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Corporate media busy convincing US public that the Deep State does not exist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/03/2017 - 7:49am in

  Caitlin Johnstone in Newslogue: The Daily Beast, whose corporate owner is co-directed by Chelsea Clinton, has made another contribution to the steadily mounting gaslighting campaign to convince the American public that the deep state is not a thing. In an article consisting of approximately 80 percent empty vitriol and 20 percent straw man argument, the consistently awful Michael Weiss attempts to advance the notion that because the head of the FBI testified before congress and said that the Bureau is investigating Russiagate, the deep state cannot possibly exist. It is unclear from the article what mental gymnastics Weiss needed to do in order to make this feel true for himself, but his argument is a complete misrepresentation of what the deep state is; the term refers to the self-evident fact that there are power structures which remain in America amid the comings and goings of elected representatives. The man who first popularized the term in America includes among the components of those power structures the donor class, the military industrial complex, the intelligence community, national …

Snow, Death, and the Bewildered Herd

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/03/2017 - 1:30am in

by Edward Curtin, from Global Research Few people at this hour – and I refer to the time before the breaking out of this most grim war, which is coming to birth so strangely, as if it did not want to be born – few, I say, these days still enjoy that tranquility which permits one to choose the truth, to abstract one in reflection. Almost all the world is in tumult, is beside itself, and when man is beside himself he loses his most essential attribute: the possibility of meditating, or withdrawing into himself to come to terms with himself and define what it is he believes and what it is that he does not believe; what he truly esteems and what he truly detests. Being beside himself bemuses him, blinds him, forces him to act mechanically in a frenetic somnambulism.” Ortega Y Gasset – The Self and the Other As I write these words, the house is being buried in a snowstorm. Heavy flakes fall slowly and silently as a contemplative peace muffles …

Random election, the G1000 and deliberation to change Madrid

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:00pm in

Tags 

Spain, Ideas, Internet

Is random election of representatives
the key to revive democracy? One thousand madrileños selected at random were
called to the Madrid G1000 to reflect and debate over the city they want. Português Español

MediaLab-Prado event in Madrid. December 2016. David Fernández/LM/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

We want real democracy and this involves opening
the institutions' doors. Since the last municipal elections, many cities have
focused on increasing citizen participation. The variety of processes and the
desire to experiment has been extraordinary. New platforms based on Consul free participation software, such as Decide Madrid or Decidim Barcelona, have been
replicated beyond our own borders, opening previously unimaginable
possibilities for direct participation through electronic voting.

The latest citizens'
initiatives binding vote
through a secure voting process in Madrid is the
final step in these processes, bringing these cities of change closer to
countries like Switzerland where direct democracy has been established for
years. In parallel dozens of votes in-person and through otherwise mixed
methods have been carried out throughout the country. Some notable examples are
A Porta Abierta in A Coruña, Pla d'Actuació Municipal in Barcelona
and the most recent and innovative experience in Madrid: the launching
of Foros Locales, the district spaces
for local voting.

Almost two years after the municipal elections,
we need to take stock and ask ourselves to what extent all these processes are sufficiently
effective, intelligent and inclusive. I do not intend to address all these keys
in this short text, only one of them: inclusivity. Tens of thousands of people
are getting involved in deliberative processes, more ambitious processes than
casting a vote or showing support. In a large city like Madrid, although this
does mean many people, it's not more than 1% of the population. What kind of
citizens are involved? Do we have men and women of all ages, social classes and
ideologies? Are the minorities or the population at risk of being excluded from
being represented? What is the participatory sample? How can we try to improve
participation processes to maximize the diversity of participants?

Statistics tells us that if we choose at random
but with a sufficient number of elements we can have a representative sample of
the whole, in other words, a sample that represents the diversity of the
population. While this idea is easy to implement in the natural sciences, when
dealing with human beings it becomes a somewhat more complex task. We can't
just lift them from beside a ballot box, at most we can contact them on the
street or through a phone book. And even after we have got them, they still
have the option to refuse to participate. The reasons can be varied and can
lead to the sample being less representative. Luckily public opinion research
professionals have techniques that help counteract this effect: they introduce
quotas based on key criteria such as place of residence, age, gender, etc. In
this way, they dedicate more effort and resources to the more difficult or
harder to find profiles.

Returning to the roots of democracy

The ancient Greeks introduced random methods of
democratic selection many centuries ago . In this way, they appointed the majority
of the relevant political positions of their cities. On the contrary, in our
modern states, scarcely any use of this remains, as in the case of the popular
jury. What do people chosen randomly bring? It seems that a new stream of
thinkers and activists believe that they bring a lot.

Just a few weeks ago, the philosopher and writer
David Van Reybrouck was promoting
his new book Against the Elections in our country. In it he emphasizes the
value of deliberation before a vote, and of the value of the citizen before the
professional parliamentarian. It also highlights different initiatives which
have brought together hundreds of citizens, contacted randomly, to deliberate.
This is the case with Iceland's constitutional reform attempt and the G1000
event born in Belgium and later exported to the Netherlands.

