Former CIA Head Says Metadata Kills, So Don’t Use Duck Duck Go (Hosted by the CIA’s #1 Technology Partner)

Posted in Search at 1:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Duck Duck Go

Image by Will Hill

Summary: Another warning about Duck Duck Go, the so-called ‘search engine’ which actually relays results from Microsoft on top of Amazon-hosted servers

THE search engine that people routinely use is a very big deal. It’s a big decision. People tend to throw around clues about medical conditions they are having, technical issues, names of people they are stalking, political views and so much more. Now we are getting yet more proof that people’s searching habits may also, in fact, lead to their assassination or character assassination some day in the future, even decades from now. Leaderships change over time and so do rules or regulations (this is often referred to as “turnkey tyranny”). Just look what Japan and Germany did 75 years ago, killing (executing) millions of people based on broad profiling. Read about Sook Ching (肃清) for example.

Giant octopus grasping the Earth (with its teeth on top of North America, implying perhaps domestic spying and more) is a logo that recently came from the NSA itself, as hard as it may be to believe (seen at the top right, unaltered). We already know, based on Snowden’s heroic actions, that the NSA is very much connected to the CIA’s drones strikes and US citizens are among the targets. We post many links about these issues because they’re enormously important.

Sadly, many people believe the false promise of privacy at Duck Duck Go. The illusion of privacy is worse than no privacy at all because it gives people a false sense of security that leads them to doing what they otherwise would not.

Now that some FOSS sites foolishly promote Duck Duck Go (or affiliated services) we wish to remind readers that for several clear reasons Duck Duck Go is a sham when it comes to privacy. We have already explained why. We wrote about this several times before and Will Hill put together some of the arguments against Duck Duck Go.

Michael Hayden (former head of both the CIA and the NSA, who laid the ground for much of the existing policy) says that “we kill people based on metadata”. This means all sorts of things. They are using people’s search phrases and other shallow things (perhaps browsing habits, not just phonecall records) as long as these are compact to store and analyse (data-mine). As storage gets cheaper and resources for computation grow (thanks to an Amazon deal), the more they collect from more people. Dossiers gathered by automated profiling are used to predict or assess people’s thoughts, even when they might be studying/researching things (e.g. looking up Hitler-related stuff for curiosity, not for support). This can also be used to justify murder of civilians by drones after they are killed (justification by alignment of so-called ‘evidence’ after the act).

Duck Duck GoHayden’s remarks were noted in our latest daily links and are now going quite viral on the Internet. The same correlation that says drone assassinations are driven by ‘metadata’ was noted some months ago in The Intercept, based on a source other than Hayden, so even though Hayden is a pathological liar, herein we have some corroboration.

Don’t give the NSA ‘dirt’ with which to paint you a “bad person” worthy of death, smearing, etc. The NSA uses data for espionage, so it needn’t have to do anything with national security, just national interests (meaning corporations’ interests). Every single person has, at one point or another, searched the Web for some phrase that may be interpreted by an outsider as suspicious, especially if context gets removed. Duck Duck Go is a dangerous search engine to be using at the very least because it’s hosted by Amazon, which received $600,000,000 from the CIA to help keep every bit of data (mass surveillance) forever.

18,000 Posts in Techrights

Posted in Site News at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Another milestone to be reached this week and a few words on where we are at

Techrights is now a maturing site with 3 main parts: the Drupal front page (targeting first-time visitors), the blog (WordPress), and the Wiki (MediaWiki). Each of these parts runs a different CMS, for historical reasons and topological reasons (each is optimised for a different purpose). The overall appearance of the site was never changed. This was a conscious decision that preserves consistency and assures integrity of old material.

Some time in the coming week we’ll reach an important milestone. The 18,000th blog post will be published. It took just under 8 years, which probably means that we’ll hit 20,000 well before Techrights turns 10.

Speaking of 10, on June 10th Tux Machines is going to turn 10. My wife and I run that site right now. Thankfully, readership is growing every week.

Let’s hope for many more years of reporting and analysis.

Links 11/5/2014: Sabayon 14.05, Phone With Firefox OS 1.3

Posted in News Roundup at 9:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Internet radio, Lenovo Chromebooks & more

      Both will use Intel Celeron processors, supported by upto 4GB of RAM. Their strong points are their size (only 11.6 in x 8.34 in x 0.70 in) and an eight-hour battery life. There are some 2.1 Chromebooks in the West, and is expected to rise to 11 million annual in five years’ time.

    • Why a Chromebook is the best Mother’s Day gift

      The last reason why you should get your mom a Chromebook is their value. Currently, the most expensive Chromebook available for purchase is the HP Chromebook 14 at $299 or $349, depending on which version you get. This is the one I purchased, since it has the largest screen for a Chromebook, and has Intel’s new Haswell Celeron processors. (For more on my thoughts of the HP Chromebook 14, click here). Most other Chromebooks only cost $199 to $299, and that is if you purchase it new. Chromebooks can be purchased used, and still seem like a brand new laptop, as long as they look new cosmetically.

      This may seem expensive as a mother’s day gift, but do not think about it as a one time gift, but as a long term investment. Your mother will never have to purchase a new computer again, since Chromebooks are built to last forever and come with free updates. She will never have to purchase antivirus again, nor any other software, since most of the apps on the Chrome Web Store are free. (For a guide on the Chrome Web Store, click here). By purchasing your mom a Chromebook, you save her from ever having to worry about her computer again. This saves both your mom and you time and money.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Enlightenment: BLAST OFF TO NOWHERE

      I brought a chart. Read from right to left, it shows the git activity of the E repository as output from gitstats; week 17 is the week that the E19 branch merged to master. This is the total commit count for the repository, so it isn’t just me.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • ‘Let’s rock this summer’ they said

        I am proud to say that I have been accepted to Google Summer of Code under KDE, Marble project. Surprised? Yes, a little bit. That is, I belived in my chances but, at the same time, had dozens of emotions as the accepted students announcement approached. I think I had a pretty good proposal and I had also proven my acquaintance with the codebase through the 13 patches I had sent even before the student application period ended, but you never know what brilliant idea one may have.

      • Watch a HD live stream from space

        To get that view in Marble, activate Satellites in the View / Online Services menu. Click on the ISS in the map (search for it if you don’t spot it immediately) and select Display orbit in the menu coming up.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • What GNOME’s Women Outreach Program Is Paying For This Summer

        The GNOME Outreach Program for Women recently came under fire after finding out it was a big contributor to the GNOME Foundation running short on money, due to administering the program, fronting the associated costs, etc. We’ve already covered the 2014 Google Summer of Code projects so in this article we’re taking a look at what the new GNOME women developers are getting done the next few months.

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Wayland changes approved for Fedora 21

          Wayland on Fedora as default has been eluding us for a while now. Experimental support for Wayland was added in Fedora 20 but X11 still remained the default display server. The weekly FESCo meeting approved the Wayland Fedora 21 changes among other Fedora 21 features to continue the works on replacing X11 with Wayland.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch Is Now Based On Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn

            Until now, there aren’t a lot of applications for Ubuntu Touch available, Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth hopes that by the time the first Ubuntu Touch powered phones hit the market, the top 50 Android/iOS apps will be available for Ubuntu Touch.

