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Belarus has shut down the internet amid a controversial election (wired.com)
612 points by ikse11 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 277 comments



I have some close acquaintances in BY, so this has been hard.

We saw that (at least as of 8 PM UTC) outbound connections to HTTP servers wasn't really a problem. A fresh ec2 box with a basic web server wasn't effected.

So, early yesterday I set up an OpenVPN server on ec2 (eu-west-1) to try to get some slow but functional internet access. What we saw was that about 15-30 seconds after the TLS handshake the connection would stall and drop out. To me this says they're doing some deep packet inspection to find TLS and dropping those firewall states. I also noticed while running `tcpdump` that almost every tcp segment from a BY address had incorrect CRC's after the IDS kicked in.

Tonight we're going to try using an xor tcp proxy to obfuscate the VPN traffic. The system we're using has a name, but I'm not going to say it to risk KGB (yes it's still called that there) creating IDS signatures and killing our VPN. I'm sure that after a few hours it will start dropping these connections as well, but if we can buy some time that's worth while.

This, really, is the real problem with the internet. In many small countries there's only one IX, often under government ownership or supervision. You might think that they know better than to do stuff like this, but push comes to shove they'll all lock it down as soon as there's a threat to their authority.


What are the odds this is some western commercially packaged product that lets them do all this? Like some Sandvine stuff or whatever.


The Chinese are also rather good at shutting down the internet as well. why not blame all possible parties?


Does China sell/license/supply their GFW tech to anyone? Sandvine seems to sell to anyone that tear gas fabricators will sell to (Oh, you'll use this against your own citizens and that's legal because you wrote the law? Great, just check this box!).


"why not blame all possible parties?"

10 years ago I would have said 'it's probably Western companies helping them'.

Now, I would say probably it's Chinese. Frankly, because it's going to be so, so much cheaper, let alone it probably doesn't come with any potential political headaches, and, they are developing a 'core competency' in this.

That said, Putin has serious geopolitical interest in Belarus, and himself is supportive of the regime. Since the Russian state is also 'good at that stuff' it could very well be a state-sponsored initiative.

Finally, Belarus is not Venezuela, wherein they might have difficulty recruiting all the talent necessary to do this. Belarus has enough native talent to contemplate the task.

But it'd be interesting to know 'who' is helping them do this.


Frankly, I don't see why it matters who is selling or managing the equipment. It's a pointless debate that misses the forest for the trees. Only children thought refusing to produce and export this kind of expertise would stop it from from proliferating. The demand and the money aren't going to go away because anyone in particular took the high road. Refusing to participate just means someone else gets the money.


Apparently, the DPI was (at least partially) developed by RDP.ru. Here is the LinkedIn profile of the CTO: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikolay-guzakov-1334484/


100%


> Tonight we're going to try using an xor tcp proxy to obfuscate the VPN traffic.

You might want to pad the traffic too. IIRC, the GFW can detect many kinds of VPN connections based off of a sequence of characteristic packet lengths during the handshake.


That's a great idea! Unfortunately it looks like they've fully locked down their network since about 20:00 (EDT), so that will have to wait for tomorrow to try out.


Maybe protesters should set up some mesh to keep the information flow and coordination if the internet will be cut completely.


Currently there is no need for this as Telegram messages still work and Telegram channel network NEXTA (https://t.me/nexta_tv, from Belarusian word Нехта (someone), pronounced [ˈnʲexta](nyekhta), see https://be.wikipedia.org/wiki/Сцяпан_Аляксандравіч_Пуціла ) became the main tool for spreading news and coordination.


from Belarusian word Нехта

I've been wondering why it's called that for the last few days, thanks! Curiously, it's not mentioned on the Russian NEXTA wikipedia page.


I don't get how XOR helps here? Isn't this stuff based on timing + length information?


Well, it does more than just XOR but the goal is to just scramble the traffic enough that it looks like a bunch of nonsense rather than a TLS handshake. The actual VPN provides the encryption, this layer adds a socket on top that garbles up the data.


Ah ok that makes more sense, thanks.


Do you have a clue on physical location of this middlebox?


Not sure. My information is largely based on observations made by people that live or have lived in BY. It's sort of common knowledge there that regardless which ISP or carrier you're on there's always one hop in common when traceroute'ing outside of the country.


As far as I can tell, virtually every network marked BY has a common transit or peer of AS6697 Republican Unitary Telecommunication Enterprise Beltelecom


Any Belorussian ASes behind it?


Assuming the index of 144 total ASNs is correct marked BY, there are a handful of cloud providers/university systems (that I can count in one hand) that might have their own connectivity, but anything remotely advertised as eyeball goes through "Beltelecom" or "Business Network Ltd" (which in turn goes through "Beltelecom" or "National Traffic Exchange Center" (60330))

At a casual glance, look at how Beltelecom is one of the very, very few that has any international peers just based on the flags: https://bgp.he.net/AS6697#_peers

Then look at the others:

https://bgp.he.net/AS12406#_peers

https://bgp.he.net/AS60330#_peers

https://bgp.he.net/AS25106#_peers

This is similar to to Iran's ITC/TIC (there's a handful of them, pop in 12880, 49666, 48159, etc. onto bgp.he for a quick look) where they are the in-between to international peers and domestic peers.


Private OpenVPN definitely didn't work for the last 3 days, on any port.


If udp connections are working, it may be feasible to proxy something over that.


Curious if something like zerotier would be effective for a while.


UDP is blocked completely or almost completely


ICMP then?


internet is restored, for now. There could be some ways to bypass blocking (e.g. SSH tunnel via TCP works just fine, unlike all popular proxy protocols), needs more investigation. Until next time then :/


Ahhh. With SSH working you have options. :)

If it happens again (but SSH still works), then to enable general web browsing you can:

1. Set up Squid (a proxy server) on a remote host. eg a VM in Digital Ocean. You may need to ask someone to do this for you, if you don't have a VM you can access remotely already.

2. Configure SSH to proxy traffic from your (desktop) web browser to that remote Squid server

3. Configure your browser (eg Firefox/Chrome) to use the new SSH proxy

It sounds like you're familiar with the Linux or macOS command line, so you shouldn't have much trouble.

I've done exactly this before, and it works reliably. Browsing speed is a bit slower than standard though, but not horrible. :)


UPD: new "no internet thing". (Because: http://lon-screenshots.s3.amazonaws.com/2020-08-23_v.mp4 ) They are learning. _mobile_ internet is blocked completely, no dns/icmp/udp/ssh/http/https/etc is going through, landline is operational but could be blocked as well on a whim


Yesterday and day before editors of Telegram channel nexta_live [0] managed to report events in Minsk and other cities in Belarus. They are now seeng subscribers count boost from 300k to 1.1m in 2 days. The entire country connection was badly shaped but still alive. Telegram is famous for it's ability to work on a very thin bandwith, and also anti-blocking techniques.

Today all mobile data is switched off, but there are still small streams of information, I think using sat connections.

