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The Internet

Geolocation Enables Internet Borders 216

JimRay writes: "The Washington Post's Tech site is running an interesting piece on geolocation technology and its increased use on the net. The article explains the technology as being able to locate an Internet user in the world, at least to their mother country, and then grant access based on their location. They note how television broadcasters are interested in this kind of technology to prohibit the loss of distribution rights to things like the Olympics."
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Geolocation Enables Internet Borders

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  • by image ( 13487 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:08AM (#2784552) Homepage
    I almost loathe to post the URL because I don't want it to get slashdotted, but one of my favourite online utilities is:

    The Net World Map [networldmap.com]

    Just follow that link, type in an IP (defaults to yours), and it does a reasonably good job at locating the address.

    Does anyone else have a link to another public service like that?
    • VisualRoute (Score:5, Informative)

      by iGawyn ( 164113 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:13AM (#2784573) Homepage Journal
      VisualRoute [backland.net] provides a similar service and is normally pretty accurate.

      Gawyn
      • Re:VisualRoute (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 0x2A ( 548071 )
        It did work for me, got me right here in Sydney. I also tried a couple of other IPs. There it got at least the countries right (Sweden and Thailand)
    • Heh, my two Danish addresses were carefully located into Russia and Greece. So much for reliability...
      • my two Danish addresses were carefully located into Russia and Greece. So much for reliability...

        Wonder how good it does with identifying France. Considering that part of the Yahoo! auctions fuss centred around Yahoo! claiming they could use this for advertising and the French government telling them what they shouldn't be advertising for sale in France....
    • Cool, apparently I'm in Cyprus at the moment :-)

      Actually I'm in the UK, so I very quickly start to lose confidence in the accuracy of this web page. Does anyone else have better luck?
      • The darn thing got my location right within a 15 kilometers range (that's about 10 miles for people who have not switched yet). Sucks so much that I'm traceable... I guess proxies will be required in the future...
        • The darn thing got my location right within a 15 kilometers range

          No distances were given (latitude and longitude, but they're in a weird format...longitude was given as "-115.17" when something like 1156'48" W would be the usual method), but it nailed both IPs I fed it as being in Las Vegas. (When you consider that reverse-mapping one address gets you lasvegas.net and the other gets you lvcm.com, that probably shouldn't be too surprising.)

          Given how easy it would be to fool a geolocation system (especially given nearly everybody else in this thread), I don't see how this is really supposed to be effective...or is it really supposed to be more like CSS [cmu.edu], which only thwarts fair use and small-scale copying while doing nothing to stop mass production of "counterfeit" DVDs? There's no reason (other than the bandwidth on my cable-modem [cox.com] connection) why I couldn't open my Squid [squid-cache.org] proxy up to the world. In addition to getting almost no ads [dyndns.org], you would appear to be browsing from Vegas [lasvegas.com] instead of wherever you are really located. (How's that for MLP? :-) ) What's to stop someone from doing this elsewhere, either as a free service or for profit, and enable people to bypass whatever geographic restrictions are placed on a website?

      • It worked quite ok for me. The right country anyway.. (Sweden)
        Always someting. Although I am on a government IP at the moment.
      • I'm also in the UK, the map has me in Greece- really wouldn't mind if I was though ...;-)
    • Just to make my comment above (about accuracy) look bloody stupid, this site gets me bang on. However, the other two I tried were both wrong - got the UK correctly, but the wrong end of the country.
    • I got just 20km away from me.

      Not too shabby.
    • From: Net World Map [networldmap.com]
      Number of locations following:


      Is proxy:Unknown

      At this time, the location of nnn.nn.nnn.nn is unknown.

      From: VisualRoute [backland.net]
      Analysis: IP Packets are being lost past network "XX-XXX-nnnnnn" at hop 18. There is insufficient cached information to determine the next network hop at hop 19.

      Note that the IP is in Ireland (and the VisualRoute traceroute does have a few give-aways in it for someone who knows Irish ISPs). I continued to check a few more static IPs we have (mainly from one ISP) with the results that of the 4 on the one ISP, Net World Map reported 2 correctly (Dublin, Ireland), reported 2 as unknown and the final one as in Puerto Plata Dominican Republic! VisualRoute looks slashdotted to me but so far it has failed one, looped on the next (without recognising where it was stuck in a major Irish ISP) and one found to us in terms of the network but no location.


      Doesn't look too useful to me! Are people really betting (sic) their businesses on this? I think that every self respecting advocate of all the net stands for should be doing everything in their power to destroy these systems (get them down to 50% accuracy and they are useless for making decisions) before the internet collapses under the weight of litigation it could bring.

      • Yeah, it got befuddled by me too. Curiously, I'm on a free dialup ISP in New Zealand:

        Number of locations following:<%numberofrecords%>

        Is proxy:Unknown

        At this time, the location of 203.167.156.113 is unknown.

        And you can do what you like with that IP#, because by the time you do I'll be on another one and some poor random bastard in .nz will be spammed out of his mind, muahaha...oh gee, that's not very neighbourly of me now is it? Really, it hardly matters since I have my homepage on my dialup so anyone can DoS me without even mildly taxing their cable router...

        Incidentally, Visualthingiebackland was slashdotted so I couldn't test it. Might have been interesting.

