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EFF's 25th Anniversary Minicon Preview

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 09:52

We're just days away from celebrating EFF's 25th anniversary in San Francisco on Thursday, July 16. The day will start with a minicon examining the past, present, and future of digital rights and end with a great party. We hope you can join us!

The minicon will take place at DNA Lounge from noon until four. It promises to be an afternoon full of interesting discussions and fun and educational activities shared with EFF staff, supporters, and digital rights experts. (To be sure you're viewing the most up-to-date minicon info, you may want to visit the calendar event page.)

Security Training

EFF Activist Nadia Kayyali will be on hand to provide practical privacy and security tips from 12:30-3, based on EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense project. Attendees will have two opportunities to go through threat modeling, with time for more hands-on tools and techniques discussions with Nadia and other EFF staff.

Capture The Flag

Throughout the minicon, we will be hosting our first ever "Capture the Flag" hacking contest! Anyone present at the minicon will be eligible to participate in our 4 hour contest. The challenges will include web hacking, binary analysis, cryptography challenges, and more. Participants should bring a laptop with linux or a virtual machine installed.

Panel Schedule

Each panel will be moderated by an expert working on the issue at EFF. Each panel will be followed by a Q&A session:

12:00 Welcome
12:30 Panel I: Digital Activism and the Future of the Web as a Public Space, featuring Trevor Timm, Sina Khanifar, Annalee Newitz, and Amie Stepanovich.
1:20 Break, discussion
1:40 Panel II: Copyright and User Control, featuring Pamela Samuelson and Michael Masnick, additional guests TBA
2:30 Break, discussion
2:50 Panel III: Privacy and Security: The Next 25 Years, featuring Parisa Tabriz, Alex Stamos, Morgan Marquis-Boire, Bruce Schneier, and Deepti Rohatgi.
3:40 Wrap-up and final discussion time

Speaker Bios

Sina Khanifar is a web developer and an advocate for better technology laws. Starting in 2013, he led the campaign to legalize cell phone unlocking, which culminated in action by both the FCC and Congress. In 2014 he helped lead development of EFF’s open source action center toolset, and has spent much of the last few years building tools to help Internet users reach out to their elected representatives. He continues to work actively on DMCA reform as a board member of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, and is also the founder of Taskforce.is, a group of volunteer developers who helped organize and run a range of campaigns, including many that EFF has actively supported.

Morgan Marquis-Boire is a Senior Researcher at the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto. He is the Director of Security for First Look Media and a contributing writer for The Intercept. Prior to this, he worked on the security team at Google. He is a Special Advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco and an Advisor to the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. In addition to this, he serves as a member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation advisory board and as an advisor to Amnesty International. He has lectured on security, surveillance, and nation-state espionage at Universities around the world including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Toronto, and the University of Milan. His research has been featured in numerous print and online publications. In 2012, SC Magazine gave him an honorable mention as one of the influential minds of IT Security. He was named as one of Italian WIRED's 50 people of 2014. In March of 2015 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Mike Masnick is the founder and editor of the Techdirt blog, covering a variety of topics around innovation, intellectual property, economics, business and policy. He is also the CEO of the new think tank, the Copia Institute, dedicated to working with the technology community to look for opportunities to drive innovation forward.

Deepti Rohatgi was most recently Head of Policy Lookout. Previously she served as a Senior Product Marketing Director at a cybersecurity company, a Policy Director at Yahoo!, Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and a Director of IT and Telecommunications Policy at the U.S. Department of State. In these roles Ms. Rohatgi worked to create the first mobile behavioral targeting opt-out and one of the first mobile short-form privacy policies. Ms. Rohatgi holds a Masters in Industrial Engineering and a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University.

Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, called a "security guru" by The Economist. He is the author of 12 books -- including the New York Times best-seller "Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World" -- as well as hundreds of articles, essays, and academic papers. His influential newsletter "Crypto-Gram" and blog "Schneier on Security" are read by over 250,000 people. Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, a program fellow at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and an Advisory Board member of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He is also the Chief Technology Officer of Resilient Systems, Inc.

Alex Stamos is the Chief Security Officer of Facebook. Alex was previously the CISO of Yahoo, and the co-founder of iSEC Partners and founder of Artemis Internet, two companies that continue to make the Internet a safer place. Alex has spent his career building or improving secure, trustworthy systems, and is a noted expert in Internet infrastructure, cloud computing and mobile security. He is a frequently request speaker at conferences such as Black Hat, DEF CON, Amazon ZonCon, Microsoft Blue Hat, FS-ISAC and Infragard. He holds a BSEE from the University of California, Berkeley and his personal security writings are available at unhandled.com.

Amie Stepanovich is U.S. Policy Manager at Access. Amie is an expert in domestic surveillance, cybersecurity, and privacy law. At Access, Amie leads projects on digital due process and responds to threats at the intersection of human rights and communications surveillance. Previously, Ms. Stepanovich was the Director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, where she testified in hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in State legislatures. She was co-chair for the 2014 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference and is the Committee on Individual Rights and Responsibilities' Liason to the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Working Group. Amie was named as a Privacy Ambassador by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada and was recognized in 2014 as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 leaders in Law and Policy. Stepanovich has a J.D. from New York Law School, and a B.S. from the Florida State University.

Parisa Tabriz has worked on information security for nearly a decade and as a (self-appointed) "Security Princess" of Google for the last 8+ years. She started as a "hired hacker" software engineer for Google's security team. As an engineer, she found and closed security holes in Google's products, and taught other engineers how to do the same. Today, Parisa manages Google's Chrome security engineering team, whose goal is to make Chrome the safest way to browse the web, and generally improve security on the Internet. She has the somewhat unique distinction of being featured by WIRED and ELLE in the same year and enjoys luring more people into infosec, making things, and climbing rocks.

Trevor Timm is the co-founder and executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation. He also writes a twice-weekly column for the Guardian on privacy, free speech, and national security issues. From 2011-13, Trevor was an activist at EFF.

Minicon-only tickets are $25, and party-only tickets are $40. A ticket good for both events is available for $50, or $45 for current EFF members. Get your ticket today!

If you can’t make it and still want to help commemorate this milestone, please consider giving to the EFF25 membership drive, our campaign to add 2,500 new and renewing members before our anniversary celebration, ensuring digital rights have an advocate for years to come.

For more information, email membership@eff.org. We're looking forward to celebrating with you!


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A Raíz de la Filtración de Hacking Team, EFF y Grupos de Sociedad Civil en Latinoamérica Hacen un Llamado por Mayores Salvaguardas Respecto a las Tecnologías de Vigilancia

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 06:37

La comunidad de seguridad digital ha estado reaccionando esta semana a documentos filtrados de la empresa de vigilancia italiana Hacking Team. Los materiales, que incluyen listas de contratos y propuestas de venta a algunos de los peores regímenes autoritarios y a países con débiles democracias, muestran una industria global de ventas de software a los estados que pueden, casi sin límite, invadir y espiar los ordenadores personales y dispositivos móviles.

Entre todas las filtraciones se hallaron informaciones que revelan una preocupante comercialización de este tipo de tecnologías en América Latina. EFF, Derechos Digitales, Fundación Karisma, R3D.mx y nuestras colegas de la región han emitido un comunicado a los gobiernos de América Latina, exigiendo una mayor transparencia sobre cómo los Estados latinoamericanos están utilizando - o mal utilizan - spyware como el vendido por Hacking Team. Esto es sólo el comienzo de una extensa y necesaria revisión del uso de estas herramientas, no sólo en América del Sur, sino en todos los países que implementen tecnologías de vigilancia intrusiva y sin supervisión o rendición de cuentas públicas.

Gobiernos de América Latina compran software espía de Hacking Team

El domingo 5 de julio, se expusieron públicamente 400GB de información de la empresa italiana Hacking Team, dedicada a la comercialización de software de espionaje para gobiernos. Los documentos incluyen facturas, correos electrónicos, datos fiscales y código fuente, entre otros archivos. Las revelaciones permiten entender los alcances a nivel global de Hacking Team, una compañía que fue catalogada en 2013 por Reporteros Sin Fronteras como uno de los “enemigos de Internet”.

El software de espionaje comercializado por Hacking Team, conocido también como DaVinci o Galileo, es un programa que infecta los dispositivos de la persona atacada, permitiendo sustraer datos, mensajes, llamadas y correos electrónicos. El atacante también obtiene acceso al micrófono, cámara y teclado para registrar imágenes, audio o cualquier otra actividad sin conocimiento de la persona afectada.

En la filtración se halló que seis países de América Latina son clientes de Hacking Team: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, México y Panamá. Dependencias como la Policía de Investigaciones de Chile (PDI), la Secretaría de Inteligencia de Ecuador (SENAIN)  la Dirección de Inteligencia Policial de Colombia (DIPOL) o el Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional de México (CISEN) han adquirido licencias de software de control remoto (RCS) a la empresa italiana. En el caso de México, se identificaron hasta 14 contratos individuales con la compañía, por parte del gobierno federal y los gobiernos estaduales, algunos de ellos sin facultades legales para la intervención de comunicaciones privadas.

Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil de América Latina rechazamos la venta y adquisición de estos programas de vigilancia, que sin controles adecuados, ponen en riesgo los derechos humanos de la región, por los siguientes motivos:

  1. El proceso de compra ha sido realizado con total opacidad. Exigimos que los Estados involucrados realicen esfuerzos para asegurar la transparencia de sus actividades de inteligencia, en particular relativos a la compra y tipo de     utilización efectiva de tecnologías que permiten vigilancia informática, ante la posibilidad real de que este software esté siendo utilizado para espiar a activistas y disidentes sin causa justificada. En 2013, la firma Kaspersky ya demostró que DaVinci fue usado para el espionaje de activistas políticos en el Medio Oriente.

