. However, ensuring the flow of vital information is one of the most important things to be defended.

Computer security is a highly important consideration, even now. For example, my Verizon cellphone account has been locked by Verizon for “too many failed attempts” at access. The more vocal you are in your support of WikiLeaks, the stronger you need to have your passwords; additionally, ensure that each of your accounts has a different password.

As Egypt shows, faxing will potentially be an invaluable asset. Additionally, the Tor browser will be a necessary tool. For those more technologically inclined, the i2p network is perhaps for you. If you use Internet Exploder, stop; get Firefox, it’s just better. After that, get the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s plug-in HTTPS Everywhere, which automatically encrypts all compatible websites. This will make both what you are reading and what text you might send into the website more difficult to intercept. Caveat on HTTPS Everywhere: I’ve had small problems using it with Facebook, but other than that I’m really pleased.

Those who support WikiLeaks are going to be amongst those who will first be affected by an US government internet blackout. This gives us — as I count myself a supporter — a responsibility to consider what must be done to ensure an internet blackout is not a route or defeat, but a tactic which has been expected. Part of having a good game plan is being ready for the dirty tricks, as well as business as usual. Forces are aligning quietly, and there will be trouble.

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Posted in: Activism, WikiLeaks
3 Responses “WikiLeaks Supporters and Preparing for Trouble” →
  1. Another fun tool I found is Ghostery. It blocks tracking software, like Google Analytics, and prevents the software from gathering information about your internet surfing.

  2. Yet another new toy:

    An anonymous search engine, which uses Google but blocks the latter’s efforts at tracking user traffic.

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