[0] https://t.me/nexta_live


To put this into context, population of Belarus is below 9.5m: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/belarus-popul...


I think lots of subscribers there are from Russia (myself included), Ukraine or other ex-USSR republics. But still.

BTW, it's 1.25m already. Gotta be 1.5m tomorrow. And those users are extremely engaged - view counts on post from just an hour before is north of 0.5m.


I have coworkers in Belarus who have been cut off from our (US based) company since the weekend. I've been able to hear from one of them intermittently, but it's a scary thing, I can't imagine what they're going through.


FYI - we have been able to get regular SMS and voice calls through (using Google Fi as our carrier). It was great to go from "absolute zero communication" to "we know you're currently OK"


Folks I've been in contact with cannot be reached by WhatsApp and email, but SMS seems to work. "We go from home to work and then straight home. Afraid to go out after dark so as not to get picked up by accident. Otherwise, everything is OK." is the message I got.


Not sure if I'd want to be using SMS without a one-time-pad right now. And even then, that could appear too suspicious.


Surely if there are telephone communications then someone can modem out? Or are they scanning for non-human communication over telephony?


The number of people with the hardware and know how to send data over a telephone line is probably very small.


Slightly ironic since this was once the only way. Brb investing in a modem.


Not with Google Fi, at least. Cellular networks are optimized for human voice and the compression will typically break the protocols originally designed to transfer data over landlines.


I wonder if cellular predictive encoding or whatever would break absolutely all of these modulation schemes.

https://kb.iu.edu/d/aand

Bell 201A, for example. Loading modern webpages over 2400bps would be hell but IRC might still work. Or maybe time to break out the old UUCP.


Time to break out the 56K modems!


It's really simple and sad: he has been in power since 1995. God knows what he has done as an absolute dictator. Also, to stay in power, tens or hundreds of thousands of others have helped him and they have their own fiefdoms.

Losing that and risking jail, isn't going to happen because people want change. So people better be lucky, because if they lose this revolt, they will be crushed mercilessly. Not sure EU /USA has any say over him, after all staying in power is his goal.


wondering what / if any impact "the space internet" (or like networks) will have on national government's ability to disrupt comms. or if it just shifts the goalposts to a different network operator


It will shift a lot of power from the countries where the internet users are located to the countries where the space internet companies operate from. Both in the free countries like the EU, and in non-free countries like Belarus. That being said, the user's country still has some level of control:

* the companies want to be paid by their users somehow, and local governments usually have control over money flows inside their own banking systems

* the country can ban receiving/sending equipment. It's not small and thus easier to spot but people will likely get creative and build their own equipment instead of importing it

* the country can also install jammers but those cost money to set up and maintain and while you can put jammers close to the users, you can't put jammers close to the satellites. I'm not sure what that means about ability to jam both directions, as directional receivers on the ground should still be able to receive a signal, but maybe ground jammers can just send at larger strengths.


* International treaties and national laws prohibit sending radio signals into the country if the countries government doesn't give you permission. Space ISPs are very unlikely to do so without permission except at the behest of their home government.


Yeah, I continue to be baffled by this argument that starlink et all are going to somehow crack open totalitarian states. There's not a chance in the world of any of these companies risking their licensing and relationship with the ITU. No one is going to be smuggling in ground terminals, let alone macgyvering their own, because the network isn't gonna talk back.


> There's not a chance in the world of any of these companies risking their licensing and relationship with the ITU

SpaceX doesn't have to worry about the ITU. All they have to worry about is (1) keeping the US government happy (2) avoiding conflict with powerful foreign countries like Russia, China, etc

So long as they obey US laws and keep the US government happy, and avoid making unnecessary enemies of powerful foreign countries, SpaceX can completely ignore the ITU

(Belarus is a complex situation because it is right next to Russia. If SpaceX was helping the US install a pro-US regime in Belarus, that is going to offend Russia, and it would be dangerous for SpaceX to offend Russia. But if we were talking about some other country which was not immediately bordering a major world power, that consideration would not apply.)


Why would it be dangerous for SpaceX to offend Russia?


in a small enough country , location could be spoofed perhaps ? Or in the border regions it could be harder to block ?


The trick is that a Sat must know where it is, and the fact that Starlink operate at LEO, they only have a solid visibility of a few hundred square km.


Can you point to a specific treaty? Radio Free Europe has been doing it for decades. Photons don't stop at national borders, and the footprint of a satellite is likely going to mean that Belarus will have transmissions from satellites, even if no one wants that to happen.


Article 18.1 or the ITU Radio Regulations (a binding treaty) states that

> No transmitting station may be established or operated by a private person or by any enterprise without a licence issued in an appropriate form and in conformity with the provisions of these Regulations by or on behalf of the government of the country to which the station in question is subject (however, see Nos. 18.2, 18.8 and 18.11).

SpaceX cannot help establish, or help operate, these ground stations. Technically could they sell them in another country? Maybe, I don't think the ITU would accept that considering that have to have control over the software for routing purposes, and that they know exactly where the ground station is because of beam forming.

The Outer Space Treaty article 3 also states that

> States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co- operation and understanding.

(Later incorporated against private entities in a different article).

It would not be much of a stretch to consider this a violation of this article as well.

It is slightly less clear cut than I remember though.


While the first iteration of Starlink requires a ground station somewhat close (hundreds of kilometers) to the user, once they deploy intersatellite links, the only ground station required will be close to the destination IP, far away from the censoring country.

While radio licenses will probably prevent them from operating in geographically large countries like Russia, information can seep in through regions several hundred kilometers away from the border.

Take a look at this map representing current coverage: https://satellitemap.space/

Belarus is covered by a single satellite.


Ah, I meant "user terminal" when I said ground station in this context.


Will try to find the relevant treaty again tonight if no one else does first. It might have been space specific/it might have a cutout for the government (either would explain radio free europe).

SpaceX uses phased array antennas, so they know where they are sending their service.


Serious question: how would a satellite ISP know where a user is located? Moreover, how can a satellite ISP ensure that its signals are not entering a particular country, especially a geographically small country?


If you just took a standard antenna that approximately speaking broadcast evenly in every direction, you couldn't (or at least you would have to bother triangulating the signal). If you did that though you wouldn't be able to offer high speed internet because you would be incredibly bandwidth constrained.

Instead, what these satellites are doing is using something called a phased array antenna, that let's them narrowly select what area they are broadcasting to and receiving from at any point in time with some fancy electronics controlling an array of many little antennas that constructively/destructively interfere. As a result, they have to know where the base stations are reasonably precisely.

I'm not actually sure how they discover where base stations are, my guess would be GPS on the base stations and omni-directional signalling to find them, in which case they know to within meters where a base station is. If that guess is wrong, you might be able to be a small amount over a border and have SpaceX not know it, but not substantially.


