inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #76 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Thu 13 Dec 01 05:52
    
Agreed.  No virtual community can last forever against a persistent
terrestial power.  Or rather, no single virtual community can.  At some
point there may be more virtual communities than the gov can effectively
monitor, and we have probably already crossed that point.  Still, a virtual
community that invokes the wrath of a persistent terrestial power will find
that its days are numbered.  This was effectively conceded in the piece by
Hakim Bey, in which he notes that these islands in the net (pirate utopias,
in his terminology) are not permanent but should expect to be squashed by
The Man eventually.  Or rather, I should say that they are "Temporary
Autonomous Zones" in his terminology (note the use of the term 'temporary').
No doubt a lot of readers of this thread are familiar with Bey, but for
those who aren't, here are a couple of my favorite passages from the Bey
stuff I reprinted in the book:

"The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State,
a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of
imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before
the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with
Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can "occupy" these areas
clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative
peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they
went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves--because they never intersected with
the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to
the agents of Simulation."

"The sea-rovers and corsairs of the 18th century created an "information
network" that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim
business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout
the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and
provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these
islands supported "intentional communities," whole mini-societies living
consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a
short but merry life."

I love that stuff.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #77 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 13 Dec 01 10:07
    
I think that some find the idea of utopia being a temporary state hard
to take.

This week, thinking about this topic, I've been reminded of Tuvalu.
Having been granted the way-cool ".tv" country code, but lacking the
resources to make much of it, they outsourced the operation to Dot TV,
in California, USA. Through its share of domain-name registration fees,
Tuvalu raised enough money to pay for admission to the United Nations,
as well as loads o' infrastructure improvements in the nation
(population about 10k, and about 1/10th the area of Wasington, D.C.).

But the elevation of the nine islands ranges from 0 to 5 meters above
sea level. Or, it did: sea level seems to be rising (which besides
threatening coastline threatens Tuvalu's water table). Earlier this
fall, they decided to evacuate the islands, beginning next year.

http://XRayNet.editthispage.com/2000/09/11
http://www.tv/
http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/455857.asp
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/tv.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,582445,00.html

Now, it seems to me, this curiously reverses the usual story about
creating a pirate utopia, in which you find an unwanted island (or oil
rig) and make it your own, somehow making your way to a kind of
legitimacy. (See Thomas Perry's novel, *Island*.) Here, we maybe have a
RL nation in position to go virtual.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #78 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Thu 13 Dec 01 16:42
    
I think a key characteristic of the internetworked world is the
effectively infinite number of channels. If a website is taken down,
people can move to another, or move to ICQ or mail-list or newsgroup or
IRC or any one of multiple services.

Given this multichannel environment, States can really only take
action against TAZ's by controlling net access itself. For example, in
the recent UK Internet paedophile dragnet
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1680000/1680464.stm
the police and media were amazed to find that some of the criminals
involved had - shockingly - given a false name to their ISP and so were
untraceable. The UK authorities are therefore considering requiring
ISPs and net-cafes to check id before granting Internet access. No
doubt they will be just as shocked to find out that criminals might use
fake or stolen ids to get past this checking.

Libertarian governments face a dilemma. In a time of rampant net
commercialisation, victimisation and sexual harassment, it must be that
privacy (of which anonymity is a central part) is a legitimate demand.
Yet if the law is changed to require id for access, privacy could only
be achieved through criminal actions. 

The solution to this dilemma that governments often propose is escrow,
yet this simply means people are less able to protect themselves from
crime (as their power to choose different methods for protecting
themselves online is removed by the State). This in turn means more
net-originating crime and more demands on police resources - the
opposite of what escrow was intended to achieve.

The solution to the problem is boring and real world: encouraging the
reporting of crime, the fair selection and real-time surveillance of
suspects, rapid apprehension and due process.

All of which requires resource. It is a good thing indeed that the
populations of libertarian countries keep their governments
underfunded, and it is for this reason that TAZs have a future.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #79 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Fri 14 Dec 01 06:42
    
Not to break up the thread, but here's a heads up.  Earlier this week I
was interviewed by Lew Koch for a program that he does with NPR (I forget
the name).  I'm not sure when it will air, but will post that info when I
get it.  The reason this is relevant here is that the interview was about
the book, and the questions were of the form "what is crypto anarchy", "what
are cyberstates", "what are pirate utopias".  I'm usually horrible at these
things (the last radio interview I did was sampled for a trance music song
by a group called Nocturnal Transmission) but I will say this:  it is
probably the first time that Tim May, Mark Dery, and Hakim Bey have all been
mentioned in the same national media broadcast.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #80 of 106: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 14 Dec 01 13:40
    
Great.