            Also worth mentioning, Mark’s Shuttleworth big dream is to reach full desktop-mobile convergence somewhere between the releases of Ubuntu 14.10 and Ubuntu 15.04 (between October 2014 and April 2015).

          • Vixtel Unity Tries To Be An Android + Ubuntu Tablet

            The reported Vixtel Unity tablet is to be a 10.1-inch Retina tablet, dual boots to Ubuntu and Android, supports keyboard connections, is backed by a quad-core processor, boasts 2GB of RAM, and provides 64GB of storage. The company informed us of their existence after we recently wrote on Phoronix about Canonical not actively working on Ubuntu for Android.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • First Phone with Firefox OS 1.3 Hits Ebay Priced at $100

        Mozilla was at CES in Las Vegas in January and had a very prominent presence at MWC. The company hit Barcelona with a giant Firefox booth and all of the Firefox OS phones that have been produced so far. Also on show was the new ZTE Open C, a follow on to last year’s ZTE Open. Unfortunately, at the time, the device wasn’t yet available, and Mozilla couldn’t tell us when North Americans would be able to purchase the Firefox OS smartphone for themselves. That changed this week when ZTE made its Firefox OS phone available to folks in the U.S., UK, and other territories via eBay.

      • Firefox OS 1.3 brings new tools for better mobile Web gaming

        Games are a top app category for smartphones, and Mozilla is trying to make them better with a new release of its browser-based operating system, Firefox OS.

      • ZTE Is Selling The $99 Open C Firefox Phone Exclusively On Ebay

        If you’re into open source, unlocked phones that cost less than a month of phone service, take note. Manufacturer ZTE is selling their first Firefox OS phone on Ebay for a piddly $99, a price that should make it a great choice for folks looking for a solid phone with a solid pedigree and an actually open OS.

      • Ballnux

      • Android

        • Open Source Android ALYT Security And Smart Home Manager (video)

          ALYT is a smart home manager that runs Google’s Android operating system and is completely open source allowing you to tailor it to your exact requirements.

          ALYT has been designed to allow users to control home security systems as well as energy usage, entertainment systems as well as providing home automation via an Android powered smartphone or tablet device. Check out the video after the jump to learn more about this new and innovative smart home management system.

Free Software/Open Source


  • ‘All Honour to You’ – the forgotten letters sent from occupied France

    The remarkable discovery of a box of letters in the archives of the BBC is shedding new light on conditions and attitudes in France during World War Two.

  • Hardware

    • I Lost Interest With Intel’s New, Fan-Less Bay Trail NUC

      Last month Intel announced a new, fan-less Intel NUC Kit, the DE3815TYKHE and it featured an Intel Atom E3815 SoC. While at first I immediately planned to buy one, now that they’re available, I’ve changed my purchase order instead to another DN2820FYKH NUC Kit for Linux usage.


      So while at first I was interested in this new Atom Bay Trail NUC, in the end I’d rather go for the DN2820FYKH that is back in the marketplace after having some supply problems and technical issues with the early units. Only if the DE3815TYKHE drops closer in price to $100 would I be interested in buying the single-core, fan-less system for Linux testing. You can see some earlier coverage within Intel Bay Trail NUC Linux Performance Preview and Fedora 20 Runs Great On The Intel Bay Trail NUC. Fatima is in fact using the original DN2820FYKH on a daily basis still as her main system and it’s been working out great in conjunction with Fedora Rawhide. When I have my new DN2820FYKH NUC arriving, I will carry out some fresh Linux benchmarks and other performance tests at Phoronix.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca shows that big pharma is as rotten as the banks

      Countries around the world are seeking long-run, innovation-led growth in the “real economy”. This is born of a wish to move away from speculative growth led by short-term financial markets. For this reason, industrial policy is back on the agenda after years of being a near blasphemy.

      The life-sciences industry is top of the list, for both Barack Obama and David Cameron, of “real” industries to nurture through such policy. But this month they have been reminded of an uncomfortable truth: big pharma is just as sick as the banks. And, like speculative finance, it is hurting taxpayers in the process.

      Pfizer wants to buy AstroZeneca, a British firm, to cuts its high overheads and especially to pay the lower UK tax rate (20%) – the cheap way the UK attracts “capital”– rather than the 40% US tax rate. This is nothing new as Google and Apple have been shifting profits around the world to avoid tax. Even within the US, Apple moved one of its subsidiaries to Reno, Nevada to avoid paying higher tax in Cupertino, California. Let’s call it a race to the bottom.

    • Keeping good science from becoming bioterror

      A German advisory board wants the country to clamp down on science that could go viral in the worst way – and hopes the world will follow suit quickly, please.

  • Security

    • Do You Need EV-SSL? [VIDEO]

      In May of 2005, Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO and founder of Comodo, helped coordinate the first meeting to discuss Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates. EV-SSL certificates offer the promise of increased rigor and authenticity for SSL, to help improve the security of the Internet.

    • Heartbleed: Don’t blame open source, blame the people

      Heartbleed has captured the public’s imagination like no other security bug and has drawn lots of attention to open source, some of it positive and some negative.

      Half a million of the web’s most secure certified servers were believed to be vulnerable to the attack.

      Joseph Steinberg, cyber security columnist for Forbes, even commented that “some might argue that Heartbleed is the worst vulnerability found (at least in terms of its potential impact) since commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet”.

    • McAfee accused of McSlurping Open Source Vulnerability Database

      Intel security subsidiary McAfee may be in hot water after it allegedly scraped thousands of records from the Open Source Vulnerability Database instead of paying for them.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Rick Jensen: New angle to Benghazi: Gunrunning

      The New York Times has already reported weapons being shipped through Benghazi to the Syrian rebels under U.S. auspices. Seymour Hersh, the famous investigative reporter who exposed the My Lai massacre, reported extensively on the arms being shipped by the U.S. to Syrian rebels through Turkey.

    • Syria: The 9 Insurgent Groups with US-Made TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

      The Front is based in northwest Syria. Led by the controversial Jamal Maarouf, it has been pursuing a high-profile PR campaign for American support. It could be in conflict with Harakat Hazm, the first group to receive TOW missiles, after the group broke away from the Front in January.

    • Pakistan doctor Afridi’s lawyer quits case after threats

      A Pakistani lawyer representing jailed doctor Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has quit citing threats to his life and the US’s “pressure tactics” for his release.

    • Ukraine Scrambles Fighter Jets, Intercepts Airplane Carrying Russian Deputy Premier
    • Victoria Nuland Lies to House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressman Rohrabacher Challenges Nuland’s Claim No Nazis in Kiev

      Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, lied by denying that there were armed Nazis supporting the ouster of Ukraine’s “free and fairly elected” President Victor Yanukovych, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, despite repeated questions posed by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) about pictures of neo-Nazis armed with guns in the Maidan, and their affiliations with neo-Nazi groups in other countries.

    • Burning Ukraine’s Protesters Alive. Neo-Nazi “Shock Troops” Supported by US

      In Ukraine, a grisly new strategy – bringing in neo-Nazi paramilitary forces to set fire to occupied buildings in the country’s rebellious southeast – appears to be emerging as a favored tactic as the coup-installed regime in Kiev seeks to put down resistance from ethnic Russians and other opponents.

