Private Bradley Manning, accused of sharing classified US army files with the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, will get a 112 days cut from his eventual sentence. The victory for his defense team comes after a judge ruled that Manning’s 9 months in prison amounted to pre-trial punishment and was excessively harsh. Retired colonel Morris Davis told us the military is just trying to spare its blushes.
Archive for the ‘INTERNET FREEDOM’ Category
21st Century Wire says… As we can now see, Facebook and other social networking giants will be playing their specific roles in the coming internet chaos and clampdown – by merging online applications and thus enabling mass invasion of privacy, virtual problem-reaction-solution scenarios can spark new outrage and be used by regulators and professional trolls (see below) to engineer new Hegelian outcomes designed to target normal users – and hit out at other free speech further down the line. No one asked for Instagram to be part of Facebook (originally designed as a private social network) and it’s data munching capabilities – it just appeared out of nowhere, and is being used to foment yet another new crisis. Why can’t Facebook just protect its users’ personal data instead?
Oh, and surprise, surprise – this story also appeared in the Mainstream News on the very same day – about how Facebook’s new policies allowing Instagram to use children’s photos and data, via its photo-sharing service that Facebook bought in August, “could be exploitative”… really?
And we also found this story about the corporate clampdown on privacy for social networks, also on the same day (yesterday) – so work it out where you think Facebook and the digital cartels are heading – and who they are coordinating their efforts with. We believe free speech online is the ultimate target of this progression.
Watch this space…
Rioting broke out in the southern Swedish city of Gothenburg today over an Instagram account that posted photos of local underage boys and girls alongside sexualized captions.
Hundreds of students descended on a high school in Gothenburg, where it was thought the individual behind the account attended, resulting in a large (by Swedish standards anyway) police deployment to break up the crowd. When police arrived, students threw bottles and rocks. According to reports on Facebook, the students had gathered at the school to beat up a girl thought to be behind the account.
What began as an apparently isolated incident at the high school, Plusgymnasiet, quickly spread around the city as angry teens left the school and headed to the city’s center. In total, 27 teens have been taken into custody. The school will be closed tomorrow after a Facebook page was posted encouraging students to continue to attack it.
The fracas began after a request for photos of “sluts” generated hundreds of photo submissions. The instagram user, whose account has been suspended, posted the photos alongside lewd comments, setting off a firestorm among local teens. The account posted about 200 photos since its launch Monday and described the subjects of the photos as “sluts” and “whores” and also included information about their alleged sexual activities. Some of those whose photos were included were as young as 13.
This isn’t the first time this year that a firestorm of criticism has erupted over non-consensual photos of teens posted on the internet. Reddit, the popular link aggregator, was forced to shut down a section of its website called “jailbait,” which was devoted to user-submitted photos of sexualized teens. The ensuing debate over privacy on the internet became crystallized in the controversial online persona of Violentacrez, who started the jailbait section. Gawker outed the man behind the account as Michael Brutsch, a 49-year-old software programmer.
The news out of Gothenburg comes on the heels of an announcement by Instagram that they are overhauling their user agreement to allow the service to use users’ photos for commercial purposes without their consent. My guess is they probably won’t be using these photos.
Israel says it will go ahead with plans to build 1500 new settler homes in East Jerusalem – the part of the city that’s considered Palestinian land.
The project was given an intermediate green light by Israeli officials on Monday. This comes less then a month after the UN granted Palestine non-member observer status. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and are promising to raise the issue at a Security Council meeting. Author and historian Gerald Horne says that with Palestine’s recent upgrade, Israel’s playing a risky game.
The United States and five other world powers are hastily preparing for possible new talks with Iran amid signs that the country’s leaders might be willing to meet as early as next week to discuss scaling back nuclear activities in return for future sanctions relief.
