On the NSA, Security and Privacy on the Internet

A lot of terrifyingly smart people have written extensively about the impact Snowden revelations about the NSA spying on what appears to be basically everyone in the world, including the citizens on the United States.

My thoughts on the subject are fairly predictable, but once again I’m struck by the prescience demonstrated in Neal Stephenson’s amazing Cryptonomicon. I first read it shortly after it was published in 1999, and while I loved the techno-thriller aspects of the story, I didn’t really understand the scope of some of the more political issues.

Having just re-read the book, I thought the following paragraph was particularly relevant when considering what is happening now:

Many Net partisans are convinced that the Net is robust because its lines of communication are spread evenly across the planet. In fact, as you can see from this graphic, nearly all intercontinental Web traffic passes through a small number of choke-points. Typically these choke-points are controlled and monitored by local governments. Clearly, then, any Internet application that wants to stand free of governmental interference is undermined, from the very beginning, by a fundamental structure problem.

2 thoughts on “On the NSA, Security and Privacy on the Internet”

  1. I wonder if anyone is working on a version of the data haven from Cryptonomicon.

    I guess we need to look at medium sized software companies in the Asia-Pacific area that have telecommunications contacts.

    Know anyone like that?

  2. Unfortunately all the telcos in all the countries I can think of are already compromised. Cryptonomicon required the willing participation of a ballsy country willing to be independent from the rest of the world (i.e., the USA).

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