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Obama's Computer Security Solution is a Mishmash of Old, Outdated Policy Solutions - Sat, 17/01/2015 - 03:36

The Obama Administration is on a roll with proposing legislation that endangers our privacy and security. Over the course of two days, President Obama proposed a cybersecurity bill that looks awfully similar to the now infamous CISPA (with respect to information sharing), a computer crime bill that is the opposite of our own proposed computer crime reform, and a data breach law weaker than the current status quo. All three of the bills are recycled ideas that have failed in Congress since their introduction in 2011. They should stay on the shelf.

Zombie Bill Dead in 2013, Stumbles from the Grave in 2015

Every year for the past four years we've seen at least one cybersecurity "information sharing" bill introduced in Congress. Unfortunately, those bills were deeply flawed: they were redundant, offered new authorities that could be abused by companies to spy on users, and offered broad legal immunity for disclosing the information obtained with the government. Sometimes they even granted companies the ability to "hack back." They were a perfect storm threatening our online privacy.

This time, it's not the House Intelligence Committee proposing the bill, but President Obama. And to the president’s credit, this bill doesn’t authorize or immunize any new monitoring or collection activity. But the administration's bill is still similar to CISPA as it grants broad legal immunity for transmitting "cyber threat indicators"—which could include your communications—to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and private sector information sharing hubs called information sharing and analysis organizations.

The president's press release is noticeably silent on why the current information sharing regimes aren't adequate. Companies can already share information through Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), public reports, private communications, and the DHS's Enhanced Cybersecurity Services. The bill is also peculiar since President Obama previously issued a veto threat against CISPA due to privacy concerns.

The proposal also mandates the Director of National Intelligence, Attorney General, and DHS to create privacy guidelines for collecting and sharing cyber threat indicators; however, we're skeptical the guidelines will provide any semblance of privacy, because even if they’re well crafted, there’s no way to know whether the guidelines are being followed or enforced.  Also, these are the same offices that were supposed to create "privacy protections" (aka minimization procedures) in the surveillance context. The result? Guidelines that are littered with loopholes to keep the very information the agencies aren't supposed to have: innocent users' personal information.

When The DOJ Says "Modernizing" They May Mean "We Can Charge a 10 Years Felony for Sharing Your HBO GO Password"

The Obama Administration also proposed to "modernize" the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the law notoriously used in the aggressive prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz. The Administration's proposal introduces ideas from May 2011 that—similar to information sharing bills—have been defeated year in and year out. It's shocking in light of the Aaron Swartz prosecution that the Administration is proposing to double, and in one case triple, the already draconian and redundant penalties under the CFAA.

Under the Administration's proposal, the Department of Justice could get creative and threaten up to 10 years in prison if you know your friend will use one of your passwords you shared with them—even if you have no “intent to defraud,” important limiting language the Administration wants removed from the statute.

What might be worse is that the Administration expands one of the bill's central definitions—"exceeds authorized access"—to include any access that the person may know the computer owner hasn't authorized. This radically changes the CFAA and makes it even more dangerous. This is contrary to rulings in both the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, which recognized that terms of service should not be enforced criminally.

Both provisions may chill the computer security research that is a central part of our best defense against computer crime.  First, the password clause expands the provision from criminalizing sharing passwords to sharing other “means of access,” while “having reason to know” it might be misused. Second, the expansion of the definition may impact researchers who commonly scan public websites to detect potential vulnerabilities. These researchers should not have to face a felony charge if a prosecutor thinks they should have known the site prohibited scanning. It a cause for concern as recent history has shown that aggressive prosecutors are willing to stretch the CFAA language. Vulnerability research and disclosure will be chilled, even if the researcher would ultimately win the trial.

The proposal is in direct contradiction to EFF's own proposal to reform the CFAA. Our reform ensures violations of contractual obligations like a website's terms of service are not the basis for criminal charges, clarifies key definitions in the CFAA, and makes the criminal penalties proportionate to the offense.

The Administration's Data Breach Proposal

President Obama also touched on data breaches. Consumers have a right to know when their data is exposed, whether through corporate misconduct, malicious hackers, or under other circumstances. But most states already have breach notification laws, so we think any legislation must be as strong as existing law and must preserve a state’s power to protect its own residents. President Obama's legislation fails on both accounts.

The legislation proposed by President Obama would force companies handling 10,000 or more customers' information (during a 12-month period) to disclose data breaches within 30 days. Companies are allowed a few exceptions to the disclosure, but will be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure they comply. In an attempt to normalize across the land, the law would trump all state data breach laws—including stronger ones—and allow the government to stop any action brought by a state attorney general.

Under California law, for example, businesses must provide notice of a breach “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay,” unless law enforcement determines that notification will impede a criminal investigation.  Companies must also notify the California Attorney General if over 500 users' unencrypted information is breached.

The Administration’s proposed standard is weak. Ideally, it would have proposed a “floor,” not a “ceiling,” allowing states like California to be more privacy protective and not depriving state attorneys general from being able to take meaningful action.

Recycled Ideas

As we mentioned in our initial reaction to the Administration's proposal, many of these ideas are recycled relics that should remain in the past. Before tackling information sharing bills, companies need to address the low-hanging security fruit like making sure passwords aren't sent in unencrypted emails and employees don't download malware. We also need more participation in the already existing information sharing regimes. When it comes to the CFAA, the administration has moved in the opposite direction as advocates. Prosecutions like the Aaron Swartz and Andrew Auernheimer case provide evidence for clarifying unauthorized access (and not expanding it) and decreasing the already draconian penalties (and not increasing them).

There is more work to be done to protect cyberspace and enhance computer security, but the Administration's proposals do not move us towards that goal, and could cause great harm, too.

Related Issues: Mass Surveillance TechnologiesPrivacyCyber Security LegislationComputer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform
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New Geopolitical/Financial Bombshells - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 22:19
New Geopolitical/Financial Bombshells
by Stephen Lendman
January began with a bang. Oil and other key commodity prices keep heading south. Suggesting economic weakness.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) provides "an assessment of the price of moving major raw materials by sea. Measuring demand for shipping capacity v. the supply of bulk carriers."
Demand depends on amounts of cargo being shipped. Less demand, lower the index. From Thanksgiving to December 19, BDI fell 40%. 
Zero Hedge called it the fastest ever post-Thanksgiving collapse. Declines continued into January. Down to 749 from a one-year 1,621 high. Reflecting economic weakness.
Yesterday, Switzerland's central bank (SNB) stunned markets. Scrapping a three-year euro/franc peg. Sending the Swiss currency soaring against the euro.
Hammering Swiss stocks on fears of harming the nation's export-dependent economy. Especially to Eurozone countries.
Days earlier, SNB officials called the 1.20 euro/franc cap a policy cornerstone. No longer. The Swiss franc spiked 30% before giving back some gains.
Its equity market plunged 8.7%. After being down as much as 14%. Its one-day loss the equivalent of a 1,500 point Dow drop. 
The euro fell to $1.16 to the dollar. An 11-year low. Gold rose $30 an ounce.
Societe Generale currency strategist Kit Juckes said SNB's "move sees a major buyer of the euro leave the building and opens the way for further/faster euro weakness."
"It will trigger further broad-based dollar strength as a result and this in turn has already been reflected in a revival of risk aversion, and increase in market volatility."
SNB pushed its main interest rate further into negative territory. By 50 basis points to - 0.75%.
The Financial Times said "(a)ll Swiss government bill rates and bond yields with maturities up to eight years traded below zero Thursday."
Swiss fixed income investors have to pay for the privilege of owning them.  IFR Markets global strategist Divyang Shah said:
"What the SNB actions show is that policy action seems to be migrating from QE/zero interest rate policy toward negative interest rate policy, as central banks attempt to make holding cash unattractive."
"We are in an environment where markets are still willing to hold safe haven assets, even at a low or negative yield as preservation of capital dominates."
Gold rising to a four-month high is one example. Whether it keeps gaining value remains to be seen. Years of US-led Western market manipulative naked short selling keeps its price suppressed.
US bonds rose. The benchmark 10-year Treasury down 9 basis points to 1.74%. The equivalent maturity German Bund hit a record 0.40% low. Before closing at 0.42%.
The dollar is at a nine-year high. Money and Markets analyst Mike Larson called Thursday unlike anything he previously saw in currency markets.
SNB's move was a complete surprise. Saying one thing days earlier. Doing another. Supposedly to prevent Swiss deflation.
Larson called SNB's policy shift "just the kind of 'shock and awe' move that can change trends in a big way!"
It "puts one stake in" dollar strength, he believes. It shows "(y)ou can't trust central bankers further than you can throw them."
They promise one thing. Renege at their discretion. "(A) destabilizing force" and then some, said Larson.
SNB's move hammered currency traders betting the wrong way. US-based FXCM and New Zealand-based Excel Markets said they "can no longer meet the regulatory minimum capitalization requirements."
Because of "significant" client losses - $225 million for FXCM. Excel Markets said it "will not be able to resume business…Client positions will be closed within the next hour."
Watch for more fallout ahead. Analyst Bruce Krasting said he wrote about SNB abandoning its euro peg twice in December. 
Again last Sunday. Still he was "blown away" by SNB's move. Its chairman promised "unlimited" support for the peg.
He "folded on his promise like a cheap suit in the rain. When push came to shove, (he) failed to deliver," said Krasting.
Expect Switzerland to fall rapidly into recession, he added. A $100 billion SNB loss is likely, he believes.
Around 20% of Swiss GDP. Equivalent to a $2 trillion US loss.
Perhaps the worst is yet to come. "There will be reports of big losses and gains from today's events," said Krasting. 
"But that is a side show to the real story. We have just witnessed the collapse of a promise by a major central bank."
The Fed, ECB, Bank of England and Bank of Japan made lots of promises. "The entire world" believed in central bank omnipotence.
We now know these emperors have no clothes. "Anyone who continues to believe in the All Powerful CB after (Thursday) is a fool," said Krasting.
ECB's Mario Draghi is next in focus. He promised to "do anything, in any amount" to support markets.
"(Y)ou would have to be a fool to" believe him, said Krasting. The same thing holds for other major central bankers.
"We've just taken a huge leap into chaos. The linchpin of the capital markets has been the trust in the CBs. The market's anchors have now been tossed overboard."
SNB's move was one of two major Thursday surprises. Itar Tass announced the other. 
Saying Gazprom henceforth will only supply gas to Europe via Turkey's gas pipeline. A proposed under the Black Sea link. Gas currently delivered via Ukraine.
Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller called the Turkish Stream "the sole route." It can supply 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
Affected European countries must now create their own "transport infrastructure from" the Turkish an Greek borders, said Miller.
"They have a maximum of several years for this. This is a very tight schedule," he added. 
"To comply with it, work for the construction of new trunk gas pipelines should be started in EU countries right now. Otherwise, these gas volumes may be redirected to other markets."
On December 1, Vladimir Putin announced South Stream gas pipeline plans rescinded. Because of "unconstructive" EU policies, said Tass.
Including Bulgaria halting construction on its territory. Tass cited Putin saying Russia will build a gas pipeline to Turkey. Establishing a "gas hub" on its border with Europe.
Zero Hedge cited Britain's Daily Mail saying Putin ordered cutting supplies to and through Ukraine.
Accusing Kiev's government of stealing Russian gas. Gazprom's move "cut gas exports to Europe by 60% plunging the continent into an energy crisis 'within hours,' " said Zero Hedge.
Ukraine confirmed Russia's cutoff. So did other European countries. Including Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey. 
EU officials called Moscow's move "completely unacceptable." Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said "the decision has been made."
According to Ukraine's Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky:
Russia "reduced deliveries to 92 million cubic meters per 24 hours compared to the promised 221 million cubic meters without explanation."
"We do not understand how we will deliver gas to Europe. This means that in a few hours problems with supplies to Europe will begin."
Putin is a world-class geopolitical leader. A master chess player. US-led attempts to isolate Russia aren't working. Nor will they.
His move followed earlier decisions.  Notably trading more in rubles instead of dollars. Establishing stronger than ever Sino/Russian ties. 
Ones with other BRICs countries. Other Asian, South American and African ones.
Establishing Russia's own international interbank system by spring 2015. Independent of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication)."
A financial transactions payment and clearing system. Tass reported Moscow and Beijing discussing a joint SWIFT alternative.
In September, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov announced it. Including establishing a joint Sino/Russian ratings agency. Independent from S & P, Moody's and Fitch.
Breaking free from US-controlled IMF/World Bank/other international lending agencies' hegemony is potentially huge if succeeds.
Russia and China both want their currencies replacing dollars in world trade. Increasing de-dollarization strikes at the heart of US unipolarity. Dollar hegemony its linchpin.
The impact of Thursday's bombshells is potentially huge. A likely game-changer. Expect market volatility to replace stability.
Putin no longer supplying gas through Ukraine means affected European countries have to scramble for alternatives.
Call it his revenge. It's high he acknowledges so-called Western partners are adversaries. Especially America. Hell bent to oust him.
European countries foolishly going along with US policies harm their own self-interest. Paul Craig Roberts discussed what's ongoing on Thursday's Progressive Radio News Hour.
On his web site he wrote:
"(I)t sounds like the Russians have had enough of the dumbshits in Washington and (its) dumbshit vassals in Europe."
Perhaps Europeans will have to freeze to death this winter to awaken them to their damn fool policies. At issue is will they change? Don't bet on it.
On Wednesday, Reuters said EU foreign chief Federica Mogherini "suggested EU states could re-engage with Russian on global diplomacy, trade and other issues in return for gradual steps to defuse the crisis over Ukraine."
On the one hand, maintaining sanctions. On the other, continuing to wrongfully blame Russia for Ukrainian crisis conditions as a strategy to get it to accept US-led Western hegemony.
Fact: Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Fact: Britain, France, Germany and other EU countries share it.
Fact: Beginning with having orchestrated the ouster of Ukraine's democratically elected government.
Fact: Replacing it with neo-Nazi putschists. Criminals in lieu of legitimate political officials.
Fact: Russia is the only country going all-out to resolve crisis conditions diplomatically.
Fact: Including ending Kiev aggression against its own Donbas citizens.
Mogherini represents Western imperial interests. Anti-Russian ones. Her reengagement notion implies unconditional surrender.
Getting Putin to accept US unipolarity. Abandon Russian sovereignty. Bow to Washington's will. Capitulate to its demands.
Russian sovereign independence is too precious to lose. Sino/Russian unity is hugely important. What Washington fears most.
The most significant force for world peace. Multi-world polarity. Weakening America's imperium. 
Maybe eventually ending it altogether. It can't happen a moment too soon. 
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Government Releases Documents About Spying Just in Time for Christmas - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 09:47

