Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance

By Edward J. Snowden | The New York Times


Editor’s Note: Since the Patriot Act & USA Freedom Act have been so much in the news lately, amid a heated debate   about security & civil liberties, it is informative to see what one of the men, so instrumental in making a lot of this happen, has to say about society’s progress in finding the right balance between governmental rights & private citizen rights. The following is that commentary.

MOSCOW — TWO years ago today [i.e., June 5, 2015], three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.

Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.

Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.

This is the power of an informed public.

Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers.

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Spymasters in Australia, Canada and France have exploited recent tragedies to seek intrusive new powers despite evidence such programs would not have prevented attacks. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain recently mused, “Do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” He soon found his answer, proclaiming that “for too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

[Read more here]

At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders.

Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift. We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects. ☐

TPP Could ‘Undermine Health of Web’ Say 250+ Tech Companies and Digital Rights Groups

‘We simply cannot allow our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital policy for the 21st century,’ says Electronic Frontier Foundation

"The Fast Track process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies," say digital activists. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

“The Fast Track process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies,” say digital activists. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

More than 250 tech companies and digital rights organizations on Wednesday sent a joint letter to Congress, blasting the corporate-backed trade deal they say “actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies…while undermining the health of the entire Web.”

The letter (embedded below)—whose signatories include AVG Technologies, DreamHost, Namecheap, Mediafire, Imgur, Internet Archive, BoingBoing, Piwik, Private Internet Access, and more than 200 others—calls on Congress to come out against Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, which they say “legitimizes” the secret process under which mammoth trade pacts are negotiated.

“The Fast Track…process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies while giving the biggest players even more power to set policy that benefits a few select companies while undermining the health of the entire Web,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future.

In particular, the letter expresses concerns about how the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership—which it notes goes “far beyond the scope of traditional trade policy”—would impact everything from net neutrality to online freedom of expression to digital innovation.

“We simply cannot allow our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital policy for the 21st century,” said Maira Sutton, global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The TPP is a huge threat to the Internet and its users. Full stop.”

Leaked portions of the TPP agreement and the current Fast Track bill indicate “that no one is even considering the impact on the digital economy and digital rights,” added Mike Masnick, founder of the Copia Institute, a new ‘digital-native’ think tank.

For example, the letter reads: “The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected profits. Companies can use this process to undermine U.S. rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open Internet and users’ rights to free expression online.”

David Heinemeier Hansson, partner at Basecamp and creator of the popular Ruby on Rails web development framework: “TPP makes a mockery of democratic legislative ideals. It’s shrouded in secrecy exactly because it would wither in sunlight. It’s a terrible piece of overreach to endow a few special interests with enormous and unsavory power. The whole thing needs to be scrapped and started over. International trade is too important to have it hitched to this collection of wishful thinking by a select few.

That such provisions have been crafted with minimal transparency should serve as a warning, said author and journalist Cory Doctorow, who declared: “Democracies make their laws in public, not in smoke-filled rooms. If TPP’s backers truly believed that they were doing the people’s work, they’d have invited the people into the room. The fact that they went to extreme, unprecedented measures to stop anyone from finding out what was going on—even going so far as to threaten Congress with jail if they spoke about it—tells you that this is something being done to Americans, not for Americans.”

The full letter is embedded below:

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to you as a community representing thousands of our nation’s innovators, entrepreneurs, job-creators, and users to express our concern over trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Despite containing many provisions that go far beyond the scope of traditional trade policy, the public is kept in the dark as these deals continue to be negotiated behind closed doors with heavy influence from only a limited subset of stakeholders.

The recently-introduced Fast Track bill (the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, “the Bill”) would not remedy the utter lack of transparency of the negotiation process, nor does it include any language to ensure that these deals would contain safeguards to protect our interests in freedom of expression and innovation online. These are just some of our specific concerns we have:

*    Threats to Fair Use: The TPP contains language that could prevent countries from expanding exceptions and limitations to copyright. The Fast Track Bill also contains nothing to promote balance in copyright law. This is despite how much value fair use has added to the U.S. economy and could add for investors in the growing economies of our trading partners.

*    Expensive and Harmful Costs of Online Enforcement: U.S. law incentivizes online content providers to take down content over a mere allegation of infringement. The TPP will likely emulate these rules, continuing to make it expensive and onerous for startups and small companies to oversee users’ activities and process each takedown notice.

*    Criminalizing Journalism and Whistleblowing: TPP’s trade secrets provisions could make it a crime for people to reveal corporate wrongdoing “through a computer system.” The language is dangerously vague, and enables signatory countries to enact rules that would ban reporting on timely, critical issues affecting the public.

*   Investor-State Courts Jeopardize User Protections: The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine U.S. rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open Internet and users’ rights to free expression online.

Overall, the Bill would legitimize the secret process that has led to these provisions, while doing nothing to ensure that these agreements would enable lawmakers to work towards striking the right balance between the interests of copyright holders and those of users and innovators. As such, we urge you to come out against the Fast Track bill and call on your colleagues in Congress to do the same.