    • Yeah, it worked pretty well for me, but then again I am geographically close to my ISP. I doubt this works at all for users with dynamic IPs, including your cable modem users and AOL users, etc. If you have acesss to two machines, this is easily bypassed by running your browser remotely (not for dialup, LOL). It also seems as though a proxy server would also bypass this.
    • Hmmmn Interesting - it has me working in Greece with an 80 % certainty, and living in Netherlands witha 0% certainty. I'm actually in the UK with 100% certainty!

      .
    • It places me in Texax - no doubt the location of DirecTVDSL IPS. I'm in Georgia. Guess it got the right country.
  • by saberwolf ( 221050 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:11AM (#2784565) Homepage
    One would assume that if this technology becomes widely used then it would generate a market for subscription funded proxies in countries where desirable content is restricted to local users. Kind of like the way ships use flags of convenience.

    Perhaps I should start writing my business case for the bank manager.
  • by blacksmith ( 42129 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:12AM (#2784569) Homepage
    ...some technologies can pinpoint one's location.

    That's a pretty big pin. Pinpoint an IP address maybe, but that doesn't tell you much about where someone really is. Ignoring the effect of proxies, some dynamic address allocation schemes can cover huge areas.

    I think the more "Big Brother" aspects of this can probably be ignored for a while - until ISPs start getting more involved with content providers at least.
  • New Slashdot Code - a late comment [slashdot.org] seems to suggest that even Slashdot is getting on the building barriers and walls bandwagon.

    But that's not how the internet was built or how OSS is.

    Gee, maybe MS ought to see if they can impliment the personal ID and access system on Slashdot....

    What do you support? Wall to divide and conqure and control the masses, or open honest systems?
    • The tech seems old and trivial for today's existing tools. Like the article said, it's not a matter if it can be done. I should add 'for what reason it will be used'.

      Simply, if I live in a country where it's forbidden to gamble on-line, I should not acesses these types of sites.

      It's not a matter of a technology that helps to break the law, or to prevent from doing it so.

      DeCSS can be used to break the law, right? But most /.'ers defend it.

      I am 100% favorable to these technologies to exist. It should not be a matter of 'open honest systems', of its technical design. But instead, the way people (and the governament) are using it.

      That's what should have to change, in the first place. I believe the net is a new place where you can grow as a different individual with different (and better!) values, as of moral, notions of freedom, right to speech, etc...

      This is in no way a particular attack to you, 3seas (as you noticed, I went waaaaay over the tangent of a single phrase of yours), but a more general approach about the way we as /.'ers see some issues.
  • . . . that as use of this information becomes more widespread, and as more effective geopolitical lockout technologies (which is how this will be used) become available, that open proxies remain available throughout the world. This trend toward the Balkanization of the net is an evil thing.
  • Global Community? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:15AM (#2784581) Homepage
    No, no no.
    The Internet is (IMHO) a global community. Identifying and restricting people by ip address is, to my mind, contrary to the whole ethos.
    I dislike the thought that people will be allowed to track who and where I am. I also dislike the thought that it'll be possible to prevent/deny access to your site based on where in the world the person who's trying to access it is located.1
    Then again, I suppose there's always enough anonymous proxy servers out their to circumvent this.
    • by barzok ( 26681 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @09:26AM (#2784901)
      Identifying and restricting people by ip address is, to my mind, contrary to the whole ethos.
      Until you're Yahoo! and not allowed to sell certain historic memorabilia to residents of France. Or, really, any online store that wants to service the world, but has to comply with regulations in various countries.

      What really bothers me about it though is that using this technology, it'll be much easier to start slapping sales tax on Internet sales. Maybe even 2 or 3 taxes - where the server is physically located, where the company operates from, and where I was sitting when I purchased the item.
  • Internet is suppose to be global so you can access all the information regardless of where you are access the data from.

    What next? AOL censoring all anti-AOL sites etc? This is nuts.
    • by Lysander Luddite ( 64349 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:21AM (#2784608)
      Its for law enforcement. If you can know what country a user is in you can apply local laws to that user. This is a boon for things like unauthorized computer entry, IP laws, jurisdictional determination, as well as determining what rates to charge somebody.

      Really... if The Man wants such a thing he'll get it one way or the other. Passing laws is cheaper, but determining where somebody is, is the first step to enforcing the laws on the book.

      It won't be long before the SSSCA is amended to add anonymity and location scrambling to its list of prohibited activities.

      I think this story was run a year or so back too.
  • ...commerce killed the internet star.

    What will be left if all information access will be restricted by local laws and economic interests ?
    No more free connection to the whole world.
    And don't think that this will apply by the laissez-faire rule: what's not forbidden is allowed.
    Connectivity to/from non 100% legal correct countries will soon be 100% crippled leaving nothing but CNN, AOL and MSN crap. I just wonder if they'll restrict access to linux/BSD sites, too. With theses system being "h4X0r" systems.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do you even know what you are talking about? This is saying that sites can choose to block somebody based on their country. Why would a Linux, BSD, or any other site for that matter want to restrict access unless it was strictly forbidden by law. And since I don't see them forbidding Linux anytime soon (especially since it has Government endorsement in several countries).
  • Good and bad? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rmadmin ( 532701 ) <rmalek AT homecode DOT org> on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:23AM (#2784616) Homepage
    I could see this being abused at a high level. Someone could definately take this technology, and make it into a form of tool. For instance:

    Good:
    Company had 4 divisions: US, UK, China, Brazil. The company sets their website up to detect browser's location, and directs them to the site for the proper division.