We’re usually very happy to see the government release documents shed light on unconstitutional surveillance. We’re less happy when the release is done Christmas week, in an attempt to ensure that they will get as little attention as possible.

That’s what happened this Christmas. On December 23, the National Security Agency (NSA) released over a decade’s worth of oversight reports from the NSA to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board—documents that should have been released years ago pursuant to a FOIA lawsuit brought by EFF. And on December 24, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General released  “A Review of the FBI's Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006” [pdf], a document that had been previously released with more redactions.[1]

These releases encompass hundreds of pages. And while much of what they contain is routine reporting, they also contain some frank assessments of how the government has used surveillance tools to violate rights.

Review of FBI’s use of Section 215 Orders

This document, an Inspector General assessment of how the FBI uses Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (the provision that the NSA uses to collect all telephone call records), was previously released in 2008. It was heavily redacted. This new version has a few new unredacted tidbits. It also has an entire appendix that had been completely classified, that describes the inception of the NSA’s telephone call records program.

This newly declassified appendix doesn’t contain much that we didn’t already know. But it is fascinating to read the description of the shift from President Bush’s surveillance program to the use of Section 215 orders:

For several reasons, including the public disclosure of one aspect of the NSA program in a December 2005 New York Times article, the government decided to seek collection of the telephone call-detail records under the authority of FISA and cease collection under the Presidentially-authorized NSA program.

Originally, every single reference to how the FBI uses Section 215 to assist to foreign governments was redacted. In this report they appear in several places, for instance:

  • Records for assistance to a foreign government are “processed pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.”
  • The FBI assisted a foreign government by providing it with fraudulent identification used by a surveillance target, as well as “other evidence to be used in a potential criminal prosecution.” The OIG looked closely at this because it raised an issue of whether the records were relevant to a national security investigation (something required for Section 215 orders).
  • The FBI initiates 215 orders for foreign governments.


The second piece of the report addresses what the OIG calls:

[A] noteworthy item. In this case, the FISA Court had twice declined to approve a Section 215 application based on First Amendment concerns. However, the FBI subsequently issued NSLs for information [redacted] even though the statute authorizing the NSLs contained the same First Amendment restriction as Section 215 and the EOs authorizing the NSLs relied on the same facts contained in the Section 215 applications.

Highlights added to show originally redacted sections

The report goes on to describe this particular situation. Much of the description has been redacted wholesale, but combined with the newly unredacted pieces, a concerning story emerges. The FBI wanted information, and determined that it would get that information, regardless of the FISA court or DOJ’s opinion:

The Section 215 request was presented to the FISA Court [twice]. On both occasions the Court declined to approve the application and order…… [DOJ] e-mails state that the FISA Court decided that "the facts were: too 'thin' and that this request implicated the target's First Amendment rights."

Previously unredacted sections reinforce the story revealed by these new pieces:

The former Acting Counsel for Intelligence Policy stated that there is a history of significant pushback from the FBI when OIPR questions agents about the assertions included In FISA applications. The OIPR attorney assigned to Section 215 requests also told us that she routinely accepts the FBI's assertions regarding the underlying investigations as fact and that the FBI would respond poorly if she questioned those assertions.

This doesn’t sound like an agency committed to maintaining civil liberties. It sounds like an agency that is, predictably, concerned with completing investigations. And it should be incredibly disturbing to think that attorneys responsible for dealing with FISA applications would be concerned about pushback from the agency it is supposed to be acting as counsel for.

One other noteworthy tidbit: The report unredacts a footnote that states that some 215 order applications to the FISA court are approved without a DOJ attorney ever showing up in court.

NSA Oversight Reports

The newly released NSA oversight reports span over a decade and include hundreds of pages of combined annual reports for 2007-2010, and quarterly reports from 2001-2013. Executive Order 12333 requires the NSA to report intelligence activities they have reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive Order or Presidential Directive to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board. The government released the reports in response to Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. (Of course, EFF filed a FOIA lawsuit for these same documents back in 2009, but we received almost nothing of substance from NSA back then.)

The first notable thing about these reports is that nearly every single number has been redacted. For example, several of the reports contained standardized charts listing numbers of US person identities disseminated by the NSA. The content of these charts is redacted. Similarly, all information regarding computer network exploitation is redacted.

However, the reports still contain sufficient information to see patterns of problems in the NSA. One issue that comes up repeatedly is the failure to stop collection on numbers in a timely manner, due to lack of communication, confusion, or software problems. Similarly, the reports outline myriad instances of ostensibly accidental misuse of databases, including problems as mundane as accidentally sending a print job containing classified information to an office with individuals not authorized to see it.

This is important not because anyone expects the NSA to be completely mistake free. It’s important because it gives yet another reason why the NSA simply shouldn’t be collecting so much data—no matter what systems are in place, mistakes happen. People who are not supposed to see information see it. Analysts and other employees will, and do, make mistakes.

But of course, accidental misuse isn’t the only problem. The reports outline several places where systems are misused to target family members or partners. They correspond to descriptions of these incidents in a letter sent to Senator Chuck Grassley in response to his questions about misuse:

  • A soldier in a U.S. Army used the SIGINT (signals intelligence) system to target his wife, who was also a soldier.
  • “An NSA employee used the SIGINT system to target his foreign girlfriend.”
  •  An NSA analyst “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting.”

And finally, an interesting tidbit in the 2001 report: Several incidents of “improper retrieval strategies” happened “in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks when rumors were rife that the rules governing SIGINT collection were going to be suspended.” While no one disputes how horrifying the 9/11 attacks were, that doesn’t change the fact that the rules that limit government impingement on civil liberties exist precisely for situations where the government would be tempted to overstep its bounds.

The rules may not have been suspended after 9/11, but these newly released documents make one thing clear: the Government is clearly not fully capable of following the rules in the first place.

[1] The government also released an earlier report on the FBI’s use of Section 215 orders.

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Which Apps Protect Against Verizon and Turn's Invasive User Tracking? - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 08:52

Research from Stanford's Jonathan Mayer and ProPublica has shown that Verizon's undeleteable UIDH mobile tracking header is being used by advertising and tracking company to respawn deleted cookies. The only complete protection from being tracked by Verizon's injected headers is to follow the advice in Verizon's privacy policy, and not use their product at all:

If you do not want information to be collected for marketing purposes from services such as the Verizon Wireless Mobile Internet services, you should not use those particular services.

But if you're trapped in a contract with Verizon Wireless, you may not be able to switch to another carrier. If that's the case, here's a review of which mobile apps (and desktop software, if you tether) will and won't protect you against UIDH and's zombie cookies.

Which mobile apps protect you against Verizon and Turn?

We tested the following common mobile browsers and privacy apps:

App/browser Platform Protects against Verizon? Protects against Turn? AdAway Android (rooted) No Yes AdBlock Firefox for Android No Yes AdBlock Plus Android (rooted) or Firefox for Android No Yes Chrome Android or iOS No No Disconnect Pro Android or iOS Yes Yes Firefox Android No No Ghostery Privacy Browser Android (iOS not tested) No No (yes if you press the "block" switch) HTTPS Everywhere Firefox for Android Partial Partial (blocks cookie respawning)1 Orbot + Orweb Android (root recommended) Yes Yes Onion Browser iOS Yes Yes Safari iOS No Yes (if you're careful)2 VPNs (eg Bitmask or any other privacy-friendly VPN) Any Yes Yes

Methodology: we installed each tool in its default configuration, and tested whether Turn was able to respawn its uid cookies after deletion in most situations.

Which desktop software protects you against Verizon and Turn?

If you tether your laptop to a Verizon device, or use a Verizon WiFi or USB mobile Internet connection, your laptop will be subject to non-consensual UIDH injection and tracking. Most of the mobile apps above are also available in desktop versions, but there are a few additional options:

Software/browser Platform Protects against Verizon? Protects against Turn? Internet Explorer Windows, OS X No No Privacy Badger Firefox, Chrome No Yes Tor Browser Bundle Windows, Linux, OS X Yes Yes

If you use Internet Explorer, you might consider a Tracking Protection List. Some of these help, others make the problem worse:

Tracking Protection List Platform Protects against Verizon? Protects against Turn? Abine TPL IE 9+ No Yes EasyList TPL IE 9+ No Yes EasyPrivacy TPL IE 9+ No No3 Privacy Choice -- all companies IE 9+ No Yes Privacy Choice -- companies without NAI oversight IE 9+ No No TRUSTe TPL IE 9+ No No (makes the problem worse!4) Who needs to do better?

Some major take-aways about the software that does, and doesn't protect you:

  • Of the major browsers, only Safari offers even partial protection by default. Firefox, which has talked about offering better protection for its users, hasn't delivered anything practical yet.
  • Amongst the ad- and tracker-blocking software, the results were surprising. Disconnect Pro, which includes both VPNs and tracker blocking, is a strong option, though it requires a subscription fee after a free trial period. Software like AdBlock, AdAway and AdBlock Plus, which don't claim to be privacy tools, or which require manual reconfiguration to block trackers, nonetheless protected their users against Turn. Ghostery, which claims to be a privacy tool, doesn't offer any protection by default! 5 EFF's own Privacy Badger works as expected, but isn't available on mobile yet (you can help out here!).
  • The Google Play Store on Android has censored the apps that offer the most effective protection. Google needs to reverse this disastrous anti-user and anti-privacy decision, or be held accountable for Verizon and Turn's predation on their users.
  • Defeating Turn's tracking is comparatively easy: users can (and are advised to) block all requests to Turn's domains. Verizon's practices are both more a more profound violation of trust — we need to trust our ISPs as much as we trust our priests — and harder to protect against. If for some reason you need to use the Verizon Wireless network, encrypting your requests so Verizon can't tamper with them is the only answer, and currently Tor, VPNs, and (for partial but continuous protection) HTTPS Everywhere are the only answers.

Update: 2015-01-15: tl;dr this post was updated to shorten the introduction.

  • 1. HTTPS Everywhere prevents Verizon from injecting tracking headers, but only for sites that it upgrades to HTTPS. Because it covers, it should prevent Turn from ever receiving UIDH headers.
  • 2. If you ever click on a link to, even accidentally, Safari will allow third party cookies from that site.
  • 3. The EasyPrivacy blocklist appears to have been designed to work in addition to EasyList, but this is likely to confuse many users. This is true both for the ABP and TPL versions of these lists.
  • 4. The TRUSTe TPL whitelists some trackers that receive Turn's respawned cookies via a sync API. It is therefore appears dangerous to install the TRUSTe TPL
  • 5. The Ghostery mobile app is somewhat better, in that it at least makes tracker blocking a prominent option. But we fear that most Ghostery desktop users think they're being protected when they are not.
Related Issues: PrivacyDo Not Track
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EFF and CDT Tell FEC: Don't Increase Regulation of Online Speech - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 06:48

Today, EFF and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) filed joint comments to the FEC, urging the agency to leave its current Internet rules in place. As we blogged about earlier this week, the FEC is considering whether or not to develop new Internet rules. But as we note in our earlier post—and in our comments to the FEC—increased regulation of the Internet could chill speech and harm privacy and anonymity.