ACN Telecommunications & Energy
Adafruit Industries
Advanced Surfaces and Processes Inc.
Airborne Surfer Media
Aldine Publications, LLC
Alpine Travel Services
Archer Law Offices PC
Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC
Automation Technology, Inc.
Autopia, Ltd
AVG Technologies
Babel Consulting, Inc.
BAGeL Radio
Bay Buys, LLC
Bead & Reel
Bilerico Media LLC
Black Hills Computer Consulting, Inc.
Blue Dog Mobile Marketing
Blue Gothic Design Studios, LLC
BlueTree Website Design
Bohemian Jedi
Boing Boing
Breakwind Farm
Butterflies & Blueberries, Inc
Catalysta LLC
Cell Nation, Inc.
Cheezburger Network
Chocolate Pocket, LLC
Civic Hall
CoachAccountable, LLC
Collaborative Design and Planning
Comatose Podcast
Computer Fix-It
ComputerGiant Consulting, Inc.
Concentric Sky, Inc.
Connect Everywhere LLC
Copia Institute
Create Your Health, LLC
CREDO Mobile
Cultural Circle Poetry Workshops
Curren Media Group
Deskninja Studios LLC
DJs Computers
Dobson Computer Svcs
Duct Tape Programming
eCnet Solutions
Eden Foods
Edison Cimputers, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Ellicottville Real Estate
Engineered Fear, LLC
Eric A. Wessman, Photographer, LLC
ET Productions
Euphonic Studio LLC
EvoText Inc.
Expri Communications LLC
Extracto Enterprises (dba Extracto Coffee Roasters)
Facture Studios
FarSight Data Systems
FDA Consulting, LLC
Fight For the Future
Floorchan Networks
GCP Design & Marketing
Giganator games
GlowHost.com, LLC
Golden Frog
Great Scott Technology LLC
Griffae Design, LLC
GSM Nation
Hacktron Technology Inc.
Handmade Interactive LLC
Harrison’s Websites
HD Supply
HomeWorks REI
Honor Health
Humblebee Media
Ignition Digital
Infinite Functions, Inc.
Inspiro Business Solutions
Intelligent Solutions, LLC
Internet Archive
JJ Industry
Juan Calvillo Photography
JWorks Studios
Kaup Communications
Kestrel Biologic
Knowledge Ecology International
Koame Systems International
Lakehub, LLC
Laurel Digital, LLC
Liquid Mastering
Local Loop Farms
Local Wave Maker, LLC
Ludwig Sewing Machine Company
Lulu Luna
m & e tech new york
Marc Berner Music
Married to Health
Massachusetts Pirate Party
MCM Inventions, Inc.
McSwain Photography
Mechvision, Inc.
MediaIgniter, LLC
Melody Lanes Recording
Merchant Services Group LLC
Metamuse Media
Minvera Hosting, LLC.
Mojo Bureau
MonadCloud LLC
Moons Over Missouri
Mortar Data Inc.
Move To Amend
MrG Associates
Munnich Design LLC
Myrick Visual, LLC
Namecheap, Inc
Natalie Cannon’s Editorial Services
Native American Films
Nelson Specialties Co.
Netcetera, Inc.
New Games
Node-Nine, Inc.
North Coast Radiology
NY Tech Meetup
Occupy Bellingham
Ocean Motion Media, LLC
OceanSky Web Design
Off-Road Concepts
OnHolyGround Networks, LLC
Open Heart Press
Out Front Magazine
PacifiCAD Incorporated
Pacius Designs
Panelist Media
Participatory Culture Foundation
Pawzii, Inc.
Penny Films
Personal Democracy Media
Personal Technology Consulting, LLC
Pete Miller’s Water and Wildlife Studio
Phoenix Quintet
Phosphoros Media, LLC
Pixel8, Inc
Private Internet Access™
Pryor Computer Forensics
Purple Sail Creative LLC
Quaraishi Enterprises
QuipTracks LLC
Ralphie’s Portal
Read Andra Watkins LLC
Relatively Free Press
Research Associates
Right Angles Technologies Inc.
RO Productions
Rylen & Rhys Originals
Ryno Media House
San Juan Tech Services
San Juan Update
Sentinel SDK
SEO Hosting and Design
SHS Forum
Silicon Engines
Sixth Sensitivity
Snap Synapse LLC
Social Hamlet
Sound Data Services
Spilled Milk Catering
Spiritbody Inc
Studio Z Mendocino
Sturgeon Advertising
Success Systems International
Sue Kauffman Fitness
Synergy Marketing
Tau Ceti
Tax Lien Software Development and Analytics LLC
TechPointPro LLC
That Ruled Productions
The Eagle Directory
The General Store Seattle
The Laboratory Arts Collective Llc
The Modern Trade
The Naked Villain Society
The Public Society
The Regulator Online
The Sound Guy, Inc.
Thirstea Cafe
ThisGuys Development
Thompson Films, LLC
ThoughtWorks, Inc.
Thunder Puppy Art
Thunderclap, Inc
Tiny Design Studio
tNY Creative LLC (DBA tNY.Press)
Tom’s computer repair
Trade Inflo
Trophies ‘N Tees
TunnelBear Inc.
Twin Peaks Creative
Unchained Creations
Update International
USA Corporate Services Inc.
Web Magi
Well Spent
Whatsits Galore
Whistling Kettle, LLC
Wicked Liquid
Willow Technology, Inc.
Wizards Familiar
Wolfestar Design
woolly&wise LLC
X Desk Publishing


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

#IFEELNAKED Seeks to Expose the Evils of the CISA Bill

By Robert O’Leary, J.D., BARA


Now you may think that what you will be asked to do in this article is some kind of late April Fool’s prank, but it’s not. It is instead meant to share with you a kind of brilliant form of activism. It is timely, to be sure, as it is about a congressional bill that could be voted on very soon…any day now.