    Bad: Company has banner adds on their site. When someone from Las Vegas goes to their site, they advertise hookers and casinos, (since they are legal in vegas, lets entise the natives to go boost the economy!). Someone sitting in California goes to the same site and gets a banner for suntan lotion. Wow.. we just geographically marketed our products!

    Btw.. "visitors try to enter UKbetting.com [ukbetting.com]"

    I went there, and tried to sign up. The program they use to detect your location seems to take forever (over 5 minutes)! Probably because I'm in the US =P
    • why is making banner ads appear regionally a bad instance of this technology???

      banner ads are a reality right now, and they're not gonna go away anytime in the near future...as long as that is true why shouldn't advetisers maximize the effectiveness of the ads they're showing...that's just good capitalism to me...
    • Fascinating, how different things can be in different countries.

      "visitors try to enter UKbetting.com"

      I can reach that site (I'm in Sweden) and the first page features a prominent logo saying "This site is safe for kids", "Net Nanny approved", and then a note explaining that residents of the USA will not be admitted.

      Kids from around the world can enter a site where adults from the US encounter a guardian to protect them from ... whatever.

      Here's another example of surprising differences between countries: As a Swede I find it extremely curious that if I buy software from the US that shows human anatomy, it can be shown without genitals. It seems this is intended for children. As if children could somehow be unaware that they have genitals. I just can't imagine a Swedish parent or teacher wanting to show anatomy in such a strange, mutilated way.

      Fascinating, curious differences.

      Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fish.
      • s a Swede I find it extremely curious that if I buy software from the US that shows human anatomy, it can be shown without genitals. It seems this is intended for children. As if children could somehow be unaware that they have genitals.

        Have you noticed that the brain in this US anatomy software for children is shown as already lobotomized?

        Don't worry, you may think you're in Sweden, but soone' or late' we gonna come knockin' on yo' door.

    • Re:Good and bad? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 )

      What's wrong with targeted banners? What if Joe's Crabshack at 4th and Broadway (dunno if they actually could intersect, but imagine) could advertise only to people within 500m of his location? The reality is that, used properly, this could reinvigorate the net and pump billions of local dollars into it.

    • Strangely enough, I can access the UKbetting.com [ukbetting.com], even though I am located in the united states, and newtorldmap [networldmap.com] pinpointed my location within a few miles.
  • by MrAndrews ( 456547 ) <{mcm} {at} {1889.ca}> on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:23AM (#2784617) Homepage
    This technology (and damn, it's really not perfect yet) is incredibly important for internationally-broadcast shows. We're currently developing a system which will hopefully tune a website to the market the show is playing in, so that the audience gets their language, their teasers (watch XYZ this Thursday at 8) and limits spoilers based on their broadcast schedule. If it worked all the time, it'd be great, which is why you have to introduce the loophole of letting the user override the setting if it's just plain wrong. Some of the things that make the internet great, like big pools of people from all over the world in one place, bring with them bad things (what happened on this episode of X-Files months before it hits Australia). Things like this, when used for noble purposes, are making the whole business work much better.
    • Wah. The net's for sharing real information, not to allow entertainment moguls to artificially segregate their market. If this is an example of a noble purpose, I'm not waiting to see the nefarious ones before participating in getting around the technology.
      • Media moguls are the ones who don't understand the concept. But in a lot of cases, especially in entertainment-like things, you WANT to have information censored when it relates to things you haven't seen yet. If we could broadcast around the world all at the same time, it wouldn't be an issue... sadly, that's just not a possibility yet. Anyway, it's like the theory of nuking banners from all websites because you don't like the annoying ones. On occasion, there are some ads that you'd probably have wanted to see, and you're missing out on some good things when you generalize a technology. Try and keep an open mind, because some of us are trying to do good things for our audience...
        • If we could broadcast around the world all at the same time

          I'm going to admit to my own ignorance--are the barriers to being able to do this primarily technological (e.g. synchronization of satellite downlinks, lag of radio waves, etc.), economic (e.g. timing of release in Europe for maximum sales diffrent from release in Asia), or political (e.g. censorship enforcement is particularly heavy in country X right now; can't release there yet)?

          • A mix of a lot of things. Sometimes translation times (but not really often, truly). Mostly the fact that some markets want to see how it does in its native setting before the commit. It's a fundamental flaw of the television broadcast design that's becoming more obvious as the internet's possibilities get clearer. Some of it, of course, has to do with being able to get a better deal in coutnry X when you have a major hit on your hands in country Y, which you can't know until it's been on the air for a few months.
            • It's a fundamental flaw of the television broadcast design that's becoming more obvious as the internet's possibilities get clearer. Some of it, of course, has to do with being able to get a better deal in coutnry X when you have a major hit on your hands in country Y, which you can't know until it's been on the air for a few months.

              You also get things like the strange way TV series are shown in the US (and IIRC Canada) which appears to be historical. Bit I can't see US networks wanting to change to be compatable with the rest of the world.
      • "artificially segregate their market"

        How are country (and the related language) borders artificial? Are you so ethnocentric to believe that everything should be done in American English and other languages and countries be damned?
    • Aside from the usual privacy rants, there's another chilling effect here.

      What if what I'm looking for is the info that is not normally availible to me through my local-access media.

      Maybe I WANT info in not-my-language. Maybe I WANT the teasers from the other market. Maybe I WANT the spoilers. Etc. Etc Etc.