    • SF Protest Of US Imperialist Intervention In The Ukraine

      A small rally and speakout was held in San Francisco to protest US imperialist intervention into the Ukraine. The rally was held on the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi, Germany on May 9. Speaker reported on the role of the CIA and US government in overthrowing the Ukrainian government

    • Bild am Sonntag: 400 elite US commandos help Kiev in Ukraine

      About 400 elite commandos of a notorious US private security firm, Academi, are involved in a punitive operation mounted by Ukraine’s new government against federalization supporters in eastern Ukraine, the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.Копирано от standartnews.com

    • Meeting Mikhail Gorbachev

      I read it for “Untold History” (please see Ch. 8 & 9). Amazing revelations inside the workings of the politburo. Gorby, a Henry Wallace-type agriculture expert, made his way up to the top ranks, recognizing the corruption of the Communist system; he came to power as a protégé of Andropov, and then in a lightening coup of history, achieved profound change not only for the Russian people but for all of us.

      If only the West had honored the opportunity he presented us in the 1980s, the world would be so different now. Sadly, the US turned its back on his offers of peace. And instead of demilitarizing the world beginning with Western Europe, Bush made the tragic choice to expand our footprint first in the Panama Invasion, and then most crucially, sent 500,000 American troops to the Middle East for the Kuwaiti War. From that fateful decision grew a trap we never extricated ourselves from.


      Lawsuit demands details of D.C. surveillance plan to have drones direct missiles

    • CIA plans to close satellite bases in Afghanistan
    • Reporter Pressured to Name Source Who Revealed U.S. Scheme to Provide Iran with a “Faulty Blueprint” to Build Nuclear Weapon

      A petition to the President and the Attorney General has just been posted by several organizations, including one I work for, asking that the Department of Justice stop threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with prison if he refuses to reveal a confidential source.

      This story, among other stunning features, I think, threatens to expose an unknown known of the highest magnitude — by which I mean, not something lying outside Donald Rumsfeld’s imagination, but something that everyone paying attention has known all about for years but which would explode the brains of most consumers of corporate media if they ever heard about it.

    • The CIA’s Bro Culture Is Doing Yemen No Favors

      During my time covering Yemen’s 2011 youth uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, it was more difficult to identify quality qat than to finger American spooks. Their out-of-uniform uniform, ubiquitous and often including 5-11 cargo pants, a pair of Oakley sunglasses and full beards, functioned as a caricature that could be plucked right out of the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise.

    • 8 Stories of Civilians Killed by U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen

      “A drone was hovering overhead all morning. There were one or two of them. One of the missiles hit the car. The car was totally burned. Four other cars were also struck. When we stopped, we heard the drone fire. Blood was everywhere, and the people killed and injured were scattered everywhere,” said Abdullah Muhammad al-Taysi in an interview with Democracy Now.

    • Ted Cruz demands access to memo outlining how Obama can kill Americans

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) move last fall to go nuclear on the filibuster didn’t just undermine the rights of the minority in the chamber, it has also helped the Obama administration continue its pernicious habit of keeping members of Congress and the American people in the dark.

      President Barack Obama nominated David Barron in September 2013 to fill a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Barron briefly served in the administration, from January 2009 to July 2010, as acting assistant attorney general.

    • Drones: A military revolution

      This year, the US Air Force will this be training more drone pilots than fighter jet pilots.

    • US military begins research into moral, ethical robots, to stave off Skynet-like apocalypse

      The US Department of Defense, working with top computer scientists, philosophers, and roboticists from a number of US universities, has finally begun a project that will tackle the tricky topic of moral and ethical robots. This multidisciplinary project will first try to pin down exactly what human morality is, and then try to devise computer algorithms that will imbue autonomous robots with moral competence — the ability to choose right from wrong. As we move steadily towards a military force that is populated by autonomous robots — mules, foot soldiers, drones — it is becoming increasingly important that we give these machines — these artificial intelligences — the ability to make the right decision. Yes, the US DoD is trying to get out in front of Skynet before it takes over the world. How very sensible.

    • The New Cold War: “The Russians are Coming … Again … and They’re Still Ten Feet Tall”

      So, what do we have here? In Libya, in Syria, and elsewhere the United States has been on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. But not in Ukraine. That’s the good news.

    • Putting the Ukraine Crisis in Context
    • Capitalism’s Permanent Revolution: Is Algeria Next?

      Algeria is a staunchly independent country with vast hydrocarbon resources. It has more than once been criticized for its ‘resource nationalism.’ In 2006 Reuters reported: ‘Algeria, long seen as an energy investment hot spot, has taken a step towards resource nationalism with plans to unravel a reformist law and claw back some profits from foreign operators.’

    • Neo-Nazi Crackdown: Regime Soldiers and Paramilitary Killing Civilians in Eastern Ukraine

      This position not only describes official government policy, the CIA is advising Kiev on the conduct of these “counter-terrorist” operations directed against innocent civilians.

      Meanwhile the Western media remains silent, tacitly supportive and complicit in the conduct of crimes against humanity in the name of “democracy”.

    • Civil War Has Begun in Ukraine: US-NATO Backs Neo-Nazi Paramilitary

      So, according to the central government official Avakov, some “60 ‘terrorists’ with automatic weapons” who were “separatists” had fought against Avakov’s forces, and “20 separatists died,” while there was “only one dead on the government side,” even though they had been fighting “some 60 ‘terrorists’ with automatic weapons.” Who, then, were really the ‘terrorists’ here? The Ukrainian central government is having trouble lying: they’re not as skilled at it as their sponsors inside the U.S. White House and State Department are: they need lots of professional training.

    • Is Boko Haram An “Intelligence Asset”? Terror Attack in Nigeria Opens Door to Africom

      According to the Los Angeles Times, the team will not be used for military purposes and will share intelligence investigative services in the search for the students kidnapped April 14 from a rural high school in Nigeria’s predominately Muslim northeast. Obama said the abductions may “mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization.” In October 2013, the U.S. designated Boko Haram a terrorist group.

    • Obama in Talks with “Rebel” Leader on Escalating Syrian War

      The Obama administration has entered into direct talks with the leader of the political front for Syria’s Western-backed “rebels” on arming them with US surface-to-air missiles, amid fresh confirmation that these forces are dominated by Al Qaeda-linked militias.

      Ahmad al-Jarba, the chief of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, met Thursday at the State Department with Secretary of State John Kerry. He is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House in the coming days. Meetings are also scheduled at the Pentagon and with members of the US Congress.

    • A 9/11 book the world needs to read

      In the months after 9/11, several American citizens were singled out because they “looked” Middle Eastern, and were killed. None of the victims of the post-9/11 hate crimes were ever acknowledged as victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism, though they should be viewed that way.

    • United Nations to Debate ‘Should We Ban Killer Robots?’
    • Rise of the machines? UN to debate ‘killer robots’

      Killer robots and their use will be debated during a meeting of experts at the United Nations in Geneva; amid fears that once created they could pose a “threat to humanity”.

      Prof Ronald Arkin and Prof Noel Sharkey will debate the need for so-called killer robots during the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), marking the first time the issue of killer robots has been discussed within the CCW.

    • UN to debate development and use of killer robots
    • Pakistan court seeks charges against FBI agent

      A judge in southern Pakistan asked police on Saturday to file formal charges against an FBI agent arrested there for allegedly carrying ammunition and three knives onto an airplane, an investigator said.

