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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »


U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

jeff olsen

Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »


The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Category Archives: censorship

‘Black Out, Speak Out:’ Canadian Internet campaign targets ‘undemocratic’ bill

May 28, 2012

A sweeping omnibus bill introduced last month to the Canadian parliament has been harshly condemned as “undemocratic.” Over 13,000 websites across Canada are planning to protest with a June 4 blackout to highlight their cause.

Bill C-38 – otherwise known as the “Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act” – is a 425-page document that has been described by critics as “a statutory juggernaut.”

What was submitted as a budget bill to the Canadian House of Commons will introduce, amend or repeal nearly 70 federal laws.

With the ruling Conservative Party calling the shots, critics have accused the legislation of tightening the screws on organized labor by way of a provision that would require unions to publicly list all recipients of contracts valued at $5,000 or more.

A line buried deep in the document also ominously states, “The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed.”

The change would eliminate a 1985 law forcing companies bidding on federal contracts to pay “fair wages and overtime.”

Opposition New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin called the proposal a “solution without a problem.”

“The only conclusion I can come up with is that it’s a war on labor and the left. It’s what the Americans did with the right-to-work states and the end result is $8 or $9 an hour is now the average wage in places like North Carolina,” the Canadian Press cites him as saying.

The bill will also overhaul the country’s immigration rules, its temporary foreign workers program and its employment insurance system. In a further blow to the middle class, provisions in the legislation would effectively raise the country’s retirement age from 65 to 67 in a decade’s time.

‘Bill C-38 undoes decades of environmental law’

Environmentalists are also up in arms as the bill would repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.  It would also jettison red tape for major resource development projects, shorten the list of protected species, and overhaul the country’s Fisheries Act so that the federal government would only regulate the country’s major waterways.

The Green Party of Canada warned that if the bill passed in its current form, it would “undo decades of environmental law,” and “profoundly degrade the Canadian government’s ability to defend our environment.”

As the battle of the mega-bill is just getting started, some 13,000 thousand websites across Canada will go “black” next Monday to rally the public against it.

Campaign organizers have called potential supporters to join “a committed group of organizations representing millions of Canadians” as they darken their websites “in defense of nature and society.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rt.com/news/canada-internet-black-out-418/

Vietnam bloggers battle tightening censorship

May 9, 2012

When riot police broke up a recent protest over a forced eviction, Vietnam‘s bloggers were ready — hidden in nearby trees, they documented the entire incident and quickly posted videos and photos online.
Their shaky images spread like wildfire on Facebook, in a sign of growing online defiance in Vietnam, in the face of efforts by authorities to rein in the country’s Internet community.
“They follow me, they keep track of what I am writing, they keep track of all dissident bloggers. 
Anything they can do to harass us, they do,” said blogger Nguyen Thi Dung, one of several bloggers who publicised the April 24 Hung Yen unrest on a variety of websites.

“They have many people browsing the net, reporting things they don’t like, getting them taken down. It is a perfect copy of what the Chinese are doing on the Internet,” she told AFP, asking that her name be changed for her safety.
Authoritarian Vietnam, classed an “enemy of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders, is drafting a new decree on online content in a bid to clamp down on the country’s increasingly bold blogosphere.
The 60-article draft decree — a translated copy of which was obtained by AFP — bans “abusing the Internet” to oppose the government.
It would force bloggers to post real names and contact details, make news websites obtain government approval to publish, and compel site administrators to report any banned online activity to authorities.
The decree also seeks to make foreign companies that provide online services in Vietnam — like Facebook and Google — cooperate with the government and could force them to locate data centres and offices in the country.

Cispa approved by House but critics urge Senate to block ‘horrible’ bill

Apr. 27, 2012

Free speech advocates are calling for the Senate to block controversial cybersecurity legislation they claim will give the US authorities unprecedented access to online communications.

The House of Representatives on Thursday ignored the threat of a White House veto to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa). The bill aims to make it easier for companies to share information collected on the internet with the federal government in order to help prevent electronic attacks from cybercriminals, foreign governments and terrorists.

