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The NSA Causes an Atlantic Blunder

Posted in Action, Europe, Free/Libre Software at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: US-EU relations suffer from revelations about espionage (with help from the NSA) and trust generally erodes

Occasionally we explain how Free software helps privacy, which helps whistleblowers, who in turn help fight financial disparity and fraud. Well, it seems like the Free software which helped Snowden reach journalists safely (and Microsoft SharePoint, the proprietary system which was broken enough for Snowden to access and download documents from) sure helps in many other ways, ending the cross-national deals which serve nothing but massive corporations. Let’s review the news to understand what has been happening.

In Europe, US data sharing has been suspended [1] and the EU Parliament has some harsh words [2] (Britain has been left red-faced [3,4]). The British press has been unable to spin the embarrassing revelations it must cover to retain some credibility [5,6] and other British press [7] covered the protests in the United States itself [8] (US media is being gagged by the NSA to the extent possible [9] and Facebook is part of the problem now [10]). The NSA’s site has gone down [11,12] and the EFF advises people to regain privacy [13] now that the NSA even harvests contact lists [14] (it’s considered to be a crime when others do that, as shown in the ‘Weev’ case).

“Never mind those Atlantic deals which serve only multi-nationals’ greed; the Atlantic ocean has become the grid for large-scale NSA surveillance through fiber.”“Pirate” parties in Europe have become very vocal about this [15,16], whereas one GOP congressman earned unwanted attention when he said Europe should be grateful for NSA spying [17]. He wants people in Europe to think that it’s about terrorism when in fact, based on new reports [18-20], the NSA monitored 60 million phone calls in Spain in one month alone. Either there are millions of terrorists there or the NSA is totally out of touch. Europe and south America find common ground here [21] as cases of espionage get revealed; it’s not about terrorism at all. Annie Machon, an MI5 whistleblower, gives her views on this [22-23] (naming “Open Source” on TV) and “Open Source Pundits” too become vocal [24].

The British press indicates that the Atlantic trade deals are in jeopardy now [25,26] and in Brazil the government is now making its hostility towards US-based E-mail providers more evident [27] (it helps the NSA apply McCarthyism [28]). The NSA is now being characterised as a “state-sponsored cybercrime gang” [29] which more altruistic organisations in the US can only try to exploit by saying they would challenge it [30,31]. Just because companies like Google try to openwash their dubious products [32] doesn’t make these benign. Due to US law requiring compliance (access to data of anyone, e.g. by intercepting it at endpoints of US networks), the only reasonable rule of thumb right now is: don’t route anything unencrypted through hopping points in the US, England, or Sweden. Never mind those Atlantic deals which serve only multi-nationals’ greed; the Atlantic ocean has become the grid for large-scale NSA surveillance through fiber. This is about power, control, and global domination; it’s nothing to do with terrorism.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. MEPs vote to suspend US data sharing

    The European Parliament has voted to suspend the sharing of financial data with the US, following allegations that citizens’ data was spied on.

    The allegation forms part of leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    The vote is non-binding but illustrates MEPs’ growing unease over how much data was shared with the US.

    It comes a day after it was alleged that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls were monitored.

  2. EU Parliament says other countries spy, but not as much as the UK or US

    The European Parliament’s research department has found that four out of five member states surveyed carry out wide-scale telecommunications surveillance.

    In a report released on Friday the department revealed that the U.K., France, Germany and Sweden all engaged in bulk collection of data. The Netherlands, which was also examined, has not done so, so far, but is engaged in setting up an agency for that purpose.

  3. No debate please, we’re British.

    In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute on Tuesday, the Director General of MI5 said: “it causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques.Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

    This is a sentiment expressed on the front page of various national newspapers. The bad guys, you may have guessed, are the Guardian and Edward Snowden.

  4. NCA lacks oversight and transparency

    The National Crime Agency (NCA) has been launched today by the Home Office with announcements that it will have access to some of the most high tech surveillance tools available but will also promote an environment of transparency and openness. Yet, with an exemption from the Freedom of Act and being regulated by outdated legislation, how accountable will the Agency be?

  5. US National Security Agency ‘spied on French diplomats’

    The US National Security Agency has spied on French diplomats in Washington and at the UN, according to the latest claims in Le Monde newspaper.

  6. NSA spying allegations: Are US allies really shocked?

    If the US National Security Agency really has been listening in to Angela Merkel’s cell phone, as the Germans believe, then, courtesy of the fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the Americans have broken a cardinal rule in the espionage play-book.

  7. Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally
  8. Edward Snowden’s Statement Read at ‘Stop Watching Us’ Rally in DC

    Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden had a statement read at the “Stop Watching Us” Rally against mass surveillance in Washington,DC. It was read by Justice Department whistleblower and attorney with the Government Accountability Project, Jesselyn Radack.