Increased regulation of online political speech may also undermine two goals of campaign finance reform: protecting freedom of political speech and expanding political participation. As we explain in our comments:

Unlike political advertisements in the offline world, the Internet is not merely a tool of the wealthy political elite. Ordinary individuals can purchase Internet ads, create YouTube videos, and post banners on their personal websites to express support for particular candidates or parties—all for little or no cost. Extending campaign finance regulation to free and low-cost Internet speech will discourage individual citizens from engaging in such forms of political expression. Campaign finance rules should encourage—not discourage—participation in the online political debate.

As an organization dedicated to transparency, we appreciate the value in increasing public understanding of how money influences elections. However, we do not have confidence that the FEC can increase its regulation of online speech without harming free speech, privacy, and anonymity.

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymityBloggers' Rights
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Tell Congress: Do No Harm on Net Neutrality - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 05:35
Tell Congress: Do No Harm on Net Neutrality

Don't let Team Cable sneak FAKE Net Neutrality through Congress.

Take Action Now!
Categories: Aggregated News

Escalated Wat on Islam - Fri, 16/01/2015 - 03:37
Escalated War on Islam
by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam. Injustice triumphed. So did hate and fear. Muslims are fair game.
US targets of choice. Britain, France, Germany and other Western partners march in lockstep against them.
Waging phony war on terror. Pretext for state terror. Against targeted Muslim counties, groups and individuals.
After last week's Paris killings, Le Monde headlined "Le 11 Septembre Francais." Saying US history was "before (and) after 9/11."
For France it's "before (and) after 1/7." An accompanying article said anti-Islamic protests erupted in Paris, Dresden and other European cities. 
Muslims are vilified for their faith and ethnicity. Expect more violence to follow. Manipulated by Western interests. With dirty CIA and Mossad hands involved.
French authorities arrested dozens extrajudicially. Outrageously accused of "glorifying terrorism." By exercising their free expression right.
Law Professor Jonathan Turley said so-called French support for freedom features crackdowns on free speech.
"If the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws" threatening free expression with "criminal prosecution."
"(N)ews (reports) indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre."
Only government allowed speech is OK. France and other Western countries are "falling out of faith with free speech, which is now something to be prosecuted rather than protected," said Turley.
France's National Assembly voted 488 to 1 to escalate air strikes on IS. Perhaps authorizing them against Syria is next. Partnered with other US-dominated NATO allies. 
IS and other Takfiris are the pretext. Assad's government the target. Regime change the objective.
France's "11 Septembre" assures escalated imperial wars. Stepped up homeland repression. Militarized for extra harshness. 
Calls for increased surveillance. Curtailed free speech, privacy and other fundamental rights. 
Banned online encryption. Anything goes replacing constitutional governance. Infesting Europe.
US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying: "Recent world events call for increased vigilance at home."
Code language for more congressional repressive legislation. Militarizing America more than ever. 
Abolishing constitutionally protected freedoms altogether in the name of national security. Waging greater war on humanity.
Muslims more than ever are in the eye of the storm. No matter that Paris killings were less about terrorism and more about false flag deception.
State terrorism. Using Kouarchi brothers and Coulibaly as convenient patsies. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Charlie Hebdo killings "a war on civilization."
Blaming Muslims for "barbarity." Ignoring French involvement in US-led NATO aggression. Murdering millions of Muslims.
Mostly defenseless men, women and children. Media scoundrels marching in lockstep with imperial lawlessness.
Ignoring genocidal high crimes. Feigning concern about 17 French deaths. "(D)efending the (selective) right to offend," said Media Lens
Western offensiveness against Muslims. The other way around called terrorism.
"The Western tendency to act with ruthless, overwhelming violence is, of course, a key reason why" some Muslims retaliate, said Media Lens.
"(W)e live in a time when a 'war for civilization' is seen as something more than a grotesque contradiction in terms."
Perhaps the bloodiest modern attack on European journalism occurred on April 23, 1999. 
US-led NATO bombed Serbian state radio and television. An act of cold-blooded murder.
Killing 16. Injuring 16 others. Victims included an editor. Program director. Cameraman. Make-up artist. Three security guards. Other support staff.
Additional media outlets throughout Serbia were attacked. Amnesty International called bombing iits state media "a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime."
A Pentagon spokesman outrageously called it "part of Milosevic's murder machine…right up there with security forces and the military."
It bears repeating. When Muslims retaliate against crimes harming their lives and wellbeing, it's called terrorism. 
US-led NATO raping Yugoslavia was called liberating it. Terror bombings reflect longtime US strategy.
Willfully targeting civilians. Killing them in cold blood. In all US wars. Post-9/11, murdering millions of Muslims.
Journalists are prime targets. In November 2001, US air strikes targeted Al Jazeera's Kabul, Afghanistan satellite TV station.
In April 2003, a US tank shelled Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. Where many foreign journalists were based.
Striking a 14th floor balcony. Sky News journalist David Chater was in the hotel at the time.
Saw the tank aiming in his direction before firing. Asking at the time how Western journalists could continue working if US forces targeted them.
American bombs killed Al Jazeera's cameraman Tareq Ayoub. Injured a Reuters reporter, photographer, technician and cameraman.
In July 2011, US-led NATO bombed Libyan media in Tripoli. Killing three media workers. Injuring 21 others
When US-led NATO warplanes commit cold-blooded murder, it's called liberating oppressed people. Humanitarian intervention. Responsibility to protect.
Making the world safe for plunderers ready to take full advantage. When Muslims defend themselves, they're called cold-blooded killers.
When Israel murders over 2,200 mostly Palestinian civilians, injures thousands more, turns large parts of Gaza to rubble, it's called self-defense.
Including willfully targeting and murdering 17 Palestinian journalists. Preventing them from reporting Israeli atrocities.
Bad guys are them. Not us. Western reports on Charlie Hebro killings are one-sided and then some. Hypocrisy taken to a higher level.
In France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Israel, holocaust denial is criminalized.
If Western media mock or vilify Islam, it's OK. Muslims are targets of choice.
Imperial wars rage against them. Homeland repression targets them. Expect worse ahead post-Charlie. Across Europe. In America.
Media scoundrels hype nonexistent threats. On January 14, Wall Street Journal editors headlined "France's War on Terror." 
Instead of explaining its war OF terror. Against Muslims. Anyone legitimately against lawless state policy. Exercising their free expression right to say so.
Not according to Journal editors. Hyping the need to defend against "Islamist terror." Applauding France's response. 
Turning the country into a militarized armed camp. Likely with orders to shoot to kill resisters. Mass arrest others. 
Imprison them for exercising their democratic rights. What free societies champion.
French legislation being drafted eviscerates them. Bravo, say Journal editors. Keep "boost(ing) counterterrorism capabilities."
Forget about longstanding rule of law principles. Ones all free societies respect. Protecting monied interests from political, economic and social justice matters more.
"To prevent future attacks, the French government should do more," said Journal editors. Maybe they have criminalizing all Muslims in mind. Targeting them for praying to the wrong God.
"Effective counterterrorism requires some civil-liberties trade-offs," say Journal editors. Benjamin Franklin once said sacrificing freedom for security assures losing both.
"(H)omicidal violence…is the hallmark of radical Islam, Journal editors claim. Genocidal slaughter is the "hallmark" of US-led NATO aggression. 
Waging permanent wars. Against one country after another. Killing millions. Destroying nations. Turning them to rubble. Don't expect Journal editors to explain.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Defiant Charlie Hebdo - Thu, 15/01/2015 - 21:04
Defiant Charlie Hebdo
by Stephen Lendman
The satirical French publication normally has a circulation of around 60,000. USA Today said its latest edition has a three million copy run. 
Some reports said five million. Maybe more given heavy demand. Copies are being distributed worldwide, said AP. In 16 languages. Saying "readers in France mobbed newsstands…"
"…European newspapers reprinted (its) cartoons as a gesture of solidarity." Red Eye Chicago said local booksellers are scrambling for copies.
Almost impossible to find locally where this writer lives and perhaps elsewhere across America. Red Eye said limited numbers could arrive by Friday.
Controversy stalks the issue. The cover again features the Prophet Muhammad. Holding a sign saying Je Suis Charlie.
Muslim groups expressed anger. Insulting their religion again, they said. Especially at a sensitive time. 
Many Muslims believe depicting the Prophet is forbidden. Others feared the new cover may trigger more violence.
Cairo Al-Azhar Grand Sheik Abbas Shumann called CH's new cover "a blatant challenge to the feelings of Muslims who had sympathized with this newspaper."
At the same time, he urged Muslims worldwide to ignore it. "(B)y "showing tolerance, forgiveness and shedding light on the story of the Prophet."
Reacting angrily "will not solve the problem but will instead add to the tension and the offense to Islam."
Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Murad Abaileh called CH's new cover "offensive" to the Prophet. At the same time condemning last week's killings.
Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry spokesman Hossein Noushabadi strongly condemned CH's new cover.
Saying "(t)he West has misinterpreted the concept of the freedom of speech. (It) does not mean sacrilege of the sanctities of a religion or its prophet."
"Desecration of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is a big sin and no Muslim would accept such a behavior."
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham condemned last week's killings. Calling violence against innocent people anti-Islamic.
So are misuses of "freedom of expression, ideological extremism and character assassination of respectful figures of religions and nations, as well as insulting divine faiths and their values and symbols which are respected by those religions," she said.
"(I)appropriate and double standard policies in dealing with violence and extremism have led to the spread of those actions and behaviors." 
She stressed President Hassan Rohani's idea of a world free from violence and extremism.
Urged one free from double standards. One of the leading causes of violent extremism. State-sponsored. Notably from Western countries.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a world of differing cultures, "sanctities need to be respected."
"I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogue, serious debate about our differences and then what we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us."
Egyptian cartoonist Makhlouf suggested a CH cover with an ordinary regional man carrying a placard reading "I am an artist."
"I am for art and against killing," he added. "May God forgive everyone."
Anjem Choudary chaired the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He served as spokesman for the now banned Islam4UK organization. 
Targeted for his anti-Western activism. Opposition to Britain's involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Heavily criticized by UK media.
He denounced CH's new edition. Called it an "act of war." A "blatant provocation." Many mainstream Muslim organizations expressed outrage.
Egypt's Dar al-Ofta called it "an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 million Muslims." It'll "result in a new wave of hatred in French and Western society."
"What the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence and the cultural dialogue Muslims aspire to."
According to AP , threats appeared on militant web sites. Urging protests against CH. French Muslim leaders urged calm.
Suburban Paris Gennevilliers mosque administrator Abdelbaki Attaf said "(w)hat is uncomfortable for us is the representation of the Prophet."
"Any responsible Muslim will find it hard to accept that. But we shouldn't ban it."
"The French Council of the Muslim Religion and Union of French Islamic Organizations released a joint statement.
Urging Muslims to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions…incompatible with…dignity…while respecting freedom of opinion."
CH's lawyer Richard Malks said the publication won't "back down. Otherwise none of this has any meaning."
"If you hold the banner 'Je suis Charlie,' that means you have the right to blaspheme. You have the right to criticize my religion."
There's a time and place for everything. Depicting France's Black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira as a monkey was hugely offensive. Way out of line. Unacceptable.
Tensions following last week's killings run high. Mosques in France were attacked. 
Anti-Islamic protests erupted in Paris, Dresden and European cities. Muslims are vilified for their faith. Perhaps more violence will follow.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged defending "our beloved Prophet…Exemplify his true ideals."
"Muslims…believe in freedom of speech. (T)hey respect the right of people to say what they believe…"
"However, freedom of speech should not be translated in to a duty to offend." Mutual respect matters.
MCB stressed the "merciful character of the Prophet. Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond."
The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
"Just as Charlie Hebdo has the right to publish, we have the right to peacefully challenge negative portrayals of our religious figures."
"The answer to speech one disagrees with should not be violence, but should instead be more speech promoting tolerance and mutual understanding.”
Charlie is a privately operated French satirical weekly. Featuring irreverent/noncomforist cartoons, reports, polemics and humor.
According to its deceased editor Stephane Charbonnier, its editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism and even abstainers." 
It began publishing in 1970. Ceased in 1981. Reemerged in 1992. Publishes on Wednesdays. Including unscheduled special editions like its latest. 
Gerard Biard replaced the deceased Charbonnier as editor-in-chief. CH's name is derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie. 
Later renamed Charlie Mensuel (Charlie Monthly). It took its name from the Peanuts' character Charlie Brown. 
CH is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, Paris' Grand Mosque sued then editor Philipe Val for blaspheming Islam. 
Three cartoons were cited. One showed the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. An acquittal followed.
In July 2008, a column by cartoonist Sine (Maurice Sinet) cited a news item saying the son of then President Nicolas Sarkozy intended to convert to Judaism before marrying his Jewish heiress finance.
"He'll go far, this lad," Sine observed. Was fired days later. Sued unsuccessfully for unfair dismissal. But was awarded 90,000 euros in damages.
CH's February 2006 edition featured the title "Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalist." Showing a cover cartoon of a weeping Muhammad saying "it's hard being loved by jerks."
At the time, then French President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations." Inflaming passions, he said. 
Adding "(a)nything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided."
Future presidents Sarkozy and Francois Hollande expressed support for freedom of expression.
On November 2, 2011, CH's office was fire-bombed. Its web site hacked. After its special edition called "Charia Hebdo." 
The Prophet Muhammad listed as "editor-in-chief." The cover featured a cartoon lampooning him. Saying "100 lashes of the whip if you don't die laughing."
Editor Charbonnier said "stupid people who don't know what Islam is "likely carried out the attack. (I)diots who betray their own religion."
French Council of the Muslim Faith head Mohammed Moussaoui condemned "the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirm(e) with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence."
In September 2012, CH published a series of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Some featured nude caricatures.
The issue came days after Middle East violence followed release of an Islamic hate film. Titled Innocence of Muslims
Its producer Israeli/American filmmaker Nakoula Basseley (aka Nicola Bacily/Bacile) called Islam "a cancer."
A widely circulated You Tube trailer called Muhammad a buffoon. A donkey. A philanderer. An opportunist.
A pedophile. Homosexual. Religious fraud. One scene depicted him having sex. France increased security at embassies, consulates cultural centers and international schools in around 20 Muslim countries.
CH got police protection against possible attacks. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized CH's publication.
On the one hand defending free expression. On the other asking if it's "sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire."
A White House statement said "we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this."
Editor Charbonnier said "(w)e do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it's called provocation."
Following last week's killings, CH said it would continue publishing. Beginning with a special edition.
With a print run of a million copies. Way more than its customary 60,000. Heavy demand increased it to 3 million.
Then 5 million or more for worldwide distribution. France contributed one million euros supporting the effort.
The Digital Innovation Press Fund donated 250,000 euros. In 2013, created by Google and a French publishing trade group.
The French Press and Pluralism Fund donated another 250,000 euros. The Guardian Media Group pledged 100,000 pounds.
Le Monde and French media giant Vivendi SA Canal Plus promised financial support.
The slogan Je suis Charlie first appeared on Twitter. Then spread widely online. 
Created by French journalist Joachim Roncin following last week's killings. Perhaps the world's best known slogan. Propaganda rubbish crammed down our throats.
A web site Understanding Charlie Hebdo (UCH) cartoons was created. Calling its humor "very particular and somewhat unique in France."
"(A)bsurdist in the tradition of Rubrique-a-Brac." A humorous comic strip created by Gotib in 1968.
Widely regarded as one of the cornerstones of today's humorous bande dessineee (drawn strips). 
Expressing views on historical figures. Political ones. Folklore. Foreign countries and cultures as well as other issues.
UCH compared CH in some respects to America's MAD magazine and British comic publication Viz.
CH humor is extremely satirical. Often crass, Showing "a complete lack of respect for many institutions," said UCH.
"(E)mploy(ing) brutal satire against dogma, hypocrisy and hysteria, regardless of its source."
Leaving "bitter aftertastes." Former French President Sarkozy was a frequent target. So is current President Hollande.
CH is an equal opportunity offender. Arguably going too far at times. Lampooning is one thing. Over-the-top offensiveness another. Especially perhaps when attacking organized religions. 
In 2011, after Avignon extremists vandalized "Piss Christ (a photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine), CH's cover featured rolls of toilet paper labeled "Bible." "Koran." "Torah."
The headline said: "In the shitter, all the religions." CH's anti-Islamic provocations gained it widespread notoriety.
Since first depicting the Prophet Muhammad offensively in 2006. Its editors saying they want to show believers the folly of their faith.
Hugely offending millions. Polar opposite legitimate lampooning. Reprehensible and then some. 
Values no one should endorse. Continuing under its present staff. Endorsed and funded by France's government.
Last weekend, white block letters topped Paris' Arc de Triomphe, saying: "PARIS EST CHARLIE."
Mayor Anne Hidalgo made CH an "honorary (Parisian) citizen." A distinction she called reserved "for the most illustrative defenders of human rights throughout the world."
Calling their eight slain staff members and four others "heroes." At the same time, hypocritically defending free expression. 
Calling it "sacred." While French security forces arrested dozens extrajudicially. Outrageously accused of "glorifying terrorism." By exercising their free speech right.
Including Black comedian Dieudonne. For posting a Facebook comment saying "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly." The French kosher supermarket hostage taker.
In January, French authorities banned Dieudonne's comedy show. Calling it anti-Semitic. For being anti-Zionist and anti-establishment.
CH blaspheming Islam is OK. Legitimate Israeli related criticism is called Jew-hating.
Dieudonne was clear and unequivocal saying "I am not anti-Semitic."
"We live in a democratic country, and I have to comply with the laws, despite the blatant political interference." 
"As a comedian, I have pushed the debate to the very edge of laughter." Hate speech is not part of his vocabulary. His lawyers defended his free expression rights.
In 2002, he began criticizing Israel. In 2004, he ran in European elections representing a pro-Palestinian party.
Following last week's Paris killings, French authorities mobilized 10,000 security forces. Including thousands of combat troops.
Patrolling city streets. Guarding public areas. Protecting Jewish communities. Ignoring Muslim ones.
A previous article discussed police state France. Civil liberties are being attacked en route to eliminating them altogether.
As well as in Britain. Other European countries. Perhaps America most of all.
Claims about protecting national security ring hollow. Fabricated cover for increasing state terror.
Liberte, egalite and fraternite as well as other mottos like it are meaningless slogans. Fast disappearing freedoms in Western societies. Police state subjugation replacing them.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