On March 4, 2017, more than a thousand Madrid
residents were called to the Madrid G1000 in the
Cibeles Palace of the Ayuntamiento de Madrid. These citizens were randomly
selected through a contact process in supermarkets, sport centres and health
centres in Madrid's 21 districts. The contact included a survey to ensure that
the sample of citizens was demographically representative of the city. Before
the meeting, David Van Reybrouck, one of the G1000's founders, sent a message
of support to the Madrid G1000: "In a time of communication and
information, people have something to say. The G1000 offers common citizens the
opportunity to talk about their anger and their dreams. After a dozen G1000
meetings in Belgium and the Netherlands, Spain will hold its first G1000
Citizens' Summit in Madrid. I hope it brings people together. You don't have to
agree to have a good talk".

During the meeting the citizens were split into
groups of up to ten people, in which they tried to reflect and debate about the
city. By the end of the morning they had jointly formulated dozens of proposals
for this year's participatory budgets to which 100 million euros has been
allocated. Common people who had never participated were able, then, to bring
the proposals to decide.madrid.es, the City's new direct democracy free
software tool, sharing their proposals with the whole city and winning great
approval.

From ParticipaLAB, the Inteligencia
Colectiva para la Participación Democrática (
Laboratory
of Collective Intelligence for Democratic Participation), at Medialab-Prado we
hope that this initiative will open the door to new strategies to introduce
randomness and sortition into democratic deliberation.

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The EU must keep up with new technologies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/03/2017 - 12:17am in

Surveillance technologies infiltrating computer systems of human rights activists can result in their imprisonment or death. There will be a hearing on dual-use exports in the European Parliament, March 21, 2017.

HRI

lead Elderly man uses his smartphone to video record the large crowd gathered on Jinan Road (濟南路), near the ROC Legislative Yuan (立法院) in Taipei (台北), 2014. Flickr/Tomscy2000. Some rights reserved.

New technologies are creating both opportunity and
danger for human
rights activists
. Social media platforms,
anonymization and encryptions tools, and widespread internet access are empowering
activists to exchange ideas, document abuses, and disseminate information to
wider audiences. On the flip side, governments are using surveillance
technologies
to target, prosecute, and
silence activists.

The European Union should breathe new life into its
support of activists to help overcome the negative side effects of new
technologies. The current EU strategy is focused on preventing surveillance
technologies getting into abusive hands. On February 28, 2017, the European
Parliament discussed a proposal for updated restrictions on dual-use exports
(including surveillance technologies) that was drafted by the European
Commission
last year. The proposal recognizes
that surveillance technologies are being used to “infiltrate computer systems
of dissidents and human rights activists, at times resulting in their
imprisonment or even death.” There will be a hearing on dual-use exports in the
Parliament on March 21, 2017.

The
Wassenaar Arrangement

Twenty-seven EU member states are party to the Wassenaar Arrangement,
an international treaty established in 1995 that seeks to restrict the export
of conventional arms and dual-use goods. However, because the treaty is
non-binding, European-made surveillance technologies continue to be sold to
repressive governments. According to investigative journalism conducted by The Correspondent, EU member states permitted
the export of surveillance technology 317 times

over the past three years, but only rejected 14 export permits. 30 per cent
of exports
went to countries considered
‘not free’ by Freedom House, and another 52 percent to countries considered
‘partially free.’  

Tighter regulations are welcome, but at best they can
limit government access to surveillance technologies, as opposed to restricting
access or changing government behavior. After all, other states will continue to
export surveillance technology unabated. The United Kingdom’s departure from
the EU will further reduce the impact of export restrictions. In 2015, the UK exported
phone monitoring technology
to Israel, Bangladesh,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates. ‘Brexit’ is
likely to increase British technology exports to repressive governments. Theresa
May, the UK Prime Minister, has already
placed trade deals above human rights concerns

amidst growing partnerships with Gulf Monarchies. The
United Kingdom’s departure from the EU will further reduce the impact of export
restrictions.

Israel, another large exporter of surveillance
technologies, made up 10
percent of the global cybersecurity market
in 2014
and has exported
surveillance technology
to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,
and Uganda. China also has extensive surveillance capabilities and is
considered one of the worst abusers of internet freedom. Accurate data on the
extent of Chinese exports of surveillance technologies is unavailable, but reports
indicate that China has exported surveillance technologies to Iran and
Algeria
.

European export controls are clearly not enough to
have a lasting impact if other countries are able to freely export surveillance
technology. DigitalEurope, a lobby organization, has
argued that European export controls are pointless if other countries can act
as they wish. For this reason, there is a need to protect activists from the
surveillance technologies that get into the hands of abusive governments, but
also to recognize the limits of such protection.