      Something a lot of old-media people haven't seemed to grasp yet is that the Internet-as-media is an INDIVIDUAL DEMAND system, or if you prefer, a "pull" instead of a "push"

      The more you try to force push-style paradiems on me, the less useful your outlet becomes.

      The overriding consideration for any Internet media is "make it as easy to find what I'm looking for as possible" with things like clear indicies, functional and accurate searches, and so on. Don't make assumptions about what it is I want, and push it at me.

      Here's the best analogy I can think of: A "push" media, like TV or Radio, can be used by a group. Assuming the audience has similar interests (and that the TV/speakers are large enough) a TV show can be watched alone, in a small group, or even a football stadium full of people.

      Can you imagine a football stadium of people, watching the screen as one guy surfs the site?

      Using the Internet is a personal and individual experience. It's a library, not a program. Trying to force broadcast-media concepts on it just doesn't work.

      DG
    • Yeah Useful, Bull...t. Why must I wait until next year to see content such as Enterprise here in Europe? Does that make sense? NO...

      Why must I listen to English content in Germany? Why can I not choose? Have you ever listened to dubbed shows? Obviously not...

      I do not like piracy, but when broadcasters in this day and age add artificial barriers then THEY SHOULD BE PIRATED. I am more than willing to pay for Enterprise content. And so would many other people in Europe.

      So I ask you why not allow it? Again the stupid broadcasters!!!

      I also did not watch the Olympics because of their greed. Did not miss much!!! Times have change and so should the way content is broadcasted...
  • by standards ( 461431 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:27AM (#2784629)
    The article talks mostly about commercial web sights that sell services that are illegal in some places - like on-line gambling and drugs.

    To me, I want to know where I'm spending my money. Many on-line services do hide behind the web, trying to mask their true identity (and legitimacy and legality).

    Clearly it is good for consumers to know with who they are dealing with.

    It is, however, disconcerting that this same technology can prevent legitimate news, views, and opinions from easily making it to one location or another.
    • It is, however, disconcerting that this same technology can prevent legitimate news, views, and opinions from easily making it to one location or another.

      I think it might be more disturbing that the practices now will lead to future improvements on companies controling the net even further by only letting people who pay to use basic rights or info. I can see this exploding in the future into real cyber wars. Think about it; a country can totaly block another one from viewing certain things or areas on the internet! Might be paranoia but it is a possability.
    • It is, however, disconcerting that this same technology can prevent legitimate news, views, and opinions from easily making it to one location or another.

      Not sure if I'm being incredibly dense here, but doesn't this work in that the host of the website can choose if they don't want people from certain countries reading their website, so if you want your views spread from your website, this doesn't stop you. The converse - blocking users from accessing websites from certain countries (e.g. in China) - already happens.

  • Sounds Moronic... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wackysootroom ( 243310 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:28AM (#2784633) Homepage
    Isn't the whole idea behind the net to share information *without* any boundaries? Why do corporations and institution want to control everything? Sometimes control is bad.

    This reminds me of the region coding restrictions on DVD.
    • share information *without* any boundaries

      If we truly want to share information without boundaries then we must eliminate the biggest boundary of them all - language. Now granted you can do like a lot of international companies do and ask you up front what country you are coming from and then send you to the respective home page but wouldn't it be nice if all that happened immediately. Obviously there are limits since there are thousands of languages and dialects throughout the world but it would at least be a step in the right direction.
      • we must eliminate the biggest boundary of them all - language.
        ...ask you up front what country you are coming from and then send you to the respective home page

        Set your preferred default language in your web browser. Have companies' websites check this first. Netscape, IE, Konqueror, lynx and others already send an Accept-Language header in their web requests.

        Determining the language a person wants is a problem with a solution that already exists; no need using ip-geolocation to develop a Rube Goldberg style solution.

    • Isn't the whole idea behind the net to share information *without* any boundaries?

      Depends what you are doing. If you are setting up the equivalent of a broadcast television station or magazine then this idea can make a lot of sense.
      If on the other hand you are selling physical items for real money. Then it dosn't make so much sense.
      There is also the issue of complying with local laws, which may censor what information people can see and certainly will have plenty to say about selling and shipping products.
    • Isn't the whole idea behind the net to share information *without* any boundaries?

      .... wasn't the original idea behind the 'net to do the fundamental research to create redundantly connected switched packet networks that could automatically re-route traffic, originally funded by DARPA (military) with some vauge hope of a truely fault tollerant (attack resistant) communication network for guiding missles or something like that ??

      Well, whatever DARPA's reasons were for funding the research, it probably wasn't because "information wants to be free". Perhaps some of the NSF funding later may have had more noble motivation, as did the mindset of students as Berkeley (who made BSD that ultimately drove much of the adoption of TCP/IP)...... but this came later. Certainly the original funding was from military spending.

  • by Stephen ( 20676 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:28AM (#2784635) Homepage
    Maybe it's too obvious to be worth pointing out, but a web server can't hope to locate the user, only the computer that the user is using to access the server. Will this really be enough to satisfy the law enforcement agencies or media rights holders?
    • There will always be ways to circumvent technology like this. As long as the company makes a reasonable effort to comply with local laws then most law enforcement agencies will be satisfied.

      The only time when this wouldn't be true is when circumvention becomes the norm as in the Napster case. Napster blocked certain names and users just renamed their files to use similar mispellings. At that point some other step must be taken.
  • 404 and more (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    404 errors are bad enough, now we will receive boundry errors to limit our access to the web.

