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11.03.13

Confirmed: NSA Responsible for Assassination of Thousands of People (Many Innocents)

Posted in Action at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keith B. Alexander still in the NSA

Keith B. Alexander

Summary: CIA-friendly press explains to degree to which the NSA helps the CIA choose bombing targets (suspects and people in their vicinity)

A WEEK or so ago we said that Britain’s worst paper had published an article confirming that the NSA played a role in targeted assassinations using Linux-powered drones. Thousands of people (many innocent civilians) have already been killed in this way, with over a thousand killed by just one 'pilot'. One might say that the NSA is the agency behind these ‘death lists’. Right now, the CIA-friendly Washington Post (owned by strong CIA partner Jeff Bezos) helps confirm what Britain’s worst paper said [1]. The narrative used by the Washington Post is of course self-serving (it is corporate press which rejected important leaks from Bradley Manning), but it sure helps tie together the controversial assassinations and the NSA.

Many privacy advocates have been particularly concerned that young people are now acting as Trojan horses or informants on so-called ‘friends’ and family members (providing gossip and even in-house images with geo-tagging, tagged face recognition, etc.), but fortunately enough this malicious thing called ‘social’ networking (crowdsourced intelligence gathering) is losing popularity among young people [2,3,4]. Let’s hope this trend continues. Whatever makes the NSA weaker makes the majority of society better off. The NSA, as evidence helps show and strongly support time after time, is about protecting the minority who are in power. Rather than protect the public it offers protectionism to the richest 1% and their political agenda.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program

    It was an innocuous e-mail, one of millions sent every day by spouses with updates on the situation at home. But this one was of particular interest to the National Security Agency and contained clues that put the sender’s husband in the crosshairs of a CIA drone.

  2. If Teens Don’t Think Facebook Is Cool Anymore, Should Facebook Worry?

    “We did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens,” Facebook acknowledged. Here’s why that matters.

  3. Facebook admits young teens are losing interest in the site

    Facebook shares soared 15% Wednesday on blowout quarterly results — but the stock lost steam after the company admitted young teens are losing interest in the site.

  4. Some teens may indeed be anti-Facebook

    Facebook’s popularity might be on the decline among some teenagers, the company signaled Wednesday.

    For younger teenagers, Facebook has seen a decline in the number of daily users, the company reported during its third-quarter earnings call. Overall, usage among U.S. teens was stable between the second and third quarters, but the decrease in daily usage for some was noted early in the prepared remarks of Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Ebersman.

The ‘I Am Edward Snowden’ Defence

Posted in Action at 3:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: How Edward Snowden’s download (copying) of an untold number of unspecified documents (from Microsoft SharePoint) enables everyone in the NSA to leak more documents and attribute this to Snowden (who enjoys asylum)

HERE in Britain, Bonfire Night is already being celebrated by some people. Many let loose their fireworks during the weekend, just before the actual night which is when people work (it’s not a national holiday), so there are explosions outside as I write this. Bonfire Night is about Guy Fawkes, which became famous for the mask of Anonymous, the collective of online activists. Anonymity is a valuable tool for activists. If people can do particular actions without being held accountable for these actions, then that can be used for bad (trolling/cracking) but also for good (whistleblowing/retribution against power). Some — especially the rich and the powerful — try to use the bad cases in order to ban the latter. It helps them keep their power and it helps them keep secret their abuses (if any).

“In a sense, Snowden would be a perfect ‘mask’ for anonymous whistleblowers.”Earlier today, Asher Wolf and many other activists retweeted me saying “Perhaps #snowden is becoming the real-life Guy Fawkes, the anonymous persona through which anonymous leakers claim leaks to have come from” (source).

