[nmglug] talk at the santa fe complex

Andres Paglayan andres at paglayan.com
Wed Sep 29 17:37:49 PDT 2010


Tomorrow the 30st is meeting day,

Anyone interested in changing the venue to the Santa Fe Complex for one
there's this talk 


Is Big Brother Watching and Restricting Your Internet Activity?

Jed Crandall, Department of Computer Science, University of New Mexico

“Connection timed out.” “Server not found.” “The connection has been
reset.” Has your web browser ever told you these things? Was it telling
you the whole truth? Have you ever become interested in an Internet meme
or something political someone said but you mysteriously couldn't find
the video on YouTube? This Cafe will be about Internet censorship and
threats to privacy that are occurring all over the world, and the
parallels that I see here in the United States. 
If you use a search engine to search for something from a typical high
school in New Mexico, there's a good chance that your query and the
results you get back are being filtered or recorded at least half a
dozen times. When the search engine is deciding which results to send
you in response to your query, it has to check for compliance with laws
such as the Digital Millienium Copyright Act. On your end, your school
may be using proxy filtering software such as Websense to enforce the
Children's Internet Protection Act. The Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) that route Internet packets between your school and the search
engine (e.g., Comcast, Qwest, or AT&T) filter certain kinds of
communication and record things like network flows and clickstreams,
which basically means who you communicated with and what you
communicated with them about. Some of them pass this information on to
the U.S. Government in compliance with the Protect America Act. The
search engine probably also records your query. Your high school may
record Internet traffic and store it for weeks at a time for compliance
with various laws, particularly if government employees (such as
teachers) also use the Internet there. 
And all that's happening just if you use a search engine from a school.
What would you like to do when you're done with school? Foreign
correspondent for a major newspaper? Human rights activist? Soldier?
Defense lawyer? Whitehat hacker? If you plan on doing anything that
requires access to information that someone, somewhere considers
important, then you can bet that current trends on the Internet will
have a profound effect on how you do your job in the future. In some
parts of the world today, people put their lives at stake to use the
Internet as a tool for getting their message out to the world. The
activity during the recent “green revolution” protests in Iran regarding
the election results in March is an example. Among the many interesting
questions that computer scientists face, how to keep the Internet open
and free is one that my own research focuses on. 
The purpose of my talk will be two-fold. First, I want to get you
thinking about how Internet censorship and threats to privacy affect you
and your community, and what kinds of restrictions you can expect to
bump into now and in the future (especially if you go looking for
them ;-). Second, I hope to get you interested in some of the deep
computational and scientific questions that Internet censorship and
privacy issues raise, since some sharp scientific minds are needed if
we're going to be able to address the technology and policy issues of
the 21st century. 

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