  9. As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media

    With General Alexander calling for NSA reporting to be halted, US and UK credibility as guardians of press freedom is crushed

  10. Partnership between Facebook and police could make planning protests impossible

    A partnership between police departments and social media sites discussed at a convention in Philadelphia this week could allow law enforcement to keep anything deemed criminal off the Internet—and even stop people from organizing protests.

  11. NSA claims website going down an ‘internal error’ rather than cyber-attack
  12. NSA site went down due to ‘internal error’, not DDoS attack, agency claims

    The website for the US National Security Agency suddenly went offline Friday in what some claimed was an Anonymous DDoS attack. The agency denied it was under attack, however, saying it was merely updating software.

  13. Ten Steps You Can Take Right Now Against Internet Surveillance
  14. Snowden leak alleges NSA snooping on web contact lists

    National Security Agency collects up to 250 million online address books each year.

  15. Those responsible for wiretapping crimes against us all must be brought to justice

    We thought that wiretapping was something that only happened to suspected criminals. Instead, it turns out we have all been wiretapped, all the time. This is a crime, and the responsible must be brought to justice.

  16. We Know With 100% Certainty That Mass Surveillance Hasn’t Foiled A Single Terror Plot

    We know with 100% absolute certainty that the wiretapping industry – NSA, GCHQ, FRA, etc – has stopped a total of exactly zero terror plots. We can be certain of this fact, as there have been no trials and no convictions of planning widespread destruction. Planning such a crime is almost as serious a crime as executing it, and while there can be secret evidence in some uncivilized countries, the courts and trials themselves are not secret.

  17. Europe should be grateful for NSA spying, Rogers says

    While outrage in Europe grows over reports of the NSA spying on its citizens and public figures, some in Congress have struck a less conciliatory tone, with a key GOP congressman saying Sunday that foreign publics should be grateful – not angry – because America’s spying keeps them safe.

  18. NSA ‘monitored 60m Spanish calls in a month’

    The US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly monitored 60 million phone calls in Spain in one month, Spanish media say.

    The reports say the latest allegations came from documents provided by the fugitive US analyst Edward Snowden.

  19. NSA monitored 60m phone calls in Spain, say media
  20. NSA spied on 60 million Spanish phone calls in a month – report
  21. Germany, Brazil enlist 19 more countries for anti-NSA UN resolution

    Twenty-one countries, including US allies France and Mexico, have now joined talks to hammer out a UN resolution that would condemn “indiscriminate” and “extra-territorial” surveillance, and ensure “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.

    The news was reported by Foreign Policy magazine, which has also obtained a copy of the draft text.

    The resolution was proposed earlier this week by Germany and Brazil, whose leaders have been some of the most vocal critics of the comprehensive spying methods of the US National Security Agency.

  22. RT interview about new EU data protection measures

    Here is a quick inter­view I did about the EU’s new data pro­tec­tion meas­ures, laws that will have to be imple­men­ted in the wake of Edward Snowden’s dis­clos­ures about endemic NSA surveillance:

  23. RT interview on spy oversight
  24. Open Source Pundits Sound Off on Surveillance

    This week, some very high-profile voices from the open source community have been sounding off about surveillance and privacy invasion. Free software and open source guru Richard Stallman has an op-ed piece on the Wired site where he discusses the “social pollution” of surveillance. And, Rafael Laguna, who co-founded the open source cloud firm Open-Xchange is cautioning users against using public cloud services such as iCloud. He even goes so far as to advise users to use Firefox OS phones instead of iPhones.

  25. NSA Spying: Germany Demands Talks With US

    The latest spy revelations are threatening to derail a multibillion-pound trade deal between the US and European Union.

  26. Atlantic trade deal at risk from NSA bugging Angela Merkel phone
  27. Brazilian President tweets about new national email, continues anti-NSA rhetoric

    Brazil is continuing to spearhead a very public anti-NSA movement, with President Dilma Rousseff revealing more details on Twitter about the launch of a national secure email.

  28. NSA Maps Out Americans’ Social Connections

    The spy agency declined to say how many Americans have been snooped on, including people involved in no wrongdoing.

  29. NSA tactics no better than a CYBERCRIME GANG, says infosec’er

    The NSA operates like a state-sponsored cybercrime gang using much the same tools and techniques as miscreants slinging banking trojans, one cynic has suggested.

  30. Internet Archive Will Shield Visitors
  31. Lightbeam for Firefox gives users a look at which sites are tracking them
  32. People+ Glass app can help you recognise people in a party

    If you are a guy who is in the startup sphere or just someone who attends lot of high profile parties and conferences but have trouble recognising people who can be prove to be valuable in your contact list, People + app is for you.

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