Tyler – the embodiment of freedom of expression guaranteed by Anonymous
Earlier today I talked to Anon Winston Smith about Tyler – because like many of us, I have heard of Tyler, but know very little about it. I had thought it was just an alternative to WikiLeaks; but in reality it is very much more. You can find a summary of the chat here on Infosecurity Magazine.
I’d like to make one point, because I think it’s quite important. I referred to Winston as the man “who fronts the AnonUKIre group,” and got an instant rebuke. No-one ‘fronts’ Anonymous or any part of it. That’s the whole point about Anonymous; it has no structure, no hierarchy, no frontsman – and one of our difficulties in understanding the collective is an automatic tendency to try to pigeon-hole it in traditional terms. It doesn’t work, because Anonymous is quite literally and genuinely anarchic. That, probably more than anything else, is what worries the suits.
But back to Tyler. I’ve talked to Winston before and know a little about his background. I know, for example, that he has held quite senior IT positions in quite major banks – so I thought it a fair bet that he would know a bit about Tyler. What I didn’t realise was just how much he knows:
IRL [‘in real life’] I was a professional systems architect and financial engineer. That career was destroyed by a number of corrupt officials and professionals. I am providing these skills to Anonymous to assist Tyler in these critical stages until it can support itself of its own accord. An open source, open contribution based system is being setup so that Tyler will be open to all for design, development and implementation – as it should be. Within a few months Tyler will be able to be contributed to anonymously by as many people who want to become involved, on any aspect of its evolution. Until that time, I will be answerable to Anonymous for its design and architecture. It does not mean it’s my project, it means I am the one people can shout at. Many other Anons are involved, anonymously. Their contribution is no more nor less important than mine. The nature of their involvement means secrecy.
For the moment, Tyler would appear to be operational as a closed system. Anons seem to be using it to help develop it; but only with the use of RetroShare and only within a select group. Joining that group is by invitation only. However, by the end of next year, Winston expects it to be fully operational – and by then WikiLeaks-style leaks will be only a small part of a fully distributed, fully functional, encrypted social network. The fear that Twitter, or Facebook, or Google or Microsoft will disclose our personal details to law enforcement or sell our privacy to the highest bidder will be no more. To help understand this, Winston sent me two graphics. The first is a representation of the existing WikiLeaks.
It has a single point of failure – well, two to be precise: it’s structure and its head (Julian Assange). I actually did a post two years ago with the same conclusion: You cut off the head to kill the snake – the threat to Julian Assange. WikiLeaks is vulnerable. Tyler is designed to be not so.
The point about Tyler is that it is effectively modeled on Anonymous itself: distributed, anonymous (encrypted), and with no head (either personal or structural) that can be cut off. Tyler is the hydra to WikiLeaks snake. It is also Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Skype and many other things all rolled into one; but private, secure and not subject to subpoenas. It will eventually be, as Winston Smith suggests, a delivery of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed not by our legal systems or governments, but by Anonymous.
See also: More accusations for Barclays to answer