#AceNewsServices says `Video Released by Guardian shows destruction of `Snowden Fles’ on `GCHQ’s’ Orders’
The Guardian has released a video of the newspaper’s editors destroying hard drives and memory cards with encrypted files leaked byEdward Snowden – under the watchful gaze of experts from GCHQ, the government’s surveillance agency.
It is the first time the footage has been published on-line since The Guardian’s hard drives were demolished on July 20, 2013, in the basement of the newspaper’s London offices.
Three Guardian staff members – deputy editor Paul Johnson, executive director Sheila Fitzsimmons and computer expert David Blishen – are seen taking angle-grinders and drills to the internal components of computers to destroy information on them.
It took three hours to smash up the computers. The journalists then fed the pieces into the GCHQ-provided degausser high-tech equipment, which destroys magnetic fields and erases data, The Guardian said.
Initially, GCHQ officials wanted to inspect the material before destruction, carry out the operation themselves and take the remnants away. But the Guardian refused to let them.
The classified information was stored on four computers, none of which was ever connected to the Internet or any other network.
The UK government saw the destruction of the computers as a way to stop further publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It gave The Guardian an ultimatum to either hand the Snowden material back, destroy it, or face an injunction. UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to convey the message.
“We can do this nicely or we can go to law,” Heywood told The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger during one of their meetings in June and July.
“A lot of people in government think you should be closed down,” he added, The Guardian reported.
Initially reluctant to comply with the government’s demand, The Guardian eventually took the decision to demolish the hard drives with the information on them – as it was seen as the only way to protect the newspaper and its team.
The measure, however, did not stop the flow of #NSA- and #GCHQ- related revelations. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told government officials that several copies of the secret documents existed, but only one in the UK. It was known that The Guardian’s columnist Glenn Greenwald, who met Snowden in Hong Kong, had leaked material in Rio de Janeiro. There were further copies in the US, according to Rusbridger.
After the destruction of the hard drives, the paper continued to consult with the government before publishing national security stories.
Though Edward Snowden’s temporary political asylum in Russia is set to expire in August, his lawyer says the NSA whistleblower has the right to extend his status every year until he is eligible for citizenship.
Snowden will make up his mind very soon, his legal representative in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, told Kommersant newspaper.
Meanwhile, a top Russian lawmaker has indicated that Russia will most likely extend Snowden’s asylum. “He will not be sent out of Russia,” Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.“It will be up to Snowden,”The New York Times quoted him as saying.
Kucherena did not rule out that Snowden will apply for an extension of his asylum and maybe even seek Russian citizenship in the future.
In an article published by The New Yorker earlier this week, Snowden dismissed as “absurd”accusations from US lawmakers that he might have spied on behalf of Russia when taking troves of classified US government documents. Snowden insisted that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”
Snowden asked why he would have initially fled to Hong Kong and why was he “stuck in the airport forever” - in reference to the forty days he spent stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport – if he was a spy. “Spies get treated better than that,” he said.
Snowden’s statement follows accusations made by the chairs of both the House and Senate intelligence committees last Sunday, which insinuated that he might have collaborated with Russia’s special services.
Speaking to RT earlier this week, Kucherena dismissed any accusations against his client, stressing that he has spent a lot of time with Snowden since June of last year and would have been aware if he had cooperated with the Russian government.
“But I assure everyone that all day-to-day issues, housing rental etc. – all these questions he resolves himself or with my help.”
The lawyer reminded that Snowden recently obtained a job after spending nearly all of his savings.
“So in this case I cannot say that there is any government involvement, because there is none. His life is modest.”
Details of a highly secretive, multi-national trade agreement long in works have been published by WikiLeaks, and critics say there will be major repercussions for much of the modern world if it’s approved in this incarnation.
The anti-secrecy grouppublished on Wednesday a 95-page excerpt taken from a recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a NAFTA-like agreement that is expected to encompass nations representing more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product when it is finally approved: the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
US President Barack Obama and counterparts from 11 other prospective member states have hammered out the free trade agreement in utmost secrecy for years now, the result of which, according to the White House, would rekindle the economies of all of those involved, including many countries considered to still be emerging.
“The TPP will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports and creating more jobs for our people, which is my number-one priority,” Obama said during a Nov. 2011 address. The deal, he said, “has the potential to be a model not only for the Asia-Pacific but for future trade agreements” by regulating markets and creating opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the growing global marketplace.
Upon the publication of an excerpt obtained by WikiLeaks this week, however, opponents of the act are insisting that provisions dealing with creation, invention and innovation could serve a severe blow to everyone, particularly those the internet realm.
Although the TPP covers an array of topics — many of which have not been covered by past agreements, according to Obama — WikiLeaks has published a chapter from a draft dated August 30, 2013 that deals solely on Intellectual Property, or IP, rights. Previous reports about the rumoured contents of the TPP with regards to IP law have raised concern among activists before, with the California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation going as far warn that earlier leaked draft text suggested the agreement “would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process and hinder people’s’ abilities to innovate,” all of which is being agreed upon without any oversight or observation. Indeed, the thousands of words released by WikiLeaks this week has concreted those fears and has already caused the likes of the EFF and others to sound an alarm.
