06.22.14

Microsoft Partners/Salesmen in Quebec Caught Bribing

Posted in Fraud, Microsoft at 7:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of Québec

Summary: Canada among the countries where Microsoft or its partners are caught bribing officials in exchange for pricey deals and lock-in

TECHRIGHTS has been writing a great deal about Quebec because Microsoft corruption seemed quite common there. Here are some memorable examples. The latest example was reported by a Microsoft site, which said: “Both face charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust.”

The Public Security Ministry is involved, too. “No doubt they came bundled with M$’s favourite OS,” writes Pogson (Canadian blogger), “and an ubiquitous office suite… The contract was for $3.3million CAD and the kickback was $400K CAD. I wonder what M$’s share was. They must have had a ton of software on those computers to justify such a large kickback. Do you think the item would be covered by “promotion” or “cost of sales”?”

Microsoft bribing government officials is not news (even direct bribes). There are some ongoing investigations in numerous countries. Catching the involved people red-handed is important because Microsoft likes to deny charges based on uncertainty or settlements.

Microsoft and Bill Gates the Most Zealous Surveillance Proponents in the Software World

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at some of the latest privacy-washing of Microsoft (the worst privacy offender in the software world) and the parallel actions of Bill Gates and fellow plutocrats

Surveillance is a hot subject these days. People finally oppose mass surveillance because they know a lot better just how bad it is, owing for the most part to leaks.

Virtually no software company has been worse than Microsoft when it comes to surveillance, not even Google or Facebook, which is a monstrous surveillance machine that’s partly owned by Microsoft. We were rather disgusted to see the role that GigaOM, the network of Om Malik, played in providing Microsoft with a “propaganda platform” (to use a now-comical term from the US State Department). How much did Microsoft pay Malik in 2006 (or thereabouts) when he embedded Microsoft propaganda inside his articles (Microsoft still does such things)? Nobody knows how much, but there were payments involved. This criminal company, Microsoft, paid for AstroTurfing of this kind and now it pushes the preposterous idea of opening ‘transparency centres’, owing to Malik’s hosting. Microsoft admits it is hurt by the public’s understanding that it’s in bed with the NSA [1], so it lies to the public using Malik’s platform. Here is more of that, also from HP.

The situation has gotten so serious that even British banks are now worried about Fog Computing [2], especially if it involves NSA/PRISM companies like Microsoft (the #1 company in PRISM).

Speaking of surveillance, Bill Gates, who is a famous proponent of the NSA, uses taxpayers-funded Establishments, such as schools and public media (e.g. PBS and NPR), for surveillance. These are common targets for Bill Gates bribes. It’s a perception game. You bribe the right people to get the agenda rectified. He also invests in surveillance companies such as G4S and InBloom (along with Rupert Murdoch). The other day we found this good article on this topic, titled “PARCC Security Breaches Revealed; Microsoft, InBloom, News Corp. Implicated”.

The article says: “When LouisianaVoice broke the story about the stealth agreement between the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. whereby DOE would provide News Corp. with personal information on Louisiana’s public school students for use by a company affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the resulting firestorm resulted in cancellation of the agreement.

“Or did it?

“Remember, too, that it was Murdoch who, in 2010, speaking of the enormous business opportunity in public education awaiting corporate America, said, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.”

“In June of 2012, Erin Bendily, assistant deputy superintendent for departmental support and former education policy adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal emailed Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White:

““I think we need to start with a very strong introduction and embed more CCSS (Common Core State Standards) alignment/integration throughout. This sounds harsh, but we should show that our current/old educator evaluation system is crap and the new system is stellar.””

We covered Common Core before. It’s all about turning schools into indoctrination centres (of the rich) and Professor Diane Ravitch, a vocal opponent of Gates (who calls for Federal action against him), has this new article about “Making Schools Poor” (so that they can be bought out). To quote: “It pretends that great teachers will magically appear after principals gain the power to fire teachers without the necessity of hearings. But inner-city schools already have high teacher turnover and difficulty attracting well-qualified teachers. What’s needed most in schools that serve the poorest children is adequate resources, a full curriculum, and a stable, experienced staff. The Vergara decision will do nothing to improve working conditions, to attract better qualified teachers, or to increase the resources available to the neediest children.”

The talking point which belittles teachers and accuses them of being inadequate has been famously pushed forth by Gates, who seeks to replace teachers with surveillance gadgets (bracelets) and centralised surveillance systems to monitor (profile) both teachers and students. No doubt Gates is a big champion of surveillance and everyone should make no mistake about Microsoft’s privacy policy (note Gates’ current role in the company’s strategy). Microsoft would even read people’s personal E-mails to get them jailed and deported (nothing to do with national security or even three-letter agencies).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft: Customers trust us much less since NSA scandal

    Microsoft admitted that, since the scandal broke, it has seen concrete evidence that trust in its services is plummeting.

  2. Cloud opens up UK firms’ data to CIA spies, warns Bank of England CIO

06.21.14

China Attacks Microsoft’s Patent Plot Against GNU/Linux and Russia Seems to be Following China’s Foray Into GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Amid tightening relationships and collaborations between China and Russia, two common targets of espionage attacks by the West, more moves are seen which rid themselves of Microsoft

WE HAVE been patiently watching and accumulating reports about China’s hostile treatment of Microsoft, including — quite notably — the ban on Windows, which is a serious security risk that should be avoided not only for security reasons (back doors and much more). China is boldly moving to domestically-developed operating systems, based on GNU and Linux (so that China can properly study the source code). Over the past few days there were many articles about China’s attempt to de-fang Microsoft’s blackmail monster, essentially by making a ‘namedrop’ of all the patents involved. This will prove exceptionally helpful to the FOSS community, for reasons we shall explain later.

In our daily links (posted just an hour ago) we included an important link from Phoronix. It indicates that Russia is now dodging x86, probably ensuring that no system will be able to run Microsoft Windows or even proprietary programs for Microsoft Windows. This is potentially huge and perhaps there will be a lot of media coverage on Monday.

Both China and Russia have solid, defensible reasons for abandoning Microsoft Windows. This operating system has been used for political and economic espionage that requires illegal (hence secret, even at the court level) surveillance. Microsoft is the NSA’s software-centric best friend (in telecommunications the NSA has many more good friends) and in another post (tomorrow) we shall say more about it.

So, what exactly has China just done?

Years ago we wrote about what Microsoft had done in China. It’s a sort of political corruption, boosted in part by Bill Gates’ lobbying.

Well, China seems to have had enough of that nonsense and it won’t tolerate Microsoft’s blackmail, either. As The Mukt put it, the “Chinese government exposes Microsoft’s secret patents used against Android” as “Microsoft is one such company which has been trying to abuse the flawed US patent system to extort money from those companies with use GNU/Linux based systems including Android and Chrome OS.”

Here is a report from an Android-hostile site which uses the term “Android patents” (similar to FOSSPatents, which is an absurd FUD term) rather than “patents used against Android” (as put in other sites).

