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> Terrorism Has Gone Virtual, Need Internet Restrictions?, AI might be able to pull it off
AuthorMusician
post Jun 5 2017, 01:36 PM
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The recent attack in London has caused some in the news media to point out a rather obvious fact to those of us who have been paying attention: Terrorism no longer comes from abroad but happens right here via the Internet and locals who buy into the pitches. We've done a good job of stopping terrorism from physically invading, and now it's a virtual invasion that's the problem.

I really like the Internet, being that pretty much all the information I'd want is available there for things like studying music and guitar. Yet I can see how restrictions need to be put into place, such as parental controls. Now I'm considering what kinds of restrictions should be done on a more universal basis, meaning at the network/server level rather than client (personal device) level.

This would mean Internet censorship, a sore subject for many. Yet we do have a history of censorship during times of war, and if terrorism is to be considered war against our nation, might censorship be a reasonable defensive measure?

So:

Why should/should not nations under attack from terrorism implement Internet censorship, guided by government and implemented via AI and other technologies, such as firewall?

What should anti-terrorism Internet censorship, assuming it's a good idea, look like on the definition/guideline (law) side?

What are the dangers of Internet censorship that's supposedly against terrorism?

Are there other viable ways to fight virtual terrorism (not tied to physical origin location) than through government and technology?
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Gray Seal
post Jun 5 2017, 11:24 PM
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Why should/should not nations under attack from terrorism implement Internet censorship, guided by government and implemented via AI and other technologies, such as firewall?

The greatest advancement of mankind in our recent history is the internet. It greatly expands the spread of knowledge and vastly improves the ability to communicate across the globe and all points short of that.

Freedom of speech is one aspect of the idea that we own ourselves and what we produce.

Implementing internet censorship will be an attack upon human achievement. Implementing internet censorship will be attacking the idea of freedom of speech.

Are there other viable ways to fight virtual terrorism (not tied to physical origin location) than through government and technology?

We need to figure out what is stimulating these attacks. The stimulus could be the violence and force exerted upon one country by another. People could be reacting in kind to violence in their country. If this is so, perhaps a better approach would be to quit initiating force in foreign lands.
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 6 2017, 02:50 AM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Jun 5 2017, 07:24 PM) *
Why should/should not nations under attack from terrorism implement Internet censorship, guided by government and implemented via AI and other technologies, such as firewall?

The greatest advancement of mankind in our recent history is the internet. It greatly expands the spread of knowledge and vastly improves the ability to communicate across the globe and all points short of that.

Freedom of speech is one aspect of the idea that we own ourselves and what we produce.

Implementing internet censorship will be an attack upon human achievement. Implementing internet censorship will be attacking the idea of freedom of speech.

Are there other viable ways to fight virtual terrorism (not tied to physical origin location) than through government and technology?

We need to figure out what is stimulating these attacks. The stimulus could be the violence and force exerted upon one country by another. People could be reacting in kind to violence in their country. If this is so, perhaps a better approach would be to quit initiating force in foreign lands.


I can see the point that any censorship, whatever the medium, goes against absolute freedom of speech. On the other hand, I really don't like terrorist groups recruiting and training people in this country to do harm to citizens, which includes blowing up buildings and other infrastructure that citizens depend upon. This is an act of encouraging our citizens to commit treason and murder.

I am certainly in favor of using compute power that we already have to remove Internet traffic that attempts to do terrorism remotely. I don't see anything wrong with this part, since the originating sites exist outside this country and aren't run by citizens, most likely. If some are, I figure too bad. Those people have lost their rights to pretty much any protection from our laws.

Identifying domestic sources of terrorism on the Internet is also not a problem for me. What to do after identification is the sticky part. Is this a job for law enforcement or something that just needs more attention? At what point does free speech turn into an act of terrorism -- does someone have to die? I'm not trying to pull an emotional response here but thinking more along the lines of murder. It isn't a crime to talk about the subject, but it is to attempt an actual murder. I'm not sure how this works if someone encourages others to murder, but I bet it goes into close observation. First the encouragement has to be detected.

