Just Because You’re Paranoid

It doesn’t mean that someone’s not watching you. The technology that makes it possible to communicate makes it possible to monitor the communication, too. It all depends on how you decide to employ it: Huge System for Web Surveillance Discovered in China (pdf)

A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.

[…] The researchers were able to download and analyze copies of the surveillance data because the Chinese computers were improperly configured, leaving them accessible. The researchers said they did not know who was operating the surveillance system, but they said they suspected that it was the Chinese wireless firm, possibly with cooperation from Chinese police.

Independent executives from the instant message industry say the discovery is an indication of a spiraling computer war that is tracking the introduction of new communications technologies.

“I can see an arms race going on,” said Pat Peterson, vice president for technology at Cisco’s Ironport group, which provides messaging security systems. “China is one of the more wired places of the world and they are fighting a war with their populace.”

And, hey, don’t hardware vendors market their equipments’ capabilities to “shape” traffic? It’s just a matter of how, and why. Of course, see also Jim Fallows on the Great Firewall on how a surveilled population devises response strategies.