Peter, I have a very retro steganography question.  I was reading comments
in the <attack.> conference about the bin Laden video with the "bad poem."
Besides wondering how anyone can tell if a poem is moving or not in
translation, I also wondered if the poem might be code.

When I first had multiple passwords working at the WELL ten years ago, I had
a system of writing "poems" to remind me of accounts and passwords, and I
put them inside the back cover of a second had poetery book.  For the
account "special" and password "xWHYz?!"  my poem might have looked like
this, bad poetry for some eyes, perhaps but not written for them:

        Looking for the Special

        Somewhere a spot is marked x
        Seekers spy a Wombat
        distracted from toil and looking for Home
        that animal might be You
        happily wild or resigned to your zoo
        which, dare I ask?
        think!  

Or some other system for embedding a password in a "poem" which lived in
plain site in a battered poetry book.   Just an odd memory to juxtpose
with a new newworth poem which might mean more than one thing.

Did you have any particular take on that strange fuzzy gloating bin Laden
video?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #81 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Fri 14 Dec 01 13:58
    
I'd be surprised as hell if a message was embedded in that video, not least
because it doesn't seem to have been intended for release, but of course
anything is possible.  I know some people that use chess moves for passwords
and use famous openings to remember them.  I imagine an online chess match
could be used in this way.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #82 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sat 15 Dec 01 08:00
    
If the group is sufficiently well knit to share the semantics, then a good
code can be more effective than a cipher (to rely on an old-fashioned
distinction). The code -- where 'secret' meanings are substituted for the
conventional meanings of some tokens (words, phrases, chess moves . . . the
list is indefinitely long) -- has the advantage that it can be used in the
open if designed for that and if members of the group aren't suborned to
compromise it. (Or, it can be used infrequently or changed regularly so that
capturing a member wouldn't compromise the code for good.)
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #83 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Sun 16 Dec 01 06:23
    
All true, but obviously that strategy doesn't scale well.  Small tribes can
maybe communicate in that way, but it's not feasible for full on
cyberstates, where one is not in a position to know all your correspondents,
and you want to encourage outsiders to join the group.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #84 of 106: Gail Williams (gail) Sun 16 Dec 01 13:00
    

> you want to encourage outsiders to join the group.

Essential for most kinds of groups, or any system where economic survival
and numbers are tied in one way or another.  But if you are looking at a
terrorist, pirate or explicilty illegal gathering, funding might be
other than by accepting credit cards or displaying ads.  Newcomers might
be rare.  In a subsidized setting, a group could be secret, and an 
apprentiship period of getting the jargon could be simply assumed.
That includes subsidy of "stolen" unknowing provision of interactive
space, of course.  Numbers might increase risk, not insure survival.

If you join a subculture or gang you may have to learn jargon as well as
detect the social structures at work.  Anyplace, online or off.  IMHO.
In a more open group, clues such as glossaries, moderator/guide types and
written introductions would attempt to mitigate the jargon barrier, but it
is a natural cultural barrier which could slide into a more organized 
or maybe even frequently updated "code."

Signals in baseball are an old example of such a code, right?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #85 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Sun 16 Dec 01 13:48
    
Traditionally, that's been the case.  But if folks like Tim May are right,
public key encription etc. may mitigate the need for small groups and pre-
established "secret handshakes" and whatnot.  Why be small and illegal when
you can be a global enterprise and be illegal.  More likely what we will see
is a kind of hybrid organization with international scope, but divided into
largely autonomous packets (roughly, the al-Qaida model).  In that case we
might see cryptographic techniques for communication between packets, but
insider codes and jargon within each packet.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #86 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Mon 17 Dec 01 23:27
    
Although cryptography will certainly be very important, I think these
organisations will also make a big use of covert channels. Covert
channels are ways of communicating on a network which break its rules.
Sometimes this rule-breaking relies on encryption for its success (such
as SSH tunnels through a firewall). Mostly, though, covert channels
can be achieved by breaking the conventions of the network (or by
exploiting the breaks that arise by accident). 