How Verizon and Turn Defeat Browser Privacy Protections - Thu, 15/01/2015 - 09:56

Update 2014-01-16: Turn announced today they will suspend their zombie cookie program by early February, but left open the possibility to resume in the future. We ask that they end the program permanently.

Verizon advertising partner Turn has been caught using Verizon Wireless's UIDH tracking header to resurrect deleted tracking cookies and share them with dozens of major websites and ad networks, forming a vast web of non-consensual online tracking. Explosive research from Stanford security expert Jonathan Mayer shows that, as we warned in November, Verizon's UIDH header is being used as an undeletable perma-cookie that makes it impossible for customers to meaningfully control their online privacy.


Mayer's research, described in ProPublica, shows that advertising network and Verizon partner Turn is using the UIDH header value to re-identify and re-cookie users who have taken careful steps to clear their cookies for privacy purposes. This contradicts standard browser privacy controls, users' expectations, and Verizon's own claims that the UIDH header won't be used to track users because it changes periodically.

This spectacular violation of Verizon users' privacy—made all the worse because of Verizon's failure to allow even an opt-out—has already had far-reaching consequences. Through Turn's cookie syncing program (described below) the re-identification affects dozens of other sites and ad networks. According to Mayer's research, many ad networks and high profile sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, BlueKai, AppNexus, Walmart and WebMD, receive copies of the respawned cookie.Mayer identified a spectrum of blatancy by which the information was transmitted, from Referrer headers, through URL parameters, to literal replication of the Turn cookie by the other third party tracker. All of the companies we list do more than receive a Referrer, though a Referrer is enough to defeat the user's attempt to delete cookies. We have replicated and expanded on some of Mayer's results; in particular we observed Facebook and Twitter getting the Turn cookie through explicit cookie-syncing APIs. At this point, Mayer has observed Google receiving the respawned cookie via Referrer headers and is therefore very likely to have logged it, but we have not yet observed it being sent to DoubleClick's Cookie Matching API. If these sites follow what we understand to be typical cookie syncing practices, they would also be circumventing cookie deletion. It is possible that some of these companies are unknowingly in violation of their own privacy policies and regulatory settlements as a result of Verizon and Turn's practices.

This ongoing privacy fiasco reinforces how dangerous it is for ISPs to use their network control to impose non-standard new tracking methods on their customers.

Previously, EFF analyzed Verizon's PrecisionID program, thanks to a suggestion from a concerned member. We found that Verizon reaches into their mobile customers' web browsing requests as they pass through the Verizon network and tampers with them to insert a header that uniquely identifies each Verizon subscriber. Ad networks can use the header to access extended targeting data on all Verizon customers, such as address, age, sex, and interests. Verizon claims to offer an opt-out, but opting out does not actually remove the header. Instead, Verizon claims it will not share a customer's demographic data after opt-out. But that means that third parties can—and indeed are—still using the Verizon header value as a unique tracking identifier that Verizon customers are powerless to change or delete, even after the user has "opted out" of the Verizon program. Nor does enabling the Do Not Track browser setting have any effect. In fact, Turn has told EFF that they do not believe that either Do Not Track or a user deleting their cookies is a signal that the user wishes to opt out from tracking. Turn ignores and circumvents these mechanisms, and uses the DAA's pretend opt-out instead.

[Verizon's] ongoing privacy fiasco reinforces how dangerous it is for ISPs to use their network control to impose non-standard new tracking methods on their customers.

EFF warned that third parties would use this undeletable header to circumvent browser privacy protections like cookie deletion and private browsing mode in a way not possible without the header. The Turn network is doing exactly that. Like most ad networks, Turn assigns their own unique cookie (called 'uid') to everyone who visits any site that includes Turn's tracking URLs. For other networks, deleting cookies from your browser effectively dissociates you with the reading history they have collected on you. However, Turn is more invasive: If you delete cookies, Turn will re-assign you the exact same 'uid' cookie you just deleted. Turn can only do this because Verizon sends the same unique UIDH header, so Turn can simply look up the UIDH value in an internal database. Because Verizon does not honor their customers' opt-out by removing the UIDH header, Turn performs this cookie resurrection even for people who have opted out on Verizon's site.

Turn also engages in cookie syncing, a widespread but sneaky workaround to the Web's cookie security policies. Normally, your browser only sends Turn's 'uid' cookie back to Turn's own servers. But when your browser visits a web page with Turn's embedded tracking URLs, those URLs can load an additional tracker from another network, for instance Facebook. Facebook would then receive a request that includes both Turn's uid and Facebook's own cookies identifying an individual. Facebook records the relationship between identities, perhaps so they can accumulate data about individuals with help from with Turn. Cookie syncing becomes even more of a problem when one network uses illegitimate re-identification techniques on an individual, because, as Mayer's research demonstrates, Turn's resurrected cookie rapidly infects other ad networks, informing those networks about Internet reading or browsing history the individual asked them to forget. We call on all ad networks to suspend cookie syncing with Turn until they have fixed this issue, and to delete existing Turn cookie syncing data collected in violation of users' privacy.

Turn's activities are simply the easiest to observe, and the most egregious, since they are a Verizon partner. There are almost certainly other advertisers using the same technique, both within Verizon's partner network and without. We've observed that Twitter and at least one other ad network have used UIDH. Mayer provides details on how he spotted Turn's obvious re-identification, but ad networks can abuse UIDH in less obvious ways. For instance, they can assign cookies that are not identical to deleted ones, but are connected to the deleted cookies through a private database.

As we noted when we first wrote about this issue, the only way for Verizon customers to protect themselves against their ISP's tampering is to install a VPN, an expensive and difficult option, especially on a mobile phone. Some people may also want to install a privacy-protecting browser extension, like Privacy Badger, Disconnect, or AdBlock Plus with the EasyPrivacy list. These extensions cannot protect against the UIDH header, but they may prevent ad network cookies from being sent, which can inhibit re-identification and cookie syncing. Update: we have posted a deeper review of defensive technologies here.


Amidst the outrage following our November article, AT&T, who was also beginning a tracking header program, chose to abandon it. We call on Verizon to do the same. It is clear that Verizon does not understand the privacy risks it is imposing on its customers. They ignored their customers' Do Not Track opt out requests. The UIDH program should be shut down today. Going forward, the company should undertake to obtain genuine prior, informed consent for any future tracking activities.