The six powers have agreed on a new package of inducements to be offered to Iran if it agrees to freeze key parts of its nuclear program, said U.S. and European officials briefed on the matter. Iran rejected a similar deal earlier this year, but U.S. officials said they were modestly hopeful that Tehran’s position had softened under the strain of international sanctions.
“Our assessment is that it is possible that they are ready to make a deal,” a senior administration official said Friday. “Certainly, the pressure is on.”
The talks would be the first high-level negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program since June, offering at least the prospect of a thaw in a standoff that has grown increasingly tense in recent months. The apparent movement on the diplomatic front came amid reports that Iran had agreed to concessions in a separate dispute with U.N. nuclear officials over access to an Iranian base allegedly used for nuclear weapons research.
There was no confirmation from Tehran about pending talks with world powers. On Friday, a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team expressed skepticism about a possible deal with the six-nation bloc known as the P5-plus-1. “Personally, I am not optimistic,” Mostafa Dolatyar told reporters during a visit to India. But he added: “Everything could be subject to negotiation.”
Three U.S. and European officials briefed on the preparations said Iranian negotiators were discussing a timetable for new talks, which might be held in Istanbul. Initial meetings could begin as early as next week, though they are more likely to start after the New Year’s holiday, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatically sensitive negotiations.
U.S. officials said the purpose would be to test Iranian willingness to halt certain nuclear activities as an interim step, or a “confidence-building” measure, to ease international fears that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons. In exchange, Iran would be offered technical help with its civilian nuclear program and a lifting of a ban on the purchase of aircraft parts, the officials said.
The interim measures, if accepted, could be the starting point for a future “grand bargain” that would set permanent limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for rolling back economic sanctions, the officials said.
The P5-plus-1 group — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — made similar demands during three fruitless rounds of talks with Iran in the spring. Iranian officials complained at the time that the group’s proposal did not contain sufficient sanctions relief and said they would await the outcome of the U.S. presidential election before resuming the effort. Since those talks, international sanctions on Iran have been tightened.
The European Union’s three presidents are in Oslo to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of the group. It’s being given to commend the EU for fostering peace. But not everyone agrees – hundreds marched through the Norwegian capital in protest. RT’s Peter Oliver looks at why many believe the EU doesn’t deserve the prize, and why the whole Nobel institution may need a rethink.
LATEST FROM THE JUNGLE (and the dangers of early retirement files):
Yesterday, December 4, VICE broke the news that anti-virus mogul and “person of interest” in a Belizean murder case John McAfee has retained the services of high-power attorney Telésforo Guerra after fleeing to Guatemala.
Later that afternoon, John and his lawyer held a press meeting during which he announced that he had documentation proving “the intense corruption at all levels of the Belizean government.” On the ride over to the press meeting, John stated on the record that Sam Vanegas, his (rather young) girlfriend, was with him in her bedroom on John’s property on the night of the murder of his neighbor and fellow US citizen Greg Faull. He also said that several other witnesses could corroborate his whereabouts that evening. More details regarding this matter will be forthcoming over the next few days and weeks…
And it get even wilder…
Whistleblower and former NSA crypto-mathematician who served in the agency for decades – virtual privacy in US, Petraeus affair and whistleblowers’ odds in fight against the authorities are among key topics of this exclusive interview…
Britain’s so-called “snooper’s charter” bill is heating up debates among MPs as parliamentary reports on it are being prepared. The bill’s initiator has just released an emotional verbal offensive against the opponents, equaling them to criminals.
It appears that the Syrian government may have just taken a drastic measure it has conspicuously avoided over the nearly two years of fighting: cutting itself off from the Internet.
Renesys, a Web-monitoring service, reported Thursday morning that sweeping outages in Syria had shut down 92 percent of the country’s routed networks. Shortly after, it updated to report that the remaining IP address blocks had gone down, “effectively removing the country from the Internet.” The “Syrian Internet Is Off The Air,” it announced.