These new generations of satellite constellations also are proposed to operate at MUCH lower altitudes and in much greater numbers than something in geosynchronous orbit. We're talking distances closer than the ISS, which is this far away: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ISS-42_Florida_in_th...

Doesn't seem like it would be that hard of a task at that proximity.


> Doesn't seem like it would be that hard of a task at that proximity.

What is the task you are talking about?


Aiming a directional antenna, having a geographically limited broadcast area, or aiming a phased array, etc.


Yeah, like that stopped Radio Free Europe delivering real news into the Eastern block.

They can imprison people with terminals but they can't radio shield their airspace.


Indeed Radio free Europe recently (in the last few days) turned on their medium wave broadcasts in Belorussian. I don’t know when they last sent them out.


Now we're calling state-sponsored propaganda outlet "real news"


You haven't lived in a communist country to get the feel of real propaganda my friend. Radio Free Europe was a breath of fresh air compared to official news. You should probably see the Goodbye Lenin movie.


Like Radio Free Europe is "real news"


Yes; can't they just declare that Starlink's particular transmission bands are reserved for Belarussian military use, and then fine them for broadcasting on military bands?


How would a state extract fines out of an external entity who does not operate in that state? International court? Those only deal with human rights, resources and border disputes.


Shoot down the satellites?


For a constellation as large as starlink, that would probably require a lot of missiles, even accounting for Kessler effects.

Also, doings such a thing to an American corporation that's only one or two degrees of separation from the USDoD may prove to be a costly mistake. I think Belarus would need to depend on the strength of their relationship with Russia to avoid retaliation. That hasn't protected Syria though, so maybe Belarus [Lukashenko] should think twice before attempting some hotheaded shit like that.


I doubt Belarus has the infrastructure to shoot them down, them asking Russia to and giving Russia the excuse that the US violated the Outer Space Treaty first might do the trick though. Depends on how much of a war monger Russia wants to be at the relevant point in time.

They are spread out with many satellites over a small number of orbits, pretty ideal for Kessler, or pretty ideal for another satellite to pass by a whole line of them and stick a bullet (small detachable impactor) in each.


Or some Russian hardware mysteriously is “stolen” and ends up in Belarus with some little green men to operate it.

Would they need to shoot down the entire constellation? I could imagine them threatening to shoot it down (and maybe a few demonstrations) would be enough to convince SpaceX to stop sending signals into Belarus.


I dislike Putin, but I think he's too smart to start shooting down hundreds of American satellites (barring WWIII.) That's far brasher than anything else they've done in quite a while.


That's much harder to do under the table though. Most of these I ternet blocking orders do their best to avoid leaving a paper trail of responsibility.


Russia and China have already moved to prohibit access to these LEO internet services, or try to compel the providers to bring down all data that originates in their country to in-country servers for review and control. They are also developing their own constellations in order to provide a service which they can control.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/technology/russia-bans...

https://www.scmp.com/abacus/tech/article/3085146/does-elon-m...

https://www.scmp.com/abacus/tech/article/3089481/satellite-i...

Russia to create orbital Internet satellite cluster by 2025 - Tass https://tass.com/science/1005554


I don't see Starlink shutting down subscribers if the Belarussian government asks them to, at least not very quickly. If the terminals are available, this is going to make all of the national internet projects (Russia, China, Iran) much more difficult to pull off.


My guess is Starlink isn't going to turn off subscribers for small countries, but large countries like Russia and China may have more influence.

The real question is if there's going to be enough receivers to make a difference.


Any country which has the capability of shooting down satellites has more influence than countries which can't do it. But even a country with like 100 million residents, if it doesn't have a space program (or someone protecting it with a space program), it doesn't have much of a say.


Anti-satellite weaponry doesn't really apply here for the same reason land based artillery doesn't apply for trying to block pirate radio coming from a neighboring country


You can also use a different analogy of an airplane that's in a foreign country's airspace without permission, not following any instructions by ATC.


The international law is very different for space and airspace.


Shooting down an American-owned satellite would be an act of war against the United States. Not many countries have enough control over the US domestic political process to keep the potential risks of that low enough to justify the benefits.


Countries that have that capability can't shoot down 40000 of them.


A few hits would provide enough junk for runaway process

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome


I don't think a country with space capability is seriously considering making orbit useless over censorship. That'd be like shooting yourself in the foot right after you've trained for a marathon, in order to ingratiate yourself with firearms manufacturers.


And private company would not consider such risk either. Like with nuclear weapon ability to shoot is enough. Funny how it works with

s/country/private company/

s/space/nuclear/, s/orbit/land/


If this becomes a thing, they will put a laser on a satellite and call it a day. All of the big 3 (military, not economically, you know who I am talking about) can do this easily.

edit: In response to below - they are putting SHORAD lasers on Strykers soon. Things have become a lot more compact.


High powered lasers on an aircraft carrier work because it has a nuclear power plant onboard. How will you launch a nuclear power plant into space?

Note that the response to star wars contributed to the Soviet Union's bankruptcy :).


Depends on duty cycle. It may only need enough power for a couple of big bursts. Chemical lasers might work quite well here if you can address temperature fluctuation issues. The power output can be sufficiently massive with a relatively compact storage of that power. The downside is just that they can't be easily recharged.


Soviet union had nuclear powered radar sattelites for reconnaissance, with a real reactor onboard, not RTG. it's definately doable.

But the whole point of a laser is that you don't need to put it in space, it could be a large facility on the ground.

Main considerations are political impact, not technical feasability.

As for Soviet bancrupcy, impact of Chernobyl was definately much larger than space program shenanigans.


Even countries that have the ability to shoot down satellites probably aren't going to shoot down hundreds or thousands of starlink sats, which is what it would take to end coverage.


Good point, and indeed they can't, but they can cause a mess by shooting down a few. The other satellites will have to evade the debris which will cause headaches to the operator company.


> My guess is Starlink isn't going to turn off subscribers for small countries, but large countries like Russia and China may have more influence.

That Musk guy lives in America? What about some extra persuasion?


I'll be surprised if Starlink satellites are going to be transmitting any signals to countries where they are not holding the appropriate licenses to do so.


Do GPS sats stop transmiting while over adversary tertitory? No. But GPS is a military project.


You can use scramblers for satellite communication, that why you have to register your satellite phone in Russia otherwise it barely works.

Source: Myself, in a very bad situation without a working Sattelitephone


Starlink requires a proprietary receiver, right? I suspect these authoritarian regimes won't be allowing starlink installations on the ground unless they get to have a kill switch.


Unfortunately it's very easy for governments to make ownership of unblockable receivers illegal and to simply jam appropriate wavelengths on top of that. Just look at how radio was regulated after its invention.

Usually there is no proper technical solution for a political problem.


Jamming, and radiolocating satellite terminals is not that easy.

China for example been trying to crack down on vsat ownership for decades, to no avail


Yes, continuously jamming a whole country (even not a big one such as Belarus) is not feasible, and AESA terminals make this task even more difficult. But I meant that during critical events (such as massive protests) government can jam population centers by simply relying on an overwhelming power of jamming signal, thus making proper coordination significantly harder.