  2. Debido a los bajos estándares de control legal en la adquisición y uso de las tecnologías de vigilancia en la región, se necesita una discusión abierta en los Congresos nacionales acerca de las leyes que rigen y regulan las actividades de vigilancia, sometidas al escrutinio público. Ante la posibilidad técnica de que estas actividades pongan en riesgo derechos humanos, estas legislaciones deben reflejar los estándares más altos y sujetar las acciones de los organismos de inteligencia a la autorización previa de un organismo judicial imparcial e independiente.

  3. Las labores de vigilancia de los gobiernos deben regirse bajo el principio de proporcionalidad, agotando todas las instancias legales posibles antes de violar la privacidad de un individuo. Se debe abogar por las medidas menos intrusivas y por la existencia de puntos de control estrictos. De lo contrario, no solo se violenta el derecho a la privacidad, sino que se atenta contra la  libertad de expresión, el derecho a la información, la libertad de circulación y de asociación; así como el completo ejercicio de los derechos humanos.

La empresa Hacking Team y los gobiernos involucrados son responsables de dicho espionaje en la esfera internacional. Exigimos que las empresas tengan como prioridad el respeto de los derechos humanos y no los contratos de prestación de servicios con gobiernos opresores y abusivos. A los Estados, exigimos que respeten los derechos humanos de sus ciudadanos, cesen dichas prácticas ilegales de vigilancia y transparenten el objetivo de la compra de software, el presupuesto público gastado en cada caso y las garantías tanto legales como procedimentales para evitar la violación de derechos.

Firmas

  • ACI-Participa (Honduras)
  • Asociación por los Derechos Civiles - ADC (Argentina)
  • Artículo 19 (México y Centroamérica)
  • ContingenteMX México)
  • Derechos Digitales (América Latina y Chile)
  • EFF
  • Enjambre Digital (México)
  • Hiperderecho (Perú)
  • R3D - Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (México)
  • Fundación Karisma (Colombia)
  • RedPato2 (Colombia)
  • Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa - FLIP (Colombia)
  • Fundación Acceso (Centroamérica)
Related Issues: InternationalMass Surveillance TechnologiesSurveillance and Human RightsPrivacy
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In Light of Hacking Team Leaks, EFF and Latin American Civil Society Groups Call for Greater Oversight of Surveillance Technology

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 04:53

The digital security community has been reacting this week to leaked documents from italian surveillance company Hacking Team. The documents, which include lists of contracts and sales pitches to some of the worst authoritarian regimes and countries with weak democracies, show a global industry of sales to states of software that can invade and spy on personal computers and mobile devices almost without limit. Buried in that data was information that reveals a disturbing trade in such technology across Latin America. EFF, Derechos Digitales, Fundacion Karisma, R3D and our colleagues in the region have issued a statement to Latin American governments, demanding more transparency on how Latin American states are using -- or misusing -- spyware like that sold by Hacking Team.  This is only the beginning of a long-needed review of the use of this tools, not just in South America, but everywhere that countries deploy intrusive surveillance technology without oversight or accountability.

Sociedad Civil de América Latina rechaza software espía de Hacking Team

On Sunday, July 5, over 400GB of information was publicly exposed from the Italian firm Hacking Team, a company dedicated to the commercialization of government spying software. The documents include invoices, emails, tax data and source code, among other files. The revelations allow us to understand the global reach of Hacking Team, a company that was listed in 2013 by Reporters Without Borders as one of the "enemies of the Internet."

The spying software sold by Hacking Team, also known as DaVinci or Galileo, include software that infects the devices of the attacked person, allowing the harvesting of information, messages, calls, and emails. The attacker also gains access to their target's microphone, camera, and keyboard to record images, audio, or any other activity without the knowledge of the person concerned.

The leaks indicate that six countries in Latin America are clients of Hacking Team: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama. Agencies like the Investigations Police of Chile (PDI), the Secretariat of Intelligence of Ecuador (SENAIN), the Directorate of Police Intelligence of Colombia (DIPOL), and the Center for Investigation and National Security of Mexico (CISEN) have all acquired software licenses remote control (RCS) from the Italian company. In the case of Mexico, the leak identifies 14 individual contracts between the company and federal and state governments, many of whom lack the legal authority to intercept private communications.

Latin American civil society groups reject the sale and purchase of these monitoring programs without adequate controls and that put human rights at risk in the region, for the following reasons:

  1. The buying process was conducted in complete secrecy. We demand that the States concerned make efforts to ensure the transparency of their intelligence activities, in particular  the purchase as well as the effective usage of the surveillance technology especially given  the real possibility that this software is being used to spy on activists and dissidents without cause. (In 2013, the firm Kaspersky had already shown that DaVinci was used for spying on political activists in the Middle East.)

  1. Given the poor standards of existing legal controls on the acquisition and use of surveillance technologies in the region, we need an open and public debate in Congress about the laws that govern and regulate surveillance activities, subject to public scrutiny. These activities have the potential to violate human rights, and so our laws must reflect the highest standards and require intelligence agencies to require prior authorization by an impartial and independent judicial body.

  1. Government surveillance must abide by the principle of proportionality, exhausting all possible legal remedies before violating the privacy of an individual. It should pursue the least intrusive measures and have clear points of strict control. Otherwise, not only do we risk violations of the right to privacy, but we also undermine our right to freedom of expression, the right to information, freedom of movement and association, and the full exercise of all other human rights.

  1. The company Hacking Team and the governments involved are responsible for this spying in the international arena. We demand that companies respect human rights. There should be no contracts to provide services with oppressive and abusive governments. We demand states respect the human rights of their citizens, to cease such illegal surveillance practices, and be transparent about the use of purchased surveillance software, the cost to taxpayer in each case, and the legal and procedural guarantees that are used to prevent a massive intrusion on people’s rights.

Firmas

  • ACI-Participa (Honduras)
  • Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
  • Artículo 19 (México y Centroamérica)
  • ContingenteMX México)
  • Derechos Digitales (América Latina y Chile)
  • EFF
  • Enjambre Digital (México)
  • Hiperderecho (Peru)
  • R3D - Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (México)
  • Fundación Karisma (Colombia)
  • RedPato2 (Colombia)
  • Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa - FLIP (Colombia)
  • Fundación Acceso (Centroamérica)
Related Issues: InternationalMass Surveillance TechnologiesSurveillance and Human RightsPrivacy
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EFF's 25th Anniversary Party Preview

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 04:48

We're just days away from celebrating EFF's 25th anniversary in San Francisco on Thursday, July 16. We'll be starting with an afternoon minicon, and then having a rocking party in the evening. We hope you can join us!

The party kicks off at DNA Lounge at 8 pm. We're excited to have special guest co-emcees for the evening, Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton! Cory is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. He's the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of many books, most recently: In Real Life, a graphic novel in collaboration with illustrator Jen Wang; Information Doesn't Want to be Free, an examination of earning a living in the Internet age; and Homeland, the award-winning, best-selling sequel to the 2008 young adult novel Little Brother. Wil is an actor, activist, writer, and all-around champion of geekdom. He is the creator, producer, and host of the popular web series Tabletop, which pits him against celebrity guests playing their favorite board games, and Titansgrave, a role-playing game serial show.

Our lineup of guest musicians—Midtown Social, Dual Core, and A Plus D—promise to make this party extra memorable. Midtown Social is a high-energy, 9-piece ensemble blending soul, funk, and rock, and we're excited to start our celebrating with their distinct style and spirit. We'll also enjoy a performance from hip hop duo Dual Core, pioneers of the nerdcore genre, fiendishly clever lyricists, and long-time EFF supporters. A Plus D, also known as DJs Adrian and Mysterious D, will close off the evening with masterful mash-ups. A Plus D are the creators, producers, and DJs of Bootie, the the world's biggest bootleg mashup club night. As tireless torchbearers of the mashup artform, the colorful duo spin a bootlegged blend of pop, electro, indie, hip-hop, rock, '80s & '90s retro, and whatever else moves a dance floor. We know from experience—they know how to bring the party.

In addition to special toasts, live music, and dancing, we have a few other fun surprises for our guests. You can, at your discretion, commemorate the evening with a opt-in photo at our photobooth. We'll also have art by Sustainable Magic, who bring creativity into the world by inspiring, creating, and educating with interactive art. Keep your eyes peeled throughout the night for their work around DNA Lounge, including welded flowers with motion-activated petals that bloom to reveal rainbow LED light shows amid clusters of fiber optic stalks.

Minicon-only tickets are $25, and party-only tickets are $40. A ticket good for both events is available for $50, or $45 for current EFF members. Get your ticket today!

If you can’t make it and still want to help commemorate this milestone, please consider giving to the EFF25 membership drive, our campaign to add 2,500 new and renewing members before our anniversary celebration, ensuring digital rights have an advocate for years to come.

For more information, email membership@eff.org. We're looking forward to celebrating with you!

Special thanks to Automattic for their sponsorship and support!


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Europe Blocks Progress for Libraries and Educators at WIPO

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 04:22

Last week negotiators from around the world came together as the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) standing committee on copyright (SCCR) resumed consideration of its two current work items: the on-again, off-again broadcasters' rights treaty, and the harmonization of minimum copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives, and education.

EFF has opposed the former for close to a decade because it would give broadcasters new exclusive rights over any material that they broadcast, regardless of whether they own the copyright in that content, nor whether it is copyrightable at all. We support the latter, because it would clarify the rights of librarians, archivists and educators to carry out their important missions in the digital age, and as such is a natural and overdue counterpart to the WIPO Internet Treaties which similarly updated the rights of copyright owners almost two decades ago.

On both counts, the week ended in a by-now familiar impasse, with no formal agreement being reached on either subject. But in the case of the broadcasting treaty, there was a sense of progress. Most member states now agree that new rights should be extended to traditional broadcasters to prohibit the unauthorized use of broadcast signals in the course of a transmission over any technological platform—including the Internet.

