RED ALERT: HOUSE APPROVES DRACONIAN CYBERSECURITY BILL OVER OBAMA VETO THREAT (248-168); WILL BE VOTED ON BY SENATE NEXT; BATTLE FOR INTERNET FREEDOM IS ON; BIG BROTHER IS AT THE GATE

RELATED POST: OBAMA INSTALLS NEW GUIDELINES TO AID SPYING ON INNOCENT AMERICANS; U.S. GOVERNMENT TO KEEP DATA ON CITIZENS WITH NO TERRORISM TIES

The House on Thursday April 26, 2012, approved CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 3523) that the Obama administration has threatened to veto.

Members approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection (CISPA) Act, in a 248-168 vote that split both parties.  The bill was supported by 42 Democrats, while 28 Republicans opposed it.

CISPA would allow  companies to share information with the government about the threats facing their networks. Supporters — Republicans and Democrats alike — said the proposal is needed for privacy and security.

“The intelligence community has the ability to detect these cyber threats, these malicious codes and viruses, before they are able to attack our networks,” said Intelligence Committee ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). “But right now, federal law prohibits our intelligence community from sharing the classified cyber threat with the companies that will protect us that control the network, the AT&Ts, the Verizons, the Comcasts, those groups.

“We have the ability to give them the information to protect us, but yet we have to pass a law to do that.”

The Obama administration has issued a veto threat and says he will side with advocates who argue that the bill does not do enough to protect consumers’ private information. The White House also said it wants regulatory mandates for critical infrastructure providers, which are not contained in CISPA.

Ruppersberger said earlier Thursday that Obama’s veto threat of his bill was like a “kick in the solar plexus“.

It also seemed to have the effect of peeling Democrats off the bill, as several Democrats took up Obama’s arguments during floor debate.

“In an effort to foster information sharing, this bill would erode the privacy protections of every single American using the Internet,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “It would create a Wild West of information sharing, where any certified business can share with any government agency, who can then use the information for any national security purpose and grant the business immunity from virtually any liability.”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) added that the bill is an “unprecedented, sweeping piece of legislation that would waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity.”

Republicans did allow several amendments to be considered that narrowed the scope of the bill, including proposals from members of both parties. One from Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) would allow the government to use the information it collects only for five purposes, all related to protecting people and prosecuting crimes.

Others would prohibit the government from using certain electronic data as it works to fight cyber threats, narrow the definition of what information can be shared, and encourage the government to create procedures to protect privacy.

Even before those amendments, supporters argued that the bill has enough safeguards in it to ensure the privacy of consumer data.

“The bill includes significant safeguards to protect personal and private information,” Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) said. “It significantly limits the federal government’s use of that information that the private companies voluntarily provide, including the government’s authority to search data.”

The bill is one of four cybersecurity bills the House is expected to consider this week (April 28, 2012).

The others are the Federal Information Security Amendments act (H.R. 4257), the Cybersecurity Enhancement act (H.R. 2096), and the Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development act (H.R. 3834). House Republicans have put these three bills on the suspension calendar, a process usually reserved for non-controversial bills that will require them to pass by a two-thirds majority vote.

ALEX JONES: HOUSE PASSES CISPA; THIS IS HOW FREEDOM DIES

CISPA PASSES HOUSE: THE END OF INTERNET PRIVACY AND FREEDOM

A controversial cyber security Act CISPA is now a step closer to becoming law, following US Congress approval. The process now heads to the Senate, although the White House had already threatened to veto the bill. Internet users slammed the proposal accusing it of breaching American’s privacy. Critics point to the fact that the act could eclipse all existing laws protecting people’s privacy. RT’s Gayane Chichyakyan reports from Washington. And Declan McCullagh, correspondent from C-net news, says it’s the most alarming part of the bill.

CISPA: THE DEATH OF INTERNET FREEDOM AND PRIVACY

CISPA, authored by Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, is supported by Google, the technology company in bed with the CIA and is responsible for building the Great Firewall of China. Google is not alone in supporting CISPA. Corporate sponsors include Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Verizon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others, according to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.The Electronic Frontier Foundation, long a champion of rights online, has signed on to two coalition letters urging legislators to drop their support for HR 3523. The coalition behind the privacy letter includes dozens of groups, including the ACLU, the American Library Association, the American Policy Center, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and many others, according to the EFF website.The letter warns:

CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity…. CISPA’s ‘information sharing’ regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like internet use history or the content of emails, to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command. Once in government hands, this information can be used for any non-regulatory purpose so long as one significant purpose is for cybersecurity or to protect national security.

CISPA was pushed through following public outrage over SOPA and PIPA, two sneaky attempts to undermine internet freedom earlier this year under the guise of protecting the copyrights of Hollywood and its transnational “entertainment” corporations.

CISPA is far worse than its forerunners. It would amend the the National Security Act of 1947 – legislation that created the national security state and the CIA – and centralize “information sharing” between government agencies, intelligence agencies, and the Pentagon.

Time Techland admits that, according to the Center for Democracy & Technology, CISPA threatens privacy because it “has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies and it supersedes all other privacy laws,” “is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications” and “is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military.”

In short, it is a dream bill designed specifically for the national security surveillance state. CISPA will put a legal facade on behavior the CIA and NSA have engaged in for decades. It is the culmination of years of cyber psyops and attendant propaganda designed convince the public that they must surrender their privacy.

The transfer of “cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military” is especially alarming considering the Pentagon’s aggressive response to supposed cyber attacks. In early 2011, the Pentagon said that cyber attacks constitute acts of war and will be responded to with military action.

It is imperative that you contact your representatives immediately and tell them that you strongly oppose this dangerous legislation and demand they vote against it. If CISPA is allowed to pass next week, it will be a victory for the global elite and their ongoing effort to turn the internet into the largest and most comprehensive surveillance and control mechanism in human history.

TECH GIANT WARNS CISPA IS “ALARMING” THREAT TO PRIVACY

Mozilla is first Silicon Valley entity to denounce bill

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

Tech giant Mozilla has publicly slammed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which passed the House last week, labeling the legislation an “alarming” threat to privacy.

“While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation,” Mozilla, which is best known for its Firefox browser, said in a statement.

The statement is important because it marks the first time any Silicon Valley entity has denounced CISPA, with an array of powerful companies lining up in support of the legislation which passed the US House of Representatives 248 to 168 and now heads to the Senate.

Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Symantec, AT&T and Verizon have all backed the bill, with Microsoft re-affirming its support yesterday after rumors the company was getting cold feet, while Google has refused to take either side.

CISPA has been identified by many as a greater threat to privacy than SOPA, which was opposed by a deluge of major tech firms after a viral online opposition campaign, but because CISPA has received less attention, corporate giants have found it easier to stay mute.

Not only would CISPA mandate ISPs to share Internet data of users with government “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” it also empowers the Department of Homeland Security to monitor the communications of the federal courts and Congress, and intercept tax returns sent to the IRS.

The bill “gives companies a free pass to monitor and collect communications and share that data with the government and other companies, so long as they do so for ‘cybersecurity purposes,’” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has noted. “Just invoking ‘cybersecurity threats’ is enough to grant companies immunity from nearly all civil and criminal liability, effectively creating an exemption from all existing law.”

“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,” writes TechDirt’s Leigh Beadon.

As we have documented, the Obama administration’s threat to veto the bill is little more than a crude stunt and carries no more weight than Obama’s promise to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, which he signed on New Year’s Eve after the White House itself lobbied for the NDAA’s most egregious provisions to be included.

Indeed, the White House’s primary beef with the legislation appears to be the fact that it doesn’t hand enough power to the Department of Homeland Security.

CISPA now moves to the Senate where it will be amalgamated with one of two other bills before heading to Obama’s desk. Don’t hold your breath on that veto.

CISPA: THE GREATEST THREAT TO CYBERSECURITY AND FREE INTERNET

Once again, Congress has ignored the will of the people.For weeks it has been obvious that millions of Americans are steadfastly opposed to CISPA, the so-called cybersecurity legislation passed by the House last night that will allow the government to surveil Americans and deny them Fourth Amendment protection while on the internet.

Congressional leaders and members have come up with all kinds of lame excuses in order to push the bill through, including the absurd claim made by the House Majority leader that CISPA will create jobs.

Our supposed “representatives” need to hear from you about their traitorous effort to subvert and undermine the Constitution.

Follow this link to Govtrack to see if your representative voted for or against H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. If they did, let them know you will not sit idle and allow them to trash our constitutional rights.

Stories pointing out how CISPA destroys the Fourth Amendment – something the establishment media has all but ignored – need to go viral before the bill makes it to the Senate for a vote.

If the Senate is barraged with demands that CISPA be tossed before it can reach Obama’s desk, we may still stand a chance of foiling this draconian police state effort.