      FBI Agent Joel Cox, free on $9,800 bond, appeared with his lawyer before Judge Mohammed Ali Memon in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, Khalid Mahmood said.

    • Honestly, War is Over

      United States has roughly 5% of the world’s population and 50% of the world’s military spending.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • MaydayPAC CEO

      And to be clear: I stand by my commitment that 100% of the money raised through our crowdfunding campaign will fund electoral campaign work. We are covering the other costs (as tiny as we can keep them) through other fundraising.

  • Censorship

    • Trans-Atlantic Supplicant: Merkel Chooses Unity over NSA Truth

      There was a time when Angela Merkel was committed to investigating the extent of NSA spying in Germany. Now, though, the chancellor has made an about face. Trans-Atlantic unity is her new priority, and the investigation has been left to languish.

    • The Ruling Class Wages War On Truth Itself

      The ruling class and the governments are waging a war against truth itself.

    • Barret Brown saga comes to a close with worrying implications for journalists

      Last Tuesday “hacktivist journo” Barrett Brown pled guilty in a US court after a long-running battle with the FBI. He had reported on a high-profile Anonymous hack as well as posting provocative videos on YouTube baiting FBI officials.

      At the hearing, the court reduced his sentence from 105 years to eight and a half years, with lawyers saying he could serve far less time.

      Both Brown’s defence team and freedom of speech activists are now worried a precedent has been set in which reporters could be prosecuted for writing stories using hacked information.

      “The implications are worrisome in the extreme,” said Kevin Gallagher, director of Free Barrett Brown Ltd.

    • Masterspy Restrictions on Media Contact
    • Respect right to privacy

      The Privacy Commissioner has once again sounded the alarm over certain government information collection activities. More specifically, Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier has found evidence that some government departments are collecting information about Canadians from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

    • World’s media under growing pressure

      In the United States, the government has sought to limit reporting on national security issues. The United States’ and other governments’ reported targeting of ordinary citizens as well as political figures for surveillance also raises concerns about the ability of journalists to protect sources and maintain their digital privacy.

    • Rule of law and freedom of press under attack in Turkey
    • Law on news portals may tighten gov’t grip on Internet media

      Representatives of opposition parties who see the draft law on Internet news portals as a product of a carrot-and-stick policy by the ruling party have criticized the government for seeking to put Internet media under the control of the Telecommunications Authority (TİB).

    • Two Countries May Block Eurovision’s Bearded Lady

      Sexuality, music and censorship: it is Eurovision 2013 all over again. However, this year the players are different. Citizens of Russia and Belarus petitioned to their national broadcasters to censor the Eurovision song contest 2014 due to an “abnormal appearance” of the singer Conchita Wurst (representing Austria).

    • MP: Snowden supporters use ‘insidious’ language to cause confusion

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of widespread government snooping, especially by the United States and United Kingdom, has political leaders on both sides of the pond angry. In addition to damning proof against the NSA, there was data related to spying from the GCHQ British intelligence agency.

    • US, no example to media freedom despite its rhetoric to Sri Lanka

      The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Doug Frantz through digital video conference from Washington addressing a gathering on May 8 at the American Center, Colombo to mark the World Press Freedom Day, highlighted that his country never punishes news organization for doing their job while lecturing Sri Lanka it should follow the American example.

    • PN complains of censorship by PBS

      The Nationalist Party has complained it was censored on yesterday’s news bulletin on Public Broad Services which did not broadcasting its statement reaction to Eurostat figures on a drop in emissions between 2012 and 2013.

    • Russian law censors swearing in the arts

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law censoring the use of curse words in the arts — the latest in a series of measures aimed at restricting freedom of speech and intimidating activists critical of his government.

    • Only you can take action to end Google’s censorship of pro-life groups

      Google has reportedly banned ads from crisis pregnancy groups, which offer an alternative to abortion and save lives. Ovid Lamontagne is General Counsel at Americans United for Life and he says influencing Google’s actions will only happen if people voice their objections to the censorship of pro-life groups.

    • The Censorship Effect

      The 29-year-old founder of VKontakte, Russia’s largest social network, just got “fired” and left the country. That is, Pavel Durov described himself as fired, although there were previous rustlings of resignation.

    • Revealed: The British exports that crush free expression

      The Arab Spring has not stopped Britain from helping crush free expression and freedom of assembly by selling crowd control gear to authoritarian states including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

      Analysis of newly-published data on export licences approved by the UK government have revealed ministers backed over £4 million of tear gas, crowd control ammunition and CS hand grenade sales over the last two years to Saudi Arabia – one of the most repressive states in the world.

    • Censorship Is The Norm

      Most Americans assume the United States government speaks “the truth” to its citizens and defends their constitutional right to “free speech” (be it in the form of words or dollars). On the other hand, it is always the alleged enemies of the U.S. who indulge in propaganda and censoring of “the truth.”

    • Censorship in the USA
    • Leaked Chinese Censorship Instructions Regarding Global Bitcoin Summit 2014

      An independent news website based in California called the China Digital Times, has recently published leaked censorship instructions made by Chinese government officials to the Chinese media. The government agency, which was not named, told the Chinese media to take down, or stop reporting about, certain sensitive issues. Regarding the Bitcoin Global Summit which is taking place this weekend in Beijing, it read,

    • Campuses send off graduates with messages of censorship

      Despite the media’s fascination with racial issues, many news organizations have failed to understand the importance of two cases involving black women whose political views got them bounced from providing words of wisdom to graduating students at two universities.

  • Privacy

    • Amended USA Freedom Act draws questions from civil liberties groups

      “the bill does not address needed reforms to surveillance programs that affect millions of people outside US borders.”

    • ‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’

      Supporters of the National Security Agency inevitably defend its sweeping collection of phone and Internet records on the ground that it is only collecting so-called “metadata”—who you call, when you call, how long you talk. Since this does not include the actual content of the communications, the threat to privacy is said to be negligible. That argument is profoundly misleading.

    • Attempts to stay anonymous on the web will only put the NSA on your trail

      When searching for an adjective to describe our comprehensively surveilled networked world – the one bookmarked by the NSA at one end and by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and co at the other – “Orwellian” is the word that people generally reach for.

    • Surveying surveillance

      Despite this weakness, surveillance technology will relentlessly march onward. Expect to someday see NSA-approved turnpike drones overhead. You can safely bet these drones will be used to judge your every movement and intent, but never those of legislators or turnpike commissioners.

    • The end of privacy? Government and private surveillance pose a growing threat to Americans

      Government and private surveillance pose a growing threat to Americans

    • German Lawmakers to Interview Snowden

      German lawmakers are in the middle of deciding when and where to interview former United States intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked information last year about the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying program to the rest of the world. While his grant of asylum in Russia expires next year, he has written to other U.S. allied European countries that have rejected his requests for asylum.

    • Obama’s transparent administration demands less transparency

      On becoming president Barack Obama promised his administration would be the most transparent ever. His actions have go counter to any such claim. He has prosecuted whistle-blowers and failed to provide information on the drone program among other actions.

      After all the secrecy about NSA mass surveillance program and the revelations of Edward Snowden, critics of Obama are scornful of his transparency claims. The latest directive from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence carries on in the same direction of less transparency not more.

