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01.28.14

Censorship Has Taken Over the Web. Now What?

Posted in Law at 5:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everyone is a child in his/her parents’ bedroom now

Summary: Commentary about the state of censorship on the Web, and even the Internet as a whole (e.g. protocol blocking)

IN THE Western media we are pressured to think of ourselves as vulnerable, innocent children, drowning in a World Wide Web of violence, scams, paedophilia, terrorism, and “esoteric” material, including that ‘horrific’ thing which is sexuality. We are told that the governments need to protect us from the ‘evils’ of the Web, even though the Web has been fine and was expanding for many years even without censorship and so-called “protections”. Thanks to the manipulative influence of corporate media, we are accustomed to hearing about censorship in Russia, China, and the Arab world (which we are supposedly in war with, or so we’re told). Even Western allies in the Arab world are big Internet censors, not to mention the West itself. Saudi Arabian [1] or Turkish Web censorship [2] are still making the news, whereas in Holland there’s reversal of a domain-level ban [3] imposed by some overzealous ISPs and those who pressure them (quite famously in the UK, even without any legal process). This is the latest development in the saga of British censorship which wins public support using the “protect the children” line but is actually being used to block sharing sites (corporate interests served) [4,5]. They can also claim that inappropriate bans are a “mistake”, an “error” [6], and when people express themselves freely on the Web they can even be arrested by British police [7], then held in custody for nearly a year. So much for free speech, eh? In Estonia, even commenters in sites (anonymous in some cases) can lead the way to censorship, not by Web site maintainers [8] but by the state [9]. This is appalling.

In north America, book-burning makes a comeback [10,11] and blocking at ISP level (with no oversight) a legitimate practice [12], so our friends across the Atlantic are still ahead of the curve when it comes to censorship. Remember just how many domains got seized (not only blocked) with no trial. This is even worse than blocking. It’s not filtering, either. Remember when Wikileaks cutoff was attempted at domain level, host level (Amazon), and even ISP/network level (parts of US networks banned Wikileaks).

The Web is becoming a sordid mess of censorship, no matter where one lives. There’s no escaping censorship these days.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sites Blocked By Smartfilter, Censored in Saudi Arabia

    The moral, it seems, is that if you want an example of a censored web site to stick in people’s minds, it either has to be a forgivable error, or an insane vindictive dick move — because in either of those cases, people will understand why it happened. The vast swaths of censored websites on the spectrum in between, the ones for which there is no rational explanation for the blocking, go ignored.

  2. Parliament urged to rejected draconian Internet bill

    Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about an Internet bill that is to be debated by the Turkish parliament in Ankara in the coming days. Registered by a ruling AKP member in mid-December as proposed amendments to Law 5651 on the Internet, it would allow website blocking without a court order and mass surveillance of Internet users.

  3. ISPs No Longer Have to Block The Pirate Bay, Dutch Court Rules
  4. Inside Default Web Blocking – Part 1

    After sustained government pressure, 3 of the 4 major UK ISPs now offer web filtering products to their customers.

  5. Inside Default Web Blocking – Part 2

    Most commentators have ignored the programme to switch these filters on by default. To their credit, ISPs tried resisting calls for filters ‘by default’ – only BT is to introduce the feature for new customers later in 2013. There remains a level of ambiguity as to whether ISPs will implement filtering by default for existing customers as requested to by Claire Perry.

  6. How to complain about mobile filtering over-blocking

    The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is now involved in how mobile internet filtering works. In this post we explain what role they have and how you should be able to get over-blocking problems fixed.

  7. Chris McCann jailed over PC murders comments

    A man from Glasgow has been jailed for 290 days over a message on his Facebook page which mocked the murder of two police officers in Greater Manchester.

    Chris McCann, 30, claimed a friend had posted the comments the day after PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were shot dead by Dale Cregan in September 2012.

    At Glasgow Sheriff Court, he admitted a breach of the peace by allowing them to appear and remain online.

  8. On Accountability

    Speaking personally, I have never, ever, switched off comments on my blog posts or deleted posts. Even when the Internet has seemingly come to get me, or when the press pick up on something and are critical, or when I have made a mistake and felt embarrassed at the outcome…I have never switched off comments and never deleted a blog post. This is because I feel I should be and I am accountable for my words.

    For me, this is an ethical issue; in the same way I won’t go and re-write or edit a blog post if I get criticism for it (outside of minor grammatical/spelling fixes). My posts are a time-capsule of my thinking at that point in my life.