The IP chapter, wrote WikiLeaks, “provides the public with the fullest opportunity so far to familiarize themselves with the details and implications of the TPP,” an agreement that has largely avoided scrutiny in the mainstream media during its development, no thanks, presumably, to the under-the-table arguments that have led prospective member states to the point they’re at today.
Julian Assange, the Australian founder of the whistleblower site who has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over a year now, had particularly harsh words for the TPP in a statement published alongside the draft release.
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” Assange said. “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Within the IP chapter, the partaking nations in one excerpt agree to “Enhance the role of intellectual property in promoting economic and social development,” but elsewhere suggest that the way such could be accomplished would involve serious policing of the World Wide Web. Later, the countries write they hope to “reduce impediments to trade and investment by promoting deeper economic integration through effective and adequate creation, use, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, taking into account the different levels of economic development and capacity as well as differences in national legal systems.”
“Compared to existing multilateral agreements, the TPP IPR chapter proposes the granting of more patents, the creation of intellectual property rights on data, the extension of the terms of protection for patents and copyrights, expansions of right holder privileges and increases in the penalties for infringement,” James Love of Knowledge Ecology International explained after reading the leaked chapter. “The TPP text shrinks the space for exceptions in all types of intellectual property rights. Negotiated in secret, the proposed text is bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine and profoundly bad for innovation.”
Opponents have argued in the past that stringent new rules under the TPP with regards to copyrighted material would cause the price of medication to go up: potentially catastrophic news for residents of member state who may have difficulties affording prescriptions. Public Citizen, a Washington-based consumer advocacy organization, has warned that US Trade Representatives privy to the TPP discussions have demanded provisions that “would strengthen, lengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies on cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS drugs, among others, in the Asia-Pacific region.” Indeed, the leaked chapter suggests drug companies could easily extend and widen patents under the TPP, prohibiting other countries from producing life-saving pills and selling them for less. Outside of the world of medicine, though, the implications that could come with new copyright rules agreed upon my essentially half of the world’s economy are likely to affect everyone.
“One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view,” Dr. Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property law, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.”
WikiLeaks wrote in response that the enforcement measures discussed have “far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons.”
“Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards,” warned WikiLeaks. “The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence.”
According to the whistleblower site, the IP chapter also includes provisions that rehash some of the very surveillance and enforcement rules from the abandoned SOPA and ACTA treaties that were left to die after public outrage halted any agreement with regards to those legislation.
“The WikiLeaks text also features Hollywood and recording industry inspired proposals – think about the SOPA debacle – to limit internetfreedom and access to educational materials, to force internet providers to act as copyright enforcers and to cut off people’s internet access,” Burcu Kilic, an intellectual property lawyer with Public Citizen, explained to the website TorrentFreak.
SOPA, or the Stop Online Privacy Act, was abandoned last year after massive public campaign thwarted the US Congress’ attempt to censor access to certain internet sites were copyrighted content may be incidentally hosted. One of the bill’s biggest opponents, Kim Dotcom of file-sharing sites Megaupload and Mega, was quick to condone WikiLeaks for their release of the TPP draft and condemned those responsible for drafting a bill that he warned would have major consequences for all if approved, including residents of New Zealand such as himself.
“No wonder they kept it secret. What a malicious piece of US corporate lobbying. TPP is about world domination for US corporations. Nothing else. We will stop this madness in New Zealand,” he told RT’s Andrew Blake.
According to WikiLeaks, the Obama administration and senior heads of state from other potential TPP nations have expressed interest in ratifying the agreement before 2014. All of that could now be put in jeopardy.
The Environment Chapter covers what the Parties propose to be their positions on: environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services. It also outlines how to resolve environmental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation. The draft Consolidated Text was prepared by the Chairs of the Environment Working Group, at the request of TPP Ministers at the Brunei round of the negotiations.
When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures. The dispute settlement mechanisms it creates are cooperative instead of binding; there are no required penalties and no proposed criminal sanctions. With the exception of fisheries, trade in ‘environmental’ goods and the disputed inclusion of other multilateral agreements, the Chapter appears to function as a public relations exercise.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ publisher, stated: “Today’s WikiLeaks release shows that the public sweetener in the TPP is just media sugar-water. The fabled TPP environmental chapter turns out to be a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism.”
The Chairs’ Report of the Environment Working Group also shows that there are still significant areas of contention in the Working Group. The report claims that the draft Consolidated Text displays much compromise between the Parties already, but more is needed to reach a final text. The main areas of contention listed include the role of this agreement with respect to multilateral environmental agreements and the dispute resolution process.
The documents date from 24 November 2013 ─ the end of the Salt Lake City round. They were requested by the Ministers of the TPP after the August 2013 Brunei round. The Consolidated Text was designed to be a “landing zone” document to further the negotiations quickly and displays what the Chairs say is a good representation of all Parties’ positions at the time. The WikiLeaks Consolidated Text and corresponding Chairs’ Report show that there remains a lot of controversy and disagreement within the Working Group. The Consolidated Text published by WikiLeaks is not bracketed, as per the IP Chapter released in November 2013, as it is drafted by the Chairs of the Working Group at their responsibility. Instead, the accompanying Chairs’ Report provides commentary on the draft Consolidated Text and is the equivalent of bracketed disagreements for the countries that have not agreed on certain Articles, and provides their positions.
Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. This is the third in the series of Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) leaks published by WikiLeaks.
#Snowden and his closest supporters contend that he was on his way to Latin America when the U.S. government stranded him inMoscow, but there are several reasons to doubt that claim.
First, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone that he advised #Snowdon against going to Latin America because “he would be physically safest in Russia.”
Second, the U.S. revoked #Snowden’s passport by June 22, and the unsigned Ecuadorian travel document acquired by Assange was void when #Snowden landed in Moscow.
#WikiLeaks told BI that the Ecuadorian document was meant help #Snowden leave Hong Kong, which raises the question of why he would need it if his passport was still good. The organization has not explained why it would send the #NSA-trained hacker to Russia knowing he would land with a void passport and a bunk travel document.
On July 12, #Snowden’s Moscow lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explained that #Snowden “is in a situation with no way out. He has no passport and can travel nowhere; he has no visa.”
On Aug. 1 Kucherena, who is employed by the FSB, explained why Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum: “Edward couldn’t come and buy himself tickets to Havana or any other countries since he had no passport.”
We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle–now the war.
Beyond its role in Snowden’s getaway and its friendliness with Russia, WikiLeaks is also connected to three of the main people with access to the leaked NSA files. This fact does not necessarily tarnish their reporting, but it is intriguing in light of #Wikileaks’ deep involvement with#Snowden.
Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, two journalists contacted by Snowden and then given tens of thousands of documents by Snowden in Hong Kong, sit on the board of a foundation that launched in December 2012 to crowd-source funding for WikiLeaks.
Jacob Appelbaum, a close friend of Poitras and lead author of at least one Der Spiegel story citing the #Snowden leaks, is known as “The American WikiLeaks Hacker” and has co-authored others articles drawing from “internal #NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL.”
Appelbaum is not a journalist and does not hide his disdain for the #NSA. This week he ended a talk — during which he presented never-before-seen #NSA documents — by saying: “[If] you work for the #NSA, I’d just like to encourage you to leak more documents.”
Assange told the same audience to “join the CIA. Go in there. Go into the ballpark and get the ball and bring it out … all those organizations will be infiltrated by this generation.”
That is the same man largely credited with extricating #Snowden from extradition to the U.S. by sending him to Moscow. The 42-year-old Australian has also hosted a Kremlin-funded TV show. And his political party recently met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who is staunchly backed by the Kremlin.
No wonder Greenwald told Rolling Stone that “Julian stepping forward and being the face of the story wasn’t great for #Snowden.”
Snowden also hurt his own cause. Although he initiated an important debate, his statements and actions also pushed him beyond being an honest whistleblower.
All things considered, Snowden’s affiliation with Assange and WikiLeaks raises a legitimate question: Is the fact that his life is now overseen by a Russian security detail more than an extraordinary coincidence?
Given that we still don’t know how many classified documents Snowden stole or when he gave up access, that question should concern everyone.
Editor’s note: Here’s a graphic that we put together in November to summarize the Snowden saga:
The#TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and fracking across the U.S. Graphic courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
First, fast track is an outdated and inappropriate mechanism. It was first passed in 1974 when trade pacts focused on traditional trade issues, like tariffs and quotas. Today, trade pacts like the#TPPcover a broad range of issues including the environment, investment, labour, government procurement, consumer protections and many more things we face in our everyday lives. It is therefore critical that Congress maintain its constitutional authority to oversee trade policy and ensure that trade pacts protect communities, workers and the environment before the pacts get finalized.
Second, fast track is undemocratic. After congressional approval, the President could submit signed trade pacts to Congress for an up-or-down vote within 90 days with all amendments forbidden and a maximum of 20 hours of debate. Even more atrocious is that it would actually allow the President to write legislation that would change U.S. laws to make them conform to the terms of the secretly negotiated trade agreement.
In other words, fast-track authority eliminates a critical constitutional check-and-balance structure that aids most other democratic processes. By stripping Congress of its ability to fully debate and amend the language of today’s all-encompassing trade pacts, fast-track authority renders Congress unable to ensure that trade negotiations result in agreements that benefit communities and the environment.
Third, it’s a risky endeavor that could help rubber-stamp very harmful trade pacts such as the #TPP. The #TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would elevate corporations to the level of nations, thus allowing foreign companies to directly sue governments in private trade tribunals over laws and policies that corporations allege reduce their profits. It would also open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and, therefore,fracking across the U.S.
And the real kicker is that—despite these any many other consequences—there has been virtually no opportunity for public discussion of the trade pact, as no draft text has been publicly revealed. So Congress is actually voting on whether to quickly pass trade agreements it’s never even seen!
Now is the time we need a full discussion about the true costs of the #TPP and other trade pacts—not a process to rush flawed deals through the finish line.