The laws that now allow the identification of criminals, including terrorists, are probably sufficient for implementing a lot of AI on networks and servers, and I strongly sense that it's already being done. About eight years ago, I encountered an AI machine that was more effective than experienced humans at making business decisions. That kind of tech is likely out there working against terrorism, and if not, it should be.

These laws are, by my estimation, very imperfect. They need to be updated to remove what's not meaningful and include the newer tech that looks for evidence not possible to glean with older tech. This could get pretty involved just explaining what newer tech can do, so I'm not holding my breath for lawmakers who don't respond to truth all that well to get it right. I see this as the primary danger in censoring the Internet, and it begs this question:

What's more important, freedom of speech or protection from terrorists? I'm leaning toward freedom of speech being more important, as the deaths from terrorism in this country haven't been high enough.

So far, anyway.

I agree that removing the causes of terrorism is the best of all approaches. I have no idea how that can be done, starting with determining exactly what causes terrorism. Trial and error might be the only way to pull it off. Bombing and invading other countries just makes it worse, and economic sanctions don't seem to have much impact. Logic tends to be lost on people who want to blow themselves up to gain their status in the next life.

And what happens if the true causes involve having free speech? Fudge! I'm not ready to give up on fighting terrorism in order to preserve, or more accurately, establish absolute freedom of speech.

We put restrictions on free speech during war time. We have laws about inciting riots. I don't think I have the right to march into a church and start preaching against the religion practiced there. Not supposed to harass others, say bully some kid into suicide. Can't advertise cigarettes on broadcast TV, and I'm pretty sure that sex-for-pay has a lot of laws against it. What's so wrong about having software shut down sites and accounts run by terrorists?

Not much, but those aforementioned lawmakers give me monster pause. Maybe 10 percent of them are smart enough to understand the tech, and none of them are immune from stupid politics.

So to say the least, I'm conflicted on the issue of Internet censorship.
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Gray Seal
post Jun 7 2017, 03:29 PM
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The United States is spending over $500 per person-year to spy upon themselves. How is that working out? I would say it has been a tremendous waste. Terrorism continues. Adding another expense to a plan which is such a poor value is poor fiscal responsibility.

(For a money perspective, Trump is proposing spending an additional $600 per person-year in military spending.)

Leaving $500 per person in the private sector will do much good compared to the folly and immoral invasion of privacy schemes.
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Hobbes
post Jun 7 2017, 03:43 PM
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Do we want it restricted? It's not like they wouldn't find something else to use. Better to have it more in the open. This is without even considering the issues around who determines what needs to be restricted, the implications that has on free speech.

What we may need to do is crack down on it more. Or get better/more aggressive at using it against said terrorism. If collusion or incitement to violence is taking place...that's already criminal.

This post has been edited by Hobbes: Jun 7 2017, 03:46 PM
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 9 2017, 10:34 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jun 7 2017, 11:43 AM) *
Do we want it restricted? It's not like they wouldn't find something else to use. Better to have it more in the open. This is without even considering the issues around who determines what needs to be restricted, the implications that has on free speech.

What we may need to do is crack down on it more. Or get better/more aggressive at using it against said terrorism. If collusion or incitement to violence is taking place...that's already criminal.

What other means do you have in mind regarding the recruitment of future domestic terrorists?

Again, a site that originates outside our borders isn't exactly protected by the First Amendment. That protection would have to be in the country of origin, and even if it were there, the USA doesn't have to honor it. For example, some countries keep Google and others out, even though Google originates here.

How would restricting traffic from, say, Syria impact our freedom of speech? Does freedom of speech include access to Internet content across the world? How could that be enforced without the cooperation of originating nations?

Also, how do you propose we nab the perps who are recruiting and inciting to violence when they are off in Yemen or Russia or China or anywhere other than the USA? Maybe something like Interpol?
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Hobbes
post Jun 13 2017, 03:20 PM
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I assumed your question was geared towards domestic content, since no mention was made of international content.

