Censorship Resistance and Decentralization Methods (I)

This blog post focuses primarily on censorship resistance and decentralization methods for innovators, activists, and businesses.  It’ll be useful for others as well, but the focus is on these groups due to the need to address ways in which those who often find themselves on the forefront of movements to advance amazing ideas, will at some point (and more often than most would prefer to admit) have to deal with persons, organizations, and/or highly entrenched entities with much to lose.  These persons, organizations, or entrenched entities, as the case may be, can and often will engage in attempts to censor your work, and occasionally this is simply due to nothing more than irrational fears relating to loss of control, worst possible outcomes, and so on.  Regardless of what these fears may be, ideas continue to flow, and decentralization continues to be a theme, not just in administration, markets, or software development, but in marked changes of society, such as how people perceive of their identity in a more decentralized culture and society.

As usage increases of various decentralized technologies, and integration into a larger number of “mainstream” services grows, the potential increases to rapidly reduce the barrier to entry into these new, decentralized systems.  With that potential and usage increase comes the response of the traditional corporation-states, which are referred to in popular culture as ‘governments.’  Generally, the response of the corporation-states is to demand a tribute or to find ways to stifle innovation associated with the increase in such technologies, particularly if the implementations for such technologies are impractical to censor (or where most censorship regimes are totally ineffective).  This may take the form of regulatory efforts, but it is often much more subtle.  When someone refuses to comply and does not grant consent to the corporation-states, as the corporation-states are not particularly interested in consensus-based models, the only tool that the corporation-state finds in its arsenal are overt threats (coercion) or an excess of force – in which its agents jail or kill those who do not comply with its commands.  In other words, along with the exponentially increasing (mostly permissionless) development and use of decentralized technology in a rapidly changing society, there are also reactionary forces at work, which demand that their perceived ‘authority’ be recognized through processes which include development by permission.

You need not seek permission to innovate (however you wish to define that), to be an activist, or to run a business.  In the very near future you will not ever need to seek a license nor pay tribute to anyone in order to conduct your activity, but it is assumed here that you are conducting your activities within a certain type of community, which will have various expectations and principles of its own that are distinct from any that a corporation-state would attempt to impose. This blog post will cover a few principles related to what is a permissionless process involves, and how you might apply these processes to what you are doing, with some examples.

Whether you consider yourself more of an innovator, an activist at heart, or a businessperson examining the rapidly shifting waves at the confluence of societal and technological development, or anyone else, you will probably be concerned about censorship.

The following principles, presented as a positive and negative checklist for comparison, can help you begin the process of framing different ideas for implementation in a way that will avoid or circumvent censorship regimes of today.  Notice that there are no particular software tools recommended in the checklist, the intent is to develop a “social hack” mindset before the ideas are fully implemented.  Rather than the “rules” which are indicated in Open Stand’s model of permissionless innovation we concur with the idea of disruption (as an element mentioned by Open Stand), but offer some refinements by way of suggestion in the below checklists.

Positive checklist (answers should be “yes” or you should have evidence of consensus):

1.  Are you moving forward with your idea, without seeking permission?

2.  Do you have methods for releasing information about your idea(s) that do not involve licensing or copyright?

3.  Will your ideas help others by being shared, or are they likely to help create a path to alternatives to the society in which you exist presently?

Negative checklist (the answers should be ‘no’):

1.  Are you seeking permission from someone else to proceed with your idea, such as:

  • an entity who demands payment
  • a corporation-state demanding you obtain a license to assemble and protest, perform your research or distribute your work
  • an organization that wants to pre-clear your idea before you proceed

2.  Do you require a licensing regime in order to broadcast your ideas?  (You may have a license applied to your work already, but this question asks if you would require licensing in order to broadcast the ideas and let them move out into the world.)

If it’s a software project:  Are you requiring a CLA for others to use (innovate, expand upon, etc.) your ideas?

3.  Are your ideas limited solely to inform yourself or a small group, or to benefit yourself or a group of like-minded individuals?

~

Finally, more decentralization methods for innovators, activists, and businesses.  Here these are presented as general ideas or principles. The primary one that should be mentioned is that if you have a model which relies upon a website, then your content, and any application (including mobile apps or specialized clients) that you develop, should have a peer-to-peer model that is offered freely and is displayed apart from highly controlled and regulated stores (such as Google Play, Apple store, etc.)  The secondary one will have to do with blending.  For example, I now have an identity at keybase.io (thank you @approxim8lyhixy for the referral).  Keybase.io operates on a blended model which relies upon both centralized (your standard website available everywhere) and decentralized (bitcoin technology and more) model.  Blended models are less likely to be subject to censorship and will be more likely to attract interest from people across the globe in the decentralized sphere of idea interchange.  More to come on this subject in posts to follow soon (in part II).

2 Comments

  1. […] This is the second contribution by old Cryptospherian AnonyOdinn; the first was Stop the Power; How to Do Business Without Banks on bank-free financial systems. We are very pleased to welcome back our old friend. This article was first posted on Cyberguerrilla. […]

  2. […] post is a continuation of “Censorship Resistance and Decentralization Methods (I),” which provided principles for innovators, activists and businesses to use in ways that will […]

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