What China wants in Internet battle is wholly proprietary

What China wants in Internet battle is wholly proprietary

Summary: We know where China stands. We know where America stands. But the Internet can't long survive half-slave and half-free. It will either become all one thing or all the other.

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Doug Hanchard, over at ZDNet Government, offers a thoughtful and fair defense of the fear now gripping Internet security professionals following the allegedly Chinese attack on Google and others.

He concludes with a poll, asking readers whether they would accept having their CPUs registered as a condition for going online. This would make it possible to trace computer crime to its source, he suggests.

At last count sentiment was running 4-1 against. No surprise there. But surprising he thought to ask the question that way, because IPv6 has plenty of address space to give every phone, PC and Internet-connected toaster its own IP address.

In other words, his solution is at hand.

So why the pushback?

(Picture from Regentsprep.org.)

Possibly because a solution like this may indeed be China's aim. China sees freedom as chaos, dissent as treason. It demands the right to police its people as its proprietary property.

In this I believe it has the support of its people. The history of the last century (above) argues that, without unity at its center, China collapses like a house of cards, and that foreigners use this collapse to hold its people down.

Words like freedom and democracy are middle class conceits, China argues. Without power, without rules, and without enforcement of those rules by the wisest and wiliest, the argument goes, society collapses.

Of course, we know better. Open source knows better. Open source, at its heart, is an argument for freedom. People freely choose to support open source projects, or not. The code is visible to all, and there is an assumption that it's through transparency evil can best be contained.

Open source is derived from Internet values, and those are descended from American history. First the cooperation among professionals and groups that won the Cold War, and second the self-interested cooperation among equals upon which our republic was founded.

China's values have made it an industrial powerhouse, but its ability to navigate the increasingly-rapid changes of 21st century technology must be questioned. Innovation requires open minds, open hearts, and free inquiry. Limiting the resource, limiting the people, also means limiting thought, limiting imagination, limiting innovation.

As change accelerates the cost of limiting innovation increases, unless a structure is in place that can strictly limit that innovation, channeling thought only in approved directions.

This is the choice the world faces. We know where China stands. We know where America stands. But the Internet can't long survive half-slave and half-free. It will either become all one thing or all the other.

And in that larger battle, even well-meaning security professionals may, in their honest attempts to secure order, give the future of the Internet, and the world, to our adversary.

Topics: Open Source, Browser, China

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6 comments
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  • Wow!

    "Without power...rules, and...enforcement of those rules by the wisest and wiliest...society collapses...Of course, we know better. Open source knows better...Open source is derived from Internet values, and those are descended from American history."

    Who is we? The White House? Congress? Any of 35 Federal agencies with powers of arrest/detention? Don't they believe in laws and their enforcement?

    I do trust most of their officers pause for second thought before proceeding into the rest of your position statement.

    I've been living in China for almost seven years now and I promise you I see no shortage of critical independent thinking here.

    Yes, in any community or social network, one person's problem is every member's concern. China has a long history of natural & man-made disasters: born here, it is written into your DNA that when schlitz hits the fan, your personal survival depends on the size and reach of your family and social network.

    Whereas in the USA, a "friend" is in most cases someone you will buy a few beers for, in China, "friend" = someone I'll go the wall for. Where this people may be poor in cash income, it has vast wealth in terms of social capital.

    Rugged Individualism has been a very useful and successful ideological stance for the American people, but in China, it passes for "freedom without love, which is naked," to quote Xiaolu Guo's witty and perceptive "Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers", the tale of a Chinese student who spends a year in the West to become fluent in English at the behest of her parents who own a shoe factory in Wenzhou.
    arthurborges@...
    • Falun Gong

      Don't make the mistake of confusing what Chinese people believe in their daily lives with what the government says.

      And don't confuse what Americans say they practice with what we actually do.

      Both are easy mistakes to make.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • What confusion?

        See the last PEW Global Attitudes Project on China that reports 86% feel their country is going in the right direction. Source: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=261

        As for Falun Gong, they're still trying to get folks here to believe that aurora-like lights seen in the skies of Sichuan just before the earthquake were a sign the Heavens had withdrawn their support for the Party. There's more fun stuff on the mind-bending FG at http://www.rickross.com/groups/falun.html.
        arthurborges@...
  • E Pluribus Unum

    [i]We know where China stands. We know where America stands.[/i]

    Wherever China tells us to, mostly -- but as it happens we don't need them to tell our Lords and Masters that it's a bad idea to let the rabble run free. Generally speaking, we're ahead of them on that.

    Or were you thinking that the USA doesn't spy on its own citizens (and for that matter anyone else who uses electronics?)
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Message has been deleted.

    efsane
  • RE: What China wants in Internet battle is wholly proprietary

    As change accelerates the cost of limiting innovation increases, unless a structure is in place that can strictly limit that innovation, channeling thought only in approved directions.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="white"> k</font></a>
    zakkiromi