In a very creative and off-beat campaign, one organization is trying to bring home how violative, of our privacy and peace of mind, is the unbridled and more and more “legal” right of our government to spy on us. In 14 years of the Patriot Act, there is no assurance that it has been effective in making us safer, yet to be sure it has taken away a lot of our rights. See OccupyTheory, “List of Pros and Cons of the Patriot Act”, January 1, 2015, https://occupytheory.org/list-of-pros-and-cons-of-the-patriot-act/. All these years later, it is still around, intact and unchanged.

An important part of it, known as Section 215, is slated to expire in June of this year. As Soda News tells us, “Section 215 is often referred to as the Patriot Act’s “library records” provision because it allows the FBI to order a library or any other source to produce, without a warrant showing probable cause (as required under the Fourth Amendment), all “tangible things” belonging to its target of interest including “books, records, papers, documents, and other items.” That includes books borrowed and websites visited by the target while at the library. Niceties demanded by the Fourth Amendment are ignored in Section 215 as long as the FBI “specifies” that its order is “for an authorized investigation … to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”” See Yo’Adrienne, AFCL, “Patriot Act’s Illegal Section 215 Due to Expire June 1, 2015, April 8, 2015, https://www.sodahead.com/united-states/patriot-acts-illegal-section-215-due-to-expire-june-1-2015/question-4777118/?link=ibaf&q=patriot+act+expire+june+2015. As you  might expect, this crates a large scope of power for the government, and critics of this section of the bill wish for it to not be renewed.

Almost simultaneously, however, the Cyber Internet Sharing Act (i.e., CISA) Bill threatens to enact another piece of legislation, worse than the Section 215in place. So, the proponents of enhanced surveillance have ensured that they have 2 opportunities to get what they want.

This campaign seeks to stop that. Rand Paul is threatening a filibuster as this CISA bill is such an important bill to fight. Various websites have made their voices heard. We can support this worthy cause by taking the action at https://www.ifeelnaked.org/?t=dXNlcmlkPTU0ODQ4MzI5LGVtYWlsaWQ9OTc1Mg==

Here is what the website, www.ifeelnaked.org states:


NSA spying makes us feel violated. It’s like a strip search, online. As a crucial vote looms, show Congress how you feel. Add your photo to join the protest”

Now, don’t worry, just as the “bucket challenge” had an out, you don’t have to post a photo, as the website states:

“Can’t add a photo, contact Congress instead” [by clicking on the those words]

It’s up to you how you want to participate. And if you decide to go for it, just do it in your own way. You don’t have to light up any candles, put on slow jazz or soul music, unless you want to. I have found the photos all to have been done pretty respectfully while getting the point across.

So, please check it out and see if you want to join the #IFEELNAKED campaign.

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.com



New Snowden Archive Offers Public Access to Surveillance Docs

Activist Post

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has announced the launch of the Snowden Archive, a comprehensive database of all of the documents published to date from the Snowden leak.

Created in partnership with the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, the Archive is the world’s first fully indexed and searchable collection of publicly released Snowden documents.

The Archive is a powerful resource for journalists, researchers and concerned citizens to find new stories and to delve deeply into the critically important information about government surveillance practices made public thanks to Edward Snowden.

“We are extremely proud to launch the Snowden Archive as a tool for Canadians, and the world, to better understand the scope and scale of mass surveillance programs,” said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. “We believe this tool is just the start of many important stories to come, and hope this will help the public engage in conversation about government surveillance practices.”

The Archive allows users to search Snowden documents by:

  • Agency that created the document in question
  • Journalist and media outlet that first broke the story from the document
  • Full text of the document
  • Keywords, surveillance program names and more

“Investigative journalists and university researchers share a public interest mission to advance understanding of controversial issues. This is exemplified in the collaboration between CJFE and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto to make available the Snowden Archive,” said Professor Andrew Clement of the University of Toronto. “The Archive can help everyone learn more about how our governments are watching us all.”

Project Partners and Supporters
The Snowden Archive is the result of collaboration between Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Politics of Surveillance Project at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. The Archive was designed and built by George Raine, a recent graduate of this Faculty’s Master of Information program, with the assistance of Jillian Harkness, currently a student in this program. Supporters of this initiative include the Surveillance Studies Centre, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Queen’s University; the Digital Curation Institute, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; and the Centre for Free Expression, Faculty of Communications and Design, Ryerson University.

About CJFE
CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others’ free expression rights. cjfe.org

About the Politics of Surveillance Project
The Politics of Surveillance Project has as its mission to render more publicly visible and democratically accountable the hidden forms of surveillance that are increasingly a part of everyday life. It is a sub-project of The New Transparency: Surveillance and Social Sorting, a seven-year Major Collaborative Research Initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Snowden Archive and additional information on the project can be found at cjfe.org/snowden

Snowden: “I Should Have Leaked Sooner”


citizenfournowdenA day after Citizenfour, a documentary in which he stars, won an Academy Award, Edward Snowden along with director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald sat down for a Reddit AMA.