A classic example is the use of dark space on the Internet. Although
most people believe that every part of the Internet is reachable from
every other part, on its margins this is not true. To get to some ip
numbers, you have to know how to get there. The reason is that routers
are tricky to configure - one mistake and a whole set of address spaces
upstream from that router vanishes from the rest of the net (even if
the people upstream can still see everyone else). Often these mistakes
are noticed, sometimes they never are, and sometimes they are quietly
created by people looking for a home. This breach of a key convention
of the net - "trust the router upstream of you" - gives new spaces for
groups to live undetected.

I suspect that hidden amongst the pings and datagrams of the lower
layers of the net, and in its outer backwaters, entire communities are
living quietly unobserved even now. 
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #87 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 18 Dec 01 05:04
    
That's an oddly warming thought.

I'm wondering whether you can get a cyberstate by knitting together the
highly autonomous cells that operate in secret only at the top levels. Does
that buy both the scale that Peter seems to think is required for full-
fledged statehood alond with the secrecy and freedom to operate for which
others are agitating? To some extent, I think this is what La Cosa Nostra is
supposed to be. (Or would be if it existed, right?)

Also, I've been thinking about movies (for a class I'm working on for next
year). There are loads of movies that show information (and other) tech used
for totalitarian control and surveillance. There are movies that show tech
(or sometimes opposition to tech) used to subvert that sort of control. Is
there a movie -- are there movies -- that show the crypto-anarchy / pirate-
utopia thing?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #88 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Tue 18 Dec 01 08:44
    
Kirsten, do you have any pointers to discussions of dark space on the
internet?  Espcially the spaces that emerge by accident.  That's a very
interesting point!

Bruce, I'm trying to think of sci-fi movies that visualize pirate utopias,
but I'm coming up blank.  Well, Farenheit 451 keeps popping into my head,
but it really isn't what you're looking for.

Anyone else have ideas?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #89 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Tue 18 Dec 01 22:54
    
There's an interesting article on the topic of dark addresses on the
Register:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/55/22850.html

I like the way a set of addresses will appear, launch an attack and
disappear. The study referred to in this article may be found here:

http://www.nanog.org/mtg-0110/ppt/malan/sld001.htm
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #90 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Wed 19 Dec 01 05:54
    
Kewl.  Thanx!
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #91 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 21 Dec 01 04:45
    
Peter, when you did the High Noon book, you made a rough approximation of
the entire book available on your Web site. You discussed your reasons for
that, too. Not so this time. What made the difference?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #92 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Fri 21 Dec 01 13:05
    
Lack of time.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #93 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 24 Dec 01 13:01
    
On the question of scale, once more: can a cyberstate arise from
coordination among leaders of a network of relatively autonomous cells?

ANd on the question of movies, once more: Anyone else have a film to
recommend that shows pirate utopias or the crypto-anarchy thing? (The
underground reading groups in Farenheit 451 are interesting, for sure. But
surely there's something where pirate utopia is a theme for the whole
picture, no?)
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #94 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Mon 24 Dec 01 13:07
    
In answer to the first question, I would think yes, it can.  Imagine that
some interconnected systems formed a federation of semi-autonomous cyber-
cells.  They might be unified for defensive purposes and might share a
single economy and possibly a cross-system dispute resolution body.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #95 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 24 Dec 01 13:11
    
The idea of "defense" in purely virtual circumstances is pretty interesting.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #96 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Mon 24 Dec 01 18:32
    
Interesting, but very real.  They could share info on destructive hacker
attacks and problematic clients, and, perhaps more importantly, on intrusive
activities by nation states.  Another major feature would be the possibility
of pooling resources for disaster recovery purposes.  Say one cite gets
nuked or they feds pull the plug on it.  there could be a procedure in place
whereby the other cyber-cells could pick up the slack until the target of
the attack is back up on its feet.  Something like this actually took place
during the Italian BBS crackdown back in 1994.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #97 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 25 Dec 01 10:29
    
Besides back up, there's the matter of retialiation.
Retaliation.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #98 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Wed 26 Dec 01 06:19
    
Yah, most definitely, although individual users could retaliate in any case.
 I'm not sure if it buys you anything in the way of cyberwar to have a site
up and running.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #99 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Wed 26 Dec 01 07:55
    
By the way, I thought you might like to know that the issue of the
"dark net" has been picked up by the BBC today: 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1721000/1721006.stm
and is the subject of a discussion (just getting started) on Slashot: 
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/12/26/158209&mode=nested

We say it here, it comes out there, hehe.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #100 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Wed 26 Dec 01 14:00
    
Yah look at that.  We're like a whole week ahead of the curve.  Well, a week
ahead of the BBC anyway...
  

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