One can still go to a radio silence area like on top of a mountain or uninhabited countryside. They would need a very strong sat based jammer.


Belarus currently allows satellite phones:

https://blog.telestial.com/2017/11/countries-where-satellite...


Imagine a US company of strategic importance becoming the defacto internet provider for much of the developing world. There's no way Starlink is happening organically or in a policy vacuum. This is like a CIA/NSA wet dream.

Also, people forget that low latency global internet is a requirement for next generation drone operations, particularly removing pilots from high performance aircraft. Again, this is strategic and something the Pentagon has gushed over for 30+ years. To see it as anything but is naive.


I always thought the Pentagon has had a robust global satellite communications network for decades already.

(I don't know whether it is Internet-protocol based. My guess is yes.)


Just look what happened when Iridium failed and became propped up by government users who wanted its capabilities.


A businessman bought the Iridium assets in bankruptcy and put a lot of effort into selling the service to the US government. It absolutely wasn't just the US government picking it up.


High latency, low bandwidth

vs

Low latency, high bandwidth


1. They make it illegal and good luck! You may escape but others might be beaten and jailed.

2. Any company will think really hard about doing something against the government wishes. They might be frozen out for ages and the next dictator will not like what you did either.


An ISP must be registered with the government and must follow laws in place for filtering content and working with the government. Whether the ISP is using any local infrastructure or "going to space" doesn't matter.


The question isn't whether or not there are laws against it, it's how you enforce the laws. For example, the USSR had to jam radio stations to stop external content getting into it's borders. Would a country like Belarus try to do the same type of thing when it comes to satellite internet?


I donct know if they jammed anything, they built radios and TV sets with Eastern band. But that was easily circumvented.


They explicitly jammed radio free Europe , for example.


Who did so, the USSR? A certain Eastern leader paid Carlos the Jackal to perpetrate a terror attack at Radio Free Europe. Of course that didn't stop shut it down.

https://pressroom.rferl.org/a/carlos-the-jackal-and-the-bomb...


USSR did. My dad lived in Belarus during the time (I was born there as well but we moved to the US when I was a kid) and said it was a bit of cat and mouse game re exact wavelength to catch the American radio. Ofc my memory is post soviet and there was no blocking but we still listened to it in the 90s.


I guess the idea would be that, like with satellite phones now, you could theoretically use a hypothetical satellite internet from any country and get the same experience. It may run afoul of local laws, but there wouldn't be a technical obstacle, barring country wide jamming.


> An ISP must be registered with the government and must follow laws in place for filtering content and working with the government. Whether the ISP is using any local infrastructure or "going to space" doesn't matter.

An ISP should not be registering with the government, and it must follow any laws. Oppose censorship.

Anonymous, censorship free communications is a lethal threat to rogue regimes.

It allows opposition to organise and subvert their governments without a threat of its leaders being exposed, and killed.


> "Anonymous, censorship free communications is a lethal threat to rogue regimes."

Saudi arabia is still a dictatorship, despite being our 'allies' and having internet. They even dismember dissidents from time to time.


They even dismember dissidents from time to time.

...and look how well that went over? I'm not sure I'd chalk that one up as a win for MBS.


How did it go over? I have not seen the royal family suffer serious material consequences for murder. Have i missed something?


Usually they just throw them out of a copter. Like in the good old fascist Latin American times.


ISPs must follow the laws of the countries they operate in so I am not sure this will work out.

On the flip side, I don't think they can block communications forever, so is that tactic even going to work ?

People are still going to be pissed in one month.


I believe Briar can help the people if they believe in democracy. However, I don't know how best to share knowledge of the Briar project to people in Belarus.

https://briarproject.org/


Why dies it require adding their repo to F-Droid instead being directly in the main F-Droid repo? EDIT: Problems with reproducible builds on F-Droid side https://gitlab.com/fdroid/fdroidserver/-/issues/697


Only available for android, so it's kind of useless.


If the authorities forces Apple to block the hypothetical Briar app on iOS from showing in that country then you're SOL, while you could sideload it without any problem on Android.

This walled garden has its risks when dealing with freedom.

An alternative would be Bridgefy, but that's a closed-source product.


#KeepItOn.

Internet shutdowns are disastrous economically and the countries that need to resort to them are just feeding fuel to the fire. There are countries that simply shutdown access to certain social media platforms (not that that's better) but shutting down the entire internet is the very definition of desperate to me.


One feed here: https://news.liga.net/world/chronicle/vybory-prezidenta-bela...

Those fascists are really getting more and more brutal against people. And population will soon start treating them as they treated fascists during WW2.


Almost 10 years ago I was working on a freelance contract job over Skype with another contractor who lived in Belarus. One day he told me his country was undergoing revolution and he had to go join. Hope that guy is OK out there. News like this always makes me grateful for what I have.

Can these internet shutoff valves intercept dialup? Could be useful for at least text based communication.


I've noticed this in other countries where there are accusations of rigging the results that the ratios always super high, in this case 80%.

If you're going to fake an election result that had some legitimate measurable opposition, why make it so extremely high? Does that mean nearly every vote counting place is rigged and it's so bad they don't even bother hiding it?

Just like when Crimea voted to join Russia it was 97% [1]. People use it as justification pretty widely but it's also hard to tell what's true in such an environment. It's nearly impossible to trust such a number, even if a majority potentially existed.

Note: I'm not suggesting it's at all accurate but it makes it all the more outrageous and suspicious. The protests are then predictable.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Crimean_status_referendum


>Just like when Crimea voted to join Russia it was 97% [1].

In Crimea's case the majority of the population being ethnically russian, the neglect from Ukraine, anger over the maidan, russia promising pension payments and infrastructure investment and the opposition boycotting the vote probably all contributed to this result.

As far as I know the main thrust of the argument against this vote from the EU and Ukraine was that having the vote was illegal and/or unconstitutional and thus null and void.

All Russia cared about was maintaining access to warm water ports.


Also, let's not forget, the Ukrainian government was just over thrown by a western-backed coup. Of course, you won't know that from the Wikipedia cliff notes, but that's what happened.


Exactly, reminds me of when Asst. Sec. of State Victoria Nuland went and handed out sandwiches to supporters of the coup in the Maidan! And we have the nerve to be upset when other countries meddle in our affairs? How would we feel if a high-level Russian diplomat went out on the streets in the DC protests and handed out food to members of antifa or the alt-right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztt72mpTPXA


I inherently don't like these sorts whataboutism used in your comment, it's a poor approach to questioning the morality/strategy of any country and but-the-US-did-x-minor-thing has long been used by dictators and the like to justify horrible things. Especially when it's not even top-down but a single phone call of some mid-tier diplomat.

