The Coming of the X-Net

So the Digital Economy Bill was passed last night. Despite a well organised and well supported online campaign the majority of MPs simply did not engage in the debate and passed the bill with very little understanding of the potential damage it is going to do to the ‘real’ digital economy (not the backwards looking version of it the recording industry and government seem so keen to protect.)

Cory Doctorow has campaigned tirelessly against this ‘Bill’ and I’m guessing he is questioning the wisdom of being UK based at the moment. I mention Cory because the reaction of my corner of Twitter (i.e. neither the celebrity stalkers nor the spammers) reacted to the news in a way that made me think of an aspect of my favourite book of his.

Little Brother is supposed to be ‘young adult’ fiction as I understand it but it wasn’t marketed that way in any bookshop I have seen it in (that is just a bit of self justification!). It is a story based in a very near future San Francisco that is increasingly suffering from a government that has taken surveillance culture to an extreme – especially around the internet (sound familiar?). The hero of the book leads the creation (or uptake? been a while since I read the book) of X-Net, a secure, encrypted network that allows people to communicate without anyone being able to intercept or observe their activity.

I have no idea if this is even possible at this scale but it makes a good story – what I do know is possible (and maybe even probable) is the rise in use of encryption software and proxy servers and god knows what other geekery that is bound to spin out of the hackdays and barcamps that will take place in the coming months.

Seems to me that things could quite possibly get a great deal worse for those trying to protect the interests of ‘old’ media as they seem to have mobilised a whole (very clever) section of the UK against them – many of whom probably barely bothered with file-sharing but will take a direct interest in it now.

3 thoughts on “The Coming of the X-Net

  1. I think they’ve unleased the geeks of war – or at least woken them up from slumber. In all seriousness I think we’ll see an increase in activity in the areas of encryption and Tor project related projects. If it means that places like China and other countries with restricted access get better tools for protecting freedoms, all the better.

  2. I don’t know much about this Tor stuff – I’m a bit useless on the networking side of things if I’m honest! It does seem to be the most likely direction of things though – wondering about seeing if there are any local experts and running a Bathcamp night on it or maybe something at the Bristol Hackspace..

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