We are concerned at the forward momentum of this ill-considered proposal in the SCCR, which would grant new privileges to an industry that is doing perfectly well without them. This would come at the cost of users and innovators who would be cut off from exploring a range of transformative activities using broadcast media including public domain material.

Europe Doesn't Want an “Effective Solution”

The looming prospect of new broadcasters' rights is worrisome enough, but just as concerning is the unsympathetic reaction that libraries, archives and educators received over their pleas for an instrument that would secure their ability to function in the online environment—to give just one example, allowing libraries to lend digital copies of documents to institutions in other countries.

Much of the blame for this can be laid on the European Union. Their representatives have been absolutely uncompromising against any recognition of the challenges that libraries, archives, and educators face in a world where their traditional activities now typically involve acts of digital copying, yet where the limitations and exceptions to authorize this are patchy and inconsistent.

The meeting's chair had prepared a set of weak compromise recommendations that eventually most of the developed (“Group B”) states, as well as the Central European and Baltic States (“CEBS”) grudgingly accepted, which would have directed the Committee “to continue and expedite its work on the topic of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives” and “for educational, teaching and research institutions and persons with other disabilities.”

For the regional groups from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the compromise was too weak, and they pushed for stronger language that called for work towards an “international legal instrument in whatever form,” which in itself is short of a call for a treaty. In the end a further compromise between these positions and the chair's draft, “to focus work towards an effective solution to the issues that affect libraries and archives,” was inexplicably rejected by the European Union, and the meeting concluded with no recommendation whatsoever.

This leaves the future of the committee's work on limitations and exceptions in the hands of the next WIPO General Assembly, which is a larger meeting of WIPO states that covers all topics, not just copyright. Having said that, there is no assurance that anything will be agreed there either, since the last General Assembly ended in a stalemate too.

The Future of the SCCR?

With little progress being made on the issues currently before the committee, delegates have been searching for new work items that might produce quicker results. During this meeting, one such new item was proposed—a resale royalty right for visual artists, which would entitle them to a cut of the proceeds of the resale of their works. But since such a right contravenes the U.S. first sale doctrine, this hardly seems a likely candidate for swift passage through the SCCR either.

The new proposal is symptomatic of a false assumption of European policymakers, also evident in the broadcasting treaty proposal, as well as the link tax or “ancillary copyright” proposals. The assumption being that the solution to the economic distress of creators or creative industries is to encumber their work with additional copyright-like rights. They could not be more wrong.

To the extent that markets are unable to support creators to the extent that society deems optimal, there are many other mechanisms, both public and private, available to support them, a few of which include grants, endowments, prize funds, and crowdfunding. Europe should be looking more closely at those, rather than doubling-down on exclusive rights that impede access to knowledge and culture.

But until Europe is prepared to engage in a constructive and balanced manner, it is difficult to see what kind of future the Standing Committee on Copyright has. The days when it was seen as WIPO's role to promote rightsholders' interests only are long gone; the Marrakesh Treaty for the blind and visually impaired is proof of that. The developing country regional blocs won't stand by and allow Europe a free pass on its pro-rights-holder measures without any quid pro quo for users. Neither will EFF.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalBroadcasting Treaty
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US-Installed Ukrainian-Style "Democracy"

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 04:20
US-Installed Ukrainian-Style "Democracy"
by Stephen Lendman
Western leaders calling fascist dictatorships democracies should scare everyone. It suggests the kind of governance they want domestically - rule by brute force while waging endless wars abroad, Orwell's worst nightmare underscored by potential nuclear armageddon.
Washington installed Ukraine's Nazi-infested dictatorship last year. Nightmarish conditions prevail - police state ruthlessness by any standard. Lawful rule is nonexistent. Anyone challenging fascist illegitimacy faces imprisonment or death. 
Elections are farcical when held. Press freedom is prohibited. Independent journalists are kidnapped and murdered. Russophobia rages. Ethnic Russians are considered fifth column threats. Anti-Semitism is rife.
Corruption is out-of-control. Economic bankruptcy looms. Workers aren't being paid. Wages for those getting them are sub-poverty - benefits increasingly nonexistent.
Money Ukraine can't afford is spent waging war on Donbass - millions of dollars daily. More goes for enforcing police state harshness.
Lunatics run things. Illegitimate President Poroshenko is a militantly anti-Russian billionaire mega-crook/war criminal. Others in key posts resemble an FBI most wanted list.
Ultranationalist ideologue Dmytro Korchynskiy was wanted by Kiev's Yanukovych government for high crimes. He's an international fugitive.
He operates freely in Ukraine. He fought with Chechen rebels against Moscow in the 1990s. He calls Russia "the house of Satan." He wants it destroyed and its people "liberated."
On prime time Ukrainian television, he called for establishing concentration camps for Donbass and Crimean residents. He cited US internment of its Japanese citizens in WW II as justification. "In wartime, they constituted a potential threat," he claimed.
Nazi-infested paramilitary battalions maraud with impunity.  Mass murder goes unpunished - from Odessa to elsewhere in Donbass. Daily shellings and other attacks continue.
Ukraine's parliament approved legislation justifying human rights violations in Donbass. It claimed "its right to regress from its obligations…in the international pact on civilian and political rights" in southeastern areas.
Human and civil rights exist nowhere in Ukraine - least of all with daily junta attacks on Donbass, including residential areas.
Kiev so-called constitutional reform violates Minsk ceasefire terms. According to Russia's upper house Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko:
"The new Constitution of Ukraine does not comply with the Minsk Accords as it (was prepared) without (required) dialogue with DPR and LPR (Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic).
Regime officials enforce economic blockade exacerbating dire economic conditions. Poroshenko bloc MP Yuri Lutsenko called Donbass "a cancerous tumor," urging tighter isolation.
Russia continues providing a vital humanitarian lifeline. Thirty convoys delivered food, medicines and other essential supplies. Despite all-out Moscow efforts to resolve conflict conditions diplomatically, resolution is nowhere in sight. 
Washington wants war, not peace. It wants Donbass freedom fighters systematically crushed, its civilian population ruthlessly punished for living in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Weeks earlier, Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections (EODE) administrator-general Luc Michel said "glorification of fascism and neo-Nazism, and historical revisionism that goes along with it, are not unique to Ukraine" today.
"They accompany every stage of NATO expansion East - in particular the Baltic states and Romania."
The scourge of Nazism's reemergence in Europe's heartland openly supported by Washington and rogue NATO partners should scare everyone. Will WW III follow?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Deadlock in Vienna

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 03:42
Deadlock in Vienna
by Stephen Lendman
Washington obstructionism leaves Iran nuclear talks deadlocked as another deadline approaches for resolving remaining issues. Years of standoff persist.
Obama wants a one-way deal on his terms - demanding unreasonable Iranian concessions, raising the bar continually for more, wanting Iran subjugated and isolated as part of a longterm plan to replace its government with a US-controlled puppet regime letting Big Oil plunder its hydrocarbon resources.
Fars News cited an informed source close to negotiations saying "serious" issues remain unresolved.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said "(n)othing is definite yet. Some differences are still there, but we are trying."
An unnamed Iranian negotiator said "70 percent of the technical annex to the final nuclear deal between Tehran and the six major world powers has been drafted."
It's one of five annexes to a final agreement if reached. It covers nuclear R & D, Fordo's underground facility, the Arak heavy water reactor and types of centrifuges for stable isotopes production.
"According to the technical annex, all the nuclear activities of Iran will continue," the Iranian negotiator said. At the same time, a final deal remains elusive.
Among other unresolved issues, Fars News said "there are four (enriched uranium stockpile) options on the table which are still under discussion, including (its) dilution…exchanging it with raw uranium plus the enrichment costs, and selling the excess fuel."
At the same time, US-installed IAEA director general Yukiya Amano falsely alleges possible military dimensions (PMD) to Tehran's peaceful nuclear program - despite no evidence suggesting it. Iran justifiably calls his claims baseless.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday's deadline could "slip." Last weekend, John Kerry said "(w)e are not where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues. This negotiation could go either way."
He indicated Washington is prepared to walk away if its unreasonable demands aren't met. Congress has 30 days to decide up or down if a final deal is reached by July 9 - 60 days if later, either way a deal killer.
Given enormous Israeli Lobby pressure and Washington's hardline stand, resolving things fairly and equitably for Iran seems virtually nil - besides America's odious history of breaching deals reached (including by reinterpreting them) and blaming others for reneging.
Iran nuclear talks have continued on and off for over a decade without resolution - despite knowing its program is peaceful.
At issue is its sovereign independence, Washington wanting it replaced with US-controlled stooge governance, and Israel wanting its main regional rival eliminated.
On the one hand, nuclear talks are red herring cover for Washington's long sought regime change. On the other, giving Congress final say on any deal reached assures undermining whatever may be consummated.
Chances for resolving things equitably with Iran and ending decades of hostility are virtually nil. What follows remains to be seen. Expect nothing positive.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

FBI's Revival of Crypto Wars Part II Continues At Two Hearings in Congress

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 03:32

The FBI wants to ensure everyday people can't use strong encryption. For over nine months FBI Director James Comey has been pushing the FBI's twenty-year-old talking points about why he wants to reduce the security in your devices, rather than help you increase it. Director Comey will appear at two hearings about cryptography on July 8: The first in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by another in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here's a summary of the many myths and misstatements you'll hear from Director Comey. If they sound familiar, it's because regulating and controlling consumer use of encryption was a proposal declared dead in 2001 after threatening Americans' privacy, free speech rights, and innovation for nearly a decade. Comey and others are trying desperately to bring this idea back to life, and just like last time, we need your help to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

Director Comey will probably say, "Backdoors or weakening encryption won't create security risks."