  9. Civil Society Calls on the ECHR’s Grand Chamber to Overturn Delfi v. Estonia Ruling

    Last October, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling against an Estonian news portal (“Delfi”), making the platform liable for defamatory comments posted by third users. This ruling threatens to encourage privatised censorship and to severely undermine public debate online. From a legal perspective, as NGO Article 19 wrote at the time, “this judgment displays a profound failure to understand the EU legal framework regulating intermediary liability. In addition, it conveniently ignores relevant international standards in the area of freedom of expression on the Internet”. Many organizations and companies all across Europe have sent the following letter to the ECHR’s president to support Delfi’s appeal to the Court’s “Grand Chamber”, which still has the power to overturn this dangerous ruling.

  10. Health Canada scientists setting up unofficial libraries as national libraries fail

    More from the Canadian Harper government’s War on Libraries (see also: literally burning the environmental archives). Dave writes, “Health Canada scientists are also facing difficulties with government controlled libraries. It takes an insanely long time for them to receive any materials due to third-party delivery companies; they’ve started opening up their own unsanctioned libraries and have started taking advantage of external sources (industry and universities). This is turning into an insane story. There’s obviously demand for the material within government circles, but policy and cuts are making it impossible to access, resulting in statistics of diminished use, which results in more cuts.”

  11. Health Canada library changes leave scientists scrambling

    Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they’re finding workarounds, with one squirrelling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult, says a report obtained by CBC News.

    The draft report from a consultant hired by the department warned it not to close its library, but the report was rejected as flawed and the advice went unheeded.

  12. How the FCC screwed up its chance to make ISP blocking illegal

    The commission can still put ISPs under its thumb, but it may not want to.

DRM is Coming to the Web (as ‘Standard’). Now What?

Posted in DRM, Europe at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Criminalising Web users for “stealing” “content” won’t work in Europe

Shoplifters

Summary: The W3C is unlikely to pull away from DRM, but a high European court says that DRM can sometimes be legally circumvented

THE outrage over DRM inside Web 'standards' is a thing of the past. It couldn’t last forever and people have moved on to other problems. The MPAA got its way and given the new financial dependence on it (W3C was bribed by the MPAA [1]) we find it hard to believe that the Web’s founder and his colleagues will change course. TechDirt received credit for its coverage of the subject [2] and a new report from TechDirt says that “Europe’s Highest Court Says DRM Circumvention May Be Lawful In Certain Circumstances” [3].

Maybe civil disobedience or even circumvention of DRM on the Web will therefore be legitimate protest. Will that only be permissible in the Europe and, if so, under what circumstances? Either way, it’s good to know that the legal grounds of DRM (claiming that format shifting is an offence) are challenged and the illusion of control over surfers shaken somewhat.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Don’t let the MPAA buy the Web

    Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) became a paying and governing member of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (no, seriously).

  2. Will Hollywood force DRM on web users via HTML5?

    Techdirt has a disturbing report about Hollywood attempting to force DRM on web users via HTML5.

  3. Europe’s Highest Court Says DRM Circumvention May Be Lawful In Certain Circumstances

    One of the many problems with DRM is its blanket nature. As well as locking down the work in question, it often causes all kinds of other, perfectly legal activities to be blocked as well — something that the copyright industry seems quite untroubled by.

Net Neutrality is Dead in the West. Now What?

Posted in Law at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Summary: Final thoughts about the fall of net neutrality in Western nations, notably the UK and US (creators of the Web and the Internet)

NETWORK capacity for the Internet is not an issue, especially not in the West. Today we upgraded to fibre, raising download speeds to 80Mbits/second after new infrastructure had been installed in our area (and promotional offers combined with bargaining over the phone for one hour made it as inexpensive as copper). When capacity is lacking/insufficient, then additional wiring/improved wiring kicks in. So why can’t we all have net neutrality (equal utilisation, irrespective of requester and protocol)? BT appears to be throttling Internet traffic, but it’s hard to tell for sure although my contacts at BT management suggest that it’s true. It seems safe to say that in the UK we have lost net neutrality and it may never come back. The public is apathetic; the vast majority of people here don’t even know what net neutrality is. Heck, I received promotion of Internet censorship by BT this afternoon. BT recommends “parental controls” for adults too. It would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t true. Extensive Internet censorship will be on by default here soon. Who needs to worry about net neutrality (soft censorship) when the British public already accepts full censorship with open arms?

