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HungryGuy's avatar

In the event that the govrnment shuts the internet down, what steps can we take to stay connected?

Asked by HungryGuy (15944 points ) January 19th, 2012

I mean to say, most people wouldn’t have a clue what to do when they start Internet Exploder, and find “page not found” again and again.

But those of us who are a little more technically savvy than the average sheep, what are our options?

- Keep a paper list of actual IP addresses of our favorite sites?

- Point your browser to a foreign DNS server?

- Use an anonymizer service such as Tor?

- Use HTTPS Everywhere to block the government from knowing what sites you’re accessing through Tor?

- Subscribe to a paid VPN service overseas?

Other ideas????

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36 Answers

everephebe's avatar

Well there is one option I can think of.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Yeah I’ll definitely go to DC and give those assholes a piece of my mind.

Jeruba's avatar

How did we keep in touch before? I remember. Do you?

Besides: politicians may have power and authority, but they’re not the ones with the knowledge. I am utterly confident that the true tech whizzes and geeks can find a way around any barrier that authorities can effect, even if they have to reinvent the internet. And they will share it, and people will know. Samizdat Web!

HungryGuy's avatar

“How did we keep in touch before?”

You mean Answerbag???

bkcunningham's avatar

Shut down the Internet!? Is there an Internet kill-switch in the White House?

Seriously though, dial-up, ham radios, fax machines, telephones, ad hoc networks, CB radios…

Jeruba's avatar

The White House? President Obama said he wouldn’t sign the bills. That is not where this is coming from.

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – Maybe you’re on to something :)

If we can create some sort of ad-hoc wireless internet network in which every home router is a node interconnected to every other node, we won’t need ISPs. For sure, there’ll be a huge lag when sending a packet cross country and connecting to a web site far away, but at least no government could do diddly to block packets from flowing wherever they wanted to (unless the FCC sent out a gazillion trucks across the country to jam the signals).

marinelife's avatar

It isn’t going to happen. There is too much money riding on it.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Oh no! @HungryGuy just got cens

HungryGuy's avatar

@Michael_Huntington – No such luck for you guys (and gals) :-p I just accidentally hit my Answer! button in the middle of composing my message.

Blueroses's avatar

I think the first thing I’d do is try reaching out of country friends via BBM in an attempt to get information. This would only work for the short time before the govt ordered a shutdown of RIM

bkcunningham's avatar

I think Macs have built-in chat features. What are they? ichat or something or other. I which I was more tech savvy.

HungryGuy's avatar

Oh drat and whammy. I just noticed a typo in my question. I wish we had longer than a few minutes to edit our questions. Where’s Grumpyfish when we need him? :-p

bkcunningham's avatar

It has been done before. It is how it worked in Egypt and other countries when the government has control of businesses and ISPs and decides to control communication.

CWOTUS's avatar

Shut down the government.

HungryGuy's avatar

In the western world, the only way I know of to shut a government down is to vote the bastards out of office, but that just replaces them with different bastards.

Elsewhere in the world, one needs lots of guns and bullets and bombs (and then you usually just end up replacing one despot with a different one).

rebbel's avatar

All use Blackberrys (or is it Blackberries?).

Jeruba's avatar

Shut down the government.

Great idea. If we lost our Internet connection, the first thing we ought to do is naturally to cut off our mail service and close libraries. Then maybe we can arrange to have the phone cells shut down, pull TV and radio stations, and halt newspaper production. That’ll show ‘em.

Oh, yeah, what newspapers?

Maybe we’ll be back to reading broadsides aloud from a stand in the marketplace.

That’s if anybody can remember how important it is to retain access to some kind of public medium that can’t be shut down with the power grid. Thanks to Enron, Californians remember how easy that is.

HungryGuy's avatar

I know! We can go back to dial-up BBSes….

Charles's avatar

In the event that the govrnment shuts the internet down, what steps can we take to stay connected?

You can ask the government “Please turn the internet back on.”.

jrpowell's avatar

In the event something happens to the DNS system I keep this around.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I found some firefox add-ons that will come in handy if SOPA is passed
Soapy
DeSopa

CWOTUS's avatar

I understand where you’re coming from, @Jeruba… you think I’d cut off my nose to spite my face. No, a government that would “shut down the internet” would have lost its legitimacy. It has to be shut down. And replaced. I’m not a total anarchist; call me a minarchist.

everephebe's avatar

@CWOTUS I’ll call you a patriot:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (US 1776)

john65pennington's avatar

Carrier pidgeons. You might have to feed them.