Find out how to write to your representatives and tell them to vote against CISPA here: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtmlYou can also sign a petition against CISPA here: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/cispa/

RICHARD STALLMAN: CISPA NEARLY ABOLISHES PEOPLE’S RIGHT NOT TO BE UNREASONABLY SEARCHED

Soon, Americans may find every private email they write could be opened, copied and inspected by government snoopers. The latest cyber security bill – called CISPA – has passed the House of Representatives, coming a step closer to becoming law. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the act, if it goes through in the Senate. He cited civil liberty concerns as the reason for his threat. CISPA has raised a massive outcry with internet users and freedom activists, who say it’s a hard hit on people’s privacy. Reaction now from Dr Richard Stallman, who’s President of the Free Software Foundation. He’s in Tunis.

CISPA SNOOPS: ‘WE MUST KNOW WHY FACEBOOK, GOOGLE AND TWITTER SUPPORT THE BILL’

From private emails to financial records – US Internet companies could soon legally share private user information with the American government. The highly-controversial cyber security act, known as CISPA, is now a step closer to becoming law, following its approval in the House of Representatives. It caused a storm of reaction among internet users accusing it of infringing on privacy and civil liberties. For more on the story RT talks to Fabio Reinhardt from the Pirate Group of the Berlin Parliament.

CISPA, “NATIONAL SEURITY,” AND THE NSA’s ABILITY TO READ YOUR EMAILS

by Trevor Timm
Electronic Frontier Foundation

This week the House of Representatives is debating CISPA, the dangerous ‘cybersecurity’ bill that threatens to decimate Internet users’ privacy in the name of security. EFF and a wide variety of other groups have been protesting the law’s provisions giving companies the power to read users’ emails and other communications and hand them to the government without any judicial oversight whatsoever—essentially a giant ‘cybersecurity’ exception to all existing privacy laws.

We’ve already shown how the bill’s definition of ‘cyber threat information’ can lead the companies and government to surveil citizens for a host of reasons beyond critical cybersecurity threats. But we want to focus on one vital portion of the bill that is not getting enough attention: what the government can do with your private information once companies hand it over.

Even though CISPA is styled as a ‘cybersecurity’ bill, it explicitly allows the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) to use your information for ‘national security’ purposes—expanding the bill far beyond its purported goal. Bill sponser Mike Rogers introduced a package of amendments yesterday, but did not remove “national security” as one of the purposes for which information can be used.

The Erosion of Civil Liberties

In the past decade, the amorphous phrase “national security” has invaded many arenas of government action, and has been used to justify much activity that did not involve legitimate terrorist threats. The most obvious (and odious) example is the unfortunately named USA-PATRIOT Act, a law that was sold to the American public as essential to combating terrorism, but which has overwhelmingly been applied to ordinary American citizens never even suspected of terrorism.

In just one of many examples, from 2003-2006, the FBI issued more than 192,000 National Security Letters to get Americans’ business, phone or Internet records without a warrant. These invasive letters—which come with a gag order on the recipient so they can’t even admit they received one—have been used to gather information about untold number of ordinary citizens, including journalists. Exactly one of those cases ended in a terrorism conviction—and he would have been convicted without the NSL evidence. The ACLU has catalogued how many other PATRIOT Act provisions have been similarly abused. EFF is suing for information about one provision, known as Section 215, which Senators have warned is being secretly interpreted to invade privacy in a way that “most Americans would be stunned” to learn about.

“Information sharing”— CISPA’s mantra—has also created privacy nightmares for everyday Americans in the name of national security. The federal government routinely shares its massive national security databases with local law enforcement agencies with predictable results. An investigation by PBS Frontline and the Washington Post’s Dana Priest showed that “many states have yet to use their vast and growing anti-terror apparatus to capture any terrorists; instead the government has built a massive database that collects, stores and analyzes information on thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.”

Despite the ample evidence of these expansive “national security” powers being used on ordinary citizens, the government has only continued down the same path. Just last month, the National Counterterrorism Center drastically changed its rules so it can now copy entire data bases from other federal government agencies and keep information on citizens for up to five years—even if they’re completely innocent.

Wrongdoing and Abuse Go Unchecked

Of course, with such unchecked power, abuse is inevitable. In 2010, EFF learned through Freedom of Information Act requests indications that the FBI—one of the many agencies that might receive private communications via CISPA—may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the nine years since 9/11—many of which were done under the PATRIOT Act. In addition, we’ve found evidence of the FBI “lying in declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas, and accessing password-protected files without a warrant.”

Incredibly, it recently emerged the FBI may have not only condoned this type of behavior, but encouraged it. Wired recently published an FBI memo on agent training that said, “Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law and impinge on freedoms of others” and cited various wiretapping laws in national security investigations. (emphasis ours)

Increased powers of the National Security Agency

CISPA’s author Rep. Mike Rogers has tried to stave off criticism of that CISPA would lead to government abuse by insisting that the bill allows citizens to sue the government if they misuse their information. But this provides very little comfort. Any such lawsuit will be difficult, if not impossible, to bring. The government can attempt to use the same “national security” exception in CISPA that allows them to use the information for other purposes to escape liability.

First, the statute of limitations for such a lawsuit is two years from the date of the actual violation. It’s not at all clear how an individual would know of such misuse if it were kept inside the government. Given that the National Security Agency is notoriously secretive—its employees even used to refer to it as “No Such Agency”—they may attempt to prevent users from finding out exactly how this information was ever used. And a provision in CISPA that provides an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act for all private information given to it by companies for anything cybersecurity related doesn’t help.

Even if a user knew the government was misusing his or her information, litigation would be difficult, expensive, and time consuming given if classified information or national security is involved, the government may invoke the “state secrets privilege.”

EFF has been involved for years in a lawsuit over Fourth Amendment and statutory violations stemming from another abuse of the government’s claimed ‘national security’ powers—the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. Given the NSA may be a recipient of “cyber threat information” in CISPA, they stand to gain more power to spy on Americans despite laws that would otherwise prevent them from doing so.

Despite six years of litigation, the government continues to maintain that the “state secrets” privilege prevents lawsuits over the warrantless wiretapping program from being heard, arguing that even if the allegations are true, the suit should be dismissed because of—you guessed it—national security concerns. The same state secrets privilege has been invoked in other cases involving the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program and their authority to target Americans in drone strikes overseas with no judicial safeguards.

CISPA will create yet another tool for the government to expand its already massive national security apparatus, and in turn, erode ordinary citizens’ rights, while giving them virtually no recourse if their civil liberties are violated. The House of Representatives is beginning debates on CISPSA tomorrow, with a vote coming no later than Friday. Join EFF in opposing CISPA by calling, emailing, and tweeting at your Representatives.

RON PAUL SLAMS CISPA INTERNET CONTROL BILL

“Big Brother writ” will allow feds to use corporate resources for “spying on the American people”

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
April 23, 2012

In the week that lawmakers will vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CIPSA), Presidential candidate Ron Paul has slammed the legislation in an effort to raise public awareness of the dangers the bill poses to the free and open internet.

“CISPA is essentially an Internet monitoring bill that permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided, of course, that they do so in the name of cyber security,” Paul notes in his weekly Texas Straight Talk address.

“The bill is very broadly written and allows the Department of Homeland Security to obtain large swabs of personal information contained in your email or other online communications,” Paul urges.

“It also allows email and other private information found online to be used for purposes far beyond any reasonable definition of fighting cyber terrorism.”

Both the  Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) have noted that CISPA effectively legislates for monitoring and collecting online communications without the knowledge of the parties concerned and funneling them directly to the National Security Agency or the DOD’s Cybercommand.

In the past few days, the bill has attracted several new sponsors, bringing the number of CISPA co-sponsors to 112 members of Congress, up from 106 at the end of last month.

While the legislation has undergone some revision in the past few weeks, the core of the bill remains the same, prompting even the White House to issue a warning on the privacy implications for Americans.

“We should never underestimate the federal government’s insatiable desire to control the Internet,” Ron Paul notes.

“CISPA represents an alarming form of corporatism as it further intertwines governments with companies like Google and Facebook,” continues the congressman. “It permits them to hand over your private communications to government officials without a warrant, circumventing the well-known established federal laws like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”

“It also grants them broad immunity from lawsuits for doing so, leaving you for without recourse for invasion of privacy,” he adds.

Paul calls a “Big Brother writ” that cuts into “the resources of the private industry to work for the nefarious purpose of spying on the American people.”

“We can only hope the American people will respond to CISPA as they did with SOPA back in January,” concludes the congressman.

Listen to Ron Paul’s important update below:

This week will see up to four pieces of cybersecurity legislation reviewed in Congress, leading sections of the media to dub it “Cyber week”.

Aside from CISPA, the other bills up for review include the DATA Act sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-Texas), and a computer technology research and development bill from Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas).

—————————————————————-

Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

RON PAUL: ‘HANDS OFF THE INTERNET!’

A Dear Colleague letter

April 26, 2012

Dear Colleagues:

Please join me in opposing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (HR 3523), which will create a monstrous coalition of big business and big government to rob Americans of their protections under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided they merely do so in the name of “cybersecurity.”  But America is a constitutional republic, not a surveillance state– and the wildly overhyped need for security does not trump the Constitution we all swore to uphold.