That said, after reading Nuland's Wikipedia her brazenness is something I'd expect more from the old CIA than the modern state dept. It's rich hearing her protest against Russian interference in the sovereignty of another country while trying to play the cocky puppet-master role in the background over the future leadership of Ukraine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Nuland?oldformat=true...

But the main forgiving grace is that she was only assistant for Europe which isn't top tier and in other cases has demonstrated a maverick streak, not a person receptive to operating under authority or established norms. She’s also super pro-intervention in general which is less popular these days.

Most importantly this is not anywhere near the level of intervention shown by Russia. Really, it's extremely insignificant by comparison.

Russia has long been grasping at straws to build the western intervention is just as bad conspiracy. If all Russia has is some heavy-handed backroom phone call by a minor diplomat then the US doesn't have much to worry about.


>Most importantly this is not anywhere near the level of intervention shown by Russia.

A country that borders it and has been repeatedly invaded via it.


> I inherently don't like these sorts whataboutism used in your comment, it's a poor approach to questioning the morality/strategy of any country and but-the-US-did-x-minor-thing has long been used by dictators

I am not questioning the morality or strategy. I am questioning the principles. Additionally, "minor-thing" is completely objective. What might seem like a minor action from the US POV on the other end things are often taken very differently.

> Most importantly this is not anywhere near the level of intervention shown by Russia. Really, it's extremely insignificant by comparison.

Again who gets to say what is or is not insignificant?

Lastly, Nuland was the Assitant Secretary of State. That is a high-level position, not a mid-tier diplomat.


But did we get free sandwiches? Then I'll see your false equivalency with an escalation of the rhetoric. DENIED


You failed to explain how or why its a false equivalency. Meddling is meddling.


Fear. By going for 80% they play it safe. If they would aim for 55% they might just end up losing if the other side comes out even more on top than predicted. So you stuff as much as your margin of error dictates that you should.

In this case they were apparently afraid of a 75-25% loss, to make up for that you'd have to aim for an 80/20 win or accept a real chance that your stuffing will end up being inadequate.



An autocrat himself is not rigging things, he assigns tasks to various people and holds them to account. For them it's safer to err on the side of caution, and for him it's better to reward the over-achievers than to be seen cutting slack to the under-achievers.


Benford's Law can provide better confirmation that something is afoot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benford%27s_law


They’re not trying to hide it, everyone in Belarus and all over the world know it’s not a real election. By going with a closer split you’d be showing weakness, as if you have to hide it you’re not really in control.


It's possible that they fake enough votes to ensure a victory (like 51%), and then the real votes come in and turn the result into something unrealistic.


Inertia for one. Last election Dear Leader got 82% so this year he cannot get 53%. Plus he's popular. Everyone loves him, and "everyone" means in the 80's not 50%+1. If his popularity was in the 50's he'd leave by himself and so on...


I suppose it is intended to make you feel you're facing overwhelming odds, not just slightly more than a majority. It is different from the US, where a 51% score is enough legitimacy. At 51%, the Belarussians may smell jus enough blood to go for it.


Just thinking out loud here —

1. I think it's a lot harder to rig something to look good vs. like a landslide.

2. Making it "close" could potentially open up risk if something the victorious/controlling party didn't account for it (eg. uncounted ballots are uncovered due to a legitimate accident)

3. Suspicions don't really matter when you can just jail your opponents for arbitrary crimes.


There were manu polls done and most show very high pro joining numbers: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Crimean_status_referend...


Independent polls including from Pew Research support the 97% figure. I believe Pew polled at north of 90%.

High polling numbers are not automatically suspicious.


Opinion polling is only valid in places where you can freely have opinions.


A whopping 88% of Crimean residents thought Ukraine should recognize the result of the referendum, according to independent Pew Research. [1]

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2014/05/08/despite-concer...

Unless you can refute an extremely trusted independent pollster, I'm inclined to believe the statistics rather than anything subjective.


So hacker news, what’s the tech solution to this? P2P mesh networks? Encrypted DNS?

How do we build a network today in peaceful countries that is resilient to state actors?


Spread information via Bluetooth.


Starlink, Telesat?


I think it's going to be the same during the next elections in Russia. It's really sad to see the declaration of the main opponent (Tikhanovskaya) (1)

Protesters are in jail (more than 2000 people), a guy has been killed by a truck, etc.

1: https://twitter.com/TadeuszGiczan/status/1293127604330016769


The first video in the twitter thread you link to was extorted from the winning opposition candidate by senior Belarusian officials in the office of the Central Electoral Commission.

The declaration she made after arriving in Lithuania is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DzisJ388Xs

In it, she roughly says "I thought I've been hardened by this campaign and that I will handle it. But I am still the weak woman that I was initially. I made a difficult decision. God save you from the kind of choice I had to make. Take care of yourself. Kids are the most important thing that you have in life."

And indeed, the internet is completely down in Belarus. Phone network still works.


Ah, so they threatened her kids. Sickening.


At some point in the past, she said that her kids were safe abroad, but it does not take a big country to successfully track and extort people anywhere in the world.


I believe her husband, who she has been running in the stead of after he was (unjustly) disqualified, is currently imprisoned in Belarus. That is probably one of her concerns.


This is true.


This is incredibly sad. I spent a few weeks in Belarus last summer (2019) and everyone seemed incredibly hopeful and positive. It's a beautiful country and Minsk is a gorgeous city.

I've been able to contact a few of my friends there sporadically over the past few days, but have heard nothing from them for 24 hours. Initially it seemed like a block on communication apps like WhatsApp and they could get around it with a VPN but now it seems that it's turned into a full internet shutdown.


I was there in ‘17 - and nobody, nobody I met had a good word to say about the government. The main theme was “it’s going to change, soon” - which makes the credibility of this result all the less probable.

Sure, it’s apocryphal, but after a month there travelling all over, the only person I met who thought lukashenko was good for the country was a multimillionaire from “business”.


Yeah I got the impression that people really believed things would change next election when I was there. And similar experience regarding general opinion of the government. Though I always take that with a grain of salt because the people I talk to are generally not a good random sampling of the population, definitely selection bias at work.


> I've been able to contact a few of my friends

Try to use Telegram for communication, it might work. It's not full internet shutdown, some programs like Telegram or VPN Psiphon, Tachyon work from time to time.


Can we call this the "Kashmir playbook"? Or is there a better earlier example of a temporary-induced communications blackout vs what e.g. the PRC does.


yes. This is more like the kashmir playbook. stopping internet to prevent people from communicating, to prevent an uprising where external agencies can provide information, assistance, attacks and such. This same thing is happening in kashmir the moment i write this so its hardly surprising more countries havent done it yet because it is a kill switch and governments are willing to push it if it threatens them


I presume the ISPs had shut it down on the Govt. orders. But how does VSAT providers act in such situations? e.g. if Starlink had subscribers there, would it need to comply with Govt. orders or would Govt.(except U.S.) have no control over it and has to physically cease the devices(and ban it from selling it further).