Nongovernmental organizations have led the way in
developing new technologies and guidelines on best practice. InformaCam
is a smartphone app that records the date, time and location of imagery, as
well as encrypting it, to make sure it cannot be tampered with. Amnesty
International created the Panic
Button
, which turns a smartphone into an alert
system. Security
in a Box
and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
have provided guidelines on how to protect activists from surveillance technologies,
such as information on how to bypass censorship and safeguard
yourself from malware
. In addition, the
United States
is playing an important role by funding
independent websites in closed societies, providing training in online
security, and developing secure communications for smartphones.

Enhancing
digital literacy – a European task

The protection of activists, however, is a reactive
response to surveillance technologies. Further, the effectiveness of using
technology to protect activists is under question. As governments are often the
gatekeepers of technology and have access to greater resources, they have the
power to draft legislation banning a certain technology if it becomes
unfavorable, or legally request information from service providers, among other
measures. The effectiveness of using technology to
protect activists is under question.

Beyond acting on the defensive – limiting exports
of surveillance technologies and protecting activists from human rights
violators – the EU should adopt a more proactive human rights policy that takes
advantage of technological change. The EU Action
Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019)
,
a strategy document that guides the promotion of human rights and democracy for
EU institutions and member states, lists improving the capacity of local actors
as its first objective.

The plan, however, pays little attention to
technology and fails to harness its positive potential. EU policy has largely
focused on the way technology is restricting, not aiding, human rights
activism. To remain relevant in the human rights struggles of today, the EU
should expand its tactic by seeking to enhance digital literacy among activists
in order for technology to be used in an effective way, especially for those
working in closed or closing political spaces.

Change the paradigm

Technology
changes the paradigm by allowing victims to become agents in the documentation
process. First, widespread use of smartphones and other recording
technologies can lead to broad-based participation in activism through opening
up the process of documenting human rights abuses to ordinary citizens. This
will shift the power balance away from elite domestic and international
organizations to build a more inclusive form of activism. Traditionally,
victims of human rights abuses have been the subject of fact-finding missions, but
technology changes the paradigm by allowing victims to become agents in the
documentation process. Although technology is often unevenly shared throughout
society, it can be used to enhance the participation and empowerment of women,
children, people with disabilities, the LGBTI community, and minority groups. By
taking part in such processes, victims can become aware of and take ownership
of human rights. The EU should encourage the participatory documentation of
human rights abuses to facilitate activism throughout society.

Second, technology can transform human rights
activism through increased access to data. More data is available than ever
before, as every individual has the potential to become a source of
information. Whether it is the thousands of images taken on smartphones throughout
the occupation of Tahrir
Square in Cairo
, or the use of geospatial technology
to document human rights abuses in Darfur, technology can provide human rights
activists and policy makers with unparalleled levels of data. The EU should
encourage its NGO partners to use new technologies like crowdsourcing and commons-based
peer production to gather large quantities of data, which will be useful for understanding
and highlighting the scope of a human rights problem.

Third, technology can be used to verify the data.
The widespread availability of data will become a problem if it cannot be verified
accurately, as it has the potential to distort information. For example, a video
circulated on YouTube
of Colombian police officers spraying
a water cannon towards a man tied to a tree was circulated to denounce police
violence in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. To name and shame a government or
mobilize public opinion, accurate data is vital. The YouTube
Data Viewer
allows videos to be turned into
thumbnails that are then processed in Google reverse image search to see if the
thumbnails have previously appeared on the web. The EU should fund the verification
of the large quantity of human rights data becoming available through such
means.

Fourth,
there is a need for the EU, human rights activists, and innovative technology organizations
to work together, as technology will to continue to develop and transform human
rights activism. Witness, Benetech  Tactical Tech, Digital Defenders Project, Engine Room, and Access Now are just a few of the
organizations bridging the gap between technology and human rights that the EU
should partner with.

Who ultimately decides?

Ultimately, human rights activists must have the
final say in whether or not they engage with new technologies. The risks are
high, but so are the rewards. The European Parliament should demand tighter EU export
controls and request that the European Commission support activists in taking
informed decisions on risks and safety. But on top of this defensive approach, the
EU needs to put greater emphasis on working with activists in order to reap the
full benefits of technology.

Flickr/Tim Brockley. Some rights reserved.

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Democracy – a call to arms

Human rights in Europe should not buckle under mass surveillance

European net neutrality, at last?

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The link tax threatens the internet as we know it

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/03/2017 - 9:54pm in

Tags 

Internet

The EU Commission's proposed copyright directive poses a threat to the internet's fundamental interconnectedness.

Links under strain. Pixabay/bykst. Some rights reserved.The "link tax" features some of the
most impractical and extreme expansions
of copyright rules ever seen. Copyright has already been bent out of shape; the original theory was to use copyright
to protect the content creator and allow
them to make back any investment on their idea,
along with a healthy profit, over a fixed, 14 year period. However, with the current period set at 70 years, not
only are copyright laws strangling
innovation, but now these additional reforms seek to make criminals of everyone who does not pay a fee to
simply link to someone else's work.