This simply isn’t true. But you don’t have to take our word for it—you can read what an all-star cast of computer scientists and security researchers has to say about this myth.1

What are some of the problems? First, it's hard to secure communications properly even between two parties. Cryptography with a back door adds a third party to the secure communications channel, requiring a more complex protocol, and as computer security expert Steven Bellovin puts it: "Many previous attempts to add such features have resulted in new, easily exploited security flaws rather than better law enforcement access." In the past, security researcher Susan Landau has pointed to actual security holes in Cisco wiretapping architecture designed to accommodate law-enforcement requirements. The same is true for Google, which had its "compliance" technologies hacked by China.

All of these are examples of how backdoors make it to easier to break into communications networks. In the past Director Comey has said that smart people will be able to overcome these technical problems, but a who’s-who of computer security and encryption experts (including some of the same people who invented the encryption the Internet relies on today) disagree.

The bottom line is that backdoors are a threat to computer security. Director Comey should already know this.

Director Comey will probably say, "Companies can create backdoors only for the 'good guys.'"

The FBI is trying to convince the world that some fantasy version of security is possible—where "good guys" could have a back door or extra key to your home but bad guys could never use it. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of security can tell you that's just not true. In a previous speech, Director Comey called for a "debate" on the topic. But the "debate" Comey calls for is phony, and we suspect he knows it. Instead, Comey wants everybody to have weak security, so that when the FBI decides somebody is a "bad guy," it has no problem collecting personal data.

Director Comey will probably say, "U.S. backdoors will help stop the 'bad guys.'"

Users who want strong encryption will be able to get it — from Germany, Finland, Israel, and many other places in the world where it's offered for sale or for free. In 1996, the National Research Council did a study called "Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society," nicknamed CRISIS. The study noted encryption products are available from multiple countries and US government publications, which comprise a wide source of material almost impossible to censor. Unless the government wants to mandate that you are forbidden from running anything that is not U.S. government approved on your devices, they can't stop bad guys from getting access to strong encryption.

Director Comey will probably say, "It is lawful and Constitutional."

The details of how a ban on strong cryptography or other backdoor mandate will be unconstitutional will vary, but there are serious problems with nearly every iteration of a "no real encryption allowed" proposal we've seen so far. Some likely problems:

  • The First Amendment would likely be violated by a ban on all fully encrypted speech.
  • The First Amendment would likely not allow a ban on software that allows untappable secrecy. Software is speech, after all, and this is one of the key ways we defeated this bad idea last time.
  • The Fourth Amendment would not allow requiring disclosure of a key to the backdoor into our houses so the government can intrude on our "papers" in advance of a showing of probable cause, and our digital communications must not be treated any differently.
  • The Fifth Amendment prohibits any required disclosure of one’s private papers (likely including cryptographic keys) and the forced utterance of incriminating testimony.
  • The Constitution protects, in one form or another, a right to privacy. Both the right to be left alone and informational privacy rights would be implicated by the scheme that Director Comey is suggesting.
Encryption Must Continue to Flourish

We're sure Director Comey will pitch some scary hypotheticals to the committee members and the public about why weak encryption must exist. But the FBI has been reading from that same script since 1995 under former FBI Director Louis Freeh. Director Comey is wasting time—his, ours, and Congress’—relitigating an issue that the FBI and federal government fought—and lost—in the 1990s called the Crypto Wars. Some reprisals from the 1990s are worth it. But others—including the FBI's move to weaken our encryption—should remain forgotten.

You can watch the streams online at the Judiciary and Intelligence Committee's websites. You can also help make sure encryption continues to flourish by voicing your support. And don’t forget to check back after the hearings for any updates.

  • 1. Full disclosure: two of the authors of the MIT report (John Gilmore and Bruce Schneier) are members of EFF’s board. They co-wrote the report in their individual capacities, however, and not on behalf of EFF.
Related Issues: PrivacyCALEALaw Enforcement Access
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Powerful Coalition Letter Highlights Danger of ICANN’s New Domain Registration Proposal

eff.org - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 01:35

EFF has joined 46 organizations and 105 individuals to oppose a new domain registration proposal in front of the Internet Corporation for Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN). From Academy Award-winning documentary film director Laura Poitras to the National Council of Women's Organizations to Chayn, an organization that works to combat domestic violence in Pakistan, the vast array of organizations and individuals signed on to this letter reflects just how misguided this proposal is. We hope ICANN will reject the flawed proposal, which comes from a smaller ICANN Working Group, especially in light of this unified opposition.

ICANN is the nonprofit corporation that oversees the global domain name system, and it sets the policies that govern domain name registrar companies. Every domain name has an entry in the public WHOIS database that anyone can view, and it includes, at the least, a name, mailing address, and phone number.

Domain registrants have long been able to use domain privacy services, sometimes called proxy registration. When using a privacy service, the service’s own contact information appears in the WHOIS database instead of the domain owner’s. The Working Group’s new proposal would require privacy services to turn over the domain registrant’s private contact information or even list that information in the public database, based on a mere accusation of copyright or trademark infringement—no court order required.

Even worse, a few members of the Working Group would like ICANN to ban privacy services entirely for websites that are used for a “commercial purpose”—which is broadly defined and includes “handling online financial transactions for commercial purpose.”

As the coalition letter points out, this proposal threatens a wide range of people who have good reason to want to keep their information private:

  • women indie game developers who sell products through their own online stores
  • freelance journalists and authors who market their work online
  • small business owners who run stores or businesses from their homes
  • activists who take donations to fund their work, especially those living under totalitarian regimes
  • people who share personal stories online to crowdfund medical procedures

Even without the ban on privacy for “commercial” websites, the proposal creates serious privacy problems for website owners. Accusations of copyright and trademark infringement are easy to make and easy to abuse, and the working group proposal doesn’t impose any consequences for false or abusive accusations.

The danger posed by having a home address made public is serious:

"Doxing" is the malicious practice of obtaining someone's personal information (e.g. home address, phone number, etc) and making that information more readily and widely available. Doxing makes possible a wide range of crowdsourced harassment and intimidation, which includes everything from unwanted pizza deliveries to unrelenting barrages of rape and death threats.

And as Katherine Cross, a sociologist specializing in research on online harassment and gender in virtual worlds points out, “A WHOIS search is by no means the only way to dox someone, but we should be making it harder to acquire such information, not greasing the skids… Would-be doxers don’t need help from the Internet’s custodians.”

She’s absolutely right. Doxing and other forms of harassment that involve the use of someone’s home address can be profoundly damaging to the free speech and privacy rights of the people targeted—and these types of harassment are frequently used to intimidate and silence the most marginalized groups. Privacy isn’t a philosophical question. For some, it's a matter of access to the Internet, especially for those who need it most. That’s often women, minorities, and people with unpopular political views.

That’s why we’re excited to have such a broad coalition signed on to this letter. Digital rights groups like Fight for the Future and EFF have signed on alongside a plethora of anti-domestic violence advocacy and women’s rights organizations from around the world. Celebrities like Chris Kluwe, Ashley Judd and Amanda Palmer have joined voices with Internet luminaries like Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, and Harvard Professor Jonathan Zittrain. The signatories also include the Tor Project and Wickr, recognizing that real security and anonymity would be impossible for many should this proposal become policy.

Who does support this proposal? Certainly not everyone in ICANN, or even most of the Working Group. The Noncommercial Stakeholders Group, which is part of the Working Group, is fighting to keep strong privacy protections in the policy. And most of the Working Group opposes the idea of treating “commercial” domains differently. The Working Group’s report notes:

The WG agrees that the status of a registrant as a commercial organization, non-commercial organization, or individual should not be the driving factor in whether [privacy and proxy] services are available to the registrant. Fundamentally, P/P services should remain available to registrants irrespective of their status as commercial or non-commercial organizations or as individuals.

We agree. No special treatment of "commercial" domains is warranted. The Working Group should stay the course on rejecting that distinction.

In fact, as we’ve already pointed out, this proposal seems to be almost exclusively supported by the entertainment industry and major commercial brands, who say that they need to be able to discover the identities of website owners on request, without a court order, in order to enforce their trademarks and copyrights.

This isn’t necessary. Copyright and trademark infringement can be investigated using existing legal processes, like subpoenas, under a court’s supervision. While court oversight isn’t a perfect system in any country, it generally provides for notice to those whose privacy is threatened, a way for them to challenge a loss of privacy, and avenues of appeal. The working group proposal would give entertainment companies and commercial brands a cheaper and potentially faster way to get the identities of website owners, but those entities already have ample tools that are less prone to abuse.

You can read the whole letter and see the signatories here. ICANN hasn’t made any decision on this proposal yet, so it’s important that they hear from lots of different people and organizations who may be affected. That’s why we’re proud to join this coalition letter, and that’s why you should submit your own comments to ICANN today, the last day of the public comment period. You can make yourself heard by signing the petition at https://www.savedomainprivacy.org/. With your help, the proposal to create barriers to privacy, or even ban it altogether for some websites, won’t advance any further.

Ultimately, whether ICANN adopts this proposal comes down to a very simple question: what does ICANN care about more? The safety and security of vulnerable Internet users, or a little expediency for corporate trademark and copyright holders?

