Computer Security and Political Censorship

I’ve just been disappointed to read about the DNI (Defence in the National Interest) web site closing down [1]. The final blog post says “In the meantime, I’ll leave everything up unless we start having more security problems“, but unfortunately they have had a number of security problems in the past. I doubt the ability of a WordPress installation to remain unscathed on the Internet if it’s not upgraded regularly. So I think it’s only a matter of time before a new bad WordPress bug is discovered and DNI goes offline for good.

In the past I did idly consider volunteering to help them run their site, but apart from a lack of spare time there is the issue that a number of their policy positions are things that I strongly disagree with. I can agree with paleo-cons on a number of issues, but there are also significant areas of disagreement.

So it seems that the combination of a lack of skilled system administrators and a lack of good security in their software is reducing their ability to spread their message. While the site content is going to be mirrored on other sites the URLs will break and Google will give it a lower rank. In many ways losing Google ranking is a way of being silenced.

I wonder whether the apparent lack of moderate-right political expression on the Internet is partly due to that demographic having less IT skills than the groups who have centrist to left-wing political views and those who have extreme-right views. Naturally anyone can pay to have someone run their web site, but having to pay raises the barrier to entry and eliminates some of the potential contributors. I think it’s a bad thing for democracy if the only people who get their voices heard are those who have significant amounts of money or technical skill.

One of my hopes for the SE Linux project was that it would increase the longevity of servers while also decreasing the amount of money required to run them. But of course if you have buggy PHP code then there’s not much SE Linux can do to help you.

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