Defining liberty up
Posted by aogThursday, 07 April 2005 at 23:10 TrackBack Ping URL

Via Ann Elisabeth, Spam Huntress I found this list of various techniques used by e-mail spammers. The interesting bit to readers of this weblog was:

Most reuptable ISPs in the developed countries realize that taking on a spammer’s traffic can do nothing but get them in trouble with other ISPs as well as millions of users (including their own “honest” customers). So, spammers are often forced to go elsewhere to get their messages sent. […]

As these countries struggle to join the new information economy, they are eventually confronted with the necessity to play nice with other network users; this often leads to crusades against spam operators. The foremost example here may be Brazil, which is waging a fierce war against spammers, although they face a resourceful and well-entrenched opponent. China, on the other hand, seems to run hot and cold; while they are diligent about restricting their own citizens’ access to (and activities on) the internet, they don’t seem particularly concerned about the use of their network bandwidth to host websites for pornography, stolen software, bogus drugs, and counterfeit goods offered to the rest of the world. [emphasis added]

One is led to wonder whether China might not deliberately encourage spammers in order to get foreign ISPs restrict Internet access for citizens to the rest of the world. Certainly the PRC could arrange for those of its own organs that need unfettered access to have IP address space ranges that are non-spamming and therefore tolerated by foreign ISPs. Everyone else gets shut down or strongly restricted because of the spammers without the PRC having to do any dirty work.

In this vein, I recall that one of the webhosting companies I use is in Hong Kong. That’s where I had JYB originally. I had to move it to another webhost because it was running very slowly. I found out later that this is because USA based ISPs are deliberately throttling traffic from South East Asia because of the massive amount of spam originating in that area.

Why does the PRC support a national network in the first place? Is that purpose compatible with the Chinese network being mostly disconnected from the global Internet, except for a small number of tightly controlled systems? The PRC might well be able to control internal spam well enough to tolerate it (since they can do things to spammers that people here can only write about in flaming rants). There is the issue that was raised over at No Illusions which is how economically crippling it will increasingly become to be disconnected from the USA national network. How will the PRC balance that? Will it want to? Any connectivity will allow the export of too much information about the USA to the local populace. Any controls sufficient to prevent that will destroy much of the utility because of how rapidly things change. Perhaps the PRC will be learning juche from North Korea.

P.S. A side note is that perhaps the Internet is an example of defining deviancy up. As with so many things, building liberty takes much more knowing that it is possible than any specific techniques for doing so, a fact long ago recognized by totalitarian regimes. Like countries with low tax rates in Europe, the social forces unleashed tend to be far more liberal than restrictive. The only hope for the totalitarians is, once again, the UN.