24th October 2022
CHAIR: We are expecting panelists from Belgrade Internet revolution, and I guess they are about to come here and tell us about the good old days and the challenges they faced. Let's wait a couple of minutes before everybody is back in from their coffee break.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: The panelists, Slobodan Markovic is here already and you are welcome to accompany him on this beautiful stage and you are getting a free transcription.
All right, I'll leave it to Slobodan and you to say what you want to say.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Can we start the session? I guess that we can, right? Can we start?
So, let me see if this works first, yes, it does.
Hello, RIPE community, and welcome to Belgrade. Today, in Serbia, we are a country of a free Internet and this is the assessment of the freedom houses report on the Internet freedom for the last year, but this freedom was hard won and we don't take it for granted. I am honoured to be able to tell you about how the Internet came to Serbia a quarter of a century ago, and how it played an important role in a mass of demonstrations that erupted that year. I am also short of time so I'm not going to dwell too much on any of the slides. I invite you to go to the RIPE meeting website and download the presentation, click through it, I left some links and do it on your own pace.
Let's get into the story.
In May 1992, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that is the federation of Serbia and Montenegro, de facto led by Serbian President Slobodan Miloshevic, for actively supporting the escalation of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Here, you can see an excerpt of the UN Security Council Resolution 757, as well as the PTT building in Sarajevo, which was burnt on the first day of Bosnian war.
This comprehensive sanctions banned academic cooperation and provision of commercial services, including the Internet services, so, only PTT traffic was exempt from these sanctions, and this included costly and slow X25 exchange. This is ‑‑ this is a screenshot of a mail sent by a university in Austria on June 3rd, 1992, informing the colleagues' Belgrade university of the decision to remove Yugoslavia from the European Academic Network, EAN.
Since 1992, Serbia's academic network has grown in terms of TCP/IP hosts and connections, but it lacked proper Internet connectivity.
This schematic from 1994 depicts the topology of the nascent academic network in Serbia and some other systems, such as the... BBS network. You can see the major Internet hosts as well as gateways to the other networks, each with their own proprietary communication protocols and naming schemes. Remember the Internet was not the only game in town at that time.
The map also shows severed connections with European academic network and the Slovenian network, it's barely visible but when you download the presentation, you will see it better.
There was one tiny window for smuggling of email through X25‑based Yugoslav packet Switching network called JUPAK. This was made by the Serbian academic diaspora in the west and efforts of the academic community here in Belgrade. The story of course is more complicated, I don't have time to go too much into it, but I just want to show you this message from April 1993 which illustrates how mail for the entire country was routed through a single server at the California State University in LA. Then exchanged using USCP over X25 and then finally distributed locally to IBMSNA, DECNET and Internet hosts.
Let me zoom this one for you. Look at that amazing mail routing wormhole. People actually used these addresses and they worked for a few years. But later academic network switched to split DNS system, which helped in preparing for a smoother transition once the sanctions were lifted and regular Internet access of restored.
Sanctions were eventually lifted at the end of 1995, following the signing of the date on peace agreement which brought the war to an end.
Around the same time, the independent radio B92 established a 28K leased line with a Dutch SIP, XS4ALL. And on the Belgrade side, a computer classroom known as OpenNet was established in the American corner of the Belgrade youth centre. Vesna Manojlovic, became known in the RIPE community, unfortunately she is not featured in the pictures, you can see here the two guys.
The guy in black, was later honoured as EFF Internet's pioneer, together with Jon Postel, for work on OpenNet.
Less than two months later, on the Belgrade university day, February 27, 1996, the academic network was connected to the Internet using a tiny 64k VSAT link provided by Beltel ISP and Tida Networks in Norway. In the coming months this link was upgraded to 128 K, and I think a year later, to half a megabit. While OpenNet only connected in one classroom to the Internet, this link provided full access to the entire academic network with thousands of hosts and users. So, this is why this date is most often quoted as the day the Internet came to Serbia, even though it was still not generally available to a wider public on a commercial basis.
In the summer, in the fall of 1996 the first ISPs appeared, those were EUnet Yugoslavia and Beltel. Unit started with a 2 megabit digital link, fibre optic. While Beltel used the previous VSAT link. Half of the capacity was assigned to the academic network, 128k, and the refers was available for commercial use.