Shutting down nationwide Internet service is a remarkable step, one with significant implications for Syria’s economy and security. Still, the country has already taken far more severe action, including reports of targeting children, so the government’s apparent decision not to switch off Web access until now was in some ways surprising. Egypt and Libya both shut down Internet service early in their own uprisings last year. Those were seen as major steps, as is Syria’s today, if the Renesys report is accurate.
Still, maybe one question here is why Syria didn’t do this sooner. Its uprising long ago exceeded Egypt’s and Libya’s in severity by the time those countries had instituted their own blackouts. One possible explanation is that Syria has been far more assertive online, using it as a tool for tracking dissidents and rebels, and sometimes even tricking them into handing the government personal data using phishing scams. President Bashar al-Assad has a background in computers, unlike the much older Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gaddafi, and once even directly mentioned his “electronic army.” Assad’s regime may have seen opportunity as well as risk on the Web, where perhaps the Egyptian and Libyan authorities saw primarily a tool of the uprising. Or, perhaps the Syrian simply feared the economic consequences of an Internet blackout, or lacked the means to conduct it.
Perhaps the most important question is whether this reported shutdown represents a setback for the rebels and activists who have used the Web to coordinate, a sign of the regime’s desperation that it would take this measure, or maybe even both.
Update: The Associated Press says that a second web-monitoring company is also reporting a complete shutdown.
An anti-piracy company has found itself in the middle of a huge controversy. CIAPC, the company that had The Pirate Bay blocked by ISPs in Finland, tracked an alleged file-sharer and demanded a cash settlement.
However, the Internet account holder refused to pay which escalated things to an unprecedented level. In response, this week police raided the home of the 9-year-old suspect and confiscated her Winnie the Pooh laptop.
Very soon in the United States, letters will be sent out to Internet account holders informing them that they should stop sharing copyrighted material on BitTorrent.
The message in the US from mainstream rightsholders is designed to be educational, but more aggressive companies carry out the same process but with a sting in the tail – a request for cash-settlement to make potential lawsuits go away.
One such request for cash landed on the doorstep of an Internet account holder in Finland during the spring. Known locally as TTVK, Finnish anti-piracy group CIAPC sent the man a letter informing him that his account had been traced back to an incidence of online file-sharing.
To stop matters progressing further the man was advised to pay a settlement of 600 euros, sign a non-disclosure document, and move on with his life. He chose not to give in to the demands of CIAPC and this week things escalated as promised.
Tuesday morning the doorbell of the family home rang around 8am and the man, who works in the hospitality sector, had quite a shock. Police were at his door with a search warrant authorizing the hunt for evidence connected to illicit file-sharing.
Surprisingly, the man isn’t a previously unknown Kim Dotcom-related “co-conspirator”, nor does he run a warez site or BitTorrent tracker. He is, however, guilty of having a 9-year-old daughter with a taste for pop music.
Having failed in her quest to put enough money in her piggy bank to buy the latest album from local multi-platinum-selling songstress Chisu, in 2011 she turned to the Internet, first via Google and then The Pirate Bay.
The girl’s father said the resulting downloads didn’t work so the following day they went to the store to buy music. Nevertheless, this week’s police visit shows that CIAPC mean business, no matter how young the targets or whether or not they also buy music.
In concluding their search, the police confiscated the girl’s file-sharing weapon of choice – her Winnie The Pooh laptop – and according to her father offered some final words.
“It would have been easier for all concerned if you had paid the compensation,” the police advised
“I got the feeling that there had been people from the MAFIA demanding money at the door,” the girl’s father explained.
“We have not done anything wrong with my daughter. If adults do not always know how to use a computer and the web, how can you assume that children or the elderly – or a 9-year-old girl – knows what they are doing at any given time online?
“This is the pinnacle of absurdity. I can see artists are in a position, but this requires education and information, not resource-consuming lawsuits,” he added.
Electronic Frontier Finland say that this week’s developments are an indication of just how far copyright enforcements issues have progressed in Finland.