The bottom line is that fast track would set us up for failure. It’s critical that Congress has the ability to effectively oversee trade negotiations and ensure that the contents of our trade agreements protect our workers, communities and environment in the U.S. and abroad. The public and members of Congress have effectively been left in the dark for too long. Now it’s up to Congress to take the reins and oppose fast track. On behalf of the Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members and supports, I urge members to oppose this fast-track bill and retain their right to ensure that the U.S. trades responsibly.
#AceGuestNews says according to a recent article in RFS the authorities have used the issue of national security to expand Web monitoring and censorship – even while continuing to promote and develop Internet access for the population at large. The Web has played a key role in the political debate prompted by legislative and presidential elections and in the post-election mobilization of the opposition and civil society. These developments provoked a strong official response. The blogosphere has grown stronger and better organized in the face of state attacks.
Government anti-“extremism” campaign hits Internet content and access
Prime Minister (now President-elect) Vladimir Putinsaid on 9 February 2012: “Negative phenomena exist everywhere, including on the Internet, and should not be used as a pretext to limit Internet freedom.” However, the authorities have used the justification of preventing violence to reinforce their control of the Internet, with the Federal Security Service (FSB) taking steps to close a number of online organizations in late 2011. Most of these groups have clearly called on their members to respect the law and not to let themselves be provoked into violence.
The government list of “extremist” content, as well as the boundaries of the category itself, keep growing. It now includes everything touching on religion and issues of ethnicity, which have become taboo subjects on RuNet – as the Russian Internet is known. That list is the basis of official demands to take down content, and of actions to block site access (see the Russia chapter in the 2011 report on Enemies of the Internet).
The process of domain name registration could affect freedom of expression online by leading to closure of more sites. New rules promulgated by Nic.ru, the biggest Russian domain name-registration company, allow the cancellation of domain names for inciting violence, “extremist” activity, advocating overthrow of the government, activity in conflict with human dignity or religious beliefs. The rules reflected new official regulations. Domain name-registration companies are authorized to suspend names in the .ru and .rf (pΦ) domains upon written notification from “agencies conducting an investigation.” That provision would potentially authorize prosecutors, the FSB, the police, or the drug enforcement agency (FSKN) to order such a move.
In Tomsk, Siberia, the broadcast arm of Roskomnadzor, the federal mass communications supervisory agency, has recently pressured the regional television network TV-2 to stop transmitting two news programs by Dozhd, the first Internet TV network in Russia, whose content is critical of the government.
Anatoly Baranov, owner of the forum.msk.ru discussion platform, states that the Yandex search engine filtered out news items from his site on Yandex.News searches.
Danger of the spread of online monitoring and censorship
Roskomnadzor, whose regulatory authority extends to information technology and mass communications, has announced that it has installed on-line software to detect “extremist” material. The sites identified through this process will be given three days to take down content that meets this ill-defined standard. If a site does not comply, two additional warnings will be sent. The site will then be shut down.
The software was to go into operation in test mode in December, 2011. Its full deployment has beenpostponed indefinitely. Nevertheless, it carries the risk of system-wide monitoring of the Russian Weband could lead eventually to the taking down of all content that displeases the authorities.
The justice ministry, for its part, has invited bids to create its own monitoring system of content on the Internet. Such a system would allow close examination of all content touching on Russian government and justice systems, and any European Union statement concerning Russia.
Bloggers under pressure
Prison sentences and violent attacks were less frequent in 2011, except during the election campaign period. Yet legal proceedings and pressures of all kind continue – above all when the activities of netizens focus on sensitive topics and powerful interest groups.
Maj. Igor Matveev of the interior ministry garrison in Vladivostok has been prosecuted on charges that seem to have been prompted by his revelations last June of practices in the military region where he served. He reported that troops were served dog food in cans falsely labelled as containing beef stew. He faces a possible 10-year sentence.
Yuri Yegorov, a former employee of the regional government of Tatarstan’s human rights ombudsman’s office, received a six-month suspended sentence last June, as well as two years of probation, for defamation. He had revealed a case of alleged corruption in the ombudsman’s office, headed by Rashit Vagiov, that took place from February to July 2007.
Leonid Kaganov, a prominent blogger, was forced last May to house his site abroad. In 2009, the FSB had demanded, through his hosting service, the removal of an anti-Semitic poem that was on his site because he had mocked it.
Roman Hoseyev is the target of administrative action for having quoted from “Mein Kampf” on a site in 2005, before the 2010 banning of the book in Russia. He had drawn comparisons between statements by US President George W. Bush and Hitler.
No information has been received about the fate of a Navy conscript who blogged under the nameVasily, publishing on Twitter under the name Sosigusyan. He denounced hazing and poor living conditions in his unit. His Twitter account was hacked and the content about the military taken down, except for the last three posts, which were written by another person.
Propaganda and cyber-attacks
In addition to mounting a campaign of repression against on-line oppositionists, the Kremlin deploys its own cyber-weapons. Several thousand Twitter accounts were hacked at the end of 2011 in order to flood social media with pro-government messages, using hashtags popular with oppositionists (notably, #navalny, from the name of the well-known political activist and anti-corruption bloggerAlexei Navalny, and #триумфалънпая, from Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow).