Sponsors of the bill have made several amendments to Cispa in the past week, but critics say the bill still threatens to overrule existing privacy protections for citizens, and hands the National Security Agency too much power to access and use people’s private information.

The Center for Democracy and Technology said it was “disappointed that Cispa passed the House in such flawed form and under such a flawed process.”

“We worked very hard in co-operation with the intelligence committee to develop amendments to narrow some of the bill’s definitions and to limit its scope. We are very pleased that those amendments were adopted, leaving the bill better for privacy and civil liberties than it was going into the process,” the tech group said.

“However, we are also disappointed that House leadership chose to block amendments on two core issues we had long identified – the flow of information from the private sector directly to NSA and the use of that information for national security purposes unrelated to cybersecurity.”

“Cispa goes too far for little reason,” said Michelle Richardson, ACLU legislative counsel.
“Cybersecurity does not have to mean abdication of Americans’ online privacy. As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back.
We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity.”

Richardson said senior figures including Adam Schiff of the House intelligence committee, Anna Eshoo, on the subcommittee on communications and technology, plus 28 congressional Republicans had voted against the bill.

“We are disappointed that it got this far but we remain optimistic that this bill can be killed,” Richardson said. She said the big danger now was that a compromise would be drawn up which could still endanger civil liberties online.

Earlier this week the Obama administration said it would veto the bill unless major amendments were made. Obama’s Office of Management and Budget said the administration was “committed to increasing public-private sharing of information about cybersecurity threats” but said the process “must be conducted in a manner that preserves Americans’ privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace.”

“Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately,” the OMB said.

On Thursday night the bill’s author, Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, defended it. “This is the last bastion of things we need to do to protect this country,” he said.

The bill received broad support from the tech industry – which has been granted immunity from prosecution when it shares its customers information under Cispa.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/27/cispa-house-senate-bill?newsfeed=true 

Canadian Military Demands Removal of Counterinsurgency Manual From Public Intelligence

Public Intelligence
Apr. 26, 2012

A representative of the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) has demanded the removal of a document on Canadian Land Force Counterinsurgency Operations that was first released by WikiLeaks in August 2009.  The document was published on this website in April 2010 after a copy of the report that was clearer and easier to read was found to be available online.  In May 2010, the manual was written about by Doug Saunders, a journalist working for the Globe and Mail who also reproduced the document in full.

The representative of Canada’s DND states that the document was not obtained by an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Act request, Canada’s equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act, and that our reproduction of the document constitutes copyright infringement.  The idea of a government document being protected by copyright may be confusing to those from the United States, where all works created by government employees in the performance of their official duties are incapable of copyright protection under 17 USC § 105.  Because Canada is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the remnant of the British Empire, the government of Canada is technically led by the Queen of the United Kingdom and all works of its employees are thus subject to the Crown Copyright.  Under the legal provisions of Crown Copyright, the Queen of the United Kingdom owns all works of the Canadian government as articulated in Section 12 of the Copyright Act:

12. Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown, where any work is, or has been, prepared or published by or under the direction or control of Her Majesty or any government department, the copyright in the work shall, subject to any agreement with the author, belong to Her Majesty and in that case shall continue for the remainder of the calendar year of the first publication of the work and for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.

The Counterinsurgency Operations manual actually notes this distinction stating that the document’s copyright is for “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of National Defence.”  However, materials protected by Crown Copyright are not entitled to the same level of protection as regular copyrighted works. According to the Government of Canada Publications website, “Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes or for cost-recovery purposes, is not required.”  Personal and public non-commercial purposes is defined as “distribution of the reproduced information either for your own purposes only, or for a distribution at large whereby no fees whatsoever will be charged.”  Therefore, as long as the material is reproduced in an unmodified form where credit is given to the author and no fees are charged, reproducing government information protected by Crown Copyright is not a violation of copyright law.

