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Software Government Censorship News

Nominations Open For "Most Likely to be Shut Down By Government" 629

The corporate overlords at SourceForge asked me to name a Slashdot category for their upcoming Community Choice Awards and to let you guys select the winner. I have named my category "Most Likely to be Shut Down by a Government Agency." We're going to run this like we do an Ask Slashdot call for questions — post your nominations into the comments here. Use moderation to send up good ideas. In the upcoming days we'll post another story where you can vote on the actual winner. Nominations need to include the project name, a link to some sort of official website, and a paragraph of why you think they deserve to win. The project that wins will gain fame, notoriety, and maybe a cease and desist order that they could print out and frame if they had that kind of time.
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Nominations Open For "Most Likely to be Shut Down By Government"

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  • Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:36PM (#23630293)
    Truecrypt []

    It's basically only a matter of time before the fear-mongers and political demagogues in the U.S. and elsewhere outlaw any form of encryption that doesn't include a backdoor for the NSA and other "trusted" government agencies. There has already been evidence of commercial encrytption (such as Windows encryption []) including such backdoors. And when the commercial companies all cave, how long do you think it will be before the government comes after the open source projects too?

    • Re:Truecrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:41PM (#23630375) Homepage Journal
      Algorithms for nigh-unbreakable encryption can be found in any elementary discrete math textbook, standard for second-year CS undergrads. Non-backdoored encryption may be outlawed at some point, but the knowledge is too widely dispersed to keep people from whipping up their own. Granted, whatever you hack together may not have all of TrueCrypt's bells and whistles, but if you do it right, it will be just as secure; and doing it right, for personal use on your own machine, is just dead easy.
      • Re:Truecrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The Aethereal ( 1160051 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:45PM (#23630415)
        And if you do that, the government wouldn't even have to prove you had encrypted something illegal. The fact that you had used an unapproved encryption algorithm would be all they need to arrest you. How does that help?
        • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:12PM (#23630819)
          I don't need any 'approval' from anyone.

          It was an experimental encryption algorithm and I screwed up
          my hard drive, and now I can't decrypt it.

          Does that help?
          • by digitrev ( 989335 ) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:32PM (#23631049) Homepage
            You were experimenting without government approval? Off to GITMO with you, you terrorist scumbag.
        • Re:Truecrypt (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:10PM (#23631561)
          Properly encrypted data is indistinguishable from random noise, so they would have an issue determining that your encrypted partition is in fact encrypted and not just empty space. I.e, for such a law to work they would have to effectively make it criminal to not zero erased data.

          Furthermore, with some clever tricks you could insert your encrypted data into the noise of an audio sequence. Assuming you could make it look sufficiently similar to the type of noise you normally get when you record audio, it would then be virtually impossible to distinguish a noisy recording from a good recording with encrypted data injected into it.

          So no, unless they want to ban you from storing and transmitting data that contains even a random component ( and every sound recording, every photograph, every video feed contains some noise ) they can't ban encryption. They might be able to make it sufficiently hard to do it to deter most people from using it, but completely preventing it won't be possible.

          Now what they COULD do , and what is far scarier, is they could ban general purpose computers, requiring all computer manufacturers to only make devices that run signed code only, and they could then include large quantities of spy ware into them, which phone home every 10 seconds , prohibiting you from even shutting them off.

          Apparently some guy named George thought of this scenario some time ago and blew the whistle. Most voters don't seem to worry about it however.
      • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:06PM (#23630739)
        While all the knowledge is out there, and you *can* do it yourself, getting every single detail right is not even close to easy. Are you sure you didn't leave some piece of the key swapped out to disk? Are you certain your random number generator was of sufficient quality and well seeded? Modern cryptosystems fail thanks to details, and the only way to get every detail right is many eyes and lots of work. Amateur efforts can certainly do it, but it's not easy for either them or the pros. Just remember, "I used RSA" isn't good enough. Witness the Netscape SSL problem, and the recent Debian SSH problems for examples of where the support infrastructure around the cryptosystem failed.
      • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

        by grandpa-geek ( 981017 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:11PM (#23630795)
        Unbreakable encryption was invented by the US Army Signal Service in 1917. It is called the "one time pad". The encryption key is random and is as long as the message. The encryption is unbreakable as long as each key is used only once.