In regards to international social media...how much of a problem is that really? The radicalization you mostly hear about is people traveling directly to foreign countries, and being radicalized there.

If we were to try to restrict such communication, how would we go about it? Would it hurt our ability to track foreign entities? As with any domestic restrictions we would need to weigh the benefits vs. the costs. If there is limited communication via this medium to start with, the benefits would be minimal. What would the cost be in terms of false blockages as well as lost ability to track such communication? Not sure.
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 14 2017, 12:44 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jun 13 2017, 11:20 AM) *
I assumed your question was geared towards domestic content, since no mention was made of international content.

In regards to international social media...how much of a problem is that really? The radicalization you mostly hear about is people traveling directly to foreign countries, and being radicalized there.

If we were to try to restrict such communication, how would we go about it? Would it hurt our ability to track foreign entities? As with any domestic restrictions we would need to weigh the benefits vs. the costs. If there is limited communication via this medium to start with, the benefits would be minimal. What would the cost be in terms of false blockages as well as lost ability to track such communication? Not sure.

The content consists of recruitment tricks developed for advertising and presented in the appropriate languages, so it's not the content that determines its source but the geographical location of the traffic, and here's where AI comes into play for both determining the origination of the traffic and the nature of the content.

Instead of sending terrorists here physically, the strategy is to recruit terrorists out of the native population and have our own citizens do the dirty work. It's a strategy that's way ahead of Trump's travel ban, which points to another problem regarding the speed at which certain politicians learn.

Travel to a foreign nation for training does happen as well, but not all the time. If you think it's inevitable that domestic terrorists who were recruited via the Internet on foreign-originating sites do travel for their training, the issue then becomes how do we nab them while in transit. I don't see it is inevitable, so my thinking is towards blocking terrorist recruitment sites and social media participants at the server/network level. It's also more toward the source of the problem.

Regarding false blocks, that's where the rules need to be tweaked that the AI uses for making its determinations. It can also be done at the level of site design -- don't look like a terrorist recruitment site, and the chances of being falsely blocked go down. Don't sound like a terrorist social media user, and you won't be as likely to be suspended/canceled.

Maybe the tourist sites for Yemen will be falsely blocked, in which case I have no personal concern about it. That could become a job for the State Department to negotiate allowed sites, you know, after it gets competent again tongue.gif

There's another strategy for security: Lock everything out except those specific sites/users who are given access on an individual basis. Lots of problems with that, so I lean more towards the use of AI. Managing a set of rules that get automated via AI strikes me as easier than having wetware (people) doing the grunt work. It's more reliable too, assuming the rules have been designed well.

And there is the stickiest issue of all -- who designs the rules? What would they look like? Is there too much chance that the AI would be manipulated for political reasons that have nothing to do with security from terrorism? Think about how the travel ban is more a means to implement religious bigotry against Muslims than a method to reduce terrorism.

It really does come down to fundamentals -- maybe humans deserve to be terrorized because of who we are, what leaders we elect/allow and what we truly worship. From another perspective, we are terrorized because we can be, a niche of existence that we've been occupying all along. There's no resolution to an eternal game.

But I think we should try anyhow. It's more fun that way. It's actually paying the game rather than giving up or pretending to play while in reality just collecting money from fools.

This is of course a deadly game that needs to be taken seriously -- up to a point, beyond which is a kind of enlightenment or a form of insanity. Still trying to figure that one out.
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Hobbes
post Jun 14 2017, 01:37 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Jun 14 2017, 06:44 AM) *
Instead of sending terrorists here physically, the strategy is to recruit terrorists out of the native population and have our own citizens do the dirty work. It's a strategy that's way ahead of Trump's travel ban, which points to another problem regarding the speed at which certain politicians learn.

Regarding false blocks, that's where the rules need to be tweaked that the AI uses for making its determinations. It can also be done at the level of site design -- don't look like a terrorist recruitment site, and the chances of being falsely blocked go down. Don't sound like a terrorist social media user, and you won't be as likely to be suspended/canceled.

