During a speech at St. John’s Episcopal Church yesterday, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden advocated a move towards a Chinese-style world wide web where users are forced to identify themselves before posting online content.
Comparing the Internet to the wild west and Somalia, Hayden indicated that he would like to see the United States adopt a system of web policing similar to that used in Communist China, where users are mandated to submit to real name registration before they can use services like Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.
“The problem I have with the Internet is that it’s anonymous,” remarked Hayden.
Although the implementation of the real name registration system in China has been fraught with technical difficulties, its ultimate intention is to prevent social network users from “spreading rumors” about the ruling Communist Party, or in other words, it’s all about crushing dissent against the state.
Prominent micro-bloggers who attracted millions of followers as a result of criticizing the Chinese government are now being arrested and forced to “confess” their crimes as part of a return to a “Mao-era style of justice,” one that Michael Hayden apparently thinks America should adopt by following China’s example of banning Internet anonymity.
While defending mass NSA spying on the American public via the recently revealed PRISM program, Hayden also claimed that Gmail was the email service of choice for terrorists.
“Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide,” he stated, presumably unaware that Gmail is merely an email service and not an ISP, adding, “I don’t think you’re going to see that in a Google commercial, but it’s free, it’s ubiquitous, so of course it is.”
In reality, as a Bloomberg report highlighted, the “(NSA) surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens,” and not actual terrorists, who are extremely unlikely to use Gmail, Skype or iCloud.
This is by no means the first time that Michael Hayden has uttered statements about the Internet rich with controversy yet poor on facts.
Last month, Hayden compared hackers, cyberactivists and transparency groups to Al-Qaeda terrorists, labeling them, “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years.”
I agree with Hayden that anonymity can lead to bad behavior. That is why I advocate no more government secrecy.