        The drawback of a one-time pad system is the logistics of transporting the keys and having only two copies, that are destroyed after they are used.

        Roosevelt and Churchill had transatlantic voice conversations during World War II that were encrypted using one-time pad technology. The conversations would remain unbreakable even if recordings of the radio transmissions were available today.
        • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:38PM (#23631175) Homepage Journal

          The drawback of a one-time pad system is the logistics of transporting the keys and having only two copies, that are destroyed after they are used.

          One thing I enjoy harping on, is that there are many situations where OTP is actually quite practical; the transport and storage just aren't a big deal. For example: people you see in person every day. You put your phone next to your wife's phone at night, and they exchange pads over a wire or low-powered IR link or something. Your conversations the next day are OTPed.

          As a general-purpose fix-everything solution OTP doesn't work, but sometimes it can, without really being very burdensome.

          • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

            by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:23PM (#23631701) Homepage

            You put your phone next to your wife's phone at night, and they exchange pads over a wire or low-powered IR link or something.

            How they generate these pads, on the other hand...

            • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:47PM (#23631933) Homepage Journal

              You put your phone next to your wife's phone at night, and they exchange pads over a wire or low-powered IR link or something.
              How they generate these pads, on the other hand...

              We're talking about a device that has a radio antenna, a microphone, and probably CCD. It moves around all day, seeing inputs from all those different sensors, from your unique perspective. It's practically an entropy engine.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @11:42PM (#23634573)
          In the British army, we used a similar system called BATCO (Battle Code). Serious, royal, unmitigated, pain in the arse, I mean, could you make combat harder or any more stressful?! "Hello zero, this is two-zero alpha, CONTACT, location, erm... bugger.. wait out", and then drag out your BATCO cipher pad, work out which line you should be using, work out your grid ref, encrypt it and call your company commander back. Honestly, I have two much to do to bother with this shit, and it's not like there is much point encrypting my grid - the enemy is shooting at me so I am reasonably convinced that I'm not announcing they something they don't already know!
          This differs from the TA (reserve) approach of "Bloody hell, we're being shot out. Screw BATCO, I never learned it properly anyways", pulls out mobile phone... "Hey Pete, yeah it's Dave here. You alright? ", etc... Much more pratical :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by raddan ( 519638 )
        Hrm-- do you have a reference for the discrete math book? I have two (just completed a discrete math course), and IIRC neither talk much about encryption beyond simple XOR ciphers.
    • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:42PM (#23630379)
      Couldn't/wouldn't they just move the project outside of the country to avoid issues? OpenBSD doesn't have to abide by crpyto export rules because they are in Canada, for instance.

      Of course, I suppose the argument could be used for pretty much every project that is likely to be mentioned.
    • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Informative)

      by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:45PM (#23630417)
      They started trying in the 90s under Clinton's reign, with Al Gore as the point man. Luckily resistance from people and businesses was enough to kill the Clipper Chip and Key Escrow. over 10 years later, I guess it's time for another round of facists to try it again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They may try, but first they will have to go throught the unbreakable wall of Bruce Schnier.
    • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:39PM (#23631183)

      Windows encryption doesn't "include such backdoors."

      The random number generator is not used by default; a program has to specifically request it. If it does have a backdoor in it, presumably Microsoft added it so that other programs could be written with NSA backdoors.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @06:12PM (#23632167) Homepage Journal
      No way, if you want to believe in evil government, there's nothing better for them than TrueCrypt. See, it has deniable encryption, where you can have a 'real' drive and a 'fake' drive, so you give 'them' the keys to the 'fake' drive, and go about your secret business, right?