Related Issues: Copyright TrollsAnonymityInternational
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Planned US Coup in Greece?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 23:39
Planned US Coup in Greece?
by Stephen Lendman
Washington's geopolitical strategy when bullying fails is either assassinating independent leaders, color revolutions, military coups or naked aggression.
If Moscow-based independent investigative journalist John Helmer is right, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a marked man and SYRIZA governance on thin ice showing cracks.
He said "(a) putsch in Athens to save allied Greece from enemy Russia is in preparation by the US and Germany, with backing from the non-taxpayers of Greece  - the Greek oligarchs, Anglo-Greek shipowners, and the Greek Church." 
"At the highest and lowest level of Greek government, and from Thessaloniki to Milvorni, all Greeks understand what is happening. (Sunday) they voted overwhelmingly to resist." 
"According to a high political figure in Athens, a 40-year veteran, 'what is actually happening is a slow process of regime change.' "
Wherever neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland shows up (Hillary Clinton's handpicked choice for the job), trouble usually follows.
Helmer says she's "in charge of warmaking in Europe." Her notorious involvement in Ukraine's February 2014 coup is well documented.
According to Helmer, she gave Tsipras two ultimatums in Athens last March - surrender to Troika demands and remain allied with US-dominated NATO's anti-Russian agenda.
Her spokeman Mark Toner said Washington is "focused on, frankly, the opposite (of Sunday's referendum), which is finding a path forward that allows Greece to continue to make reforms (more austerity), return to growth (by letting Troika bandits rape its economy and population), and remain in the Eurozone."
Since the 19th century, Greece had five military coups or attempted ones. Junta dictatorship ruled from 1967 - 1974. Another one can't be ruled out.
Over five dozen former high-ranking military officials fired a shot across the bow declaring their "oath to the Fatherland and the Flag. By choosing isolation, we place the Fatherland and its future in danger," they warned. 
They publicly called for a "yes" vote ahead of Sunday's referendum. Will not getting it mobilize them along with other Greek dark forces, Washington and Brussels to oust Tsipras forcibly or otherwise?
Grexit "will make our country weaker," they claimed - even though Greeks weren't asked about it and most oppose the idea. "We will lose allies that have stood by our side. We will lose the strength we gain from associations and groupings to which we belong historically and culturally," the former military officials said.
Ties to Washington and Brussels run counter to what best serves long-suffering Greeks.
Will conditions be made worse than ever by greater austerity if coup rumblings become reality? Is this US/Eurogroup's Plan B?
Helmer cited political sources in Athens saying Tsipras and other SYRIZA officials acted preemptively to prevent one - replacing military and intelligence leadership with their own "but not radically."
Moscow remains skeptical about Tsipras withstanding Washington/Brussels pressure - especially given dominant Germany's hardline position.
He faces enormous pressure. His six months in office shows he promises Greeks one thing and does another.
He agreed to nearly all Troika demands. Not good enough. They want total surrender. Germany's Merkel and France's Hollande told him to capitulate fully for further bailout aid.
Greek banks remain closed. They're close to collapse. The ECB raised the amount of collateral they must post for further emergency loans.
Does Finance Minister Varoufakis' resignation signal Tsipras' capitulation to follow - negating popular opposition to austerity he pledged to support?
Hollande spoke for himself and Merkel saying Tsipras must "offer serious, credible proposals" for bailout help - code language for demanding unconditional surrender, a Greek Versailles.
He and new Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos are heading to Brussels for further talks. Hardline Troika officials intend cutting them no slack.
Will Tsipras cave to their demands and betray millions of Greeks in the process? Given his record so far in office, it's hard imagining otherwise. Hopefully he'll surprise but don't bet on it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Obama Declares Permanent War on Humanity

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 19:34
Obama Declares Permanent War on Humanity
by Stephen Lendman
Obama heads Washington's lunatic fringe - a criminal gang waging endless wars, deploring peace, and pursuing phony war on terrorism to advance their imperial aims while at the same time threatening humanity's survival.
Flanked by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey and other top Pentagon warriors on Monday, Obama underscored his permanent war agenda, saying "(t)his will not be quick. This is a longterm campaign…generational," he stressed.
"ISIL is opportunistic and it is nimble…It will take time to root them out" - especially when plans call for continued support, not defeating them.
So-called counterterrorism efforts to degrade and defeat their forces and other takfiris is a ruse - a thinly veiled scheme for endless wars against invented enemies, recruiting, arming, funding, training and using them as US proxy foot soldiers against nations it wants ravaged and destroyed.
Claiming "progress" against the Islamic State contradicts reality. Endless wars rage in multiple theaters. More are planned.
US terror bombing in Syria and Iraq aims to destroy their infrastructure, topple Assad, replace him with a US-controlled puppet, and balkanize both countries for easier control.
Saying America "will never be at war with Islam," belies Obama's imperial campaign against Muslim countries since day one in office.
A previous article discussed possible Turkish invasion of Syria to establish a northern buffer zone bordering both countries. Jordan may have the same thing in mind in southern Syria.
Israel wants more Syrian land on the phony pretext of protecting its Golan area Druze population - at the same time it's supporting takfiris threatening them, part of its campaign to oust Assad.
Over 3,000 US combat troops are in Iraq. After deploying another 450, Obama suggested more may come.
US military spending matches or exceeds the rest of the world combined at a time America's only enemies are ones it invents - to be "prepared for future threats," Obama blustered.
One Iraq war of aggression wasn't enough for neocon/unindicted war criminal Tony Blair. Earlier he urged another one based on a similar litany of Big Lies proliferated before invasion in 2003.
Washington hawks want greater war. Presidential aspirant Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) called for sending 10,000 US troops to Iraq. Others in Congress want more.
Neocon Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R. AZ) wants US intervention everywhere - especially more US troops in Iraq and deploying them in Syria.
Earlier he accused Obama of having "no coherent (regional) strategy" - too few wars he wants more of, not enough chaos and disorder to justify them.
Obama's strategy to restore regional peace and stability is endless wars, more military spending at the expense of vital homeland needs, and harsh crackdowns on homeland dissent.
As long as America is run by rogue warrior leaders and congressional hawks, world peace will be up for grabs. Never before was it threatened more than now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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.

The Best Job Ever? What Life Is Like As An EFF Activist

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:55

Most mornings, I wake up, turn on my computer, and check to see if there are any new threats to digital rights. Perhaps a new surveillance program has been revealed, or a bill to censor the Internet has been introduced, or there’s a privacy policy change to a major social network that will affect millions of people's privacy. When a major threat is on the horizon, I’ll check in with the other activists at EFF, and we’ll formulate a game plan for our response. Since I’m leading the team, I’m more of an editor than a blogger on the front lines of the digital rights fight. But I still wade into the fray every week or so, helping articulate the civil liberties impact of some obscure technical issue or proposed surveillance law. 

When there isn’t a breaking threat, we focus on long-term writing, education, and strategizing projects.

I start my day working from home, but I tend to head to the office by midmorning. Once there, I spend the day surrounded by brilliant attorneys, technologists, activists, and supporting team members all deeply committed to making sure the technology of tomorrow upholds values of free speech and privacy. EFF is a place filled with true believers, where the passion for civil liberties echoes through the halls.

People often ask me, "What’s a typical day like for you?" The answer is: the details change, but every day I’m grateful for getting to work on complicated, cutting-edge policy issues that influence the digital experiences of people across the world. My coworkers are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, the office environment is funky and relaxed, and I get a lot of self-direction in my work. Most importantly, I get to do something I love: write about technology policy.

And doing this work helps change the world. One blog post can fuel a national media firestorm. An annual scorecard can force billion-dollar tech companies to overhaul their policies. With an action alert, we can kill bad legislation, and with a letter we can influence policy makers to introduce better measures the next time. It’s hard to be a cynic when you can objectively measure your impact on the world. 

I bring this up because we’re searching for a new activist to add to the team, and we want people to know how awesome this job is.

If you’re intrigued, then there are a few things you should know before you apply:

1. We win through words. The single most important part of an EFF activist’s job is writing. We blog about tech policy, craft mailings, engineer activism campaigns, unleash the power of social media, and work on longer-form documents, like whitepapers, coalition letters, and formal comments to rule-making bodies. We also do a fair amount of public speaking, whether that’s presenting to a packed house at a major tech conference, giving an interview to a national cable TV show, or engaging with a dozen EFF members at a small hacker space.

Suffice to say, being an activist means producing a lot of high-quality writing on tight deadlines and being able to set aside your ego to work collaboratively with attorneys, computer scientists, and folks at other organizations. The job also involves diving headfirst into new, difficult policy issues and conceptualizing fresh ways to have an impact. This job requires someone whose analytical skills are as strong as their imagination. Former journalists tend to thrive in these positions, as do creative writing majors. However, you don’t need to be formally trained in writing. We are considering a wide range of experience level to find the right person to join our team. What's important is that you have a passion for writing and that you write often. A personal blog and Twitter account are often great ways to showcase writing talent.

Not much of a writer? Check out our listings for a Ruby developer and a junior designer.

2. You’ll be obsessed with software patents before you know it. The specific position we’re hiring will work closely with the patent reform team, pushing for strong legislation in Washington and showcasing horrible trolls. Patents are a hot topic with huge implications on speech, innovation, education, and businesses big and small. We realize that many people applying to the job won’t have a background in patent reform. So don’t stress about that. If you care about civil liberties online and you’re excited about technology policy, then we can teach you about software patents.

3. San Francisco is actually really great. I often hear from people who’d love to work at EFF, but want to know why they can’t work remotely from Austin or Amsterdam or someplace else. The short answer is: we are an organization of very opinionated people trying to use consensus-driven conversations to craft policy positions. In many years of doing this work, we’ve learned time and again that having people in one room together helps us reach consensus faster and more efficiently (and with good will intact!).

We also find that we’re able to create a community by having people work together from the same office, and that’s something we value tremendously. Everybody at EFF feels connected both to each other and the mission, and we like that we can meet in the halls, have spontaneous conversations, and connect outside of the workplace. While we continue to experiment with people working remotely, this is a position that involves stopping by somebody’s office almost as often as it necessitates sending an email.

The Bay Area is a truly amazing place, packed with culture, diversity, acceptance, and innovation. And, yes, it’s true that San Francisco is expensive. We work to help make the city affordable for everyone at EFF by offering help with student loans, rental assistance and home-buying programs. We also cover the cost of moves for out-of-town new employees.

4. A culture like no other. EFF is committed to creating an environment that accepts everyone for who they are. We are the type of place that has gender-neutral restrooms, vegan options in the snack machine, and an internal staff list for sharing grindcore music recommendations. (Also, dogs! So many dogs!) We’re not just coworkers, but a community, organizing game nights, movie outings, and home-brewing lessons on the side.