For context see [1,2] as it suggests that the NSA now has several unknown leakers, whose leaked documents probably get attributed to Snowden in order to protect their jobs. In a sense, Snowden would be a perfect ‘mask’ for anonymous whistleblowers. The NSA does not really know what documents Snowden downloaded to leak to the press (Microsoft SharePoint logging must be defunct), so anything which leaks from the NSA can just be assumed — even wrongly — to have come from Snowden. Suffice to say, it leaves the NSA even more vulnerable. There can be dozens of leakers still working for the NSA, but the NSA cannot know if that’s the case and thus it cannot find out who they are. Snowden gives them the perfect cover. Each NSA whistleblower can just say “I am Edward Snowden” and get away with it when it’s published, leading to another reforming scandal. Maybe one say privacy can be restored thanks to Snowden’s actions [3].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Inspired by Snowden, more NSA insiders are blowing the whistle

    Jesselyn Radack is a civil liberties attorney with the Government Accountability Project who has been in contact with Edward Snowden. In an ABC News interview, she reported that other NSA insiders have been inspired by Snowden’s bravery and sacrifice and have come forward with further revelations about the organization’s excess, criminality and lawlessness. She says that the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers has backfired, squandering the administration’s credibility with its own operatives and inspiring them to speak out.

  2. More NSA Leakers Followed Snowden’s Footsteps, Whistleblower Lawyer Says

    But the legal threats and high-level condemnation haven’t kept others from coming forward with new information, Radack said.

    “There definitely could be more revelations in addition to those that Snowden has revealed and that are continuing to come out,” she told ABC News.

  3. Can Snowden revert privacy to a social norm?

    The steady trickle of revelations of government snooping that continues to seep from the Edward Snowden documents is serving to keep attention riveted on how privacy in the digital age ought to be defined.

    That’ most probably not to the liking of Google and Facebook. In January 2010, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously declared that the expectation of privacy was no longer a social norm, and, in October 2010, then Google chairman Eric Schmidt said “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

Britain Misuses the ‘Terrorist’ Label

Posted in Action at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Miranda
Image credit: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Summary: The UK is cheapening terrorism by just equating it with investigative journalism that looks into abuses of international laws

Without independent media, we cannot enforce a law that's adhering to justice as an uninformed public becomes too weak to speak out against those in power (they can rewrite the law to legalise their injustices). Here in the UK we have a chilling war on journalism right now [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Threats are being sent to journalists by our ‘elected’ officials and hard-drives are being destroyed on demand for political reasons.

“Threats are being sent to journalists by our ‘elected’ officials and hard-drives are being destroyed on demand for political reasons.”An MI5 whistleblower, the ‘British Snowden’ as some might prefer to refer to her, speaks about the lack of spy oversight [1]. Basically, if you make it illegal to report about spies, then you make it impossible for the public to scrutinise those spies when they break ethical guidelines, violate the law, or put to shame the original contracts that legitimise their budget (taxpayers’ money). The BBC World Service, not a Russian media outlet for a change, gave this ‘British Snowden’ a platform (or a “propaganda platform” as the US State Department might call it).

The latest news from the Snowden saga is that David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald (Assange equivalent), has been harassed for political reasons [2,3]. Great move, Cameron et al.

A few months ago, after passing the passport control area in Manchester Airport I was hanging around for a bit near two offices used for interrogating people under the pretext of “terrorism”. The doors had a notice on them, alluding to this law which facilitated a vague process as means of “counter terrorism”. It’s a fairly new process. Terrorism as it is described in the media (synonymised these days with radical Islamisation) is not a new thing; what’s new are the laws and the retribution, e.g. drone strikes, long/indefinite detainment without charges, torture for false confessions to be derived, etc. In Britain we had issues with the IRA too, but the same type of actions by Irish militants/extremists did not facilitate harassment of journalists and their family members who are in transit in airports. For the term “terrorist” to be applicable at all, as per the definition of the word, physical violence must be involved. Trying to label leakers and/or their publishers “terrorists” is to merely cheapen the term and over time make it virtually meaningless, just like the term “pirates”.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. BBC World Service interview about NSA and spy oversight
  2. In David Miranda’s Case, UK Security Services Argue Traveling with Secret Documents Is ‘Terrorism’

    Security services in the United Kingdom have accused David Miranda, the husband of journalist Glenn Greenwald, of being “involved in espionage activity” when he traveled from Berlin to Heathrow Airport on his way back to Brazil, where he lives with Greenwald.