 “Cybersecurity” is the responsibility of companies that operate and make money in cyberspace, not taxpayers.  Those companies should develop market-based private solutions to secure their networks, servers, cloud data centers, and user/customer information.  The role of the US intelligence community is to protect the United States from military threats, not to provide corporate welfare to the private sector.  Much like TSA at the airport, CISPA would socialize security costs and remove market incentives for private firms to protect their own investments.

Imagine security-cleared agents embedded at private companies to serve as conduits for intelligence information about their customers back to the US intelligence community– while enjoying immunity from any existing civil or criminal laws. Imagine Google or Facebook reporting directly to the National Security Agency about the online activity of US citizens.  Imagine US government resources being wasted on a grand scale to “assist” private companies in the global market.  All of this this would become reality under CISPA.

Therefore I urge you to support internet freedom, support the 4th Amendment, and oppose corporatism by voting NO on CISPA!

Sincerely,

Ron Paul, M.D.
Member of Congress

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION VOWS TO VETO CISPA

US Congress passed the highly controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) on April 26.2012. Critics of the bill are concerned how, if passed, CISPA will allow companies to obtain private information from its users and hand it over to the federal government. Although US lawmakers spent Thursday discussing the proposed bill, the Obama administration has claimed they will strongly advise the president to veto the legislation if it makes its way to the White House. Trevor Timm, activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joins us with the latest on CISPA.

WHITE HOUSE VOWS VETO, BUT WILL CISPA STILL BE SIGNED?

US Congress passed the highly controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) on April 26, 2012. US Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) was one of many lawmakers that argued the particulars of the bill, especially provisions that would permit private companies to hand over personal user information to the federal government. The Obama administration has vowed to veto the legislation, but many critics fear the preside will end up signing CISPA into law nonetheless. After all, the White House indeed administered a similar threat last year over the National Defense Authorization Act, only for President Obama to approve the NDAA on New Year’s Eve. Aaron Swartz, executive director for Demand Progress, joins us for more.

OBAMA OPPOSES CISPA, BUT WILL SIGN IT ANYWAY

Get ready for another NDAA-style bait and switch

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

President Barack Obama simply “can’t wait” to bypass Congress and use executive privilege to advance his political agenda, but even though his administration has expressed its opposition to the draconian CISPA bill, don’t hold your breath for a veto.

Earlier this week the New York Times reported on how Obama had personally invented the slogan “We Can’t Wait” to characterize his intention to “aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism.”

However, Obama ‘s penchant for defying Congress seems to lose its steam when there’s a bill to be passed that will strip Americans of what’s left of their fourth amendment rights.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) orders ISPs to share Internet data of users with government “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

The bill “gives companies a free pass to monitor and collect communications and share that data with the government and other companies, so long as they do so for ‘cybersecurity purposes,’” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has noted. “Just invoking ‘cybersecurity threats’ is enough to grant companies immunity from nearly all civil and criminal liability, effectively creating an exemption from all existing law.”

Yesterday senior State Department official Alec Ross publicly announced that the Obama administration opposed CISPA, but refused to entertain the notion of the bill being vetoed.

“The Obama administration opposes Cispa,” he told the Guardian. “The president has called for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation. There is absolutely a need for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.

“[But] part of what has been communicated to congressional committees is that we want legislation to come with necessary protections for individuals.”

Ross’ words carry absolutely no meaning whatsoever. History tells us that Obama’s opposition to CISPA is nothing more than political grandstanding and that he will sign the bill without haste once it lands on his desk.

Cast your minds back to the National Defense Authorization Act and specifically the provision that allows indefinite detention of Americans without trial.

At every step throughout the process, the Obama administration threatened to veto the bill unless the ‘kidnapping’ provisions were removed from the text, lulling civil libertarians on the left into a false sense of security. However, Obama signed the legislation into law on New Year’s Eve when Americans were out partying, a sneak attack that caught everyone by surprise.

Despite a toothless signing statement in which Obama promised not to use the ‘indefinite detention’ provision against American citizens, it subsequently emerged that it was the administration itself which specifically demanded the provision be applied to American citizens.

According to its co-author Rep. Mike Rogers, CISPA already has enough votes to pass the House on Friday and despite an onslaught of new amendments, some of which actually make the bill worse for privacy, will head to the Senate for approval before awaiting the President’s signature.

Given what we learned from Obama’s NDAA bait -and-switch, the President probably “can’t wait” to sign CISPA into law, formally empowering the federal government to use the Internet as one giant world wide wiretap in the name of cybersecurity.

WHITE HOUSE THREAT TO VETO CISPA IS A CRUDE STUNT

Obama is once again posing as a champion of privacy rights

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

Even as drones are deployed domestically to spy on American citizens, Barack Obama is posing as a champion of privacy and civil liberties by threatening to veto the CISPA web snooping bill, just as his administration pretended to be hostile to the National Defense Authorization Act before signing it anyway.

An email released by the White House this afternoon claims the administration is unhappy with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act because it fails to include proper “privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards.”

“If H.R. 3523 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” states the email.

This is another crude stunt to lull civil libertarians on the left into a false sense of security.

As we documented earlier, Obama pulled precisely the same trick with the NDAA ‘indefinite detention’ bill, when for months he threatened to veto it while his administration secretly lobbied for the most draconian provisions to be added. When push came to shove, Obama signed the bill on New Year’s Eve while everyone’s attention was diverted.

Indeed, the real reason behind the administration’s hostility to CISPA is revealed later in the email – that it doesn’t give the Department of Homeland Security enough power over Internet traffic.

“H.R. 3523 effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres. The Administration believes that a civilian agency – the Department of Homeland Security – must have a central role in domestic cybersecurity, including for conducting and overseeing the exchange of cybersecurity information with the private sector and with sector-specific Federal agencies,” states the email.

As we reported earlier, this is the subject of an amendment introduced by prolific big government advocate Sheila Jackson Lee that would empower the Department of Homeland Security to intercept online IRS tax returns and any other Internet traffic deemed to transit networks owned by the federal government or operated on its behalf.

The Obama administration’s sudden concern for the privacy of American citizens, even as it simultaneously signs off on a multitude of other fourth amendment-busting policies, including domestic surveillance drones, mandatory black boxes in all vehicles, and empowering the IRS to revoke passports, is nothing more than a head fake to disguise the White House’s dissatisfaction with how the new powers in the bill are dispersed at the federal level.

Once the bill has been amended to give the DHS more power, expect Obama to sign it without delay, whether the snooping provisions have been removed or not.

ANOTHER BAIT AND SWITCH? OBAMA OPPOSES CISPA

Even as drones are deployed domestically to spy on American citizens, Barack Obama is posing as a champion of privacy and civil liberties by threatening to veto the CISPA web snooping bill, just as his administration pretended to be hostile to the National Defense Authorization Act before signing it anyway.

OBAMA CONDEMS MONITORING ABROAD AS CONGRESS PUSHES INTERNET BILL

President Obama announced that he is planning on fighting genocide in the Middle East by cracking down on entities that use technology to conduct human rights violations. On Monday, Obama signed an executive order that targets individuals who use technology to monitor and track dissidents. Although President Obama opposes the monitoring of individuals abroad, Congress is attempting to pass a legislation that will allow the US government to do just that domestically. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) could alter online freedoms in the US, and Declan McCullagh, CNet News correspondent, joins us for a closer look.

CISPA AMENDMENT ALLOWS DHS TO INTERCEPT TAX RETURNS

Perennial big government advocate Sheila Jackson Lee strikes again

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

An amendment introduced to the controversial CISPA bill by perennial big government advocate Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee would empower the Department of Homeland Security to intercept online IRS tax returns and any other Internet traffic deemed to transit networks owned by the federal government or operated on its behalf.

“Jackson Lee’s amendment (PDF) is broad enough to sweep in government contractors and university networks such as Internet2 and CENIC, said a telecommunications attorney who did not want to be identified because of client sensitivity. It also appears to cover open Wi-Fi networks run by federal agencies and networks in government-provided housing,” reports CNet’s Declan McCullagh.

Not only would the amendment give Big Sis the power to monitor all government networks, it could also, according to McCullagh and Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “allow Homeland Security to monitor the communications of the federal courts and Congress, and intercept tax returns sent to the IRS.”

Given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has already identified all kinds of mundane behavior as “suspicious activity” possibly indicative of terrorism, the prospect of the federal agency trawling through Americans’ 1040 forms is nothing less than chilling.

The CISPA bill has already come under attack from all sides of the political spectrum because it states that “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share information with the government, demolishing fourth amendment privacy protections.

Earlier this week Congressman Ron Paul slammed the legislation as a “Big Brother writ,” writing, “CISPA is essentially an Internet monitoring bill that permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided, of course, that they do so in the name of cyber security.”

Targeting Americans for spying and punitive measures through their relationship with the IRS has been a common theme in recent weeks, with a separate bill, the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’ (MAP-21), giving the IRS the power to revoke passports of Americans merely accused of owing $50,000 or more in back taxes.