      Queue Jack Bauer, beating you up:

      Bauer: Gimme your passwords, elrous0. *Whack*
      elrous0: OK, fine, it's 'gimmesomeluv1n'
      Bauer's Assistant: OK, we're in. Hrm, it's just a bunch of computer stuff, some saved articles from business websites, some 80's metal mp3's and random e-mails. Oh, wait, he's using TrueCrypt.
      Bauer: What's that?
      Bauer's Assistant: It means he can give us a fake password that gives us fake information, but still keeps the real information hidden.
      Bauer: What's your real password, elrous0?
      elrous0: No, seriously, I gave it to you. That's it.
      Bauer: Don't give me that crap. *Whack* Give me the real password!
      elrous0: Dude, I just hang out on Slashdot and have a normal job. I'm not the guy you're looking for!
      Bauer: A million lives are at risk, and this isn't going to stop until you give me the real password: *whack*
      elrous0: Seriously, I'm telling you the truth.
      Bauer: *Whack* *Whack* *Whack* *Whack*
      elrous0: Ugh! My nose!
      Bauer: *Whack* *Whack* *Whack* *Whack*
      Bauer's Assistant: Um, Jack, do you think he could be telling the truth?
      Bauer: No, this one's a pro. He didn't crack the whole time, and his accent is impeccable. He must be a deep cover operative. We'll try this again when he wakes up.

      Oh, wait, I just played into the Conspiracy Theory myself. :) Seriously, though, deniable encryption is only useful against enemies who are dumb and cannot employ force against you. Governments don't have much to fear from it, vs. any other kind of encryption. They're all Tempest watching us anyway. ;)
  • Patent Busting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MistaE ( 776169 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:38PM (#23630315) Homepage
    The EFF's Patent Busing Project [].

    Or has it been shut down already?
    • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:43PM (#23630397) Journal
      Yeah we need to end Patent Busing. Why should a patent have to go all the way across town to the same type of schools I moved to get away from?
      • Re:Patent Busting (Score:5, Informative)

        by glarvat ( 753298 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:07PM (#23630747)

        Yeah we need to end Patent Busing. Why should a patent have to go all the way across town to the same type of schools I moved to get away from?
        I doubt the parent was trolling. It was an obviously misunderstood attempt at humo(u)r referencing School Desegregation [] because of the typo in the GP (busing instead of busting).

        For what it's worth, I thought it was funny.

    • Re:Patent Busting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MistaE ( 776169 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:59PM (#23630623) Homepage
      I didn't think the EFF's site needed any explanation but I'll provide it here for Taco since it was asked for in the summary.

      I think this site should win because it's very likely to actually shut down if Patent Reform comes through. However, even if patent reform fails, I think it would be interesting to see what the lobbyists and congressional members do to come up with to try and take them down, because this site is one of the few out there that do a damn good job of calling out the patent trolls. In addition, it's one of the few that make the public aware of what all of us on Slashdot have known all along: that the patent system sucks, and these are the people that take advantage of it.
      • Re:Patent Busting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:49PM (#23631311) Homepage
        Do the mega corps want patent trolls around? I doubt it.

        They want patents to stop small companies competing with them. If a small company sues them for patent infringement, they find lots of other patents in their portfolio that the small company is infringing, and come to some cross licencing deal. They can't do that with patent trolls because they don't have a business.
    • Is that the project to bus all of the patent trials away from the Marshall, [] Texas [] courts []?
  • Software radio... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zelig ( 73519 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:39PM (#23630325) Homepage

    The GNU software radio project

    is a good candidate. It proposes to let you make electromagnetic waves in a manner not subject to prior restraint by the FCC, and without the back-doors intelligence agencies have on many current means of communications.

    This is naughty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      Plenty of ways to do that already, nothing new...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:39PM (#23630329)
    I would think just about any anti-government project in Zimbabwe, North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba, Syria or Iran would be about 100 times more likely to be shut down than one in the U.S....
  • ThePirateBay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:40PM (#23630351) Journal
    They're the next allofmp3 -- they're getting named by name in international treaty talks.

    • Re:ThePirateBay (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ynsats ( 922697 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:23PM (#23630947)
      This was the first organization that popped into mind.

      Sure they have lax rules surrounding them in the countries that they are based but it's only a matter of time before it goes beyond "making an example" and they are made "a precedent".