Related Issues: PrivacyCell TrackingDo Not Track
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Oil Prices: What Goes Around Comes Around - Thu, 15/01/2015 - 03:37
Oil Prices: What Goes Around Comes Around
by Stephen Lendman
As this article is written, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude stands at $45.69 a barrel. Brent at $46.59.
Down from their $114 a barrel 2014 high. Off 14% in 2015's first eight trading days. Steady at the moment as this is written. 
How low can prices go? Forecasts are suspect at best. Revised as conditions change. Especially when as fast-moving as now.
The latest US Energy Information Administration forecast estimates an average $58 a barrel 2015 price. Around $75 a barrel in 2016.
In October, the World Bank forecast $96 a barrel oil in 2015. In December, the IMF estimated $85 a barrel in 2015.
Goldman Sachs cut its three-month forecast from $80 a barrel to $42 for Brent. WTI futures from $70 to $41. Warning that prices could fall within a $30 - $40 range.
Tyche Capital Advisors analyst Tariq Zahir estimates $40 near-term. "(B)ut everything seems to be happening quicker than expected," he said.
Price Futures Group's Phil Flynn believes "from a technical standpoint, there's no reason to try to pick a bottom right now."
Reuters said despite new lows, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states "appeared no less resolved to maintain their market share…"
Various reasons explain falling prices. Including manipulation affecting all markets. Demand. Productive capacity. Current and expected future output.
According to the Oil Drum, a drop in demand of one million daily barrels accounted for a price decline from $110 to $80 a barrel. 
Less demand. Lower prices. Lower still with sustained high output. How much lower will prices drop? Most forecasts are notoriously unreliable.
Who foresaw $2.81 a barrel 1973 oil exploding nearly fourfold in 1974? Prices more than doubling in 1979?
Plunging from a November 1985 $31.82 a barrel high to an April 1986 $9.75 low. Losses weren't recouped until 1990.
In December 1998, oil sank to $9.39 a barrel. New millennium oil rose from $30 a barrel to an all-time mid-2008 $150 a barrel high. A 2014 $115 a barrel high. 
Heading south perhaps for $40 a barrel or lower. Maybe $30 or $20 if world economies weaken more than expected.
The Washington Post put current prices in perspective. Declines since June don't reflect a "new normal," it said.
It's the "old normal." The last eight years saw historically high prices. 
"(H)igher (adjusted for inflation) than any time since the 1979 to 1983 period when the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq war disrupted oil supplies from two of the world's biggest oil exporters."
Average prices in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 were higher than any years since the 1860s. Adjusted for inflation.
Weeks earlier, Zero Hedge noted lots of black swans and elephants in the room. (Including) conflict in Ukraine…"
"(O)ngoing Syrian and Iraq wars…" Weakening economic growth. "(A) new credit crunch…(A)ll bets are off," it said.
On January 12, Oil headlined "Could The Oil Bust Last?"Saying industry booms and busts are commonplace.
"(B)ut the depths to which oil prices have plunged have surprised everyone. Could the bust now persist much longer than many think?"
The World Bank just cut its global growth forecast. Its chief economist Kaushik Basu saying:
"The global economy is running on a single engine…the American one. This does not make for a rosy outlook for the world."
The so-called "growth engine" is sputtering at best. More fantasy than real. Where's the growth, asked Paul Craig Roberts?
"Where did (it) come from? Not from rising real consumer incomes."
"(Or) rising consumer credit. (Or) rising real retail sales." (Or) from the housing sector. (Or) a trade surplus."
Government data are notoriously unreliable. Manipulated to deceive. Fiction substituting for fact. "(T)he illusion of economic recovery must be kept alive," says Roberts.
The official narrative no matter how false. GDP growth numbers fly in the face of plunging commodity prices. 
Perhaps the best indicator of global weakness. On Wednesday, copper sank to a five-and-a-half year low.
"(I)n the process halting the market due to the severity of the plunge," said Zero Hedge.
An indicator perhaps of things to come. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported copper-led commodities at a "12-year low." Down 26.5% since their April peak.
Copper is down 18% since July. A bellwether commodity like oil. So is iron ore. Off 50% since June.
Australia-based Morgan Stanley commodity analysts believe cheap energy may encourage mining companies to increase production. Despite lower demand.
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank market strategist Ayako Sera blames economic weakness for slumping prices.
"There are a lot of uncertainties, and it’s hard to see a reversal in sentiment for the time being. As an investor it’s hard to proactively take on risk at the moment," he said.
Danske Bank commodities analysts noted a "broad-based risk-off sentiment." Heightened by low oil and copper prices. As well as shaky equity markets.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg headlined "Oil Collapse of 1986 Shows Rebound Could Be Years Away."
Oil said the last decade's commodity boom appears over. Vast supplies overwhelm demand. According to BNP Paribas commodities analysis Stephen Briggs:
"Supply has been outstripping demand not because demand has been particularly weak, but because there was too much supply. It looks like this won't change anytime soon."
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said "(i) supply stays where it is and demand remains weak, you better believe (prices are) gonna go down more."
"I'm sure we're never going to see $100 anymore." Never is a long time. What goes around comes around.
Things can get weaker before improving. Stay depressed longer then most people expect.
Goldman's latest assessment said "we believe prices need to stay lower for longer" before conditions are favorable for improvement.
How long remains to be seen. Wood Mackenzie (WM) is a global energy, metals and mining research consultancy group.
"When could low oil production halt production," it asked? Brent at $40 or below is needed for "producers (to cut it to) a level where there is significant reduction in global oil supply," it believes.
Even then, WM sees no guarantee it'll happen. Operators may keep producing at a loss. Rather than shutting down.
Especially "large projects (like) oil sands and mature fields in the North Sea."
WM believes US onshore ultra-low output wells most likely will shut down. Once production costs exceed revenues. 
Incrementally. Not all at once. Many producers will keep operating to service debt. At the same time, refinancing is impossible if costs exceed revenues.
Insolvencies will increase. Less production will follow. Saudi and other Gulf states will maintain production rates. So will other OPEC countries.
It's too early to know whether current global economic weakness portends something much more serious.
Markets in bubble territory heighten the risk for trouble. The late Bob Chapman predicted economic collapse years ago.
"Untenable political and financial decisions put US and European economies on a collision course with disaster," he said.
In his International Forecaster and on the Progressive Radio News Hour. 
"Bailouts and market manipulation delay the inevitable," he explained. A tipping point approaches. Only its timeframe is unknown.
The longer untenable conditions continue, the more disastrous the eventual consequences.
It's not a matter of when things will implode, he believed. Just when and how severely. His insight is sorely missed.
Lower bellwether commodity prices reflect increasing global economic weakness. The canary in the coal mine.
Perhaps bloated equity markets are starting to realize what analysts like Bob Chapman highlighted years ago. The fullness of time will tell.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

President Obama Gets It: Net Neutrality Begins at Home - Thu, 15/01/2015 - 03:29

We’ve been saying for months that while the FCC may have a role to play in promoting and protecting an open Internet, Internet users shouldn’t rely entirely on the FCC.  That’s because, at root, the “neutrality” problem is a competition problem.  Internet access providers, especially certain very large ones, have done a pretty good job of divvying up the nation to leave most Americans with only one or two choices for decent high-speed Internet access.  If there’s no competition, customers can’t vote with their wallets when ISPs behave badly.  Oligopolies also have little incentive to invest, not only in decent customer service, but also in building out world-class Internet infrastructure so that U.S. innovators can continue to compete internationally. Even in cities like San Francisco and New York, we pay more for slower connections than people in many Asian and European cities.

So it’s appropriate that President Obama chose today, a day of action to promote net neutrality, to express his strong support for broadband competition, and particularly initiatives promoting community broadband

Community broadband, properly deployed and managed, can give at least some of us an alternative to typical broadband duopoly. Take Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Chattanooga’s's local power utility operates a fiber optic Internet service that currently offers a 1 Gigabit speed package (1,000 Mbps) for just $69.99/month. For most of us that would be a 50x speed increase or better.  Many fiber services are also symmetrical, offering the same upload speed as download speed.

There are a variety of models for community broadband.  One particularly attractive model is called "open access." Under an open access model, the local municipality might be the owner of the fiber infrastructure, but agrees to lease access to the system to anyone on non-discriminatory terms. This opens up the possibility of having many local ISPs competing for your business over the same fiber infrastructure and drastically reduces the cost of Internet service.

Given the benefits of community broadband, the increasing need for high-speed Internet access, and the simultaneously decreasing number of alternatives, why don’t we all have it?  Unfortunately, communities face a number of barriers, from simple bureaucracy to state laws that impede a community's ability to make its own decisions about how to improve its Internet access.  Indeed, thanks to intense lobbying efforts by incumbent telecom interests, many states have passed laws that ban or hinder municipalities from pursuing their own fiber projects. President Obama has urged the FCC to set aside those laws. In parallel, many state lawmakers are working to repeal the bans, as they see the benefits that community fiber brings to towns like Cedar Falls, Iowa; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Lafayette, Louisiana.

One way or another, community fiber will come to more and more forward-thinking towns across the United States, and we’re glad to see President Obama getting behind the movement. You can help, too.  Learn more about community choices here, here, and here.  And then get involved by calling on your local government and your state representatives to promote an open access fiber network in your town. 

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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Net Neutrality: We’re Not Done Yet and We Need Your Help! - Thu, 15/01/2015 - 00:36

One year ago today, a federal appellate court struck down a set of rules, crafted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that were supposed to protect the open internet.  That ruling, ironically enough and only after a huge effort from Internet users, may have finally set the FCC on the path toward new, better, and legally sustainable neutrality rules.  To stay on that path, though, we need your help.

Let’s take a look at how far we've come. It starts with an important, if complicated, legal problem. Many folks who support net neutrality, including EFF, have been worried that the FCC did not have firm legal authority to issue meaningful open internet rules. After a lengthy legal challenge to the last set of such rules (adopted in 2010), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals came to the same conclusion, explaining that the FCC can’t impose “common carrier”-type rules on ISPs without actually classifying them a “common carriers.” Having chosen to classify them instead as “information services” back in 2004, the FCC had to go back to the drawing board.

That led to a new FCC proposal, based on the same flawed legal theory, that, if adopted, would actively undermine the open Internet in the name of protecting it.

A broad coalition of folks, including EFF, concluded that part of our strategy for fostering net neutrality should be to help the FCC get things right. After all, ISP behavior was getting worse, consumers have fewer options for voting with their wallets, and the FCC seemed determined to regulate one way or another. So we suggested the FCC should reverse its 2004 decision, reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, and issue new, targeted guidelines that would survive court scrutiny. In the meantime word spread about the risk to the open Internet, and more and more people started to speak out on the issue—even late night comedians. And in November President Obama joined us.

We are cautiously optimistic that Chairman Wheeler finally heard us, and that we will see a new and better open internet proposal next month. But we need to keep the pressure on to counter the misinformation campaigns many telecoms are mounting inside and outside of the beltway.

That’s where you come in. Today, a broad coalition of public interest groups are joining forces to make sure Congress doesn’t derail good net neutrality rules. Please join us, and take action today to help protect the open Internet.

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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Charlie Hebdo Fallout in America - Wed, 14/01/2015 - 22:42
Charlie Hebdo Fallout in America
by Stephen Lendman
Civil liberties in America and Europe are gravely threatened. Already seriously eroded. 
A previous article warned of more to come following last week's Paris killings.
A mid-February White House summit will be held on Countering Violent Extremism. Expect repressive legislation to follow.
Other likely policy initiatives. Ones inimical to free society norms and standards. Growing tyranny fast replacing them.
MSM reports say little. Only that Western officials want tighter border controls. Cooperation on tracking down nationals heading to Syria and Iraq.
Combating radicalized Islamic online propaganda and recruitment. Attorney General Eric Holder stressed new measures needed to "protect the values that truly unite us."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest highlighted new efforts required to stop extremists from "radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others."
Civil liberties again are under attack. Perhaps en route to eliminating them altogether. In the name of over-hyped security.
Crammed down our throats irresponsibly. Waging all-out war on freedom. Based on invented threats. Ignoring real ones.
State terrorism writ large. Police state lawlessness. Protecting capital from beneficial social change. 
Making the world safe for monied interests. At the expense of fundamental human and civil rights. 
Things free societies hold most dear. Along with peace and stability. Governments of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.
Absent in Western countries. Expect lots worse ahead. In Europe and America. On January 13, a White House press secretary announcement headlined:
"SECURING CYBERSPACE - President Obama Announces New Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal and Other Cybersecurity Efforts."
CISPA is back. More on this below. Obama saying through his press secretary:
"(O)ur first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent…attacks from taking place."
Obama intends asking Congress for legislation permitting "information-sharing." Claiming it'll enhance cybersecurity.
The failed 2011 Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) never went away.
It's more about destroying personal freedom than online security. Giving government and corporate giants unlimited power to access personal/privileged information online. 
Directly assaulting civil liberties. Anything online can erroneously be called cybersecurity threats. Real or imagined.
Invented to hype fear. So-called "information sharing" threatens constitutional protections. Including free expression, assembly, association and privacy. 
By accessing personal communications. Other private information. Giving Big Brother more power than already. Legitimizing what demands rejection.
In February 2013, Obama's executive order on "improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity'" said threats continue to grow. National security challenges must be met.
"It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties." 
"We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards."
At the time, civil libertarians expressed outrage. The ACLU said CISPA "fails to protect privacy."
It lets "companies share sensitive and personal American internet data with the government, including the National Security Agency and other military agencies."
"CISPA does not require companies to make reasonable efforts to protect their customers’ privacy and then allows the government to use that data for undefined 'national-security' purposes and without any minimization procedures, which have been in effect in other security statutes for decades." 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called CISPA deeply flawed. Letting companies share private information with government agencies flies in the face of fundamental freedom.
The Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at the Center for Democracy & Technology warned of creating a cybersecurity "back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability." 
EFF commented on Obama's new cybersecurity proposal. Legitimate protections are needed, it said. Ones conforming to the letter and spirit of fundamental rule of law principles.
"But President Obama's cybersecurity legislative proposal recycles old ideas," said EFF.
Around since 2011. On the shelf ready to be reformulated. Repackaged. Reintroduced.
Compromising consumer protections. Potentially violating state data breach laws.  
Overreaching national security concerns and law enforcement measures "poses a serious risk," said EFF. Irresponsibly compromising personal information.
Obama's proposal if adopted will legitimize the illegitimate. EFF expressed concern about enacting measures inimical to personal freedom.
"Instead of proposing unnecessary computer security information sharing bills, we should tackle the low-hanging fruit," said EFF. 
"This includes strengthening the current information sharing hubs and encouraging companies to use them immediately after discovering a threat."
Information can be shared through existing Information and Analysis Centers (ISACs).
Public reports. Homeland Security's Enhanced Cybersecurity Services. According to EFF:
"(T)hese institutions represent robust information sharing hubs that are underutilized and underresourced."
Increasing Computer Fraud and Abuse Act penalties assures further civil liberty erosionsc.
Surveillance already is all pervasive. Obama's legislative proposal follows his announcement to pursue federal data breach laws.
"Consumers have a right to know when their data is exposed, whether through corporate misconduct, malicious hackers, or under other circumstances," said EFF. 
Over 38 states already have some form of breach notification law…" Most Americans are already protected. 
Details of Obama's proposal aren't known. HIs May 2011 cybersecurity legislative proposal preempts state notification laws.
Overrides California's strong standard. Replacing it with a weaker one. 
Risks becoming "a backdoor for weakening transparency or state power, including the power of state attorneys general and other non-federal authorities to enforce breach notification laws," said EFF.
Obama's proposal looks like recycled old policies. EFF urges viewing them "skeptically."
"As with any (proposed) legislation, the devil is in the details." EFF will keep monitoring what's ongoing. Updated reports will follow.
At stake are fundamental civil liberties. It bears repeating. They're fast disappearing. Gravely compromised already. 
En route to being eliminated altogether. Unless public outrage stops what no free societies accept.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