Texas Democrat Jackson Lee has aggressively pushed for extra powers for the DHS on a number of different fronts, most recently when she promoted a program that places TSA agents on Houston buses as undercover spies tasked with interrogating passengers and searching bags.

Jackson-Lee also savaged a newly passed law that enables airports to evict TSA screeners and replace them with private security, ludicrously claiming that such changes would cause a new 9/11-style attack.

Jackson-Lee’s amendment will be debated during a House floor hearing tomorrow, with the full CISPA bill expected to face a vote on Friday amidst a crescendo of vocal opposition.

YOUTUBE LAUNCHING CISPA PURGE!

GOOGLE-OWNED YOU TUBE IN BRAZEN SOPA-STYLE ATTACK

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
May 3, 2012

An astounding new frontier of Internet censorship has been launched by Google-owned You Tube to copyright audio and visual characteristics of individual people, meaning third party companies could claim copyright ownership of content that doesn’t even belong to them if it features an individual person who has signed a partnership agreement with that company.

Last night we were informed that the account for the Alex Jones Channel on You Tube was not in good standing because the channel contained years-old videos of comedian Joe Rogan’s appearances on the Alex Jones Show.

Although the content exclusively belonged to the Alex Jones Show, You Tube claimed that the videos represented a copyright violation because its automated crawlers had determined that Rogan’s voice and image were under the sole copyright ownership of a company Rogan had partnered with called Bent Pixels.

Although Bent Pixels had previously used its own software to place ads on You Tube videos that contain exclusive Rogan content, You Tube began using its own automated software to determine which videos contained the image or voice of Joe Rogan, and then threatened legitimate content owners with community violations if the clips were not removed.

Not only our videos of Joe Rogan’s appearances on the Alex Jones Show but other Joe Rogan videos across You Tube were deleted on this pretext and channels were suspended.

This software has been applied across the You Tube platform, which is why hundreds of thousands of videos are now being deleted even though they clearly represent fair use or are even exclusive content which doesn’t even pertain to fair use.

This new definition of copyright violation completely blows away any pretense of fair use. Not only does it abolish fair use, it then allows third party companies to claim they own your personal content.

For example, if Rogan appeared on the Jay Leno show as a guest, a third party company could then claim they own that segment of Jay Leno’s broadcast.

Despite the fact that the bill was shot down, Google is already implementing SOPA-style policies under this framework of copyrighting individuals.

The heart of the problem lies with the fact that You Tube is now using automated applications that can not only identify copyrighted music, but also individual voices.

As a result of You Tube treating Joe Rogan as a copyrighted individual, our long upload capability has been suspended and the entire channel itself, with over 200 million video views, is once again under threat of being deleted.

It is important to stress that You Tube is the culprit here, Bent Pixels is merely interested in protecting exclusive content of its partners, but You Tube has applied their own draconian copyright measures arbitrarily.

CISPA, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

The Internet is under attack, but Tim’s robopal is too busy watching dog videos on YouTube to care. Can Tim prove to him that things like SOPA and ACTA are a threat to our online liberty?

CISPA: SAY ‘GOODBYE’ TO PRIVACY AND FREEDOM

Lately Congress has attempted to sneak legislation that could change the face of the Internet as we know it, and all in the name of national security. First there was SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but now CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act) is threatening the privacy and freedom of US citizens. No online activity will be safe when it comes to these bills because as of now what’s considered a cyber security threat is a large grey area, but David Seaman, journalist and host of The DL Show, joins us to take a closer look at CISPA.

TREVOR TIMM: ‘CISPA IS U.S. CYBER-SECURITY LOOPHOLE’

The readiness of the internet community to self organize for mass protests against censorship and online privacy curtailment has taken US legislators aback, believes Trevor Timm, web freedom activist from the Electronic Frontier foundation. ­Since the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was halted in January, the wave of outrage has not ceased as the Congress gets ready to ratify another already-notorious bill. Angry internet users are protesting against the Cyber
Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) web security bill pending in the US Congress. Web surfers fear the bill will make privacy a thing of the past. Trevor Timm spoke to RT about the bill.

CISPA: DRACONIAN BILL WOULD FORCE COMPANIES TO SPY FOR THE FED

A coalition of advocacy groups has begun a week of intensive protests against the latest attack on the free and open internet, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The draconian legislation would force companies to ignore existing privacy laws and share information with the federal government.

At the forefront of the coalition’s protest efforts is a Twitter takeover, whereby users are being asked to use the hashtags #CongressTMI and #CISPA in an attempt to create the same level of publicity that was generated during the height of the protests against The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) earlier this year.

The organizations are pushing ahead with a mass distribution of letters and articles to raise awareness of the implications of CISPA, which is sponsored by Michigan Republican Mike Rogers.

The groups do not plan on conducting any “blackouts”, shutting down their websites as happened during the SOPA protests. Instead they will focus on informational campaigns aiming to teach people about all the cybersecurity bills currently in Congress.

The revelation that Facebook is supporting the legislation has also raised awareness of the issue ahead of the protests.

“Freedom of expression and the protection of online privacy are increasingly under threat in democratic countries, where a series of bills and draft laws is sacrificing them in the interests of national security or copyright,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

CISPA: ANOTHER FASCIST TAKEOVER OF THE INTERNET

CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is picking up sponsors and it looks like the legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote next week. CISPA emerged from the House Intelligence Committee with an overwhelming vote of 17-1.

CRYPTOCAT: CISPA’S KRYPTONITE?

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) could change the way we use the Internet. Congress is attempting to pass legislation the legislation, which in turn would infringe on online users’ freedoms. CISPA is being pushed as a necessity to help protect national security and would allow companies and the government to spy on whoever they wish, but should the masses lose their privacy for the potential wrong-doings of a few? Fear not, one individual has developed CryptoCat, a service which denies third-party access to private conversations online. Nadim Kobeissi, computer security researcher and the creator of the software, joins us to discuss why he developed CryptoCat.

DAVID SEAMAN: ‘CISPA PUSHED BY SPY AND TECH COMPANIES FOR PROFIT’

Congress has attempted to sneak legislation that could change the face of the Internet as we know it, and all in the name of national security. First there was SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but now CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act) is threatening the privacy and freedom of US citizens. No online activity will be safe when it comes to these bills because as of now what’s considered a cyber security threat is a large grey area, but David Seaman, journalist and host of The DL Show, joins us to take a closer look at CISPA.

CISPA GOING INTERNATIONAL?

Lawmakers in America have been trying to pass Internet legislation that could infringe on Americans privacy. The Stop Online Piracy Act was short-lived after multiple websites protested with blackouts to show how the legislation could affect peoples Internet experience. On an international scale, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA, has been signed by 22 of the 27 European Union members. ACTA has received opposition and many lawmakers there have had a change of heart ratifying it. Gregg Housh, an Internet activist, joins us with his take on the attempt to monitor the net.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY TO START PATROLLING THE INTERNET?

A former George W Bush special adviser for cyber security, Richard A. Clarke, published an op-ed in The New York Times. In the article he argued that the US Department of Homeland Security needs to find a way to monitor what goes in and out of America’s online framework to prevent a cyber terror attack. Many argue this proposal will infringe on Americans right to privacy. Declan McCullagh, a correspondent for CNet News, joins us to look closer at the idea of DHS patrolling the net.

FALKVINGE EXCLUSIVE: BATTLE FOR INTERNET IS ON, BIG BROTHER AT THE GATE

The battle over control of the internet is not just about the freedom of speech, but our global future. It is the choice between a Big Brother and democracy unseen before, insists Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party.

NETFLIX SUPER-PAC TO CRACK DOWN ON THE INTERNET?

The online streaming giant Netflix has been switching their stance on America’s online freedoms. At one point Netflix supported SOPA, but once the bill hit the mainstream media the online video company quickly backed off. Now they have created their own super PAC in hopes of promoting their agenda on Capitol Hill. So will Netflix attack Internet freedoms? Mindia Gavasheli, chief of digital operations at RT America, joins us for more.

SPYING ON AMERICANS: OBAMA’S BACKDOOR “CYBERSECURITY” WIRETAP BILL THREATENS POLITICAL AND PRIVATE RIGHTS

by Tom Burghardt

Under the guise of “cybersecurity,” the new all-purpose bogeyman to increase the secret state’s already-formidable reach, the Obama administration and their congressional allies are crafting legislation that will open new backdoors for even more intrusive government surveillance: portals into our lives that will never be shut.

As Antifascist Calling has frequently warned, with the endless “War on Terror” as a backdrop the federal government, most notably the 16 agencies that comprise the so-called “Intelligence Community” (IC), have been constructing vast centralized databases that scoop-up and store all things digital–from financial and medical records to the totality of our electronic communications online–and do so without benefit of a warrant or probable cause.

The shredding of constitutional protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment, granted to the Executive Branch by congressional passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after the 9/11 attacks, followed shortly thereafter by the oxymoronic USA Patriot Act set the stage for today’s depredations.

