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Obscurantism as a national idea

Мракобесие как национальная идея

The Russian government is hardly aware that her policies lead to technological backwardness of the country.

In the past year digital civilization conquered new heights. Simultaneously, continued to increase the technological gap between democracies looking to the future, and autocracies, clinging to the past, and therefore sinking deeper and deeper into the archaic. Russian officials, as before, in words fought for the digitalization. In fact, it was quite another.

The sovereignty of common sense

It is no secret that the digital world is built around the Internet. Therefore, it is impossible to limit the network of freedom and at the same time to be technologically developed country. The example of China in this sense is absolutely not indicative. After all, China is usually not so much a Creator of technology, as a diligent craftsman, copying the American design. And in addition, due to natural causes, it is also fully self-contained market. Russia does not have advantages of China, successfully takes over its disadvantages and, most importantly, steadily losing their former advantages.

Four years ago, Freedom House moved Russia into the category of countries with not free Internet. Since then, the situation only worsened. And in 2019 in the case of strangulation of digital freedoms, Russia has surpassed even Belarus and Kazakhstan. Political expediency once again trumps common sense. The first person in the country responsible for these decisions are likely not even aware of the harmfulness of interventions. However, the motives are on the surface. A serene picture of Russian reality-drawn traditional media, not stand the test of real life. And, therefore, the regime, following the instinct of self-preservation, forced to further tighten the screws.

To achieve these goals, elected quite Jesuitical tactics, combining direct repression and fooling companies. Laws on fake news, insulting the authorities, physical persons the registered as a foreign agent, “sovereign Internet” is the first component of this Kremlin dyads.

To get an idea about the second component allows the online resources devoted to cybersecurity. Analysts of Excellence NATO center for strategic communications saying the following: “the Russian services dominate the market manipulation in social networks. In fact, all the main software to manipulate and infrastructure operators that we found is Russian in origin”. In essence, fakes and trolling have become a daily norm, and obscurantism has become a national idea.

Needless to say that the views and methods of the Kremlin obscurantists fundamentally contrary to the global trends in the development of the Internet. And sadly, the main of them is the universal desire for a more accessible web content. In late November, the Creator of the world wide web Tim Berners-Lee published the Manifesto of the Contract for the Web, is addressed to States, companies and citizens. The document contains nine of humanist principles, the implementation of which will make the Network more open and therefore less dangerous. It is significant that in the preparation of this appeal, which involved not only network and human rights activists, but also the governments of Germany and France, as well as Google and Microsoft.



The virtual world of lucre, mixed with despotism

Meanwhile, while in the Internet hosting corporations and authoritarian regimes, users cannot feel safe. As you know, at the core of modern Networks is the business model, generating a steady profit. Technogiant such as Google and Facebook, let people free to use their web services. In return, they get access to personal data, earning targeted advertising huge amount of money.

Autocrats, of course, also seek to monitor online activity of their citizens, making discriminatory and repressive laws. Neither the company nor despots unable to guarantee the inviolability of private life. Hackers and insiders over and over again bypass any protection.

The leakage of personal information continue to occur worldwide. In December, it was compromised from 267 million accounts and Facebook. A month earlier, the American experts on cybersecurity Bob Dyachenko and Vinny Troya found in a Network accessible database containing information on 1.2 billion accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GitHub. And here Russia just not distracting from the overall trend. Particularly fruitful was October and November, when the personal information of its customers did not save a Bank, “Beeline”, “Alfa-Bank” and VTB.

The Russian authorities, as usual, quite bluntly responded to these incidents. The Central Bank considered that most leaks do not blame the credit institution, and the consumers of financial services. Roskomnadzor proposed to punish not only sellers personal data, but also their customers. Am surprised only that silent all the deputies. It could have been to invent a law against media reporting on such incidents.

Fundamentally different practice developed in Europe and the United States. Recently, antitrust regulators, the EU launched another investigation against Google. Officials intend to find out how this company is monetizing user data. It should be noted here that the previous clashes with the European bureaucrats cost technogiant more than 8 billion euros. Comparable financial losses suffered and Facebook. This summer, the Federal trade Commission has fined the world’s largest social network for $ 5 billion. The reason is the same — arbitrary treatment of personal information.


