sattelites-over-the-electric-city-sci-fi-electronic-musicDear Dictator,

The Internet is a dangerous place friends, chock full to overflowing with pedophiles, Russian mobsters, Ugandan scammers, hackers, crackers, phreakers and TERRORISTS. Anonymous lurks in every router just waiting to pounce on your website and their are no borders to control this. Not a one. Something must be done! This great Internet wasteland similar to the Wild West must be brought under control or your planes will fall from the sky, your nuclear reactors will be shut down, and worst of all, you’ll lose control.

Never fear Dictator friend, there is an answer to this, the balkanization of the Internet. Creating an end state of online control and surveillance with set borders and the death of anonymity. After all, your population needs protecting from the evils of the Internet, and themselves. People are stupid you know, not something you can put in the paper, but you know best, of course.

The first thing to do is to create an enemy. This is not difficult. TERRORISTS want to attack your national infrastructure. They are planning it as I write. As well as TERRORISTS we have a host of other threats as I pointed out at the beginning of this blog. These kind of threats can be used as excellent PR to balkanize your Internet.

Rename people who are worried about increased surveillance and control, “tin foil hat wearers”, dissidents, subversives, or protesters. Whatever it is, politicize it. Describe negative press as “feral.” (As an aside, if you are going to surveil the media, then for goodness sake don’t get caught.) Allude to the fact that the worried masses are stupid and do not know what is good for them. You do of course, and they are just going to have to trust you that you’ve got all the secret info as to why this is so important.

For all of your Government agencies, departments, and operations, pass a law that forbids them from storing data offshore. We all know that Cloud services are dodgy as the day is long and everyone can read your stuff, make sure that all your data stays within your physical borders. Once your balkanized Internet is in place, data can flow freely inside your borders and can’t be accessed via outside companies or governments (apart from our very very very good friends.) Of course, it can be accessed by you.

Which brings us to; you need to own and control the telecommunications companies. There are only four major global players and your country is unlikely to have more than a couple. What you need to do here is a graduated process. Start with the legal requirement that Telcos turn over “metadata” and other material as you require. Make sure that the Telcos are storing all that stuff, just in case you need it. In future, look to the experts in surveillance and introduce PRISM like technology whereby you can siphon off all data that travels across your physical borders. After all, there is generally only a few spots where the Internet comes into and leaves the country.

Make sure that all of your spy agencies can legally spy all the time on everyone. This is important and is tricky. The last thing you want is some legal eagle turning up to challenge you. Worse, imagine the public outcry if you got caught spying illegally on your own citizens! It could set your cause back years not to mention the fact you’d have a PR disaster on your hands.

Where you can, force ICT companies to work with you. The master example of this has been Microsoft and it’s alleged work with the NSA. It is alleged, we couldn’t neither confirm nor deny the facts, that Microsoft gave the spy agencies in the U.S. backdoor access to their services. This is the perfect method of helping you establish the surveillance you’ll need for your cyber border. Why, it is simply “user paid spying!” The ICT company will install the methods of surveillance you require and their users will pay for it! This is value for money friend.

Just a note with gathering enough votes to change laws. Every politician wants something, a seat in cabinet, an endorsement for a seat in the next election, and so on. Find all the slightly outlying political parties that may be somewhat paranoid about the fact they may not make it through the next election, then, work your magic.

Now, the next step is tricky, but necessary. You need to put in a firewall. That is, a filtering (never call it censorship!) service that can block what your citizens can and can’t see outside your physical borders. This is important. Remember to play the “enemy is everywhere” (TERRORISTS!) card again with your public. You are only trying to protect children and the vulnerable. You can opt out if you like. Of course they can’t, but they don’t know that, they trust you remember? If you are super lucky, like David Cameron in the U.K. you can trick people into actually installing a piece of software on their device to manage that firewall. That same software could be utilised later should you need a backdoor into their computer. Citizens are sneaky, you need all the tools you can lay your hands on.

The firewall will allow you at a later point to filter out any information that might be deemed hazardous to your rule… er, the country’s national interests. It will also be the basis of your balkanized Internet border, whereby people who do not have the correct credentials (an electronic passport you issue), will simply be blocked themselves.

The online passport is going to cost you some money and take some time, so start working on it sooner rather than later. I’d suggest that you create a single login for each citizen so that they can access your services online. However, whatever process you put in place, it is critical that you authenticate each person. Perhaps link this to the actual passport system or any other national ID that you have. Such as a social security number. This electronic passport is as valuable as any real passport. For your citizen, it allows them access through your electronic border to the rest of the world, for you, it allows you to surveil an individual citizen with all data associated to that passport. This is a beautiful thing.

Once your border is in place, this will take years, start to shut down and filter out any services that allow for electronic cross-border travel anonymously. For example, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) allow your citizen anonymity. Block these services at the firewall. Disavow knowledge of this fact. Likewise any other encryption services or distributed anonymous traffic. This will force people to use their Digital Passport. Anyone who chooses not to use their Digital Passport will simply be disconnected.

Finally, sit back, relax, open a bottle of Dom Perignon and rest easy in the knowledge that you have helped balkanize the Internet and save the world from TERRORISTS and pedophiles. Let your spy agencies, under your total control, monitor the pulse of your nation and use that information to put down any dissent before it really starts. Enjoy your surveillance state and sleep easy.

Yours,

O’Brien

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