Under provisions of multiple bills under consideration by the House and Senate, federal officials will be given broad authority over private networks that will almost certainly hand security officials wide latitude over what is euphemistically called “information-sharing” amongst corporate and government securocrats.

As The Washington Post reported in February, the National Security Agency “has pushed repeatedly over the past year to expand its role in protecting private-sector computer networks from cyberattacks” but has allegedly “been rebuffed by the White House, largely because of privacy concerns.”

“The most contentious issue,” Post reporter Ellen Nakashima wrote, “was a legislative proposal last year that would have required hundreds of companies that provide such critical services as electricity generation to allow their Internet traffic to be continuously scanned using computer threat data provided by the spy agency. The companies would have been expected to turn over evidence of potential cyberattacks to the government.”

Both the White House and Justice Department have argued, according to the Post, that the “proposal would permit unprecedented government monitoring of routine civilian Internet activity.”

National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander, the dual-hatted commander of NSA and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), the Pentagon satrapy that wages offensive cyberwar, was warned to “restrain his public comments after speeches in which he argued that more expansive legal authority was necessary to defend the nation against cyberattacks.”

While we can take White House “objections” with a proverbial grain of salt, they do reveal however that NSA, the largest and most well-funded of the secret state’s intel shops will use their formidable surveillance assets to increase their power while undermining civilian control over the military in cahoots with shadowy security corporations who do their bidding. (Readers are well-advised to peruse The Surveillance Catalog posted by The Wall Street Journal as part of their excellent What They Know series for insight into the burgeoning Surveillance-Industrial Complex).

As investigative journalist James Bamford pointed out recently in Wired Magazine, “the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies” is “truly staggering.”

In a follow-up piece for Wired, Bamford informed us that when questioned by Congress, Alexander stonewalled a congressional subcommittee when asked whether NSA “has the capability of monitoring the communications of Americans, he never denies it–he simply says, time and again, that NSA can’t do it ‘in the United States.’ In other words it can monitor those communications from satellites in space, undersea cables, or from one of its partner countries, such as Canada or Britain, all of which it has done in the past.”

Call it Echelon on steroids, the massive, secret surveillance program first exposed by journalists Duncan Campbell and Nicky Hager.

And with the eavesdropping agency angling for increased authority to monitor the electronic communications of Americans, the latest front in the secret state’s ongoing war against privacy is “cybersecurity” and “infrastructure protection.”

‘Information Sharing’ or Blanket Surveillance?

Among the four bills currently competing for attention, the most egregious threat to civil liberties is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA, H.R. 3523).

Introduced by Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), the bill amends the National Security Act of 1947, adding language concerning so-called “cyber threat intelligence and information sharing.”

“Cyber threat intelligence” is described as “information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from: (1) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (2) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.”

In keeping with other “openness” mandates of our Transparency Administration™ the Rogers bill will require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to establish procedures that permit IC elements to “share cyber threat intelligence with private-sector entities, and (2) encourage the sharing of such intelligence.”

These measures however, will not protect the public at large from attacks by groups of organized cyber criminals since such intelligence is only “shared with certified entities or a person with an appropriate security clearance,” gatekeepers empowered by the state who ensure that access to information is “consistent with the need to protect U.S. national security, and used in a manner that protects such intelligence from unauthorized disclosure.”

In other words, should “cleared” cyber spooks be directed by their corporate or government masters to install state-approved malware on private networks as we discovered last year as a result of the HBGary hack by Anonymous, it would be a crime punishable by years in a federal gulag if official lawbreaking were disclosed.

The bill authorizes “a cybersecurity provider (a non-governmental entity that provides goods or services intended to be used for cybersecurity purposes),” i.e., an outsourced contractor from any one of thousands of spooky “cybersecurity” firms, to use “cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information in order to protect the rights and property of the protected entity; and share cyber threat information with any other entity designated by the protected entity, including the federal government.”

Furthermore, the legislation aims to regulate “the use and protection of shared information, including prohibiting the use of such information to gain a competitive advantage and, if shared with the federal government, exempts such information from public disclosure.”

And should the public object to the government or private entities trolling through their personal data in the interest of “keeping us safe” well, there’s an app for that too! The bill “prohibits a civil or criminal cause of action against a protected entity, a self-protected entity (an entity that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself), or a cybersecurity provider acting in good faith under the above circumstances.”

One no longer need wait until constitutional violations are uncovered, the Rogers bill comes with a get-out-of-jail-free card already in place for state-approved scofflaws.

Additionally, the bill also “preempts any state statute that restricts or otherwise regulates an activity authorized by the Act.” In other words, in states like California where residents have “an inalienable right to privacy” under Article 1, Section 1 of the State Constitution, the Rogers bill would be abolish that right and effectively “legalize” unaccountable snooping by the federal government or other “self-protected,” i.e., private entities deputized to do so by the secret state.

Social Media Spying

How would this play out in the real world? As Government Computer News reported, hyped-up threats of an impending “cyber-armageddon” have spawned a host of new actors constellating America’s Surveillance-Industrial Complex: the social media analyst.

“Companies and government agencies alike are using tools to sweep the Internet–blogs, websites, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter feeds–to find out what people are saying about, well, just about anything.”

Indeed, as researchers Jerry Brito and Tate Watkins pointed out last year in Loving the Cyber Bomb?, “An industrial complex reminiscent of the Cold War’s may be emerging in cybersecurity today.”

Brito and Watkins averred that “the military-industrial complex was born out of exaggerated Soviet threats, a defense industry closely allied with the military and Department of Defense, and politicians striving to bring pork and jobs home to constituents. A similar cyber-industrial complex may be emerging today, and its players call for government involvement that may be superfluous and definitely allows for rent seeking and pork barreling.”

Enter social media analysis and the private firms out to make a buck–at our expense.

“Not surprisingly,” GCN’s Patrick Marshall wrote, “intelligence agencies have already been looking at social media as a source of information. The Homeland Security Department has been analyzing traffic on social networks for at least the past three years.”

While DHS claims it does not routinely monitor Facebook or Twitter, and only responds when it receives a “tip,” such assertions are demonstrably false.

Ginger McCall, the director of the Electronic Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Open Government Program told GCN that the department is “explicitly monitoring for criticism of the government, for reports that reflect adversely on the agency, for public reaction to policy proposals.”

But DHS isn’t the only agency monitoring social media sites such as Facebook and Google+.

As Antifascist Calling reported back in 2009, according to New Scientist the National Security Agency “is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks.”

Not to be outdone, the CIA’s venture capital investment arm, In-Q-Tel, has poured millions of dollars into Visible Technologies, a Bellevue, Washington-based firm specializing in “integrated marketing, social servicing, digital experience management, and consumer intelligence.”

According to In-Q-Tel “Visible Technologies has developed TruCast®, which takes an innovative and holistic approach to social media management. TruCast has been architected as an enterprise-level solution that provides the ability to track, analyze, and respond to social media from a single, Web-based platform.”

Along similar lines, the CIA has heavily invested in Recorded Future, a firm which “extracts time and event information from the web. The company offers users new ways to analyze the past, present, and the predicted future.”

The firm’s defense and intelligence analytics division promises to “help analysts understand trends in big data, and foresee what may happen in the future. Groundbreaking algorithms extract temporal and predictive signals from unstructured text. Recorded Future organizes this information, delineates results over interactive timelines, visualizes past trends, and maps future events–all while providing traceability back to sources. From OSINT to classified data, Recorded Future offers innovative, massively scalable solutions.”

As Government Computer News pointed out, in January the FBI “put out a request for vendors to provide information about available technologies for monitoring and analyzing social media.” Accordingly, the Bureau is seeking the ability to:

• Detect specific, credible threats or monitor adversarial situations.

• Geospatially locate bad actors or groups and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions.

• Predict likely developments in the situation or future actions taken by bad actors (by conducting trend, pattern, association, and timeline analysis).

• Detect instances of deception in intent or action by bad actors for the explicit purpose of misleading law enforcement.

• Develop domain assessments for the area of interest (more so for routine scenarios and special events).

So much for privacy in our Orwellian New World Order!

Backdoor Official Secrets Act

Social media “harvesting” by private firms hot-wired into the state’s Surveillance-Industrial Complex will be protected from challenges under provisions of CISPA.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) pointed out, “a company that protects itself or other companies against ‘cybersecurity threats’ can ‘use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property’ of the company under threat. But because ‘us[ing] cybersecurity systems’ is incredibly vague, it could be interpreted to mean monitoring email, filtering content, or even blocking access to sites. A company acting on a ‘cybersecurity threat’ would be able to bypass all existing laws, including laws prohibiting telcos from routinely monitoring communications, so long as it acted in ‘good faith’.”

And as EFF’s Rainey Reitman and Lee Tien aver, the “broad language” concerning what constitutes a cybersecurity “threat,” is an invitation for the secret state and their private “partners” to include “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.”