    • U.S. Government’s New Plan for Internet IDs Has Scary Implications

      While internet activists are distracted with recent attacks on net neutrality, the government is quietly introducing an internet ID program in Pennsylvania and Michigan that — if eventually broadened as intended — would strip internet users of their privacy and rights.

      The program, named the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” is starting small, consolidating accounts for public programs like welfare and health services. If the program were to stop at linking government accounts, it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal. The problem, however, is that United States officials are hoping that it’s the first step in a plan to make IDs that would be used uniformly throughout the entire internet.

    • The battle to retake our privacy can be won – really!

      A close look at the new NSA reform bill – and court cases that may be just as important – reveals that, one year after Snowden’s breakthrough, we’re finally getting somewhere

    • Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else

      Uncomfortable with surveillance cameras? “Identity replacement tech” in the form of the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic gives you a whole new face.

    • The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye

      National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” last December 17 stated the stolen documents were on Microsoft’s SharePoint document-management system.

    • Obama popular in tech world; policies less so

      Silicon Valley recoils at the government’s cyber data-gathering done in the name of national security. It bristles at new potential Internet rules. Its fast-paced ethos doesn’t understand Washington’s gridlock.

      Yet, President Barack Obama remains a popular political figure in Silicon Valley, and the wealthy tech entrepreneurs appear willing to part with their money to support the Democratic Party, especially if the president is making the pitch. Obama attended two high-dollar Democratic Party fundraisers Thursday hosted by Silicon Valley executives, drawing attention to the complicated relationship between the president and the high-tech industry.

    • ‘United States of Secrets,’ TV review

      ‘Frontline’ tracks how safeguards against government spying have been dismantled in the wake of 9/11

    • ‘Berlin should question Snowden by video link’

      In an interview with DW, the German government’s new transatlantic coordinator, Jürgen Hardt, calls for more transparency in TTIP negotiations with the US and explains why Edward Snowden cannot be questioned in Germany.

    • The War Party Makes a Comeback

      The War Party is making a comeback. After laying low in the wake of the disastrous invasion and occupation in Iraq, and the complete failure of our efforts to subdue Afghanistan, the coalition of forces that made these strategic catastrophes possible has returned – and they are winning.

    • High School Student Suspended for Silent Protest of Govt Spying
    • What Rights? School Suspends Student For Protesting Big Government
    • Texas teen claims he was suspended for refusing to say Pledge of Allegiance

      Mason Michalec says he got two days of in-school suspension after refusing to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He faces more days of suspension if he doesn’t change his behavior.

    • Texas School Suspends Teen Who Won’t Stand For Pledge (Video)
    • Student Suspended For Refusing To Stand For Pledge Of Allegiance
    • EFF Petitions Court For Criminal Defendants’ Right To Review Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Evidence

      In the 36-year existence of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the government has never disclosed classified FISA materials—the specific applications for surveillance and the factual affidavits that support the surveillance request—to a criminal defendant. That all changed in January 2014 when a Federal judge in Chicago ordered the government to turn over surveillance applications and affidavits to the attorneys representing Adel Daoud, a 19 year-old accused of attempting to blow up a bar in Chicago. As the government appeals that decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, we’ve signed onto an amicus brief written by the ACLU and the ACLU of Illinois filed today that explains why Judge Sharon Coleman was right to order disclosure.

    • U.S. May Withhold Phone Tracking Data in Some Criminal Cases (2)

      The American Civil Liberties Union sued under the Freedom of Information Act for records that included case names and docket numbers of prosecutions in which the government obtained tracking data without a warrant. The group argued that it was in the public interest to learn the role that warrantless tracking played in the cases.

    • Gmail: Google Reportedly Trying to Make it Easier to Encrypt Emails

      PGP has been an open-source encryption standard for nearly 20 years, but the protocol has been dogged with usability issues that many claim have kept it from broader use.

    • There Aren’t Many People Watching the Watchers in the UK

      That’s one of the criticisms in a report released today by British MPs who criticise the oversight of the country’s security and intelligence agencies. While in the US is already considering reforms to the NSA (though admittedly ones that fall short of what civil liberties’ groups wanted), criticism of the checks and balances on GCHQ, the UK’s answer to the NSA, are just starting to be raised in parliament.

    • DIA Director to Step Down as Military Intelligence Ponders Future

      Back in February, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn defined the purposes of his agency before a Senate hearing. The DIA’s mission is to “prevent strategic surprise, deliver a strategic advantage and to deploy globally” to allow the U.S. government to “understand the threats it faces, enable decisions and actions” and prepare to face future dangers, he said.

    • Edward Snowden: the unacknowledged author of an NSA reform bill

      It’s called the USA Freedom Act, but a more fitting name might be Edward’s Law — as in Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor charged with violating the Espionage Act. I’m referring to a bill cleared by the House Intelligence Committee that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata: information about the source, destination and duration of calls.

    • 1m Orange customers have their personal data stolen
    • Orange hacked again, this time 1.3 million subscribers hit

      Wireless carrier and Internet company Orange was hacked and the personal data of 1.3 million subscribers was stolen, with names, email addresses and phone numbers compromised. This is the second breach Orange has suffered in just three months, with Orange warning customers of being phished. The company has informed users affected in the latest data breach, and has opened up support lines to answer any questions.

    • Net freedom campaign loses its way

      One word to describe NetMundial: Disappointing! Why? Because despite the promise, human rights on the Internet are still insufficiently protected. Snowden’s revelations starting last June threw the global Internet governance processes into crisis.

      Things came to a head in October, when Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, horrified to learn that she was under NSA surveillance for economic reasons, called for the organisation of a global conference called NetMundial to accelerate Internet governance reform.

    • Massive Gag Policy Is Expanded & Imposed on US Intelligence Employees in Response to Edward Snowden

      A massive policy to gag intelligence employees and even former employees in the United States intelligence community has been adopted in response to disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The policy represents a further expansion of a network of initiatives to enforce secrecy and control not only the unauthorized release of classified information but the free flow of any information whatsoever.

      The measures should be seen for what they are: a part of a coordinated effort to limit public debate in what leaders like to claim is a democratic society. They are intended to ensure only the intelligence community’s official message is getting out to the public. Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) James Clapper and others in President Barack Obama’s administration are incensed by the effect that Snowden’s disclosures have had, and they are applying a clamp to every fissure and opening in government to ensure nothing they do not approve gets out.

    • Merkel Ally Says Snowden Would Face U.S. Extradition by Germany

      Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition are blocking an opposition bid to bring Edward Snowden to Germany to testify, saying the German government won’t grant him safe passage.

    • Two Sneaky New Spy Cams, Coming Soon to a Smartphone Near You

      When Google Glass started shipping out to early testers, privacy advocates were worried about the gadget’s face camera. Google Glass, they warned, represented a disconcerting new way for wearers to snap secret photos of anyone they were looking at.

    • Canada’s New Cyberbullying Bill Will Give It Unnecessary Surveillance Superpowers

      The Canadian Conservatives’ controversial cybercrime bill, C-13, is in its final stages of making its way into law this week. And, if you’re concerned about your privacy online as a Canadian, it’s definitely a subject you need to get familiar with. Quickly.