ETpro's avatar

Get the pitchforks and torches, and let’s show Marie Antoinette that we ain’t got any cake to eat in place of bread. While we’re at it, let’s tear down K street and the go get the corporatist overlords that pay congressmen to sign pieces of legislation they actually had their corporate lawyers write to channel billions more to themselves.

jerv's avatar

@Jeruba You really don’t understand how it all works, do you? Many of those things can be (or already are) done by non-goverment entities. Power plants may be regulated by the government, but the people who actually run the plant work for the company that owns the plant. Uncle Sam does not run Verizon or AT&T either. And even if the government does get them to shut down, there is always the pirate option.

Libraries are already closing, and mail service is already being reduced. Soon, those things may well be dead even without SOPA/PIPA, so I don’t buy that. I do, however, buy that people can be quite ingenious when push comes to shove. Look at the sophisticated devices used by insurgents in areas that don’t even have access to clean water, and then imagine what that sort of ingenuity could do in this land of plenty. Hell, we already have plans!

ragingloli's avatar

the first thing America will do is shoot these satellites out of the sky, on behest of their corporate masters

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli Quite possibly. However, that would assume America continues to exist…

HungryGuy's avatar

@jerv – A space internet is a nifty idea (“I’m in spaaaaaaace!”) but it really isn’t as resilient as a wireless ad-hoc backbone of private home repeaters. An evil government (such as the USA) could just shoot down the few hundred internet satellites, but it would be neigh impossible to jam the millions of home repeaters across the country. Still, we need to start implementing a new censor-proof infrastructure now (whether space or wireless land based) while we have the freedom to do so.

And BTW, SOPA isn’t dead. It’ll be back with a different name in a few years, probably re-worded and buried and combined with the Save The Cute Kittens bill…

jerv's avatar

@HungryGuy Very true, but that isn’t the only plan, merely the most audacious.

Actually, I know of more modest plans that don’t involve satellites (like this one and this) and that is why I mentioned the routing issues inherent in ad-hoc mesh networks involving mobile devices.

And yes, SOPA rose from the grave for a few days once already, so I have no doubt you are correct.

HungryGuy's avatar

@jerv – Yes! That Darknet project is exactly what I tried to describe! But there needs to be some sort of profit motive involved to get a real manufacturer (like Intel or Cicso) involved.

Jeruba's avatar

I simply feel, and have felt for decades now, that it is a great mistake for us—individuals, anyone—to allow ourselves to become too dependent upon anything that plugs in.

It’s pretty hard to avoid, I readily admit; but I think we still have to remain aware of how vulnerable the infrastructure is and how easily compromised by forces of all kinds, intentional and accidental.

jerv's avatar

@Jeruba I understand that, but that logic also means that is is a mistake for many of us to even have a job, or at least to rely on being employed. See, if something happened to wipe out the electrical grid, my job (and that of many others) would be utterly impossible.—Try running a milling machine without power!—- Yet, I think we both know how vulnerable the electrical system is; I definitely learned that as I was freezing in the dark without water for a week in NH a few winters ago.

Like it or not though, our economy is no longer an agricultural or manufacturing one; it is one of information. Now, we can handle and overcome the technical weaknesses of that. In fact, that is the point of a decentralized mesh network. The issue we seem to have a hard time with is establishing a decentralized network that is resilient and virtually uncrashable since there are economic and political entities that wish to retain power and continue to profit.

Part of it is also that many people take for granted that we have always had the ability to share information globally and don’t remember a time when there were not cheap, fast computers with mice and color screens. It is beyond their imagination that such a world could ever have existed. We will forget for the moment that such a world still exists in most places on 2012 planet Earth. That makes it hard to gain momentum as there are relatively few people who understand how easy it would be for the world to return to a time when you had to wait for weeks for the Pony Express to relay information across the country. They seem to think that it is impossible that such a thing could ever happen, and doubly impossible that our own government would to that to us.

Many more knowledgeable and tech-savvy people like myself, Cory Doctorow, Jimmy Wales, and a crapload of others really want (and are working hard towards) a replacement to the Internet that is impervious to government/corporate control, and that doesn’t even really rely on electricity. Note also that the OLPC XO-1 (the one we give to poor kids in Africa) already has mobile ad-hoc networking, and can be recharged by a hand-crank. That means that, given proper motivation, we could have this done next week. We have the technology; we just don’t have the motivation to implement it.

Of course, if recent events are any clue, our real mistake is relying on governments and corporations; a centralized infrastructure unto themselves. We rely on the MPAA to entertain us. We rely on government to act in the best interests and according to the wishes of those who put them into power. We relied on big banks to remain honest in their pursuit of profit and put the majority of our money in a few institutions.

But you are correct that we are a nation of reliance. Look at how we rely on cheap oil. Look at how we forgot the lessons of the 1970s on that one and still ridicule the idea of alternatives like electric vehicles or mass transit.

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