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What was most amazing to me back when I first wrote about these Obama administration efforts was that a mere six weeks earlier, a major controversy had erupted when Saudi Arabia and the UAE both announced a ban on BlackBerries on the ground that they were physically unable to monitor the communications conducted on those devices. Since Blackberry communication data are sent directly to servers in Canada and the company which operates Blackberry — Research in Motion — refused to turn the data over to those governments, “authorities [in those two tyrannies] decided to ban Blackberry services rather than continue to allow an uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information within their borders.” As I wrote at the time: “that’s the core mindset of the Omnipotent Surveillance State: above all else, what is strictly prohibited is the ability of citizens to communicate in private; we can’t have any ‘uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information’.”

In response to that controversy, the Obama administration actuallycondemned the Saudi and UAE ban, calling it “a dangerous precedent” and a threat to “democracy, human rights and freedom of information.” Yet six weeks later, the very same Obama administration embraced exactly the same rationale — that it is intolerable for any human interaction to take place beyond the prying eyes and ears of the government — when it proposed its mandatory “backdoor access” for all forms of Internet communication. Indeed, the UAE pointed out that the U.S. — as usual — was condemning exactly that which it itself was doing:


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In a sneak attack, the vote on CISPA (America’s far-reaching, invasive Internet surveillance bill) was pushed up by a day. The bill was hastily amended, making it much worse, then passed on a rushed vote. Techdirt’s Leigh Beadon does a very good job of explaining what just happened to America:

Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.

Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power.


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Some will take Mr Brin’s comments on Google rival Facebook, which has seen huge growth and now has more than 800 million members globally, with a grain of salt. The social network has announced plans for a $100 billion IPO.

But his comments on increased interference by governments were echoed by Ricken Patel, co-founder of Avaaz, the 14-million strong activist network which has help train and equip activists in Syria.

Mr Patel said: ‘Governments are realising the power of this medium to organise people and they are trying to clamp down across the world, not just in places like China and North Korea; we’re seeing bills in the United States, in Italy, all across the world.’

Mr Brin also conceded that Google has itself lost the trust of many because its servers sit on American soil, and users’ data are in reach of U.S. authorities.

He admitted the company was forced to hand over information to the U.S. government, and was also sometimes stopped from even telling users it had done so.”


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In short CISPA would allow companies to spy on Internet users and collect and share this data with third-party companies or Government agencies. As long as the company states that these privacy violations are needed to protect against “cybersecurity” threats, they are immune from civil and criminal liabilities.

Some have described the bill as a new SOPA, but it’s nothing like it. Where SOPA was focused on the shutting down of copyright infringing websites, CISPA is directly targeted at individual Internet subscribers, including copyright infringers.


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titowito:

CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act, also known as HR 3523 is a cybersecurity House bill that’s already gained over 100 sponsors and is perhaps the worst of them all. It would allow companies to collect and monitor private communications and share them with the government, and anyone else. So is it really as scary as it sounds? EFF’s Trevor Timm explains.

The latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet is no longer known as SOPA but CISPA: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The SOPA-like bill would give companies the power to collect information on their subscribers and hand it over to the government and all they have to do is request it.

(via titowito-deactivated20131224)


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Meet ACTA, The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade AgreementACTA is supposed to strengthen intellectual property rights; that is, the rights of artists to protect their creations from being copied and counterfeited, essentially stolen and reproduced without consent. However, many including Congressman Darrel Issa (via his website on this subject) has called ACTA “an unconstitutional power grab started by President George W. Bush and completed by President Barack Obama – despite the White House’s January 14 criticism of legislative solutions that harm the Internet and erode individual rights.”


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Industry insiders defend Google’s Safari hack and Path’s phonebook theft as standard industry practices. We can — and must — do better than that.

…”If these two things – grabbing people’s mobile phonebooks and dropping tracking cookies on their devices without consent – are standard practices, then one thing is clear: We need higher standards than that.”


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That’s the buzz in the face of the revelation that a mobile social network called Path was copying address book information from users’ iPhones without notifying them. Path’s voluble CEO David Morin dismissed this as a problem until, as Nick Bilton put it on the New York Times‘ Bits blog, he “became uncharacteristically quiet as the Internet disagreed and erupted in outrage.”


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