But I think we should try anyhow. It's more fun that way. It's actually paying the game rather than giving up or pretending to play while in reality just collecting money from fools.

This is of course a deadly game that needs to be taken seriously -- up to a point, beyond which is a kind of enlightenment or a form of insanity. Still trying to figure that one out.


Agree with all of this, in particular the last point.

QUOTE
And there is the stickiest issue of all -- who designs the rules? What would they look like? Is there too much chance that the AI would be manipulated for political reasons that have nothing to do with security from terrorism? Think about how the travel ban is more a means to implement religious bigotry against Muslims than a method to reduce terrorism.

It really does come down to fundamentals -- maybe humans deserve to be terrorized because of who we are, what leaders we elect/allow and what we truly worship. From another perspective, we are terrorized because we can be, a niche of existence that we've been occupying all along. There's no resolution to an eternal game.


In the context you put this in, I'm not actually that concerned about who designs the rules. Were it domestic, and filtering of social media, etc, I would be (because of the violation of freedom of speech, the near certainly of large amounts of false positives, and the large issue of politics playing a big part in what gets filtered). I agree that it does come down to fundamentals, and recognizing that this is a deadly game.

I do wonder, though (and this wouldn't really contradict your model, but probably more extends it) were we able to identify such traffic, would it be better to block it, or to mark it, track it, and try to find the source? At which point I wouldn't be against a cease and desist notice behind delivered from a friendly neighborhood Predator drone.
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 15 2017, 11:56 AM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jun 14 2017, 09:37 AM) *
I do wonder, though (and this wouldn't really contradict your model, but probably more extends it) were we able to identify such traffic, would it be better to block it, or to mark it, track it, and try to find the source? At which point I wouldn't be against a cease and desist notice behind delivered from a friendly neighborhood Predator drone.

Internet traffic can be blocked and traced back to its source, at least up to the point of entry into our Internet backbones. In order to follow the path backwards, we need access to the network routers and switches in order to tell where the packets come from, so if they bounce around the world via inaccessible network equipment, say in Russia, then that's as far back as we can go.

Or at least that's my understanding of how this works, which is sadly out of date due to not being in the trenches since 2005. And even then my focus was on servers more than networks, so I'm probably missing a lot. But I do know that controlling network traffic takes a lot of compute cycles and fairly complex software from the viewpoint of decision trees/matrices.

I do remember setting up dummy servers to give hackers (crackers, really) something to play with while security figured out who they were, where they were, and what they were up to. I bet that effort went away with budget cuts -- oh well, what's a few million stolen accounts to the bean counters, just a risk of doing business?

I do see your point about domestically-sourced terrorist recruitment. I, however, don't have a problem with monitoring these sites and social media accounts. I'm also okay with shutting them down when they go too far, such as promoting violence against others. In a nutshell, I'll defend your freedom of speech up to a point, and past that, screw your speech. I no longer care.

And yes, I do understand the risks in my position. Still, there are plenty of risks involved with absolute freedom of speech too, so I just exercise my ability to reason past an ideology.

For example, I'd be okay with a law that bans sites that are meant to train visitors on how to make bombs. At least force would-be bombers to do research in a physical library. Don't make it easy for them just because the Internet enables it.

Which brings me to the evil side of the Internet. Well, it was going to happen because humanity has an evil side that comes out no matter what the media. Nobody should be surprised at that. But do we just let it happen without resistance? I don't think that's at all smart. And so parental controls that block sites and firewalls that select what can get through -- gatekeepers.

And like everything else, we humans are fully capable of abusing power, ergo there needs to be watchdogs on the gatekeepers and somebody to keep oversight for the whole thing. Kinda like how our government is set up.

Of course none of it is perfect. Terrorism will still find a way; murders still occur. Yes, and death still happens, so forget about health care? Disable all the safety features in your vehicle? Let the kids play with loaded guns? Go take a run in the middle of a busy freeway?

