#1 By: Cory Doctorow, July 26th, 2013 11:40
#2 By: kpkpkp, July 26th, 2013 11:47
This whole thing is coming down about 2 months after the hardware warranty expires.
#3 By: Nelson Cunnington, July 26th, 2013 12:12
You think it will last that long?
#4 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, July 26th, 2013 13:03
If you want best-of-breed total censorship solutions(tm), why wouldn't you buy from the experts?
Sure, if you have the cash, sinister western defense contractors and 'Lawful Intercept Solution Providers' have your surveillance needs covered; but for active censorship, nobody does it like team China...
#5 By: newliminted, July 26th, 2013 13:05
I'm not sure, given today's climate, why any country would purchase hardware or software made by any other country. It seems irresponsible.
#6 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, July 26th, 2013 13:29
Very few of them have much choice, in the short term. On the software side, you can create yet-another-debian-fork in about ten minutes; but actually having a usefully-competent in house team evaluating/improving/securing/etc. the system, rather than just pulling from upstream and changing a few graphics could easily take north of a year to get in full swing, even with countries that have reasonable technical talent pools.(And then you have the excitement of trying to hunt down all the foreign legacy applications, and there will be a whole lot of them, that you'd need to recreate.)
On the hardware side, things are even worse. There just aren't that many facilities, worldwide, capable of producing certain advanced components(eg. semiconductors), and prepare yourself for some sticker shock if you want to move manufacturing based on political concern rather than supply and labor costs...
Not to say it's a bad idea(and various countries are taking more or less serious stabs at it, some with better results than others); but it's the kind of project where you'd have to start pumping cash in now, and maybe start seeing results comparable to what you could have just purchased and had shipped to you in a week in 6-18 months on software, hopefully less than a decade in hardware. Very much a long-term project.
#7 By: newliminted, July 26th, 2013 13:37
Very much a long-term project.
Isn't that what countries are?
#8 By: Michael Brix, July 26th, 2013 13:47
A very large chunk of the UK's communication infrastructure is already supplied by Huawei.
UK politicians are totally out of touch with the general public. They keep trying to pass laws no one wants.
#9 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, July 26th, 2013 13:50
I've heard that theory consistently professed; but their behavior certainly seems to veer dangerously close to that of a nuclear-armed corporation pulling dodgy accounting stunts to juice their quarterly report to keep the shareholders happy...
#10 By: Daniel Johnson, July 26th, 2013 14:00
This should be the definition in the 21st century edition of The Devil's Dictionary.
#11 By: Cowicide, July 26th, 2013 16:11
#12 By: Tlwest, July 26th, 2013 16:17
I'm no fan of censorware, but the idea that Chinese censorware is going to be any worse that that produced in the Western world because it's, you know, made in China, makes me uncomfortable. There's a heavy implication that if it's produced by China, it must be extra evil, and I don't think that's a particularly useful attitude.
There's already enough of a "we're only safe once China is destroyed" attitude coming from the far right. I don't think we need echoes of it coming from people like Cory, even in the cause of making people aware of Britain's plans.
#13 By: Cowicide, July 26th, 2013 16:37
because it's, you know, made in China
It's not that it's made in China ... the issue is Huawei.
#14 By: Tlwest, July 26th, 2013 16:47
And this is a greater danger than censorware by, let's say, companies that have done work to any other government?
#15 By: Cowicide, July 26th, 2013 17:04
#16 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, July 26th, 2013 17:24
One detail to note, in this case, is that the 'censorware' system works as follows:
- A user subject to the censorware system(either through a client installed on their machine, or at the ISP level) makes a network request.
- The request is checked against a blacklist maintained by Huawei.
- If the request fails the check, and the user is not 'opted out', then the request is blocked or rewritten to point to a 'blocked' page.
- If the request succeeds the check, or the user is 'opted out', it is allowed to continue.
So, every request gets sent directly to Huawei, opt-in or opt-out, porn or not. The idea that the UK would voluntarily send a major Chinese telco contractor(or an American one, or anything other than one so tightly under their thumb that its insides are oozing out) full particulars of all their internet traffic seems kind of insane. It isn't even clear that they have any say over the details of the blacklist, save that exerted by discovering the problem after the fact and complaining about it.
#17 By: Rick Potthoff, July 26th, 2013 20:15
#18 By: billstewart, July 27th, 2013 02:38
The blacklist doesn't have to be implemented directly at a Huawei server farm; it's probably implemented on a server farm inside the ISP's infrastructure, to minimize the performance impact. (It doesn't even have to be done there; they could cache a hash table on the user's PC or home router if they wanted.) Also, if the user's opted out, they're almost certainly not going to run the requests through the censorware filter, because that costs CPU and therefore money, as opposed to doing it with routing.
As far as having Huawei run the censorship tables, it means you'll have more censorship of things the Chinese government is prudish about, like Tibet and grass mud horses, than of things the Brits are prudish about, like David Cameron's visits to the Ecuadorian embassy for his affair with Julian Assange.
#19 By: Tlwest, July 27th, 2013 11:49
And to reiterate my original point, if there were bad things to be done with my browsing history, I'm pretty certain that it's my own government would have far more opportunities to misuse it than a foreign government.
This is a bad idea. The involvement of a Chinese company doesn't make it more bad.
While there's no doubt that invoking the sort of free-form "fear the Chinese" will increase opposition to the scheme, I personally don't think the benefit is worth the cost.
#20 By: Cory Doctorow, July 31st, 2013 11:40
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