Snowden, the former NSA-hand turned whistleblower, basically blew the lid off the National Security Agency’s intelligence-gathering procedures, embarassing the U.S. governnment, angering its allies and throwing tech vendors into a quandary over how to protect people’s data without running afoul of the government. His leaking of key information to Greenwald, Poitras and Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, prompted some to call him a traitor while others see him as a hero fighting to protect citizens’ rights to privacy.

One burning question from the AMA was, what does Snowden, who has been in Moscow since June of 2013, regret most about the events of the past few years? Mostly that he hadn’t done what he did earlier:

read rest of the article here

Big Win for Net Neutrality Advocates


FCC Chief Announces Big Win For Net Neutrality Advocates

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revealed a big win for net neutrality advocates on Wednesday, asking for strong authority to enforce open Internet protections.

In a Wired op-ed, Wheeler said he is proposing the FCC use its authority under Title II of the Communications Act to protect consumer broadband Internet. This move will allow the FCC to stop Internet service providers from charging content providers like Netflix more money for reliable Internet access.

“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” he wrote.

Wheeler said that his “enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.” The FCC’s plan includes equal rules for mobile and fixed networks and will be voted on by agency commissioners later this month.

Until recently, this plan was a pipe dream for net neutrality advocates. But President Barack Obama came out in support of Title II reclassification and bright-line rules in November, and Wheeler, who had reportedly been considering alternative approaches, appears to now be on board.

“I’ve gotten messages from people in the start-up community where they’re pinching themselves to make sure it’s real, they’re really pumped,” said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advises major tech companies and supports net neutrality.

The announcement signals a major blow to telecom and cable companies who have been fighting Title II…

Read full post

Who Trusts This Government to Regulate the Internet?

Eric Blair | Activist Post

global earth shift planetThe principle of net neutrality is easy to understand and support; to treat the delivery all data equally. This has been the status quo. Works great. Few oppose that, but supporting the principle of net neutrality is not the same thing as supporting the government’s plan to enforce that principle.

The alleged problem that the government claims needs fixing is that Internet service providers (ISPs) want to charge different rates to websites for different levels of data usage, often referred to as fast lanes. Simply put, ISPs want the opposite of net neutrality and the corporate-run FCC supports this plan.

The New York Times reported in April:

The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday that it would propose new rules that allow companies like Disney, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers.

The proposed changes would affect what is known as net neutrality — the idea that no providers of legal Internet content should face discrimination in providing offerings to consumers, and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose.

The proposal comes three months after a federal appeals court struck down, for the second time, agency rules intended to guarantee a free and open Internet.

It’s important to note that very few consumers currently have problems accessing the Internet. Smartphone and home access is affordable and sufficiently fast in most areas, and free public access in cafes and libraries is widespread.

So, in practical terms, there is no problem with the Internet that needs fixing, just a threat to the principle of equal treatment of data. A threat perpetuated by the FCC which now seems to be a red herring to create the excuse for regulating the Internet.

In a classic good cop/bad cop, Obama came out last week to oppose his own agency’s fast lane plan and offered his solution to protect net neutrality by regulating the ISPs like public utilities.

“The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and mustcarry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do,” President Obama said. “To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.”

The argument is that government needs to regulate the Internet to keep it “free and open”, and the FCC needs to classify mega ISPs as “common carriers” to prevent them from becoming private monopolies.

As usual, the establishment is framing the solution as two simple choices — either support predatory corporations or support government regulations.

Here’s a great video explaining the potential problem of fast lanes for data. Note that the only solution mentioned is what became Obama’s proposal:

Many Internet activists hailed Obama as a man of the people for taking a stand against greedy corporations by supporting “net neutrality.”

How quickly they forget that together Comcast and Time Warner gave Obama over $750,000 for his2012 campaign. Add in AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other ISPs and Obama got more from this handful of companies than his public salary for his entire 4-year term. It’s so cute that Americans still believe Obama is working for them.

And you’ve heard the term “regulatory capture” right?

Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when aregulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.

It’s no mystery whose interests Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, serves as a former cable and wireless lobbyist.

Tom Wheeler according to Wiki:

Thomas Edgar Wheeler is the current Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.He was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2013. Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

It doesn’t get more revolving-door cronyism than that. Wheeler feeds the “problem” by supporting ISP fast lanes to provoke the desired solution — entrenching private companies as a price-fixing public-private cartel.

Let’s imagine for a moment that the government does nothing. And by nothing, I mean no new regulations and to stop blocking new ISPs from entering the market with ridiculous protectionism regulations. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

The fear is that corporations may take advantage of their consolidated market share by reducing speeds and raising prices. First, this won’t happen if other companies are allowed to compete, but it’s all but guaranteed they won’t be able to compete if ISPs are turned into public utilities.

But let’s assume Elon Musk’s plan or Google Fiber won’t be able to offer better, faster, cheaper Internet access than current providers in the free market, and prices continue to go up and services decline. Does anyone really believe customers will put up with that or that innovators won’t come up with alternatives? There will be far fewer alternatives if government regulates Internet access like radio or telephone companies.

Yet, I don’t really care either way because techies are already finding ways around that as well. In the late 1980s AT&T enjoyed a near monopoly on long-distance phone service which was made completely obsolete less than two decades later by the Internet. Now it’s free to call anywhere in the world.

