Category Archives: Privacy

New Media and Democracy: Freenet
Date Created: July 29, 2014  Date Modified: July 29, 2014

Its been a long time since blogging on the New Media and Democracy theme, and its been a long time since I have published anything on this blog really; however today I found myself sharing to some technophobs the Freenet project.

This user was advocating that we as a public adopt a similar initiative, the fact there exists such a project is largely unknown in the broader community. Hopefully I have put this person onto technology they will actually use, and hopefully they will put others onto it.

Code is only of any use when it is being executed.

[REPORT] Freedom of the Internet
Date Created: October 3, 2013  Date Modified: October 6, 2013

Freedom House, a human rights group has published their 2013 Report of Internet Freedom, and being some of the major developments this year it is worth reassessing where we think we stand:

1. Blocking and filtering: In 29 of the 60 countries evaluated, the authorities blocked certain types of political and social content over the past year. China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia were the worst offenders, but filtering in democratic countries like South Korea and India has also affected websites of a political nature. Jordan and Russia intensified blocking in the past year.

2. Cyberattacks against regime critics: Opposition figures and activists in at least 31 countries faced politically motivated cyberattacks over the past year. Such attacks are particularly prevalent during politically charged events. For example, in Malaysia and Venezuela the websites of popular independent media were repeatedly subject to DDoS attacks in the run-up to elections.

3. New laws and arrests: In an increasing number of countries, the authorities have passed laws that prohibit certain types of political, religious, or social speech online, or that contain vague restrictions related to national security that are open to abuse. In 28 countries, users were arrested for online content. In addition to political dissidents, a significant number of those detained were ordinary people who posted comments on social media that were critical of the authorities or the dominant religion.

4. Paid progovernment commentators: A total of 22 countries saw paid commentators manipulate online discussions by discrediting government opponents, spreading propaganda, and defending government policies from criticism without acknowledging their affiliation. Spearheaded by China, Bahrain, and Russia, this tactic is increasingly common in countries like Belarus and Malaysia.

5. Physical attacks and murder: At least one person was attacked, beaten, or tortured for online posts in 26 countries, with fatalities in five countries, often in retaliation for the exposure of human rights abuses. Dozens of online journalists were killed in Syria, and several were murdered in Mexico. In Egypt, several Facebook group administrators were abducted and beaten, and security forces targeted citizen journalists during protests.

6. Surveillance: Although some interception of communications may be necessary for fighting crime or combating terrorism, surveillance powers are increasingly abused for political ends. Governments in 35 countries upgraded their technical or legal surveillance powers over the past year.

7. Takedown and deletion requests: Governments or individuals can ask companies to take down illegal content, usually with judicial oversight. But takedown requests that bypass the courts and simply threaten legal action or other reprisals have become an effective censorship tool in numerous countries like Russia and Azerbaijan, where bloggers are threatened with job loss or detention for refusing to delete information.

8. Blocking social media and communications apps: 19 countries completely blocked YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or other ICT apps, either temporarily or permanently, over the past year. Communications services such as Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp were also targeted, either because they are more difficult to monitor or for threatening the revenue of established telecommunications companies.

9. Intermediary liability: In 22 countries, intermediaries—such as internet service providers, hosting services, webmasters, or forum moderators—are held legally liable for content posted by others, giving them a powerful incentive to censor their customers. Companies in China hire whole divisions to monitor and delete tens of millions of messages a year.

10. Throttling or shutting down service: Governments that control the telecommunications infrastructure can cut off or deliberately slow (throttle) internet or mobile access, either regionally or nationwide. Several shutdowns occurred in Syria over the past year, while services in parts of China, India, and Venezuela were temporarily suspended amid political events or social unrest.

Source

[REPORT] Redefining Information Warfare Boundaries for an Army in a Wireless World
Date Created: January 16, 2013  Date Modified: January 16, 2013

An old proverb: You don’t defeat nations with armies, you defeat them with ideas; Its a sad state of the internet when one nation spends more money on defence than all nations on earth combined, and consider the digital realm to be their battleground.

As a term, information warfare, or IW, remains in use worldwide, in the militaries of other countries as well as in some of the U.S. military services. The Navy now has an IW officer position, which it advertises as involving “attacking, defending and exploiting networks to capitalize on vulnerabilities in the information environment” (U.S. Navy, undated)…

…Social networks, as part of the information environment, are also a part of such conflicts or struggles. As noted by LTG Michael Vane, “Army forces operate in and among human populations, facing hybrid threats that are innovative, networked, and technologically-savvy” (TRADOC, 2010a, p. i). Internet-assisted social networking is now a part of the operational environment, as events in Egypt, Moldova, Iran, and even Pittsburgh have made clear. Social networks are a growing and increasingly relevant element of the information environment…

…Harkening back to the birth of the information operations concept out of command and control warfare in the late 1990s, this doctrine aggregates the areas of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC) as core capabilities, despite the fact that some of these concepts are quite dissimilar.
http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/MG1100/MG1113/RAND_MG1113.pdf

As net citizens, as world citizens; we need to fight this war on ideas with bigger and better ideas. The IP is mightyer than the sword.