From the outside, the hierarchy of EFF isn’t immediately recognizable. That’s because many of our decisions are arrived at by consensus; whether you’re a 15-year veteran of EFF or our newest employee, everyone’s views and experience are valued. If you identify an injustice that you’d like to correct, it isn’t hard to find someone else on staff to join your team.

Excited? We hope so. Check out the job listing for details and please send in a resume ASAP. We’re beginning interviews later this week.


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New Leaked TPP Chapter Shows Countries Converging on Anti-User Copyright Takedown Rules

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 08:31

A draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's "Intellectual Property" chapter from May 11, 2015 has recently been leaked to journalists. This is the fourth leak of the chapter following earlier drafts of October 2014, August 2013, and February 2011. The latest leak is not available online and we don't have a copy of it—but we have been briefed on its contents.

In most respects the chapter follows previous drafts pretty closely; for example, the text on DRM circumvention and copyright term are both largely unchanged. But there is one area in which significant progress has been made since the last draft, and this is in the text on intermediary liability rules. Specifically, the new change involves the immunity that Internet companies enjoy from copyright liability, provided that they satisfy certain safe harbor conditions.

Under the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), these safe harbor conditions require Internet intermediaries to comply with a “notice-and-takedown” process. This has seen legitimate content taken off the Internet in response to bogus claims of infringement, as in the famous dancing baby case, as well as being misused for political censorship. Until now, one point of contention among the TPP partners has been whether countries that don't already have an equivalent to the DMCA's broken notice-and-takedown rules would be forced to adopt one.

Alternatives to Notice-and-Takedown

Several of the TPP countries already have systems that are significantly better than the DMCA. For example, Canada's groundbreaking notice-and-notice regime, which only commenced this year, notifies users of copyright claims without requiring any content to be taken offline automatically. Similarly, Chile has a 2010 notice and judicial-takedown regime that requires a judge to review any takedown before it takes effect. And Japan has something of a hybrid—a judicial order is not required, but takedown requests are verified by a trusted self-regulatory authority before the intermediary acts on them.

The latest leak suggests that the U.S. is now likely to accommodate at least some of these existing intermediary liability regimes, rather than forcing a carbon-copy of the failed DMCA on its TPP partners. The text does enforce a more generalized model of limitation of liability for intermediaries for third party content, and imposes a range of conditions before they qualify for that protection. But those conditions are now broad enough to accommodate a Japanese-style system in which a self-regulatory authority, formed by intermediaries and rightsholders with government involvement, is required to verify notices of claimed infringement before they are acted on.

Chile (supported by Vietnam) has inserted a footnote to this ISP liability text, indicating its proposal that a judicial authority should be required to verify notices of claimed infringement, rather than the self-regulatory authority that Japan proposes. The U.S. has not explicitly noted its objection to that proposal, though this may simply be because as a minority proposal not yet reflected in the main text, it hasn't yet advanced to the point where the U.S. feels it necessary to express its disagreement. Or perhaps negotiations are still ongoing on this question.

Whither Canada?

What about Canada? Interestingly, Canada's system is not accommodated within the main text, but in a separate annex. The annex would exempt a country (such as Canada, implicitly) from the requirement to have a notice-and-takedown system provided that it already has a system in place requiring intermediaries to pass on notices of alleged infringement to their users.

But in exchange for this “leniency”, such a country has several superadded copyright enforcement obligations that other countries do not: most notably, they must also impose secondary liability on intermediaries for services that are primarily used to enable copyright infringement, and must require search engines to remove cached copies of copyright-infringing items after the originals have been removed.

Neither of these are good ideas. Imposing liability on intermediaries for services that can be used to infringe copyright inevitably also ensnares general purpose technologies such as cloud storage services and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). And as for the removal of infringing copies from search engines, the context in which copyright works are presented can raise a case of fair use (or fair dealing, Canada's equivalent). That is, it may be fair use for a search engine to provide a point-in-time archive of material that it has indexed, even if in its original context that material may have been infringing.

More fundamentally, we worry about this horse-trading of one strict copyright enforcement measure for another. Canada's notice-and-notice system is not a “second best” alternative to notice-and-takedown, and therefore there is no justification for the TPP to force Canadians to supplement it with additional enforcement measures that could have negative effects of their own.

A Few Notable Improvements

There are some other notable changes to the draft that are positive, and follow recommendations from the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability. For example:

  • The text now requires parties to provide penalties for knowingly false takedown notices (but also for false counter-notices).
  • Content that has been removed in response to a takedown notice must be restored if a valid counter-notice is received.
  • A failure of an intermediary to satisfy safe harbor conditions should not automatically make them liable for the user's copyright infringement—it just means that they are no longer protected from being found liable in court.
  • The limitations on liability that intermediaries enjoy may not be made conditional on their proactively monitoring uploads to their networks.

But despite these few concessions, welcome as they are, the text as a whole is not geared towards dealing adequately with the human rights of users. Why should we expect otherwise? It is, after all, drafted by trade experts, at the direction of trade ministries, informed by corporate-stacked advisory groups who are not interested in freedom of expression and the open Internet, but in greasing the wheels of commerce. These few improvements in the intermediary liability text are just that—grease to allow these intermediary standards to slip past the defenses of the countries that have been resisting the imposition of U.S.-style rules until now.

Intermediary liability rules are much more than a trade issue. It is indeed an issue that deeply impacts human rights—since it is only when they are shielded from liability that intermediaries are appropriately incentivized to foster users' freedom of expression and freedom of association online. Such rules ought not to be crafted by small groups of trade negotiators behind closed doors.

This latest leak indicates that the negotiating countries are coming closer to consensus on common intermediary liability rules. Although that text may be looking better than in previous drafts, the TPP members' surrender of control over developing such rules to a closed, captured process is not good news. Taken together with the remaining threats from the IP chapter, such as enhanced protection for digital locks, trade secret rules that could be used against journalists and whistleblowers, criminal sanctions for even non-financially motivated but large scale infringement, and the extension of copyright term by 20 years, the case for us to fight the TPP has never been more compelling.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrade Agreements and Digital RightsTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Open Data Bills Move Forward in California

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 05:45

While California may be home to some of the most aggressively forward-thinking tech companies in the world, that enthusiasm for innovation hasn’t carried over to the public sector. State and local governments have been frustratingly slow to make public data available online. There hasn’t been anything close to a statewide standard, leaving individual agencies to voluntarily develop open data policies, often in an inconsistent and piecemeal fashion, or not at all.  

That would change if the California legislature passes two bills, S.B. 573 and S.B. 272, which would put state and local government bodies respectively on the path to open data.

The general philosophy behind open data is that datasets maintained by the government agencies are public records and should be, by default, machine-readable and downloadable from public websites. Open data allows for greater analysis and oversight by citizen watchdogs, researchers, and journalists, and creates many opportunities for civic-minded coders to create new tools for interacting with the government. 

While these bills aren’t quite as robust as transparency zealots like us would prefer, they do put California on the right track to greater transparency, accountability, civic engagement, and innovation by expanding public access to government data.

S.B. 573 – State-level Open Data

Sen. Richard Pan’s S.B. 573 would establish the position of Chief Data Officer for the state of California. This executive officer would be tasked with creating an open-data roadmap, open-data guidelines, an open-data working group, and a statewide open-data portal. 

Currently, the California Attorney General’s office has provided guidelines used statewide for compliance with the California Public Records Act.  However, the California Department of Justice isn’t particularly well suited for advocating open data, as evidenced by our recent battle over the office’s short-lived policy of only providing wiretap data in a “locked PDF” format.  Creating a new officer whose primary job is to research and promote open data will go a long way to address this issue.

Of course, the bill could be much better.  For example, the timeline described in the bill would require the state government to publish 150 datasets by June 1, 2017. That’s a pretty mediocre commitment, considering that data.ca.gov already links to more than 120 datasets. The state could move much faster.

We’ve also urged the legislature to strengthen the bill by including non-profit transparency groups in the open data working group. We would also like to see the Chief Data Officer tasked with ensuring that data is accurate and complete, in addition to being available to the public.

We’re also glad that the bill specifically mentions privacy, because open data can make it easier to identify individuals even after attempts to strip identifying information like name, gender, address, birth data, phone number, and Social Security number.  In our letter supporting the bill, we asked that the Chief Data Officer and the open-data working group evaluate potential “reidentification” effects, which have been of particular concern for public health data

S.B. 573 passed out of the Senate with a strong majority and will be heard on July 7 in the Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee

S.B. 272 – Local Government Data Inventories

Sen. Robert Hertzberg’s S.B. 272 would require local government agencies to publish a list of all the information systems ("enterprise systems") they maintain. These catalogs of data would include basic details for each database, including a description of the purpose for the system, how the data is collected and updated, and the vendor providing the software or hosting for system. This last point is important for ensuring accountability in this age of outsourcing.

However, this bill does not require local agencies to actually publish the dataset themselves online, although the legislation does serve as a stepping stone to potential future expansion similar to S.B. 573 (in fact, local agencies would have access to the same tools developed by the Chief Data Officer). In the meantime, these inventories would serve as a menu of sorts from which the public can request data through a California Public Records Act request. 

We’re not thrilled that the legislature has exempted school districts and other local education agencies from the bill’s requirements. We see no reason that the public should not be able to learn basic information about how schools and their vendors collect and store information about students and teachers, especially as private “cloud” companies become more involved in schools.

S.B. 272 passed unopposed in the Senate and is set for a hearing on July 15 in the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government. 

Update: On July 6, S.B. 272 was amended, changing "information systems" to "enterprise systems," and "school districts" to "local education agencies." We have adjusted the post accordingly.  