    Actually, since i only know how to speak and read english i have always had boundries. I can access the sites from another country written in a non-english language but i can't read or understand it :P.

    I wonder when the boundry technology is implemented if you will have to pay a tax or some kind of payment to grant full global access. Just think, not only do you have to pay for the size of your site on a server and the bandwidth it uses, but you will probably some time soon have to pay for the range of people that can access your site. For $232 you can have your site accessable by your local city, $5000 a month for your state, $45000 for the US, and for the world, well heck, we just want your soul and full access to any encryption technology you use.

    I am not sure if i personally hate the idea or like it......
  • by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:31AM (#2784649) Homepage
    This has been done for some years now at certain sites - I think I remember that ICraveTV.com had a system that only let Canadian users in. Also, before crypto restrictions were lifted, you couldn't download the 128-bit versions of software if you were obviously from outside U.S./Canada.

    The problem (or benefits, if you are the circumventing type) with this, however, is that I guess it will be mostly based on the TLD the user come from, which is often highly unreliable. But, if such filtering is enough to satisfy the demands of restrictive countries, I'm all for it. (Example: the nazi auctions at Yahoo could be rendered inaccessible to everybody from an .fr domain. It won't really hold people out if they are determined to get in, but common people will be 'spared' from those auctions)

    Used with moderation, this could be a much better solution than the endless legal battle mentioned in the article. The article is in fact very good, explaining all aspects of the way things are moving.

    And for all the freedom-of-speech people out there: That freedom comes with responsibility. Nobody with a sane mind would call a wrestling champion names. The same goes for the online world. (But in the Yahoo case it's infact the inverse - somebody telling the wrestler (Yahoo) to shut up will suffer the consequences. I still think they could resolve it in a better way though.)
  • Proxies... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bruns ( 75399 ) <bruns@2m[ ].com ['bit' in gap]> on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:34AM (#2784655) Homepage
    Thats what proxies are for! What happens when people start putting up HTTP proxies in the US and then allowing people from other countries to use it freely? Then they look like they are from the US.

    And then there is AOL. Everyone on their network is funneled through their web caching servers. So they all look like they are coming from AOL's server complex.

    Oh, and lets not forget VPNs and IP tunnels. I can send a US IP address over a VPN to the EU. I do that and vice versa to work around restrictions on things like IRC servers which only allow you to connect from specific locations.

    It just wont work...
    • What happens when people start putting up HTTP proxies in the US and then allowing people from other countries to use it freely?

      They get arrested under the DMCA.

      TWW

    • "Thats what proxies are for! What happens when people start putting up HTTP proxies in the US and then allowing people from other countries to use it freely?"
      Well then the sites just block the proxie. If you know an IP address is a proxie then you jsut don't allow any thing from those adresses, or popup a page telling them that proxie access is not supported.

  • I just went to www.ukbetting.com and the page opened right up. Apparently the geolocation isn't completely foolproof. No tricks; we're on an rr.com connection, which isn't exactly tough to track or anything.
  • ...that you don't have to read further than the second paragraph before coming across the word "Terrorism". :-(

    Still, from a networks point of view, it seems that geographical barring as described would always have to take place at a high protocol layer (e.g. HTTP). Anyone who *truly* wants to break the law will just go "underground" by inventing their own protocol, using an older version of an existing one, or subverting the geographically secure one by some redirection method or other.

    And of course, if you start the blanket blocking of all IP traffic between two countries, the net would fall apart. Any CS monkey knows that one of the key design criteria for reliable and usable networks is location transparency.

    Ho hum.
  • HTTP headers exist for explicitly requesting access to a resource in a certain language (though I dont know of any site that actually makes use of them), as for locating users though... well, you're largely going to be SOL there. Suppose you rDNS someone and their TLD is .fr, fine, that user is probably french. If their language request code is 'es' they're probably either spanish or from some spanish speaking territory - on its own not very useful but in tandem with an rDNS it could narrow things down. If you end up with a .com though, your choices are limited. Perhaps an IP and domain WHOIS could be made to intelligently parse the contact addresses for territories and such but if you're looking at a user from, say, AOL, you really cannot know unless they actually tell you where they're from; I'm sure AOL isnt giving this information.

    Then again, I suppose all this might be rendered redundant if The Man forces us all to go through an earmarking gateway of some sort, we'll see ;)
    • HTTP headers exist for explicitly requesting access to a resource in a certain language (though I dont know of any site that actually makes use of them)

      One quick example: the Debian [debian.org] home page. I never really notice this (being an en-gb user), but it does work.
  • by BigJim.fr ( 40893 ) <jim@liotier.org> on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:38AM (#2784672) Homepage
    This piece, by John Perry Barlow (barlow@eff.org) is all I have to say about Internet borders.

    "Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

    We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

    Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

    You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

    You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

    Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

    We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

    We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

    Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

    Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

    In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

    You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

    In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

    Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

    These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

    We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before."

    Davos, Switzerland

    February 8, 1996
    • > Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do
      > not think that you can build it, as though it
      > were a public construction project

      One word - DARPA.

      (OK, that was five words. Sue me.)

      > We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-
      > interest, and the commonweal, our governance
      > will emerge.

      Has this guy ever *read* Slashdot? :)

      > The global conveyance of thought no longer
      > requires your factories to accomplish.

      Yup, I can certainly manufacture and repair my own Pentium4, graphics card, telephone, generate my own electricity, connect cities thousands of miles apart with fibre-optic cable...

