A demonstration of the ease of silencing online dissent

If it is true that Twitter, Facebook et al were taken off air to silence a pro-Georgian blogger, then we have just received a chilling lesson in the vulnerability of the cut-price on-line world to old-fashioned power politics. We need clarity of thought on how to fund secure and resilient systems before we face a mix of network chaos and de facto censorship. 

25 years ago a former colleague was responsible for the system which ran one of the UKs most widely promoted on-line information systems. It had no back up – but no-one noticed because the comms network was then so crap people thought their line had gone down when they could not get through.

When I ran the NCC Microsystems Centre, the flagship education and awareness centre of the day, my base measure of reliability and resilience for the on-line systems of the day was: 

“If this was your personal life support system, how many times a day, week. month would you be dead?”. 

That led to the question of

“If this was your business support system, how long could you go without it before losing serious money and/or going out of business.”

The answers today are different but, if anything even more chilling.

Some businesses start losing customers within minutes because customers go elsewhere or centralised records and transaction systems cease to be available.

Others, reliant on just-in-time scheduling and distribution systems, get into trouble within hours.

Somewhere between four and ten days, the 21st century Information Society starts to go into a meltdown that will take months or years from which to recover.

This exercise should be seen as the e-equivalent of the 1938 Munich Crisis: a wake-up call..

Those who wish to preserve an open, neutral, Internet need to move rapidly in support of a global “Electronic Civil Defence” network to complement the plans for an “E-Crime Reduction Partnership” or face the consequences.

In my blog on the Wikipaedia censorship own goal I referred to my predictions to a Freedom Forum meeting shortly before 9/11 of a multi-track evolution with different levels of security and resilience according to the price the customers are willing to pay.

The pace of evolution has just accelerated and the price includes choice, privacy and even freedom of thought