Coverage about the death knell of net neutrality in the US (setting the trend for other nations) has pretty much died down since it made headlines. The FCC is not doing anything substantial [1] and corporations mostly let it be even if it hurts them [2]. It’s defeatism all over the place [3] and the petition to the White House is very far from the goal [4] (where the White House is obliged to respond). The FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, is not even in favour of net neutrality on the face of it [5]. No surprise there given his background. We called him a mole as soon as he was appointed.

Solutions are still being put forth [6-8], noting the nature of the Web [9,10] and its history [11], but judging by public discussion in the press (or lack thereof) we now need a movement like that which defeated SOPA and ACTA. Anything else would help preserves the status quo, where net neutrality is basically seen as a faraway dream for idealists.

As long as political systems are dominated by corporate power we are unlikely to see things improving, and any time the public shoots down attempts of corporate landgrab (by shaming politicians who support ACTA for instance) they will just try again later, under more euphemistic names like TPP, and of course in secrecy (as long as they can get away with it).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Make ISPs into “common carriers,” says former FCC commissioner
  2. How net neutrality shenanigans could put the hurt on Netflix

    Will ISPs block and degrade video traffic? It wouldn’t be the first time.

  3. Why Advertisers Will Survive Just Fine Without Net Neutrality (But Should Support It Anyway)
  4. Restore Net Neutrality By Directing the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as “Common Carriers”.
  5. Why FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t big on net neutrality rules

    After yesterday’s appeals court decision that rendered the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules useless against Internet providers like Verizon, the country is up in arms about whether the concept of an open Internet will remain intact.

    Well, newly appointed FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is only fanning the flames of the fire with repeatedly vague responses regarding net neutrality. People are up in arms because Wheeler doesn’t view net neutrality as a communication issue, but rather a network (technical) issue, which aligns with yesterday’s court decision.

  6. Back to the drawing board on ’net neutrality’ rules
  7. Losing Net Neutrality Is The Symptom, Not The Problem: Now Is The Time To Focus On Real Competition
  8. Solving the Net Neutrality Problem Is Actually Simple

    The Federal Communications Commission is sitting on a mess. This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. decided in Verizon Communications v. the FCC (pdf) that the commission didn’t have the authority to impose its open Internet order on Verizon (VZ) or anyone else. There is a simple fix for this mess. It does not require any new laws from Congress. It already has the support of the Supreme Court.

  9. Keep the Internet free and open

    To ensure net neutrality and maintain the Internet’s crucial role in commerce, education and public safety, the FCC needs to reclassify service providers as Title II telecommunications services.

  10. Net Neutrality and the Ghettoization of the Internet

    The definition of “ghetto” per Merriam-Webster online: a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions.

  11. How Policymakers Enabled The Internet

    The Internet has become so integral to our everyday lives that it is easy to forget how young it is. Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, came out in 1993. Since then, the Internet’s phenomenal growth has transformed the way billions of people around world communicate, learn, work, trade, campaign, mate, protest, plot and form communities.

News Snapshot: The Decline of Civility

Posted in News Roundup at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News from the past fortnight, for the most demonstrating lack of civil rights and sometimes disregard for human life

NDAA Indefinite Detention

  • States Say “Stop” to NDAA

    TAC, which describes itself as “a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism,” has drawn up model resolutions for any state, county, town or other political subdivisions whose leaders want to officially state their displeasure with federal military policy during the “war on terror.”

  • Wall Street Journal Takes Notice: Nullification “Trend Is Spreading”

    Although some self-described “conservatives” now claim that nullification is unconstitutional, others view nullification as a proper and constitutional approach for checking federal overreach and are working to apply this approach through state legislatures. Taking notice, the Wall Street Journal published an article on its website sketching the various efforts across the country to nullify unconstitutional acts of the federal government.

  • THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT – HAS CONGRESS GRANTED OBAMA FREE REIN TO INSTITUTE MARTIAL LAW?

