Re: [ISN] Pay attention to choke points before crisis hits

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Oct 15 2002 - 10:22:28 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Government Information Security Forum, take 2"

    Forwarded from: Russell Coker <russellat_private>
    On Mon, 14 Oct 2002 09:10, InfoSec News wrote:
    > By Dan Gillmor
    > Mercury News Technology Columnist
    > Oct. 13, 2002
    > What do major seaports, gas pipelines, the Windows operating system
    > and your local phone company have in common? They are just a few of
    > the choke points of the modern world.
    Excellent article, we could use more of the same!  I totally agree
    that the Government needs to take action to avoid such choke points.
    However one important choke-point was not mentioned, the news
    distribution system which is one of the most insidious choke-points in
    the current system.
    Currently all major news services use the same sources, copy from each
    other with no verification, and squeeze out competition as much as
    possible.  A recent example of this was the recent news reports about
    blondes becoming extinct (a claim that's laughable to anyone who knows
    the basics of science).
    But this problem goes further than news services, it also extends to
    all forms of communication.  It seems that communication is being
    divided into two types, person to person (telephone and email) and
    corporation to consumers (TV, radio, major web sites, etc).
    Consider for example the way DSL net access is provided, a small
    up-channel with a large down channel, so that you are forced to become
    a consumer of information not a full participant.  Running a mailing
    list for 100 people or a web site that's even slightly popular is
    beyond most people for this reason!  The ISPs can easily provide
    higher speed up-links, my DSL line has been certified for 2Mb upstream
    (I currently get 64Kb and could get 128Kb if I pay more).
    Now you are probably asking "what is the risk in having big
    corporations monopolise the news?".  There are several risks, news
    that is inaccurate, misleading, or totally wrong is a serious risk as
    it could incite riots or cause other problems (remember the LA riots
    and consider that the same result could be caused by a fake news story
    just as easily from a real story).  Having independant news sources
    reduces the risk of false information getting full coverage to almost
    The next issue is rigging elections or interfering with political
    processes in other ways.  Anyone who controls all the media can
    control a country (consider the end of the Caucescu regeime in Romania
    and the attempt to seize military control of the USSR), these events
    happened as they did partly due to accurate reporting, false news
    could have given a different result (which would be worse for those
    countries and worse for the world).
    Russell Coker
    ISN is currently hosted by
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