    • Australian government spies and companies monitor billions of private mobile phone calls

      The Australian National University’s “living treasure”, who knows more about electronic intelligence gathering in cyberspace, outer space and on the earth than almost anyone, dismisses mobile phones and social media as completely insecure forms of communication.

      The man who US President Jimmy Carter credits with saving the world with his frank advice on the perils of a limited US nuclear strike against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, might appear eccentric to today’s generation of Instagrammers, Tweeters and texting junkies, but his warnings about the pitfalls of mobile phones and the internet are based on a deep pool of knowledge.

    • MPs call for spy agency oversight reforms

      Parliament’s cross-party home affairs select committee is calling for wide and radical reforms of intelligence agency oversight mechanisms to improve accountability.

      The revelations of mass internet surveillance by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden are an “embarrassing indictment” of current measures, the committee said in a report.

    • The Internet of Things is already here

      THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT) is coming soon whether we’re ready for it or not, driven by the rapidly falling costs and rising ubiquity of computing and network connectivity, so we need to come to grips with this in order to make intelligent choices.

      To assist this process, The INQUIRER is collaborating with Intel to conduct a series of discussions about the Internet of Things. In March, we held a week-long debate about whether the Internet of Things will kill privacy.

    • Hidden Cameras to Spy on Berlin for 100 Years

      So says conceptual artist and “experimental philosopher” Jonathan Keats in regard to his latest art-meets-science project — the century camera.

    • Intel and Military Presence Go Hand in Hand

      One of the less appreciated consequences of a U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan is that it also necessitates an intelligence drawdown. The armed forces and the CIA are apparently at loggerheads because the CIA is busy closing its bases around Afghanistan and laying off its militias (known as Counter-Terrorist Pursuit Teams) just as the summer fighting season begins. This raises the danger to U.S. troops who will remain through at least the fall.

    • China Warns Its Students: Don’t Be Seduced By ‘Foreign Spy Networks’

      Chinese state media is warning students studying overseas to avoid foreign spies, writing that an “overseas intelligence agency” has repeatedly seduced Chinese students to conduct espionage against their home country, South China Morning Post reports.

      Although the media reports did not mention the name of the intelligence agency or country of origin, the accusations mirror a similar education campaign happening in the United States.

    • The rise of vagueness as a service

      Over the past 15 years, the technology that tracks the whereabouts of mobile phones — and their owners — has improved significantly and now delivers extremely precise results. By combining GPS, cell-tower triangulation and Wi-Fi hotspot location data, location services can often pinpoint not only the building you’re in, but also the specific room or office.

      Beacon technology, including Apple’s iBeacon product, takes location even further, narrowing down where you are to within a few feet. These systems can determine not only that you’re at a restaurant, and not only that you’re in the front dining room, but also that you’re sitting at Table 7.

    • ‘Cybersecurity’ begins with integrity, not surveillance

      If you’ve been following the surveillance debate, you may have noticed that it is actually two debates: first, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance works; and second, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance is a good idea, whether or not it works.

      I’ve made arguments in both of these debates. On the question of whether it works, I’m among those who point out that the spies who have spent billions putting whole populations under surveillance can’t point to any dividends from that massive investment. Since the debate over mass spying began in 2006 (with the whistleblower Mark Klein’s disclosure that the NSA had gotten access to AT&T’s main fibre-optic trunks), American spies have made a lot of grandiose claims about the plots they’ve foiled through mass surveillance. But when pressed, even their top officials admit that the entire mass-spying regime has caught exactly one “bad guy” – and that was an American who was thinking of wiring some money to al-Shabaab in Somalia.

  • Civil Rights

    • TSA: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

      TSA hasn’t been doing enough to prevent its workers from theft…

    • Republicans Earmark $69 Million for New Secret Prison at Guantanamo
    • Congress considers $69 million Guantanamo prison gift

      Some members of Congress want to build a new secret prison for the alleged 9/11 mastermind and other former CIA captives at Guantánamo, a project once proposed by the U.S. Southern Command but then dropped because of a lack of support from the Obama administration.

    • Congress Mulls Funds for New Guantanamo Prison
    • ​New secret $69 mn Gitmo camp for ‘high-value’ detainees sought by Congress
    • New documents point to CIA rendition network through Djibouti

      New evidence culled from a court case involving CIA contractors has revealed flight paths through Djibouti that appear to indicate the country’s role as a hub of the CIA’s rendition network in Africa, according to documents released by the U.K.-based human rights group Reprieve and New York University’s Global Justice Clinic.

    • Trouble with revoking citizenship extralegally

      Most of the 42 held dual nationality. Mohamed Sakr, however, did not. His parents came to Britain from Egypt, but he was not an Egyptian citizen. Therefore, by stripping him of citizenship, the U.K. government made him stateless.

    • British government to make terror suspects stateless

      Controversial provisions of the proposed Immigration Bill, which is currently making its way through the British Parliament, risk granting the government the power to make its citizens stateless – expelling them from the country and stripping them of their nationality, even when they have not been convicted of a crime.

    • Beward the ides and tides of Jewish racism

      There is no question that radical Islam exists in the United States. I do not dispute the facts of Ziegler’s article. However, local law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the NSA monitors it as best as it can and as well as it should. There is no question that radical Islam— any radicalism— must be checked. But just glance at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, and you will find plenty of white supremacist hate groups as well. There is no shortage of radical and even some fairly mainstream Christians who believe America should be a Christian nation.

    • US urges Pakistan to probe Rashid Rehman’s killing

      The United States Friday called on Pakistan to investigate the killing of a lawyer shot dead for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy under strict laws against defaming Islam.

    • US urges Pakistan to probe lawyer’s killing
    • Inapt comparison of Freedom Riders to gun rights activists

      The violent mobs that met the Freedom Riders, and the law enforcement officials who aided and abetted those mobs, did so believing that both tradition and the Constitution justified their resistance. They saw the imposition of federal civil rights law as tyrannical and were willing to employ violence to counter it.

    • Amy Goodman: Solitary confinement is not the answer

      Studies have found irreversible psychological damage can occur after just 15 days in solitary confinement. The UN’s Mendez alleges New York state’s prison system is excessively harsh in its use of solitary. The New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement is pushing a bill, the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act. The bill would limit such confinement to 15 days, and create special treatment facilities for prisoners suffering from mental illness, and grant more time outside the cell, including contact with others.

    • Guantanamo prosecutor says judge exceeded authority in ordering sharing of black-site info

      The Pentagon’s war crimes prosecutor is asking Guantanamo’s chief judge to do an about-face – either to amend or rescind the judge’s own order – in a brief that argues the judge exceeded his authority by ordering the government to turn over to defense lawyers some of the CIA’s deepest dark-site secrets.

    • The CIA’s upper hand in public disclosures

      The White House has directed the CIA to declassify parts of a Senate report criticizing harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, but history shows that the agency is accomplished at preventing embarrassing or damaging disclosures.

      In recent years, the CIA has wrestled with Congress, archivists, journalists, former employees and even an ex-director over which secrets could be revealed.

    • Newly Revealed Portions of CIA Torture Manual: Doctoring Tapes, Foreign Detentions, Interrogating ‘Defectors”

      Describing interrogation techniques and approaches used during the Cold War, an old 1960s CIA counterintelligence interrogation manual advised covertly photographing the interrogation subject and also audio taping his interrogations.

