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Military internet

What if the military still controlled the internet?

Posted on 16 Mar 2013 at 13:25

Darien Graham-Smith imagines what would have happened if the military had retained control of the internet

The army always keeps the good stuff for itself. Of course it does: if you give the general public access to a satellite-based positioning and targeting system, for example, that means the enemy will have it too, and then bang goes your advantage.

All the same, we at PC Pro think it's time the Arpanet – the "network" of computers that connects military bases to each other, and to carefully vetted international research facilities, universities and so on – was opened up to public use.

If you’re not familiar with the Arpanet, think of it as similar to the phone network, only with no need to dial: every computer on the Arpanet is constantly connected to every other computer, and any two computers can exchange data without disturbing the others using the connection.
It sounds like science fiction, but unredacted papers from the Lincoln Laboratory archives in Massachusetts clearly indicate this is how the Arpanet works.

You might ask why we need a network such as this. As things stand, it’s easy enough to move files from one system to another using a flash drive. But the Arpanet isn’t only about moving documents back and forth; indeed, it can also be used for direct, real-time communications across any distance.

In a closed demonstration at a secret location last year, members of the PC Pro team saw how Arpanet techniques can be used to transmit any amount of text instantly from one computer to another over a simple length of copper telephone wire.

This technology isn’t complicated or expensive: the only reason the capability isn’t widely used today is the military prohibition on its supply and implementation.

You can understand why the authorities are reluctant to open up the Arpanet. Back in the 1970s, when arms limitation talks had collapsed and the US was drawing up plans for its first full-scale confrontation with Soviet forces, the Arpanet was seen as a key strategic weapon – a system that could be used to convey intelligence and orders instantly and securely between military emplacements.

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User comments

Glad in was American

Luckily for us, Arpanet was American.

If it had been a British invention, it would still be shrouded in secrecy by the Official Secrets Act.

Like the World's First electronic computer. The computer mouse. Public Key encryption. etc etc etc.

All done in UK first. All buried by the MoD in the interests of "National Security".

Although it would have been interestng to see what would have happened if the internet hadn't reached "critical mass" before 9/11...

By Penfolduk01 on 16 Mar 2013

Glad in was American

Luckily for us, Arpanet was American.

If it had been a British invention, it would still be shrouded in secrecy by the Official Secrets Act.

Like the World's First electronic computer. The computer mouse. Public Key encryption. etc etc etc.

All done in UK first. All buried by the MoD in the interests of "National Security".

Although it would have been interestng to see what would have happened if the internet hadn't reached "critical mass" before 9/11...

By Penfolduk01 on 16 Mar 2013

It's still open to the military

Just the wrong kind.

http%3a//news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20071553-17/ch
inese-military-warns-of-u.s-cyberwar-threat/

By technogeist on 16 Mar 2013

Stuck in a loop

@Penfolduk01 on 16 Mar 2013

Your keyboard seems to be stuck as you have posted your comment twice.

as for 9/11 it was a non-event and an excuse for the US to invade innocent countries and start its never-ending war against "terrorism".

Consider it World War∞ (WW-infinite).

By smartermind on 17 Mar 2013

So true

"Consider it World War∞ (WW-infinite)."

After the cold war ended the superpowers had lost their reasons to mistrust other nations, and snoop/invade them.

Osama Bin Laden & 9/11 was way too convenient for it to have been unforseen. So soon after George 'Dubya' Bush/Republicans got into the Whitehouse.

By technogeist on 17 Mar 2013

@ smartermind

"as for 9/11 it was a non-event"

Except for the friends and relatives of those caught up in it. It was most definitely an event of some magnitude for them.

But please, don't let me spoil the view from up on your high horse...

By bioreit on 18 Mar 2013

A bit of compassion please....

@smartermind
9/11 was categorically NOT a "non-event". I watched much of it unfold in real-time. It was almost unutterably shocking.

The people who died horribly that day weren't representatives of the USA, they weren't soldiers who'd signed up for the risk, they were people going about their legitimate business.

No matter what your view of US Foreign Policy and\or the stupidity\greed\incompetence of that nation's leadership it was an horrific attack that changed and destroyed the lives of many thousands of innocent people.

By wittgenfrog on 18 Mar 2013

What next

Dear Mr Graham-Smith, thank you for your article. I too think it would be great if Arpanet was opened up to the public.
I think your view that my "in-tray" could be "filled with newsletters" is a a point well made.
My concern is that if we open the flood gates we could get a massive increase in the information we can access but that without organising the data it just becomes a chaotic mess.
Before the floodgates open, can we have a team of respected academics decide how the data will be organised - along the lines of the dewey decimal system. That way any knowledge that is released can be built upon in a coherent and cohesive fashion.

By simontompkins on 20 Mar 2013

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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