Many Russian bloggers have pointed to a wave of “bots” unleashed against the LiveJournal social media platform. Oleg Kozyrev, an opposition blogger, has counted more than 2,000 of these software weapons.
Oppositionist Navalny’s e-mail inbox has been hacked, with the contents displayed on a site called navalnymail.kz. According to several bloggers, this action could be part of a government-organized campaign to discredit Navalny.
The wave of cyber-attacks peaked at the time of the legislative elections last December. A series of Distributed Denial of Service attacks paralyzed sites critical of the government before and during the vote, apparently to silence the dissidents. Access to LiveJournal, which hosts blogs critical of the Kremlin, was blocked for three days, starting on 1 December 2011. The site had already suffered a DDoS attack the month before.
Among other Web targets are:
Echo of Moscow radio’s site, Echo.msk.ru
The independent daily Kommersant’s site, komersant.ru
The election-monitoring NGO’s site, golos.org
KartaNarusheniy.ru, an interactive map created by Golos to track reports of election fraud
Gazeta.ru, an independent news site
Lenizdat.ru, a Saint Petersburg-based independent news site
Slonl.ru and Newtimes.ru, opposition sites which posted the Golos map after Gazeta.ru took it down
Ridus.ru, a citizen-journalism site
Doshdu.ru, the site of Dosh, an independent news magazine about the Russian Caucasus
Zaks.ru, a news site on the northwest region.
Some media organizations and opposition groups, having anticipated these developments, migrated to social networks and called on their readers to follow them on Twitter and Facebook in the event that their sites went down.
Disputed elections, attempted control of online political debate
Most traditional media organizations, notably television networks, are under Kremlin control, genuine political discussions have been possible only online. Any measure deemed necessary to uphold the country’s strongman, Putin, has been considered appropriate.
Even before and during the legislative elections, debates had been hindered by cyber-attacks and by the arrests of journalists and bloggers. Those detained included Alexey Sochnev, the editor of the independent news site Besttoday.ru; Maria Plieva, a prominent blogger in Ossetia; and the president of Golos, Lilia Chibanova.
Golos’ interactive election-fraud monitoring map proved to be a great success as the elections unfolded. Thousands of videos showing irregularities at voting places were posted to the site, prompting Russians to take to the streets in great numbers to denounce election fraud. Navalny and many journalists were arrested during these post-election demonstrations,
The great majority of traditional media organizations – especially television networks – ignored these events. Instead, they provided largely favourable coverage of Putin’s party, United Russia, which swept the legislative elections.
The social media site Vkontakte, which has more than 5 million members in Russia, found itself in the government spotlight. The FSB told the site’s founder and director, Pavel Durov, to shut down seven groups calling for demonstrations last December (including a group rallying to defend the ruling party). A Russian blogger estimated that up to 185,000 netizens subscribed to protest-organizing groups. A spokesman for Vkontakte said publicly that the site would not practice censorship and would not carry out the FSB order. Following the statement, Durov was summoned to appear before prosecutors in Saint Petersburg on 9 December.
Regional discussion forums, very popular at the provincial level, with most participants anonymous, have become a favourite resource for political debate among Russian netizens, and a nightmare for the authorities. However, these sites are less powerful than the national media and easy to censor, though that has not prevented netizens from migrating to other sites, hosted abroad. At least three forums were closed or suspended during the months leading up to the early December elections.
One of these sites is the Kostroma Jedis regional forum, which was targeted following the posting of two satirical videos criticizing Igor Slyunyaev, governor of the Kostroma region, some 300 km northwest of Moscow. In November, other forums were shut down or purged of all political content by their administrators. One such case occurred in the Arzamas, a city 410 km east of Moscow, affecting the mcn.nnov.ru site. Another took place in the west-central city of Miass, 95 km west of Chelyabinsk, affecting the forum.miass.ru site. It is not clear if these were cases of official action or self-censorship. In either case, the closing of these forums signifies a narrowing of the possibilities for political debate on the Russian Web.
In the run-up to the presidential election in March, Golos, the election-monitoring NGO, put up a new version of its interactive map to track election fraud, with stronger defences against cyber-attack. Navalny, the activist and blogger, mounted a site, Rosvybory.org, to assist citizens in becoming presidential election observers.
The campaign of repression mounted for the legislative elections illustrated the official attitude toward protest. And the official response was designed to create a deterrent to popular action in the presidential election period. Tensions grew during the months between the two elections. On 17 February, Reporters Without Borders denounced a wave of intimidation aimed at national independent media. Major targets included Echo of Moscow; Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper, and Dozhd, the online television operation. The latter organization received a fax on 16 February from the Moscow prosecutor’s office, demanding detailed information on the “network’s financing for coverage of mass demonstrations on 10 and 24 December.”
These barely veiled accusations against Dozhd track precisely with statements by Prime Minister Putin, who had publicly accused demonstrators of having acted at the encouragement of the US state department. Roskomnadzor, the mass communications authority, had already required Dozhd to defend its coverage of the December protests. After examining in detail the images that the network had transmitted, the agency finally concluded that they contained nothing objectionable.
Journalists were again arrested and beaten during the post-election demonstrations of 5 March 2012. The clear goal was to prevent coverage of the demonstrations. However, contrary to what was seen in December, cyber-attacks seem to have been set aside – for now.
