http://www.computeruser.com/news/01/10/16/news4.html By Kevin Featherly Newsbytes. October 16, 2001 With anti-terrorism legislation nearing passage that expands the power of wiretaps to all forms of telecommunications, the U.S. appears to be just steps away from electronic martial law. That, at least, is the view of Heidi Brush of the University of Illinois At Champaign-Urbana, who presented a paper on "electronic jihad" Saturday in Minneapolis, during Internet Research 2.0, the second annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. "Just as civil liberties are taken and given away in the name of national security, and as fighter jets fly over major metropolitan areas, one begins to wonder," Brush said. "In a time of permanent war, can cyberspace also become subject to martial law? "Once the Internet is defined as a potential battleground, or as a haven for suspected terrorists, will the U.S. insist on a loss of privacy online in the name of national security?" Brush asked. "Does Operation Noble Eagle enable the inauguration of an era of electronic martial law?" Fielding questions from the audience after her presentation, Brush answered her own question. "I think so," she said. "I definitely think there's more of a security focus. ... The Internet has always had elements of the military, but now I think it's become quite express." Brush, a doctoral candidate at UICU's Institute of Communications Research, said that with the widespread success of the Internet, the world has reached a stage in which "war knows no boundaries." Stable nations now face the prospect of no longer dealing with enemy nations, but mere enemy "cells." These, Brush said, can "take up residence, achieve opaque agendas, mutate and move on as nomads, traveling without leaving a trace." The current fight by the U.S. against terrorists in Afghanistan points directly to the problem, Brush said. While the administration refers to the Al Queda network as "the base," in fact the network exists in many nations and depends on no traditional hierarchy of command. In other words, like the Internet itself, it has no base. "Their trails weave through mountain caves and tunnels, and through ... virtual financial data in an ever-morphing market," Brush said. She pointed out that accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and Al Queda gained brief notoriety prior to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Last spring, word emerged that Al Queda might be relying on a quasi-encryption technology called "steganography," which is more akin to hiding "Easter eggs" on a Web page than genuine encryption. It was at that point, Brush said, that she proposed an Internet Research 2.0 panel on the subject. But the notion of a cyber-conflict is not new, Brush said. In 1993, writers John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt published "Cyberwar Is Coming!" for the RAND policy think tank. In the article, sometimes cited as a key reference point for the U.S. response to cyber-terrorism, the authors described what they called "Net war." They compared it to a chess game in which one opponent sees the whole board, while the other see only his own pieces. The blinded opponent will always lose, the authors said, even if given additional and more powerful pieces in the first place. "Net war refers to information-related conflict at a grand level between nations or societies," that article states. "It means trying to disrupt or damage what a target population knows or thinks it knows about itself and the world around it. ... It may involve diplomacy, propaganda and psychological campaigns, political and cultural subversion, deception of or interference with local media, infiltration of computer networks and databases, and efforts to promote dissident or opposition movements across computer networks." One of the most successful "Net war" struggles has been essentially nonviolent, Brush said. It involves the Zapatista movement in the Chiapas section of Mexico, a grassroots effort to secure work and to educate the region's indigenous people, while establishing more participatory democracy in the region. "Radical political organizations such as the Zapatistas have already effectively demonstrated what small, non-hierarchical webs and cells can accomplish with only a laptop and an Internet connection," she said. "Of course, the Zapatistas wage a non-violent guerilla insurrection in the spirit of electronic civil disobedience." With the ascent of bin Laden and other violent, well-networked terrorist cells, the prospects of Net war become decidedly violent, Brush said. This was anticipated, too, in 1998, when the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report entitled "Cybercrime, Cyberterrorism, Cyber-warfare: Alerting An Electronic Waterloo," Brush noted. "The report is peppered with hyperbole, littered with sensationalism and frequently invokes the names Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein as possible Net war enemies, or at least models for potential cyber-terrorist groups," she said. However, that paper also declares: "America's most wanted trans-national terrorist, Osama bin Laden, uses laptops with satellite uplinks and heavily encrypted messages to (communicate) across national borders with his global underground network." There are those, of course, who encourage such things. For instance, the Critical Art Ensemble, an anarchist group, has proved influential, particularly over the Zapatista movement, Brush said. In its work, "The Electronic Disturbance," the Critical Art Ensemble paints a picture of cyber-resistance that looks a lot like the descriptions of bin Laden's alleged network. In that work, the ensemble says, "Technology is the foundation for the nomadic elite's ability to maintain absence, acquire speed, and consolidate power in global systems." Added Brush: "The (Critical Art Ensemble) argues that capitol and power now flow through cyberspace, therefore resistance must become electronic resistance." Brush's presentation gave no suggestions for countering Net war. It was, however, peppered with light criticisms of the Bush administration's approach to the task of fighting on the electronic stage. The online jihad already has already resulted in an "intensification of the security state," rather than a strategic or conceptual reorganization of communications security, she said. And she said Bush's remarks that the terrorists are "in hiding" and that the U.S. will "smoke them out" were "rustic," because they imply that the enemy has a fixed location when it is at best a moving target. "The holes that Bush will smoke out are not the exoticized desert caves that Bush will pummel in 24-hour air assaults," she said. "Instead, the holes that Bush will smoke out may be such breaches of security as free encryption devices, or private telephone calls." Brush's paper, "Electronic Jihad: Middle East Cyberwar and the Politics of Encryption," which is as yet unpublished, does not reach any conclusions about what should be done about the bin Ladens of the world. But there were strong indications in Brush's conclusion that she thinks the U.S. would be wrong to go too far in eliminating online civil liberties in its efforts to rid the world of terrorism. "Against the unfixed and even viral movements of Al Queda, the U.S. and its numerous three-letter agencies seek to locate an enemy without coordinates, and to fix in its targets messages that cannot be seen," she said. "The messages could be anywhere -- on your Web site and in my inbox. Is there nowhere left to hide?" The full text of Arquilla and Rondfelt's Rand white paper, "Cyberwar Is Coming!" can be read online at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR880/MR880.ch2.pdf. More information on the Association of Internet Researchers can be found at http://aoir.org/ - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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