The US government has betrayed the Internet. We need to take it back

Naslund, Steve SNaslund at
Fri Sep 6 14:27:32 UTC 2013

The error in this whole conversation is that you cannot "take it back" as an engineer.  You do not own it.  You are like an architect or carpenter and are no more responsible for how it is used than the architect is responsible that the building he designed is being used as a crack house.  Do Ford engineers have a "social contract" to ensure that I do not run over squirrels with my Explorer, will they "take it back" if I do so?  The whole "social contract" argument is ridiculous.  You have a contract (or most likely an "at will" agreement") with your employer to build what they want and operate it in the way that they want you to.  If it is against your ethics to do so, quit.  The companies that own the network have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors and a responsibility to serve their customers.  If anyone is really that bent out of shape by the NSA tactics (and I am not so sure they are given the lack of political backlash) here is what you can do.

In the United States there are two main centers of power that can affect these policies, the consumer and the voter.

1.  We vote in a new executive branch every four years.  They control and appoint the NSA director.  Vote them out if you don't like how they run things.  Do you think a President wants to maintain power?  Of course they do and they will change a policy that will get them tossed out (if enough people actually care).

2.  The Congress passes the laws that govern telecom and intelligence gathering.  They also have the power to impeach and/or prosecute the executive branch for misdeeds.  They will pass any law or do whatever it takes to keep themselves in power.  Again this requires a lot of public pressure.

3.  The companies that are consenting to monitoring (legal or illegal) are stuck between two powers.  The federal government's power to regulate them and the investors / consumers they serve.  Apparently they are more scared of the government even though the consumer can put them out of business overnight by simply not using their product any more.  If everyone cancelled their gmail accounts, stopped using Google search, and stopped paying for Google placement and ads, their stock would go to zero nearly overnight.  Again, no one seems to care about the issue enough to do this because I have seen no appreciable backlash against these companies.

If a social contract exists at all in the United States, it would be to hold your government and the companies you do business with to your ethical standards.  Another things to remember is that the NSA engineers were probably acting under their "social contract" to defend the United States from whatever enemies they are trying to monitor and also felt they were doing the "right thing".  The problem with "social contracts" is that they are relative.

As far as other countries are concerned, you can affect their policies as well.  US carriers are peered with and provide transit to Chinese companies.  If the whole world is that outraged with what they do, they just need to pressure the companies they do business with not to do business with China.

Steven Naslund
Chicago IL

-----Original Message-----
From: Jorge Amodio [mailto:jmamodio at] 
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2013 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: The US government has betrayed the Internet. We need to take it back

> > The US government has betrayed the Internet. We need to take it back

> > >
> >
> > Who is we ?
> If you bothered to read the 1st paragraph you would know.

I read all of it, the original article and other references to it.

IMHO, there is no amount of engineering that can fix stupid people doing stupid things on both sides of the stupid lines.

By trying to fix what is perceived an engineering issue (seems that China doing the same or worse for many years wasn't an engineering problem) the only result you will obtain is a budget increase on the counter-engineering efforts, that may represent a big chunk of money that can be used in more effective ways where it is really needed.

My .02

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