Internet was sold by the hour at the time, and it cost around 55 deutschemarks, if someone resource that currency, for 20 hours, it was really expensive, because the ample salary in Serbia around that time was around 200 deutschemarks. Access to the Internet at that time was via mode items and dial‑up. The operating system was mostly Windows 95 and although I used Linux and of course Nap escape navigator ruled the web, it was three years after the NCA's web server and web browser was released and a year after the image tag was added to the HTML standard. Do you remember this loading screen? Dial‑up and that lovely handshake sound. And of course, our survey board, net escape navigator which had buttons for what's new and what's cool on the Internet.
And this! The icon that still evokes memories of slow web page downloads over dial‑up.
So by November 1996, Serbian Internet landscape looked like this. We had run 2,000 hosts mostly on the academic network, and 200 .yu domains and less than 10,000 Internet users. We had 5,000 users on the academic network but this number does not include people who exchanged some services with the Internet such as BBS exchanging mails and use groups.
So, only a few months after the Internet's big debut in Serbia on November 17, the second round of municipal elections were held and the opposition won in all major cities. Miloshevic regime refused to accept these results, and the first civil protester sparked on November 19. The following day, massive protests erupted all over Serbia. This is the photo in the background showing the Belgrade rally in November 29, 1996. The students protests began on November 22nd, and it lasted for almost four months, until March 1997 when students protests demands were met and those are the recognition of the municipal elections and the recognition of the advice counsellor of students university who refused to support students events.
The story of the Internet revolution in Serbia begins on November 26, when it was the fourth day of the protest when the account protest 96 was created on Galleb, student server on the Belgrade school of electrical engineering. Galleb, in English, means seagull and it was a favourite brand of the admin's ‑‑ favourite chocolate brand of the administrator.
So, that was our web address we used. No fancy domain names.
Lennon Etovski announced that the administrator of Galleb, which was also one the very first Linux servers in Serbia, opened the account after receiving content from the professor and head of the ETF computer centre.
What's interesting is that Belgrade's electrical engineering are where most of the events in this presentation took place is only about 150 metres from where we stand now.
The following day, on November 27, authorities shut down Radio B92, the most prominent radio station in Serbia. The official explanation given by the regime was that water had entered the coaxial cable, an episode that came infamous as the water in the coaxial cable incident. I kid you not!
After the coaxial cable dried, the regime continued to actively jam Radio B92's frequencies. A week later on December 5th, Radio B92 began streaming its programme via real audio using the link to XS4ALL. This was many people's first exposure to Internet streaming, and it was the first time on the streets of Belgrade that you could hear that some news came from the Internet.
At the same time, students from other faculties began to create protest websites, and I was a member of the team that created protest website for the faculty of philosophy. These teams all communicated using the Internet chat, MIRC client was popular at the time and I am sure that some of you remember how it looked like.
We, of course, soon realised that duplicating these efforts doesn't make any sense, so around the new year, protest web teams from other faculties gathered to establish the unified students protest web team. We even had ID cards. Here was mine front and back with a fitting student against the machine tag line.
The web team was located in ETF basement room number 33 down the corridor of the famous ex‑students' club, or KST. The ETF student association provided us with this room as well as some their computer equipment. This is about how it looked like. I guess it hasn't changed much to this day. And that gave us a great music in the evenings and the direct access to all students parties which was really, really convenient. All those MTV hits nights with Nirvana, etc.
At the end of January, a brand new students protest websites on which I worked was unveiled. The primary site's colour was deep blue. The same colour user as the police cordons that prevented students walks, we called it cordon blue, and the text was the colour... which were occasionally thrown at cops.
Originally the site had this banner, but after some professor subjected they had to ban this finger in Photoshop.
In keeping with the times, I also converted the omnipresent net escape download icon into a democracy‑now icon. And the site quickly gained prominence carrying important news and photos. It was featured in international news organisations such as CNN and BBC and we also had the obligatory surfer counter in the footer. The counter is visible here in the screenshot and the days of surfing the Internet are unfortunately long gone.
Let me show you some photos, signed as one‑sixth of the Monty Python fine circus. He faxed this statement in the drawing. The original caption for this photo was the big blue, a funny reference to the popular movie.
