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We Need Sen. Wyden's Help to Fix the Broken, Anti-User Trade Negotiation Process - Thu, 21/08/2014 - 04:44

We have joined more than a hundred organizations and tens of thousands of individuals across the US to oppose secret, undemocratic trade agreements that affect users' rights. Together, we defeated a bill that would have put agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the fast track to approval without any proper Congressional oversight. Now the White House, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and other policymakers that are beholden to corporate interests are putting massive pressure on Congress to pass something like it again. They just face one problem: the Congress member with the mandate to introduce a new trade authority bill is a strong defender of digital rights and a vocal opponent to the secrecy that shrouds trade agreement. That is Senator Ron Wyden.

For years, Sen. Wyden has demanded more transparency in our trade negotiations. He has recognized that the US should not bind itself to deals whose agenda is dominated by big corporate interests at the expensive of Internet users' rights. He is now in the unique position to fix this broken, secretive process. But while the USTR works towards sealing the deal on the TPP, the Senator is under ever more pressure to lead the passage of a bill that would expedite trade agreements to approval.

Let's ask Sen. Wyden to bring transparency and accountability to trade negotiations once and for all.

They want him to introduce something like Fast Track (also known as Trade Promotion Authority). Under such a law, Congress hands to the president its own constitutional authority to oversee, debate, and set the agenda for US trade policy. When it was in place in the past, it created special rules that empowered the White House to negotiate and sign trade agreements without Congressional oversight. If enacted now, draconian Internet and copyright provisions, buried in omnibus treaties, could get passed with almost no oversight.

So how does Sen. Wyden fit into this? As the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee (which includes the subcommittee on international trade), he is in charge of overseeing congressional trade policies. That's why the White House and the USTR need him to pass a bill that would legitimize their back-room trade negotiations. Thankfully, Sen. Wyden has been an outspoken critic of the secrecy around these agreements. That's why over 25 leading tech companies sent him a public letter calling him to oppose Fast Track. In 2012, he sent a letter to the US Trade Rep calling them to release detailed information about provisions in the TPP that would impact Internet freedoms. He also introduced a bill to the floor in May 2012, demanding the USTR give Congress members full access to the TPP text—the same access afforded to representatives of corporations. In his statement at the hearing introducing this legislation, he said:

It may be the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) current job to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of the United States, but Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress—not the USTR or any other member of the Executive Branch—the responsibility of regulating foreign commerce. It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few.

And yet, Mr. President, the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement. As the Office of the USTR will tell you, the President gives it broad power to keep information about the trade policies it advances and negotiates, secret. Let me tell you, the USTR is making full use of this authority.

In the remainder of his statement, he describes how his staff was denied access to the negotiation text even after they had received proper security clearance. In introducing this legislation that summer in 2012, he wanted to make sure that Members of Congress and their staff could simply be afforded the same level of access to the negotiating texts of the TPP as corporate representatives.

So now, as a long time defender of digital rights in Congress, we call on Sen. Wyden to continue defending users' rights against big private interests, and ensure that users' interests are upheld, not trampled on. In our letter to the Senator, we outline some crucial fixes to the current negotiation process. If he is going to introduce a new version of trade authority, we want to make sure it has essential democratic procedures built into it to ensure that users' rights take a front seat in the trade policy debate.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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U.N. Free Expression Champion, Congressional Internet Defender, and Groundbreaking Counter-surveillance Artist Win EFF Pioneer Awards - Thu, 21/08/2014 - 04:18
EFF to Honor Former U.N. Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and artist Trevor Paglen at San Francisco Ceremony Featuring the Yes Men

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the distinguished winners of the 2014 Pioneer Awards: United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and groundbreaking counter-surveillance artist Trevor Paglen.

The award ceremony will be held the evening of October 2 at the Lodge at the Regency Center in San Francisco. Keynote speakers will be Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, better known as the Yes Men, who are known for their elaborate parodies and impersonations to fight government and corporate malfeasance

Frank La Rue is the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. From his appointment in 2008 to the end of his term in 2014, La Rue brought technology to the forefront of the fight for free expression around the world, declaring that access to the Internet is a fundamental human right and highlighting the importance of uncensored communication and anonymous speech in increasingly filtered and tracked networks. La Rue also fought the global "book famine" for people with visual and reading disabilities, advocating for an international Treaty of the Blind to reform over-restrictive copyright that hindered the production and distribution of books in accessible formats. Last year, La Rue published a highly influential report on the dangers of widespread state surveillance, arguing that privacy is an essential requirement for true freedom of expression. Before taking his post at the U.N., La Rue spent years working on human rights issues, including bringing genocide cases against the military dictatorship in his native Guatemala in 2000 and 2001.