    The controversial provision authorizes the military, under presidential authority, to arrest, kidnap, detain without trial and hold indefinitely American citizens thought to “represent an enduring security threat to the United States.” – See more at: http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_34724.php#sthash.2MqOqgzr.dpuf

Rape

Police

  • All Of Us Need To Be Very Afraid Now: “Peace Officers” Who Beat Homeless Mentally Ill Man To Death Somehow Found Not Guilty

    Astonishingly, infuriatingly, two former Fullerton, California cops have been acquitted on all charges after savagely beating to death Kelly Thomas, 37, a mentally ill homeless man who died five days after being set upon by Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinelli and four other officers. The attack, caught on surveillance video, led to days of protests, the recall of three City Council members and the resignation of a police chief whose department has a long history of violent abuse. Thomas’ father Ron, a former deputy sheriff, said the defense “lied continuously” during the trial and the family will likely pursue civil charges in the death of his son, who a year after his death was cleared of the stupid bogus charges – trying to get into locked cars in a bus parking lot – police came up with in a pathetic attempt to justify their cold-blooded, fist-punching murder. Since the verdict, people have held vigils and protests at a makeshift memorial where Thomas died; one sign carries Thomas’ picture before the beating and proclaims, “No one can hurt u now.” Also, the FBI has said it will review the evidence for federal civil rights violations. There is both raw and shorter, edited video of the attack: It captures Ramos snapping on rubber gloves, smacking his fists together and sneering to Thomas, “See these fists? They’re gonna fuck you up,” followed, many vicious punches later, by Thomas writihing on the ground repeatedly crying out for help and his father. Warning: stomach-churningly graphic and heart-poundingly disturbing, all of it.

  • Kelly Thomas case: Chief to fight ex-cop’s effort to win back job
  • Texas cops handcuff man after he gave change to homeless person

    Houston resident Greg Snider claims he was arrested and held for more than an hour after local police mistakenly targeted him as a criminal, all for giving a homeless man a few quarters.

    Snider said he had pulled into a local parking lot in order to make a phone call when a homeless man came up to him and asked for some spare cash. Snider claims he gave the man 75 cents and left to continue on his way.

    “I had no idea at all what was about to happen,” he told KPRC Local 2 News.

    As soon as Snider merged onto a local freeway, however, police followed him with flashing lights and sirens, ordering him to pull over.

  • Police Officers’ Lawyer Claims Being Tased Is Hilarious

    Oddly enough, cops (and lawyers for cops) from halfway around the world are no different than our local variety. This isn’t solely an “American” problem. Excessive force is used, the victim complains, and once the court battle ensues, the justifications for the use of force are presented, which often sound completely insane to those not well-versed in the art of defending abusive cops.

  • A Message to the Police from the American People

Ukraine

Surveillance

UK

  • UK Man Jailed For Not Giving Police Thumbstick Password

    The question of whether or not citizens should be compelled to give up their passwords to law enforcement is not going to go away. What with different agencies in different countries attempting to do more searches of technology at borders, on the mainland, and around the world, the law is eventually going to have to settle whether these kinds of searches and forced compliance are in good standing with the fourth and fifth amendments of our constitution or the governing laws of other nations.

  • 84 YEAR OLD CANADIAN WITH DEMENTIA DIES IN HANDCUFFS AT UK IMMIGRATION CENTRE

    The Chief Inspector of UK Prisons has accused a privately run UK Immigration Detention Centre at London’s Heathrow Airport of ‘a shocking loss of humanity’ after a terminally ill dementia sufferer died in hospital, restrained in handcuffs.

    Alois Dvorzak, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease spent the last five hours of his life in handcuffs, and passed away still wearing them. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, write in his report:

  • The lost girls: Department of Health to act on reports of illegal abortions by gender

    The Department of Health has launched an investigation into claims that illegal abortions of female foetuses are taking place among some families living within ethnic communities in Britain who seek to ensure that they have sons.

  • London Underground workers to strike against ticket office closures
  • The need to protect the internet from ‘astroturfing’ grows ever more urgent

    The tobacco industry does it, the US Air Force clearly wants to … astroturfing – the use of sophisticated software to drown out real people on web forums – is on the rise. How do we stop it?

  • The BBC must declare the interests of its contributors, or lose our trust

    The BBC seems happy to be used as a covert propaganda outlet by tobacco, fossil fuel and other controversial companies

  • European Parliament’s LIBE Stands (Up) for Liberty

    Perhaps the most depressing aspects of the Snowden affair has been not the fact that everything we do online is being spied upon, but the fact that few people in the UK seem to care. That’s partly because the UK is in it up to its neck, thanks to the complicity of GCHQ in most of the NSA’s crimes, and partly because the UK government has been so mealy-mouthed in its response. Its claims that everything it has done has been lawful is based on the fact that the only law that regulates such online spying activity – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – dates back to 2000, and is so utterly out of date that it is trivially easy to circumvent its puny safeguards.