      Give us a break. I think I agree with the sentiment, but let's have a cohesive argument for a change?
      • One word - DARPA.

        The physical link may once have been DARPA but not anymore. Now all it takes is access to a phone line from anywhere in the world which has one. Besides he's not talking about governments building infrastructure but goverments trying to impose their laws, culture and way of doing things on cyberspace itself. Barlow's most vitriolic piece in this regard was his outburst against the CDA which boils down to: "I had lunch with a couple of senators who used several choice phrases that they would nevertheless like to see banned from the Net." Check the context here. This was written in 1996 - before corporations woke up and started going after the logical and content layers of the Net with their lawyers.

        Has this guy ever *read* Slashdot? :)

        Barlow has fought for the upholding of fundamental rights in the digital world long before Slashdot even existed. He writes but he also acts - minor stuff like fighting Operation Sundevil and founding the EFF spring to mind...
        And guess what? He's right. Ethics and enlightened self-interest have contributed more to the Internet and it's culture than any external law. Rough consensus and running code keeps it working for a start.

        Yup, I can certainly manufacture and repair my own Pentium4, graphics card, telephone, generate my own electricity, connect cities thousands of miles apart with fibre-optic cable...

        Context problems again. Barlow doesn't mean the physical factories that produce PCs, telephones, network connections and power - he means the myriad laws, stupid regulations, censorship of communications and taxes that governments use to prevent citizens from getting on with their lives.

        Let's go back to 1996: the Net has been getting an increasing amount of press. It's anarchistic (which means without leaders NOT without order) and not controlled by any government. A bunch of people have realised that they have tremendous freedoms to speak, publish and act in cyberspace which would otherwise be curtailed by nation states in meat space (a Barlow term). So nation states act. In the US it kicks off with the CDA, but more follow. This declaration perfectly crystallized the difference between the establishment and the Net.
    • "Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
      We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
      No elected government. So then, he who has the mightiest bat (read: lawyers) makes the rules.

      So, this dude paves the way for the croporate takeover of the net.

      Smart. Waaaaay to go.

      Haven't it occured that the solution is better control of the governments by the citizens, a.k.a. "democracy"???

    • Nice words, most of them, and I more-or-less agree with the overall sentiment, which seems to be "leave the internet alone". But there are a few points I must protest.

      I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.

      If it were naturally independent of tyrannies etc., there would be no need to declare it so. It's not natural. Those who inhabit the internet have made it so, and they (we?) can unmake it. I hope that never happens, but it could.

      This is the same complaint I have about another great document - one that declares that there exist certain "inalienable rights", endowed by a creator. If in fact those rights were inalienable, there would be no need to declare them so. The rights exist not because a creator granted them, but because people decided they should have them. They're not inalienable. People might someday decide those rights don't matter. Then those rights would cease to exist. I hope that doesn't happen either, but it could.

      You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

      Leaving aside the moral right, it's important to remember that certain powers can and do have the means to interfere with the freedom we now enjoy on the internet. In many parts of the world, governments hold a great deal of power over the flesh and blood of their citizens. They may not have the same kind of powers over the thoughts of those citizens, but they can enforce their powers over how those thoughts are expressed, in speech, the press, and yes, on the internet. There are tools to thwart their efforts, but not everyone can gain access to and use those tools. This sort of tyranny may not affect you or me (not now, not yet), but it affects others, and it erodes away the freedom we enjoy on the internet.

      So why I agree with the sentiment "leave the internet alone", I think the tone of this manifesto is far too smug. It seems to say "leave the internet alone - you don't really have a have a choice because none of your intefering affects us anyway". A more realistic declaration might be "leave the internet alone because by doing so you will benefit". Then document the benefits. Document also the costs and unintended consequences when the internet is not "left alone".
    • please oh please stop those nasty evil spammers for us Uncle Sam!!
    • The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

      Nice sentiment, but as we've learned recently, it does require their wires. As long as that's true, we're fucked.

      When we go wireless via public satellites, we'll be free. Until they shoot them down. There are powerful people who don't want us talking to each other, and the hard-core among them won't be swayed by passionate speeches. This declaration is an eloquent opening-ceremonies read, but don't think anybody on the other side is going to hear it and say "aww, drat, they're right."

  • by zoward ( 188110 ) <email.me.at.zoward.at.gmail.com> on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:39AM (#2784675) Homepage
    The story indicated that UKbetting.com would be off-limits to anyone from the United States, but I was just able to access it successfully from the US, using either:

    http://www.ukbetting.com [ukbetting.com]

    or

    http://www.ukbetting.co.uk [ukbetting.co.uk].

    • Of The story indicated that UKbetting.com would be off-limits to anyone from the United States, but I was just able to access it successfully...

      Of course the site allows you to access it! It's when you try to open an account it displays the checking page and reports you can't access the site if you have a US-based hostname. I assume they're doing some kind of ARPANET hostname lookup, getting the details of the IP, including the address and only allowing UK-based addresses.

      This is bad news for hosting companies operating in the UK but having address and contact details based in the US or some other country.

      Of course, that doesn't mean you can't get around it by something like a UK-based proxy, a NAT, IP Tunneling, or a virtural LAN. In fact, using Google.co.uk (based in UK or with .co.uk extension?), the cache of the application page is fully viewable here in the US of A.

      Based on this, I assume you could buy a UK domain name and surf the net from that host and get in.

      So you're right anyway -- doesn't necessarily work as promised.

  • So how long until this is used to make sure people don't buy import DVDs, games, or even music, online?

