WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WE TRACK YOU IN REAL TIME!
So, going back to our topic, what's the explanation for the apparent stagnation in Internet oppression levels? Simple, there is no stagnation; it is a statistical mirage engineered by governments.
Simple. The statistics that we used to create those graphs are based on public polls. They represent what people "feel" and "see" when they are in the Internet. However, if there is way in which oppression can increase without changing its appearance or feel, such increase wouldn't be captured by such statistics.
Are we then saying that Internet oppression has gone stealth?
Governments are switching from the blunt attack, the brute force mashing of information in the Internet to a much more subtle approach… which is also much more effective and pervasive. Internet oppression has now gone personal.
From the new Chinese Firewall with artificial intelligence to the monitoring of Instant Messaging applications in real time. From the fining and persecuting of social media owners, managers and contributors to the persecution of individual social media users.
And this is not a coincidence…
FROM CNA TO CNE
This switch has occurred because of the tectonic shift in the processing capabilities and software engineering achieved by… you guessed it… the military and the "Intelligence Community".
In the beginning those government organizations used to think of the Internet in terms of CNA (or Computer Network Attack). This is, the brute force approach at "fighting" an enemy by disabling or destroying their Internet capacity and/or networked vital infrastructure. However, over time, these organizations have switched to something far more sinister; CNE (Computer Network Exploitation). CNE uses similar tools than CNA, but its goal is to monitor and only intervene in specific cases with specific intentions on specific targets. It's goal is not only to gather information but to distort the message… Yes. The old Soviet dezinformatsiya (i.e. дезинформация) is back… but this time in an all prevalent, all seeing fashion. There is no hiding any longer. There is now real-time tracking of "Persons Of Interest"…
When we translate this to the public sphere… as it always happens…, it simply means that they are monitoring everybody but targeting specific people. As such, the visibility of the attacks which was previously high e.g. in a typical CNA operation a website would be taken down, now with CNE the owner of the website is subject to psychological warfare through disinformation, persecution and later on prosecution. This is a much more effective manner to achieve the same result because voices are simply silenced without much fuzz.
Think of it this way.
In the past demonstrations were confronted with mounted police or army personnel wielding handguns and sabers and later on machine guns and rifles. These types of encounters were bloody, visible and repugnant. They were impossible to hide. However, with the advent of the Gestapo and the KGB and the likes, demonstrations were stopped at the root level by simply "disinsentivizing" or "disappearing" a few leaders… and the movement quietly disintegrated in the shadows. As Stalin once said "If there is no person there is no problem". Do you get us now?
THE QUID OF THE QUESTION
On this topic we often get asked why would governments do such a thing? And the answer is always the same: because they can. Who is going to stop them, you? Us? Don't be ridiculous!
A deeper answer is also always the same. Stagnated and ingrained systems (such as governments and, more importantly, the bureaucracies that support them and make them viable) dislike change. This is so because they are ill prepared to fence for themselves in different scenarios, particularly in a free market environment.
This is so because education in political systems, education that was not pre-vetted and pre-formed and pre-determined and pre-ordained by the powers that are, is simply subversive to them because it sub-verts the current state of affairs. It sabotages their ill-gotten government wages and privileges.
Thus, they will fight with any weapon they can get their hands on to prevent change. In the Internet age Internet weapons are the weapons of choice. Think of CNE as the modern day landmines of the Information Warfare age. They are there, they are active, but they won't explode unless you get too close to them; self-censorship being the ultimate goal. Don't come too close to this topic or our CNE program will get you!
Do you now see what we mean?
IRRATIONALITY AS AN EXCUSE
Look, this is not difficult. Consider the countries that oppress the Internet and then look at their excuses. Do you (or for that matter any person with at least two neurons working together) believe that over the last 15 years all those excuses used as issues have increased by about 50%? Do you believe that those increases happened across the board on about 75% of the countries on earth?
Of course not! Don't be ridiculous! People's minds did not change just because of the advent of the Internet, they already thought what they are thinking today and as such political systems were not in danger of an imminent change. Only the economic stupidity of political systems can elicit change and that has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet.
Let's take US, for example (sorry, but we have to make use of this example because since Snowden it is the only country we have reliable data about). The NSA has admitted that in the last 10 or so years they have produced exactly ZERO original leads regarding "domestic" terrorism. All the plots that were thwarted were identified by police agencies and some of these investigations requested help from the NSA. How about Child Pornography? If it is true that websites containing Child Pornography are sprouting out like mushrooms, then why is that there are so few arrests? What is that all that surveillance is getting us? Furthermore and more importantly, what has all that surveillance achieved on the topic that really matter, which is Sexual Child Exploitation? Basically, nothing… well… almost nothing (see for example Child Pornography and Sexual Child Abuse).
Or how about "law enforcement agencies" routinely demanding from the "Intelligence Community" the monitoring, tracing and analysis of all electronic communications of suspects without any judicial oversight! That's right! Task for which the "Intelligence Community" is more than eager to help with because… it's job security!!!
Or take for example UK where a private organization has the blessings from the government to create blacklists of IP addresses (which are passed on to Internet Service Providers to enforce) based on…on…on… well… we don't know and neither does the UK electorate. This has gotten so bad that even regular, standard, legal pornography is now being banned in the UK. What's next? Political thought? Sure. Why not. And for what? What is the point?
How about China were their state-of-the-art artificial-intelligence-based firewall now censors not only "antisocial" websites (ahhh… we miss the good ol' days of the USSR were we could always find a good definition to laugh at) but it has gotten so effective that it automatically filters, deletes and modifies exchanges of information (e.g. instant messaging, forums, etc.) in real-time! But why stop here? Their police and their judiciary are always at hand to embed the Wrath of God (well… of the Communist Party of China… same thing…) in their citizens. And when that's not possible, Stalin's motto applies… literally… after all the cost of the bullet is passed on to the estate of the sentenced!
Or Iran which blocks hundreds of thousands of IPs dealing with either sex or independent news. And if that does not work, then they simply throw independent reporters (e.g. bloggers) into jail. Again, Stalin reigns supreme!
Or Saudi Arabia whose censorship organization, the Internet Service Unit bans access to about half a million sites to "protect" their population against content that is offensive and/or goes against "Islamic principles" or "Social values" (whatever that may mean). In practice this means sex, religious and/or political dissidence.
Or EU where there have been information retention laws in place since a very long time and where ISPs must block websites that they may consider illegal when so informed by… people! That's right. There is nothing better than fostering self-censorship!
And so on and on and on and on.
But, wait a minute you say! How about National Security (that's with capital N and S)! Don't they matter?
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.