“Yes,” Reitman and Tien wrote, “intellectual property. It’s a little piece of SOPA wrapped up in a bill that’s supposedly designed to facilitate detection of and defense against cybersecurity threats. The language is so vague that an ISP could use it to monitor communications of subscribers for potential infringement of intellectual property. An ISP could even interpret this bill as allowing them to block accounts believed to be infringing, block access to websites like The Pirate Bay believed to carry infringing content, or take other measures provided they claimed it was motivated by cybersecurity concerns.”

More troubling, “the government and Internet companies could use this language to block sites like WikiLeaks and NewYorkTimes.com, both of which have published classified information.”

Should CISPA pass muster it could serve as the basis for establishing an American “Official Secrets Act.” In the United Kingdom, the Act has been used against whistleblowers to prohibit disclosure of government crimes. But it does more than that. The state can also issue restrictive “D-Notices” that “advise” editors not to publish material on subjects deemed sensitive to the “national security.”

EFF warns that “online publishers like WikiLeaks are currently afforded protection under the First Amendment; receiving and publishing classified documents from a whistleblower is a common journalistic practice. While there’s uncertainty about whether the Espionage Act could be brought to bear against WikiLeaks, it is difficult to imagine a situation where the Espionage Act would apply to WikiLeaks without equally applying to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in fact everyone who reads about the cablegate releases.”

And with the Obama regime’s crusade to prosecute and punish whistleblowers, as the recent indictment of former CIA officer John Kiriakou for alleged violations of the Espionage Act and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for disclosing information on the CIA’s torture programs, we have yet another sterling example of administration “transparency”! While Kiriakou faces 30 years in prison, the former head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who was responsible for the destruction of 92 torture videotapes held by the Agency, was not charged by the government and was given a free pass by the Justice Department.

As the World Socialist Web Site points out: “More fundamentally, the prosecution of Kiriakou is part of a policy of state secrecy and repression that pervades the US government under Obama, who came into office promising ‘the most transparent administration in history.’”

Critic Bill Van Auken observed that Kiriakou’s prosecution “marks the sixth government whistleblower to be charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act, twice as many such prosecutions as have been brought by all preceding administrations combined. Prominent among them is Private Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have leaked documents exposing US war crimes to WikiLeaks. He has been held under conditions tantamount to torture and faces a possible death penalty.”

“In all of these cases,” the World Socialist Web Site noted, “the World War I-era Espionage Act is being used to punish not spying on behalf of a foreign government, but exposing the US government’s own crimes to the American people. The utter lawlessness of US foreign policy goes hand in hand with the collapse of democracy at home.”

The current crop of “cybersecurity” bills are sure to hasten that collapse.

Under Rogers’ legislation, “the government would have new, powerful tools to go after WikiLeaks,” or anyone else who challenges the lies of the U.S. government by publishing classified information that contradicts the dominant narrative.

“By claiming that WikiLeaks constituted ‘cyber threat intelligence’ (aka ‘theft or misappropriation of private or government information’),” EFF avers, “the government may be empowering itself and other companies to monitor and block the site. This means that the previous tactics used to silence WikiLeaks–including a financial blockade and shutting down their accounts with online service providers–could be supplemented by very direct means. The government could proclaim that WikiLeaks constitutes a cybersecurity threat and have new, broad powers to filter and block communication with the journalistic website.”

Since January, Obama has signed legislation (NDAA) granting the Executive Branch authority to condemn alleged “enemy combatants,” including U.S. citizens detained in America, indefinite military detention without charges or trials, and with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asserting that the president has the “right” to assassinate American citizens anywhere on earth, its clear to anyone who hasn’t drunk the Hope and Change™ Kool-Aid, that the architecture of an American police state is now in place.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

ACTIVISTS AIM TO CRUSH INTERNET CENSORSHIP BILL

Week of protests against CISPA begins

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
April 16, 2012

A coalition of advocacy groups has begun a week of intensive protests against the latest attack on the free and open internet, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The draconian legislation would force companies to ignore existing privacy laws and share information with the federal government.

At the forefront of the coalition’s protest efforts is a Twitter takeover, whereby users are being asked to use the hashtags #CongressTMI and #CISPA in an attempt to create the same level of publicity that was generated during the height of the protests against The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) earlier this year.

The organizations are pushing ahead with a mass distribution of letters and articles to raise awareness of the implications of CISPA, which is sponsored by Michigan Republican Mike Rogers.

The groups do not plan on conducting any “blackouts”, shutting down their websites as happened during the SOPA protests. Instead they will focus on informational campaigns aiming to teach people about all the cybersecurity bills currently in Congress.

The revelation that Facebook is supporting the legislation has also raised awareness of the issue ahead of the protests.

“Freedom of expression and the protection of online privacy are increasingly under threat in democratic countries, where a series of bills and draft laws is sacrificing them in the interests of national security or copyright,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“A blanket monitoring system is never an appropriate solution. Reporters Without Borders opposes CISPA and ask Congress to reject this legislation.” the statement says.

Other groups taking part in the internet-wide protests include Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Avaaz, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Center for Democracy and Technology, The Constitution Project, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, OpenMedia.ca, Open the Government, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Reverse Robo Call, Sunlight Foundation, Techdirt, and TechFreedom.

“The Rogers bill gives companies a free pass to monitor and collect communications and share that data with the government and other companies, so long as they do so for ‘cybersecurity purposes,’” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has noted. “Just invoking ‘cybersecurity threats’ is enough to grant companies immunity from nearly all civil and criminal liability, effectively creating an exemption from all existing law.”

Both the EFF and the Center for Democracy have noted that CISPA effectively legislates for monitoring and collecting online communications without the knowledge of the parties concerned and funneling them directly to the National Security Agency or the DOD’s Cybercommand.

Kendall Burman of the Center for Democracy and Technology spoke about CISPA in a recent interview with RT:

“We have a number of concerns with something like this bill that creates sort of a vast hole in the privacy law to allow government to receive these kinds of information.”

Burman added that the bill, as it stands, allows the U.S. government to involve itself in any online correspondence if it believes there is reason to suspect “cyber crime”, which it does not even clearly define.

Josh Levy, the Internet campaign director of the organization Free Press has noted that the bill “would have a chilling effect on free speech — creating an environment in which we refrain from posting on Facebook, conducting Web searches, sending emails, writing blog posts or communicating online for fear that the National Security Agency — the same agency that’s conducted online “warrantless wiretapping” for years — could come knocking.”

As we reported recently, the defeat of SOPA in January has not stalled the attempted crackdown on the open internet. If anything, government and corporate efforts to control the net have substantially accelerated.

—————————————————————-

Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

TIM BERNERS-LEE URGES GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE SNOOPING BILL

Exclusive: Extension of surveillance powers ‘a destruction of human rights’

By Ian Katz | guardian.co.uk

The government’s controversial plans to allow intelligence agencies to monitor the internet use and digital communications of every person in the UK suffered a fresh blow on Tuesday when the inventor of the world wide web warned that the measures were dangerous and should be dropped.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who serves as an adviser to the government on how to make public data more accessible, says the extension of the state’s surveillance powers would be a “destruction of human rights” and would make a huge amount of highly intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said: “The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.

“You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites … or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.”

The British computer engineer, who devised the system that allows the creation of websites and links, said that of all the recent developments on the internet, it was moves by governments to control or spy on the internet that “keep me up most at night”.

The government ran into a storm of criticism earlier this month when it emerged that it was planning to allow GCHQ to monitor all communication on social media, Skype calls and email communication as well as logging every site visited by internet users in Britain.

Berners-Lee said: “The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous. It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and [could be] used, for example, to blackmail people in the government or people in the military. We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused.”

He said that if the government believed it was essential to collect this kind of sensitive data about individuals, it would have to establish a “very strong independent body” which would be able to investigate every use of the surveillance powers to establish whether the target did pose a threat, and whether the intrusion had produced valuable evidence.

But he said that since the coalition had not spelled out an oversight regime, or how the data could be safely stored, “the most important thing to do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment”.

The intervention of the highly respected internet pioneer creates a headache for Theresa May, the home secretary, who has said she plans to press on with introducing the new measures after the Queen’s speech next month, despite concerns raised by senior Liberal Democrats. It will add to the woes of ministers mired in damaging battles over unpopular policy proposals on several fronts.

Berners-Lee was speaking to the Guardian as part of a week-long series on the battle for control of the internet, examining how states, companies and technological developments are challenging the principles of openness and universal access on which the net was built.

Berners-Lee has been an outspoken defender of the “open internet”, warning in 2010 that web freedom was under threat from the rise of social network “silos” such as Facebook, “closed world” apps such as those released by Apple, and governments’ attempts to monitor people’s online behaviour.

He said he remained concerned about the creation of “strong monopolies” but believed it was unlikely that internet giants such as Facebook and Google would enjoy their dominance indefinitely. “The battle lines are being drawn and things are in a huge state of flux, so it’s very difficult to tell, when you look at the world now, what it’s going to look like in a few months’ time.”

