Eric Schmidt WikiLeaks meeting turns up details on internet shut-down

Chris Burns - Apr 19, 2013
Eric Schmidt WikiLeaks meeting turns up details on internet shut-down

This week a chat between Google’s own Eric Schmidt and the head of the organization known as WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has been revealed in full. This conversation has been typed out in transcript form and revealed to the public by none other than WikiLeaks itself, releasing this document just ahead of the publication of the book The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future. This is significant due to the book’s co-author, Jared Cohen, also apparently being present at the meeting with Assange.

The transcript at hand – which you can access [here] – is said to be a complete write-up of a five-hour chat between Schmidt, Assange, Cohen, and Lisa Shields. Cohen is otherwise known as a former Secretary of State advisor to Hillary Clinton. Lisa Shields hails from the Council on Foreign Relations.

At the time of the recording from which the transcript was transcribed, Assange was under house arrest in the UK. The meeting took place in a single day, the 23rd of June, 2011, and according to WikiLeaks, it was Schmidt and Cohen that requested the meeting “to discuss ideas for” their book.

“To be used in a book by Eric Schmidt, due to be published by Knopf in October 2012. I have been given a guarantee that I will see the transcript and will be able to adjust it for accuracy and clarity.” – Assange

One of the first subjects that has turned up as telling – and will almost certainly appear in the forthcoming book – is Schmidt and Assange’s words exchanged on a government’s ability to turn off the internet. Using mobile phones, they note, things have changed drastically.

ES: When we were sort of chatting initially we talked about my idea that powering, mobile phones being powered, is sort of changing society. A rough summary of your answer for everybody else is that people are very much the same and something big has to change their behaviour, and this might be one of them, and you said, you were very interested in someone building phone to phone encryption.

Can you talk a little bit about, roughly, the architecture where you would have a broad open network and you have person to person encryption. What does that mean technically, how would it work, why is it important. That kind of stuff. I mean, I think people don’t understand any of this area in my view.

JA: When we were dealing with Egypt we saw the Mubarak government cut off the internet and we saw only one – there was one ISP that quite few of us were involved in trying to keep its connections open, it had maybe 6% of the market. Eventually they cut.. eventually the Mubarak government also cut off the mobile phone system. And why is it that that can be done?

People with mobile phones have a device that can communicate in a radio spectrum. In a city there is a high density… there is always, if you like, a path between one person and another person. That is there is always a continuous path of mobile phones, each one can in theory hear the radio of the other.

This conversation continues for over 25000 words – you’ll want to take a deep dive as we continue investigating throughout the day (and through the future, too). If you’re feeling really intrepid, you may want to download the page just incase it’s taken down or redacted in any way in the near future as well.

For this particular situation we’d love for you, the reader, to engage with us in taking a look at this WikiLeaks document. In our Facebook Chat today we’ll be discussing this document in-depth. Please feel free to join in!

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