Export of the Russian model of Web control?
Russia has played a leading role on the international scene in promoting its vision of the Internet and exporting its Web control strategy. Moscow has proposed to the UN, together with China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, an Internet conduct code designed to provide “information security.”
The impact of the Kremlin’s policy is all the greater because the RuNet sphere of influence extends throughout the region, influencing countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan in their Internet monitoring and censorship programs.
#AceSecurityNews says on Wednesday 4 September 2013 at 1600 UTC, Wiki-Leaks released ‘Spy Files #3′ – 249 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors. These documents reveal how, as the intelligence world has privatised, US, EU and developing world intelligence agencies have rushed into spending millions on next-generation mass surveillance technology to target communities, groups and whole populations.
Wiki-Leaks’ publisher Julian Assange stated: “Wiki-Leaks’ Spy Files #3 is part of our ongoing commitment to shining a light on the secretive mass surveillance industry. This publication doubles the Wiki-Leaks Spy Files database. The Wiki-Leaks Spy Files form a valuable resource for journalists and citizens alike, detailing and explaining how secretive state intelligence agencies are merging with the corporate world in their bid to harvest all human electronic communication.”
Wiki-Leaks’ Counter Intelligence Unit has tracked the trackers. The WLCIU has collected data on the movements of key players in the surveillance contractor industry, including senior employees of Gamma, Hacking Team and others as they travel through Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and other countries.
Julian Assange, Wiki-Leaks’ publisher, stated: “The Wiki-Leaks Counter Intelligence Unit operates to defend Wiki-Leaks’ assets, staff and sources, and, more broadly, to counter threats against investigative journalism and the public’s right to know.”
Documents in Spy Files #3 include sensitive sales brochures and presentations used to woo state intelligence agencies into buying mass surveillance services and technologies. Spy Files #3 also includes contracts and deployment documents, detailing specifics on how certain systems are installed and operated.
Internet spying technologies now being sold on the intelligence market include detecting encrypted and obfuscated internet usage such as Skype, Bit-Torrent, VPN, SSH and SSL. The documents reveal how contractors work with intelligence and policing agencies to obtain decryption keys.
The documents also detail bulk interception methods for voice, SMS, MMS, email, fax and satellite phone communications. The released documents also show intelligence contractors selling the ability to analyse web and mobile interceptions in real-time.
Contracts and deployment documents in the release show evidence of these technologies being used to indiscriminately infect users in Oman with remote-controlled spyware. The Fin-Fly ‘I-Proxy’ installation by Dream-lab shows how a target is identified and malware is silently inserted alongside a legitimate download while keeping the intended download functioning as expected. The target identification methods mean that anybody connecting through the same network would be systematically and automatically intercepted and infected as well, even unintended targets.
More than three years after the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks roiled the United States with massive disclosures of diplomatic cables and other secrets, officials say the group’s founder Julian Assange is unlikely to ever faces charges, the New York Timesreports.
Citing unnamed sources at the Department of Justice, the Times reports officials have that if they were to prosecute Assange, they would have to also prosecute U.S news organizations and journalists as well, calling their conundrum a “New York Times problem.” The Times published reports on many of the documents Assange provided.
“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information with the same theory being applied to journalists,” a former department spokesman said. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no…
#AceSecurityNews says a few days ago on 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.
The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. Both pacts exclude China.
Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.
The TPP negotiations are currently at a critical stage. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. Numerous TPP heads of state and senior government figures, including President Obama, have declared their intention to sign and ratify the TPP before the end of 2013.
WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange stated: “The US administration is aggressively pushing the TPP through the US legislative process on the sly.” The advanced draft of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter, published by WikiLeaks on 13 November 2013, provides the public with the fullest opportunity so far to familiarise themselves with the details and implications of the TPP.
The 95-page, 30,000-word IP Chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing laws in TPP member states. The Chapter’s subsections include agreements relating to patents (who may produce goods or drugs), copyright (who may transmit information), trademarks (who may describe information or goods as authentic) and industrial design.
The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence. The IP Chapter also replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.
The consolidated text obtained by WikiLeaks after the 26-30 August 2013 TPP meeting in Brunei – unlike any other TPP-related documents previously released to the public – contains annotations detailing each country’s positions on the issues under negotiation. Julian Assange emphasises that a “cringingly obsequious” Australia is the nation most likely to support the hardline position of US negotiators against other countries, while states including Vietnam, Chile and Malaysia are more likely to be in opposition. Numerous key Pacific Rim and nearby nations – including Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and, most significantly, Russia and China – have not been involved in the drafting of the treaty.
In the words of WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005 allows the government to take over rail-roads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months.
The video fragments of a meeting, attended by the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former NSA executive Thomas Andrews Drake and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, and Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks – all whistleblowers in their own respects – were released by WikiLeaks on Friday.
In the first video appearance since he was granted asylum in Russia, Snowden spoke about US government transparency and dangers to democracy caused by the NSA mass spying programs.