In short, you may soon face a charge each time
you publish a link to an article. From
individual bloggers, to large publications, big media seeks to control how we direct people online,
make citations on Wikipedia, or simply
recommend a game or movie.

But it doesn't stop there: saving photos to
online shopping lists on sites such as
Pinterest, or sharing any news article over Facebook or Twitter aren't in any way exempt. As it stands, there
are no exceptions for non-commercial use.

In fact, even search engines, which are
essentially a long list of links gathered
around whatever query you enter, could also be subject to the link tax.

Julia Reda, Pirate Party Germany MEP, states in
her article '10
everyday things on the web the EU commission wants to make illegal: Oettinger’s
legacy'
:

"These proposals are pandering to the
demands of some news publishers to charge
search engines and social networks for sending traffic their way, as well as the music industry’s wish to be propped up
in its negotiations with YouTube."

"These proposals will cause major
collateral damage – making many everyday
habits on the web and many services you regularly use downright illegal, subject to fees or, at the very least, mired
in legal uncertainty."

What does this mean? By now, it's fairly obvious
that implementing such a charge for links
would fundamentally alter the way the web works.

Should the link tax succeed, we would see a wave
of online censorship. The effects of this cannot yet be fully understood or overstated.

Perhaps the most foolish part of this bill is that it
would actually drastically harm not only
our digital economy but our "analogue" economy too. Viral promotions of movies, music or any other
product would vanish as internet users would
no longer be able to share links to movies or stores where products can be bought.

Remember how excited the internet became at the
release of Deadpool? How many
different blogs, vlogs, reviews and how many different people shared direct links to movie trailers, merchandise and other
Deadpool related promos? Now imagine that
was all subject to a link tax – it is difficult to say how drastic the impact of this would be, but it's probably safe
to say we'd never see a Deadpool 2.

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The future of US net neutrality under Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/03/2017 - 5:35am in

Administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy
often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. But now, net neutrality in its purest form is in peril.

HRI

lead Welcome and Opening Remarks from Commissioner Ajit Pai, May 2014.Wikicommons/Federal Communications Commission.Public domain.

As this openDemocracy series has poignantly highlighted, digital rights should never be
taken for granted. For all those keeping a close eye on US politics, this
reality could not resonate more ominously. With the new Republican
administration of Donald J. Trump, there is plenty of kindle to fuel a fire of
discussion and, often enough, outrage.

Yet, behind all of the grandstanding, tweeting, and obscene showmanship,
there lies a political machine forged in the corridors of Capitol Hill,
skyscraping towers of corporate America, and musty legal libraries ready to
take up the bureaucratic responsibility of running the United States. You see,
outside of the more widely covered political issues such as immigration and
healthcare, administrative decisions related to the country’s
telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US
citizenry.

Such is the case with the newly appointed chair of the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai. A former Harvard and University
of Chicago-educated legal counselor for Verizon, a major US telecom company, Pai
was appointed as a commissioner in 2012 by former US President Barack Obama to
join the five-member leadership team of the FCC – an independent government
agency overseen by the US Congress that regulates the country’s communications
policy. And to understand the new FCC under Pai, a member of the Republican
Party, one has to understand Pai.

Pai is a staunch advocate against overregulation or intervention in
what he considers blossoming markets, which he became known for during his
tenure before being promoted by Trump to replace former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.
But he is better known for his opposition to Wheeler’s Open Internet Order. Taken together, his minimalistic
regulatory philosophy, political leanings, and past history of opposing market
intervention exemplify a new FCC chair that is in stark contrast to his
predecessor – one that could have a lasting effect on net neutrality in the United
States
.

What
is net neutrality?

Network neutrality
is the principle that operators, including Internet service providers (ISPs),
and government regulators should treat all Internet traffic (data) equally, not
discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform,
application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

Coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003,
net neutrality is often considered a cornerstone of the open Internet that is
paramount to safeguarding the fairness and equality of data traffic, as Washington Post tech reporter Hayley
Tsukayama eloquently explained. Although
it generally describes the debate surrounding whether or not Internet traffic
should be regulated by governments, the term is often evoked to describe
“throttling” by an ISP to slow Internet speeds in order to steer customers to
services granted preferential treatment, such as by paying for faster speeds, or
to manipulate a customer or service – such as what happened in January 2014
when the US broadband company Comcast severely crippled
Netflix’s bandwidth and slowed their services to a crawl. As a result, Comcast
demanded that Netflix enter into a preferential deal to peer with their
network, thus creating a two-sided market for ISPs -– that is, a precedent
grounded in data-specific traffic management (for a humorous account of this
deal, see the Last Week Tonight with John
Oliver segment that highlighted
the effects it had on net neutrality in the US).

Moreover, net neutrality debates exist around the world.
The European Union has particularly stringent net neutrality rules, which Luca
Belli and Christopher Marsden covered in detail in this openDemocracy article in this
same series, while this interactive map
from the Global Net Neutrality Coalition offers a glimpse of absolute net
neutrality protections by country. This form of net neutrality also garnered
global attention in 2016 when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
controversially banned Facebook’s
Free Basics program citing net
neutrality concerns. Pai, on the other hand, dropped FCC
investigations into zero rating programs, arguing, “Free-data
plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income
Americans, and have enhanced competition in the wireless marketplace.”

Retrieved from: http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/this-hilarious-graph-of-netflix-speeds-shows-the-importance-of-net-neutrality/

Is
net neutrality regulation necessary?

Net neutrality is often a topic of conversation at Internet
governance events I participate in, such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and
rarely does a digital policy issue present such a polarizing environment. Those
who do not support absolute regulation – including Pai and Trump, economists
such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, technologists
like one of the “fathers of the Internet,” Bob Kahn, senior
managing director for global advanced technology policy at Cisco Systems, and
former FCC chief of policy development, Robert Pepper, certain minority rights groups
such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
telecom and cable providers such as AT&T, and technology companies
providing over-the-top (OTT) services – generally advance one of seven arguments,
including that net neutrality regulation deters investment into improving
broadband infrastructure, and it provides government
with more power over the Internet, undermining the free market. Absolute net
neutrality opponents also argue that this
regulation hurts consumers by limiting competition from bandwidth-intensive
Internet-delivered services against traditional managed services, and impedes effective
traffic management, which ISPs and especially wireless carriers require to
maintain fast and efficient networks.

Those in favor of net neutrality regulation – including Bob Kahn’s “father
of the Internet” counterpart, Vint Cerf, the
founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, Internet service companies
like Mozilla and Amazon,
bloggers such as Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal, and digital rights groups
such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), Public Knowledge, and
Access Now – strongly
advocate for net neutrality. They often argue that without such regulation,
consumers will have little choice as to which services to use or the content
they can access since ISPs would completely control Internet traffic, which they
argue would lead to ISPs charging both consumers and Internet companies more
for faster speeds and/or certain services and content. Additionally, pro-net
neutrality proponents also fear that without regulation, small Internet
companies would be shut out of mainstream service if they could not pay higher
fees for greater bandwidth.

The
future of the FCC and net neutrality in the United States

In February 2015, the FCC reclassified
Internet service providers in the US so that it would be regulated as a
phone-like common carrier as opposed to a mostly unregulated information
system, which was upheld by a US
Court of Appeals in June 2016. Fast-forward to the present, and Pai is reiterating
his position that the FCC “made a mistake
regarding the Open Internet Order (in reference to the aforementioned
regulatory policy). While this might seem alarmist, bear in mind that Google
Chairman Eric Schmidt told a top White
House official in 2014 that Obama was making a mistake by supporting strong net
neutrality rules (Google’s net neutrality position is neither for nor against –
it supports discrimination across different data types, such as health data
versus streaming video, but not among similar data types).

Critics, however, have been quick to emphasize that
under the FCC’s Open Internet Order, “Capital investments for large ISPs were
nearly 9 percent higher than in the two years prior.” Moreover, a heavily
referenced Free Press report also refuted
the argument made by Pai that investment has “flatlined,”
thoroughly documenting investment in Internet infrastructure in the US since
the Open Internet Order was passed in 2015.

Regardless, though, net neutrality in its purest form in the United
States is undoubtedly in peril. Although pro-net neutrality advocates have
despaired over the possible death of US net neutrality
in the past, highlighted its obsolescence, or at
the very least, questioned the
FCC’s intentions and decision-making process, the next four years will likely
prove to be a tough time for them. As one member of an Internet policy email
list I subscribe to wrote, “This retroactive step [rolling back net neutrality
rules] will not spell well for the independence of Internet access to all
concerned.”

Many of these concerns are grounded in the actions the FCC has taken
since Pai became chair. In addition to scaling back
transparency rules for smaller ISPs, and proposing to halt major new
privacy requirements because they only target ISPs and not information services
like Google, consumer advocates interviewed for a New York Times article stressed
that Pai has “released about a dozen actions [since being appointed chair],
many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning
consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts. They said Mr. Pai’s message was
clear: The FCC … will mirror the Trump administration’s rapid unwinding of
government regulations that businesses fought against during the Obama
administration.” For instance, while they do not directly relate to net
neutrality, Pai has also stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed Internet
service
to low-income individuals, withdrew an effort to keep
prison phone rates down, and scrapped a proposal to break
open the cable box market.

Yet, while “lighter” regulation was expected with the new
administration, Pai’s intentions and actions are often demonized – even
though he has maintained his
desire to protect the “free and open Internet.” Pai has never criticized the
concept of balanced net neutrality, and as one author writing for Forbes suggested, Pai’s
FCC will be consistent, experienced, and professional – an apparent deviation
from the administration as a whole. For instance, he introduced several
new transparency measures to improve the public’s ability to view rules well
before they are passed, unlike in the past where some rules were not published
until well after their vote by the commission.