    I can see the RIAA/MPAA coming up with some 'if you don't agree to use this technology, we won't let you distribute our products' contract.... The larger retailers (Amazon, etc) would probably agree quickly enough, as it reduces the hassle of international shipping (lost orders, returns, etc) anyway...

    (I buy lots of import CDs... many that are never released in the UK. Region coded music (DVD-Audio) is going to piss far more people off than region-coded DVDs ever have... you'll first need to get your player chipped, then shop through a proxy to get the discs... Or just use a napster clone...)
    • Why on earth do you think anyone would be interested in what a geolocation server says about a users origin when the dealers can just look at the shipping information.

      If the industry associations with interest in region division had the power to stop on-line dealers this way, they would allready have done it.
  • by swestcott ( 44407 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:41AM (#2784683) Homepage
    this has been a question of mine for a while aol users for the most part I belive all ther Internet trafic leaves the AOL network and hits the net in reston? if that is not the case then most if not of all ther IP address are registerd to a Reston address as that is wehre the company was strated so would not all the AOL users or say UUNET users apear to be in Norther Virgina?
  • I could - and for now I will - see this as a positive thing. Imagine The UN High-council for the World Wide Web. All countries - or at least many - aggree to pass a law that would fors all website owners to control their visitors identity, check some global database with leagal jib-jab and let the visitor in or not. Most Internetters people do live in countries with full freedom of speech - I may be wrong about this - and those who don't is already shut partially out from the Internet (like those in Singapore.) One should not forget that national laws apply even when you're in front of your computer just that now you choose whether or not to be a criminal and really, nobody looks too hard into you breaking the laws. Don't think of this as borders, just as nagging high-way patrols. The UNHWWW could also in make it's member countries to apply in international territory. This can be done, ther is international laws for ships at sea.
  • Why don't companies take a proper stance and treat the Internet as a seperate entity than a country? I can easily see rights being given for distribution over the internet and a different company being given rights to distribute in real world areas.
  • NRC Research Press (Score:5, Informative)

    by gandalf_grey ( 93942 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @08:46AM (#2784713) Homepage
    The Research Press (Publishes 14 Canadian online science journals) is using a system that will allow only Canadian IP's access to the online journals free of charge, as a service to the Canadian Public. All others must pay a subscription fee or Pay-Per-View charge. It seems to be working out rather well (for Canadian's at least).

    The first reaction might be... so what, great for Canadians.... It's great, because at least SOME of the world can access the journals freely... as opposed to nobody at all. After all, they are government sponsored publications, so the Canadian people should be able to access them freely (while still being able to recover costs through international subscription sales). Check it out at: http://www.nrc.ca/cisti/journals [www.nrc.ca]

  • Buzzwords (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chardish ( 529780 )
    Words you NEVER want to see in a new technology article:

    geolocation
    surveillance
    information-gathering
    spying
    tracking
    segmenting
    marketing

    When words like these are around, you know your privacy and civil liberties are at stake.

    -Evan.
  • I'm so disappointed that this might (will) come to pass. I think it's the neatest thing to be able to watch tv broadcasted in Germany for example through the web. I fear this segregation of information by different groups for their own purposes. Can't we all just share?
  • Oh yea what if I am using NAT through a buddies linux box in the U.K? oops looks like a new technology foiled again. As a matter of fact would it not be cool if someone coded a little nat bounce client say for instance us(nat)->fr(nat)->uk(nat)
  • I remember when caller id first rolled out and many were concerned with the fact that someone could easily get your phone number simply by placing a call to them. As the use and features available of caller id expanded we found that many of us use it to filter out unsolicted phone calls on a daily basis, or to identify secific calls we want to take. Initially it was used by government agencices, then commerical business, then individuals. This may very well have much the same cycle of use.

    I expect that we will see browsers that will be able to be from an "anonymous" country just as there are browsers (such as Opera [opera.com]) that can identify themselves as a different browser. Of course as the software develops and evolves, there will tweaks and adjustments to the "gatekeeper" software that will allow the operator to reject "anonymous country", or as now, specific countries. And the browsers will adapt as well. Net shattering? I don't think so, but like most things in life it will have advantages as well as disadvantages.
  • Big corporations have their internal networks that can route huge amounts of global traffic out to Internet from centralized locations. This way quite a few Nokia, IBM etc users appear to come from country X regardless of the actual location of the user. I wonder how the media companies will agree the distribution with these guys. :)
  • Delayed releases (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ericlondaits ( 32714 )
    They note how television broadcasters are interested in this kind of technology to prohibit the loss of distribution rights to things like the Olympics."
    Yeah, and sooner or later media execs will start restricting access to movie or music sites to local consumers, in order to be able to control international release dates just like they do in conventional media.

    The problem with this is that in the *internet age*, people in the farthest reaches of the world (I live in Argentina, so I should know...) are exposed to all the hype sourrounding movie or CD releases, just like everybody else...

    ... an example? LOTR won't premiere here until january 17th... so, who can blame all the people desperately trying to download it through File Sharing systems?