    [..]

    Again, you can see just how bold and specific the recommendations are. Moraes and his colleagues are to be congratulated for pulling together such a high-quality report, on a such a complex and evolving situation, in such a short time. Let’s hope the European Parliament supports the conclusions, and the European Commission agrees to work towards their implementation.

War on Dissidents

  • The Internet’s Own Boy: Film on Aaron Swartz Captures Late Activist’s Struggle for Online Freedom

    One year ago this month, the young Internet freedom activist and groundbreaking programmer Aaron Swartz took his own life. Swartz died shortly before he was set to go to trial for downloading millions of academic articles from servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the belief that the articles should be freely available online. At the time he committed suicide, Swartz was facing 35 years in prison, a penalty supporters called excessively harsh. Today we spend the hour looking at the new documentary, “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.” We play excerpts of the film and speak with Swartz’s father Robert, his brother Noah, his lawyer Elliot Peters, and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger.

    [...]

    “It’s just incomprehensible, the notion that Aaron should be a felon and go to jail for something that was clearly not illegal, and he did nothing wrong. He was innocent. And to be railroaded on this basis was a complete distortion and corruption of the criminal justice system.”

  • Hackers Leak A Disturbing Walmart Guide on ‘How to Silence Workers’

    An internal Walmart memo was leaked yesterday, describing how to discourage workers from coming together for action. This document, leaked by Anonymous “Hacktivists” demanded absolute loyalty to Walmart. It further instructed that any and all signs of worker discontent be reported to supervisors immediately.

Prohibition

  • High-ranked DEA agent quits job to work for legal marijuana industry

    The chief of operations at the United States Drug Enforcement Agency said only last week that increased efforts as of late to legalize marijuana across the country is scaring his fellow officials at the DEA. Others, however, have a much different take.

  • It took longer for Ohio inmate to die than it takes to read this post

    So, the state of Ohio conducted a little experiment Thursday: Can you execute someone using just two drugs?
    And the result? Why, yes you can. But it wasn’t quick, and it may not have been painless.

    First, a little background.

    The executed man, Dennis McGuire, was convicted in 1994 of raping and murdering Joy Stewart, 22, who was eight months’ pregnant. And he eventually confessed to the crime. So there’s no doubting his guilt.

Bahrain and Turkey

WikiLeaks

  • WikiLeaks, Through Journalists’ Eyes

    Recently, Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, and Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer/blogger/journalist who broke the Snowden NSA story discussed opinions on the ethics and methods of journalism.

  • Chelsea Manning wins 2014 SAAII Award

    The Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates for Integ­rity in Intel­li­gence (SAAII) have voted over­whelm­ingly to present the 2014 Sam Adams Award for Integ­rity in Intel­li­gence to Chelsea (formerly Brad­ley) Manning.

NSA Watch: GCHQ/NSA Gang Up Against Servers, Hide Violations, Face Blowback

Posted in Action, Law at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News from Monday and Tuesday, covering a range of development in the NSA saga and beyond

Corporate Servers

Crimes Concealed

  • The NSA, CIA, and the Promise of Industrial Espionage

    In a weekend interview with German ARD public television network, Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government uses its broad electronic surveillance capabilities to engage in industrial espionage. Snowden told ARD TV that, “I will say is there is no question that the U.S. is engaged in economic spying,” Snowden gave the example that, “If there is information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they’ll take it.” Snowden left hanging what exactly is done with such potentially useful economic intelligence, and he provided little additional information on this subject beyond indicated the news outlets holding copies of yet published NSA leaked documents could provide more specific information.

  • U.S. Eyes Ways to Keep NSA Snooping Hidden

    At the same time that the Obama administration publicly mulls over how to end its controversial storage of millions of Americans’ phone records swept up by the National Security Agency, the government is also reportedly exploring ways to prevent other spies from seeing what it’s spying on.

Police/FBI (Domestic Spying)

US Political Reaction

  • Issa, Five Other Congressmen Call For DNI Clapper’s Removal

    A group of six Congressmen have asked President Barack Obama to remove James Clapper as director of national intelligence as a result of his misstatements to Congress about the NSA’s dragnet data-collection programs. The group, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said that Clapper’s role as DNI “is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs”.

  • NSA Surveillance Divides the Republican Party

    The RNC has declared domestic spying illegal. A faction led by George W. Bush-era bureaucrats is pushing back.