      A tape player could free an interrogator from note taking, the CIA’s experts wrote, while also providing a live record of an interrogation that could replayed later. The manual’s author noted that for some of those interrogated, “the shock of hearing their own voices unexpectedly is unnerving.”


      “Tapes can also be edited and spliced, with effective results, if the tampering can be hidden,” the CIA manual explained in a section previously redacted. The CIA further elaborated on the effects of having a tape “edited to make it sound like a confession.”

    • How the CIA created the Unabomber

      When mass murderer Ted Kaczynski was a 16-year-old undergraduate student at Harvard, he took part in a behavioral engineering project run by the CIA. It was part of the US government’s illegal MKUltra project, which ruined the lives of many innocent and unwitting test subjects around the world.

    • Witnesses: Ethiopian Forces Opened Fire on Protesters

      Security forces in Ethiopia have reportedly opened fire on students who are protesting…

    • My Personal Walmart Nightmare: You Won’t Believe What Life Is Like Working There

      When I woke up to see the news, I could hardly believe it: President Obama is planning a visit to the Mountain View Wal-Mart where I work.

      But the excitement quickly passed when I found out the store would be shutting down hours in advance of his visit. I wouldn’t be able to tell the president what it’s like to work at Wal-Mart and what it’s like to struggle on low wages, without the hours I need. I am living at the center of the income inequality that he speaks about so often, and I wanted to talk to him about how to change this problem.

    • Letter: Here are some examples of Obama’s ‘disregard’ for the Constitution

      ■ With the approval of Obama, the NSA and the FBI are tapping directly into the servers of Internet companies to gain access to emails, video/audio, photos, documents, etc. This is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    • Prompted by U.S. Supreme Court Ruling, Florida Satanist Wants to Open Meeting With Prayer

      On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government meetings are allowed to open with prayer — even though currently in this country, the vast majority of such prayers are geared toward Christianity. The case was prompted in Greece, New York, where ministers are often invited to say opening words at public meetings. Of 120 meetings, only four opening prayers were non-Christian.

      It only took four days since the court’s ruling for a self-described Satanist to ask to open a meeting with a plea to his god.

      Chaz Stevens, an activist and longtime annoyance to elected officials — the same man who last Christmas successfully installed his “Festivus Pole” made of Pabst beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida State Capitol — has written to the City of Deerfield Beach, asking that he be allowed to open a meeting with a Satanic prayer.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Protesters Camp Outside Of FCC to Stop Tom Wheeler from Ending Net Neutrality
    • Netflix Jacks Monthly Membership Fee

      There’s no clear indication as to why Netflix is increasing its prices, but aside from simple profit, the company may also be dealing with ramifications from its Comcast deal. The cable company Comcast had been throttling Netflix and giving users a subpar experience until it strong-armed Netflix into a deal. While the specifics of the deal are known only to Comcast and Netflix, chances are Netflix had to pay a pretty penny to keep its service running at a reasonable rate for Comcast users.

    • AT&T claims common carrier rules would ruin the whole Internet

      AT&T today urged the Federal Communications Commission to avoid reclassifying broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service, which is something network neutrality advocates are asking the FCC to do.

    • More reasons to hate the FCC and your ISP

      The FCC proposal is a terrible idea, as it gives big companies unfair advantages against smaller companies online and can lead to Internet service providers making access to competitors’ services difficult. And because we’re talking about Comcast and Time Warner, it will probably mean more bogus fees on your monthly bill like the “Universal Connectivity,” “Cables and Stuff, Yo” and “Sweet Fanny Adams” surcharges we already see.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Pols to Ad Networks: Pretend We Passed SOPA, and Never Mind About Violating Antitrust Law

        A group of United States Senators and Representatives is asking Internet advertising networks to create a blacklist of alleged “piracy sites” and refuse to serve ads to those sites. If this idea sounds familiar, that’s probably because it was an integral part of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, legislation that was stopped in its tracks two years ago after a massive protest by Internet users.

      • Steering Where You Look

        The big media lobby — especially the movie and music industries, but also book, software and games publishers — is right to be concerned about systematic infringement of their copyrights by commercial-scale criminals. But they have let their eyes wander. They have looked so long in anger upon those crooks, invested so much time and money in frustrating them, that they’ve become fixated on copyright enforcement and forgotten to keep pace with the expectations of their customers.

        They’ve let the market run away from them and failed to build new businesses around their fans and friends. Instead, fixating on copyright infringement, they alienate the very people that should be their best bet for the future by treating them as criminals. They may not go as far as chasing everyone with lawsuits, but the unskippable admonishments on DVDs and their like shout loud and clear “we may have some of your money but we still don’t trust you.”

      • Off US Blacklist, Italy Begins Torrent Site Blackout, No Trials Needed

        Last December, Italy announced new regulations that would allow a telecoms administrative body to decide whether Internet sites should remain accessible in the country. With several sites such as The Pirate Bay previously blocked by court order, the AGCOM regulator has just ordered the blocking of its first four torrent sites, no complex legal wrangling needed.

Non-technical Men in Suits Fight Against ODF and Free Software in the Wake of New British Government Policy

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Cameron

Image from the 10 Downing Street Web site

Summary: A roundup of resistance to OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in the British public sector

AS ONE ought to expect, especially based on past experiences, a migration to FOSS won’t happen without resistance from an old generation of Microsoft proponents. Just watch how Microsoft rallied its partners to object to a pro-ODF consultation (we explained Microsoft's very dirty tactics to the Cabinet Office). It didn’t quite end there.

Despite the fact that a foreign government is cracking PCs with Windows on them (and seeking to make this practice legal), some people in suits here in Britain insist that Windows in the public sector is an acceptable risk. It’s not. It should be banned. Well, some government departments quietly move towards FOSS (I work with them) and numerous keep quiet about it for fear of retribution from Microsoft and/or its partners, who view FOSS like it’s some kind of Communism that’s spreading.

Continued resistance from Luddites and “tribe elders” of technology (who grew up in another type of world and dined with executives of proprietary software vendors) was expected all along. The ODF consultation showed just one portion of it (publicly-visible, unlike some stories I know of but cannot share).

One reader asked me yesterday: “what became of that government consultation?”

Well, nothing so far, as far as we know. This new article that this reader sent us states: “if you blithely email someone a .docx file you are effectively condemning them to pay rent to Microsoft for ever.”

Indeed, and this too is a reason to shun Microsoft, not just the back doors. The author continues by stating: “One way to loosen the corporate stranglehold would be for everyone to adopt the set of standards called Open Document Format, designed so the files work the same whatever software or computer type you use.”

Yes, indeed, but there are people who stand in the way of implementing national (top-down) policy.

Earlier this month there were a bunch of Microsoft-friendly British articles (at least 3), the latest of which is this one. They all cite Jos Creese (the original/seminal article was this, but it led to some more, even overseas), relaying claims that “Microsoft is cheaper” (than FOSS).

This is wrong on so many levels. It very much depends on what’s calculated and how. OOXML is massively dangerous lock-in. Microsoft had to corrupt the world’s standards bodies to get it where it is today. The bribery for Windows-only formats was documented here half a decade (or more) ago and it was coupled by patent extortion, bribing of companies, and all sorts of other criminal acts. To say that Microsoft is cheaper is almost like saying that robbing a bank is cheaper than working (labour) for the same money. To use a better analogy, to get oneself locked into one vendor is not “cheap”. It has been reported that the British government pays ~$10,000 per Windows desktop per year. Cheap, eh? It’s more like extortion. There is a monopoly on support.