And this was a stand‑off with the police cordon. One night at the end of January 1997, police set up a permanent blockade preventing the students from walking. The police cordon was eventually removed after seven freezing days and even colder nights. We considered streaming the stand‑off at the time but couldn't find a computer with a webcam and a phone line close enough.
One evening in February the State security agents rushed into our office and demanded that we take down the website. The guys on the shift complied by turning off their work stations. Of course the website remained operational on the remote web server. The agents appeared satisfied and quickly left confiscating some equipment. After the incident we were assigned the students protest security detail which stayed with us almost to the end of the protest and we also expanded our mirroring efforts. On the right you can see the list of our mirrors and the one at europe.com survived to this day, making this presentation possible.
This incident revealed the incompetence of State security services at the time. It was formative for me. I saw how vulnerable the Internet was to State censorship and that it was only a matter of time before significant censorship attempts occurred. A year after the protests, I launched the mailing list which brought together these professionals, committed to keeping the Internet open. Following the pro‑democratic changes in the year of 2000, I founded the Centre for Internet Development, the first Serbian ICT policy think‑tank.
Both the mailing list and the Centre for Internet Development no longer exist but other organisations have carried on the work, most notably share foundation from Belgrade. I urge you to look them up. They are really doing amazing work.
And it's the regime tight's control of the traditional media and persecution of independent media remain the main source of information about mass demonstrations in Serbia, keeping the international media and the public focused on developments. In April 1997, issue of the wired magazine reporter David Bennahum wrote on the Internet revolution in Belgrade: "These protests in Serbia are the first mature example of the Internet playing a role in a popular uprising against the authoritarian regime. Just as Vietnam first showed the impact television could have on a war... playing a significant role."
On the last day of the protest, we moved computer equipment to the computer centre and prepared the handover note to the ETF student association. All members of the students protest web team had signed underneath. And these are the names.
And finally, I want to dedicate this presentation to Professor Cutelage [phonetic], who recently passed away, and to my late friend who is not with us, he was the administrator of the Galleb's student computer. They were always on the side of free and open Internet that helped us move forward.
So ‑‑ questions from the audience. We can take a question or two.
MASSIMILLIANO STUCCHI: Hello. So we have a question from Dmitry, and it's based on the content of your presentation: In order to maintain stability in Europe, the authorities need to turn off the Internet this winter. Then there is a continuation: Or is it enough to continue the policy of total censorship? After more than 25 years, were there any sense in these protests?
The summary is was there any sense in all these protests?
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: I think that this is the question that we will actually discuss in our discussion that we'll take place right now for the remaining part of the debate. Let us hold this question for the panel.
SPEAKER: Hi. I am Daniel Karrenberg. I am with the RIPE NCC, but old Internet guy.
My question, and it is also a question for the panel, is: How would you see if similar events happened today, how would that play out? Because back then we were all under the radar, you said it yourself, times were different and I have great respect for the work that you did. But what's more relevant for us now is what would happen if this repeated itself in 2022? And it's a question for the panel. I mean, you can answer but ‑‑
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: I personally think that, you know, the struggle would be ‑‑ the outcry would be much louder because this is now part of our everyday lives and we value it more. But, let's start with the panel. I think ‑‑ I think that these are questions for the panel as well.
I want to start with Professor Novitilic [phonetic] was actually the main protagonist of this article in Wired, so, he is also a philosopher and a professor at faculty for media and communications, and I want to ask you, what do you think, you know, a quarter century later, about all of this? What are your thoughts?
SPEAKER: Well, the Internet revolution, that's the title of David Bennahum's report. He was here with me for five or six days in Belgrade, I brought him from Berlin, at the end of December of 1996, and that article was published in April, in the Wired in April '97, and the title Internet revolution is in my opinion a quarter of a century later, pretty wrong, rather wrong.
First, it wasn't a revolution, it was a civic protest against Miloshevic and against the actions at that time. And politically, it was not a revolution. A revolution is a, basically takeover of government; that's what political revolutions are.