  • Cut Off the NSA’s Juice

    The National Security Agency depends on huge computers that guzzle electricity in the service of the surveillance state. For the NSA’s top executives, maintaining a vast flow of juice to keep Big Brother nourished is essential — and any interference with that flow is unthinkable.

European Reaction

People’s Voice

  • Prominent cryptography and security researchers deplore NSA’s surveillance activities
  • February 11, 2014: The Day We Fight Back Against the NSA

    It only makes sense that the NSA be confronted online. After all, it’s the Internet the agency uses to spy on us. They’re not following us down dark streets or steaming open our snail mail. Instead, they’re monitoring our emails to discover who is in our circle and stalking us on Facebook and Google Plus. Especially if we use Windows, there’s no need for them to dirty their hands sifting through our garbage when they can enter through a virtual trap door on our computer to rifle through our word processor and spreadsheet files. Phone tapping? How old school in a world where every call we make, even from a land line, becomes VoIP somewhere along the line. When we use VoIP or Skype, they can easily listen. If we visit a website located in a country on their hit list, they sit-up and take notice.

Corporations’ Voice

  • Tech giants reach White House deal on NSA surveillance of customer data

    The Obama administration has reached a deal with a number of technology giants, allowing the companies to disclose more information on customer data they are compelled to share with the government.

  • Google’s Drummond calls for new NSA reforms
  • Google to acquire AI firm for $400 million

    For quite some time there have been rumours of Google wanting to take AI to the next level. Popular Android-based game, ‘Ingress‘ presents an artificial layer on top of real world landmarks and allows players to claim territories while the interact with their surroundings. Although it’s not what the public expected initially, it did represent the future that Google envisioned for gaming.

  • You Say NSA Has Hurt U.S. Tech Sector

    72% of you said that you thought the NSA’s actions would have an effect on the entire U.S. software industry, with 20% of you expressing the opinion that proprietary software developers only would be effected. Taken together, this means that 92% of you are of the opinion that the NSA’s dirty tricks will have a negative effect on the U.S. tech sector. 7% of you answered “maybe a little but not much” with only 1% choosing “not at all.”

Microsoft’s Role in Political and Industrial Espionage Concealed

Posted in Microsoft at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CCTV

Summary: Leaks reveal that Microsoft is violating the privacy of people (including politicians) while using carefully-worded responses to hide these violations

NO politician should ever use Windows and no section of the public sector should touch it in any way. It’s a huge espionage risk. Stuxnet has been sufficient proof that Microsoft is a colossal threat to one’s national sovereignty and security. Not even the US public deserves the punishment of using software with NSA back doors and quick access to one’s webcam, microphone, etc. In fact, any state CIO that chooses to go with Microsoft is either foolish or bribed (and we know for sure that Microsoft bribes people in such positions, as they are occasionally getting caught).

Earlier today, filed under “Espionage” in the Bill Gates-funded paper which seems to be more interested in protecting Microsoft much of the time (while demonising Google every day), was this article that gives Microsoft a platform. Microsoft is trying to intercept recent allegations from Australian MPs. To quote the Microsoft placement: “Parliamentary officials say Microsoft has given some assurances that electronic communications by MPs are not being accessed by American intelligence agencies through a “back door” in the IT operating systems.

“Last November during a Senate estimates hearing a senior parliamentary official left open the prospect that parliamentary communications in Australia could be monitored by US intelligence through a “back door” provided by Microsoft operating systems.”

Microsoft says there are no back doors. “OK,” says iophk, “authorized access then. It’s probably right there in the EULA” (users do offer consent for remote access). Vandalising machines would be a crime, so Microsoft just lets the thugs (FBI, NSA, CIA, police etc.) get in and do their deeds. Quoting the recent article from the Guardian and the article “Worst CIO job in Australia” iophk provides this quote: “We know that Microsoft software contains a back door which is utilised by the US NSA and Microsoft has been very active in assisting the NSA to circumvent the company’s own encryption standards.”

Yes, indeed. And how timely is this new report from IDG, quoting someone from something Microsoft calls “Trustworthy Computing” (Orwellian language). To quote: “On Friday, Adrienne Hall, general manager in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, said in a blog post that it appeared that documents associated with law enforcement inquiries were stolen. “If we find that customer information related to those requests has been compromised, we will take appropriate action,” Hall said.