We Need to Stop the White House From Putting TPP and TTIP on the Fast Track To Ratification - Wed, 14/01/2015 - 06:01

Senators are now working around the clock to re-introduce a bill that would put trade agreements on the fast track to passage in the US after those deals are finalized. Deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been negotiated in almost complete secrecy, except for private industry advocates serving on trade advisory committees who can read and comment on these texts. That has enabled these agreements to include extreme copyright and other digital policy provisions that would bind all signatory nations to draconian rules that would hinder free speech, privacy, and access to knowledge. Under fast track, also referred to as Trade Promotion Authority, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over binding trade provisions and give an up-or-down vote on ratification of the agreement without any ability to amend it before they bind the United States to its terms.

One of the most sure-fire ways to block these secret trade agreements is to stop the passage of fast track. We cannot let US lawmakers shirk their constitutional responsibility over trade policy and let the White House and the US Trade Representative pass Internet rules in back room meetings—which continue to go on this very week. The TPP negotiations will likely remain completely closed off from the public until the deal is finalized. At that point, fast track would enable the US Trade Rep to get Congress to ratify the deal without lawmakers questioning or modifying it.

And while Europe is taking reasonable steps to release more information about TTIP, US trade officials haven't made a move. The US Trade Rep just released its latest fact sheet on transparency, grossly exaggerating the meager steps it has taken to allow public interest groups like EFF engage in these negotiations. For instance, it touts the "stakeholder events" it has organized, where civil society had an opportunity to meet and present to negotiators about our concerns with certain provisions. These events were better than nothing, but they were far from sufficient—not only were we only able to present about provisions we had never been allowed to see, we were given very little time to present. Moreover, they haven't held stakeholder events at their negotiation rounds for more than a year now.

The US Trade Representative is deluded enough to think that this process has already been transparent enough—and its views about the substantive merits of the copyright and patent policies it is pushing are similarly narrow and delusional. What will happen if fast track passes and even Congress no longer has the ability to hold hearings on the final text and keep these trade officials in check?

Fast Track Politics on the Hill

The White House and several Congress members are going to introduce a fast track bill in the coming weeks. Republicans seem to be more in favor of fast track than their Democratic counterparts, which means Republican control of both congressional chambers could mean the bill could sail straight through to approval. But there's also criticism among some lawmakers and a large coalition of lawmakers who are committed to fight it. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been vocally opposed to handing away such blanket powers to the Executive branch. And on the House side, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and other representatives organized a press event last week to announce their opposition to fast track. But while there is a movement to stop TPP and TTIP from being put on the fast track, it's still going to be a close vote. We can't risk the possibility that these deals could pass and bind our lawmakers to enact or maintain new draconian copyright rules. Lawmakers need to hear that users are vehemently opposed to Internet regulations being decided in secret trade negotiations.

How We Can Stop Fast Track

Sen. Ron Wyden now sits as the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, where he holds significant influence on how this version of fast track will look. His colleague, Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Orrin Hatch, introduced the bill that was defeated last year. Sen. Hatch is determined to pass a new version with superficial fixes that do nothing to address the secrecy or the private-industry-dominated process. That's why we have a petition directed at Sen. Wyden, calling on him to resist these weak compromises and reject any version of this bill that does not truly address these problems. As a long-time defender of digital rights and an outspoken critic of TPP's secrecy, we need to let him know that we're counting on him to stand up for Internet users at this critical time.

If and when the bill is on the floor, our next step is to pressure Congress members to oppose it and encourage their colleagues to vote against fast track. Many lawmakers may support the policy in order to not appear to oppose free trade, but these new omnibus trade agreements are about much more than that. They contain provisions that will have huge implications for our digital rights in the generations to come. That's why we'll need to bombard them with messages letting them know about these threats, and to call on them to defend users against secret deals.

Last year, a massive coalition of civil society organizations and individuals banded together to fight back against this undemocratic process and we defeated it. We can do it again this year, but we're going to need all the help we can get.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Netsnyahu in Paris - Wed, 14/01/2015 - 04:29
Netanyahu in Paris
by Stephen Lendman
He finds ways of giving chutzpah new meaning. Gatecrashing his latest offense. Showing up where not wanted.
French President Francois Hollande's national security advisor, Jacques Audibert, asked him not to come. 
Through his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen. Saying Sunday's event wanted to demonstrate solidarity with France. 
Avoid divisive issues. Like Israeli/Palestinian relations. Longstanding unresolved conflict. 
Daily Israeli state terror against millions of long-suffering Palestinians.
Audibert hoped Netanyahu would avoid controversy and stay home. Especially not take advantage for campaigning purposes.
With Israeli elections two months away. Haaretz said he first agreed not to come. He'd postpone his trip until Tuesday for a Jewish community event.
He lied. He's a serial liar. Even in relations with close allies. He showed up. Saying he'd join Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Both said they were going.
According to Haaretz, "Audibert made it clear that in light of Netanyahu's intention to arrive, an invitation would also be extended to Abbas." 
"(S)everal hours after (he said) he would not be traveling to Paris, his office issued a statement stating that he would in fact be at the march."
"Hollande's anger at Netanyahu was evident during (Sunday evening's) ceremony," said Haaretz. Held at Paris' Grand Synagogue.
"(A)ttended by hundreds of members of the local Jewish community. Hollande sat through most of the ceremony, but when Netanyahu's turn at the podium arrived," he walked out. A snub easily noticed.
Earlier, Netanyahu "elbowed his way…smack in the middle of world leaders at the front of the marchers," said Haaretz.
So did longtime Israeli collaborator/enforcer Mahmoud Abbas. Five world leaders to the left of Netanyahu. 
Next to EU Council President Donald Tusk. One removed from Germany's Angela Merkel.
A virtual rogue's gallery of world leaders showed up Sunday. Including Merkel. France's Hollande. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Britain's David Cameron. Outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder and US ambassador to France Jane Hartley representing America.
Holder found time for Sunday TV interviews. None to join World leaders on Sunday. Hartley alone represented Washington. The lowest level government official participating.
Haaretz's Yossi Verter called Netanyahu's manners polar opposite "Parisian…refinement. Maybe he should be called "Grayshirt Bibi," he said.
"Such behavior as cutting in line, sneaking onto the bus by pushing and shoving, using elbows to get to the front at some event is so Israeli, so us, so Likud Party Central Committee, that I want to shout: Je suis Bibi!"
An event Netanyahu almost shunned for so-called security reasons became one "almost inappropriate to hold without his presence right up front," said Verter.
He took full advantage. Outraging his host. Urging French Jews to emigrate to Israel where they'd be safe.
Tweeting: "To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home."
Haaretz said he'll create a "special ministerial committee." (D)iscussing steps to encourage immigration from France and from Europe in general."
If Hollande or other world leaders encouraged their Jewish populations to leave for other countries they'd be called anti-Semites.
Netanyahu saying the same thing is called "Zionism," Ali Abunimah explained.
European Jewish Association director Rabbi Menachem Margolin criticized Netanyahu.
Citing the 2012 Toulouse Jewish school murders. Saying "after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe."
On the one hand, Netanyahu spurns peaceful Israeli/Palestinian relations. Wages wars at his discretion.
Slaughters Palestinians in cold blood. Commits daily atrocities. Attacks neighboring countries. Destabilizes the region.
Yet urges French and other European Jews to emigrate to Israel. Where they'll be safe, he claims.
Where Palestinians are persecuted daily. Kidnapped from their home pre-dawn.
Children accosted at play. Going to school. Coming home. Shot at for target practice. Murdered in cold blood.
Gazans entrapped in the world's largest open-air prison. Suffocated to make them disappear.
One adult and three newborns died from exposure in freezing cold. Exacerbated by storm conditions and flooding.
Gazan civil defense head Raed al-Dahshan said he and his staff face "a difficult situation…compounded by a lack of infrastructure."
Electricity only a few hours a day. Shortages of vital necessities. Thousands living in rubble or makeshift accommodations. 
Following Israel's summer aggression. Conditions impossible for most people to understand.
Imagine living in makeshift huts or tents in the dead of winter. Isolated by blockade. Subject to Israeli attacks by land, sea or air.
The majority of tens of thousands of homeless Gazans are children. Including an estimated 1,500 orphans. Their parents killed last summer.
The Palestinian Prisoner Club said Israel tortures Palestinian prisoners by detaining them outdoors.
In freezing cold conditions. With no adequate clothing. An appeal to Israel's High Court said interrogators inflict this treatment as torture.
Subjecting them to potential severe frost bite or death. Head of the Palestinian committee for prisoners, Issa Qaraqe, urged human rights groups to intervene.
Last January, Israel put Palestinian children in cages. Outdoors in severe cold. Subjecting them to storm conditions.
Unprotected. Torture by any standard. Leaving many children traumatized. Some affected permanently.
Efforts to end these type abuses prove futile. Israel does whatever it damn pleases. Including against defenseless women and children.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has his own cross to bear.  Heading Turkey's repressive government. Involved with Washington's war on Syria. Sharing responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths. 
Lambasting Netanyahu for "daring" to participate in Sunday's Paris rally. Saying he could "hardly understand how (he) dared to go."
After his mass slaughter of noncombatant Palestinian men, women and children last summer. "(M)assared," said Erdogan.
"How can you this individual, who carries out state terrorism by massacring 2,500 people in Gaza be waving his hand?"
"He is waving his hand as if people are very enthusiastically waiting for him." During Israel's summer aggression, he "surpassed Hitler in barbarism," said Erdogan.
In 2009, he walked out of the World Economic Forum after an angry exchange with then Israeli president Shimon Peres.
"Turkey will continue to fight…against Israel's reckless actions that do not recognize law," he said.
Who'll fight for Palestinians? Ordinary French people Brits.  Germans. Ukrainians. Other Europeans, Americans and others against their increasingly repressive governments?
Britain, France, Italy and other EU states intend stiffening hardline policies. Expect America to do likewise.
Enhancing police state powers. Destroying fundamental freedoms more than already. France militarized its streets.
Mobilizing thousands of security forces. Including combat troops. Will tanks roll down the Champs-Elysees next? 
Will mass arrests follow? Will people be afraid to go outside? Will soldiers have license to kill no questions asked?
Deploying militarized forces to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and other facilities while ignoring threatened Muslims shows official contempt for their security and welfare.
According to National Observatory Against Islamophobia head Abdallah Zekri, French Muslims are being attacked.
In the last two days, 16 mosques were targeted with firebombs and live fire. Veiled women face crude insults. Online threats are increasing.
A climate of fear grips Europe. Muslims are the target of choice. Ordinary people threatening no one. Wanting peace and security.
Equity and justice. What everyone deserves. About six million French Muslims alone are at risk.
Who's protecting them? Who cares about their rights? What about millions of persecuted Palestinians? Long-suffering for decades.
Western leaders able to help do nothing. Justice is systematically denied. Nothing in prospect suggests responsible change.
In Occupied Palestine, Europe or America. Expect worse ahead, not better. 
Expect jackboots on French streets heading for neighborhoods near you. Expect tyranny to replace free societies.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

EFF Statement on President Obama's Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal - Wed, 14/01/2015 - 02:18

More needs to be done to protect cyberspace and enhance computer security. But President Obama's cybersecurity legislative proposal recycles old ideas that should remain where they've been since May 2011: on the shelf. Introducing information sharing proposals with broad liability protections, increasing penalties under the already draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and potentially decreasing the protections granted to consumers under state data breach law are both unnecessary and unwelcome.