Similarly, developments in peer-to-peer networking, I2P and the “Outernet” will make accessing the Internet free or nearly free in the near future regardless of what’s decided by corporations or the government.

In conclusion, I’m not criticizing those who support the principle of net neutrality, because I support it too. However, I am criticizing everyone who thinks government regulation will be for the good of the public.

Trust the FCC to regulate the Internet like you trust the NSA to only spy abroad and you get exactly what you deserve.

More from Activistpost

The Biggest Danger to Net Neutrality is Now Political, Not Legal

 | Gigaom

keep internet freeThe White House stunned the tech and telecom world on Monday morning with a call for the FCC to take a full-blown, no-gimmick approach to net neutrality. In clear words, President Obama told the agency to use its Title II power to reclassify broadband providers as public utilities, and thereby snuff the industry’s plans for “fast lanes” and other schemes to favor some websites over others when delivering internet to consumers.

This appears to be great news for consumer advocates and the likes of Netflix, which has been at the mercy of repeated ISP shakedowns, but it’s still far too soon for them to pop the champagne. Even though President Obama, who delivered the news in a tweet (signed “-bo”), has given FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler an unexpected mandate to implement Title II, the powerful telecom industry will do all it can to put a stop to this.

On Monday morning, for instance, Verizon published a short statement reminding the FCC that a Title II approach “will face strong legal challenges.” The statement is a not-subtle message that Verizon will promptly drag the agency into another high-stakes lawsuit, like the one the company used to put the FCC in this net neutrality predicament in the first place.

But despite Verizon’s bluster, Wheeler is on very solid ground when it comes tousing Title II. Who says? Why, the very court that blew up the FCC’s last set of net neutrality rules.

For those unfamiliar, this whole affair — which touched off John Oliver’s epic screedon “cable company fuckery” and more than 4 million public comments — began in January, when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with Verizonthat the FCC could not use “information service” regulations to impose net neutrality on internet providers.

The D.C. ruling made clear that the FCC’s earlier “Open Internet” order was toast, but the court also threw the FCC an important lifeline by saying that the agencycould impose such rules if it reclassified the internet providers under Title II. And that’s what President Obama has just suggested the FCC should do.

This means that while Verizon can sue the FCC and probably will (suing is something the company likes to do), it will almost certainly lose. Unlike the themongrel “hybrid” proposal the FCC floated two weeks ago, an unambiguous Title II reclassification would be consistent with the letter of the appeals court’s ruling, and survive any legal challenges.

But even though the FCC is on fine legal footing, it turns out that Wheeler has far more to fear from Congress than he does from the courts.

Making the Chairman’s life “hell”

Even after a public swell of support for net neutrality this summer, few in Washington actually believed the FCC would go through with it. After all, in the absence of support from major tech players like Google and the clear backing of the White House, Wheeler had little reason to rile powerful players like Comcast and Verizon.

One industry source told me in September that he was confident that Wheeler would not go forward with Title II reclassification, in part because Republicans, on behalf of their telecom allies, would make the Chairman’s life “hell” if he did. More specifically, that “hell” in question would involve an endless series of subpoenas and committee circuses to tie up the agency and, more ominously, threats to use riders in must-pass bills to attack the independent agency’s budget.

The realpolitik thinking at the time, then, was that Wheeler would try to appease the net neutrality crowd with lip service to “open internet” principles, while also passing feckless “light touch” rules that would allow the Chairman to preserve his political capital for other priorities such as an ambitious-but-troubled spectrum auction.

Those calculations are all out the window now. President Obama has just changed the game by offering Wheeler broad political cover to go forward with net neutrality. The question now is if Wheeler will dare to use it.

Even though his Title II hand is much stronger than a week ago, he faces powerful new opposition in the form of a Republican-controlled Senate. And within hours of the President’s tweet, the GOP’s most prominent demagogue shot back with one of his own:

It’s a safe bet that this is just the opening shot in a coming cascade of political sludge that will characterize net neutrality as the spawn of socialism, liberal charity and more. And while the telecom giants have been relatively subtle in their messaging, that will change as Title II becomes a real possibility for the first time.

[read full post here]

The Beginning of the End for Australian Freedom of Speech

Isaac Blencowe, Contributor

CLN Editor’s Note: Thanks to Isaac for summarising the chilling new anti-terrorism/freedom of speech laws introduced by the Abbott Government in Australia this week. George Orwell must be rolling in his grave… again.

“He who sacrifices freedom, for security, deserves neither” – Benjamin Franklin.

Under the new National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014,  anyone including, “journalists, whistle-blowers and bloggers” – who “recklessly” disclose  “information” … [that] relates to a special intelligence operation,” will now face up to 10 years in jail for doing so.

With any operation being able to be classified as special, by an Authorized ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) officer. On top of this ASIO also gets complete immunity from criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances, basically meaning that they will be above the law.

If that is not enough the bill allows ASIO to need just one warrant to access a limitless number of computers on a computer network, when monitoring a suspected target. This will effectively allow the entire internet to be monitored, due to the fact that the bill does not define what a computer network is.

ASIO will also have the complete power to copy, delete or edit the data held on any of the computers allowed under the single warrant. With the ability to disrupt any target computers and even access innocent non target 3rd party computers in order to do so.

