NSA Cloud On The “Open Internet”

The FCC defines the “Open Internet” as:

The “Open Internet” is the Internet as we know it. It’s open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way. The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as “net neutrality.” Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.

The Open Internet also makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to easily launch innovative applications and services, revolutionizing the way people communicate, participate, create, and do business—think of email, blogs, voice and video conferencing, streaming video, and online shopping. Once you’re online, you don’t have to ask permission or pay tolls to broadband providers to reach others on the network. If you develop an innovative new website, you don’t have to get permission to share it with the world.

Pay particular attention to the line:

This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.

The National Security Agency (NSA) and other state-sponsored cyber-criminals are dark clouds on that “openness.”

For years, many of us have seen:

MS error report

But as the Spiegel staff report in: Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit

NSA staff capture such reports and mock Microsoft with slides such as:

NSA image

(Both of the images are from the Spiegel story.)

It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to realize that Microsoft will have to rework its error reporting systems to encrypt such reports, resulting in more overhead for users, the Internet and Microsoft.

Other software vendors and services will be following suite, adding more cost and complexity to services on the Internet, rather than making services more innovative and useful.

The NSA and other state-sponsored cyber-criminals are a very dark cloud over the very idea of an “open Internet.”

What investments will be made to spur competition and innovation on the Internet in the future is unknown. What we do know is that left unchecked, the NSA and other state-sponsored cyber-criminals are going to make security, not innovation, the first priority in investment.

State-sponsored cyber-criminals are far more dangerous than state-sponsored terrorists. Terrorists harm a few people today. Cyber-criminals are stealing the future from everyone.

PS: The Spiegel story is in three parts: Part 1: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit, Part 2: Targeting Mexico, Part 3: The NSA’s Shadow Network. Highly recommended for your reading.

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