Information Sharing

The status quo of overweening national security and law enforcement secrecy means that expanded information sharing poses a serious risk of transferring more personal information to intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Given that the White House rightly criticized CISPA in 2013 for potentially facilitating the unnecessary transfer of personal information to the government or other private sector entities when sending cybersecurity threat data, we’re concerned that the Administration proposal will unintentionally legitimize the approach taken by these dangerous bills. 

Instead of proposing unnecessary computer security information sharing bills, we should tackle the low-hanging fruit. This includes strengthening the current information sharing hubs and encouraging companies to use them immediately after discovering a threat. As we've previously noted, much information is being shared through Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), public reports, private communications, and the DHS's Enhanced Cybersecurity Services. All of these institutions represent robust information sharing hubs that are underutilized and underresourced.  It also includes persistent education of end users since it's well known that many security breaches are due to employees downloading malware. Yet another key solution is to follow basic security precautions. The New York Times reported the JP Morgan hack occurred due to an un-updated server.

Increased Criminalization

The administration's proposals to increase penalties in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are equally troubling. We agree with the President: "Law enforcement must have appropriate tools to investigate, disrupt and prosecute cyber crime;" however, the past two years of surveillance disclosures has shown law enforcement certainly doesn’t need more legal authorities to conduct digital surveillance or prosecute criminals. As former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire said in 2011, "today [is] a golden age for surveillance. And when it comes to increased criminalization, we've often noted the already excessive—and redundant—penalties for crimes performed with computers.

Federal Data Breach Law

The President's legislative proposal also follows up on yesterday's announcement to pursue a federal data breach law. Consumers have a right to know when their data is exposed, whether through corporate misconduct, malicious hackers, or under other circumstances. Over 38 states already have some form of breach notification law—so the vast majority of Americans already get some protection on this score. While the President has not yet released detailed legislative language, the Administration's May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal would preempt state notification laws, removing the strong California standard and replacing it with a weaker standard. Any such proposal should not become a backdoor for weakening transparency or state power, including the power of state attorneys general and other non-federal authorities to enforce breach notification laws.  

Many of these proposals are old ideas from the administration's May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal and should be viewed skeptically. While the Administration information sharing proposal may have better privacy protections than dangerously drafted bills like CISPA, we think the initial case for expanding information sharing requires much less secrecy about how intelligence and law enforcement agencies collect and use data on our networks. And instead of increasing penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, we've long advocated common sense reform to decrease them.

As with any legislation, the devil is in the details, and we'll continue to monitor the situation.

Related Issues: Cyber Security LegislationSecurityComputer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform
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Kiev Big Lie on Ending Donbas Conflict in Two Weeks - Tue, 13/01/2015 - 21:54
Kiev Big Lie on Ending Donbas Conflict in Two Weeks
by Stephen Lendman
Washington runs things in Ukraine. It newest colony. Kiev's illegitimate puppet government serves its interests. Ruthlessly exploiting its people in the process.
America wants unchallenged control over Ukraine's entire land mass. As a dagger pointed at Russia's heart.
Ukraine is a pretext. Regime change in Russia the objective. Gaining another US colony. Eliminating a major rival.
Stealing its vast resources. Exploiting its people. Turning them into serfs. Isolating China. Repeating the process against Beijing. 
Transforming nations into a ruler/serf societies. More unfit to live in than ever. Coups, assassinations, false flags and permanent wars its tactics of choice.
No nation in world history reflects more pure evil than America. Wrapped in the American flag. People manipulated to believe destructive US policies benefit them.
Governments lie about everything. Media scoundrels repeat Big Lies like gospel. No one can possibly understand world events by watching mainstream television.
BBC is as bad as Fox News. Owned and operated by Britain's government. Its propaganda bullhorn.
So-called US public radio and broadcasting are government and corporate controlled. Qatar's despotic monarchy runs Al Jazeera.
The New York Times and other major publications are instruments of state propaganda.
Try finding a single MSM report explaining Ukraine's coup. Instituted by Washington. Ousting a democratic government.
Replacing it with illegitimate fascist thugs. Systematically destroying human and civil rights. Eliminating opposition elements.
Prohibiting a free press. Instituting total control over all information disseminated. 
Attacking independent journalists. Shutting down Russian language print and electronic media. Calling them "security threats."
In bed with Western financial interests. At the expense of their own people. At war with them in Donbas. 
Dirty war. Without mercy. Using chemical and other illegal weapons.
Conflict continues daily despite illegitimate/oligarch president Petro Poroshenko's "regime of silence." More on this below.
On January 12, he lied. Saying war in Donbas will be over in two weeks. Ending it requires "simply rulfill(ing) the Minsk agreements signed in September."
Like Hitler declaring peace in Europe before launching WW II.
Fact check
Last April, Washington, EU nations, Russia and Ukraine agreed to end violence. Deescalate tensions. Restore peace and stability.
Kiev violated the four-party agreement straightaway. Escalated war. Blamed it irresponsibly on Donbas freedom fighters.
On September 5, Kiev agreed to Minsk protocol provisions. Plus additional ones in a follow-up September 19 memorandum.
Calling for ending hostilities. Banning all offensive operations. Withdrawing Kiev troops and foreign mercenaries from conflict areas. Dialoguing for peace, security and stability.
Fighting never stopped. Shelling continues. Including throughout the holiday period. Into January. 
Kiev bears full responsibility for naked aggression. Since last April. With Washington's full support and encouragement.
Kiev agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. According to Donetsk People's Republic (DRP) deputy legislative speaker Denis Pushlin:
Poroshenko's posturing "is pure bluff…He controls nothing in Donbas. Ukraine does not fulfill the Minsk agreements, and this is a fact." 
"What we are talking about? We see that they are shelling our settlements. Commanders of Ukrainian battalions openly say they are not obeying Poroshenko’s orders." 
"How can he fulfill the Minsk agreements then? How can he be so definite about these two weeks?"
He's a serial liar. Notoriously saying one thing. Doing another. Taking orders from Washington.
Wanting Donbas democracy entirely crushed. Fascist rule replacing it. What area freedom fighters won't tolerate. Nor should anyone.
On Monday, the Kiev Post headlined "Ukraine seals off roads to Donbas as fighting escalates."
DPR leader Oleksandr Zakharchenko was quoted saying:
"Honestly speaking I'm tired of all these negotiations. People who don't keep their words…well, I don't know." 
"We are ready for any talks. But in case it would be impossible to solve the conflict peacefully, we are ready to fight."
Kiev intends greater conflict ahead. Stop NATO reported increased Ukraine military spending.
During economic crisis conditions. Potential bankruptcy. Ukraine unable to operate without significant financial aid.
It plans increasing its armed forces this year. To 250,000. "(A)s well as six mechanized brigades, a mountain infantry regiment, three artillery brigades and two army brigades," said Stop NATO.
Why when Ukraine's only enemies are ones it invents. Its own Donbas citizens. 
Russia despite Moscow's all-out efforts for responsible dialogue. Diplomacy. Peaceful conflict resolution. Strict observance of international law.
Washington systematically spurns it. So does Ukraine. Stop NATO's Rick Rozoff expressed justifiable concern.
Something has to give. East/West confrontation assures trouble. Possible "nuclear war," he warned.
On Monday, the reliable Vineyard of the Saker web site headlined "Je suis Ukraine. I fight terror. Yats (Yatsenyuk) is Charlie."
Ukraine's "junta…dramatically stepped up shelling of Novorossiya (its Donetsk and Lugansk territories).
"(T)ypical terror strikes…randomly aimed at the civilian sectors…(Most) worrisome…is confirmation by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that (Moscow has) intelligence showing (Kiev plans) a full scale assault…"
On the one hand, extending peace overtures. On the other, intending escalated conflict. Blaming its aggression on Donbas victims.
US and rogue NATO partners echo its Big Lies. Media scoundrels repeat them. When anything about Ukraine is reported. 
Propaganda substitutes for hard truths. Readers and viewers are systematically lied to. 
MSM scoundrels are a machine for the manufacture of Big Lies. It bears repeating. Ignore them. Nothing they report should be believed.
Voice of Sevastopol (VoS) is a reliable source of Ukrainian news and information. Kiev's "so-called silent mode (was) accompanied by heavy artillery shelling of settlements of Donbas and active hostilities," it reported.
Kiev junta attacks continue. Much like summer fighting. Ignored by media scoundrels. Kiev murdering civilians doesn't matter.
Or destroying their homes and other property. Or causing hundreds of thousands to flee for their lives. 
Seeking safe havens. Many finding them in Russia. An oasis of stability amidst neighboring hostility.
One of last year's key Maidan demands was ending corruption. Today it's greatly increased, said VoS. "Almost 80% of Ukrainians (say) over the last year…corruption became more spacious."
On Monday, German, French, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers met in Berlin. The so-called Normandy Quartet. 
Established last June. In Normandy, France. Seeking solutions to Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Monday's talks resolved nothing. Nor will future ones. Kiev deplores peace. Washington won't tolerate it. 
Conflict wasn't initiated to resolve things diplomatically. Fascist regimes don't operate this way.
Sergey Lavrov said "the political process can be successful only when you start a direct dialogue, in this case between the representatives of the Ukrainian government and the proclaimed DPR and LPR, and they should feel fully involved in the political process as equal partners."
Nothing remotely close to this exists. Nor will it ahead. Washington rules apply. 
Kiev intends crushing Donbas resistance. Wants despotism replacing democracy. Wants human and civil rights eliminated altogether.
Its dirty war without end continues. Ceasefire is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Nor will Kiev tolerate one. 
Short of unconditional surrender. What Donbas freedom fighters won't ever agree to. Nor should they. Freedom is too precious to sacrifice.
Kiev blocked seven entry corridors to Donbas. A DPR Foreign Ministry statement accused it of violating fundamental free movement rights. 
"Additional restrictions…will only exacerbate the catastrophic humanitarian situation that our people have faced," it said.
Kiev wants Donbas residents isolated. Starved to death. Total MSM silence on what demands headlines.
Since April, Kiev committed continued high crimes against peace. They remain ongoing daily.
Vauro Senesi is an Italian journalist. On January 1, he headlined "Non è possibile non scorgere un disegno pianificato di pulizia etnica."
Senesi toured Lugansk. Impossible not to see ongoing ethnic cleansing, he said. Kiev-instituted slow-motion genocide. Targeting defenseless civilians.
"(T)he local population, is being, on a daily basis, killed by battalions of the extreme right in the service of the puppet state of Kiev," said Senesi.
"All this in the most absolute silence of the Italian (and other Western) media."
"(F)ollowing the United States in this mad rush to the abyss against Russia."
Donbas conditions are deplorable. A shell-caused breach in one apartment building reflects similar damage throughout the area.
It's "so big you can see the other side of the building. (A) wall burned by fire…A mother lived there with her three kids."
"There's nothing left of her or her children. The explosion blew everything to bits."
"Grief, pain, fear - maybe all her emotions have been burned, reduced into rubble like the city she continues to live in."
Pre-war, the area had 25,000 residents. Less than 8,000 remain. Most others fled to Russia. Where else could they be safe?
"There is no electricity, no running water. The power plants, the water treatment plants, all destroyed by the bombardment," said Senisi.
Artillery fire is constant. Senesi quoted a young man named Roman. Fighting for Donbas freedom.
Unsure how much longer war will last. "We want peace," he said. "(B)ut on our bit of land."
"Becoming part of Ukraine again is no longer a possibility. The Army of Ukraine has fired on its own people."
"There's nothing for us but to resist to the end. Against the Nazis" representing Kiev.
"They have swastikas on their uniforms. How is it possible that Europe supports them?" And America.
"No Pasaran," said Roman! With raised fist. The salute of Spanish Civil War republicans. Committed to continue fighting.
Senisi went from Lugansk to Stakanov, Pervomaisk and other areas. Everywhere he went he saw "schools, hospitals, factories, power plants, water pumping stations, all destroyed."
"(S)corched earth," he said. Wanting an entire population eliminated. By slaughter or ethnic cleansing.
Few people remain in Novosveltovka, he said. An old man took refuge in a basement.
For days in the dark without food or water. Hungry dogs are dangerous. They attack people like beasts.
Ukraine is Obama's war. LIke ongoing Afghan conflict without end. Iraq war III.
Libya. Syria. Yemen. Somalia. Partnered with Israel against Palestine. Homeland wars against Blacks, Muslims and other targeted Americans.
Wars without mercy. Permanent ones. Continued mass slaughter and destruction.
It bears repeating. No nation in world history reflects more pure evil than America. No time more perilous than now.
More urgent than ever for resistance. World peace hangs in the balance.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Tell the FEC Not to Amp Up Internet Regulations - Tue, 13/01/2015 - 12:57

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is considering amping up its regulation of online political speech—an idea that should be rejected from the get-go. Back in 2006, the FEC adopted a limited approach to regulating the Internet. Some FEC commissioners feel that its approach has grown outdated. But increased regulation of the Internet would threaten both free speech and privacy.