Civil cryptobiina

In this situation, the Internet users still rely on themselves. Today there’s only one way to apply end-to-end encryption to securely exchange information. In October, The Guardian published a programmatic article Edward Snowden entitled “No encryption we will lose all privacy. This is our new battlefield”. The reason for its writing was a known issue of government backdoors, in other words, “backdoor”, allowing intelligence agencies to get unimpeded access to foreign encrypted communications.

Governments of various countries show a persistent interest in the private lives of citizens. Such attention is often camouflaged combat terrorism and crime. In fairness it should be noted that in democratic States there is no single relationship to the end-to-end encryption. Their authorities have to reckon with the position of the companies and IT companies, who believe that encryption is either there or it is not. Therefore, no exceptions for anybody to not be.

Another thing — authoritarian regimes. In China some time ago, a law was passed about encryption, providing government authorities control over cryptographic standards. In the same way it went in Russia, giving this delicate area on the FSB. The concern of the Chinese and Russian functionaries is understandable, because any intelligence is powerless against modern cryptography. So, the authorities will not know that they are in fact citizens think. In addition, it will suffer more, and notorious prestige of the state, under which non-democratic countries usually refers to the reputation of the ruling autocrat.

The striking resistance of cryptographic algorithms is not a myth invented by the apologists of privacy. This story began in 1991 when Philip Zimmermann created PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption software. The further fate of the application was difficult, but the speech now not about it. And on free cryptographic software GnuPG in which ideas Zimmerman received its highest embodiment.

The GnuPG developers make compelling arguments in favor of its reliability: “According to the laws of physics, when you calculate the need to allocate a certain amount of heat. This is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics, which, according to our view, never fails. Further, the laws of physics require that the calculation of the spent time. This is a consequence of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which, according to our view, never fails. Using Landauer’s principle and the limit of Margolus-Levitin, you can quite accurately determine how much heat would the computer performing an exhaustive search of a 128-bit encryption. Get wild numbers: this heat is enough to boil the oceans and turn the planet into a smoldering scorched desert. This does not mean that it is impossible to hack GnuPG. It just means that none of the ciphers in GnuPG can not be hacked by brute force”.

The last sentence requires explanation. Brute force or brute force, is a method of hacking into accounts using brute-force username and password. But for the above reasons, in many cases it is useless. Usually hoshiakari use spyware programs to steal passwords and encryption keys. In exceptional cases, the attacker uses system and program vulnerabilities.

This method is not only extremely difficult to implement, but also requires considerable financial costs. Thus, intentional backdoors were and still are the best solution for the organization of mass surveillance. That’s why this solution finds so many supporters in all the governments of the world.


Rebound withdrawal

Apparently, in Russia there is not one area of life, not affected by technological regress. Since November, the law on “sovereign Internet” on which the state and society have diametrically opposed views. There are fair concerns that the government promised the stability of the Runet is not the only and perhaps not the main goal of these innovations. In any case, democracies do not practice such an original way of dealing with external threats. And it does look maloosvoennyj the assumption that some forces can disable Russia from the Global network. Still there was not one such case.

However, the opposite examples are more than enough. Last month, Iran’s government is almost completely off the Internet in the country, to suppress mass protests. There were rumors that in Russia a similar method was used in inconsistent rallies. In addition, not far off elections in the state Duma, which will be held amid growing discontent with the ruling elite. All of this contributes to trust to the policy of self-isolation, aggressively pursued by the government.

The distinctiveness of the ideology of the Russian ruling class and does deserve separate consideration. In 2019 the whole world was talking about artificial intelligence (AI). Not remained aloof and Vladimir Putin, who claimed that a potential monopolist in this sphere “will become ruler of the world.” Of course, after a while, there was a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence for the period up to 2030. To create a domestic AI has been allocated nearly 392 billion — much more than on other digital projects. And only after all this Putin is concerned the ethical aspects of human interaction and artificial intelligence. In our case, as usual, Isaac begat Abraham.

In the United States who are a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence, of course, understand the role of investment in scientific research. By the way, the United States annually invest in the development of AI about 12 billion dollars, almost twice surpassing that figure China. It would seem, can rest on their laurels. Meanwhile, in the first place, us scientists seek to answer the fundamental ethical questions: the AI is a person or algorithm and does he have any rights?

However, thinking about it now we have the Russian specialists. Because artificial intelligence, as well as democracy, can not be sovereign.

© 2020, paradox. All rights reserved.

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