Obviously, the idea is to find the sweet spot between extremes, not that some aren't drawn to the extremes like ants to sugar. Gotta keep an eye on those types, I figure, and shut them down more quickly without turning into some kind of 21st century dystopia.

So I think that Internet censorship is a good idea if it's controlled in a way that avoids abuse. I also think that the Internet was originally thought up with good intentions but narrow vision. And now we're stuck with protocols that were not designed with security in mind, as opposed to IBM's SNA and hard-wired point-to-point architecture. Even that wasn't secure enough without hardware encryption.

Heh, it's like juggling a dozen running chainsaws while walking a tightrope between New York skyscrapers without a net -- and it starts raining hailstones the size of Wall Street brass bull balls.
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lo rez
post Jun 16 2017, 02:16 PM
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How would you even do censorship without upending the entire structure of the internet? I can get a web server up and running on my home cable connection in a matter of hours. I can move that server to another connection as fast as I can physically move the box. How are you going to prevent that? Are you going to stage monitoring devices in every ISP in the country? Are you going to put a great firewall of China around the US to watch traffic coming into the US from the outside world?



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AuthorMusician
post Jun 21 2017, 04:22 AM
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QUOTE(lo rez @ Jun 16 2017, 10:16 AM) *
How would you even do censorship without upending the entire structure of the internet? I can get a web server up and running on my home cable connection in a matter of hours. I can move that server to another connection as fast as I can physically move the box. How are you going to prevent that? Are you going to stage monitoring devices in every ISP in the country? Are you going to put a great firewall of China around the US to watch traffic coming into the US from the outside world?

Sure, it truly would be a great firewall (nod to Civ V) that watches traffic coming into our Internet backbones and sends evil packets to the derilium mines located on planet Bitbucket.

That would force would-be terrorist recruiters to use encryption, which might be an initial red flag. I'm not sure how that could be handled, but I am pretty certain that there are more ways than one.

This is a job for accomplished crackers, terrorist experts, smart and wise leadership . . . so it'll never happen, not with what we've got calling the shots today. Our present leaders can barely comprehend net neutrality, so . . .

Look out for killer vans, eh? Or wait, this is the USA. We've got guns galore. You know, to keep us safe from being shot down while playing baseball.

Anyway, the Great Wall of China had its time of usefulness, but alas, it was an idea literally cast in stone. The cool thing about Internet traffic is that it isn't. That's also the crappy thing about it. Depends on POV and what's trying to be accomplished.
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Hobbes
post Jun 22 2017, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE(lo rez @ Jun 16 2017, 08:16 AM) *
How would you even do censorship without upending the entire structure of the internet?


China does it, as well as N. Korea and other countries. Doing selective filtering within regions is already part of the structure of the internet. It isn't a technical issue at all.

it does matter where the traffic starts, it matters what path it needs to cross to get somewhere. Each region has a select few access points. As AM indicates, one only needs to install a selective filter at those access points, and traffic is blocked from entering...or leaving. With the AI he is talking about, moving the server doesn't even matter...it is the content that is filtered, where it came from doesn't matter. Except to potentially identify the source, and the the source location.

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AuthorMusician
post Jun 25 2017, 07:15 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jun 22 2017, 03:56 PM) *
it does matter where the traffic starts, it matters what path it needs to cross to get somewhere. Each region has a select few access points. As AM indicates, one only needs to install a selective filter at those access points, and traffic is blocked from entering...or leaving. With the AI he is talking about, moving the server doesn't even matter...it is the content that is filtered, where it came from doesn't matter. Except to potentially identify the source, and the the source location.

I'll add to this: Content that actually originates within the borders of the USA has to be teated with more leniency than content originating from outside the borders. This is to preserve freedom of speech within our country.

But what if content actually originates in Reallyterriblebad and gets bounced in off an actual site within the borders? This might even be done outside the Internet and spoofed to look like other allowed traffic.

Here's where I'm in over my techie head. Here's where we need pros who know how the Net works (pun just happened) and, hopefully, how to identify sneaky packets ph34r.gif

What would really be cool is to hire former coders for the terrorists. They'd know what is being done to bypass security -- and it'd be the subject of spy novels if we send network gurus into the midst of terrorist groups focused on recruiting from our population.