“The company will, however, not comment on the validity of any stolen emails or documents in deference to “the privacy of our employees and customers — as well as the sensitivity of law enforcement inquiries,” she added.”

OK then, so it’s confirmed. Microsoft is handing data of customers, employees, etc. to secret agencies. When this is discovered Microsoft calls it a violation (comparing it to “theft” or “stealing”), ignoring its own violations.

Let’s face it: Microsoft is an espionage company and it's a Trojan horse for the NSA. In a tyrant’s hand, Microsoft is a dream partner.

Anti-GNU/Linux Agenda at ZDNet (Part of CBS) Noted Again

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nothing spooky about the CBS logo

CBS logo

Summary: GNU/Linux FUD (with concurrent promotion of spyware like Windows and Apple systems) still being reinforced by technology-focused sites that are owned by CBS

ENOUGH has been said here about ZDNet, where writers (supposed “journalists”) are Microsoft staff like Perlow and full-time Microsoft boosters like Ed Bott and Mary-Jo Foley. Then there are rookies like David Gewirtz, who habitually bash (out of ignorance) GNU/Linux [1, 2] and now receive a rebuttal [1]. In a perfect world all this provocation would not enter news feeds or Web sites that pretend to be news sites, but when you are part of CBS you get access to a bigger audience that’s not deserved.

CBS is not just doing propaganda for the NSA (a close partner of Microsoft) but also for Microsoft, which is paying CBS in all sorts of ways (including advertisements). Be careful of CNET too. It is owned by CBS (with the motto “America’s Most Watched Network”) and it has roots in Microsoft’s co-founder. These are generally poor sources of information because of veiled bias/agenda. Writers are not being selected at random, they are selected to fit the desired agenda. Many more (not named above) have roots in Microsoft (full or partial employment) and a Microsoft whistleblower once revealed how the company was gaming the site.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Why do Windows journalists have to trash Linux?

    Trashing Linux seems to be a very nasty trend though I can’t understand why people bother to keep doing it. It’s as if they can’t think of anything else to write about, so they crank out yet another lame “Linux sucks!” article in a pathetic attempt to generate some page views.

Tuxera GPL Violations Alleged

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Patents, Samsung at 2:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unable to cover up the deeds

A band-aid bandage

Summary: Microsoft’s partner Tuxera is claimed to be violating the GPL, adding insult to injury (helping Microsoft make money from Linux shakedowns, using code that was illegally copied)

LAST year we campaigned with great success for Samsung to obey (i.e. comply with) the GPL after it had gotten caught violating it [1, 2. 3], specifically when it served Microsoft with patent traps (exFAT). Samsung’s GPL violations go years back and they show that this company, which has just liaised with Google on patents (Google too is becoming patents-greedy), is no friend of FOSS. Samsung also commits crimes, but that’s beyond the scope of our coverage.

Another company which can easily be confused or mishandled as a FOSS company because it uses Linux (but mostly provides proprietary software with Microsoft patents) is Tuxera. Like Xamarin, all it really does is promote Linux dependence on Microsoft patent traps (the ones that allegedly have Samsung paying Microsoft for Linux). exFAT (promoted by Samsung and Tuxera) as well other forms/variants of FAT are not really needed, we need to abolish them.

The woman who told us about Samsung’s GPL violations contacted us earlier today to say that based on this file (forked to https://github.com/rxrz/asuswrt-merlin just in case), Tuxera is violating the GPL.

As the reporter of this violation put it, “download the blob, run `modinfo` on it:


filename:       thfsplus.ko
license:        GPL
description:    Extended Macintosh Filesystem
author:         Brad Boyer
depends:       
vermagic:       2.6.22.19 mod_unload MIPS32_R2 32BIT

“it’s MIPS32, so `strings` won’t give the function names, rather something like this:


`strings /tmp/thfsplus.ko | grep -i tux`:
<6>Tuxera HFS+ driver 3013.11.18
/opt/tuxera/rakesh/tuxera_delivery/output/asus-router/tuxera-file-systems-3013.11.15.1-bcm4706.build/hfsplus-kmod/fs/hfsplus/extents.c
/opt/tuxera/rakesh/tuxera_delivery/output/asus-router/tuxera-file-systems-3013.11.15.1-bcm4706.build/hfsplus-kmod/fs/hfsplus/bnode.c

“Seems like a GPL violation to me,” she concluded. “I’d like to have that source code now, since it’s been based on native code from Linux.”

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