But we used that organ and David picked up from us for his title of the Internet revolution, because the Internet was a new thing at that time, and it was, at that time, catch word useful for political advertising of our protests, and second, we used the Internet as you heard to disseminate our news about our protests. Internally, in Serbia, there was, as I remember, 100 or maybe 200 net activists at the time with a couple of thousand of net users, but in my opinion, Internet, the Internet is is revolution. It was, it has been, still now a sole process of massive change of the world in our lives. So, it could be used as a political tool of course and it's being used even now. It has changed the landscape of the economy, of media, of culture, of politics, but in the same ‑‑ the wired issue, in April, '97, you have an article written by John cats, John cats is an author of several books, he writes talk especially, and he wrote an article for that issue of the Wired, the burst of a digital nation, or the netizen, at that time a quarter of a century before we believed, as probably many of you believe still now, we believed in ‑‑ that the net would bring more freedom, more democracy, more transparency, etc., that we'll become netizens of the world, but we didn't. We became subjects as users, or users as subjects, to prolong our consumers' life. So I'm quite sceptical of what has become of the Internet in the last, say, 15 or 20 years even, especially I think that we are not more intelligent, we are less intelligent because of the ways that states and media and corporates, organisations use the possibilities of net.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Vesna, you were a young activist at the time. Do you remember it? You brought your flag here with us. It's a really amazing flag with a lot of images from that time, including the XS4ALL.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Yes. So your story from all of your slides is actually my story too and it is illustrated with these T‑shirts that I got. So you can see the logos in the T‑shirt from the anti‑war campaigns and there is anti ‑‑ where Zamir was located, the BBS system that was helping connecting people throughout the Bosnian wars and the protest T‑shirt with the first. And then the rest of the XS4ALL and hackers' organisations that were helping bring the freedom and the democracy and we were all very idealistic about many, many years ago.
But to answer Daniel's question a little bit, and to make a connection back to the RIPE community and our topics of Internet infrastructure is that, in this presentation, you could see the mention of the sanctions that were including communication and the early Internet. And they are here again, because of the current wars. So today, there will be a session which we call a BoF later after the Plenary, talking about the engagement with those countries that are under sanctions, and tomorrow there will be another session, again talking about the sanctions and are they a good tool, what for? What could be used instead of them? So, here we are, 25 years later, and we are still talking about the same thing.
And so, if you are interested in these topics, please go and talk to each other and find out better ways to regulate both the freedom of expression and the consequences for the people who are trying to stop the freedom of expression, and they are both claiming that they are using the Internet for those goals.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: You know, as Beckett said, fail again, fail better. So... I guess it's a never‑ending struggle. You wanted to mention some ‑‑ I mentioned briefly ZaMir, ZaMir was a member of APC, right?
Hvale Vale: So I live in Sarajevo, which is the way in which I got involved many years ago. And ZaMirNET was one of the members of the APC, which was born 30 years ago as a group of ISP provider for what we called the majority world, the global south, because if the citizens, the people have no connection, no possibility to talk to one another and to send over what is happening to them, then what is the purpose?
And, you know, you look at the future with the eyes of the past and the present, and for me, going back and forth in this, I think that the centre is the why. Technology, you can look at the space, you can look at the tool, but it was the 'why' was in the social justice, people wanted change. People had political opinion, people stands, and people stand today. And what I can see what happened in Sarajevo, of course Bosnia and Herzegovina didn't have continuity, how you build after construction and disrupt, Serbia got the continuity, even in a very devastated world, Bosnia was not. And so we can talk about Internet evolution, or connection in the 2000s, when you have forums that make people coming together and ‑‑ coming together in squares, so in places where you cannot come together physically because you are under siege, breaking the taboo of coming into the square to protest and claim, the occasion was 2008, the death by stabbing of a young guy on the tram, and we went. There were more than 80,000 people on the street. It was a big taboo. If the Internet was not there, if the forum was not there we could not have done t a few years before it was the first ‑‑ let's go in front of the parliament, was about electricity, higher the costs, people, younger people, organised again through forum. So because the people could talk to the people. And so I feel that if we talk about infrastructure, I think it's important that infrastructure is analysed as a social justice and you say who controlled infrastructure? Because the water can always wet the coaxial cable. Always. But the powers, have the powers changed in these 25 years? There is many revolution, truly revolution, I just want to pledge one name, not only ‑‑ Ukraine, it's a word that is destabilising Europe region in the world, but there is Iran, there is Palestine, there are many revolutions happening, and I would say whose power are silencing this revolution? Because we know whose body ‑‑ whose bloods are powering this revolution and the Internet. I'll stop here now.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: This is interesting because in the past quarter of a century we have seen a lot of protests, revolutions, you know, different forms of civic expression from the ‑‑ where people played a significant role ‑ for instance, the Arab Spring, the protests in Hong Kong, the yellow vest protests in France, the uprising in Ukraine, the racial protest in the United States and the storming of Capitol. So, I wonder, say, if you see any line connecting these events or, you know, I mean, is it the fate of all of these that they just get forgotten and we don't learn anything from them or that government just repressing everything?