Senator Brandis who has praised the new bill said that it “targeted those who leaked classified information, such as the former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.” (Or Julian Assange).

Both of which exposed important information and damaging material on how the US government had been illegally monitoring its citizens, among other damaging information.

In addition to this new bill any citizen who identifies an ASIO agent could also face 10 years in Jail, which is a 10 fold increase of the previous ‘maximum’ penalty.

And as if this bill hasn’t already gone far enough, another two bills are also looking to be enacted over the next few months. The second being a bill that will make it a criminal offence to travel to a terrorist hot-spot, without a reasonable excuse. And the third bill enabling law- enforcement and spy agencies, to collect internet and phone metadata for a period of up to two years, without the need for a warrant, to be introduced later this year.

Now there is no denying that terrorist organisations like ISIS do exist and that they may pose a risk to the Australian public and that some measures are understandable in light of this. But there is no denying that the latest passed bill as well as the two still to be passed are a blatantly outrageous and unnecessary use of power.

And it becomes even scarier when you hear such outlandish statements such as Palmer United Party Senator, Glen Lazarus who said, “The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence.”

It makes absolutely no sense to enact such strict and unscrupulous  laws of which disallow such an innate right as freedom of speech. By implementing such strong laws we are not making ourselves any safer, but only reducing our freedoms, of which we are all entitled to, and have fought so hard for in the past to keep.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

If we are to call ourselves a fair and just society then surely we must include the right to our own privacy, freedom of speech and the exposition of unlawful and unjust acts, no matter who is responsible for them, even if this means exposing acts committed by our own government.

This new law will affect all Australians, and I know many are probably sitting there thinking, “Well I have nothing to hide, so it doesn’t affect me”.  But this could not be further from the truth, because although you may feel as though these laws do not directly threaten you, indirectly they threaten your scope and access to information. For under these new laws whistle-blowers, journalists and even every-day joe bloggers who provide a broader and more sound reflection of certain issues, will now prosecuted for doing so.

It is incumbent upon all of us, not only citizens of Australia but of the whole world, to stand up for our rights as individuals. Especially when such laws as this have the power to be abused and used in such an extreme, that the simple sharing of information even via Facebook could even become an offence.

This is heinous abuse of power and does make us any safer from a terror threat, but only reduces our position as a free society. I urge you to inform yourself and others in anyway possible before laws like this can be taken any further than they already have been.

Isaac Blencowe

About the Author

Isaac Blencowe is the Creator of the Tragedy & Hope YouTube channel. He enjoys listening to music, reading, playing guitar, healthy eating and keeping physically active. For more of Isaac’s inspiring work, please visit: www.tragedyandhopechannel.com

Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and US Government Revealed

 | The Intercept | Sept 11 2014

Update: The office of the Director of National Intelligence has released the declassified documents from the Yahoo litigation

More than 1,000 pages documenting a secret court battle between Yahoo and the government over warrantless surveillance will soon be released, the company said Thursday afternoon.

In 2007, Yahoo fought back against the government’s demand for information on certain overseas customers, saying that the request was over-broad and violated the constitution.

Yahoo’s challenge ultimately failed, knocked down by both the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, which oversees secret government spying) and its review court. The company then became one of the first to hand over information to the NSA’s PRISM program, which allowed the government access to records of internet users’ chats, emails, and search histories, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The targeted user was supposed to be foreign, but U.S. communications could still be swept up in the effort. Google, YouTube, AOL, and Skype were also among the companies that provided communications data to PRISM. According to the Washington Post, the government used the FISC court’s decision in the Yahoo case to pressure those others to comply.

In a statement on the company tumblr, Yahoo’s general counsel wrote that the government at one point threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if it did not release the data.

Keep reading

ACTION ALERT: Sign Petition (Takes Only 1MIN) Telling the FCC to Stop the Federal Takeover of the Internet


keep internet freeMake sure you sign American Commitment’s petition to Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC below—and tell him that the American people won’t stand for a federal takeover of the Internet. And we’ll send a copy of your petition to your Congressman too—just so that they know where their constituents stand in the fight to stop these crippling Internet regulations.

Sign the petition HERE…

Take Back Your Digital Privacy – For Free

Simon Black  |  Sovereign Man  |  Aug 15 2014

Spoleto, Italy

Back in March serious allegations came out of the Senate that the CIA was monitoring and even hacking Senate computers. They were denied vehemently at the time by CIA director John Brennan, who went so far as to say “that’s just beyond the scope of reason.”

Unsurprisingly, of course, the CIA has now come out saying that, yes, they did in fact spy on Senate aides’ computers. Oh, and that they’re sorry. Very sorry.

This is stuff that would have been a major scandal not too long ago, causing a public outcry for the heads of those responsible.

Today, it seems par for the course. It’s taken for granted that governments around the world, spearheaded by Uncle Sam, monitor communication via email, phone, social networks, webcam etc. en masse.

And nothing happens.

Despite Edward Snowden’s decision last year to basically condemn his life to that of a fugitive and branded “traitor” by shedding a major spotlight on just exactly how brazenly and extensively the US government invades the privacy of people all around the world, the reaction, at least in the US, was muted.

As the saying goes, ‘The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.’

Even though government surveillance is becoming more and more invasive, there are ways to shield yourself from prying eyes.