For nearly 20 years, Rep. Zoe Lofgren has been a crucial voice in Congress on technology, innovation, and free speech—defending the free and open Internet, fighting for privacy and free speech, and blocking dangerous copyright laws while pushing for sensible alternatives. Lofgren rallied congressional opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), one of the defining moments of Internet activism. Currently, Lofgren is fighting to reform some of the worst legal threats to our digital rights: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates our email privacy with outdated standards; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been used to block phone unlocking, jailbreaking, and our freedom to tinker; and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law used to unfairly prosecute Aaron Swartz. Lofgren chairs the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, the largest delegation in Congress.

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work uses methods from science, journalism, and other disciplines in an attempt to "see" the historical moment we live in. Paglen's groundbreaking projects exposing government secrecy have included documenting U.S. government drone flights, using high-end optical systems to photograph top-secret governmental sites, and tracking classified spacecraft in Earth's orbit. In a recent project, Paglen photographed the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, releasing the images without restriction for public use. Paglen's visual art has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many other places. Paglen is also the author of five books, including Torture Taxi, an early look at the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

"Each of our Pioneer Award winners has helped the world understand how technology and civil liberties are interwoven into our lives, and each is still working to protect our freedom and fight abuses," EFF Executive Director Shari Steele said. "We are so proud to be able to present them with this year's Pioneer Awards."

Tickets to the Pioneer Awards, which includes access to the general reception and ceremony, are $65 for EFF members and $75 for non-members. Also available are tickets for a special, advance reception featuring some past and present Pioneer Award winners as well as keynoters, the Yes Men. The special advance reception tickets are $250, which includes entry for the ticket holder plus a guest.

Awarded every year since 1992, EFF's Pioneer Awards recognize the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees include Aaron Swartz, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, Tim Berners-Lee, and the Tor Project, among many others.

To buy tickets to the Pioneer Awards:


Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Colombia y México se Unirán para Editar Artículos sobre Derechos Digitales en Wikipedia - Wed, 20/08/2014 - 20:18

Traducido por Jacobo Najera, ContingenteMX

Sabado 23 de agosto, EFF participará junto a Wikimedia Mexico, Rancho Electronico, Contingente MX, Fundación Karisma, Panoptykon Foundation, Hackbo, Enjambre Digital, RedPaTodos and May First Mexico se uniran para editar y mejorar artículos en español relacionados con derechos digitales en Wikipedia. En la ciudad de México, el HackerSpace Rancho Electrónico será la sede para el "editatón", mientras que en Colombia el Hacko. Este evento será una colaboración entre dos hackerspaces en América Latina, en compañía con varias organizaciones de derechos digitales y los wikipedistas, que trabajarán en conjunto los contenidos en español, en las entradas relacionadas a los derechos digitales en Wikipedia.

Los editatones son maratones de edición de Wikipedia, en donde los participantes redactan y mejoran sus artículos. El objetivo de este maratón es que las personas aprendan cómo utilizar y mejorar los artículos de Wikipedia, así como contribuir con artículos sobre derechos digitales en la enciclopedia en Internet. Este evento es abierto al público y durará toda la tarde. ¡Si usted es mexicano o colombiano ayúdenos a expandir y mejorar Wikimedia en temas de derechos digitales en español! Encuentra más información sobre el editatón aquí.

Katitza Rodríguez y Leez Wright de la EFF estarán en Bogotá para este evento; acércate a ellas para un día de edición!

Cuándo: Sábado, 23 de agosto 2014 Hora: 3:00 pm (México y Bogotá)

Dónde: Rancho Electrónico / CriptoRally: Fray Juan de Torquemada 76 Entre Bolívar e Isabel La Católica, México DF

Hackbo: Cll 44 No 8-50 oficina 201 Barrio Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia

Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human Rights
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Failure in Cairo - Wed, 20/08/2014 - 19:50
Failure in Cairo
by Stephen Lendman
It didn't surprise. Failure was inevitable. Talks were dead on arrival. Israeli policy is hardline. It's all take and no give. 
Rogue terror states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst. It's a democracy in name only. 
It treats Palestinians like subhumans. It considers its Arab citizens fifth column threats. 
It ignores fundamental international laws. It violates them repeatedly. It does so unaccountably.
Its negotiators were told to maintain status quo conditions at all costs. Demand everything. Give little or nothing in return. 
Delay, make new demands, and deny Palestinians what they most want and deserve. Long denied justice remains elusive.
Hours before the midnight Tuesday deadline, Israeli officials said ceasefire talks collapsed. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon recalled their negotiators. 
They returned home. They might as well not have come. They had no intention of resolving things equitably. It's longstanding Israeli practice.
Talks ended in failure. It's back to square one. Israel bears full responsibility. 
In response, media reports said Palestinians fired several rockets at Israel. No Palestinian group admitted responsibility.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of sabotaging talks. "We don't have any information about firing rockets from Gaza," he said.
"The Israeli raids are intended to abort the negotiations in Cairo."
Hamas was automatically blamed. No corroborating evidence was cited. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner lied saying:
"Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip." 
"This continued aggression will be addressed accordingly by the IDF; we will continue striking terror infrastructure, pursuing terrorists, and eliminating terror capabilities in the Gaza Strip, in order to restore security for the State of Israel."
Israel's only enemies are ones it invents. Lerner didn't explain. Or that Israel deliberately sabotaged talks and unjustifiably blamed Hamas.
Israel responded as expected. Dozens of air strikes followed. Over 30 targets around Beit Lahiya, al-Zaytoun, Maghazi, Khan Yunis, Deir al-Balah, al-Qarara, Sheikh Radwan, Khuza, eastern Shujaiyya and Rafah were struck. 
The wife and child of Hamas al-Qassam Brigades commander Mousa Abu Marzouq were killed. He commented on Facebook, saying:
"The Israeli occupation took missiles from Gaza as a pretext to target a senior Hamas personality. The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter."
Another air strike targeted the al-Dalou Sheikh Radwan home. A woman and young girl were killed.
Another seven Palestinians were killed in Dier al-Balah. At least 40 others were injured so far. No Israeli casualties were reported.
An IDF statement said "(f)ollowing renewed rocket attacks at Israel earlier this evening, amid the ceasefire, the IDF is currently targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip."
"The IDF remains alert and maintains both defensive and striking capabilities in order to address the renewed aggression. The IDF is determined to defend the civilians of the State of Israel."
Palestinian delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed said his team would leave Cairo on Wednesday.
"We are leaving…but we have not pulled out of negotiations," he said. He awaits an Israeli response to a Palestinian truce proposal.
"We will not come back until Israel responds," he said. Senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq said Israel would "not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not."
Washington commented as expected. It supports Israel's killing machine. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said:
"We are very concerned about today's developments, condemn the renewed rocket fire, and as we have said, Israel has a right to defend itself against such attacks."
It bears repeating. So-called Israeli self-defense is naked aggression. Talks were dead on arrival. 
Israel denies Gazans what they most want. It wants suffocating siege conditions maintained. It wants what Gazans won't tolerate.
Fact: Operation Protective Edge was waged to maintain business as usual.
Fact: It was well-planned, cold, calculated, premeditated aggression.
Fact: Launching it had nothing to do with rockets from Gaza.
Fact: It had everything to do with denying Palestinians fundamental rights everyone deserves.
Fact: They include ending Gaza's siege, self-determination, and a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, free from Israeli occupation.
Fact: Hamas and other resistance responded to Israeli attacks.
Fact: They did so in self-defense.
Fact: They acted justifiably as international law allows.
Fact: Israel is a rogue terror state.
Fact: It bears full responsibility for high crimes against peace.
Fact: It willfully targets civilians.
Fact: Over 80% of Gazan casualties are civilians.
Fact: Lawless collective punishment is official Israeli policy.
Fact: Israel destroys non-military related targets illegally.
Fact: They include private homes, entire residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and mosques.
Fact: Israel uses Palestinians as human shields.
Fact: It blames Palestinians for its crimes.
Fact: It gets away with mass murder unaccountably.
It bears watching what follows failed talks. Will full-scale fighting resume? Will Israeli forces again invade? Will mass slaughter and destruction continue? 
Will many more Palestinians die? Will countless others suffer horrific injuries?
Will more families lose loved ones? Will husbands lose wives? Will wives lose husbands? Will children lose siblings and friends? Will entire families be slaughtered in cold blood?
Will world leaders keep turning a blind eye to Israel's high crimes against peace? Will long denied justice for Palestinians remain elusive?
Will horrendous Palestinian suffering continue? Will it be in vain? Will Israel remain unaccountable for genocidal crimes too great to ignore?
Will Washington for supporting Israel's killing machine? Will global efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel gain more traction than ever?
Will world public opinion do so? Will it be enough to matter? Will Palestinians achieve long denied justice? 
Will their liberating dream come true? Will decades of struggle end equitably? Will some day finally arrive? 
A Final Comment
In recent days, Israeli soldiers and settlers attacked dozens of West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians. 
This week alone, Israeli security forces kidnapped over two dozen Palestinians. At the same time, numerous home demolitions occurred. 
Israel routinely conducts multiple pre-dawn community incursions. Families are terrorized. Homes are ransacked. 
Property is damaged, destroyed or stolen. Family members are arrested.
The Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency estimates around 40% of Palestinian males are detained one or more times during their lives.
It's for praying to the wrong God and wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. 
Israel considers these criminal offenses. Rogue terror states operate this way. Israel and America have the world's worst human rights records. 
They're guilty of virtually every crime imaginable and then some. Their policies threaten humanity's survival.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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