SPEAKER: If you want my expertise as a professor of political theory, there are three models, three big revolutions in history: that's English so‑called glorious, although it wasn't glorious, so much it was.... also. There was the American revolution, creation of the United States of America, War of Independence, there was the French Revolution in 1789 and these are the models for other revolutions, including big Bolvich October revolutions and others.
I don't see these, all these uprisings in the last 10, 15, 20 years as revolutions. They were revolutions that didn't succeed. So I am very sceptical and I will repeat, the Internet is kind of slow long‑term revolution because it changes radically, it changes humans. I am asking the same question that I ask myself 40 years ago when I first started using computers first on wax (?), we had terminals and then wax, and then I don't know first I bought was Schneider Joyce for writing personal kind of computer, then Macintosh SE, which still I love ‑‑ I don't know why ‑‑ etc., etc., today is tablets, but the question is the same: What are these machines? What are these machines? That's a philosophical question for me. Because computers of course are machines for computing, crunching numbers. They are also logical machines, you know. They are communication tools of course, they connect, transmit messages etc. But they are also, these machines, as the French say, ordinator, or Spaniards they call them ordinatores [phonetic]. They are devices that put some order, they impose orders on the world, on people. And the very word 'machine' is from old Greek, which has two meanings: some outside force on stage, like it was in Greek theatre, when the gods standed. But they also meant the Greek capturing device, capturing device, device for capturing. They are capturing, now, people, subjects. As I said, we believed at the beginning ‑‑ and at the very beginning of computers they were about communicating tools, even 40 years ago, they started ‑‑ the net started as arpa net etc., started with the development of computers themselves. And we believed that we become people in the worlds, a new digital nation, netizens, perhaps, democracy, freedom, liberty, etc. No, we are users. Very, very netizens. I would like to feel as a netizens, but I am a user, like many of us.
That's a question: What are computers still remains? Because, today, we know that there is this artificial intelligence bound to computers: AI. I believe there is a process, inevitable process that started, some kind of fusion between artificial intelligence, AI, and human intelligence, HI, and whether ‑‑ you know, that dystopia and other movies and books that computers switch off us humans, you know, that concept of keyboard, or Siborg, and this Siborg thinks it's often imagined as intrusion of some hardware into the body.
But there is an intrusion of software into our minds ‑‑
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: That is the revolution.
SPEAKER: More important, this revolution and the software are patterns, algorithms, we are witnessing algorithmisation of the wars, algorithmisation of the life, something I call in my book bio bow, algorithmisation, and I think there is a danger, there is a possibility because there is a possibility for us. Now computers we are not switches, but we will become machines.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: I'll ask you for the final words about the future, I am really curious what you are going to say. Vesna, how do you assess the situation over the past quarter century? Is there something that, you know, like ‑‑
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: I'd like to ‑‑ well, on one hand, I agree that with the pessimistic view that what we had hoped this new technologies will bring, didn't happen. On the other hand, if you wanted to make them into utilities, we succeeded. So, we now look at the younger generation of my children, they don't idealise the Internet, they just use it. And what I am really inspired by is the new movement that are using the Internet for rebellion, specifically the extinction rebellion that is building their own infrastructure for fighting for the climate justice. So this is where I see the future of technology, enabling our survival on the planet and the new generations are fighting for their own, like, natural environment rather than for the cyberspace to live in. And these are my kind of final words. I don't know how much time we have, but ‑‑
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: So we don't want to escape into the cyberspace, we want to live here in the world.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: We want to go back to the real world and to leave this world to our children, to leave it better, and this is actually connecting back to the ‑‑ one of the previous talks from Tobias who was saying that technology is not the goal in itself. The Internet that we are building is for the people and for the planet.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Thank you.