“This is not about any sort of particular program, this is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and the governed in America,” Snowden said speaking about the government transparency situation in the US. “That is increasingly coming into conflict with what we expect as a free and democratic people. If we can’t understand the policies and the programs of our government, we cannot grant our consent in regulating them.”
“As someone very clever said recently, we don’t have an oversight problem in the US we have an undersight problem.”
The problem has grown up to a point where Americans have “an executive, the Department of Justice, that’s unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera but they’ll stop at nothing to prosecute someone who told them the truth,” Snowden added.
This is what happened when Washington attempted to improve the way its security agencies vetted hundreds of thousands of workers needed suddenly after the 9/11 attacks to pursue counter terror tasks and oversee heightened secrecy requirements.
Soon after its hiring binge began, the government’s ambitions collided with a creaky system for conducting the background checks needed to approve job applicants for security clearances. By 2004, the backlog of contractors awaiting approval had reached the size of a small city: at least 188,000. Complaints by federal agencies and job-seekers alike grew so intense that policy makers and legislators in Washington became fixated on finding a solution.
Some additional personnel were added to the investigations process, but Washington largely chose a different path that promised to be cheaper and quicker — shortening the time allowed for the reviews, by law. In its wisdom, Congress passed the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which required that by 2009, agencies must process 90 percent of clearance applications within an average of 60 days, less than a sixth of the average 375-day wait in 2003.
Such measures as this document shows, should have made the system full proof and not open to any form of abuse, In fact it left the ability for such people who wanted to undermine the security of the US , able to do so through various loop holes ,namely the speed at which they implemented this section of the act. The fact it was deemed safe, was their first and undeniable act of sheer stupidity, as they did not then take account of the reason’s behind any person or person’s applying for such a job in aviation ,for the sole purpose of crashing an aircraft into a high-rise building!
Even though years later it comes out about the fact they were aware it could happen, given the right circumstances prevailing at the time. This then led to a virtual panic mode after the 911 disaster, and the fact that no one in the security services at the time, had any understanding of how to combat this type of terrorist. So they heightened security, found their scape-goats and blindly started building in ways to prevent it happening again.
Of course this led to the rise of the activist and such groups as anonymous and of course Julian Assange and Edward Snowden stating the fact that the government was curtailing their right to freedom by stealing private data and not disclosing how this information was being used! This of course did not take into account, that many years before and even back as far as the Vietnam War that political manipulation of the truth, was taking place!
So we reach today or at least some day in the future ,where wars are fought not with sticks and stones, as they really can break your bones, or even with weapons, be they chemical or not, but simply with words or knowledge, or as the security services state, to protect our interests!
The question l ask daily, from what?
The only conclusion l can come to is that we are being protected from ourselves, our ability, if that is really what it is, to do what is right and tow the party line, be a good little citizen and know stepping out of line is treason! Well me l have stepped over the line so many times, and cannot even see the party line! That is for all those that believe in the “American Dream” if such a thing ever really existed, l just would like simply to see “Peace In The World” and not even the threat of war! But of course many corporations and governments get rich from the proceeds of war, armaments and the sale of such weapons; that will strip the skin of the man but still leave him alive, or blow of his arms and his legs, just so he cannot bear arms, fighting for his version of truth and justice!
Is this really how we fight for truth and justice with a bomb or molotov cocktail in hand, it does not ever lead to peace, just more violence.
So if company, government department or person thinks haste will improve quality ,l can tell you now it will not -only:
More Haste Less Speed – Will Improve The Quality – and Lead to Peace and Prosperity – In the End
As with these articles l have posted recently with regard to the NSA, this one from ZDNet caught my eye! As it relates to people who fear what might ,could happen and what they are told, will happen! If they are not protected from the ever-present danger of terrorism!
The part that was in my opinion most relevant has been copied, pasted ,highlighted and in bold below:
What pushes our buttons is fear. We’re afraid that something we do, something we say, or even that we know someone will cause the full might and power of the U.S. government to descend down upon us and ruin our lives.
Most of us are generally law-abiding. Oh, sure. We might speed up to 66 in a 65-mile zone to get out-of-the-way of a nutball driver. We might still have one or two MP3s from the early Napster days, but we’ve bought all our music like good consumers ever since. We pay our taxes and while H&R Block might make an error, we’ll pay any fees if we’re required to.
Most of us are good citizens. And yet. What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?
So how much of these so-called security measures does the public have to endure in the name of protecting our interests, and how much is fabricated to allow a public to fear, what might happen! My personal view is, if you have enough people who are lemmings, with the right tools and in this case words, you can get many to jump of the cliff!
By the way it is a great article to read in full and l highly recommend the writer!
Long before we ever heard of the NSA in our local news, or security issues were a problem, this organisation was working away in the background monitoring our communication! This article of which l have copied and pasted just a small segment of 4 long pages, explains in fine detail, how it brings into being suspect comments by political leaders, that we only ever cared about you, the citizen’s security! In fact it makes a complete farce of some of the recent denials by the NSA themselves! This simple 3 paragraphs says all there is about, how we were being monitored! The fact they can convince a large percentage of the population of America is is for their own good, and people like Edward #Snowden and Julian #Assange are our enemy and that this government are our political friends, my thought is ” With Friends Like That Who Needs To Worry About Our Enemies” as our enemies maybe really be our only friends ,at the end of days!