Anyways, VSAT + WiFi nodes for non-cellular mobile Internet[1] seems to be a good case for protecting the freedom of Internet.

[1]https://needgap.com/problems/51-non-cellular-network-mobile-...


A case where I feel amateur (ham) radio would be a potential lifeline to the outside world.


By international treaty, hams cannot discuss politics (like chaos following dubious elections) over the air. In fact, in many countries it is the custom for hams to avoid any topics that might be seen as "serious", instead they limit their remarks to general technical matters or the weather.


I'm not really sure where you've gotten that from. Can you post an actual citation?

Here in the US, communications just need to be "of a personal nature." Part 97 prohibits (with some exceptions) commercial communications, encrypted communications, music, and things which are otherwise illegal. It's also not the licensing test.

It's not unusual for the US to ignore a treaty, of course, but I can't find anything about this online either.

I've always heard "don't discuss politics" as a sort of unspoken agreement.

(KG7TUJ)


Yes, this would be a case of (IMO fully justified) pirate radio.


http://www.dxsummit.fi/#/?dx_countries=Belarus

Plenty of contacts on the spotter. I don't imagine they're about politics, though.


If a tyrannical government is willing to cut off internet access, what makes you think they won't also ban ham radio transmissions (enforcing via violent means) as well?


That's completely impractical. Internet has a central switch you can flip, they have bigger problems now than driving around a fairly large country looking for antennas.

If I installed a raduo antenna on top of an apartment block, the average cop wont distinguish it from a 4G antenna or whatever else installed nearby. Plus you have to climb the rooftip and inspect it, imagine the amount of time an manpower that would take. Meanwhile they have nassive protests on the streets, etc.


Can't they just jam the frequencies instead?


Ham is harder. Internet comes (mostly) through cables; those cables at some points are subject to the control of the government, and can be either technologically filtered or physically disrupted. (Satellite internet is clearly the exception.)

But ham radio is like satellite internet - it's hard to cut off. You can ban it, as you say, but then you have to actually enforce the ban - either by jamming, or by finding sites that are transmitting and cutting them off.

But even worse, I don't think the point of cutting off the internet is to keep news from Belarus from leaking out. I think the point is to keep outside ideas (like the idea that elections should be fair, and outrage when one isn't) from coming into Belarus. Well, a ham can sit and listen and broadcast nothing. It's hard to track that down to be able to enforce the ban on the listening station.


Why do you think a hostile state won't just send cops to drive around until they see a 50' aerial antenna and then shoot everyone in the house it's attached to? It'll only take a few before all the antennas come down.


Most hostile states aren't so powerful that they can openly do that kind of thing. Even in this case, Belarus doesn't say they shut down the Internet; they're pretending that it's a foreign cyberattack.


So they'll pretend that the people they shoot are drug dealers. Works in the US.


It was hard to jam radio transmissions in the past, but these days it's common. Russia did that to Ukrainian channels in Crimea and Donbass and Belarus has access to the same Russian technology.


US foreign policy on telecoms, freedom of speech, ect is full on clown car right now.

Special interests are so cram packed we cant even see the windshield of the car we're driving.

Im starting to agree that US should or potentially could have a larger share on the legwork for telecoms, fiber, and community servicing. I'm not sure how long starlink ect will be competitive with the bandwith, total information speeds in the future.


We have an office there and people were able to use normal internet services on Monday (albeit over VPN in some cases). Some people did have home network service interrupted.

I haven't heard of any escalations today, but obviously my sample size is limited (70 people in Minsk).


"Controversial Election"? Now that's an understatement if I've ever seen one...

I don't think elections in Belarus have ever been seen to be free and fair.


They were not, but since the polls were banned during elections the government at least had some deniability and fewer people were convinced it was all fake. But this time massive protests and polls and information online convinced everyone there is no real support left. Hence the shutdown of the internet.


So-called "elections" after 5th-6th term are a bad joke. Face it, ex-Soviet republics Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan never seazed to be totalitarian regimes with pathetic tries to convince the world they adopted some democracy.


I don't think it's impossible for elected officials to be liked for 5 or 6 terms. In Germany Merkel is so well liked that most people (>70% according to polls) are actually sad that she doesn't want to run for a 5th term.


I think it’s worth pointing out that a German chancellor has very limited power when compared to the Belorussian president.


I don't think Merkel put political opponents behind bars like Belarusian president (de-facto allowed to be lifetime in the office), or assassinate, like his Russian colleague (lifetime in the office as welll).


As far as I understand, the 1994 election in which Lukashenko initially came to power was considered fair and representative of the people's will.

The rest, not so much, however even if we directly compare with previous Belarus elections, this time the election rigging went further than before, turning it into a farce that's not taken well by the public this time.


About 20 years ago there was this optimism that Internet is this new unstoppable thing that will liberate the world to have free communication and knowledge sharing. Unfortunate that turned out to be such a false idea. Probably the infrastructure of it all simply wouldn't allow it...maybe that's what needs to change.


20 years ago we already knew that internet was too architecturally broken to be free as that was around the time early attempts of censorship resistance were born, like Freenet [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freenet


Peer to peer internet is what is missing I suppose.


The Internet is peer to peer by design, even if the most popular user-facing applications do not take full advantage of peer to peer architecture.


I wonder how satellite links and p2p devices could circumvent state-controlled ISPs. For instance I saw some interesting work on how to make HAM radio into packet radio. On the other hand, there was a dark time in Norway when you could be sentenced to death for owning the wrong type of radio.


This is a full blown dictatorship imprisoning innocent people, beating up protesters, blackmailing opposition candidate to escape the country by imprisoning her husband.

There are already dead protesters.

Calling these elections "controversial" is like calling WW2 "a disagreement".


The husband was the original candidate, who was arrested and his wife ran in his place.


I had already commented this 7 months ago when Russia did the same thing.

"In the interest of the people everywhere in the world, there should always be dial-up access points available, in different countries.

The "national interest", for whichever country, should always be the people's interest; and restricted information has never been of any benefit except for those restricting it"

Someone had raised the point that with the current technology, modems might not work internationally anymore.

Is that the case? Can such a system still be put in place?


Some ISPs do provide dialup. For example: https://twitter.com/xs4all/status/274631880429670400

It does take an "activist" ISP to set up a general access dial-up line though. There's not that many around.

-- For those reading this still in need of dialup access but blocked from visiting Twitter, the details from the tweet are: Phone number: +31205350535 User: xs4all Password: xs4all


"when Russia did the same thing"

BS. Russia has never done anything like that.


Of course ISPs can stop modems from working. But nothing to stop a directed, tracking satellite system like Starlink (except somewhat triangulate senders).


The problem with relying on a single private company like SpaceX is that it still is a single point of failure.

Who's to say that Musk, or whoever will own Starlink next, won't side with an authoritarian regime, and do the same?


That is not even an if. He like most humans would do anything to secure his profits. He has been mum on anything related to HK but wouldn't hesitate to drop statements like this.[1]

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/31/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-china-ro...