Hvale Vale: I practice discipline of hope. So just to have a disclaimer. And also I think it depends which dystopia we choose. I go for... and for Lily Bruth [phonetic] which says and start from the point that there is violence and that the society imposed violence. Tariov Butler [phonetic] was a black writer and she was attending from US and, in her dystopia, there is a cyber, there is a moment in which he arrives the alien and we become the synthesis, we the humans, and there is a process of violence. So I would say discipline of hope.
And I think that there are many ‑‑ we talk about the Internet, but the communities I work with and I have the privilege of privilege to learn from, they do Internets, they build community network, they build pieces of autonomous infrastructure, and we come back to the first conversation about care. Infrastructure, it's about software, hardware and people, relationship among people, responsibility among people, and a feminist would say what is the point of a revolution if you cannot dance? And we have many that are dancing. Again, look at the imaginary that the world that the resisting is bringing regardless of the violence. So I would say autonomous infrastructure can be built, maybe we don't ‑‑ we will not have one Internet, we may have many Internets. Maybe to go from one to another we will need to walk with our bodies to reach the other.
But it's okay. The planets needs that we slow down, the planets ask us to build an infrastructure that do not build farms that extinguish water from the community or kill the people to have those very ‑‑ we had the big protest in Serbia which was successful, they wanted to stop digging and mining for all this ‑‑ litium. So, I feel might not be a big revolution, we will have an incident but I will practice the discipline of hope and I believe that we have so many fights because there are so much injustice and, for me, the people that are less privileged than I, I will dictate the pace and I will walk with them.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: We have ten more minutes for this until we get to the Q&A session so I would like Novica, to ask you if you had a crystal ball, what would you see in the future?
SPEAKER: A couple of computers, actually. I don't know, I am an old man, I am 67. And I think many old people are basically pessimistic. What to hope for? Hope for our children. But I don't know... we don't know what will happen with these machines, with the computing powers, with new quantum computers etc., etc. We don't know.
At present, I can look with a crystal ball and what I see I don't like very much, I must say, I am honest here with you. I don't like t that's turning so many people into... is that word? Users or subjects. The very word creativity, as, you know, creative became a catchword for advertising, and advertising changed. One of the big heroes of this computer era was, of course, Steve Jobs. Why? For two things:
He worked to personalise the computer. To personalise the computer. And he managed that. And I don't think now, today, that that was a good idea. It was inevitable. But many people, it changed their persona, they private or the individual identity for patterns that they receive from the net basically the mobile phones and they choose what they are ordered in a way to choose.
That's the first thing. Second thing, Steve Jobs did something that will have great impact today and will have impact tomorrow. As you know, advertising, marketing, advertising was about the markets, markets is a place where supply and demand meets, what you need, then advertising tells you what would be good for your needs. Steve Jobs puts that from your needs into deeper area of your wishes, your subconscious. Why do I want a new iPhone every year? I don't know. But I wish that. Of course I don't buy it, but there are other phones, cheaper, quite good that could be a good supply for my demand, for my needs. And that turned the whole advertising upside down. Today's computing world orders our wishes, which is very deep in us.
So, I remain pessimistic. Thank you.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: And you see say this as essentially a computer nerd.
SPEAKER: Computers are not my profession. I am a professor and author of some 20 books and sometime journalist. I am using computers, I feel, all my life, or almost, and at the end, I see many more problems than benefits of computers. Of course I beg to differ ‑‑
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Okay. Thank you. Vesna?
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: I'd like to be next, I'd like to leave the last word to you.
So, for me, the Internet of the future will have to be environmentally sustainable, and it will have to incorporate the struggle for the digital rights and for the climate justice. To connect ‑‑ so, in one of the workshops that I attended recently, we came up with three principles because people can remember very few things, so three is kind of a good number. And that reminded me of my early days at the RIPE NCC and in the RIPE community when we had these principles for the outer space distribution which were conservation, aggregation, registration. It was very simple, it was also very complex to find the balance between them, because they were like the opposing, so there was like the electing between them.