Related Issues: Transparency
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Hillary Clinton Wants BDS Campaign Undermined

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 05:22
Hillary Clinton Wants BDS Campaign Undermined
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article explained Clinton threatens world peace. Among an array of presidential aspirants looking more like a police lineup than legitimate candidates, she especially stands out as pure evil - the most dangerous of the bunch.
She represents everything most people should reject - eager to destroy what's left of freedom in America while waging endless wars of aggression abroad, including the madness of possibly challenging Russia and/or China confrontationally. 
She's militantly pro-Israel at the expense of denying Palestinians their fundamental rights in perpetuity by endless occupation.
She'll one-sidedly "stand up for Israel" if elected president, she said - no matter how cruelly it persecutes Palestinians, including mass murdering them at its discretion.
As a New York senator, she said "undivided Jerusalem as (Israel's) capital…must never be questioned" - or its status as "a Jewish state," regardless of its 20% Arab population. She supported cutting off Palestinian aid ignoring the harm it would cause. She's an AIPAC favorite for good reason.
Global BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activism is the most effective movement against Israeli lawlessness, hitting hard where it hurts most - economically as well as exposing its phony image as a democratic state.
Last week, Clinton expressed alarm about BDS activities - urging ways be found to counter its "attempts to delegitimize Israel."
She wrote Israeli/American billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban asking advice "on how leaders and communities across America can work together to counter BDS" - aiming to "punish" Israel, ignoring long overdue accountability for crimes too grave to ignore.
"From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith (explaining) why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike," she said.
She expressed concern about "compar(ing) Israel to South African apartheid" - ludicrously calling it "a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces (nonexistent) threats to its survival."
She stressed how "(t)ime after time (she) made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel - and that's what I'll do as president."
She called "(t)he Jewish state…a modern day miracle - a vibrant bloom in the middle of the desert. We must nurture and protect it."
Despite at times disagreeing with Israel earlier, she remains a staunch supporter - in her book "Hard Choices," saying:
"Despite our policy differences, Netanyahu and I worked together as partners and friends…But even when we disagreed, we maintained an unshakable commitment to the alliance between our countries."
She said an attack on Israel with her as president "would incur massive retaliation from the United States" - unilaterally without UN Security Council authorization as required.
She was an early supporter of its apartheid wall. She co-sponsored the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act to block aid to its legitimate Hamas government.
She co-sponsored the 2003 Syrian Accountability Act - a measure aimed to counter its nonexistent support for regional terrorism and WMD development.
She bashes Iran irresponsibly every chance she gets - making vicious, baseless claims, including urging "use (of) every tool at our disposal" to halt its nonexistent spread of terrorism and nuclear weapons development.
She defended numerous US Security Council vetoes of resolutions critical of Israeli human rights violations and other egregious policies.She supports its naked aggression against defenseless Palestinians - including willfully attacking civilians.
"I have been proud to do my part to keep (US/Israeli ties) rock-solid over the years," she said earlier - claiming it's "my privilege to be a friend of Israel."
"America's commitment to Israel's security will never waver" - no matter the body count of its innocent victims or risk of greater regional war.
Clinton's unwavering support for Israeli policies no matter how egregious is one of many reasons to oppose her presidential candidacy. If elected, she’ll endanger everyone.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Turkey Mobilized to Invade Syria?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 02:44
Turkey Mobilized to Invade Syria?
by Stephen Lendman
Syrians have suffered horrendously since Obama launched proxy war in early 2011 to replace Bashar al-Assad with a US-controlled stooge, eliminate an Israeli rival and isolate Iran with plans to topple its government ahead - perhaps the same way as against Syria or maybe by joint US/Israeli war.
Don't be fooled by ongoing nuclear talks no matter how they turn out. Washington and Israel want all regional independent governments ousted. Endless wars explain their imperial agendas.
On Monday, Press TV reported possible Turkish intervention in Syria. Thousands of troops and heavy armaments are mobilized along its border ready to invade if ordered.
The pretext is fighting ISIS. Ankara is one of its main supporters. The objective is establishing a so-called security zone (about 100 km long and up to 15 km wide), crushing Kurdish fighters to prevent their leaders from forming an independent state, and perhaps acting as a US proxy force against Assad.
Al-Monitor reported an unnamed source saying preparations for military operations will be ready "by the second week in July…despite all the challenges."
If invasion doesn't follow, "cautious" Turkish generals will have prevailed over aggressive ones and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risking Turkey "getting caught in (the) Syrian quagmire."
Today's Zaman reported prominent Turkish academics, activists and journalists voicing concerns over possible Syrian intervention.
Activist writer Tatyos Bebek expressed deep concern on behalf of nearly 200 noted individuals, saying:
"...Erdogan's personal political interests could plunge Turkey into regional or international conflict, and we are deeply concerned over the president's moves in that regard. We need to immediately remove military intervention from the political agenda."
"Disguised as dealing with ISIL, the plan for military intervention will in reality, if it happens, probably target the cantonal system founded by (the Syrian) Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava." 
"This kind of military operation will reverse the gains of past two years during the peace process and the state will once again have declared a war against the Kurdish people," as well as intervening directly against Syria.
Turkey's June 7 general election showed its people want peace, not war. Erdogan's governments isn't known for being populist.
Hurriyet Daily News reported unnamed Turkish military sources saying reports of border mobilization for invading Syria "do not reflect reality."
Last week, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "no immediate plans" exist. Then why are top-level military commanders discussing the possibility? Why a belligerent show of force along the Turkish/Syrian border?
Al-Monitor compared a possible invasion to Israel earlier controlling southern Lebanon to the Litani River after its 1982 war without UN authorization - lawless aggression, the supreme crime against peace. It ended badly in 2000 forcing withdrawal.
An unnamed Turkish security source told Al-Monitor incursion "requires clear operational orders, a clear strategic goal, clear rules of engagement, clear definitions of friend and foe and a well-drawn-out calendar." 
"At the moment all these are very unclear, even obscure. Under such uncertainty, how can you issue operational and tactical orders to your units?"
Erdogan apparently favors intervention - perhaps in collaboration with Obama's anti-Syrian bombing and ground war using ISIS and other takfiri terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers.
Whether Turkey's military shows restraint remains to be seen. Reports suggest its general staff is wary of involvement because of significant challenges and international ramifications. From what Al-Monitor reports, things could go either way. Key is what Washington has in mind.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Caving to Government Pressure, Visa and MasterCard Shut Down Payments to Backpage.com

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 02:31

Visa and MasterCard confirmed that they have cut off payment services for Backpage.com, an online platform for people to advertise goods and services. This was in response to public pressure from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who wrote to executives at both of the payment processors urging them to cut off transactions to Backpage’s adult services. The two companies responded by quickly shutting down payments for the entire site. 

Backpage hasn’t violated the law, and so Sheriff Dart can’t use the law to take down the website. Instead he’s using a tactic we’ve seen before, getting major financial services companies to put a chokehold on controversial online content producers like WikiLeaks and independent book publisher Smashwords.

We don’t need Visa and MasterCard to play nanny for online speech. Payment processors and banks shouldn’t be in the position of deciding what type of online content is criminal or enforcing morality for the rest of society. For one thing, their businesses haven’t been designed to analyze the legal and societal issues at play in various forms of online expression. Second, these businesses will almost always err on the side of shutting down controversial speech—thereby eliminating a nuisance or public affairs problem—rather than taking a principled stance in support of unpopular speech.

That’s why courts, not companies, should determine what type of speech is legal on the Internet.

Backpage.com can be used to sell an old refrigerator, find a new apartment, post about new community workshops, find a job, and offer many other services and goods. It also hosts an “adult” section of the site, where some people advertise escort services or try to connect with people who have similar sexual interests. This “adult” section requires visitors to confirm they are at least 18 years of age and allows users to get resources for reporting cases of suspected sexual exploitation with one click. 

Dart asserts that he’s concerned about people abusing Backpage.com for nefarious purposes such as human trafficking, even though the site isn’t designed with that in mind. And he’s not the only one: politicians and law enforcement agents have been pressuring Backpage.com for years to shut down the adult section of the site

Let’s stop for a moment and acknowledge one area where we agree wholeheartedly with Dart: human trafficking is atrocious. We strongly condemn the violation of human rights that occurs whenever a human being is sexually exploited or forced into physical labor against his or her will. Human trafficking is a massive human rights issue that deserves focused, dedicated attention from lawmakers, law enforcement, and the public. It’s also a heinous crime that merits severe punishment for those who perpetrate it. 

Backpage, however, is not engaged in human trafficking. It shouldn’t be treated as if it were. 

The law is on Backpage’s side. To date, attempts to pass laws that would hold a website accountable for the content posted by users have been defeated, such as a Washington state law EFF successfully fought in 2012.  Backpage is also protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which ensures that websites that host content—like WordPress, Facebook, and others—aren’t liable for the content of the messages that their users post. And that’s a good thing. This law has been a cornerstone for free speech online, ensuring that Web hosts don’t have to police their users and can focus on providing a great experience–even if their users’ views are controversial or unpopular.  As we’ve argued before, CDA 230 protects Backpage from liability for user-generated advertisements.

One could imagine a world where we had many payment providers, each operating independently, to ensure that even if one major payment service caved to governmental pressure there would be many others to offer services to less popular sites. But that’s not the case. Instead, the overwhelming majority of online payment services are connected to MasterCard and Visa. So when they both shut down a website’s services, the business must either acquiesce to their demands or risk going out of business.

We appreciate that Visa and MasterCard may be facing serious pressure from law enforcement, both in this case and in others. But we’d urge the two financial giants to strive for neutrality in offering payment services and resist government requests.  And that starts by reinstating Backpage’s services.

As for Sherriff Dart, we wish he’d turn to the real problems of human trafficking and exploitation. Rather than attack neutral websites and payment providers, law enforcement should focus its investigations and enforcement efforts on actual criminal suspects.