      After them, the next on the chopping block would be Mininova.
    • Re:ThePirateBay (Score:4, Informative)

      From the website:

      The big news about our awards program this year is that we've decided to allow nominations for any open source project, not just those on We know that the success of open source is bigger than one repository can contain, so nominate your favorite Codeplex projects, Google Code projects, ASF projects, and everything else right now!
      I don't think websites (especially non-wiki websites) would qualify. CmdrTaco should have made it more explicit in the summary.
  • by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:40PM (#23630359)
    wikileaks, followed by for doing a better job and mirroring the same content

  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlephNot ( 177467 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:41PM (#23630373)
    I would like to nominate Slashdot as being most likely to be shut down. After all, free thought is anathema to government control.
  • wikileaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asynchronous13 ( 615600 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:42PM (#23630381)
    wikileaks - since it already was (sort of) shut down by government.
  • MediaDefender (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:42PM (#23630387)
    Hey, they've actually committed some crimes now, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:43PM (#23630393)
    Tor, Freenet, and I2P are probably on the top of the list. There is no way that government wants difficult to trace communication to be availble to the general public.
  • FreeNet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:45PM (#23630421)
    I suspect that FreeNet [] is something that many, many governments would like to shut down. In the west, pretty much all they have to do is say "klddy pr0n" and it's gone. In China and other such countries, they don't really have to say anything at all.
  • by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:46PM (#23630431) Homepage
    If you look to the right, Microsoft is listed as a diamond sponsor of the event. Hopefully the government will shut them down soon.
  • Freenet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sanity ( 1431 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:47PM (#23630453) Homepage Journal
    Freenet [], especially now that its reaching the point of widespread usability [].
  • I Save RX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:47PM (#23630459) Journal
    This [] website, supported by the states, offers its citizens affordable medications from Canada and Europe. I predict the federal government will shut it down, citing "safety issues" with foreign drugs.
    • Re:I Save RX (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:49PM (#23630479) Journal
      Forgot the reason why they deserve to market and states rights come to mind, as well as free trade agreements already made by the federal government.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qoncept ( 599709 )
      I can't quote any real numbers, and I won't claim name-brand drugs cost too much, but I'm certain that if no drugs sold for more than bargain basement prices, they would stop being developed. It costs virtually nothing to produce most drugs, and that's what you pay in Mexico where patents aren't honored. But the R&D costs for new drugs is enormous. A new drug has to be incredibly successfull to be profitable for the company that created it. Rip off their formula and produce it for dirt cheap and you can
  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:48PM (#23630469)
    I think the question then becomes which government? By now there are any number which have taken note of their existence (and some which have acted upon that knowledge), so my guess would be that more will do the same.
  • GOA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ezwip ( 974076 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:49PM (#23630481)
    • GAO (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
  • Trapster (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:50PM (#23630497) []

    It's an interactive thingy where you post where cops are hiding in speed traps.

    I'm surprised it's still up, honestly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ScuttleMonkey ( 55 ) * Works for Slashdot
      I don't have the link on hand, but the funny thing was that many cops went on record in support of the speed trap websites because it accomplished what they were trying for anyway (just to get people to slow down).
  • Our right to know. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:50PM (#23630499)
    We already have loads of censoring going on. for example, the 60 minute interview with Sibel edmunds was immediately gagged and then the studio was told to hand over EVERYTHING. In addition, ALL news org have been warned ahead to not talk about her.

    In terms of software, PirateBay/Cryptome/GnuRadio. Anything dealing with encryption will NOT be shutdown, unless it involves a brand new and interesting algo.
  • by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:52PM (#23630537)
    Shouldnt anyone eligable (ie: those with +1, or +2) have been given at least 1 Mod Point so they could be included in the vote?

    Which, is probably not possible with the current point system, but maybe in the future you could alot eligable people a mod point on a specific topic/poll/etc.
  • Obama (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bidule ( 173941 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:56PM (#23630587) Homepage
    Well, it worked for jfk...
  • by Angostura ( 703910 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:59PM (#23630613)
    ... this is, for the powers that be.
  • Tor? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Facegarden ( 967477 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:11PM (#23630793)
    Tor would be a good candidate for being outlawed by an overbearing government. I don't know much about it, but i can bet legal online anonymity will go if things keep going the way they are... -Taylor
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:13PM (#23630827) Homepage Journal
    Really asking what site you think is going to be taken down next by some government agency seems like fear mongering in it's self.
    Most take down notices have come not from law enforcement but from companies not the government.

