Tag Archives | Telecommunication

Why Is There No HTTP Code For Censorship?

When your viewing a website is blocked due to censorship, should your internet service provider should inform you? A 403 or 404 error code amounts to lying, argues Terance Eden. Some have suggested a new ‘451’ internet censorship signifier, inspired by Ray Bradbury:

There is no HTTP code for censorship. But perhaps there should be.

My ISP have recently been ordered to censor The Pirate Bay. I am concerned that this [sort of] censorship will become more prevalent. As network neutrality dies, we will see more sites ordered to be blocked by governments who fear what they cannot understand. However, chief among my concerns is the technical way this censorship is implemented. At the moment, my ISP serves up an HTTP 403 error.

$ wget -v thepiratebay.org
Resolving thepiratebay.org…
Connecting to thepiratebay.org||:80… connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 403 Forbidden

As far as I am concerned, this response is factually incorrect.

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United Kingdom Proposes Mega Archive Of Citizens’ Internet Activity, Phone Calls, And Messaging

To stay positive, think of it as the creation of a giant quilted tapestry, weaving together everything anyone in the country says or does. Via the Washington Post:

British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every Web visit, email, phone call or text message in the U.K. — and in a sharply-worded editorial the nation’s top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists.

The surveillance proposed in the government’s 118-page draft bill would provide authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens’ day-to-day lives, tracking nearly everything they do online, over the phone, or even through the post.

Home Office Secretary Theresa May said in an editorial published ahead of the bill’s unveiling that only evil-doers should be frightened. “Without changing the law the only freedom we would protect is that of criminals, terrorists and pedophiles,” she said.

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In Norway’s Hills, Anyone Can Be The Voice Of God

It seems like a very egalitarian, Scandinavian approach to divine pronouncements. No matter whom you are, you may dial the number and hear your voice echo across the land. Via Unsworn Industries:

Telemegaphone Dale stands seven metres tall on top of the Jøtulshaugen mountain overlooking the idyllic Dalsfjord in Western Norway. When you dial the Telemegaphone’s phone number the sound of your voice is projected out across the fjord, the valley and the village of Dale below.


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New Bill To Kill Ham Radio?

3547988319_398f44cca3New York Republican Peter King has made national headlines in 2011 with his congressional hearings on the (dis)loyalties of Muslim-Americans. However, that is not the only trouble he has been stirring up. The media largely missed his recent introduction of House Resolution 607, which would auction off for commercial use the frequency bands used by amateur radio operators (for the purpose of funding the use of other frequency bands by the police in emergencies). The American Radio Relay League fumes:

On February 10, 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced H.R. 607, the “Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011,” which has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which handles telecommunications legislation).

The Bill provides for the allocation of the so-called “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for Public Safety use. HR 607 uniquely, provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue that would occur as the result of the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety instead of commercial auction.

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A History Of Our Awkward Attempts To Communicate With Aliens

Valentine-Article-You-Never-Get-Possible-300x193Lightspeed Magazine has a fun rundown of humanity’s historical efforts to send space transmissions to whatever intelligent life might be out there. The whole endeavor is slightly desperate and pathetic — “The chances of an alien civilization having the means, motive, and opportunity to catch any of these messages are slim; certainly it’s not likely that humanity will last long enough to catch any return messages.” Still, it’s nice knowing that Morse code and theremin music has been beamed into the heavens.

1. The Morse Message (1962)

This audio salute, one of the first radio signals intended specifically for interstellar intelligence, was meant as a test of the new Evpatoria Planetary Radar (EPR). In November 1962, the Unique Korenberg Telescope Array transmitted the greeting towards Venus, using simple Morse Code. Given the location of Venus in November 1962, the message is even now winging its way towards Libra.

Message Content: The words “MIR,” “LENIN,” and “SSSR,” in Morse.

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How To Get DIY Internet Access When The Government Shuts It Down


In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of national governments shut off internet access in attempts to quash dissent. PC World has a guide on how to access the web when the powers that be are blocking it, or post-apocalypse, when telecommunation networks are in shambles. Supposedly antiquated devices such as dial-up modems may someday be direly important amid the smoking ruins of post-America:

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you.

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Shutting Off The Web: Who Controls The Internet’s ‘Choke Points’?

inline_NOTA In an article for the Atlantic, Andrew Blum points out that recent events in Egypt have reminded us of something oft forgotten: the networks that comprise the Internet are connected physically, and can be disconnected by snipping cables. Here in the United States, Verizon and Google have recently gained control over two such “choke points,” which should raise alarm bells:

The news Thursday evening that Egypt had severed itself from the global Internet came at the same time as an ostensibly far less inflammatory announcement closer to home. Verizon, the telecom giant, would acquire “cloud computing company” Terremark for $1.4 billion. The purchase would “accelerate Verizon’s ‘everything-as-a-service’ cloud strategy,” the press release said.

The trouble is that Terremark isn’t merely a cloud computing company. Or, more to the point, the cloud isn’t really a cloud.

Among its portfolio of data centers in the US, Europe and Latin America, Terremark owns one of the single most important buildings on the global Internet, a giant fortress on the edge of Miami’s downtown known as the NAP of the Americas.

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Call This Number To Speak To The Populace Of New York

urbanspeaker-zoom-thumbBeginning tomorrow, anyone who wants to communicate a message to the people of New York City may do so by calling 979-997-3041. His or her voice will be blared out of a loudspeaker in the middle of the East Village’s bustling Tompkins Square Park, for sixty seconds, at which point the call will be terminated.

The project is an art installation titled the Urban Speaker. (I’m predicting that majority of the calls will be either of a highly profane/sexual nature, or of the “9/11 was an inside job” variety.)  Creator Carlos J. Gómez de Llarena explains:

The project explores the possibilities of urban media spaces created by the introduction of telecommunication and interactive technologies into our built environments. Temporary interventions such as this seek to re-imagine what our personal and social experience of public spaces can be in an age of ubiquitous nonstop communication.

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