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Latest Leaks Show That Nobody Can Rely on Government/Authority for Privacy, Free Software the Real Remedy

Posted in America, Europe at 3:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Revealing one’s true face (former KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Putin with Merkel)

Vladimir Putin and Merkel
Photo from the Presidential Press and Information Office

Summary: Europe is compromising the privacy of citizens (in secret, using cross-national loopholes), Canada does the same, and why we are left dependent on ourselves and on Free software is we pursue privacy

YESTERDAY’S main newspapers (here in the UK) dared to scrutinise what they called “US spying”, showing their hypocrisy as the UK is the right-man hand in all this. The UK has several NSA bases/offshoots (at least one in Yorkshire and one in Gloucestershire) which help the US spy on Europe and also spy on Americans (bypassing US law).

In Canada, Canadian citizens are suing their government [1] for colluding with the NSA or for spying on Canadian citizens (the collusion enables ECHELON-type loophole exploitation). Here in Europe, Merkel finds herself in a major scandal for selling out 80 million or so Germans [2]. Glenn Greenwald has more leaks coming [3] while the White House and US State Department turn out to have gotten involved in national security leaks [4]. There is a lot of dirty business there and it’s about big money [5].

“The UK has several NSA bases/offshoots (at least one in Yorkshire and one in Gloucestershire) which help the US spy on Europe and also spy on Americans (bypassing US law).”According to French watchdog La Quadrature du Net [6-9], Europe only pretends to care for citizens’ privacy, so it seems like we can depend on no government in the world. Governments loathe citizens’ privacy because without surveillance it is harder for a government to defend itself from citizens, who are clearly perceived as an enemy rather than a kind of client.

What we end up having to do is rely on privacy-preserving software, which is mostly Free software like Mozilla Firefox [10] and underlying platforms such as Linux [11]. Never believe that the government will protect your privacy. The only entity that can protect your privacy is yourself, and having Free software that you and others can control in true transparency is essential for guaranteeing privacy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Canadians sue their own government over domestic spying

    American privacy advocates aren’t the only ones taking their own government to court over domestic spying programs. On Tuesday, Canadian activists announced they were suing Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency.

    A coalition of Internet and privacy groups represented by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday against the Communications Security Establishment Canada.

  2. Merkel spying claim: with allies like these, who needs enemies?

    Is the negotiating edge that secret eavesdropping gives the US worth the immense reputational damage it is now suffering?

  3. Glenn Greenwald and the Future of Leaks

    Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer-turned-journalist-turned-global headline for his reporting on leaked NSA documents, says there is about to be a revolution that will radically change how news organizations cover governments and other big institutions.

    The change, he insists, is inevitable because of the pervasiveness of digital content, which has already remade the global economy by allowing instant access to vast troves of information. “Government and businesses cannot function without enormous amounts of data, and many people have to have access to that data,” Greenwald says, adding that it only takes one person with access and an assaulted conscience to leak, no matter what controls are in place.

    Information that governments, companies, and associations would rather keep private, especially when it contradicts what they tell the public, can be quickly downloaded and spirited away, as shown by the Edward Snowden National Security Agency files and the diplomatic and military files leaked by Army Private Chelsea Manning.

  4. Emails: White House, State Department coordinated with journalist on national security leaks

    White House and State Department officials cooperated extensively on background with a New York Times journalist during the period that he broke confidential national security information in a series of leaks that prompted outrage from lawmakers, according to unearthed 2011 and 2012 emails.

  5. Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State

    Democratic leaders are full-fledged players in the national surveillance state, right along with Republicans.

  6. Reclaim Control Over Your Data!

    Few days before a crucial vote on the protection of our privacy, citizens supported by La Quadrature du Net start a campaign and information website: reclaimyourdata.eu. This site clearly shows the issues of this Regulation and proposes solutions to allow citizens to reclaim control over their personal data.

  7. The European Parliament Must Protect Our Right to Privacy
  8. Data Protection Regulation: La Quadrature’s Voting Recommendations to LIBE
  9. Major Loopholes in Privacy Regulation – EU Parliament Must Stand For Citizens

    The “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee has just voted its report on Data Protection, led by Jan Philipp Albrecht. Despite some improvements, major loopholes – especially on “legitimate interest” and “pseudonymous” data – and the adoption of the secrete tripartite negotiation mandate (trilogue) could make the final text totally ineffective at protecting citizens. During these forthcoming negotiations, representatives of the Parliament should secure strong safeguards for citizens fundamental right to privacy.

  10. Mozilla’s Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over your shoulder on the web
  11. Firefox OS: What it is – and what it means for you and your union

    Back in 1993 I was asked to look into how unions were using computer networks and email.

    The result was my 1996 book on the labour movement and the internet — and after that, LabourStart.

    Twenty years on and I’ve been looking into how we in the trade union movement use the new communications tools — smartphones and tablets — and the result is a new book I’ve just co-authored with Jeremy Green, “Firefox OS for Activists“.

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  1. salparadise said,

    October 26, 2013 at 8:43 am


    I’m a little confused.
    You publish articles like this, yet in other places advertise the release of various distros that compromise User security.
    The “newbie friendly” distros (we installed loads of proprietary muck in your OS without asking or explaining the ramifications to you) are muddying the waters, even though they appear to be helping by spreading Linux.
    On your site you recommend Blag Linux (all but defunct), yet don’t mention Trisquel, or default Debian.

    None of this is a criticism, I think the site’s great and it’s good to see someone tackling the Corporate/security agency net that we’re increasingly ensnared in.

    I was just wondering…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I wonder about this too sometimes. Last week I redesigned the opening section of the site (using Drupal) and put the following under distributions:


    “Techrights takes the position that if a distribution contains proprietary software, then it cannot be trusted. It can contain back doors (voluntary or involuntary). Therefore, the FSF’s list of Free/libre GNU/Linux distributions is worth a look. We do not endorse any particular distribution.”

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