Concurrently, Adrian Bridgwater offers some convenient hogwash that ‘vanishes’ Microsoft’s criminal activities against GNU/Linux, pretending that there is something inherently wrong with FOSS and/or GNU/Linux and that this is the reason it does not (yet) dominate the desktop. Never mind OOXML abuses, bribes against GNU/Linux (we documented some), and many other forms of manipulation. This is the type of revisionism that Microsoft requires right now, creating the illusion that FOSS is inadequate for desktop use, even though Chromebooks are taking off (they run GNU/Linux), defying Microsoft’s vicious attack ads.

One commentator at IDG alluded to the above people as “clueless CIOs” in his headline, stating that “companies are using open source to bring their legacy apps up to code, but all too many CIOs are still clueless about how often open source is being used in their own organizations.”

It wasn’t just clueless CIOs like Jos Creese who offered Microsoft lip service in the British press earlier this month, proposing lock-in rather than freedom because lock-in is supposedly “cheaper”. Another article, citing another bunch, speaks about LibreOffice/OpenOffice, focusing on Microsoft macros lock-in and OOXML lock-in to make FOSS seem inadequate. Titled “Open source ‘fails to excite councils’”, the article makes arguments like the following:

It added that open source software is seen to be difficult to replicate automated interfaces to Microsoft Office products which connect with council systems.

This is precisely the reason to dump Microsoft, not to avoid dumping Microsoft. This is evidence of lock-in and the better one gets out of the lock-in, the better.

On a brighter note, there is a new article from Ireland titled “open source is where I think the future is headed in local government…”

It is not a formal article, but it shows that people — influential people even — do in fact promote FOSS. To quote:

So, I’m in Dublin tomorrow for the OGP Europe Regional conference in Dublin in advance of next week’s Digital Lunch asking if Northern Ireland is ready for an open government partnership? If you are interesting in the subject, do keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll update with a blog report on Friday morning before I leave again.

It is expected that in the coming months or even years some vassals of Microsoft will go public (to the press) bashing FOSS with FUD, misdirection, miscalculations and stereotypes, sometimes criticising FOSS for not being sufficiently Microsofty (e.g. dealing with OOXML). Their arguments often insinuate that abandoning Microsoft would be wise (the opposite of what they mean to say); the British public sector got caught up in expensive and dangerous (back doors for starters) dependence. Free software would give Britain back its sovereignty. Technical autonomy is priceless; it is invaluable.

Analysis of Text From the CAFC Reveals Lack of Technical Comprehension

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Oracle at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers deciding on technical issues


Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) shows us yet again that it does not understand technology and its latest ruling is harmful to the technical community

YESTERDAY we wrote about the menacing CAFC ruling, which basically throws a lot of FOSS under the rug (by extension) for it alleges that APIs are copyrightable and that their reuse does not qualify as fair use. We have already criticised CAFC for being very pro-software patents and for being utterly clueless on technical matters on numerous occasions, so the latest decision from it oughtn’t be so shocking. As Ars Technica put it, “Google, which said it was exploring its legal options, decried Friday’s ruling. The Mountain View, CA-based media giant said the decision “sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development.””

Google is correct and it will hopefully appeal this decision. What we have here is misuse of copyrights, SCO style, by Oracle.

TechDirt posted the best rebuttal to this decision, attracting hundreds of comments and revealing a lot of holes and mistakes in CAFC’s ruling (the text). Here’s a sample:

Appeals Court Doesn’t Understand The Difference Between Software And An API; Declares APIs Copyrightable


We sort of expected this to happen after the appeals court for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held its oral arguments back in December, but CAFC has now spit at basic common sense and has declared that you can copyright an API. As we noted, back when Judge William Alsup (who learned to code Java to better understand the issues in the case) ruled that APIs were not subject to copyright protection, his ruling was somewhat unique in that it was clearly directed as much at an appeals court panel who would be hearing the appeal as it was at the parties. Alsup rightly suspected that the judges on the appeal wouldn’t actually understand the issues as well as he did, and tried to break it down clearly for them. Unfortunately, the three judge CAFC panel did not pay attention. The ruling is so bad that legal scholars are suggesting that it may be as bad as the horrific ruling in the Garcia case.


As for the ruling itself… well… it’s bad. The court seems to not understand what an API is, confusing it with software functionality. It also appears to misread Judge Alsup’s ruling, thinking that he’s mistakenly using a fair use analysis to determine whether or not something is copyrightable. But that was not the basis of Judge Alsup’s ruling. He very specifically noted that the “command structure is a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted.” The CAFC panel doesn’t seem to understand this at all.


It seems fairly clear that the CAFC judges don’t understand the difference between an API and software. And thus they make a decision that makes no sense. There is no distinction recognized when it comes to the functionality of an API and how it’s entirely different than the purpose of the software itself. This is especially clear towards the end, in which the CAFC ruling misrepresents some discussions on whether certain functionality is best protected by patents or copyright. But the problem is that they misinterpret statements people are making about APIs, thinking that those statements were made about software as a whole. This is just a flat-out fundamental misunderstanding of what an API is, assuming that it’s just software.


Note that “[software]” thrown in before interfaces? Google is talking about whether APIs — “application programming interfaces” — are copyrightable. Not whether or not software is copyrightable. And yet the CAFC doesn’t even seem to realize this. Ridiculously, CAFC then uses its own misunderstanding and misquote, and points to some of the (many) arguments where people argue that patents are inappropriate for software to dismiss Google’s argument about APIs. It honestly doesn’t realize that it’s comparing two totally different things. What lots of people agree on: software shouldn’t be patentable and APIs shouldn’t be copyrightable, but software can be copyrightable and API functionality may be patentable. But by confusing APIs and software, CAFC totally misreads both arguments.

This will probably go to SCOTUS next (unless they decline to weigh in), but in the mean time it spreads uncertainty and doubt, harming not only Free software developers but developers in general. As TechDirt put it, “CAFC has mucked up another form of intellectual property law through a basic (and near total) misunderstanding of technology.”

Moves to Legalise Cracking (by Government) of Windows-running PCs

Posted in Microsoft, Security at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Windows facilitates sabotage


Summary: The US seeks to make legal what it already does illegally, which is infiltration of distant computer systems through back doors

AS we ought to have learned from Stuxnet, using Windows, which is maintained in collaboration between Microsoft and the NSA, is exposing oneself to remote intrusion at any time. There are back doors.

Based on this new report from IDG, the US “DOJ seeks new authority to hack and search remote computers” even though it is doing it already, usually through some of the other three-letter rogue agencies (which break the law, supposedly to uphold/enforce the law). To quote:

Digital rights groups say the request from the DOJ for authority to search computers outside the district where an investigation is based raises concerns about Internet security and Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

This should be taken as a warning sign. Not only is the US cracking Windows PCs and sabotaging them through back doors, it is now seeking to further legitimise the practice, making it legal (after the act). Nations should gradually move towards Free software such as GNU/Linux. Back doors cannot be put inside Free software without being discovered.

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