We wish to remind readers that Huawei, now known as a target of the NSA (the NSA attacked Huawei’s network and infiltrated it), was reportedly (since 2012 or thereabouts) pursued by Microsoft for an Android patent extortion deal — one that Microsoft never got. Given the close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government (in the West too the government is closely tied with telecommunications companies) one has to wonder if Huawei was the source of this new disclosure. Unlike ZTE, Huawei never surrendered to Microsoft’s extortion and blackmail (most likely violations of the RICO Act in the United States). With evidence out there, might there finally be federal action against Microsoft? It might help China’s Huawei and the other giant, ZTE, so it’s easy to see China’s interests here. But it’s not just about China. Many companies in east Asia, west Europe, and even the United States are also victims of Microsoft’s bullying. Many articles correctly pointed out the similarity here to the Barnes and Noble saga, where Microsoft ended up bribing Barnes and Noble to drop the case and almost drop Android/Linux, as well [1, 2, 3, 4].

Days ago we wrote about Microsoft squeezing their own users for money (especially businesses) and now Microsoft is trying to squeeze also those who leave Microsoft (to GNU/Linux). In reference to Microsoft-friendly circles covering the latest incident, one person quoted this bit: “Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties” (because FOSS too is property of Microsoft, apparently).

Now that China fights/ousts world’s largest patent troll (which also spawned Intellectual Ventures) Dr. Glyn Moody writes this insightful piece:

Well, they prove that the Microsoft method of bullying and insinuation works. But despite that, they didn’t prove that Android infringed on Microsoft’s patents because – as usual – the latter refused to reveal what exactly they were. That’s because their power really lay in their vagueness. While companies were unsure which patents Microsoft was talking about, it was more or less impossible for them to check whether they were affected. That meant they would probably be open to an easy deal with Microsoft – better to pay up than have a patent sword of Damocles hanging over you.

And that, until recently, was pretty much the state of play. Many Android manufacturers decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and signed licensing agreements with Microsoft – all secret, and therefore all maintaining the vagueness and the power to threaten. But something dramatic has just happened: in order for Microsoft to gain approval from the Chinese Ministry of Communications (MOFCOM) for the company’s purchase of Nokia, Microsoft was obliged to provide lists of the patents it claims are infringed upon by Android. That’s presumably because so many smartphones made in China use Android or a variant of it, that the authorities there were concerned Microsoft might be able to threaten its local companies.

Here is some more coverage that says:

A Chinese government website has published lists of the patents that Microsoft claims are necessary to the functioning of Android smartphones, the first time such lists have been made public.

The patents were analysed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) as part of its review of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, which China approved in April.

Pogson correctly points out: “Thanks to inquiries in China, a list is now public. This will permit M$’s competitors to organize a cooperative response rather than suffering under “divide and conquer” conditions.”

China is moving away from Windows rather than pay Microsoft to be spied on by espionage champions like the NSA. Will Hill says: “I’m not sure if Ars is recycling really old fud against gnu/linux or if people in China are going to cut all the FAT out of Android to avoid Microsoft bullshit.”

What Barnes and Noble tried to do before selling out might actually resume with China’s strong lead. This may include resistance to Nokia (e.g. opposition to takeover), which Microsoft plans to use as a patent proxy and a source of patent-stacking (through trolls like MOSAID).

Special credit must go to Joe Mullin. The earliest report we found about this latest development came from him and stated: “For more than three years now, Microsoft has held to the line that it has loads of patents that are infringed by Google’s Android operating system. “Licensing is the solution,” wrote the company’s head IP honcho in 2011, explaining Microsoft’s decision to sue Barnes & Noble’s Android-powered Nook reader.

“Microsoft has revealed a few of those patents since as it has unleashed litigation against Android device makers. But for the most part, they’ve remained secret. That’s led to a kind of parlor game where industry observers have speculated about what patents Microsoft might be holding over Android.

“That long guessing game is now over. A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.

“The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy.

“The list of patents was apparently produced as part of a Chinese government antitrust review relating to Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia. Microsoft described the results of that review in an April 8 blog post, writing that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) “concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone.”

FOSS guru Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols correctly points out that “[n]ow that the Chinese government has revealed the patents within Microsoft’s Android patent portfolio, Microsoft may soon be facing challenges from vendors over its Android patent licensing agreements.”

China may have derailed Microsoft’s extortion by removing the NDA barrier (the same trick Microsoft used when dividing OEMs to conquer the industry). Android will definitely benefit from it and so will derivatives of Android, including China’s. Vaughan-Nichols has an explanation worth reading.

We should probably stress that not all derivatives of Android are safe to use. Nokia turns Android into a Microsoft surveillance platform and the CIA’s top partner, Amazon, has reportedly taken surveillance in Fire (Android-based but altered) to new and rather scary levels [1,2]. We don’t know yet if China will do the same, but reports from years ago said that China had put back doors in its own official distribution of GNU/Linux. This was quite likely correct.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Amazon’s Fire Phone might be the biggest privacy invasion ever

    Amazon is a fascinating company, and the Amazon Fire Phone is a fascinating machine for connecting you with stuff to buy. It’s probably also the biggest single invasion of your privacy for commercial purposes ever.

    And no one seems to have noticed.

  2. Is the Amazon Fire Phone the NSA’s wet dream?

Links 21/6/2014: Russia Dumps x86/Wintel, Steam Summer Sale is On

Posted in News Roundup, Site News at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-Source Tool Aimed At Propelling Honeypots Into the Mainstream

    Researchers have built a free open-source honeypot software program aimed at propelling the hacker decoys into security weapons for everyday organizations.

  • Google investing $50 million to get girls to code

    Google conducted research to determine why girls are opting out of learning how to code? As a result Google found that most girls decide before they even enter college whether they want to learn to code—so the Tech-world must win them over them at a young age. They also found that there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science: social encouragement, self-perception, academic exposure and career perception. According to recent studies less than 1 percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla working on a WordPress, Disqus competitor?
      • ​How to Try Firefox OS Apps on Android

        Android: Mozilla is best known for its web browser, but the company also produces Firefox OS for a limited number of handsets. With a little sideways thinking, though, you can try some of its apps in Android.

        Much like Google Chrome, Firefox supports webapps—the OS and apps are built with the same technology—and this is how you can bring Firefox OS to Android. Apps work like browser extensions, so they take up very little room making them ideal for older devices or those with limited storage. Download a copy of Firefox for Android from the Google Play Store, or update your existing copy to 29 or above.

        Fire up Firefox and visit the Firefox Marketplace, the Firefox version of Google Play or the Chrome Web Store. Take a browse through the Marketplace and tap an app that takes your fancy. Just as with regular Android apps, Firefox OS apps let you know about the permissions they need, and you have to accept this before you install anything.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • It’s time to stop the open-on-open violence in cloud computing

      A Structure conference panel discussing the state of open source cloud computing agreed that open source clouds need to get easier to use, but not on much else.

    • LeaseWeb Offers CloudStack-based Flat-Fee Private Cloud Service
    • Why I Built OwnCloud and Made It Open Source

      There I was, 4 years ago (this past January) at CampKDE in San Diego, giving a talk on data privacy, warning the audience about the risks to their privacy from cloud vendors – in particular, Dropbox. So, build it yourself they said. Sure, I’ve built things in the past, so sure, I’ll do it. And there is where I started my odyssey, first, to protect myself, my friends and my colleagues from the snooping of governments, and other bad guys, and later – as I saw the worldwide interest grow – to build a real and successful project.

