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Comment Re:This is not going to work well. (Score 1) 86

VHF, I mean. I edited that post a lot chucking out ideas that sounded good at first, but were obviously impractical on further thought. Most of those suggestions are barely-workable anyway. The awkward truth is that this is a very hard task to accomplish - even if you solve the engineering issues, how many people will be executed because they are caught with one of your mini comms devices or banned DVDs?

Comment This is not going to work well. (Score 2) 86

Any sort of software is going to be worthless, because NK doesn't have an internet infrastructure. You can't tunnel if there are no wires. You might be able to get some connectivity at the borders, but that's it, and NK has used jammers in the past.

So the only possible approaches will be hardware based - you'd have to be able to distribute hardware into the country. And you'd have to do so with a lot of it, because you need to get it in faster than their government agents can confiscate it. And that hardware has to be able to operate in the face of truly awful communications conditions - even mesh networks have their limits.

The most you're going to get realistically is one-way: Send them radio receivers capable of picking up South Korean media. Which a lot of people will dismiss as propaganda, of course. The grant proposal implicitly acknowledges this with a focus upon getting media *in* to the country, which is hard but not nearly so hard as communications between people already stuck there.

That's the technical side. There's also the legal issue: You're going to end up air-dropping communications equipment on a foreign country without authorisation of their government and the express intention of subverting their laws. This is almost an act of war. North Korea would declare war on the US over that, if they didn't do so about twice a month already.

I'd go for the low-tech approach first: Radios. NK requires all radios sold be hard-wired to only tune to selected government-approved stations. So put in lots of really small, simple, durable radios that can pick up South Korean radio stations. You need a lot of them.

Now, if you wanted high-tech, you could probably come up with an adapted mobile phone for sneakernet use. Something that would be able to play audio and video, read text. Like one of those super-cheap-and-nasty Android tablets, with two USB ports. No networking - it's too easy to trace, and not much good anyway. But enough that a subversive document or media file could be very easily copied and passed between trusted people, quickly. You might want to include a radio receiver too, just so that it can pick up a daily news update from a transmitter in SK. Old-school VHS radio if need be - you don't need bitrate, you need range.

But that's really over-engineering, you'd get a much better effect for your money if you just airdrop millions of DVDs. Even in North Korea, DVD players are readily available. If nothing else you'd waste their resources as they assign thousands of people to sweeping the country looking for shiny discs to destroy.

As this is a US proposal, and legality be damned, they could just load a stealth bomber. I don't know how many DVDs you could load into one of those, but I think it's a lot. It'd be great fun when Jong-Un wakes up one morning to find eighteen tons of DVDs covering Pyongyang, containing all the best television the world can offer both factual and entertainment.

I expect by lunch he'll have just declared the sale of DVD players a capital offence, though.

Comment Re:"they'd be back if it happened again" (Score 1) 239

It depends on the police force. Sometimes they'll use a no-knock warrant - the one where they smash your door down and force everyone to the floor at gunpoint. But that's not their preferred procedure, it's only used if they believe the suspect may destroy evidence when they see a policeman at the door.

I'm somewhat surprised they didn't go with that approach, because any half-competent dealer in child pornography is going to pull the plug on their encrypted computer the instant they see a uniform.

Comment Re:Don't be afraid of this! (Score 1) 524

Going back a way, there were the Comstock laws. I'm not sure how well politics of that period align to today, but given that there was a strong religious element in their support I think it can be considered more conservative than liberal.

There's the Communications Decency Act, 1996, struck down by the supreme court. In principle it just criminalised distribution of pornography to minors, but as it's pretty much impossible to verify age online it effectively banned all pornography.

Child Online Protection Act, 1998 - a rehash of the CDA, also struck down.

Children's Internet Protection Act, 2000, which - among a few other things - mandated pornography filtering in all public libraries as a condition for funding.

Most of these have bipartisan support, because no politician is going to vote against a law that is presented as protecting children, however ill-defined the threat. But one side of the divide is much more concerned: Almost every major social-conservative pressure group has, as one of their core principles, the regulation or prohibition of pornography. The AFA, FRC, FotF, all of the state Family Policy Councils, and it's one of the points in the most recent GOP manifesto. The liberals, on the other hand, really don't care very much.

Comment Re:It's just ICANN (Score 1) 524

You are overlooking an important factor: People are stupid.

I don't just mean a bit dim. I mean incomprehensibly dumb. Take, for example, my mother. Yesterday I had the unpleasant experience of providing tech support for her as she tried to send an important email. The email client kept saying that the SMTP server had rejected her password. So she kept clicking retry, over and over. Between retries she uttered such comments as "It just keeps stopping and locking" and "I just want a computer that works" along with requests for me to come and "fix the laptop." This eventually escalated to a bit of mild profanity before I gave in and helped her to reset her password - again. She has probably forgotten it by now. Again. This is a regular occurrence.

If you display a huge flashing message saying 'THIS WEBSITE IS INSECURE DO NOT TRUST IT' a lot of users will go right ahead and enter their credit card details anyway, because they really want that thing it claims to be selling.

Now, try to adapt your system to a world in which some users have difficulty distinguishing a 1 and an l, and their response to a 'not found' is to wail around in confusion before declaring their computer is faulty. When a delay of five seconds causes cries of anguish that - as Mother would put it - "The internet is on a go slow" and accusations that I must be using it all again.

It's easy to design a secure addressing and content authentication system. Try designing one that can be user by Mother.

The strange thing is that she is a highly qualified nurse with quite a collection of qualifications. She isn't stupid in general, but she has a focused blind spot on technology that renders her seemingly incapable of learning even the most rudimentary things about the field. She can explain anything you might need to know about drug interactions and contraindications in treatment of pulmonary disease, but can't scroll a web page without sending the cursor waving all over the screen because she still hasn't figured out how to use a trackpad after a decade of laptops.

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