Sunday, September 14, 2008

They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time

More China convergence blogging. Declan McCullagh reports on efforts by the US and China to sneak something nasty into the ITU standardisation process, through a committee that doesn't publish its documentation or let anyone else in the room. But the Chinese appear to be the ones leaning forward;
The Chinese author of the document, Huirong Tian, did not respond to repeated interview requests. Neither did Jiayong Chen of China's state-owned ZTE Corporation, the vice chairman of the Q6/17's parent group who suggested in an April 2007 meeting that it address IP traceback.

A second, apparently leaked ITU document offers surveillance and monitoring justifications that seem well-suited to repressive regimes: A political opponent to a government publishes articles putting the government in an unfavorable light. The government, having a law against any opposition, tries to identify the source of the negative articles but the articles having been published via a proxy server, is unable to do so, protecting the anonymity of the author.
Now that's what I call a use case! The standards group in question includes someone from the Chinese ministry of telecoms and an NSA official whose biog appears to be secret, as well as someone from Verisign; who is hilariously quoted as saying that:
"The OSI Internet protocols (IPv5) had the capabilities built-in. The ARPA Internet left them out because the infrastructure was a private DOD infrastructure."
(Trust me, if you know your Internet history, it's hilarious.) The poor darling, still wishing for someone to bring back OSI. And the representatives of the Chinese Communist Party conspiring away with the NSA.

Oh well; it's not as if it's going to work. Viz:
“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

But economics also plays a role. Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”
Read the whole damn thing; it's one of the best reported stories on the Internet infrastructure I've ever seen, they spoke to the right people (Renesys, k c claffy, Odlyzko), and the conclusions are interesting to say the least.
The Renesys rankings of Internet connections, an indirect measure of growth, show that the big winners in the last three years have been the Italian Internet provider Tiscali, China Telecom and the Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI.

Firms that have slipped in the rankings have all been American: Verizon, Savvis, AT&T, Qwest, Cogent and AboveNet. “The U.S. telecommunications firms haven’t invested,” said Earl Zmijewski, vice president and general manager for Internet data services at Renesys. “The rest of the world has caught up. I don’t see the AT&T’s and Sprints making the investments because they see Internet service as a commodity.”
If the "American Internet" is ending, it's because they don't deserve it any more.


Gridlock said...

Everyone's moving their data out of the US, and yet they all still issue blackberries to their staff and use Googl to their heart's content...

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced moving data into the hands of the Italians or Japanese is any improvement. They're both so tightly ideologically bound to the US that neither would think twice before installing US-controlled extra-legal interception gear if the NSA asked for it.

Alex said...

@gridlock: one thing letting ggl have your search requests, quite another letting TLA have all your customers, yr encryption keys, etc. Amusingly I used to live about 50 yards from the building all the Blackberry traffic in EMEA passes through. (Frankly, if that isn't a good enough reason to use one of the other push e-mail options, I don't know what is.)

@anon: true, but at the very least there's some choice. However, I wouldn't trust the new cable along the Trans-Siberian Railway RoW very much either. And what with the FRA plans, you have to wonder about AS1299/Telia Global Carrier too.

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