      I had to decide a few things before I got started of course, including what it is I wanted ownCloud to do, what development platform to use, how I wanted to structure ownCloud, and of course, to name it ownCloud.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.3 RC1 Get Multiple DOCX Improvements
    • LibreOffice 4.2.5 Released with Fixes from 800 Contributors

      The Document Foundation has announced that the final version for LibreOffice 4.2.5 has been released for all the available platforms, including Linux.

      This is just a maintenance release for the 4.2.x branch, but users of this particular version should consider upgrading nonetheless. The developers have squashed numerous bugs for this release and that can be easily observed from the changelog,

      LibreOffice 4.2.5 is now the most advanced build available from The Document Foundation, but the developers maintain a number of other branches as well. Users will be able to find the 4.1.6, 4.2.3, and 4.2.4 downloads on the official website…

  • BSD

Leftovers

  • After Forty-Seven Years, Computerworld, Tech Publishing’s Elder Statesman, is a Print Publication No More

    The news comes three months after the passing of Pat McGovern, who started IDG in 1964 as a research firm and put out Computerworld with a tiny staff in its earliest days. It’s sad to think of IDG losing its founder and flagship print publication so close together, but in a way, it’s also fitting.

  • Maybe it’s time to consider a Gross Domestic Happiness Index

    Just for fun, I checked to see which countries are the wealthiest in the world, based on a ranking of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) World Factbook, the crown goes to energy-rich Qatar, where GDP per capita last year stood at more than $102,000 US.

    Rounding out the list of top-10 richest nations are Liechenstein, Macau, Bermuda, Monaco, Luxembourg, Singapore, Jersey, Norway, and the Falkland Islands.

    Paraguay ranked a lowly 143rd, with a GDP per capita of just $6,800 per person in 2013. In fact, most of the happiest countries according to the Gallup poll results failed to crack the top-100 list of the world’s wealthiest nations, based on the CIA’s data.

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Reflections on Fascism

      Iraq is back, as in blowback: this replaces Ukraine for the moment, America always on the lookout for a situation which can be turned, because of US policy in the first place, into a source of provocation. Iraq, our intervention guaranteed internal civil war, here, with the gains of ISIS, a chance to return in some form, concentrated drone attacks, rather than so-called “boots on the ground,” possibly to inflame the entire region, itself destabilized for obvious reasons (protection of Israel and the continued plight of the Palestinians). As Spinney and Polk wrote in CounterPunch, contradiction plagues American policy, in this case, turning to Iran for help against ISIS while threatening Iran for some time with severe military and economic punishment. How Obama and Kerry can keep straight faces is one for the annals of war.

    • The Redrawing of the Map of the Middle East Begins with the Destruction of Iraq

      The US is playing all sides of this exploding conflict, towards larger US/NATO objectives.

      The invading force, ISIS, is a creation of the US CIA and oil-soaked US allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.It is an Al-Qaeda front. Al-Qaeda has been the military-intelligence arm of the CIA since the Cold War. ISIS is the Anglo-American empire’s leading military-intelligence army in its ongoing war against Syria.

    • Amerika’s “Third Crusade” In Iraq Is Having Trouble …

      Back in the early 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle produced a masterpiece entitled “Black Bush” – a comedic mockumentary of the events leading up to (and immediately following) the United States’ “second crusade” in Iraq, led by former president George W. Bush.

      [...]

      Now they’re our allies or something … sort of like al-Qaeda (who we were supporting in Syria) is now our enemy in Iraq.

    • Is Obama’s new Iraq strategy just a cover for expanding his secret war?

      At the White House on Thursday afternoon, the American president outlined an everything-but-the-war strategy that was classic Barack Obama: his press briefing offered perhaps a telling signal about his own expansive version of the Global War on Terror, while still managing to be subtly evasive about what he might actually do in Iraq.

      The US military will be increasing surveillance, Obama said, preparing to send military “advisers” to Iraq and urging, not so subtly, for a political shift away from Nouri al-Maliki’s government. He did not, of course, answer the question on everyone’s minds about how America plans to deal with the Iraq crisis: Will Obama engage in fighting to stabilize the country?

    • Pakistan condemns drone strike in North Waziristan

      Six suspected militants were killed in a drone strike in Miranshah Tehsil in North Waziristan, Pakistan, local tribesmen and Pakistani intelligence sources not authorized to speak to media told CNN on Wednesday.

      The drone struck a house and a pickup truck in the Daraga Mandi area of Miranshah, they said.

    • More than 400 US military drones lost in crashes: report
    • Dick Cheney Should be Rotting in The Hague, Not Writing Editorials

      This should be obvious to pretty everyone by now, but apparently the Wall Street Journal didn’t get the message. Today, the paper published an editorial by Cheney and his daughter Liz in which the former Vice President blasts the “collapsing Obama doctrine” of foreign policy.”

    • The U.N. Says 257 civilians Have Been Killed in East Ukraine but Refuses to Condemn the Ongoing Bombardment

      According to a recent report by the U.N. 356 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Of these 257 were civilians, 86 were Ukrainian military. If these numbers are accurate it would mean that only 13 separatists have been killed so far (I find that hard to believe). The real death toll is likely higher than this.

    • CNN Brings Back Those Who Were Wrong on Iraq

      TV coverage of the current Iraq crisis looks a lot like 2003, when pro-war pundits, former generals and hawkish politicians dominated the debate. CNN’s Situation Room, hosted by Wolf Blitzer, illustrates how TV has returned to that narrow, pro-government discussion of Iraq.

    • Bertrand Russell Society Calls for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Supports Lawsuit

      The Bertrand Russell Society held its 41st annual conference at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario on June 13-15, 2014. Dozens of academics, students, and Russell admirers from five countries and eight US states attended the conference, which featured presentations on various aspects of Russell’s diverse interests and works, including his work in logic and philosophy, and his political writing and activism. Bertrand Russell was one of the twentieth century’s most important and influential philosophers and public intellectuals. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, and he was a founder and early leader of the nuclear disarmament movement.

    • Obama Prepares for Drone War in Iraq

      President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he will send 300 Green Beret Army special operations soldiers to Iraq. They will be detailed to Iraqi National Army Headquarters and brigade HQs and their primary task will apparently be intelligence-gathering and helping with the Iraqi National Army response to the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). Likely the intelligence-gathering in turn is intended to allow the deployment in Iraq of American drones. At the moment, the US has no good intelligence on the basis of which to fly the drones.

    • Iraq strategy: Obama, Congress leaders meeting

      Obama has ruled out returning combat troops to Iraq in order to quell the insurgency. However, he has notified Congress that up to 275 armed U.S. forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. interests.

    • Best Case Against Attacking Iraq? The Last Attack On Iraq

      As the latest reporting from both Baghdad and Washington, D.C. reveal diplomatic machinations paving the way for possible U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, increasing numbers of people are asking President Obama—and the American people—to look at the repeated and failed policy of military intervention in the region as the best argument against making the same mistake yet again.

    • Local Christians unite to protest for peace

      Critics claim these drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including children.

    • Pentagon crashed more than 400 military drones
    • 400 drones crashed since 2001, six in Pakistan

      More than 400 large US military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

    • Military drones fall from the sky

      The unmanned military planes have slammed into homes, farms, runways and a transport plane in midair.

    • Drones crash with alarming frequency

      Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.

