The stupid wall of the internet

Russia got serious last year about being able to cut off its telecommunications from the global internet. 
It was but a matter of time till some *insert disparaging word here* came up with the proposal that the West or the EU should be able to do so as well.

Let me explain in a concise form why this is utter bollocks and nothing but a threat to our freedom:

1) Disconnecting from the global internet helps a government to oppress its population by excluding dissenting information and it helps itself avoid repercussions by keeping its oppression less visible to the rest of the world (example Iran 2019).

2) Disconnecting DOES NOT in any way help against subversive information without suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of the press domestically. A tiny microSD card that could be hidden almost anywhere and thus easily be smuggled could 'infect' the interior area of such a cut-off space with the subversive information. It would require domestic oppression of information to defeat this. This would require a totalitarian government.

3) Disconnecting DOES NOT protect against 'cyber warfare'. A large-scale attack would rather more likely than not be launched BEFORE the EU could de-couple from the internet. To disconnect would cause extreme economic costs and dissatisfaction. It would thus require a very, very convincing argument.
The disconnecting would thus happen late - too late. We would not disconnect in peacetime, period. We should not be aggressors, so in any legitimate war of ours our enemy would have the opportunity to launch his 'cyber offensive' before we disconnect.

4) Hostile intelligence services could easily and quite cheaply prepare against this by preparing sleeper cells that could still launch a 'cyber offensive' AFTER the de-coupling.

5) Disconnecting would only affect the official connections. There could still be cross-border connections by radio or laser comm, or even use of not European-controlled comm satellite networks (and jamming satellite networks is not part of the proposal). Every private EU-internet-connected computer with such an unofficial connection to the outside world would constitute a  gateway despite the official disconnection.* Hostile intelligence could easily install such gateways, even fully automated ones.

So in conclusion; people may be serious about preparing our telecommunications and the things that depend on telecommunications for the case of all-out 'cyber warfare'. A switch to turn the EU into an internet island, disconnected from the rest of the world internet, still makes no sense.

We should rather identify critical institutions and businesses that require the ability to disconnect themselves. Critical infrastructure should not receive software updates over the internet (every online updater is de facto a backdoor) or insecurely sourced spare parts, and their timely patching should be regulated and supervised with greatest fervour. ANY intelligence service's demand for backdoors in software or hardware should be answered with extreme prejudice against said bureaucracy. 

There are many possible actions to mitigate some of the 'cyber warfare' harm done to us in a future war scenario. To disconnect from the rest of the world is the most primitive option, and an easily circumvented one. Such preparations suit oppressive governments only.


*: This and efforts like Starlink render Russia's internet disconnection switch mostly useless, too. They would need to have an excellent surveillance and censorship enforcement on their national internet to complement their disconnection ability (see #2).


  1. This might just be a step towards something powers in the west would like, the ability to shut off social media during riots, events etc... 'Stop the spread of misinformation', i.e. prevent anti-party movements from aggregating using the internet.

    Plenty of scuttlebutt that they are using wifi mesh networks in Lebanon. Don't know if its overblown though.

    We need the next gen of 'civil' focussed hardware/software. Physcially switched power to radios, cameras, mics, gps. Everything run in jails. Paranoid me has been thinking about using a 7" mini laptop rather than a phone for a while. Havent got round to it yet though.

  2. The EUs GDPR law already blocks foreign news
    Try and read the hindustan times or the missoulan online from the EU, you get a "cannot display as not gdpr compliant" page

    1. I just accessed the Hindustan Times and the Missoulian blocks me; the EU doesn't.
      IP related internet regulation doesn't really censor or filter websites. Such regulation would not affect a dissident website operated from abroad.
      Even the inept Zensursula internet censorship proposal would have been ineffective. It needed to be opposed to keep Pandora's box closed, not for its first order harm expectations.

    2. "The godfather was a catalogue of the failed attempt to civilise the americas"
      It aint gonna change, move on from here. Its going to get worse. There is a hell of a lot of idiots around at the moment, and they aint going to just go away. They are going to have to be dealt with.

  3. I think you've misread the situation, Sven. China is a different matter, there is no such thing as a Russian Great Firewall, nor any serious suggestion of building one. As far as I know the Russians practiced "being disconnected" from the global internet, that is their data packets being blocked from transiting foreign nodes, as a test of the capability of their domestic IT infrastructure in self-sufficiency and robustness. The exact details were not publicised, and I suspect that the powers that be were not particularly happy about the recorded results. "Information transmission autarchy" is actually quite useful, in a say a WW3 scenario. You should worry more about the political and strategic implications driving their concerns.