For a while now I have been debating over whether to write an article about the current Cyber Security threat the Government of Uganda is facing or the comedy that Counsel Fred Muwema has opted for. It was not until I came across this article giving Facebook 6 days to cooperate in regard to his intent to sue for defamation that I thought I needed to weigh in into this saga. Interestingly, while reading the article, I was entertained further when on the same page I saw an advert by one of Uganda’s leading comedians Pablo advertising his Good Friday Nyama Choma event. To be honest, Muwema’s threats and Pablo’s comedy make a good match.
In Point No. 8 of the letter Counsel Muwema allegedly wrote to Facebook, he states; “To this end I request for the Internet Protocol address of the subject user by the 29th March 2016 to be able to determine the user’s physical location, email, telephone, address and other useful identifier information.”
To take on such a battle with Facebook, Counsel Muwema reminds me of the time I visited the game park and saw a dog barking at an elephant. The elephant just went about it’s business and only occasionally looked through the corner of it’s eye to see what the source of noise was. For the attention the dog wanted, that is the best it could get from the elephant.
So Counsel, who told you that getting the IP address information is a guarantee of identifying the facebook user TVO? I will not blame you for thinking this way but probably my disappointment should be directed to the erstwhile technology advisers you surround yourself with.
For a highly marked Government critic like TVO, it would be foolhardy of one to expect him to use a pedestrian approach when engaging in what he does best. The precautions I expect such a person to take are beyond the ordinary since what he is doing is a matter of life and death and could see him (depending on where he is) either be incarcerated for life or extradited to Uganda to face incarceration.
In the world of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and Encryption, TVO has the ability to fool even Facebook about his whereabouts. One can be in Uganda but on accessing a site in the UK, you can utilise Internet protocol addresses from the Ukraine thereby making the UK servers believe and log your origin as the Ukraine.
Besides, what makes you think that TVO is one person? It could as well be a distributed team hence even getting the IP address may not help you uncover them. Advances in technology have made it more difficult to keep up to pace with tracking online users.
Have you heard of FreeNet, the Underground Internet? Off their website, the FreeNet project is essentially an internet within the internet, but with absolutely no censorship. The information hosted on Freenet is encryted and routed through many different nodes, which makes it incredibly difficult to track who is providing and requesting the information on its servers. Thus Freenet accomplishes absolute freedom of speech!
How about the Deep Web and Dark Web? Due to the love for privacy, anonymous browsers like the ToRBrowser are now in vogue lately allowing users to browse the internet surreptitiously and without being easily traced. When you make a request to find a web page, the request to find the intended destination is wrapped in layers of encryption or code – like the skin of an onion. Instead of going direct to the web page your request is bounced randomly across a network relay of computers all across the globe. As your request arrives at a new location a level of encryption is unlocked. All the relay computer sees are instructions to send the request on to the next location.
In real world language; bouncing across different locations makes it near impossible to trace the user. Meaning you become anonymous.
The TVO I have observed is not daft enough to utilise the internet plainly. I therefore want to take you out of your illusion Counsel by advising you to concentrate on matters other than taking on Facebook or hunting for TVO. If it is publicity you wanted, you have already got it.
My 2 Pence.
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