    • Report: Over 400 Military Drones Have Crashed Since 2001
  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Criminal Justice Media’s ‘Twisted’ Coverage

      Khan strayed from most media coverage around New York’s “biggest gang raid ever” by writing about the people living in the housing projects at the heart of the early-morning 400+ officer raid (complete with helicopters and riot gear), and by including voices of residents critical of it. The initial New York Times story (6/4/14) included only official accounts. The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post (6/4/14) printed Facebook quotes of some of the teenagers indicted (an apparent attempt to prove their guilt in the court of public opinion–a guilt assumed by the headline’s flat assertion about “Rival Gangs Arrested”), as well as quotes from the Manhattan district attorney and residents offering comments supportive of the end to alleged violence–if not the raid itself.

      [...]

      It’s of course this type of media objectivity that allows for authorities to dominate public discourse through the virtual invisibility of criticism. Their heightened voice, made possible by the media’s willingness to become echo chambers for them, point to a relationship where the line between media and the state is blurred.

  • Censorship

    • Laziness Is Censoring the Internet

      Every time a government attempts to censor the Internet and block access to websites, advocates of Web freedom ritually respond that the effort is useless: Technology will beat police action every time. It’s true — but only to the extent that people are interested in resisting. Most aren’t, which is why governments have not stopped messing with site blockages and other Web restrictions.

      A few days ago, Iraq blocked the social networks, as beleaguered governments sometimes do, believing it would cut off activists from each other and stop them from organizing. Immediately, traffic to Tor, the anonymous network supported by volunteers throughout the world, rocketed…

    • Twitter ends censorship of ‘blasphemous’ tweets after #TwitterTheocracy campaign
    • Government of [CENSORED] censors cyberbullying docs

      The Star has obtained documents related to the Conservatives’ controversial Internet surveillance bill that have been heavily censored — even blocking out the “Canada” in “Government of Canada.”

  • Privacy

    • Don’t panic about Facebook outages, the NSA has your back

      Yet they don’t seem to think about what they lose when Facebook hands that personal data over to the NSA, or to any other security or intelligence authorities, such as GCHQ in the UK.

    • EU judgement on Facebook to take over a year

      Any EU-level judgement on a case filed against Facebook for its alleged involvement in helping the Americans snoop on millions of people is likely to take over a year.

    • The case that might cripple FacebookThe case that might cripple Facebook
    • Top 10 Reasons Why Corporate Social Media is Not Your Friend, and Dark Social Media Is

      Facebook currently limits the number of your “friends” who can see your posts to about 7 or 8%. What? You thought that “friends” list was yours? It’s not. It’s theirs. And think about it, if you had a thousand friends, and 25 of them, that’s 2.5% posted 3 or 4 times a day, another 25 posted once a day, and a hundred posted once a week, that would be at least 150 daily posts for you to comb through, leaving little room for Facebook to insert ads and promoted content which customers have paid for into your news feed.

    • The German Government has reportedly tightened tender rules for sensitive public IT contracts

      The German Government has reportedly tightened the rules for awarding sensitive public IT contracts, following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the US National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) mass surveillance activities.

    • Opinion: Where is Europe’s outrage?

      One year ago, Europeans were livid when Edward Snowden revealed NSA mass surveillance of European citizens. Now that new documents show most EU countries are in cahoots with the NSA, the public remains mostly mum.

    • House votes 293-123 to cut funding for NSA spying on Americans
    • EU states let NSA tap data cables, Danish media say
    • Danes tapped Norway data for NSA: Information

      Denmark’s Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) is intercepting data sent through fibre cables from Norway, according to newly published documents leaked from the US’s National Security Agency (NSA)

    • NSA Working With Denmark, Germany To Access ‘Three Terabits Of Data Per Second’ From Overseas Cables

      Another set of leaked NSA documents has been posted in a team effort by The Intercept and Danish newspaper Dagbladet. This one deals with the NSA’s RAMPART-A program, a surveillance effort that depends on the cooperation of involved countries to be successful. As the NSA has always made an effort to point out, its interception of foreign communications is both completely legal and the sort of thing people would expect a national security agency to be doing.

    • NSA uses 33 countries to intercept web traffic – Snowden Files
    • UK urged to give Germany access to RAF base that ‘helped spy on Merkel’

      The UK needs to grant Germany access to RAF Croughton military base which reportedly hosts a joint CIA/NSA unit, a Labor MP told British PM David Cameron, urging him to help the German federal investigation of the phone tapping of Angela Merkel.

    • Scenes of the NSA Are Watching Over the London Underground

      Paglen’s latest work, a site-specific piece for the London Underground stop, is a huge photographic panorama that depicts the area surrounding Menwith Hill, an RAF base used by the NSA. At first glance, the landscape is idyllic and unmistakably British, with luscious green fields and a smattering of stone cottages. But lurking on the horizon are a series of white bubbles; a rare but tell-tale physical sign of the secretive surveillance conducted by the security agency.

    • ZOMG! The FBI commissioned this WTF list of netspeak
    • British gov’t reportedly intercepting conversations from Facebook, Twitter, and Google

      The British government is reportedly intercepting communications from social networks, emails and text messages even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing. According to a report from Privacy International, British spy agencies have been monitoring the Facebook and Twitter activity of every Internet user in the country. Authorities are also said to be collecting data on people’s web searches and emails.

    • How did ‘don’t mess with the money’ become the NSA’s motto?

      So why doesn’t the NSA start watching Wall Street’s agents of financial terror? Why don’t its snoops look into every nook and cranny of our economy where investment bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity kingpins, and derivative wheeler-dealers are trading inside information and rigging markets, milking mergers and nuking jobs, all the while stuffing multiple millions (or billions) in their pockets?

    • House Votes to Defund NSA ‘Backdoor’ Searches
    • House unexpectedly votes to stop warrantless NSA searches

      In what’s being billed as a momentum boost for anti-surveillance advocates, the US House of Representative on Thursday approved an amendment that significantly reigns in warrantless searches on Americans’ communication records.

    • Here’s how the NSA snoops on India

      According to these documents, India is an “Approved SIGINT partner” with the NSA. SIGINT is a common term used in intelligence circles that stands for signals Intelligence, and refers to capturing of communication between two people. Decrypting of messages, traffic analysis etc are also part of SIGINT. The agency then taps these SIGINT partnerships for creating two major programs called RAMPART-A and WINDSTOP for collecting data in transit between the source and the servers, as opposed to collecting data from each Internet company (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) separately. Considering WINDSTOP only partners with second parties, primarily the UK, to access communications into and out of Europe and Middle East, third-party partner like India should fall under RAMPART-A.

    • Can you spy on a phone when it is turned off?

      Whether you consider Edward Snowden a traitor or a patriot, before he hit the news most people didn’t give much thought to government spying on everyday citizens. During a recent interview, he said that the NSA has the ability to spy on your smartphone, even if it’s turned off.