We have the opportunity to nip any new Internet regulations in the bud by convincing the FEC to maintain its commitment to protecting individuals’ online speech. The FEC is accepting comments on whether or not to develop new Internet rules. EFF is submitting comments later this week urging the FEC to leave the current Internet rules in place. But the more comments from the public the better. Submit comments telling the FEC not to amp up its Internet regulations here.

The last time the FEC indicated that it was thinking about adopting regulations that would adversely impact the online community was back in 2005. But after intense criticism from First Amendment proponents—including EFF—the FEC, in 2006, adopted Internet regulations [pdf] limited to (a) paid advertisements and (b) political campaigns, political parties, and political action committees (PACs) that post communications online. The FEC left free and low-cost political commentary exempt from regulation. This was a win for bloggers and other online speakers, as we outline in our Legal Guide for Bloggers.

Now, that victory is under threat. FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel wants to re-examine [pdf] the FEC’s approach to online political speech. Her statement comes after the Commission deadlocked 3-to-3 [pdf] on whether to investigate a non-profit that posted two campaign videos on YouTube without including disclaimers or disclosing production costs. Although the FEC has not yet proposed new rules, it appears that Ravel supports overhauling the regulations around online speech. This could have a huge impact on free and low-cost online political speech, especially if new regulations place complicated and burdensome record-keeping and disclosure requirements on bloggers, YouTube posters, or other online speakers, including those who post anonymously.

As an organization dedicated to transparency, we appreciate the value in increasing public understanding of how money influences elections. However, we do not have confidence that a politically appointed government board will be able to draw a line that separates the individual blogger or YouTuber from deep-pocketed special interest groups without damaging free speech.

Increased regulation of online speech is not only likely to chill participation in the public debate, but it may also threaten individual speakers’ privacy and right to post anonymously.  In so doing, it may undermine two goals of campaign finance reform: protecting freedom of political speech and expanding political participation.

As we stated in our joint comments to the FEC back in 2005 [pdf], “the Internet provides a counter-balance to the undue dominance that ‘big money’ has increasingly wielded over the political process in the past half-century.” We believe that heightened regulation of online political speech will hamper the Internet’s ability to level the playing field.      

Submit your comments to the FEC today and help us stop the Commission from adopting rules that threaten free speech and privacy. Comments are due on Thursday, January 15, 2015.

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymityBloggers' Rights
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Categories: Aggregated News

Drone and CCTVs for Everyone: Surveillance Tech Expands Across Latin America - Tue, 13/01/2015 - 12:02

Despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence that camera surveillance is an effective  deterrent against crime, the movement towards a pervasive surveillance state continues in many Latin American countries. Surveillance technologies such as drones are gaining popularity, raising significant concerns for privacy and civil liberties.

Drones Across The Continent

Last year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights took issue with the deployment of drones in fourteen countries in the Americas without a clear legal framework to regulate their increasing use. We couldn’t agree more. Privacy law has not kept up with the rapid pace of drone technology, giving many states free reign to use drones to spy on citizens without court order or legal process.

Colombia acquired city surveillance drones in 2013. During the end of the year 2014 holiday, the traffic police triumphantly announced the used of surveillance drones to monitor the main roads. They have also being used to monitor concerts in Cali. Moreover, according to news report, Colombian contractor for security forces (Emerging Technologies Corporation), has reached an agreement with a US supplier that will allow them to become the "exclusive distributor" of drones to the Colombian government, the armed forces, and the national police. In the same spirit, the Argentinean army is developing its own drone technology for aerial surveillance. The drones of the Municipality of Tigre, Argentina, have cameras that capture and transmit high definition images in real time to the police’s command centers. In the Argentine city of San Luis, local government has implemented four drones to add to the 196 fixed video surveillance cameras.

It is Brazil, however, that has been the most enthusiastic adopter of drone technology. Brazil used drones throughout the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. Rio also invested in a surveillance center for monitoring the city with cameras, location tracking and audio surveillance capabilities. The center monitors 3,000 cameras placed throughout the 12 venue cities. According to Wired, the country has spent a total of $900 million on bolstering security approximately and has reportedly even invested in facial-recognition camera glasses to be worn by police.

Venezuela has launched drones produced, reportedly with Iran's technical assistance in an effort to step up the fight against drug trafficking. The Mexican government is using drones with cameras that provide real-time images to monitor the Mexican border. (In a recent report published last week, the United States government said that drones that are used along the border by US Customs and Border Protection had only helped with very few arrests of people crossing the border illegally.) Paraguay just got their first two surveillance drones.

Eyes and Ears Everywhere

But drones are not the only surveillance technologies on the rise. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are too. In Uruguay, a government program led by the Ministry of the Interior has  installed more than 300 cameras in the downtown area of Montevideo. (They will shortly be joined by a fleet of drones that fly over the Old City to monitor the streets.) In Mexico City, the government created an emergency response center, initially consisting of more than 8,000 surveillance cameras on public roads connected by a fiber optic network. As of 2013, they had approximately 10,956 cameras.

In Colombia since 1996, the Municipality of Medellín have implemented a national video-surveillance system. By 2010, they had a total of 222 analog cameras located at strategic locations in the city. In recent years, the Municipality of Medellín has invested in IP video surveillance systems. The city has 533 cameras helping them now covered almost 100% of the center of Medellin.  In addition, 129 more cameras are now used to monitor public spaces in the metro system. But that’s not all. The video surveillance system is complemented by an automatic vehicle location system. This year, the city of Bogota is also planning to install modern system of 1700 surveillance cameras with facial recognition software.  These cameras perform biometric facial recognition in seconds and can quickly cross-reference their information with police databases. The system will cost over 3 million US dollars, and will enable authorities to receive alerts when facial detection recognizes individuals with criminal records.

Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, and other Central American countries have experienced multiple internal wars: civil wars, as well as the war against terrorism and the war against drug trafficking. These wars have  bred a rapid expansion of surveillance architecture, encouraged by partners like the United States. In addition, in many countries civilians have embraced more security measures under the  misconception that more intrusive measures will naturally lead to greater security.

In that sense, Latin America is no different from the many states around the world who see surveillance as a shortcut to security. But by leaping so confidently into a surveillance state, Latin America's pioneers of drone and CCTV technology risk the civil liberties of their citizens, and setting a terrible precedent for their neighbors and the rest of the world.

Related Issues: InternationalMass Surveillance TechnologiesSurveillance and Human RightsSurveillance Drones
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Categories: Aggregated News

Soros and Yatsenyuk: Partners in Crime - Tue, 13/01/2015 - 04:38
Soros and Yatsenyuk: Partners in Crime
by Stephen Lendman
Arseniy Yatsenyuk is Ukraine's illegitimate US-installed prime minister. Mocking the office he holds. More on him below.
George Soros is a world-class corporate predator. Making money the old-fashioned way. 
Unconcerned about enormous harm he causes. Plundering nations for profit.
Once saying "(a)s a market participant, I don't need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions."
Earning billions from rogue investing. Causing havoc worldwide. Anything for a buck, he believes.
Imperial wars benefit him greatly. So do plums like Ukraine. Low-hanging fruit. Ripe for plunder.
On November 20, 2014, New York Review of Books editors published what no responsible ones would touch.
Soros twisted truth and then some. Headlining "Wake Up, Europe." A litany of Big Lies followed.
"Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence," he hyperventilated. 
"Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it."
Russian "force…manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law."
"(T)aking advantage of" its Western partners. "Violating its treaty obligations…(A)nnexed Crimea. (E)stablished separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine."
"(I)nvaded Ukraine…(D)estroyed several hundred (Ukrainian) armored vehicles, a substantial portion of its fighting force."
Fact: Russia threatens no one.
Fact: Putin values cooperative relations with all nations.
FactL He deplores war.
Fact: Goes all out for resolving conflicts peacefully. Diplomatically. Fairly for all sides.
Fact: He committed no aggression. Intends none.
Fact: Takes advantage of no one.
Fact: Violates no treaty obligations.
Fact: Didn't invade Ukraine. Or attack its military.
Fact: Didn't annex Crimea. Reversed a historic mistake. Obliged near unanimous popular Crimean will to return to Russia.
Fact: Has no revanchist ambitions.
More Big Lies infested Soros' diatribe. Polar opposite hard truths. Ones he conveniently ignores. Russia bashing substitutes.
He a notorious longstanding Russia hater. Working closely with US-funded anti-democratic NGOs.
Including the National Endowment for Democracy. International Republican Institute. National Institute for International Affairs. Freedom House. Among others.
The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 authorizes the Secretary of State to "directly or through non-governmental or international organizations (act to) improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in the Russian Federation…" 
"(S)trengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation…:
"(E)xpand uncensored Internet access in the Russian Federation…"
In other words, launch color revolution destabilization activities aimed at ousting Russia's government. Replacing its officials with pro-Western stooges.
Making Russia look like Ukraine. Or other repressive US-controlled colonies. It bares repeating what other articles stressed.
Democracy is America's most dangerous export. Values free societies cherish are verboten.
Ones Soros deplores. Wanting unconstrained freedom to plunder for maximum profits. Complicit with corrupt officials. Benefitting from human misery.
Soros praises what he calls "the new Ukraine." Ignoring US-installed fascist putschists running things.
Installed by coup d'etat. Ousting \Ukraine's democratically elected government.
Calling Maidan's coup legitimate "resistance." Calling Western-enlisted and trained thugs responsible for killing police and civilians "the cream of (Ukrainian) civil society."
"(A)damantly opposed to a return of the 'old Ukraine…" Having "to contend with Russian aggression…"
"In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight."
"The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms."
Meaning IMF diktats strip-mining countries for profit. Turning workers into serfs. Leaving millions without jobs entirely. On their own sink or swim.
Soros' "new Ukraine" isn't fit to live in. No responsible editor would publish his pro-business/anti-populist/anti-democratic litany of Big Lies. Beginning-to-end rubbish.
"European (nations need) to wake up and behave (like they're) indirectly at war," he claims. What levelheaded person accepts this nonsense.
Let alone most European leaders valuing normalized relations with Russia. Bullied by Washington to adopt policies harming their self-interest. Perhaps only for so long.
Soros is a world-class predator. Cashing in irresponsibly. Profiting from human misery.
Soros-style philanthropy is rape and pillage. Allying with illegitimate Ukrainian putschists.
On Sunday, he arrived in Kiev. According to Ukrainian media reports. Plans meetings with parliamentarians. Other Ukrainian officials.
Further details aren't known. Parliamentary foreign affairs committee chairperson Hanna Hopko mentioned his arrival.
He visited Ukraine last fall. Met with Kiev officials. Helped finance Kiev's 2004 Orange Revolution. Its 2.0 incarnation last February.
Remains very much involved in Ukraine's internal affairs. His money influences policy.
Works with illegitimate president Poroshenko and prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. US-anointed fascists running things.
Both men shaming the positions they hold. Poroshenko a billionaire crook. Yatsenyuk a caricature of a leader.
Irresponsibly reinventing history. Shocked German ARD TV viewers last Thursday. 
Astonishingly claimed "all of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion into Ukraine and Germany."
"We need to avoid (repeating) it. Nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War. Russia's President Putin is trying to do exactly this."
On June 22, 1941, around four million Wehrmacht troops invaded Soviet Russia along multiple fronts.
Along with forces from Finland, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Western Ukraine.
Called the largest invasion in the history of warfare. Driven by Hitler's quest for lebensraum. His obsession to conquer his Soviet adversary.
Fascists running Ukraine resemble their Nazi predecessors. Berlin wants Thursday's embarrassing incident forgotten. Merkel won't comment.
Moscow wants Berlin to clarity its position on Yatsenyuk's Big Lie. Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said:
"We have sent a note to the German Foreign Ministry requesting its official position regarding extremist remarks made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, which distort history."
Russian lower house State Duma International Affairs Committee head Aleksey Pushkov said:
"Yatsenyuk has finally gone off his rocker. After his statement regarding 'the Soviet invasion into Germany and Ukraine' during the Second World War, one can’t take him seriously."
He's one of many Obama neo-Nazi Ukrainian friends. One fascist regime supports another.
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.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 



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