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Avoiding the Man: Information and data

One of the big premises in designing peer-to-peer networks today (outside of performance benefits for large amounts of data) is a motivation I call avoiding the man. In trying to protect information you'd rather not have a Three Letter Agency mess with -- or a foreign government stifle -- you're trying to achieve two concepts. One of those concepts is information agility, the other one is information resiliency. Agility means bouncing that stuff across the network; resiliency means trying to make it safe wherever it ends up -- or even better, resilient to attack on an individual system.

So, right: We want to avoid the man. Achieving that means (in most nations where you have serious thought control) getting your goods outside the borders of the nation. If you only have one shot, you should get it out to as many people as possible. You see this a lot in Japan (or was it China?) with the Falun Gong guys taking over satellites and rocking their messages. So do you relay information to an outside source who's responsible for broadcasting it, or do you broadcast it yourself?

The tools available for broadcasting it yourself are like multicast systems. the Spread toolkit (Google for it) is one of these; it's a group communication system that is good for setting up agile networks that are resilient to failure (even Internet failure). It's an example of really good code - I mean, it's resilient to failures (even Internet types), manages ordered delivery, ensures reliable delivery, and you can throw some crypto into it. The guidelines it describes are good examples for any kind of serious system if you're gonna defeat the bastards. Of course, it doesn't just have to be raw data, right? It could be Shoutcast or Icecast streaming voice data; it could be whatever. The point is, get the info out.

Relaying to an outside source is just that: Send it to a friend of yours and have him get the message out. Of course, the popular news media do this really well. Now, I don't want to go on a rant here, but the popular news media are eventually going to end up being controlled by the evil corporate zaibatsu (if they're not already). So run that through your noodle - start thinking about information agility and resiliency now, and help development of systems designed for avoiding the man.

Sure, you've got other methods. You could encrypt your data, you could steganographically protect it, you could keep it all in your head and train yourself to be resistant to the gubmint. But it's best to put it out there, encrypted or otherwise, and let it live in the Internet, constantly mobile. Pick it up later. Never be caught with anything on your person. Pretty cool, neh?

Of course, avoiding the man proper is the trade of spycraft/tradecraft. See the Bourne Identity, possibly the best fiction on the screen about how to get your mind right as far as tactically finding ways to avoid capture by foreign devils. Of course, this requires a chip in your head, Johnny Mnemonic style. Then again, you could not do anything illegal. Like making copies of your own CDs.

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