If you agree with the premise that every person has the right to protect their personal matters and privacy from the Big Brother, there are free options to use out there that can ensure your communications, your digital presence and activity, and your data remain secure and private.

For calls, for example, the company Open Whisper Systems has developed apps that protect the privacy of your voice conversations.

If you’re an Android user, Red Phone is an open source app that secures your calls with end-to-end encryption. It uses your normal phone number and default dialer so you make calls just as you normally would, with no additional layers or steps necessary to protect your privacy.

To secure your text messages, the same company also has an app TextSecure that does just that.

If you’re an iPhone user, the developers of Red Phone and TextSecure took care of you too.

You can achieve the same result by using a free app called Signal – Private Messenger. Just as Red Phone, Signal makes end-to-end encrypted calls through Wi-Fi or mobile data, instead of your phone network.

Protecting your calls and texts from prying eyes and ears is just one piece of the puzzle if you want to take back your privacy.

There are so many different layers that you can protect—from your internet browsing to online searches, email, your data storage, payments etc.

We cover all these different aspects and options in our free Digital Privacy Black Paper.

I encourage you not only to implement the stuff we talk about in the Black Paper in order to take back your privacy, but to also share it with your friends and loved ones.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Top Journalists and Lawyers: NSA Surveillance Threatens Press Freedom and Right to Counsel

| Firstlook

Photo Credit: Human Rights Watch

Photo Credit: Human Rights Watch

To do their jobs properly, journalists and lawyers sometimes need to be able to keep information private from the government.

And because what journalists and lawyers do is so integral to safeguarding democracy and basic rights, the United States has traditionally recognized their need for privileged communications.

But the virtually inescapable government surveillance exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has impaired if not eliminated the ability of news-gatherers and attorneys to communicate confidentially with their sources and their clients, according to a new report by two rights advocacy groups.

The report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union is based on an exhaustive new survey of journalists and lawyers working in the areas of national security and intelligence. Both groups of professionals describe a substantial erosion in their ability to do their constitutionally-protected jobs.

Not even the strongest versions of NSA reform being considered in Congress come anywhere close to addressing the chilling effects on basic freedoms that the new survey describes.

“If the US fails to address these concerns promptly and effectively,” report author  G. Alex Sinha writes, “it could do serious, long-term damage to the fabric of democracy in the country.”

Even before the Snowden revelations, reporters trying to cover important defense, intelligence and counter-terrorism issues were reeling from the effects of unprecedented secrecy and attacks on whistleblowers.

But newfound awareness of the numerous ways the government can follow electronic trails –  previously considered the stuff of paranoid fantasy — has led sources to grow considerably more fearful.

“It used to be that leak investigations didn’t get far because it was too hard to uncover the source, but with digital tools it’s just much easier, and sources know that,” said Washington Postcontributor Barton Gellman, one of the 46 journalists interviewed for the survey.

Sources are “afraid of the entire weight of the federal government coming down on them,” New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer is quoted as saying. “The added layer of fear makes it so much harder. I can’t count the number of people afraid of the legal implications [of speaking to me].”

Jonathan Landay, a McClatchy Newspapers reporter covering national security and intelligence, told Human Rights Watch that some sources have grown reluctant to talk to him about anything, “even something like, ‘Please explain the rationale for this foreign policy.’ That’s not even dealing with classified material; that’s just educating readers.”

Methods reporters use to avoid surveillance are time-consuming, difficult, off-putting  to sources — and ultimately futile, the surveyed journalists reported. “If the government wants to get you, they will,” Washington Post reporter Adam Goldman said.

But when journalists can’t do their jobs, the effect is felt well beyond the profession alone. Insufficiently informed journalism can “undermine effective democratic participation and governance,” the report states.

“What makes government better is our work exposing information,” Washington Post reporter Dana Priest is quoted as saying.  ”It’s not just that it’s harder for me to do my job, though it is. It also makes the country less safe. Institutions work less well, and it increases the risk of corruption. Secrecy works against all of us.”

The report’s author also interviewed five current or former U.S. officials with knowledge of the surveillance programs. “They generally defended the programs as legal and important for national security. They also showed varying degrees of concern for or interest in the impact that the programs might have on the work of journalists and attorneys,” Sinha wrote. “Most were skeptical that the programs have affected journalists and did not appear to have considered seriously the possible effect on attorneys.”

In fact, Bob Deitz, who served as the National Security Agency’s general counsel from 1998 to 2006, was apparently pleased to hear surveillance was making certain kinds of reporting more difficult. “Leaking is against the law. Good. I want criminals to be deterred,” he told the report’s author. “Does a cop chill a burglar’s inclination to burgle? Yes.”

But New York Times reporter Scott Shane disputed that analogy in his interview: “Burglary is not part of a larger set of activities protected by the Constitution, and at the heart of our democracy,” he said. “Unfortunately, that mindset is sort of the problem.”

Lawyers, meanwhile, expressed concerns that U.S. surveillance comprised a violation of the attorney-client confidentiality and could stifle their clients. The Sixth-Amendment-protected right to counsel in criminal prosecutions is traditionally considered to include the ability to communicate freely.

Many of the 42 attorneys interviewed for the survey reported finding it harder to build trust with clients — particularly those who are abroad, and aware of the extent of NSA surveillance.