How do you dial into them if your line upto them would be stopped?

I think radio based communication like amateur broadcasting, walkie talkie like things for short distances can be an effective tool to prepare for situations like this.


If every physical line is blocked then I don't see another way around it. I meant for international numbers to be available. Unless the isps block all numbers, including "unlisted" numbers, then there could still be some hope.

Regarding HAM radio, there are some alternatives

[0] https://en.opensuse.org/Portal:HAM_Radio

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMPRNet


Fascinating stuff. I think the antennas for AMPRNet make it visually discoverable. I wonder if significant distance could be covered by something a little bit inconspicuous.

I think one amusing thing is some phones before smartphones had radio receivers for FM. It would have been fascinating if same hardware was there in the current phones and could have been possibly used to power local broadcasts.


I doubt it would help, since it is increasingly common for POTS traffic to simply be routed over the Internet, so an Internet shutoff would also affect phone service.


Good example of why decentralized power is important


This is why I’m excited about Starlink.


Starlink is not the solution. A private entity then decides who gets what and the US government will also meddle in what is allowed.

Do you think Starlink would be allowed to route TikTok traffic if it got banned?


I think people in China would be able to use Starlink without the great firewall being in the way. Just having access not be routed through ground based, hardwired facilities will go a long way toward preventing this type of thing.

There's no reason to ban TikTok or other apps if people in China have unrestricted access to US companies.


> Do you think Starlink would be allowed to route TikTok traffic if it got banned?

Yes, without a doubt it would be allowed. The "TikTok ban" has already been signed by Trump, and nothing in the order prohibits AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or any other ISP from routing the traffic.

The executive branch doesn't have authority to prohibit legal speech. It has some powers to regulate commerce, that's it.


competing Starlinks is the solution


Starlink would have to violate international laws, via the ITU, to serve other countries. If they violate it, and the US allows it, causing the ITU to collapse, there’s nothing to stop foreign companies from broadcasting/jamming signals over here.

There are some specific exemptions for government/military (eg GPS), but Starlink won’t help here.


this is nothing. shameless plug. I am a kashmiri typing this from 2G internet which apprently is the only acceptable thing for the indian government to allow me. 4G access has been stopped since 5 AUGUST 2019. a freaking year has passed and no high speed internet. I didnt have 2G for like 7 months. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revocation_of_the_special_stat... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Kashmir#Censorsh... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%932020_Jammu_and_Ka... belarus can stop internet for all they want, as long as they want. they have the legal precedent to do so aka india via kashmir


Sorry to hear you are struggling with internet access, but I don't see how the actions of India create legal precedence in Belarus?


> I don't see how the actions of India create legal precedence in Belarus?

It's a precedent for the world ignoring such actions.


I honestly don't think any country in the world cares at this point. There are far worse things world has ignored, I hardly think this needed a precedent.


There's a saying that the good always prevails, so whoever wins is the good side. This is a fight that the people of Belarus have to win right there on the ground in Belarus, because in cases like this the world will just accept the de facto winner as legitimate and work with them, whoever they may be. Any atrocities involved will be condemned with loud proclamations and no real consequence.


FWIW, it hasn't been ignored; the US State Department has condemned the restrictions in Kashmir.


There are a wide range of policy tools that the U.S. failed to use with regards to Kashmir and the oppression of Muslims in India, up to and including sanctions. You can disagree on the efficacy of any particular policy tool, but something with economic and/or diplomatic consequences must be done. Academic research has shown that even the threat of sanctions can help. I'm not holding my breath that Trump will do anything to improve the situation. He has a very warm relationship with Modi.

We should not wait for the arc of history to prove strongmen wrong. We owe it to the oppressed peoples of the world to advocate for non-militaristic measures which help reduce or eliminate their oppression. Some self-doubt is healthy, and the West has done a lot of bad things in the past. We can't let that self-doubt paralyze our foreign policy though. The world would devolve into a worse place. Obama misused MLK's belief on the arc of history (bending towards justice) to justify what is increasingly looking like a terrible foreign policy regime (hands off on Russia --->Syrian genocide--->refugees flooding Europe--->alt-right backlash and Brexit--->Crimea --->alt-right worldwide--->widespread election manipulation--->shaky NATO and EU--->hyperventilating Eastern Europe--->emboldened strongmen--->??? But wait, there's more! Do the claims that sanctions can cause WWIII seem hollow now? Is it becoming clear to everyone that Russian imperialism and Iranian imperialism need just as much scrutiny and backlash as Western imperialism?).

On that note, sanctions on Belarus are very limited. Here's the thing with sanctions: sanctions on one bad actor can be dodged if there are other, larger bad actors who aren't being put in their place. However, systematic sanctions, against all major human rights abusers, would be really hard to dodge. That is especially if we give them a well-defined route out of the sanctions regime, where sanctions are gradually relaxed until the abuses are stopped.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


He's being sardonic. Assad, Putin, Lukashenko, Modi, Bolsonaro, Duterte...they all use pseudo-legalistic justifications for authoritarian action. Assad in particular went as far as cataloging thousands of his torture victims to give an official veneer to the circumstances of their death. This is even though it seems insane to record evidence of one's own gruesome crimes of genocide. https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/ma...


> I don't see how the actions of India create legal precedence in Belarus?

The person is frustrated and that part of the comment is sarcastic. I think it's understandable given the context.


You have my solidarity. I take so much for granted as an American. Stay strong, and live a fulfilling life regardless of the authoritarianism. That is the last thing they want you to do.


funny enough. i was willing to spend a shit load of money because my business is online and i was not able to. months later when things calmed down a bit, say after january and that is what? 6 months and local businesses were given permission to internet with restrictions. here is one article i could pull from early november but these companies mentioned in the article were huge https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-natio...

the local population was not allowed access till february and i happen to have photos of the "undertaking" that businesses were made to sign. https://ibb.co/Fnd6mPj https://ibb.co/6D6CWCN this isnt mine, i could not find that but a local shop. this was never about terrorism like this jammucoder guy is larping about. this is plain and simple censorship to prevent people from making a noise and bringing to attention the attrocities committed. "terrorism" is what got obama to bomb afghanistan, bush to flatten iraq and so on.


From the Economic Times link (second most read business publication after WSJ):

"The Jammu and Kashmir administration has restored the Internet connections of more than 80 subscribers who have signed a bond agreeing to use the services strictly for business purposes...The bond directs users not to upload encrypted files containing any sort of video or photographs. “For the allowed IP, there will be no social networking, proxies, VPNs and Wi-Fi and that all the USB ports will be disabled on the network"

Wow. I shouldn't be surprised but that's awful.


I'm typing this from Jammu. Since 370 abrogation last year, number of terror incidents in J&K is down by 40%. Every story has two sides. While I hope the govt brings back full 4G connectivity soon, I am grateful to them for taking the terror situation seriously.