  3. Metropolitan police detained David Miranda for promoting ‘political’ causes

    The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited by police for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a “political or ideological cause”.

    The revelation has alarmed leading human rights groups and a Tory MP, who said the justification appeared to be without foundation and threatened to have damaging consequences for investigative journalism.

    David Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who – often in collaboration with the Guardian – has broken many stories about the extent and scope of spying by the US National Security Agency. Miranda was stopped at Heathrow airport in August and held by the Metropolitan police for nine hours while on his way home to Brazil.

    Miranda, it has been claimed, was carrying some 58,000 encrypted UK intelligence documents. He had spent a week in Berlin visiting a journalist, Laura Poitras, who has worked with Greenwald on many of his stories, which have been based on information leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    [...]

    Greenwald was equally scathing, tweeting: “UK govt beats its mighty chest, now explicitly equates journalism with ‘terrorism’ and ‘espionage’.”

The Free Software World Helps People Acquire/Regain Privacy

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DarkMail Alliance

Summary: The “DarkMail Alliance” is announced and other options emerge as freedom- and privacy-respecting means of electronic communication

WITH the exception of some projects like Ubuntu, Free software tends to respect users’ privacy and if it doesn’t, then those users can modify the software to remove privacy-violating code (as some Ubuntu derivatives typically do). The NSA scandal received some special coverage in LinuxCon Europe [1] because it is very relevant to GNU/Linux users. There were attempts to put back doors in Linux.

The founder of the FSFE, who moved on to Kolab some years ago, is now using Switzerland’s unique privacy policies to offer users privacy-respecting and freedom-respecting E-mail [2]. He is not alone. There are several companies, including one of the PGP founder (original developer), which now use the demand for privacy-respecting E-mail to create secure alternatives [3,4] (“DarkMail Alliance”). A month from now in Manchester we’ll also have a CryptoParty with the FSFE, helping people configure their machines for improved privacy. My wife and I will be there for help.

The bottom line is, in this age of Microsoft collusion with the NSA we have some very strong arguments with which to persuade people to embrace Free/libre software. It is about human dignity, not just the ability to modify source code, dodge abusive monopolies, and of course save money. My wife, for example, happily uses KDE and Android, knowing that GNU/Linux is now only technically superior to the alternatives but also more respectful towards her human rights. Techrights was recently designed with emphasis on privacy and the next few posts will deal with privacy alone.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. “The Code Warrior” Confirmed to Discuss NSA and PRISM at LinuxCon Europe

    Today he is Chief Research Officer at F-Secure in Finland and a just-confirmed keynote speaker for LinuxCon/CloudOpen Europe taking place October 21-23, 2013 in Edinburgh. Hypponen will be talking about the biggest computer security story of the year, that of the NSA and PRISM, in a talk titled “Living in a Surveillance State.” He is also expected to talk about the role the Linux community can play in ensuring the security and privacy of the Internet and mobile devices.

  2. Kolab creates a privacy refugee camp in Switzerland
  3. Silent Circle and Lavabit launch “DarkMail Alliance” to thwart e-mail spying

    Silent Circle CTO: “What we’re getting rid of is SMTP.”

  4. Silent Circle, Lavabit unite for ‘Dark Mail’ encrypted email project

    Dark Mail will provide end-to-end encryption, including email metadata

  5. Manchester CryptoParty with FSFE

    Edward Snowden revelations of mass spying programmes such as PRISM and Tempora show that something needs to be done to protect our private online activities from the prying eyes of GCHQ and the NSA. There’s currently a great deal of interest surrounding these issues and as a result people are seeking to find tools which will help them protect and secure their email, instant messages and web browsing.

    This can be done, to an extent, through the use of encryption technology, so on 7th December, we’ll be teaming up with Free Software Foundation Europe to organise a Cryptoparty in Manchester.

Richard Stallman on the Penal System

Posted in TechBytes Video at 1:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg (00:03:17, 10.8 MB)

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, speaks about injustices in the US penal system


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