One lawyer described feeling duty-bound to warn her clients. “Given the now publicly admitted revelations that there is no privacy in communications, including those between attorneys and their clients, I feel ethically obligated to tell all clients that I can’t guarantee anything [they] say is privileged … or will remain confidential,” said Linda Moreno, a defense attorney specializing in national security and terrorism cases.

[read full post here]

Internet Sales Tax Quietly Moving Through Congress

Eric Blair | Activist Post

internet taxBig retailers, including Amazon, have been lobbying long and hard for it, and now the Internet sales tax is back after being quietly reintroduced in the US Senate last week.

The Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act would force customers to pay sales taxes for online purchases from out-of-state online merchants, and it forces online retailers to collect and remit separately sales taxes to all US territories.

Washington Post says “Currently, officials can only levy sales taxes on retailers who have a physical presence, be it a store or warehouse, in their states.” Because of that, big box stores complain that Internet retailers have an unfair advantage. Congruently, local officials seem to be salivating at the potential for more revenue.

In March 2013, the Senate voted overwhelmingly 75-to-24 in favor of a largely symbolic version of this bill to gauge the support for the concept of Internet sales taxes. An identical bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last year only to expire in session without a vote.

Earlier this month, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act which bans states from taxing Internet access. Being a fairly popular bill with the public, the Senate wants to hitch this sales tax bill to it in hopes of easier passage.

Critics say a tax will hurt the free decentralized Internet, customers will have to pay more, and most of all it will hurt small online businesses who can’t afford to comply with such complex accounting, which is no problem for big guys like Amazon. This is one way the big corporations in all industries use legislation to crowd out competition. It’s a new barrier to entry for start-ups and a new thorn for existing businesses.

Even foreign retailers (no matter where they are located) will have to charge, account for, and remit sales taxes for customers who may reside in a participating U.S. state. It doesn’t matter that the retailer has no attachment to the customer’s state, or country for that matter. Can anyone see how this may hinder the U.S. economy?

Proponents say the bill only applies to Internet retailers who gross over $1 million, which seems like a lot. However, former Congressman Ron Paul pointed out “many small Internet businesses with over a million dollars in out-of-state revenues operate on extremely thin profit margins, so even the slightest increase in expenses could put them out of businesses.”

Paul went on to question the constitutionality of the bill:

Some say that it is a legitimate exercise of Congress’s Commerce Clause power to give state governments the authority to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. But if that were the case, why shouldn’t state governments be able to force you to pay sales taxes where you physically cross state lines to make a purchase? The Commerce Clause was intended to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across state lines, not to help states impose new burdens on out of state businesses.

And Paul is backed up by the Illinois Supreme Court that ruled the Internet sales tax was unconstitutional:

This bill couldn’t be a better example of greedy politicians walking in lockstep with big business.It threatens the level playing field the Internet currently offers. It’s time to make some noise.

Recently by Eric Blair

Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill

Sandra Fulton | Commondreams | June 30th 2014

(Illustration: Public domain)

(Illustration: Public domain)

A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (“CISA”) was scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but has been delayed until after next week’s congressional recess. The response to the proposed legislation from the privacy, civil liberties, tech, and open government communities was quick and unequivocal – this bill must not go through.

The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws by allowing the government to ask companies for “voluntary” cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called “cybersecurity information” is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans’ personal data.

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans’ personal data and communications from undue government access and monitoring without suspicion of criminal activity. The point of a warrant is to guard that protection. CISA would circumvent the warrant requirement by allowing the government to approach companies directly to collect personal information, including telephonic or internet communications, based on the new broadly drawn definition of “cybersecurity information.”

While we hope many companies would jealously guard their customers’ information, there is a provision in the bill that would excuse sharers from any liability if they act in “good faith” that the sharing was lawful.

Collected information could then be used in criminal proceedings, creating a dangerous end-run around laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which contain warrant requirements.

In addition to the threats to every American’s privacy, the bill clearly targets potential government whistleblowers. Instead of limiting the use of data collection to protect against actual cybersecurity threats, the bill allows the government to use the data in the investigation and prosecution of people for economic espionage and trade secret violations, and under various provisions of the Espionage Act.

It’s clear that the law is an attempt to give the government more power to crack down on whistleblowers, or “insider threats,” in popular bureaucratic parlance. The Obama Administration has brought more “leaks” prosecutions against government whistleblowers and members of the press than all previous administrations combined. If misused by this or future administrations, CISA could eliminate due process protections for such investigations, which already favor the prosecution.

While actively stripping Americans’ privacy protections, the bill also cloaks “cybersecurity”-sharing in secrecy by exempting it from critical government transparency protections. It unnecessarily and dangerously provides exemptions from state and local sunshine laws as well as the federal Freedom of Information Act. These are both powerful tools that allow citizens to check government activities and guard against abuse.

Edward Snowden’s revelations from the past year, of invasive spying programs like PRSIM and Stellar Wind, have left Americans shocked and demanding more transparency by government agencies. CISA, however, flies in the face of what the public clearly wants.

(Two coalition letters, here and here, sent to key members of the Senate yesterday detail the concerns of a broad coalition of organizations, including the ACLU.)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Sandra Fulton is a Legislative Assistant at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office working on First Amendment and privacy issues.

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