    • Spook Rebuke

      Keep in mind what the NSA is up to. This goes well beyond a sniffer program scanning Karachi-bound text messages for “Death to the Great Satan! Allahu Akbar!” The NSA has been intercepting laptop computers being shipped to customers in order to install software bugs in them, redirecting Web traffic to install malware on computers, installing agents in video games, and generally behaving like an implausible villain in a Robert Ludlum novel. It is using the flimsiest rationales to extend its surveillance to domestic targets. The toothless USA Freedom Bill passed by the House last month was intended to curtail some of this, but would have relatively little practical effect even if it were to become law, its enforcement protocols being remarkably loosey-goosey. The bipartisan amendment put forth by Kentucky’s Thomas Massie (R.) and California’s Zoe Lofgren (D.) passed 293 to 123, and would impose funding restrictions as well as implement a specific ban on any agency effort “to mandate or request that a person redesign its product or service to facilitate” surveillance.

    • NSA helps foreign governments conduct mass surveillance at home

      A new release of Snowden’s leaked NSA docs detail RAMPART-A, through which the NSA gives foreign governments the ability to conduct mass surveillance against their own populations in exchange for NSA access to their communications. RAMPART-A, is spread across 13 sites, accesses three terabytes/second from 70 cables and networks. It cost US taxpayers $170M between 2011 and 2013, allocated through the NSA’s “black budget.”

    • Senator Wyden Congratulates House on Bipartisan Vote to Ban Backdoor Searches
    • House backs limits on government spying
    • New leaks show Germany’s collusion with NSA

      Several new Snowden-leaked documents show how closely Germany’s intelligence agencies work with the NSA. But did the German government deliberately soften laws protecting privacy to make life easier for them?

    • Even The NSA Likes Final Fantasy

      Documents published earlier this week by German magazine Der Spiegel reveal that one of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs in Germany was named “WILDCHOCOBO.”

    • WILDCHOCOBO: Evidence of Final Fantasy fans at the NSA?
    • Germany opens criminal probe into spying operations by NSA

      Germany’s lead federal prosecutor has opened a criminal probe into espionage operations by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the nation’s leadership; especially the allegation of NSA’s spying against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • House passes measure aimed at NSA snooping

      The House on Friday passed a defense spending bill with an amendment that would bar the National Security Agency from conducting warrantless searches of its databases for Americans’ communications records.

    • Court Approves NSA Gathering of Phone Metadata for Three More Months

      U.S. intelligence officials disclosed late Friday that the Obama administration has received approval from a special federal court to continue the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata for another three months.

    • US lawmakers pass bill to curb NSA
    • House votes to expand protections against NSA
    • European Union’s Highest Court To Consider PRISM’s Impact On EU Data Protection Laws
    • Edward Snowden won’t meet with German officials in Moscow
    • Edward Snowden rejects German plans for meeting in Moscow
    • Digital Rights Activist Hails House Vote on Bill Limiting NSA Surveillance

      In an unusual show of bipartisan unity, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill Friday with an amendment, co-sponsored by San Jose Democrat Zoe Lofgren, that would limit the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency.

    • “Politically Explosive” Docs Show How NSA Wiretaps Earth
    • Fisa court grants extension of licence for bulk collection of US phone records
    • Macedonia gave permission to NSA to spy on citizens?

      The United States has made top-secret deals with more than 30 third-party countries so that the National Security Agency can tap into fiber optic cables carrying internet data in those parts of the world, new leaks reveal.

    • U.S. Government at War With Itself Over Civil Liberties

      Over the past year, the United States government has been in the news a lot for its efforts to undermine the Internet’s basic privacy and security protocols.

      There were the Edward Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency sweeping up metadata, paying contractors to embed backdoors into their security technologies, hacking various private accounts of network administrators and developing malware to infect computers.

    • Another US spying problem in Latin America: The DEA

      Rousseff summed it all up rather succinctly in a blunt speech at the United Nations last September, denouncing “a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.”

    • Canadians Don’t Trust the Harper Government’s New Cyberbullying Bill

      Canadians were largely unmoved by the Edward Snowden leaks and the disclosure of mass surveillance programs like PRISM, with few showing any serious worries about domestic government surveillance in a poll by Abacus Data in June 2013. But now a new poll by Forum Research suggests Canadians are growing suspicious of the latest Conservative cyberbullying bill C-13, with most rejecting a piece of legislation many think is more about beefing up government surveillance powers than protecting teens from bullies.

    • Cops hid use of phone tracking tech in court documents at feds’ request

      ACLU uncovers e-mails regarding Stingray devices borrowed from US Marshals Service.

    • Stingray Documents Show Law Enforcement Using ‘Terrorism’ To Obtain Equipment To Fight Regular Crime

      Scott Ainslie at MuckRock has pried loose a few more Stingray documents with a FOIA request. What was requested were contractual documents, which seem to be something law enforcement agencies feel more comfortable with releasing. Anything pertaining to the actual use of Stingray devices still remains heavily shrouded, thanks in no small part to the intercession of the federal government.

    • Lawyers, locals react to WPD’s surveillance device

      The Wilmington Police Department has surveillance equipment called Stingray. It turns your phone into a tracking device, giving law enforcement crucial information on where you are. But it might violate your rights.

    • Glenn Greenwald On Why Privacy Is Vital, Even If You ‘Have Nothing To Hide’

      Journalist Glenn Greenwald defended the value of digital privacy and slammed those who dismiss its importance during a stop on his national book tour Thursday.

      “We all need places where we can go to explore without the judgmental eyes of other people being cast upon us,” he said. “Only in a realm where we’re not being watched can we really test the limits of who we want to be. It’s really in the private realm where dissent, creativity and personal exploration lie.”

      He said that people who downplay the importance of privacy typically say, “I have nothing to hide.” But, he added, those people aren’t willing to publish their social media and email passwords.

    • US House Votes To Cut Funding For NSA Spying On American Citizens

      Even when the government conducts secret activities, those ventures have to be funded, and a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night took a swipe at the NSA’s domestic spying practices by cutting some of its funding.

    • Tell a lie, remove the gear: How the NSA covers up when cable taps are found

      On March 14, 2013, an SSO weekly briefing included a note regarding such a discovery. The unit had been informed two days earlier that “the access point for WHARPDRIVE was discovered by commercial consortium personnel. Witting partner personnel have removed the evidence and a plausible cover story was provided. All collection has ceased.”

      According to Der Spiegel, Wharpdrive was a fiber-optic cable tap (underseas fiber is often laid by consortia of companies, so it’s possible this took place at an onshore landing point for such a cable). Employees from one of the companies involved—though not the company that had a relationship with NSA and the German intelligence agency BND—apparently noticed some unusual gear and commented on it. In response, the company involved with the NSA (“witting partner personnel”) removed the tap and made up a story to explain what the gear in question had been doing.

    • The NSA in Germany: Snowden’s Documents Available for Download

      In Edward Snowden’s archive on NSA spying activities around the world, there are numerous documents pertaining to the agency’s operations in Germany and its cooperation with German agencies. SPIEGEL is publishing 53 of them, available as PDF files.

    • Interview with Ex-Stasi Agent: ‘The Scope of NSA Surveillance Surprised Me’

      During the Cold War, West Germany’s foreign intelligence service cooperated closely with the NSA. Klaus Eichner, an agent with the East German Stasi, monitored it at the time, and now he tells SPIEGEL what he knew about the collaboration.

    • Watchdog urges EU leaders to shield citizens from snooping

      European Union countries need stricter controls to protect citizens from spying, a top data protection official said on Thursday, a warning that may rekindle a debate about snooping before an EU summit next week.