And the principles for the Internet of the future, in my opinion, are limitations, reparations and solidarity.
So reputations were already mentioned by Tobias, so we have benefitted a lot. We, in the global north, have benefitted a lot from the Internet revolutions and now it's time to pay back. It's time for us to contribute back to the people that we have exploited to build our Internet. So we have to do the reparations for the people in the global south who are suffering from the consequences of our progress.
For ourselves, we have to implement limitations. We have to stop aiming for the graphs that go up and to the right. We have to practice the degrowth, devestments, everything that starts with 'de', because the growth, unlimited growth that we are used to until now, is not possible on the limited planet.
And finally, to balance all of that, we need solidarity between ourselves and between those that are worse off than us. We have to recognise our privileges and help those that are marginalised and learn from them, not in a sense of like here we are helping you and this is a charitable act. No. We need to learn from those that are different from us and this is like the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity.
So these principles seem not very technical but they do need to be translated into the technical principles of the Internet if we are to keep the Internet and the planet for the future.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: So, what is the thought that you want to leave the audience with, Hvale Vale?
Hvale Vale: A big thank you because today when I arrived here, I was asking, I said how can I explain to people that work in the tech community that talk about infrastructure, practical things that I understand vaguely, no? How I can talk, and I have. It's about care. So, at the end of the day, the infrastructure do not build by itself. You build it, and you need to be much more diverse than it is now and we can have a personal responsibility as big as we can, and we can fall, make mistake and continue, but we can do it. So today I find words that I didn't know how and where to find, and I know that for me where care it's foundational. Now I can use the word of care to talk. I would not be heard by everyone, but at least today I got in a space that is not my, a word that is hope. So, take care, give care, that's my future. Small steps.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Thank you. Can I have a round of applause for this great panel.
Okay, so on to Q&A.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: So, we have a comment from the same person who asked the question earlier, Dmitry says: In the near future, we will see how national authorities in different countries will reintroduce various restrictions and try to control the Internet. In this situation, RIPE should set itself the tasks of maintaining connectivity between countries. We need to decide what the Internet is for. To make a revolution or to exchange information and the main question is where freedom of speech ends and when it begins. Any comments ‑‑
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Do you want to take a stab at this question?
SPEAKER: Well, freedom of speech begins and ends with responsibility I think ‑‑ I believe. And as for the first part, which is that states we all have more control over the net communications, it has already started. A lot of parts of the world are digital colonies, actually. So, the information is packed into some boxes and we receive them, we see very, very often, like now in this war in Ukraine, we see very often one side, we watch one side of this war. It doesn't matter which side but we look.
So, in the time where we believe, we still believe that the Internet is, you know, full of many opinions, many kinds of informations ‑ no, it's not that.
I want to talk in reality. I mean, I like hopes, dreams, etc., like everyone, but I am tired to reality and reality is something today ‑ today, reality is something that I don't like.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Thanks. We have another question from Monica from Hizone Line (?) So when talking about sanctions, what was the effect 25 years ago and what would those affected then recommend to those asking for or implementing sanctions today?
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Vesna?
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Well, I am very opinionated about that. So, there will be two BoF sessions, one specifically about sanctions, but personally, as someone who has been affected by those sanctions, they do not work. They impact the innocent population more than they influence those in power, and people will always find ways to find loopholes in those sanctions and the people who have more resources will be better off in any case.
So, sanctions of the communications do not work, in my opinion and in my experience from 25 years ago.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Yeah, fully agree.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: We have another question and then I'll go to the microphone.
Do the panel agree ‑‑ from Andrew Campling ‑‑ do the panel agree that the Internet is not always a force for good? For example, the widespread dissemination of misinformation on various topics such as Covid and to subvert democracy such as the US 2016 elections and Brexit referendum on the use of television channels by supporters of the Russian innovation of Ukraine to spread government propaganda?
SPEAKER: Many ‑‑ but just one thing to remind you: In 2008 Obama campaign, they used a lot of Internet targeting of, and Obama won. Eight years later, Trump used the same technology, and Trump won. So... Internet on surface in its usage is agnostic in a way. But you can use it this or that, for Obama or for Trump also.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: It's what we make of it. It's our mirror image.