The representative of Canada’s DND that demanded the removal of the Counterinsurgency Operations manual actually misrepresents Canadian law by not only indicating that any redistribution of a government work is copyright infringement, but also by indicating that materials obtained via ATIP requests are unable to be lawfully shared with others.  The representative states that “any material that might be released under an Access to Information Act would limited [sic] to the purpose for which access was requested and not for the subsequent widespread distribution to the public in contravention of the Copyright Act.”  The problem with this statement is that such widespread distribution is only in contravention of the Copyright Act if the recipient has failed to obtain permission from the government and is charging a fee for the reproduction, such as in a book or film.  Moreover, government documents obtained via ATIP requests are routinely reproduced in whole by newspapers and other places online.  In fact, a company called CHQ Software reproduces PDF copies of the very same counterinsurgency manual that we provide, only they charge $6.00 for it.

The provisions of Crown Copyright have been criticized by a number of prominent academics and advocates of open access to information, such as Michael Geist who has written that it is a “program that does more harm than good and that appears susceptible to political manipulation, any new copyright reform should eliminate crown copyright and adopt in its place a presumption that government materials belong to the public domain to be freely used without prior permission or compensation.”  Geist notes that the system for obtaining permission to commercially reproduce Canadian government works actually costs substantially more to taxpayers than it generates in revenue.

Full Article Here – http://publicintelligence.net/canadian-military-demands-removal-of-counterinsurgency-manual/ 

EU may reject ACTA

RT News
Apr. 18, 2012

The controversial pan-global anti-piracy agreement, ACTA, may soon be dead in the water. The Member of the European Parliament responsible for monitoring its progress through the European Union says it should be rejected.

The pact sparked anger among Europeans, with thousands protesting against giving big firms the power to ban people from using the Internet for illegally swapping files. Twenty-two countries in the bloc signed up to the agreement, with a vote on its ratification due this summer in Brussels.

Political commentator Luke Samuel told RT that the treaty exposed how undemocratic the decision-making process is in the EU.

“The real problem with ACTA, specifically, is how it shows that the European Union is effectively allowed to do politics without any reference to [its people],” he said. “This is not a piece of EU law, it’s a trade agreement that will bestow certain obligations on European countries to make law in certain ways.”

The fact that national governments in the EU signed up to ACTA, Samuel continued, in no way means that ordinary people had any say in the provisions of the agreement. This, he said, makes the whole process “fundamentally anti-democratic.”

Fabio Reinhardt from the Pirate Group of the German Parliament says public outrage will bring down this legislation.

“I think it’s great that hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets in Europe to [stop ACTA], and ACTA may [be shelved internationally]. I think it’s great for civil rights,” he told RT. “I think it’s a phenomenon we haven’t seen before, that people were so eager to defend their rights, to communicate – something that really surprised politicians on various high levels.”

Full Article Here – http://rt.com/news/europe-agreement-acta-democracy-329/

Chinese websites ‘defaced in Anonymous attack’

BBC News
Apr. 5, 2012

The Anonymous hacking group claims to have defaced almost 500 websites in China.

Targets hit in the mass defacement included government sites, its official agencies, trade groups and many others.

A message put on the hacked sites said the attack was carried out to protest against the Chinese government’s strict control of its citizens.

It urged Chinese people to join Anonymous and stage their own protests against the regime.

Attack pattern

The announcement about the defacements was made via an Anonymous China account that was established in March. A list of the 485 sites affected was put on the Pastebin website. Separate Pastebin messages posted email addresses and other personal details stolen when sites were

Sites defaced had the same message posted to them that chided the nation’s government for its repressive policies.

It read: “Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”

China has one of the most comprehensive web surveillance systems in the world, known as the Great Firewall of China, that reinforces its broader social controls. The system polices where Chinese people can go online and tries to restrict what they can talk about.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17623939

Anonymous China: Hundreds of Beijing’s Government Websites Defaced

International Business Times
Apr. 2, 2012
By Gianluca Mezzofiore

The Anonymous hacking collective has landed in China, home of some of the most tightly controlled internet access in the world, and defaced hundreds of government websites in what appears to be a massive online operation against Beijing.

Anonymous listed its intended institutional targets on Pastebin and has now attacked them.
Anonymous Kroll claimed that hundreds of websites had been defaced or taken offline by the collective. “#China: Several hundred websites #defacedand 4659 Vhosts #hacked by #Anonymous.cdcbd.gov.cn & bbdj.gov.cn” read the tweet.