    • NSA Reform Gathers Momentum In Congress After Late-Night Vote

      After a somewhat desultory year of little to no change, reform of the United States surveillance state appears to have finally found momentum.

      Recently the USA FREEDOM Act was gutted and rammed through the House, and two funding amendments that would have cut monies for forced backdoors and certain government searches failed.

      Last night, however, the House passed a single amendment to the military funding bill that did what the two failed amendments had attempted. At once, a large House majority had taken an unambiguous stand against certain parts of the government’s surveillance activities.

    • Congress wants NSA reform after all. Obama and the Senate need to pass it

      An overwhelming House vote to cut funds for back doors into your private life sets up a summer surveillance fight: will the Senate stand up before the White House shuts it down?

    • Reps. Goodlatte And Ruppersberger Admit That NSA Is Warrantlessly Spying On Americans’ Communications

      We’ve already written about the surprising, but encouraging, vote late last night to defund backdoor searches by the NSA. But it’s worth looking at some of the floor debate on the amendment last night — in particular the push against the amendment from Reps. Goodlatte and Ruppersberger, who both appear to flat out admit that the NSA does warrantless spying on Americans’ communications, in direct contrast to earlier claims. The reasons for these two to argue against the amendment are clear. Goodlatte was the guy who negotiated the “deal” with the White House and the House Intelligence Committee to completely water down the USA Freedom Act, and he knows that this amendment puts some of the substance that he stripped out right back in. Ruppersberger, of course, represents the district where the NSA is headquartered, and is the ranking member for the House Intelligence Committee. His loyalty to the NSA over the American public has always been clear. But to have them basically admit that the NSA does warrantless spying on Americans is quite impressive.

    • 38 Civil Liberties and Public Interest Organizations Call on Congress to Pass Real NSA Reform

      A bipartisan coalition of 38 civil liberties and public interest organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sent a letter to Congress yesterday that draws a line in the sand on NSA reform. The coalition made it clear that it cannot support the watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act passed in the House of Representatives without significant changes to the legislation, and outlined clear steps that Congress can take to address problems with the bill.

    • Amash spokesman: ‘Congress is clued in’ on NSA spying programs with passage of bipartisan proposal
    • House Votes To Defund Warrantless Communications Searches

      The House voted 293 to 123 late Thursday to approve amendments to a Defense appropriations bill (HR 4670) that would defund warrantless seraches of NSA-collected communications and prevent the NSA and CIA from requiring products have “back doors” that allow them to more easily conduct searches.

    • More Than $116K Has Been Raised in 3 Days for NSA-Proof Encrypted Email

      Roughly three days ago, an Indiegogo surfaced promising “to protect people around the world from the mass surveillance that is currently being perpetrated by governments and corporations around the world.” More than $116,000 has already been raised, and that’s without the viral guidance of media attention.

    • Inflation? Only If You Look At Food, Water, Gas, Electricity And Everything Else

      Anyone that has to regularly pay for food, water, gas, electricity or anything else knows that inflation is too high. In fact, if inflation was calculated the same way that it was back in 1980, the inflation rate would be close to 10 percent right now.

    • The Supreme Court is about to decide what police can do with your phone

      Within the next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide on a pair of cases that will have major implications for the over 91 percent of Americans who carry a cellphone. At issue is the question of whether police officers are legally allowed to search through the contents of someone’s phone—that is to say, much of a person’s private life—without first obtaining a warrant.

    • The NSA’s big problem, explained by the NSA

      Amongst the new trove of classified documents released by Der Speigel is a rather academic discussion, in the NSA’s own foreign affairs journal, about the differences between American signals intelligence collection and German signals intelligence collection.

      One passage in particular stands out, as it highlights how the Germans give far more weight to privacy than the NSA does.

    • How to Keep Public Support for Spying

      A poll suggests intelligence agencies could benefit from some controlled leaks.

    • Senators should take Snowden’s lead, shine light on NSA

      Former federal government contract worker Edward Snowden’s disclosures of virtually limitless surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency corroborated the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ wisdom that sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants.

  • Civil Rights

    • New Meme: Liberty Movement More Dangerous Than Al-Qaida

      Is the liberty movement more dangerous than al-Qaida? CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen thinks so.

    • How many Palestinians will die in the search for missing Israeli youths?

      Mustafa Aslan died on Friday afternoon after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier at Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah a few hours previously. He was 22-years-old.

      Mustafa is the third Palestinian victim of the Israeli authorities’ ‘search’ for three teenagers – two Israeli and one US-Israeli – who went missing on 12 June after leaving the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion near Hebron.

    • Japan Brought an End to Gun Violence by Doing What The U.S. Won’t

      Let’s say it all together now: The United States has a problem with guns.

      Since the horrifying Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012, there have been 74 school shootings and 17,042 gun deaths.

      To the frustration of many Americans, a stalled debate stands in the way of solving our gun violence problem, even though the solution is staring us in the face. The Onion captured this feeling perfectly with one of its headlines last month: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

    • Supreme Court Sides With Whistleblower In Retaliation Case

      In a case over retaliation against a public employee who was fired after testifying about corruption, the Supreme Court says the man gave testimony as a concerned citizen and should not have been punished. The decision was unanimous, overturning lower courts.

    • Let’s have a day off from ‘joy’ of technology

      TECHNOLOGY saves stress. Except when it adds stress. Supermarket self-checkout machines may look inviting enough, but were, in fact, inspired by medieval devices of torture.

    • Flying drones, quad-copters in SA: legal or illegal?

      The issue of whether it is legal or illegal to fly radio-controlled and unmanned aircraft in South Africa is a complex one involving three different organisations.

      As things stand today, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has no regulations to govern what it calls Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS’s), which means it is illegal to fly unmanned drones in South Africa.

    • EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE: CIA’s Linguistic Somersault Takes to the Sky

      This past Memorial Day weekend, New Yorkers who happened to look up may have seen the words EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE appear across the skyline in synchronized bursts of white smoke.

      The seemingly spontaneous event was a project of mine called Severe Clear. It was inspired by a letter the CIA sent the ACLU rejecting their Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to the U.S. government’s classified drone program. The letter reiterates the now familiar Glomar response, stating that the agency can “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence” of records responsive to the request.

    • G.I. Joe creator made Osama bin Laden action figure for CIA
    • CIA, G.I. Joe inventor made ‘demon’ bin Laden dolls
    • CIA Created ‘Demonic’ Osama Bin Laden Toy to Scare Afghan Children

      The CIA secretly developed a “demonic” Osama bin Laden action figure to scare Pakistani and Afghan children and undermine public support for the al-Qaida figurehead, it has emerged.

    • The State of the Fourth State in the State

      What the journalists’ body asked for from other newspapers was a form of censorship: self-censorship. George Orwell has written about the damages of self-censorship in any democratic society. The first priority of journalists is to unearth the truth and if they start exercising self censorship than truth is going to be the first casualty.

    • David Usborne: President, press and prejudice: it’s America

      At a conference in New York in March, Risen said the Obama administration has shown itself to be “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation”. By then his case had reached the Supreme Court, where the Justices declined to intervene.

    • Another View: Journalist shield law critical to democracy

      The letter was sent to Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a few days after the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who has been contesting a subpoena requiring him to testify at the upcoming trial of a former CIA agent.