    The vast majority of these are civil actions.

    Isn't this heading into the tin foil hats and black helicopter area?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )
      A civil action is enforced by a government. What makes you think that doesn't count?
  • Second Life (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mark Cicero ( 734120 ) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:20PM (#23630925) Homepage
    All that music being played and nary a cent going to the RIAA is just begging for a court intervention. Now they also have the IRS looking into the Electric Sheep Company / CSI:NY promotion and whether or not the 'guides' income should be taxed and there are questions as to whether labour law should be getting involved with all the Slingo hosts and their employers. I give it two years tops.
  • Tor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:22PM (#23630931) Homepage Journal
    I haven't seen this listed yet and a lot of great ones have been mentioned but I'd just like to throw Tor out there. []
  • by RiddleofSteel ( 819662 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:28PM (#23631009)
    Dunk'n Donuts! They are obviously just a front for Al-Qaeda with Rachel Ray as the master mind, I mean did you see that scarf!
  • by Ynsats ( 922697 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:36PM (#23631125)
    BitTorrent only offers a software package the enables user to share data with an ease rivaling that of an open share on a network but without all of the hassles of completely insecure connections. That doesn't seem to stop the RIAA and the MPAA from trying to shut down even the idea that people should be able to use the Internet for what it was intended for, a free exchange of information. The software package was and is quite novel in the way it handles traffic and allows it to be shared across multiple connections and multiple computers. This is load distribution at a level higher than "enterprise class data systems". This is a huge productivity tool that can be used for sharing information over any kind of distributed network. It allows freedom and power.

    What's going to stop it? The RIAA, MPAA and giant ISP's like Comcast and Verizon that throttle back torrent traffic. They will make cases for costs in bandwidth and network maintenance. The fact that many people use these types of peer-to-peer networks successfully and almost untraceably to share copyrighted information only adds to the arguments that the RIAA and MPAA will make to get it shut down. Since there entire websites like The Pirate Bay, Mininova, IsoHunt and even the BitTorrent website that link users to a large number of seeds for the torrent swarms of information copyrighted and non-copyrighted and such, it doesn't bode well for the tool either.

    The RIAA and MPAA will use strong arm tactics and cite currently pending investigations in other parts of the world against such sites that employ the use of such software to cut the problem off at the head. It will likely lead to sweeping legislation that will outlaw many forms of file sharing. For references, look at what the RIAA and MPAA have managed to successfully do against those users with home media center looking to place digital copies of their license media on to online storage. Sure, selling the means to do the illegal act isn't illegal but that doesn't mean someone won't try to make it illegal.
  • DIY Drones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zlite ( 199781 ) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:51PM (#23631341)
    DIY Drones []: amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and open-source Predators.
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:58PM (#23631397) Homepage
    Perhaps not the first to go down, but I think the odds approach 100%. The peer-to-peer Internet, with its implicit equality for all servers, lacks the degree of barriers to entry that corporations need to "create" wealth. It is already dying through direct corporate action (protocol throttling, port blocking, etc), and there will be government intervention soon enough. Look for copyright, child porn, botnets, etc to be the excuses used to require licensing of servers.

    Radio was unrestricted in its early days. Unrestricted mass communication is extremely detrimental to authoritarian governments. Net neutrality prevents ISPs and backbone providers from getting their vig. Nobody benefits from a peer-to-peer Internet except We The People, and most of us don't know that is the case, nor why. Show me something that does not have populist support, and does stand to allow profiteering and control if destroyed - and I'll show you a very tenuous place to stand.
  • by wsanders ( 114993 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:19PM (#23631661) Homepage []

    Seem pretty obvious to me. Of course if you are making substantial progress on this, you're going to get something a little more difficult to ridicule than a cease and desist letter from some lawyers.
  • Indymedia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChunKing ( 513714 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:20PM (#23631673)
    Indymedia in the UK has already been shut down twice in the past few years e.g. []

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer