Battles for Democracy. Week 18

Battles for Democracy. Week 18

A weekly summary of the battles for democracy: New models of internet censorship are being piloted and perfected; What monitoring centers are procuring governments ; Norwegian Intelligence Service acquires a supercomputer to crack heavy cryptography; UK government offers school pupil data to private companies; Net neutrality finally dies at ripe old age of 45; Example of how the FBI threatens if you refuse to become an informant; TISA, yet another secret TTIP; and much more.

Citizens Losing

Citizens abused or killed, liberties and rights cut.

New models of internet censorship are being piloted and perfected: Erdogan in Turkey tries to control the internet without shutting it down playing to convince people that social media is a dangerous, uncontrolled, filthy place from which nothing good can come while building an infrastructure to allow instant blocks. Iran is building an intranet to replace the internet, and China uses the so called Great Firewall. And countries like Italy, Spain or the UK among others have means to allow the government close sites without judicial review.

With the capability to store two petabytes of data in a sever rack about the size of a small shelving unit you can purchase at Ikea and able to cover “20.000 means of telecommunication” monitoring centres are being offered and adcquired by many goverments.

The Steelwinter supercomputer will crack heavy cryptology and analyze the vast amounts of data Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) collects. The NIS has entered into a partnership with NSA – cryptanalysis service to develop applications of mutual benefit. It is not possible to crack strong cryptography even with today’s most powerful computers, says researcher and cryptologist Havard Raddum at Simula and the University of Bergen, but many do not use strong enough encryption.

UK Government offers school pupil data to private companies. Data relating to every school pupil in England is now available for use by private companies thanks to a change in legislation implemented last year. The move is part of a wider government initiative to “marketise” data, which includes initiatives such as the much-criticised Care.data and the selling off of taxpayer data by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).

Net neutrality finally dies at ripe old age of 45. Apparently net neutrality is officially dead and the Federal Communications Commission has given up on finding a legal avenue to enforce equal access and will instead propose rules that explicitly allow broadband suppliers to favor companies that pay them for faster pipes.

“You might get hit by a car”: FBI threatened an American Muslim when he refused to become an informant. He saw his life, and his family’s life, turned upside down. He was detained, repeatedly interrogated and ultimately forced into exile in Sudan, unable to see his children for years.

TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) yet another secret treaty alongside TTP and TTIP being negotiated between EU and US. And don’t think this is a new initiative, it turns out that it’s been under way for more than a year.

Nine journalists and bloggers arrested in Ethiopia ahead of Kerry visit on allegations that they worked for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence. US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Ethiopia “to advance peace and democracy”.

British spy chiefs secretly begged to play in NSA’s data pools according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Snowden files do not indicate whether NSA granted GCHQ’s request, but they do show that the NSA was “supportive” of the idea, and that GCHQ was permitted extensive access to PRISM during the London Olympics in 2012.

A thought-provoking article from The Guardian: Isn’t what is going on in eastern Ukraine now the mirror image of what took place in Kiev a couple of months ago? Then, it was armed protesters in Maidan Square seizing government buildings and demanding a change of government and constitution. US and European leaders championed the “masked militants” and denounced the elected government for its crackdown, just as they now back the unelected government’s use of force against rebels occupying police stations and town halls in cities such as Slavyansk and Donetsk.

According to the American NGO Freedom House, press freedom around the world has declined to its lowest level in over a decade, with major setbacks in several Middle Eastern states as well as Turkey and Ukraine.
Note: Remember that earlier this year we reported a similar result from Reporters without borders (a little bit more precise from my point of view).

Citizens Winning

Citizens unite, react and take action, institutions support them.

Internet giants in the UK, including Google and Facebook, have ‘withdrawn’ their cooperation and are obstructing MI5 requests. Before the US whistleblower’s disclosures, they willingly responded to lawful requests for details of phone calls, emails, text messages and other private information. Now the companies are said to be concerned about being seen to acquiesce too easily.

Don’t let Comcast and AT&T control the future of the Internet. Share this message to spread the word to stop them from selling out Net Neutrality! Dear FCC, we need net neutrality. Protect internet users from monopolistic ISPs and don’t let companies censor, slow down, or block websites while requiring other sites to pay for faster service. Please stand up for all Internet users and our right to communicate.

Join chelseamanning.org in urging President Obama to pardon Chealsea Manning

Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras Receive the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. The Ridenhour awards event is an annual ceremony in Washington honoring public servants and activists, documentary film makers, authors or investigative reporters for their courageous accomplishments.

Tools For Democracy

Tools to either increase awareness of the threats to democracy, protect yourself against them or to leverage democracy to new levels.

Book: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald. A groundbreaking look at the NSA surveillance scandal, from the reporter who broke the story.

Tails 1.0 is out. The Amnesic Incognito System version 1.0 is out. Aimed at preserving your privacy and anonymity, it helps you to use the Internet through the Tor network; leaves no trace on the computer and uses state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.

2013-14 Review of Free Expression in Canada. Now in its fifth year, the 48-page Review remains the nation’s only publication that evaluates the people, policies and institutions that help and hinder freedom of expression.

Pedro Gutierrez

About Pedro Gutierrez

The certainty that a World War on Democracy was going on and we, the people, were unaware of it was keeping me up at night. The fact, crystal clear now after Snowden's revelations, that the new battlefield is your mobile, your laptop, your data and so, that every citizen (i.e. you) is being considered a target was inconceivable for me. And it became worse when I realized that most people just didn't care about it: "I don't mind a bit of spying? I'm a good citizen I've nothing to hide". So when Pirate Times let me write about it in this blog I was happy to finally take action. But dear reader be warned because it may happen to you what already happened to me. Reporting week after week about the battles for democracy has changed my perception of the magnitude of this conflict. I already thought when I started that the situation was terrible and the conflict was not winding down but, no matter what, at the end of every week when I submit my post I realize again that I had underestimated it all.

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