      The agent, Jeffrey Sterling, is accused of revealing classified information about a failed CIA plan to compromise Iran’s nuclear program, an operation described in a book by Risen.

    • Media seeks Guantanamo force-feeding videos
    • Status of CIA Detention and Interrogation Program Declassification (updated)

      In the meantime, Senator Feinstein, Chair of the SSCI, has stated that the Director of National Intelligence has assured her that the declassification of the SSCI’s executive summary and findings and conclusions will be completed by early next month, ideally before July 4. If this is still the case, it is not necessarily inconsistent with the CIA’s status reports filed today. Presumably the Executive branch will be finished with its declassification review of the SSCI’s documents before it turns to the two ancillary documents (the CIA response and the Panetta Report), and will then deliver the declassified versions of the executive summary and findings and conclusions to the SSCI, which could decide to publish them before August 29. The period between early July and August 29 would also give the SSCI and the Executive branch eight weeks or so to negotiate over any possible disagreements about the scope of the declassification.

    • Here Are Some Of The Most Bizarre Ideas From The CIA

      In the 1950s, the CIA produced a pornographic film starring an actor made up to resemble Indonesian President Sukarno. The idea was to discredit Sukarno in the eyes of his countrymen, according to the 1976 memoir of a CIA officer, Joseph Burkholder Smith, as the Indonesian leader was viewed as insufficiently pro-West at the time.

    • America Is Also “Ripe For Regime Change”

      There’s been a lot of talk coming out of Washington, D.C. lately about the need for “regime change” in Iraq – which is particularly ironic when you consider the current regime was hand-picked by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during an American military invasion that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

    • Why The World Should Care About The War Against Guatemalan Women

      Biden’s visit, though, only serves to highlight the historical role the U.S. has played in prompting some of the problems seen today in Guatemala. In 1954, the C.I.A. helped organize a coup to oust a popular leader and install a right-wing dictator who plunged the country into a 36-year civil war. Effects of the war, which Amnesty International and many other groups label a genocide of the Mayan people, are still felt today and contribute greatly to Guatemala’s current problems.

    • The assassin’s guide to Western ‘democracy’

      We live in an age now where the Western media has been virtually subsumed by banking and military interests. If “our side’s” dirty deeds are kept out of the news, and the latest “bogeyman” kept in, then today’s war profiteers can get away with whatever they want. “Defensive” NATO with its proxy armies and “deniable” private military contractors sponsoring butchery across the globe has become a Napoleon with nukes, bringing the day ever closer when these wonder-weapons might again be used in anger.

    • Pentagon Funds “Cold War-Style” Science Study to Track Political Protest in America

      The controversial program called Project Camelot had been operational nearly a decade into the Vietnam war, as the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) located at American University had received millions in funding from the US Army to conduct a six country study on civil unrest. The current social science program directed by Minerva and the Department of Defense (DoD), appears to have also partnered with some of the most well-known universities in the United States by studying the behavior of peaceful activism and how political ideology shapes protest movements in the world at large.

    • Did CIA Smear a Former Operative to Cover Up a Bad Firing?

      And now a former CIA operative may get a day in court to add to that peculiar lore. On Friday a federal trial judge in Washington, D.C. could rule on a discovery motion by “Peter B.,” a former CIA officer who contends that the spy agency fired him without due process and then badmouthed him, scuttling his chances for a job with a CIA contractor.

    • Is it right to jail someone for being offensive on Facebook or Twitter?

      Jake Newsome was jailed last week for posting offensive comments online. His is the latest in a string of cases that have led to prison terms, raising concern that free speech may be under threat from over-zealous prosecutors

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The Senate Is Officially Considering a CISPA Clone

        The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward with its Cybersecurity Information Protection Act—a problematic, potentially civil liberties-killing piece of legislation that looks just like the CISPA bill the internet fought so hard to kill last year—and the year before that.

        CIPA, written by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) will be considered by the committee next week, according to Feinstein.

      • The German war against the link

        Half the major publishers in Germany have started a process of arbitration — which, no doubt, will lead to suits — to demand that Google pay them for quoting from and thus linking to their content. And now we know how much they think they deserve: 11% of Google’s revenue related to their snippets. From their government filing, they want a cut of “gross sales, including foreign sales” that come “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public.” [All these links are in German.]

      • That Story You’ve Read About YouTube ‘Blocking’ Indie Artists… Yeah, That’s Not Accurate

        As you may have heard, there’s been some hubbub this week about claims that YouTube is going to remove some videos from indie musicians/labels who don’t agree to the contract terms for YouTube’s upcoming music subscription service. Ellen Huet, over at Forbes, has a good article explaining how this isn’t as dire as some are making it out to be, but the more I’m digging into it, it seems even less than that. There’s no doubt that this is a royalty dispute, with some indie labels upset about the basic terms that Google is offering, but, if you haven’t noticed, the complaints seem to be coming from the same folks who complain about the royalty rates of every single online music service. There are some people who will just never be satisfied. Furthermore, the deeper you dig into this, it becomes quite clear that any artist who wants to have their videos on YouTube can continue to do that.

06.20.14

Why Do FOSS Sites Promote NSA-Friendly Malware Like Microsoft Skype?

Posted in Microsoft at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NSA thanks you for installing the blob

Webcam

Summary: Criticism of promotion of Skype for GNU/Linux, which basically compromises the whole platform and plants a bug (as in listening device with a camera) inside people’s Free/libre systems

FOR A number of days now we have been systematically ignoring (not overlooking) several reports about a nasty piece of software. Many FOSS sites cover Skype because another malicious blob has been just made available for GNU/Linux, requiring root to install and offering no source code at all. It is bad idea to install this blob because we already know that Skype is used extensively for surveillance (this fact is well established), more now than ever before as it was snatched by the NSA’s PRISM #1 company, Microsoft. Yes, here we have the company which famously reads people’s E-mails and uses people’s personal data against them, putting some in prison and deporting them. Why would anyone wish to take the risk of using Skype when good software such as Linphone and Jitsi exists and is freely available for GNU/Linux, Android, among many other free/libre platforms, sporting real encryption (Skype has no end-to-end encryption, based on revelations from last year)?

Microsoft is a huge liar when it comes to privacy and ITWire is one among several publications that we saw recently giving Microsoft’s lies a platform. Microsoft claims it will not use your personal data against you (it does not say “won’t spy”) but we already know this to be a lie, based on the Kibkalo case.

Microsoft is not the only company which lies about privacy. VMware too spouts out nonsense (many Microsoft executives moved there, so the lies travel), hoping that people forget about RSA-NSA collusion (VMware is RSA’s sister because both are owned by EMC). There is a back door there, just as there is a back door in Hyper-V hosts (it only runs on Windows, hence there’s a back door that leads downwards to guest VMs).

Generally speaking, any piece of proprietary software is quite likely a back door, if not by accident then by design (unlike Free software one would struggle to prove either, but leaks wre help). People who brag about using a Free/libre and secure platform completely compromise it when they install the blob called “Skype”. Convenience may be tempting, but it’s a trap. British intelligence agencies alone have grabbed footage from many people’s webcam, harvesting videos and photographs (many of which sexual) from millions of people while the NSA used harvested photos to covertly construct biometric models of law-abiding Americans. Just because you do nothing illegal doesn’t mean you are not under surveillance. Espionage champions like to collect potential ‘dirt’ against everyone (they derive power through blackmail) and British intelligence, for example, already intercepted and saved footage of hundreds of thousands of people masturbating.