Moreover, according to Fast
Company, “It seems less and less likely that Pai has it in mind to
completely kill the network neutrality principles … [two commission insiders
who insisted on anonymity said] Pai is more likely to scale back the effects of
the order, rather than pushing the commission to withdraw it or asking Congress
to pass legislation that overrides it. Pai may “soften” the order by allowing
broadband carriers some kinds of web traffic prioritization or throttling under
clearly defined conditions, one source said. For example, if a broadband
customer is paying for 100 megabit-per-second broadband service, the provider
might be allowed to prioritize some kinds of bandwidth-sensitive traffic (like
video) in order to meet the speed promise.” In other words, the FCC’s new modus
operandi vis-à-vis the Open Internet Order may likely offer ISPs more
flexibility with traffic management, which deviates from the previous protocol
under Wheeler of leaving data speeds untouched. The article concluded on an
optimistic but also uncertain note: “For now at least, the reports of net
neutrality’s death may indeed be greatly exaggerated.”

There is a case to be made that Pai is motivated by the firm
conviction of operating within the limits of power/oversight granted to the FCC
by Congress. Regardless of his intentions, though, he is expected to steer the
FCC into “a more hands-off, pro-industry
direction
,” which was reinforced during his first US Senate hearing as FCC
chairman on 8 March 2017. Time will tell whether or not his conviction – and
his vision – will manifest in a way that protects the free, competitive, and
open Internet he and many of his Republican colleagues advocate so adamantly
for, or if it will lead to the fears some consumer advocates believe may come
to pass: greater market capture/monopolization by the powerful, existing telecoms,
and ultimately higher costs for US Internet subscribers.

Attribution: An earlier
version of this article was published on the Global Forum for Media and
Development blog at: www.gfmd.info/en/site/news/1087/Net-Neutrality-in-the-Crosshairs-after-Trump--Michael-J-Oghia.htm.

Acknowledgments: Special
thanks to Farid Enrique Ben Amor for his suggestions on how to improve this
article and make it more objective.

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IT experts name Mb2.r5oHf-0t as world’s safest password

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/03/2017 - 9:26pm in

Tags 

Internet, Study

Hamburg (dpo) - Hacked accounts, security gaps, email data theft: more and more people are justifiably concerned about their password security. However, this could soon come to an end. Today, Europe’s largest association of hackers, the Chaos Computer Club, officially selected Mb2.r5oHf-0t as the world’s safest password. This follows tests in which all common passphrase finder programmes failed to identify this password due to its sophisticated character string.
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Cybersecurity should protect us – not control us

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/03/2017 - 6:50am in

In the race to secure against threats, human rights such as privacy, free expression, freedom of assembly are undermined rather than protected.

Cyber threats on a Norse attack map. Christiaan Colen/Flickr. Some rights reserved.What do the election in Mexico, a hospital in California, baby
monitors around the world and tinned fruit in Thailand have in common? They
were all were involved in the great ‘cybersecurity’ failures of 2016. They also
highlight the spectrum of cybersecurity issues that potentially impact us all:
Governments, public services, companies, you and I. 

The dizzying scale, technical complexity and downright panic
accompanying ‘cyberattacks’ and data breaches often overshadow the fact that
human rights are at the heart of cybersecurity, and that attacks mostly impact
individuals. The personal information of over 93 million voters in Mexico, including home
addresses, were openly published on the internet after being taken from a
poorly secured government database. Up to 100,000 people are reportedly kidnapped in Mexico each year. A hospital in
California had to cancel surgeries and move patients after attackers took down their
network
 with
ransomware. Internet connected devices such as baby monitors were reportedly
co-opted by malware and utilised as part of a DDOS attack, which brought down popular websites
including Twitter and The New York Times.

The cybersecurity debate can undermine human rights and the international obligation on governments to protect them.

Governments are under pressure to combat these kinds of threats and more
to create a secure and stable online environment. Many inter-governmental
forums focus on building state capacity to develop effective cybersecurity
strategies which identifies critical infrastructure to protect and prevent
instances such as those in Mexico, California and the global DDOS attack.

But in the race to secure against threats, human rights such as privacy, free expression, freedom of assembly and other rights are often undermined rather than protected, leaving individuals vulnerable. In Thailand for example,
a journalist was convicted of violating cybercrime
laws
 after
publishing a report on labour rights violations in the country’s fruit canning
sector.

British NGO Privacy International recently published a series of State of Privacy reports, which aim to summarise
privacy and surveillance laws and practices in a variety of countries. The
reports identify cybersecurity as a government priority in various
countries around the world, but also identify repressive cybercrime laws
drafted alongside cybersecurity strategies. Cybercrime laws can be complex and
problematic; they can be far-reaching, vague and national legal frameworks
often lack the basic protections that should underpin them, such as data
protection laws and explicit privacy protections which help curtail state
power. 