He said that throughout the history of the internet, people had been concerned about the emergence of apparently dominant giants, but they were vulnerable to smaller companies that could innovate more effectively.

In a coded reference to predictions that Facebook could in soon become, in effect, for most people, the internet, he recalled a “wise” colleague who pointed out more than 20 years ago: “It’s amazing how quickly people on the internet can pick something up, but it’s also amazing how quickly they can drop it.”

Acknowledging growing concerns about online privacy, he said computer users received significant benefits from the vast amount of data that big web companies accumulate about them, but that increasingly they would seek to apply limits to how the data could be used, as well as demanding access to the data themselves.

Although Google now allows users to obtain all the data it holds about them and Facebook provides a similar, slower service, individual users were not yet being allowed to exploit all the information relating to them to make their lives easier. Armed with the information that social networks and other web giants hold about us, he said, computers will be able to “help me run my life, to guess what I need next, to guess what I should read in the morning, because it will know not only what’s happening out there but also what I’ve read already, and also what my mood is, and who I’m meeting later on”.

Berners-Lee said big web companies would come under more pressure to make personal data more available, and that users might insist that the information was not held by the companies themselves. “Perhaps what you’d want in the future is to have this piece of cloud storage and to say to somebody like … Google: ‘Look, don’t store it on your site, store it here. I will control who gets access to it.’ That would turn the tables and leave me in control of the data.”

He was worried by the rise of so-called “native apps” such as those produced for the iPhone and iPad, because they were not searchable. “Every time somebody puts a magazine on a phone now and doesn’t put it on to a web app [a form of open software], we lose a whole lot of information to the general public discourse – I can’t link to it, so I can’t tweet it, I can’t discuss it, I can’t like it, I can’t hate it.”

But he said the rapid improvement of web apps, and their ability to offer functionality and slickness previously only available from Apple or Android apps, would return more information to the open internet.

In a clear dig at Apple’s highly restrictive ecosystem, he said: “I should be able to pick which applications I use for managing my life, I should be able to pick which content I look at, and I should be able to pick which device I use, which company I use for supplying my internet, and I’d like those to be independent choices.”

Berners-Lee, who is speaking at the World Wide Web Conference in Lyon on Wednesday, also warned people against assuming that major websites and social networks would be around for ever. “I think we need to be more conscious that places that seem very secure may in the future disappear. The long-time persistence of all this data … is an issue for all of us if we think that maybe our grandchildren, depending on which website we use, may or may not be able to see our photos.”

• Explore the seven-day special series on the Battle for the internet

WEB FREEDOM FACES GREATEST THREAT EVER, WARNS GOOGLE’S SERGEY BRIN

Exclusive: Threats range from governments trying to control citizens to the rise of Facebook and Apple-style ‘walled gardens’

By Ian Katz | guardian.co.uk

The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”

The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of “restrictive” walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.

The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.

He said he was most concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet, but warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.

“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

Brin’s criticism of Facebook is likely to be controversial, with the social network approaching an estimated $100bn (£64bn) flotation. Google’s upstart rival has seen explosive growth: it has signed up half of Americans with computer access and more than 800 million members worldwide.

Brin said he and co-founder Larry Page would not have been able to create Google if the internet was dominated by Facebook. “You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive,” he said. “The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.”

He criticised Facebook for not making it easy for users to switch their data to other services. “Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years,” he said.

Brin’s comments come on the first day of a week-long Guardian investigation of the intensifying battle for control of the internet being fought across the globe between governments, companies, military strategists, activists and hackers.

From the attempts made by Hollywood to push through legislation allowing pirate websites to be shut down, to the British government’s plans to monitor social media and web use, the ethos of openness championed by the pioneers of the internet and worldwide web is being challenged on a number of fronts.

In China, which now has more internet users than any other country, the government recently introduced new “real identity” rules in a bid to tame the boisterous microblogging scene. In Russia, there are powerful calls to rein in a blogosphere blamed for fomenting a wave of anti-Vladimir Putin protests. It has been reported that Iran is planning to introduce a sealed “national internet” from this summer.

Ricken Patel, co-founder of Avaaz, the 14 million-strong online activist network which has been providing communication equipment and training to Syrian activists, echoed Brin’s warning: “We’ve seen a massive attack on the freedom of the web. 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.”

Writing in the Guardian on Monday, outspoken Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says the Chinese government’s attempts to control the internet will ultimately be doomed to failure. “In the long run,” he says, “they must understand it’s not possible for them to control the internet unless they shut it off – and they can’t live with the consequences of that.”

Amid mounting concern over the militarisation of the internet and claims – denied by Beijing – that China has mounted numerous cyber-attacks on US military and corporate targets, he said it would be hugely difficult for any government to defend its online “territory”.

“If you compare the internet to the physical world, there really aren’t any walls between countries,” he said. “If Canada wanted to send tanks into the US there is nothing stopping them and it’s the same on the internet. It’s hopeless to try to control the internet.”

He reserved his harshest words for the entertainment industry, which he said was “shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot” by lobbying for legislation to block sites offering pirate material.

He said the Sopa and Pipa bills championed by the film and music industries would have led to the US using the same technology and approach it criticised China and Iran for using. The entertainment industry failed to appreciate people would continue to download pirated content as long as it was easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material, he said.

“I haven’t tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work – and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy,” he said.

Brin acknowledged that some people were anxious about the amount of their data that was now in the reach of US authorities because it sits on Google’s servers. He said the company was periodically forced to hand over data and sometimes prevented by legal restrictions from even notifying users that it had done so.

He said: “We push back a lot; we are able to turn down a lot of these requests. We do everything possible to protect the data. If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great … We’re doing it as well as can be done.”

• Explore the seven-day special series on the Battle for the internet

RIGHTS GROUP DEMANDS INVESTIGATION INTO ILLEGAL GOOGLE WIRETAPPING

Privacy watchdog, members of Congress slam FCC’s $25,000 fine as “mere slap on the wrist” for NSA linked search engine giant

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
April 19, 2012

A privacy rights groups has demanded a new investigation into Google’s collection of personal data from the wireless internet networks of Americans via by its “Street View” vehicles, noting that the practice violates wiretapping laws.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder this week, asking for the Department of Justice to open another investigation into the matter following an “inadequate” Federal Trade Commission investigation and a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to fine the search engine giant just $25,000 for attempting to obstruct the probe.

The Commission found that Google impeded the investigation by “delaying its search for and production of responsive emails and other communications, by failing to identify employees, and by withholding verification of the completeness and accuracy of its submissions.” Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, wrote.

“By the agency’s own admission, the investigation conducted was inadequate and did not address the applicability of federal wiretapping law to Google’s interception of emails, usernames, passwords, browsing histories, and other personal information.” Rotenberg noted.

POinting out that the FCC relied purely on Google’s own statements and did not even review the contents of the data intercepted by Google, Rotenberg added:

“Much of the information uncovered by the FCC’s investigation was redacted, and Google’s obstruction prevented the agency from determining the merits of the underlying substantive issues: whether Google’s interception of Wi-Fi communications violated the Wiretap Act,” Rotenberg argued. “Finally, the FCC ignored legal precedent holding that the contents of unencrypted Wi-Fi networks were protected by the Wiretap Act.”

EPIC also sent copies of its letter to several members of Congress, who have expressed support.

Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, said that “[t]his fine is a mere slap on the wrist for Google,” and called for a more comprehensive investigation.

“Google’s Street View cars drove right over consumers’ personal privacy while cruising city streets and neighborhoods,” Markey said in a statement. “I am concerned that more needs to be done to fully investigate the company’s understanding of what happened when consumer data was collected without their knowledge or permission.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal noted that “Google’s interception and collection of private wireless data potentially violates the Wiretap Act or other federal statutes, and I believe the Justice Department and state attorneys general should fully investigate this matter.”

The FCC said that Google had not violated the federal Wiretap Act, despite a US federal court ruling that unencrypted Wi-Fi data and communications are not exempt from the protections of the Wiretap Act.

In addition, several other countries have found Google guilty of violating national privacy laws, following the data collection activity that dates back to 2007 and was exposed in May 2010.

As we have previously highlighted, Google has an intimate and secret relationship with the National Security Agency, as well as ties to the CIA going back to the company’s inception. Both Google and the agencies in question have refused to elaborate on the relationship, and the Department of Justice has actively worked to keep the information out of the public domain.

—————————————————————-

Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

GOOGLE INC: “DON’T BE EVIL”

by James Corbett

For a company whose corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” Google Inc. certainly has found itself at the receiving end of its share of lawsuits, claims and controversies. Still, even by Google’s standards this past week has been a difficult one.

A strange press release touting a company calling itself “Planetary Resources”–which promises to combine the “space exploration and natural resource” sectors and is being backed by a who’s who of technorati and big-name investors including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin–is providing plenty of fodder for speculation in the press (“Is asteroid mining in our near future?”). But not even an announcement that Google itself was about to go interplanetary would be enough to keep the company’s legal woes off the business pages of the newspapers (let alone its own online news service).