    Media companies should realize that delaying releases just doesn't cut it as in the snail mail times.
  • Nothing New... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sharkyfour ( 14327 )
    This really isn't anything new... Our good friends at DoubleClick have been on top of this for a LONG time. I live in the tiny little state of Connecticut, but for at least the last year and a half I've been getting ads targeted for CT while browsing national and international sites. It started with banner ads for ctnow.com well over a year ago, followed closely by ads trying to get me to subscribe to The Hartford Courant. Now in the last month or so, SBC/SNET(which only serves CT, and yes, the ads are branded with the SNET part of the name, not just as SBC) has been putting on a really annoying campaign for their DSL services that include popunders and big flashy graphics. It's disgusting.
    • > This really isn't anything new... Our good friends at DoubleClick [...]

      Hey, it goes way back before that.

      This is just a newfangled way of turning a bunch of ICMP packets into "ICBM addresses [brighton.ac.uk] (Jargon File, 1994), but on a color screen, rather than a humongous plotter ;-)


  • Most address block registration information contains geographical adresses. It's just a matter of pluging Whois into an application to provide location.Of course, it is not so easy since the records are mostly free form, but still it's a beginning.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Friday January 04, 2002 @10:44AM (#2785328) Homepage
    In this thread everyone will cry out at the Evils of regional laws restricting the internet. The Evils of companies invading your privacy by tracing your location. The Evils of restricting internet access based on geography. "They can't do this to us! We'll fight back! We'll use international proxies! The internet is international and borderless! Keep your stupid local laws out of our net!"

    And how many of these people will recall that just 13 articles back [slashdot.org] they were cheering on California's anti-spam law. Forcing spammers to identify the location of recipients, and having to learn and comply with 50 different sets of state regulations was a GoodThing. Anything to make life tough on spammers.

    SPAM IS EVIL AND MUST BE STOPPED AT ANY COST! We need laws to protect us from spam! ACLU / EFF are evil if they defend spammers in court! We need to protect the children! Anyone who opposes anti-spam laws is probably a child molester!

    -
    • Spam is a major monkey wrench in electronic communications, but it's the same way with phone numbers! If you don't want phone calls, don't give your number out. And you can get a new email instantly- it's really no big deal. Anyone who's been around the block a few times has multiple emails- private, public, and spamtoilet. Actually, bigfoot.com has been doing a remarkable job of keeping shit out of my inbox for years now.

      There's no need for John Law to put his fingers in there. We'll be just fine, thanks.
      • > Spam is a major monkey wrench in electronic communications, but it's the same way with phone numbers! If you don't want phone calls, don't give your number out.

        Yeah right. For the first time in two years, I left my phone plugged in. Three telemarketing calls, all for a complete stranger who has never lived there.

        Phone stays unplugged from now on.

        All I Want For Next Christmas is a federal do-not-call registry and a corresponding law allowing for a $500 private right of action, and a local phone company that uses, as a business model, a h4x0r3d switching system that supports a "*[2-digits]" combination that customers can punch in on their phone keypads to automatically log the ANI number and print off the paperwork for a civil suit.

        You know, how "*69" gives you "Number not available?" But there's a "*harassing-call" combo for harassing phone calls that logs it for the cops, should you press charges? I want a "*fuck-telemarketers" combo that logs it and authorizes the phone company to file suit on my behalf.

        The phone company files the suit on my behalf. I get one month's free phone service for every telemarketer they nail. They get the remainder of the $500. And in all probability, every customer in the country after the first few geeks say "Wow, I got my first 3 months' worth of phone service for free in the first week!"

        Hey, I can dream, can't I?

  • Something Similar (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wessto ( 469499 )
    I work for a mapping company and we do banner ads in some of our applications based on the region of the map a user is looking at. True smart-region advertising.
  • by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Friday January 04, 2002 @10:56AM (#2785390) Homepage Journal
    A gnutella like multi-proxy system.

    Imagine something similar to anonymizer.com, but completely distributed. You have a local ingress to the proxy network, and before your http sessions leave, you select the country/ip you'd like the egress to come from. Your connections are encrypted while on the proxy network, and its decentralized to be impossible to legally shutdown. You just need one or more computers on the proxy network in each locale you want to impersonate, willing to run the proxy software.

    You could manually choose the locale of egress, or have it just randomize each connection for you. The latter might make targeted content not work at all (i imagine peoplewill embed detected locales into URLs, so it might suck to get

    foo.com/ENU/index.html
    but then get
    images.foo.com/JPN/title.jpg

    displayed in the html.

    Oh, i think IPv6 throws a huge wrench in all of this, btw. (geolocation)
    • Wasn't the Cult of the Dead Cow going to be releasing some software that did exactly this? Whatever happened to the project?
  • The system is not foolproof; people can easily get past by using special software programs to cloak their identities.

    Where would you like to be from today?

  • VisualRoute has been able to do this since like 1995, the first time I remember it. It gives a crude-looking world map, and it tracert's to a given IP/hostname, placing routers and eventually, the final destination, in semi-accurate places on the world map.

    Maybe they got it down to a little less of a novelty and more of a useful tool, finally.
  • How will this stop someone from dialing up a modem in a remote country?

    Or use a proxy?

    Also, how are they getting the geographical info anyways? From the databases of the respective registrars? A lot of them have incorrect info, and I don't see any other way of getting the address info, short of legal requirement for ISPs to disclose geographical locations.
  • Geo::IP [cpan.org] is a rather cool module which returns you the country of any IP address.

    We use it for fraud checking and accurately analysing web logs.

    The homepage is here [geo-ip.com] and here is a quote from it :-

    Geo-IP enables you to easily lookup countries by IP addresses, even when Reverse DNS entries don't exist. It uses the Berkeley Database to store the lookup table, and an easy to use Perl API to access the data.

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.

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