The result is that, in some parts of the world, the cybersecurity debate
can undermine human rights and the international obligation on governments to
protect them. Too quickly the debate turns to increasing state surveillance
capacity, closing down transparency, criminalising legitimate behaviour and
speech and undermining encryption rather than promoting it. For example, using
encrypted messaging services is illegal in Pakistan, and using them in Morocco
will land you in prison and a $10,000 fine. What constitutes
certain crimes is unclear in the cybercrime laws of Jordan, Kenya and Tunisia.
The Computer Misuse Act in Uganda has been used to criminally charge a
journalist. These examples demonstrate the range of issues that appear in
cybercrime laws presented as cybersecurity.

Good cybersecurity puts the individual in the centre, ensures that secure devices and infrastructure is the priority of the nation state.

In addition, there is currently little transparency on how decisions
regarding cybersecurity strategies and cybercrime laws are made and by whom.
Civil society and technologists rarely have a seat at the decision-making
table. Truly effective security must be done as a collaboration and no one
actor can claim to have the solution. This requires trust and efforts to
understand different stakeholder perspectives. When Donald Trump announced a
review of US “cyber capabilities and vulnerabilities”, the Cyber Review Team
consists of “military, law enforcement and
industry representatives”
. No mention of civil society organisations or the technology community,
which is a typical omission around the world. This inevitably leads
to an adversarial relationship between governments and civil society, resulting
in many initiatives being sent back to the drawing board. In 2015, a draft
encryption policy in India was withdrawn after 24 hours due to public outcry over the requirement for end users
to store plaintexts of communications for 90 days. In South Africa,
civil society successfully prevented a draft cybercrime law from being passed
due to the lack of a public interest defence and perceived criminalisation of
journalists and whistleblowers.  

So what is the ‘right’ approach to cybersecurity? The guiding principle
is that good cybersecurity policies and techniques uphold the right to privacy
and other human rights, not undermine them. Good
cybersecurity puts the individual in the centre, ensures that secure devices
and infrastructure is the priority of the nation state, and that
vulnerabilities that are found and risks that are identified are communicated
as quickly as possible so that protection and prevention can occur. Everyone plays a role: cybersecurity is
as much about response teams taking down bots, as about your installing the latest
operating system updates on your phone. But most of all, we must ensure that
cybercrime laws enacted alongside cybersecurity strategies reflect the need to
protect people, rather than increase state power and control over people they
are bound to protect.

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

Expanding state power in times of ‘surveillance realism’: how the UK got a ‘world-leading’ surveillance law

Waking up to the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act

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#1299; The Ever-Watchful Eye of Everyone

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/03/2017 - 4:00am in

Tags 

comic, Internet

The cost for all that telecine must be astronomical.


Doing it the Malaysian way

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/03/2017 - 7:44am in

Ever
since the wake-up call of 2008, and with more and more Malaysians online, the
ruling coalition is well aware that cyberspace is an important battleground, but chooses its battles.

lead BERSIH 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah waving to her supporters having been released from detention in Dataran Merdeka on 28 November 2016.NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.

Is internet a democratizing technology? Or is it first and foremost a
tool for dictators to further control their populations? In a recently
published article I used extensive quantitative research to demonstrate that increasing
internet use has led to more protests in authoritarian regimes. However,
although increasing use of the internet has facilitated mobilization, other research indicates that the existence of the internet has not contributed to the
democratisation of authoritarian
states. How to make sense of that? The authoritarian regime of Malaysia
illustrates how the internet can enable collective action without truly
threatening an authoritarian system.       

Ever since independence in 1957 the same ruling coalition, Barisan
Nasional (BN), has been in power in Malaysia. Strict control over the
traditional media has always been an important pillar of its rule. However,
when the internet became available to a wider public in the late 1990’s the
Malaysian government promised not to
censor the internet, in order to attract foreign investment. At the time, this
was not seen as a huge political concession: there was no ‘dictators’ dilemma’.
Internet was understood in purely economic and not political terms. Also very
few Malaysians had access to the web: it was not perceived as a mass medium and
hence not threatening.  

The political ‘tsunami’ in 2008 led to
a different view of the BN government regarding cyberspace. For the first time
since independence it lost its two third majority in parliament and nearly all
commentators acknowledged that the internet had been very important for the success
of the opposition. In the years before the elections the vast majority of the
Malaysians entered a cyberspace where they were exposed to information that
would never see the light of day in the national newspapers, or on television
and radio channels. Learning about government wrongdoings like corruption
scandals or human rights abuses, Malaysians’ perceptions of the BN government
gradually changed, and it was this that impacted greatly on the polls in 2008. Even
the
prime minister at the time admitted that the government had lost the online battle.
He said: “We didn’t think it was
important. It was a serious misjudgment. We thought that the newspapers, the
print media, the television were important, but young people were looking at
text messages and blogs”.
 

Since
this wake-up call, the government has been much more active in cyberspace. Online
dissidents have been increasingly persecuted, with bloggers who dig into scandals
around the Prime Minister as well as netizens ‘insulting’ the Malaysian royalty
or Islam often enough ending up behind bars. In addition, state resources have
been invested in cybertroopers to influence public opinion, critical online
websites have been blocked or are facing distributed denial-of-service attacks,
and the government is known to possess sophisticated surveillance
software
.