Hvale Vale: I think it's a wrongly posed question. Each and every time I listen, if the Internet is good or bad. Is a building good or bad? I want to know who I have decided to build in a certain way? Who was invited to define the questions? So if we don't go at the root, and you know what the root is, so I think that we really need to go at the root before saying. It's not about good and bad Internet. Who talks? Who talks? Who makes the decisions? The decision that was made 25 years, the powers, the body that makes the decision, the social class, where the place where they are making the same decision, maybe they decrease in number, but skin‑wise, colour‑wise, race‑wise, location in the world, they didn't change that much, personal experience and probably a lot of other people in the world.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Tobias Fiebig. I am making these statements on behalf of myself, so ‑‑ making these statements on behalf of myself. So looking at like what's currently happening in Iran and other places where there is censorship and comparing to the situation 25 years ago. Do you think that the introduction of these personalised computers, of more phones, more i‑phones, more, in a sense, walled gardens, makes it harder to circumvent attempts at censorship? Because usually, as a network engineer, and I played like class competitions for this, how to get data out of locked‑down networks, usually there is a lot of ways you can do that, they simply don't come as an app for an iPhone, so what's your perspective, what would have changed with today's technology, with today's walled garden scenario back, then 25 years ago?
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Two words: Free software. Two more words: Open source. So, yes, of course this is a problem, and we do have a solution, technical solution. Now we just have to make sure that those technical means are implemented for the purposes of interchange of information and escaping those walled gardens.
DANIEL KARRENBERG: I like the concept of care, the word. I like the three points of Vesna, and maybe it would be a good way to finish the panel if you three, the philosopher, computer geek, the activist and Vesna I don't know how to characterise you ‑‑ what advice would you give the people in the room to individually do good? You know, what can we as network engineers, you know, on the more practical level, not so much on the philosophical level or the idealogical level, what should we do?
SPEAKER: Can I answer that. I'll tell you a small bit from the 1990, I don't know, I think, or 1992, somehow I got my hands on first Linux, and my friends made copies, we tried all that, and it was a time when we had, here in Belgrade, in Serbia, actually, only one BBS called Sezam, modelled on well, the famous well. And we were afraid ‑‑ it was dial‑up system and you should, you know, dial through a phone etc., etc., and we asked ourselves what have regime switched off these computers, this Sezam, what shall we do, how do we communicate, exchange everything? And then I found some Portuguese guy made a whole Linux into four floppies, it's today like 3 megabits, I remember I downloaded it through all night, it was a slow connection. I played with it and I managed to squeeze basics of Linux for communication into one floppy. Then I found a guy here, he is one of the biggest hackers I met ever, and he managed to, you know, it was at that time Unix of course behind Linux, it's very difficult, as engineers you probably know, it was very difficult at the time to change the protocols for TCIP. And he managed that. So we had a Linux on one floppy, we gave that ‑‑ people made copies and we were ready to re‑establish our Sezam, not that BBS, but to re‑establish our connections within an hour, and then we felt safe. And that's what you engineers, the technical people can do, you can build things, I don't know, or rebuild things, or change things so that people could have that basic thing for hope. Basic thing for hope is resistance, the possibility to resist oppression or repression.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: To basically build tools to reclaim our revolution. Vesna?
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: We are out of time, but I want to invite you all to imagine yourself in a refugee camp and build technology for the refugees that we are and that we will be in the future.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: We have time for just one last question.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: On the point of what we can do. As I said most of us know how to get packets where packets shouldn't be according to some. So I think what we should do it make it ping.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: And one more thing. Within the RIPE, we can make a task force or a working group to deal with these subjects in the future.
SLOBODAN MARKOVIC: Thank you, everyone. It's been a really an honour to talk to you and I would like another round of applause for our panel here today. Thank you.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Thank you very much all of you for being here. Just two things: Don't forget to rate the talks, and most important for this session, because this was a first for a RIPE meeting, having a panel like this one, so please let us know as Programme Committee if you liked it or not. I have seen some positive comments on the chat, on Meetecho, so let us know if you liked it, let us know if there is something that you think should be repeated at the next RIPE meetings. So let us know. Thank you very much.
LIVE CAPTIONING BY
MARY McKEON, RMR, CRR, CBC