I bet the CIA is doing something like this in Russia right now. Maybe without telling the POTUS because it might scare him? Or because he has demonstrated exactly how untrustworthy he is with secret info? I don't know, but it'd be great if we can nab the bozos trying to mess with our elections before or during Election Day 2018 or 2020.

Then just as a lark, drain the funds from Russian oligarchs in a virtual scorched-earth move that looks like it came from Syria.

Hold the lucre hostage until Russia can negotiate peace, whatever that takes. Maybe send Assad & Co. out to the ISS along with a cargo run but forget life support?

If nothing happens within a time limit like net-30, fund universal health care with the stolen stolen-funds.

Ah well, fiction is a fun way to play with possibilities, and I do enjoy happy endings.

This post has been edited by AuthorMusician: Jun 25 2017, 11:40 PM
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post Jul 16 2017, 11:29 AM
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QUOTE(lo rez @ Jun 16 2017, 10:16 AM) *
How would you even do censorship without upending the entire structure of the internet? I can get a web server up and running on my home cable connection in a matter of hours. I can move that server to another connection as fast as I can physically move the box. How are you going to prevent that? Are you going to stage monitoring devices in every ISP in the country? Are you going to put a great firewall of China around the US to watch traffic coming into the US from the outside world?

Hours? I can sit down with a laptop in many restaurants and connect instantly to the Internet!

The advertisements for the military on the television would indicate that our government is already trying to intercept and block attacks from foreign countries. The current President is likely proof that their efforts are not yet strong enough! If the language of a bill that is passed by Congress is clear enough that it is attempting to block further interference from Russia, I can see D.T. sitting on a toilet at 5 AM tweeting that he will not sign it into law if it is passed... (I don't know how to "Tweet," but I wish someone would take his toy away from him and prescribe a mild laxative so that he could wake up in the morning and pass his manure in the normal fashion instead of through his thumbs!)
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AuthorMusician
post Jul 16 2017, 04:56 PM
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QUOTE(Curmudgeon @ Jul 16 2017, 07:29 AM) *
QUOTE(lo rez @ Jun 16 2017, 10:16 AM) *
How would you even do censorship without upending the entire structure of the internet? I can get a web server up and running on my home cable connection in a matter of hours. I can move that server to another connection as fast as I can physically move the box. How are you going to prevent that? Are you going to stage monitoring devices in every ISP in the country? Are you going to put a great firewall of China around the US to watch traffic coming into the US from the outside world?

Hours? I can sit down with a laptop in many restaurants and connect instantly to the Internet!

The advertisements for the military on the television would indicate that our government is already trying to intercept and block attacks from foreign countries. The current President is likely proof that their efforts are not yet strong enough! If the language of a bill that is passed by Congress is clear enough that it is attempting to block further interference from Russia, I can see D.T. sitting on a toilet at 5 AM tweeting that he will not sign it into law if it is passed... (I don't know how to "Tweet," but I wish someone would take his toy away from him and prescribe a mild laxative so that he could wake up in the morning and pass his manure in the normal fashion instead of through his thumbs!)

I have tried Twitter, but the account got cracked and, to use the common misuse of the word, hacked. Bur rather than conclude that whoever misuses the word must not know anything about programming, I'm smart enough to figure out what is truly meant. Also that the language has pretty much accepted the usage despite how I feel about it.

Anyway, Trump apparently doesn't understand much about Twitter's security or that a POTUS isn't supposed to kiss the hems of our enemies. He's vaguely aware that what he's doing in office is wrong and entirely unaware that he has already broken multiple laws that could end up with him in the slammer. So if that does happen, will Pence pardon Nixon, er, I mean Trump?

I rather doubt it. He seems smart enough to realize where his new job is taking him, so he'll likely avoid looking like Trump's savior from a bad country club prison located somewhere other than Florida. I'd vote for Mississippi. North Dakota is a close second.
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