[REPORT] Digital Freedoms in International Law
Date Created: October 29, 2012  Date Modified: October 29, 2012

Released Monday from Global Network Initiative, is the following report Digital Freedoms in International Law, which addresses many of the issues relating to protecting human rights on-line. It looks into state driven censorship in oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and it also highlights the lack of accountability corporations have in the digital eco-system when it comes to human rights violations:

…there are special problems in applying law generally, and human rights law in particular, to the new global, digital environment. Laws are still mainly drawn up for an environment with clearly defined territorial jurisdictions. And much of the control over the Internet rests in the hands of private companies, whereas traditional human rights law almost entirely focused on states. This raises problems of both “prescriptive” and “enforcement” jurisdiction, and of “privatised” (or semi-­-privatised) law enforcement, without adequate remedies.
Page 14

Also mentioned is the corporate sectors willingness to comply with take down requests, and that they have a moral obligation not to facilitate such:

companies should think in advance of possible risks arising from undue state demands made upon them, and they should take measures – including technical measures – to try and make it possible for them to deny or at least minimise their cooperation. They must afterwards help the victims of their enforced cooperation with such allegedly undue and illegal state actions, to alleviate the harm done as much as possible.
Page 23

I would however suggest that it is the corporate interests manipulating the states; tho this might be me speaking from a political, rather than a legal perspective.

I’ll wait for it to come out on eBook in the past
Date Created: October 7, 2012  Date Modified: October 7, 2012

The Idiot BoxSome folk are still end-users of the 20thC technology known as television, I dont hold too much animosity to those users as we cant always be connected to an IP. Anyway, those folk may have seen a program Underground on one of the networks last night, about a young software developer and activist known as Julian Assange.

Not being one to make use of the broadcast protocol, I will wait for the story to come out on eBook in the past.

From the Forward (Pastward?)

By releasing this book for free on the Net, I’m hoping more people
will not only enjoy the story of how the international computer
underground rose to power, but also make the journey into the minds
of hackers involved. When I first began sketching out the book’s
structure, I decided to go with depth. I wanted the reader to
think, ’NOW I understand, because I too was there.’ I hope those
words will enter your thoughts as you read this electronic book.

http://suelette.home.xs4all.nl/underground/Underground.pdf
Copyright © 1997, 2001 Suelette Dreyfus & Julian Assange

I’m intending to spend a good deal of the day researching Australian Defamation laws involving politicians… because I dont have enough experience in that already.

[PDF] PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
Date Created: September 26, 2012  Date Modified: October 6, 2012

Yesturday the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security released the Hansard form the Potential reforms of national security legislation hearing. Im still reading thru it but I still feel the need to share as these potential reforms will change our information landscape.

There are many ways to classify things but there are perhaps three ways of classifying here. There is content such as telephone calls, which is at the top level, that requires the most privacy and the highest degree of scrutiny and a warrant before interception occurs. Then there is content such as short message services—text messages—which are short things, which of technological necessity will be retained for a short time and perhaps often will not be as private as spoken phone calls, although that may reflect my age. Then there is the metadata of which you speak, which, if I may draw an analogy, is a bit like a phone bill. I would think that many citizens would want far more privacy protections for the content of what they actually say on the telephone than for the contents of their phone bill. Privacy applies to both, but perhaps there is a need for a graded set of regulations that recognises the difference. I am certainly not arguing that telephone calls—people’s spoken words—and analogous things should be recorded at all. There is room for a short period of retaining some content data like SMSs—that would be the highest and there may be some lower forms of data. Metadata is in a different category altogether, one would think, when trying to strike the balance.

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/commjnt/142792da-77a8-4e0e-b340-5fd973466c32/toc_pdf/Parliamentary%20Joint%20Committee%20on%20Intelligence%20and%20Security_2012_09_26_1410.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

[PDF] Privacy and the internet: Australian attitudes towards privacy in the online environment
Date Created: May 2, 2012  Date Modified: May 2, 2012

Australian Policy Online released on Monday a document containing many statistics regarding Australian’s attitudes toward online privacy. Some key findings were:

  • 85% of online Australians believe data breach notification should be mandatory for business
  • Australians nominated identity theft (86%) and loss of financial data (83%) as their areas of greatest privacy concern.
  • The financial sector is most trusted on privacy (42%), followed by government and the eCommerce sectors
  • Social media is the least trusted industry on privacy (1%). In fact, 61% of respondents nominated the social media industry as having the worst privacy practices
  • Overall, women feel more secure than men online, and younger people (18-29 years old) feel more secure than older people (50+ years old)

I have yet to read the full text, so I will reserve any summation and/or analysis until I have.