‘Active Management Technology’ is Quite Likely a Back Door, Along With Intel’s UEFI

Posted in Hardware at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet another reason to boycott Intel

Chips secrets

Summary: The dark hearts of computers, with a lot of secrets and circuitry whose behaviour cannot be verified, are also convenient back doors, even without additional bugs (implanted en route)

THE FSF has this interesting new article about “Active Management Technology”. It was written by Ward Vandewege, Matthew Garrett, and Richard M. Stallman, who awarded Garrett for his work on UEFI.

One year ago, around the same time that Snowden leaked some NSA documents, we warned that UEFI could be used to remotely brick PCs. Later on, after the NSA leaks had gone maintream, the NSA pretty much confirmed it was a possible strategy (but defecting this to the Chinese). Going back to 2008 we also warned about back doors, some of which facilitated by broken encryption in hardware (e.g. Intel’s ‘hardware-accelerated’ RNG). That was about a decade after Microsoft had allegedly built back doors into Windows (we know that there are back doors now, but it’s just hard to say when Microsoft started it).

We already wrote a great deal about the problem with UEFI patents, UEFI ‘secure’ boot (taking control over computers, moving control away from the users to put itinto corporate hands and governments), but we have not done much to cover UEFI remote control capabilities, or more broadly Intel’s rogue role in intelligence, leading to a ban in some places (some variants of BSD refuse to use Intel RNGs due to fear of intentionally low entropy that derails encryption).

Quoting the article from Vandewege et al.: “Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) is a proprietary remote management and control system for personal computers with Intel CPUs. It is dangerous because it has full access to personal computer hardware at a very low level, and its code is secret and proprietary.”

Intel is a deeply criminal company, so to blindly trust its proprietary technology would be foolish. We have always campaigned against Intel not just because “intel” is shorthand for something rather insinuative although this latter point is now a growing factor, too. Watch what China is doing these days when it comes to hardware policy, not just software policy. Or simply watch what Snowden has been leaking; it’s rather revealing.

The Corrupt Court Which Brought Software Patents to the United States is in a State of Crisis, Should be Disbanded

Posted in Law, Patents at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Randall R. Rader: The corrupt judge who ran CAFC until the scandal which ultimately led to his resignation

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is in trouble after its extent of misconduct was revealed, not just because rulings are repeatedly incorrect but also because its chiefs are corrupt (in bed with patent lawyers)

The United States should gradually if not instantaneously revoke CAFC’s power amid revelations of misconduct and errors. CAFC almost always gets its rulings wrong, based on the judgment of courts above it, notably SCOTUS. Perhaps it’s time to just shut shut down the CAFC. The disgrace which is ‘judge’ Rader has finally stepped down, so there’s no better time to end CAFC. He had conflicts of interest and did great damage to patent policy. He encouraged the perception of corruption in the courtroom. Rader was just one of several because not a single judge ruled incorrectly on cases that involve patents. Rader is raider, taking away from programmers and giving to monopolies and their patent lawyers. Ars Technica wrote about his “ethical breach”:

US Circuit Judge Randall Rader, who was just weeks ago the top patent judge in the nation, has announced he will step down, following an admission that he made an ethical “lapse” when he sent an e-mail praising an attorney who appears frequently before his court.

From 2010 until two weeks ago, Rader served as Chief Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals and interprets most of the nation’s patent laws. The Washington, DC-based court is frequently the final arbiter in some of the highest-stakes technology battles in the world.

Here is more from the corporate press, which said: “The ex-chief judge of the top U.S. patent court will retire at the end of June, after acknowledging that an email he sent raised questions about his judicial ethics because it praised an attorney who appears before the court.”

Shut it down. Now is the time. This court has been the target of a coup and it cannot restore trust.

There’s no lack of stories about the harms of software patents. Here is the recent report titled “Divorcees Brawl Over Time Warner-Acquired Software Patents” and alluding in part to software patents, here is an article which speaks of a “Nightmare”. An Australian lawyers’ Web site seems to be turning its back on software patents not because they’re not something that patent lawyers want but because they have apparently become less profitable (harder to uphold in Australia). To quote: “A new unfavourable examination practice by the Australian Patent Office for software patents precipitated two separate appeals to the Federal Court of Australia, which resulted in the two decisions Research Affiliates LLC v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 71 (“Research Affiliates”), and RPL Central Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 871 (“RPL”). The two decisions are, on the face of it, contradictory. The patent office favours Research Affiliates, which imposes strict limits on the patentability of software. RPL does not impose the strict limits of Research Affiliates. Both decisions have been appealed to the Full Court.”

In the US, patent policy is written by corporations and their lobbyists or moles (companies like Microsoft and IBM). Until not so long ago an IBM lawyer who is a software patents proponent controlled the USPTO (that’s David Kappos). He ensured that the USPTO sought only to increase its own income (and patent lawyers’) by expanding scope and in his new article in the plutocrats’ press (Forbes) he pretends that it’s about prosperity for the US economy. This is complete nonsense. It’s the very opposite of the truth, unless by “American economy” Kappos means “the 1%” (of which he is a part).

If the USPTO cannot be abolished, then its facilitator (a corruptible court like CAFC which let it patent software) should be eliminated, leaving the SCOTUS to make baby steps towards the solution (or towards justice, which SCOTUS is not exactly famous for, either).

SCOTUS Finally Smacks Down Software Patents, But Further Action is Needed

Posted in Law, Patents at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many patents killed in a fire

Fire

Summary: The US Supreme Court has just ruled a lot of software patents “invalid” (by generalisation), raising hopes that things are improving

WE are exceedingly delighted to learn that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled against software patents. Before lots of law firms (patent lawyers) issue their revisionist ‘articles’ on why it doesn’t change anything let’s look at what happened.

SCOTUS has, without exception among the Justices, decided that some software patents are too vague to merit a win in court. Essentially, they’re rendered toothless, by precedence. It is possible that hundreds of thousands of software patents have just been rendered dead. Since SCOTUS is the top court, not even the software patents-friendly CAFC can reverse this decision. As one good writer (patent matters expert) put is: “The most-anticipated patent decision from this Supreme Court term was published today. The decision involves finance-related software patents that were being used against CLS Bank, a key part of the global financial infrastructure.”

Here is the response from Red Hat’s site, an Android-hostile site, a Linux-friendly site, and from the FSF, which says “more work needed to end software patents for good”. There was a lot of coverage in the corporate media too, including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22] and the message is quite uniform. Not even lawyers’ sites can deny the truth here. They will surely try later. We have done an extensive media survey and the media is as unanimous about this as the SCOTUS is. Here is the response from TechDirt, which sheds light on why it’s not enough. To quote the headline: “Supreme Court Rejects Software Patents On Performing Generic Functions; Pretends That Lots Of Other Software Must Be Patentable” (lawyers are going to have a day field around the latter part).

This is clearly not the end of software patents, but it’s a good start. Let’s enjoy this small victory while it lasts. A future patent case can be escalated to SCOTUS again, shedding doubt on this decision. It doesn’t happen quite so often though (In Re Bilski was half a decade ago).

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