Related Issues: Free SpeechSection 230 of the Communications Decency ActRelated Cases: Internet Archive v. McKenna
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Tuesday Court Hearing Over Absurd Copyright Claim in Family Home Movie

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 00:15
‘Dancing Baby’ Case Fights DMCA Takedown Abuse

San Francisco - On Tuesday, July 7, at 9 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge an appeals court in San Francisco to confirm that Internet users—from Ms. Lenz to remix artists to scholars to documentary filmmakers—have real protection against baseless content takedowns.

Lenz v. Universal is often called the “dancing baby” case. It started in 2007, when Stephanie Lenz posted a 29-second video to YouTube of her children dancing in her kitchen, with the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy” playing on a stereo in the background. Universal Music Group sent YouTube a notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), claiming that the family video infringed the copyright in Prince’s song. EFF sued Universal on Lenz’s behalf, arguing that Universal abused the DMCA by improperly targeting a lawful fair use. In the hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on Tuesday, EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry will tell the court that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice, or face legal liability.

Lenz’s video is back on YouTube as this long-running court battle continues, but the issues at stake are very timely. Earlier this month, a British newspaper tried to use a DMCA notice to take down criticism of a story it had published. Additionally, heated political campaigns—like the upcoming presidential primaries—have historically led to a rash of DMCA takedown abuse, as criticism of politicians often include short clips of campaign appearances in order to make their argument to viewers.

Keker & Van Nest LLP serves as co-counsel on the case.

WHAT:
Lenz v. Universal

WHEN:
Tuesday, July 7
9 am

WHERE:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse
Courtroom 3, 3rd Floor Room 307
95 7th Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

For the “dancing baby” video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KfJHFWlhQ

For more on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/lenz-v-universal

Contact:  Rebecca JeschkeMedia Relations Director and Digital Rights Analystrebecca@eff.org
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"No" Supporters Win in Greece: Now What?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/07/2015 - 18:55
"No" Supporters Win in Greece: Now What?
by Stephen Lendman
Sunday evening in Greece should have been time for celebrations. "No" votes won decisively with over a 61% majority.
Phony corporate media polls showed the "yes" camp prevailing - to discourage "no" supporters from voting as well as swing undecided ones to accept Troika demands.
At the same time, heavy-handed Troika and corporate media tactics bombarded Greeks with relentless fear-mongering, Big Lies and threats for voting "no." 
It didn't work. In this respect, Sunday's vote was a huge triumph. Ordinary people had some say over their futures - a moment of democracy in an ocean of monied-controlled tyranny. Hold the cheers.
Greeks got the wrong choices -  either to accept most Troika austerity demands or all of them instead of up or down on accepting or rejecting them entirely.
Alexis Tsipras was elected on a mandate of ending austerity. He called it "unacceptable." Yet he largely surrendered to Troika demands and may entirely ahead (despite voters saying "no") in return for more impossible to repay odious debt - blood money slowly destroying Greece's economy along with euro entrapment overriding its sovereignty - hardly a cause for celebration.
What's ahead remains to be seen. For sure, punishing austerity will continue. Likely more will be added. Troika officials already are talking tough. Ignore what they say. Follow what they do.
The ECB governing council will meet Monday to decide if more support for Greek banks will be extended. France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said "(i)f the No wins, it would be a historic mistake to crush the Greek people."
Former ECB president Jean-Claude Tricket called "(t)he probability of a catastrophe for the Greek people…high."
Germany's Angela Merkel heads to Paris Monday to discuss Sunday's results with France's Francois Hollande. Troika officials scotched prospects for emergency talks on Greece. One official said they "would not know what to discuss."
At the same time, Reuters reported the European Commission and EU executive meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday - then briefing European Parliament members on what they discussed.
German Social Democrat (SPD) party deputy parliament head Axel Schaefer said "EU leaders must get together immediately, even on Monday. The situation is too serious to leave to finance ministers."
"You have to have confidence in the ability of the ECB to act. We must use all the possibilities in the EU budget to help Greece, which is still a member of the euro and the EU."
European Parliament president Martin Schulz was defiant saying a "no" vote means Greece "will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment."
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt indicated the door remains open for further talks.
Eurogroup president/Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece jeopardized its currency union standing. There is no room for further talks.
German Vice Chancellor/Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said little chance remains for reaching compromise with Athens.
At the moment, things are in unchartered waters. Greece can't borrow in capital markets. Remaining trapped in the euro straightjacket prevents it from controlling its monetary and fiscal policies.
The obvious solutions aren't taken, no matter the intermediate term pain unavoidable on a path back to economic health. Euro strangulation is slowly killing Greece. It's destroying other weak European economies.
Nations can't operate effectively without full sovereign control over their affairs - notably monetary and fiscal policies. Euro membership denies it - letting Troika bandits run Greece's economy instead of its elected government.
The clear solution for Greece is renouncing its odious debt, exiting the Eurozone, turning East for help, and accepting Russia's invitation to become the sixth BRICS member with access to its New Development Bank (NBD) for financial help on equitable, not loan shark terms. Direct Russian and Chinese help is available on the same basis.
Instead, Tsipras said he's ready to resume negotiations with predatory creditors bent on looting Greece entirely.
"Our immediate priority is to restore our banking system's functioning & economic stability," he twittered."
Chief Greek negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos said referendum results make it easier to reach an agreement with creditors. Not at all. Troika bandits don't negotiate. They demand. 
Yielding to one country means others to follow, weakening the euro system en route to ending it entirely at some point.
The Eurozone and EU are failed systems - exploitive so monied interests can benefit at the expense of ordinary people in return for benefits too inconsequential to matter.
Sunday's vote was important in one respect. It was a victory for resistance over powerful monied interests ruling the world destructively for their own anti-populist interests.
It's meaningless unless followed through with sustained refusal to accept continued predatory exploitation until it's eliminated altogether or weakened enough to end its one-sided dominant control.
Tsipras made it clear he intends reaching an agreement for more bailout help in return for greater austerity than already. Sunday's victory sadly looks pyrrhic. The wild card is how Greeks will react in response.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/07/2015 - 18:28
Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt
by Stephen Lendman
All police states operate the same way. America is no different - nor Israel.
Civil law applies for Israeli Jews - not Palestinians. They're subject to military kangaroo court justice. Rubber-stamp convictions follow. Fundamental international rule of law principles don't apply.
A new B'Tselem report explains how Israel's system works for Palestinians - titled "Presumed Guilty: Remand in Custody by Military Courts in the West Bank." They're one of the main ways Israel enforces occupation harshness. 
Since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians were victimized by tribunal injustice. "Detention is injurious by definition," B'Tselem explained. 
"It cuts people off from their lives, families, and surroundings." They're totally at the mercy of prison officials and guards showing them little or none.
Palestinians suffer horrifically under gulag conditions. Thousands of Palestinians are brought before military tribunals annually on bogus charges or none at all - including demonstrating peacefully, belonging to the wrong political organization or alleged stone-throwing.
Automatic guilt is standard practice. Justice is systematically denied. Remand proceedings alone expose gross injustice.
B'Tselem calls it "detention for the duration of all legal proceedings in the case of a person whose questioning and investigation has been completed and who has been formally charged." 
"Individuals on remand are not serving a prison sentence. They have not been sentenced, (or) found guilty. They are being held in custody when they should be presumed innocent."
Former Israeli Chief Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar explained as follows, saying:
"The defendant's very detention raises a serious preliminary question. This is, after all, a person who has not yet been convicted." 
"He is presumed innocent, and our experience shows that the presumption of innocence is not just a matter of theory, but that it is often substantiated when a defendant is acquitted."
Except for traffic violations not subject to imprisonment, remand most often is standard practice. Innocence is no defense. Military prosecutors routinely request detention and get it from military judges. The entire system reflects militarized police state injustice.
In theory, judges require three conditions for remand:
  • prima facie evidence of guilt;

  • at least one legal basis as justification; and

  • no alternatives to detention in their judgment.

In practice, IDF judges operate any way they wish. "The threshold for (acceptable) prima facie evidence is so low that it poses no obstacle to the prosecution," said B'Tselem. 
Virtually anything is acceptable no matter how bogus - regardless of complaints about abusive interrogations amounting to torture. The civilized world rejects so-called confessions extracted this way. Israel relies on them to convict and imprison.
Presumptions replace so-called "grounds for detention." No evidence is required or claiming it's secret for security reasons is good enough. So is saying suspects pose a danger to society or represent a flight risk.
Even in occasional cases when judges permit release, bail is set much higher than most Palestinians can afford.
Because justice in Israeli military courts is virtually impossible, most defense lawyers seek plea bargains. If clients go to trial, they'll often spend more time in detention than sentences imposed.
Arrests nearly always automatically assure detention - charged or held uncharged and untried administratively, indefinitely if Israel wishes.
Unlike civil justice for Israelis, military courts enforce occupation harshness - the longest by far in modern times at nearly half a century with no sign of it ending.
"(M)ilitary judges and prosecutors are always Israeli," BTselem explained. "They are soldiers in uniform enforcing martial law on the civilian Palestinian population living under military rule." 
"The people who take part in administering the occupation are on one side, while the regime's subjects are on the other. Military courts are not an impartial, neutral arbitrator. They are firmly entrenched on one side of this unequal balance."
Due process, judicial fairness and other international norms and standards don't exist. Police states make their own rules. They bear no relation to fundamental rule of law principles.
Israeli military courts are a cesspool of injustice. Numerous examples explain. On Monday, a Jerusalem military judge sentenced 23-year-old Odai Mofeed Bayyoumi to 13 months imprisonment plus four more suspended for expressing his views on Facebook.
Israel charged him with "incitement" for comments judged anti-Israeli. In May, 28-year-old Sami jamal Faraj Ideis was convicted of anti-Jewish social media comments. He'll spend eight months in prison on the bogus charge of supporting "terror."
Numerous other Palestinians face similar charges. Police states operate this way. Justice is systematically denied.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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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