So read this with due consideration that what maybe true, what could be true and what may not even be true at all!
After the agency’s orders were publicized by several newspapers and magazines, the N.S.A. decided to pull in its horns. Inman, the N.S.A.’s director, told a House committee that the two orders exemplified ”not a faulty law but inadequate Government attention to its application.” He characterized the agency’s handling of the voice-scrambling equipment as a ”well-meaning attempt to hold the line that had clearly already been passed by.”
A few years before, the director of the National Science Foundation, Richard C. Atkinson, and Inman had begun privately discussing whether the role of the spy agency in supervising cryptographic research should be expanded. The precise outcome of the talks remains murky, but the N.S.A. apparently won the debate. Today, the National Science Foundation routinely allows the N.S.A. to review any request for the funding of cryptographic research. The N.S.A. also has begun providing financial support for related unclassified civilian research. The first recipients of such support were two Stanford professors of electrical engineering, John T. Gill 3d, and Martin E. Hellman, a code expert who for many years had been sharply critical of the N.S.A.
”Five years ago, I was very much on the opposite side of the fence from N.S.A.,” said Hellman. ”I wouldn’t say I have been co-opted. As a result of them being more friendly and coming part way, I felt I should be more friendly. I guess I am now the first guinea pig.”
How much Control has The US Got Over Companies That Do Not Toe The Line – or as it used to be called the party line! Sounds too much like we are in Red China or another such communist state! But no, this is good old ” America Land Of The Free” or so we are led to believe!
Though when good old ” Uncle Sam” says jump companies that want to remain in business or even in the country, ask how high!
So is it or should we say was it – you choose! That a company called Lavabit closed its doors!
An extract courtesy of RT.com confirms just what Ladar Levison of Dallas Texas said or was told to say- you choose!
“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations,” owner and operator Ladar Levison of Dallas, Texas wrote in the statement. “I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot.”
“I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise,” wrote Levison. “As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”
The real coincidence is that this email service was the highly encrypted email service reportedly used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden! And this had gone offline – and its administrator claims the company is legally barred from explaining why.
The Global Post wrote on July 12 that the Sheremetyevo Airport press conference hosted by Snowden later that day was announced to human rights groups under the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” and signed by “Edward Joseph Snowden.” Washington Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald have both since reported that Lavabit is indeed Snowdon’s email provider.
So maybe if you are like me and more people are joining this view every day – you can see government control at work, the question in my mind is not how far have they gone, but how far are they willing to go!
Leave your comments and your news and views or tweet adding #AceNewsServices or #EdwardSnowden and we can spread the word that freedom of speech whether in digital, written or spoken word is our to express as we see fit, not to be controlled or altered to suit any government ,organisation or body! The freedom of speech is our God-given right, as in our free-will is our right to say yes or no!
It appears that 56% of the American Population has been converted to the idea, that sharing information, and allowing it to be stored is a good idea! The question l ask is, do they really know what the government will use it for, and if they believe it will prevent terrorism, how! Maybe being blind sided is a trait of people who are so indoctrinated into the system, they cannot see the wood for the trees!
We need to become more aware of a political system of control, that can like the first world war convince us they are right, and so like robots we march onto the battlefield, in the vain hope we can defeat the enemy ,while all the time our so-called betters pull our strings! The admiration l have for someone like Edward Snowden, cannot be just put into words as he stood up for his beliefs, not like a sheep ,following the allure of money, but a feeling in his heart that he was doing the right thing! His sacrifice will be knowing he will have betrayed his country, or his friends! The fact that so few of his work colleagues have spoken up for him, or said that they feel that he is being wronged, or even he was wrong!
This tells me that many are controlled by the system and are afraid to speak out, but this man said and did what he truly believed, this should be admired as a true act of heroism and not maligned as an act of treason!
When we follow what we are told verbatim ,we do not use our God given Free Will we sacrifice this in favour of so-called government control, this maybe the lure of money or the promise of security for ourselves, and our family! But do we choose the path of righteousness or the path of protectionism? Are we so nigh eve we cannot see beyond the golden future of keeping the lie alive, and in so doing provide a comfortable living, for ourselves and our family! Or do we truly believe the politicians, government bodies and the so-called controllers of this world!
Myself I do not and neither does a number of my friends, that l count on the fingers of one hand!
If we covert all that this world can offer, then we are nought ourselves, thus making us followers of a regime and not leaders of men!
Online activists have launched a website called “Defund the NSA” in order to collect signatures in support of a legislative amendment that would bar federal funding for warrantless surveillance of Americans. (Update: A vote on the amendment fell short on Wednesday by 12 votes despite a coalition in support between liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans).
The site is gaining traction on popular sites like Hacker News and Reddit and could provide a boost to Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican popular among libertarians, who wrote the amendment.
The amendment, which is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, comes as part of a process to approve the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, the annual bill that funds America’s military operations.
Under Amash’s proposal, Congress would not grant any money to the NSA for surveillance activity of the sort disclosed in the recent phone and PRISM controversies…