The defaced homepages carry a statement against the Chinese government along with the traditional Anonymous banner and the generational anthem Baba O’Riley by The Who played in background.
“All these years, the Chinese communist government has subjected its people to unfair laws and unhealthy processes,” reads the statement. “Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”
It contains also a message directed at the Chinese people: “Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you,” reads the message. “We are with you. [...]The silence of all other countries highlights the lack of democracy and justice in China. It’s unbearable.”
The defacements also provide a link with tips on how to bypass state censorship.

EU Parliament to Vote on ACTA Without Waiting for a Court Decision

PC World/IDG News
Mar. 27, 2012
By Jennifer Baker

Campaigners against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) are hailing as a success the decision by the European Parliament’s trade committee not to refer the deal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The committee on Tuesday rejected a plan to send the proposed accord to the E.U.’s highest court by 21 votes to five. This means that the proposed deal could be put before the whole Parliament as soon as June, avoiding a possible delay of about 18 months for a court decision.

Digital rights groups opposed to ACTA, such as La Quadrature du Net, said that the plan to send the deal to the ECJ had been nothing more than a stalling tactic.

The European Commission, which brokered the controversial deal, has already referred the text to the ECJ in the hopes of receiving the court’s backing. But if the Parliament as a whole decides to reject the treaty, it will be immaterial, as the E.U. cannot go ahead with ratifying the pact unless parliamentarians back it.

Under the proposed ACTA deal, a country may “order an online service provider to disclose expeditiously to a right holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement.” Anti-ACTA activists said that this would be tantamount to forcing ISPs to become the unofficial police of the Internet.

Full Article Here – http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/252657/eu_parliament_to_vote_on_acta_without_waiting_for_a_court_decision.html 

‘Irish Sopa’ legislation passed despite robust opposition

Mar. 1, 2012

The Irish government has passed into law controversial copyright legislation that internet freedom groups have called a new form of censorship.

Seán Sherlock, the Labour minister for research and innovation, signed the legislation to amend copyright law in Ireland.

Opposition to the legislation – called by critics the “Irish Sopa” after the US Stop Online Piracy Act – has been robust. Ireland is a major global hub for companies such as Google and Facebook, which are among the biggest employers in Dublin, and some in the hi-tech industry believe the changes could curb the growth of online business in the Republic.

Sherlock said he “urged all interested parties to focus now on making Ireland a model of international best practice for innovation, and ensuring that our copyright laws facilitate the achievement of this goal”.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/01/irish-sopa-legislation-passed?newsfeed=true 

China steps up Internet controls in Tibet

Mar. 1, 2012

China‘s top leader in Tibet has ordered increased controls over the Internet and mobile phones, state press said Thursday, ahead of upcoming sensitive anniversaries in the restive region.
Chen Quanguo, Communist Party head of Tibet, said maintaining stability in the Himalayan region was of utmost importance during the meeting of China’s National People’s Congress which opens its annual session on Monday, the Tibet Daily said.
“Mobile phones, Internet and other measures for the management of new media need to be fully implemented,” the paper quoted Chen as telling a Thursday meeting.

“We must further spread throughout the region the the main idea that stability means everything. Unstable elements must be nipped in the bud and all work at maintaining stability must be deepened.”

The controls on new media appeared to be aimed at stopping information of unrest and crackdowns in one area from spreading and inciting other areas.

Chen’s comments follow a series of measures implemented by the government following a recent spate of self-immolations and violent protests against Chinese rule in the nation’s Tibetan-inhabited areas.

At least 22 self-immolation attempts have occurred in China over the last year, with many being undertaken by Tibetan Buddhist monks or former monks, rights groups say.

Police have also opened fire on Tibetan protesters in recent weeks.

In his speech, Chen said security forces must “crush hostile forces” led by the Dalai Lama who are plotting to bring instability to Tibet and destroy the atmosphere for the congressional meeting.
Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader who fled to India in March 1959, for recent unrest in Tibet and nearby areas.