Dominating the attention of the tech world at the moment is Oracle’s lawsuit against Google over an alleged misuse of Oracle’s programming platform, Java. The claim: Google used some Java in Android, their mobile offering, without licensing. The stakes: Oracle is seeking $1 billion and an injunction from further Android sales until the issue is settled. The hype: Testimony by both Larry Page and Larry Ellison, the CEOs of Google and Oracle respectively, earlier this week generated plenty of buzz and press attention. The bottom line: Oracle’s original $6.1 billion claim was thrown out of court because the judge determined that they were essentially making up their calculations, and no one really expects that they will receive the $1 billion they are now asking. In fact, it’s far from clear they will be awarded damages at all, although an injunction against the use of Java in Android could be an important and precedent-setting outcome.    

But this was not Google’s biggest headache of the week.

Corporate governance specialists are accusing co-founders Page and Brin of making the company a dictatorship with a recent proposal to effect a 2:1 stock split that will create a new class of non-voting shares. The deal will create a third tier of Google shares, Class C, that will trade under a different ticker and hold no voting rights. Investors will end up with double the number of shares but their vote will be diluted, effectively consolidating the power of the holders of Class B shares, primarily Page and Brin. Now investors are complaining that this is all just a power grab designed to entrench the co-founders’ control over the company at the expense of everyone else.   

But this was not Google’s biggest headache of the week, either.

Google also finds itself in the crosshairs of an antitrust lawsuit alleging that the company colluded with Apple, Adobe, Intel and three other tech giants to suppress salaries and mobility opportunities for top employees by agreeing not to poach from each other. The suit was brought by five software engineers who are alleging that the accused companies entered into identical bilateral agreements to not recruit each other’s employees. They allege that the fact that all seven companies entered into nearly identical reciprocal agreements in secret within a 2-year time span represents a case of illegal collusion. The case cleared its first hurdle this week when U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh ruled that the charges cannot be dismissed as implausible and the companies will have to face the suit. The case is expected to go to trial in June 2013.

Neither was this Google’s major headache, however.

Co-founder Sergey Brin has had to backpedal on comments made in an interview with the Guardian earlier this week in which he effectively said that the biggest threat to freedom and openness on the internet are companies and applications that don’t allow Google’s bots into their data. Meanwhile, Russian search engine Yandex accused Google of shutting out rivals, raising the specter of the ongoing European Commission antitrust investigation into the company’s alleged practice of favoring its own services in its search rankings and locking advertisers in to their services. That investigation is expected to wrap up within days. The search giant is also having to cozy up to the Chinese government, which it made such a point of falling out with in 2010, to win approval for its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility.

But these are not Google’s biggest headaches this week, either.     

What must really be causing sleepless nights in Mountain View this week is the possibility that the Street View fiasco may still not be over. Last Sunday’s news that the tech giant had gotten away from the scandal with a $25,000 hangnail (“rap on the knuckles” seems too painful to analogize to such a puny fine) was immediately met with renewed outcry over the affair. The Electronic Privacy Information Center is calling for a full copy of the FCC’s report on their investigation, which they insisted on releasing in heavily redacted format. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is insisting that the FCC decision leaves many questions unanswered and is calling for a Congressional investigation.

For those unfamiliar with the Street View brouhaha, the scandal erupted in May 2010 when Google was forced to admit that their fleet of Street View camera cars was doing more than taking the occasionally uncomfortable photo of random passers-by while prowling the streets, snapping pictures for their street map database. They were also sniffing wi-fi networks and, supposedly by accident, private information, including emails, passwords, and any other data flowing through unencrypted networks whenever the cars were rolling by. For this heinous breach of personal privacy the company has so far received a lot of stern finger-waggings from various governments’ privacy commissioners and now the insignificant FCC fine and threats of (likely ineffectual) investigations by Congress.

Given its track record so far, none of these threatened actions or investigations are particularly frightening to the company behind the most-visited website on the Internet. What is potentially frightening is the thought that the public might actually become interested in the issue of privacy as it relates to Google, because once that can of worms is opened their might be no way to put the lid back on.        

In 2010, then-CEO Eric Schmidt gave an interview to the Atlantic where he stated, “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” Exactly what that creepy line is was never precisely defined, but he did indicate that implanting people with Google microchips was probably across it. Tellingly, though, Schmidt also pointed out that given the amount of information people willingly give to the information trafficker each day, without even typing a word Google can “more or less know what you’re thinking about.” These words coming from a frequent attendee of the annual Bilderberg conference should at the very least give one pause for thought.

In fact, Google is just one player among many in Silicon Valley who are engaged in a race to rewrite the social norms adhering to the concept of privacy. The FTC and its French counterpart are investigating charges that Google is bypassing Apple’s web browser’s privacy settings to serve advertising cookies to customers against their will. An investigation earlier this year showed how Facebook was spying on smartphone users’ text messages. A report last year that iPhones keep logs of users’ personal location data that stays with the user across backups and even device migrations caused shockwaves, especially since recently released internal police documents have demonstrated that Apple and Google are required to help law enforcement break into iPhones and Androids when issued a court order.

This is nothing compared to the technologies that are being prepared for the very near future. Google has admitted since 2006 that it is developing “audio fingerprint” technology that would make use of the user’s computer’s built-in microphone to “listen in” on the user’s environment and deliver relevant advertisements. A dog barking in the background, for example, might elicit advertisements for dog food. Even if these technologies were only and forever assumed to be in benevolent hands, the implications are clear: a home is no longer a castle in the Internet age and old notions of privacy don’t exist.

Of course, these spying tools are not in the disinterested hands of advertising executives, a point that has been demonstrated forcefully a number of times over the years. In 2006 a retired AT&T technician blew the whistle on Room 641A, an intercept facility that the NSA set up in an AT&T (later SBC) communication building. Documents revealed by the whistleblower showed that the room was being fed data via beam splitters installed on the fibre optics carrying Internet backbone traffic, and the data was being fed into a Narus STA 6400, designed to analyze Internet communications. The story leads into the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal and seems to imply that the NSA at the very least had the capability to spy on any and all Internet traffic flowing through that hub.

Also in 2006 an ex-CIA agent went public claiming that CIA seed money had helped to get Google off the ground and that the two had maintained a “small but significant relationship.” The story was officially denied by Google, with the whistleblower claiming that the company was lying in an effort to keep the lid on the story. Alarm bells were raised in 2010, however, when it was announced that Google was collaborating with the NSA on cybersecurity operations. For nearly two years, EPIC has been fighting a FOIA battle to get documents about the relationship disclosed to the public, but so far all of those efforts have been stonewalled.

In a groundbreaking story last month James Bamford revealed the nature of a new data center the NSA is building in Utah. According to the insiders sourced in the report, the center will not only be a repository of internet traffic and information, it will also be equipped with state-of-the-art code-breaking technologies that will allow the NSA to open and analyze all of the data they intercept, from financial information to legal documents to military and diplomatic communiques. According to one official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

The public tends to concentrate on isolated stories about privacy issues, but the full picture of government and corporate surveillance is hardly ever put together. When it is it reveals the mind-boggling amounts of data that these entities have already collected on almost anyone with access to electronic communication.

This is only a problem for companies like Google if the public cares. As long as they stay on this side of Eric Schmidt’s “creepy line” (however one defines that) and be careful not to upset people too much, they can get away with just about anything. So far, there has not been significant outcry about the Street View fiasco or similar revelations except in isolated tech journals. Most people seem content to sign up for services that track and trace their users’ every movement, activity and social relation. Perhaps Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was correct after all when he said the social norm of privacy was “evolving over time.”

In any event, Google is a business and just like any other business it will only be forced to change tack when significant numbers of users become aware of and concerned about the issue of online privacy. There are a number of alternative search engines promising privacy and claiming not to record IP addresses, although the majority of the online public doesn’t consider this a priority right now. Incidents like the Street View scandal, however, offer the chance to air this dirty laundry and give the public a chance to reflect on just how much our society has altered its views about privacy in such a short time. However ineffectual another government investigation into the process might be in terms of securing stiffer fines or penalties, the real reward of such efforts is the attention it draws to the issue.

Maybe one day the Internet-using public will actually hold Google to their corporate motto.

In order to access the Corbett Report:

http://www.corbettreport.com

AMERICA’S INTERNET FREEDOMS HYPOCRISY

The US government continues to spend money overseas to support freedom of theInternet. According to some reports, the US State Department has spent $76million since 2008 for the cause, giving tools and support to the online community around the worldwide. But at the same time condemn websites such asWikiLeaks. So is the US two-faced when it comes to Internet freedom? We take acloser look.

DAVID MARTIN: ‘ACTA IS A WEB POLICE PROJECT’ – MEP WHO WANTS TO KILL BILL

The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, has been dealt a heavy blow. A vote on it is due this summer, but David Martin, the MEP responsible for monitoring its progress, has already said it should be rejected. Speaking to us earlier, he said while aiming high, its loose wording and shady signing process have outweighed any potential benefits.

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