The full PDF is available to download from the following URL:
http://apo.org.au/node/29266

New Media and Democracy: Wikileaks
Date Created: September 16, 2011  Date Modified: September 22, 2011

READERS NOTE: This was originally posted on my nolonger active Murdoch blog on May 2nd, 2010

Governments around the world all have sensitive information they would like kept out of the public record, this is of no surprise to anyone (tho the nature of some of that information most likely will!). Not all information governments suppress is related to military activities, however when strategic military information is “leaked” the governments respond to minimize the impact of the leak, this process is most likely to differ from nation to nation depending on the persuasion of the current regime.

However not all military information is of strategic importance. On april 5 of this year (2010) Wikileaks, a not-for-profit website specializing in distributing leaked “intel” from both private and government sources, posted a video online that they have labled “Collateral Murder”. The video is decrypted US military footage and has been confirmed as authentic, shot from on board a US military helicopter gunship.

The victims of this event are alleged to include two Reuters employees, Photo-journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh. Reuters had been trying to obtain a copy of the incident under the United States FOI (Freedom of Information) Act without sucsess. The video was leaked to wikileaks by sources within the US military.

There are a few issues here i would like to explore:

If the video was “classified” sensitive by the department of defense, then it would automatically be exempt from any FOI application, therefore anyone implicated in leaking the video is committing treason. Forget for a moment about the human toll and the fact that the occupation of Iraq was based on non-existent WMD’s, imagine this footage as if it were any other strategic intel–Is leaking classified military data a concern for the government, the answer: Absolutely. There are government departments whos sole task it is to make sure classified data does not enter the public domain.

This brings me to my next point; Accountability and transparency in the classification of sensitive material. This video was classified as sensitive, but by whom and for what reason? if it was classified for reasons that it might have a negative impact on the public’s perception of the military (or the Iraq conflict itself) then should governments be allowed to use their means to suppress said video? I dont think it should. If it were classified for reasons it might escalate tensions in the middle east resulting in more bloodshed?, the answer is less clear. Perhaps the video was classified because it highlighted the US military s poor level of combat training, and could be viewed by hostile forces wishing to learn weaknesses in air-to-ground combat situations? Surely if this were the reason it would be justified in its classification? there must be some transparency in this decision making process.

Due Process. If the alleged crime–which traditional media would have to call it as conviction had yet been handed down, was committed does its distribution to the world have any impact on the future court proceedings resulting?. Could defendants claim to not be given a fair trial because of how it were reported in the media, ie: wikileaks?. In criminal cases in Western Australia journalists have to adhere to certain rules so to not bias any possible jury selection. If this were a civilian killing another civilian the use of the URL using the word murder would be cause for possible mistrial. This case involves military combatants, who traditionally operate within their own legal framework. Perhaps the role of the military in this situation are in an illegal occupation, and therefore there may be criminal cases lodged on the soldiers at a later date?. If this is the case, has the incident made it impossible for the defendants to seek fair trial in such a case?.

You don’t conquer empires with army’s, you conquer them with ideas

On the other side of the coin is the humanitarian point of view. The video shows the killing of unarmed civilians by military combatants, a clear human rights abuse and war crime. Dont we need to make such human rights abuses public so to achieve justice for the victims and their families? Should all war footage be made available to a public so they can scrutinize the government? Is this a democratic “checks and balances” that we must have access to information regarding human rights abuses, so we can vote out culpable governments?.

Or has this incident highlighted that the role of governments must change now that we are a global communications village, sowing us that an un-just industrial-military machine has failed yet again and that the whole idea of armys and wars and governmnets are becoming obsolete in this digital age.

UPDATE

This Dateline (SBS TV) story about Wikileaks is worth a watch–its a shame I couldnt embedd the video.

Facebook and Privacy
Date Created: May 27, 2010  Date Modified: October 8, 2012

Online privacy in socila-networking sites has been a hot topic, not only amongst us technocrati, but also amongst the bizillions of plebs that use SNS.

my friends should know better

Its not just your friends that can see some of the stupid things you write on-line, but once its on the tubes its available for anyone (depending on computing competency) to view.

it is disturbing the amount of results returned when using ‘lego up my butt’ as a search string

Most people will often make harmless jokes (in poor taste), and yet not realise that they could be potentialy attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement…

LOLWOT!

Tho, there is a positive; the public’s complacancy on privacy could prevent future errors of judgemnet when researching (read: stalking) potential mates…

I wont be calling you tonight

But ultimatly we need to be aware of our privacy, and who is watching. Not everyone on the tubez is a pertty cool guy… and there can be often occasion to use a little common sence when it comes to SNS

ASIO really do know how to party!!!

UPDATE:

You can of course communicate with encryption so the general population might not know what your talking about–but code breakers in government departments are far better resourced than the lunatic conspiracy theorists below:

Encryption: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!