Our
traditional thinking on authoritarian regimes suggests that the primary goal of
all these  measures in the online realm
is to suppress any further collective action against the state. More than
anything else, we expect dictators to fear the threat ‘from below’. Very much in
line with this is the finding that
the Chinese authorities’ online censorship targets first and foremost content
with a collective action potential.

In
the Malaysian case however, the story is different. As a matter of fact, the
Malaysian government does not censor online calls for collective action, nor
does it immediately persecute activists that openly call for a protest. Why
not?  

The
Malaysian regime is certainly technically capable of implementing ‘just-in-time’
blockings, to jail more online dissidents, or to modify its censorship more in
accordance with the Chinese system. The fact that the BN coalition does not target
online mobilization attempts also does not tell us that Malaysia is ‘not so
authoritarian’. A glimpse at what the Malaysian state is doing in cyberspace
nowadays is enough to conclude that the authorities are seriously undermining
citizens’ access to alternative information.

But the
strategy not to crack down on internet-enabled protest is a deliberate one and
the explanation for it is very simple. Even though demonstrations are a
nuisance for the authorities, they are not truly endangering the survival of
the regime. Anti-government protests and authoritarian sustainability are often
imagined to be fundamentally incompatible. The Malaysian example shows that it
is not.

The
2008 election results demonstrated that exposure to alternative online
information had led to an increased political awareness among the Malaysian urban
middle classes. This not only manifested itself at the polls but also in the
streets and squares. The Malaysian middle classes and especially the Bersih
movement – demanding clean and fair elections –  have taken to the streets on a frequent basis
and been successful in attracting hundreds of thousands of protestors to these demonstrations.
When these urban middle classes take to the streets they scream some slogans
and take a few selfies. Yet after an afternoon of protesting they prefer to go
home and have nice meal rather than staying in the streets for much longer.

Without
discrediting their grievances in any kind of way, it is clear that these
protestors are dissatisfied but not nearly desperate enough to truly threaten
the Malaysian political system. An activist I interviewed, remarked:
“Malaysians are way too comfortable with the status-quo. If you had a week-long
protest, the PM might do something. If you just protest for two days, it's not
gonna do anything”.

From
BN’s perspective, there is no point in worrying too much about these folks
taking to the streets. A majority of the crowd is opposition-voter anyway, and
repressing them – online or offline – can only impact negatively on a domestic and
international audience. Allowing protests can even count as good publicity for
the regime. Ironically, by showing that protest is perfectly possible in
Malaysia, demonstrations for more democracy become ‘proof’ of the democratic
character of the country.

If
not to prevent online mobilization, why then is the regime increasingly active
in cyberspace? In order to survive, the BN coalition tries to prevent the
electoral tsunami of 2008 from flooding the whole country. It does so not
through winning back the hearts and minds of the middle class urbanites, nor in
keeping them from the streets. BN knows this is a lost battle. Instead, BN’s
primary job is to keep the rural Malaysians on board through extensive systems
of patronage and cooptation, but also by reaching out to them online. Many
rural communities have access to internet nowadays, yet whereas the middle
class urbanites entered an opposition-dominated virtual world, the youngest
Malaysian netizens have entered a crowded cyberspace.   

The
BN government not only frustrates the online activities of the opposition and civil
society, but tries to communicate pro-actively its message on the internet. Most
importantly, it started doing online what it has been doing in the traditional
press for decades: playing ‘the racial card’. Malaysia is an ethnically divided
country with a majority of Muslim Malays and large Chinese and Indian
minorities. BN – a multi-ethnic pact ­– has ever since its foundation constantly
stirred up tensions between different ethnic groups, only to present itself as
the sole moderate alternative that can preserve the fragile racial harmony in
the country.

As an
illustration, the large Bersih demonstrations – demanding clean and fair
elections – have constantly been bad-mouthed by the authorities as an attempt by
the Chinese to take over the country. In addition, with every street protest
against the BN coalition, the authorities tactically bring up the 13 May 1969
incident, when election-demonstrations ended in deadly ethnic riots. 

Freedom
online until the political ‘earthquake’ in 2008 played an extremely important
role in making the substantial middle classes aware of the unfair political
system in the country, as well as the BN’s divide-and-rule tactics. They no
longer buy into their ethnic fearmongering. The lower-class, rural Malaysians
however, are still very susceptible to BN’s messages. It is this group – and
primarily their votes – that most concerns the BN. Traditionally they have reached
and convinced these people through television, newspapers and radio. But ever
since the wake-up call of 2008, and with more and more Malaysians online, BN is
now well aware that cyberspace is an important battleground. So, while they
might not bother to prevent the middle classes in Kuala Lumpur from organizing
collective action, they do make sure that the rural population continues to believe
that not supporting Barisan Nasional would lead to ethnic clashes and chaos.

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