Do you have any evidence limited speeds are the reason for a reduction in terrorist incidents?

Unless you have some hard evidence that's a weak-sauce claim. Correlation at best.


children havent gone to school since 5 august 2019 in kashmir. while the world is enjoying the benefits of zoom and stuff, everyone is stuck with 2G. that means no zoom parties, no conference calls, recorded classes are sent via voice notes on whatsapp groups for each class and children write simple exams on paper and photo a picture. things are THAT DEPLORABLE and the narrative "stopping terrorism" is given as an excuse to prevent 8 million people from internet? what gives?


Yeah, I think the whole situation is such a travesty. I have been following news of that region for a long time now and it is just sad what has happened there over the decades with atrocities committed from both sides.

I firmly believe restricting internet access is just not humane at this point. There is too much dependence on internet and I consider it as a basic right.

I think this heavy-handedness is going to backfire. To treat an infection, you can't just cut off the whole limnb.


My friend, although I feel the same as you about the 2G connectivity issue, I should remind you that just 3 years before 370 abrogation, schools in Kashmir were shut for 8 Months [1] after the killing of Terrorist by security forces. This is the J&K I have grown up in. "Stopping terrorism" sounds like just another narrative, but not to those who have lived with its consequences.

[1] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/kashmir-schools-reopen...


what is your point? that its okay to actively prevent schoolchildren from studying? how does it matter schools were shut for 8 months 3 years ago. the point is, with the current pandemic, schoolchildren are stuck at home anyways and denying them high speed internet is denying them access to education. plain and simple. you argue because its been done before so everyone is used to it and thats somehow okay? its not


Although a very unfair comparison, and I don't agree with it. But I think his point was three years back people were more than willing to protest for an "armed millitant"[1] and a lot of that was organized through social media.

But this doesn't mean it is right, internet is a fundamental right at this point. You can't just deprive people from it with a blanket ban.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burhan_Wani


your words, "people were more than willing to protest for an "armed millitant" "

where do you say terrorism in that sentence? did hongkong stop internet when there were protests? or BLM which were protests organised on social media, telegram, whatsapp, facebook? or do rules apply differently when protests are against injustices in usa and kashmir?


As I said, I support restoring internet access but giving the HK example wrt Kashmir is more like a strawman argument. HK situation is nowhere what Kashmir's is. HKers are fighting for democratically elected government. Look at what the guy in question was fighting for, here is a statement from his Wikipedia page. [1]

> He oft-elaborated about the idea of India being entirely incompatible with Islam thus mandating a destruction at any cost, and aimed of unfurling the flag of Islam on Delhi’s Red Fort.

This is the exact sort of sentiment that have been used by the current Indian government and many others around the world to stoke fear and champion for their ideology.

I honestly think you do disservice to your genuine concerns when you defend people like him and this makes it easy for your real concerns to be muddled with such bigotry. Same with the protests. This will not help your cause and I honestly believe whether it is Xinjiang or Kashmir, armed separatism is not the answer and is never going to succeed. Both the countries do really need to find a better way to deal with it though.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burhan_Wani#Biography


What does that have to do with internet speeds? Citation needed.


He doesn't because from the data at least in the open, it does not even prove that situation has improved drastically there. I recall reading recent news about local politicians being killed there.


I will need source for that.

Which other countries deal with cheating in exams or rumors on whatsapp through internet shut downs?


[flagged]


I don't agree with jammucoder that information restriction is a justifiable way to reduce terrorist attacks, but I think HN is exactly the sort of place that tolerates this exact kind of viewpoint, especially directly underneath a comment that argues the opposite.


What if you wrote the following? (I'm being serious): "I don't agree with CubsFan that information restriction in the South Side of Chicago is a justifiable way to reduce the looting downtown, but I think HN is exactly the sort of place that tolerates this exact kind of viewpoint, especially directly underneath a comment that argues the opposite."


Yes, there is nothing wrong with that statement.

Arguing in favor of censorship is not the same as censorship. The whole point of free discussion is that you can talk about the philosophical merits of anything, regardless of whether or not the argument itself is "correct".

On the flipside, policing other's willingness to engage certain arguments is itself a form of micro-censorship. The pushback is against arguments like "This argument has no place on HN", which is not a useful argument and doesn't address the merits of GP's comment.


We're probably on the same page. We just have a different definition of "tolerate." I swiftly downvoted the comment and hope that others do too, and to me that's not tolerating the comment. I will gladly engage with the comment...by pointing out how insanely wrong and inhumane it is.


No disagreements there.


HN values freedom and as software engineers who depend on the internet I don't think we'd tolerate bullshit comments like this.


HN's values are limited to the site guidelines. Arguing against freedom of information is tolerated in the context of Tik Tok, and IMO should be tolerated in the context of terrorism in Kashmir.

I want to re-iterate that I agree with you that curtailing the freedom of information is bad, but that simply arguing about it and hearing from those that feel otherwise — especially those that claim to be directly impacted — is incredibly valuable for me, sitting in New York City.


Obviously, we are diverse group of people with equally diverse opinions on matter. But from what I've seen, there's a healthy amount of comments around in support of TikTok and against the CCP and USG's seemingly coordinated attempts to dismantle them.

In fact, it was from HN that I learned of ByteDance's desire to distance themselves from the CCP and that the war on TikTok in both countries is likely in response to their refusal to play ball with the CCP. The American media's barrage of anti-TT reporting never really made sense until that revelation. After all, there are plenty of more significant Chinese tech companies whose apps are more pervasive, yet are rarely mentioned in the news, i.e., Tencent.


Well, I'm affected by the 2G connection as well here, and have lived all my life seeing state govts here shielding terror groups. Things are improving now since the 370 abrogation and bringing J&K under central govt administration. And govt action isnt a one-dimensional thing, this is one of several measures the Indian govt has taken and people here are optimistic about the future.


Have you got a link to anything that someone interested can read that tells your side of the story? I'm okay with reading something partisan if it's not egregious and sheds some light on how people are actually experiencing this where you are.


You are not the arbiter of acceptable discourse.


Who is?


Your anti-argument statements are what have no place here. If you don't like what the person is saying, you need to either engage with them, or downvote and ignore.

> x is NEVER okay

is a just-so assertion, not an argument.


Are we really at the stage where we argue about if we should have area-wide censorship?


Um, yes? Nothing is off the table for discussion. If you don't like it, don't participate in the discussion, or downvote, or move on. Don't police other's willingness to engage certain arguments.


Well, you seem to be trying to implement microscale censorship, and the other poster seems to be able to post, so I'm not sure what your deal is.

I mean, you probably participated in and even supported the Coronavirus lockdowns, yeah? Why is a terror lockdown so philosophically different?


[flagged]


Btw, before resorting to name calling like this. It would help you to know that he might be expressing genuine opinion. He named Jammu, Jammu is also an area of the region in question here.

Even I don't agree with his assertions but he is free to have his opinion and as someone who actually lives there is free to express it.


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