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Archive for December 12th, 2013|Daily archive page

NZ Man Has Electronics Confiscated at Auckland Airport, Suspects Reason Was Attending Mass Surveillance Conference in London

In Archive, Big Brother, GCHQ, GCSB, New Zealand, NSA, Police State, Snowden, Surveillance on December 12, 2013 at 1:44 PM


Paul Owen/Guardian:

A New Zealand man returning home from London for Christmas has claimed he had all his electronic items confiscated at Auckland airport because he attended a debate on mass surveillance at which Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger spoke about the Snowden revelations.

Samuel Blackman told the New Zealand Herald that customs officials had confiscated his two smartphones, his iPad, an external hard drive, and a laptop, and demanded his passwords – which he gave them, he said, because he had “nothing to hide”.

One of the phones had no password but required a design to be traced on the screen. The official was unconcerned and said the forensic team would defeat security to access the device, Mr Blackman claimed.

Blackman said a customs official told him they were searching for objectionable material under New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

Blackman said he had nothing like that on him and said the search and seizure on Wednesday might have occurred because of his attendance at the meeting at the Royal Institute for British Architects on 4 November, the Herald reported.

A New Zealand customs official told the paper it refused to discuss the case.

Posting on Twitter right after the alleged incident took place, Blackman said: “@NZ_Customs just breached my #BORA [Bill of Rights Act] #rights by seizing every electronic device I had at AKL [Auckland airport] without reason … No justifications and no time frames for return.”

Asked on what grounds customs had done this, and whether he was “interesting” to them, Blackman replied: “No grounds whatsoever. I asked multiple times. Not interesting other than travelling a lot in past months.”

When another Twitter user suggested the fact he went to “privacy conferences” during his recent travels in Europe and the US could have played a part, Blackman agreed: “That could well be the red flag. Albeit attended out of legal/journalistic interest.”

He claimed he was not offered legal representation and was not told how to get his possessions back, and added: “It felt like being mugged … They gave me a receipt for goods detained. Still no reasons, though.”

Around 300 people were at the November Riba meeting, including Tory MPs David Davis and Rory Stewart, Peter Barron of Google, and a number of Guardian and Observer staff.

It was organised by Observer columnist Henry Porter, but was not an official Guardian News & Media event.

Blackman tweeted his attendance at the time:

I asked Robert Patman, professor of international relations at the department of politics at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, about the Samuel Blackman case.

He said he could not recall a similar case where electronic items had been confiscated from a traveller in New Zealand – and said the only similar case he could think of was that of David Miranda, the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who was controversial detained at Heathrow in August and his electronic devices seized.

Snowden EU Parliament Testimony Could Take Place in January

In Archive, EU, GCHQ, NSA, NSA Files, Snowden, Surveillance on December 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM




The European parliament has voted to formally invite Edward Snowden to give testimony on NSA spying, despite opposition from conservative MEPs. If the US whistleblower provides answers to the questions compiled by parliamentarians in time, a hearing via video link could take place in early January.

It had looked on Wednesday as if European conservatives were trying to kick the hearing into the long grass. The European People’s party (EPP), the alliance of centre-right parties, had raised a number of concerns about inviting Snowden for a hearing, noting that it could endanger the transatlantic trade agreement with the US.

But on Thursday morning, the leaders of the main political groupings in the European parliament voted to invite Snowden. In the coming weeks, questions will be compiled and then forwarded to the former NSA contractor’s lawyer, with roughly two questions coming from each political group.

Labour MEP Claude Moraes, the lead rapporteur for the European parliament inquiry on the mass surveillance of EU citizens, welcomed the outcome of the vote and promised that questioning would be “rigorous and fair”.

“Amongst the questions I will ask Mr Snowden,” Moraes said, “will be why he decided to reveal the information and the consequences and implications of his actions; questions around his current situation in Russia; questions around his opinion on the impact of his revelations on security, the intelligence services, and ‘the right to know’; questions around his opinions of where his revelations and allegations take the area of mass surveillance in the future.”

The European parliament hopes to create an interactive situation for the hearing, where MEPs can interview Snowden in real time. However, as there are some concerns that a live linkup might allow the NSA to pinpoint Snowden’s location, answers may end up having to be pre-recorded.

UPDATE: European Parliament Invites Snowden to Testify via Video Link

Former Whistleblowers’ Open Letter to Intelligence Employees (Drake, Ellsberg, Gun, Kofod, McGovern, Radack, Rowley)

In Archive, Manning, NSA, Snowden, Surveillance on December 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM



Thomas Drake/Daniel Ellsberg/Katharine Gun/Peter Kofod/Ray McGovern/Jesselyn Radack/Coleen Rowley/Guardian:

At least since the aftermath of September 2001, western governments and intelligence agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies turned out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story.

What’s really remarkable is that we’ve been warned for years that these things were going on: wholesale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the internet, the end of privacy. All is done in the name of “national security”, which has more or less become a chant to fence off debate and make sure governments aren’t held to account – that they can’t be held to account – because everything is being done in the dark. Secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever.

By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistleblowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what’s going on.

It’s one of the bitter ironies of our time that while John Kiriakou (ex-CIA) is in prison for blowing the whistle on US torture, the torturers and their enablers walk free.

Likewise WikiLeaks-source Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning was charged with – amongst other serious crimes – aiding the enemy (read: the public). Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison while the people who planned the illegal and disastrous war on Iraq in 2003 are still treated as dignitaries.

Numerous ex-NSA officials have come forward in the past decade, disclosing massive fraud, vast illegalities and abuse of power in said agency, including Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. The response was 100% persecution and 0% accountability by both the NSA and the rest of government. Blowing the whistle on powerful factions is not a fun thing to do, but despite the poor track record of western media, whistleblowing remains the last avenue for truth, balanced debate and upholding democracy – that fragile construct which Winston Churchill is quoted as calling “the worst form of government, except all the others”.

Since the summer of 2013, the public has witnessed a shift in debate over these matters. The reason is that one courageous person: Edward Snowden. He not only blew the whistle on the litany of government abuses but made sure to supply an avalanche of supporting documents to a few trustworthy journalists. The echoes of his actions are still heard around the world – and there are still many revelations to come.

For every Daniel Ellsberg, Drake, Binney, Katharine Gun, Manning or Snowden, there are thousands of civil servants who go by their daily job of spying on everybody and feeding cooked or even made-up information to the public and parliament, destroying everything we as a society pretend to care about.
Some of them may feel favourable towards what they’re doing, but many of them are able to hear their inner Jiminy Cricket over the voices of their leaders and crooked politicians – and of the people whose intimate communication they’re tapping.

Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least, turnkey tyrannies.

One of them is you.

You’re thinking:

● Undermining democracy and eroding civil liberties isn’t put explicitly in your job contract.
● You grew up in a democratic society and want to keep it that way
● You were taught to respect ordinary people’s right to live a life in privacy
● You don’t really want a system of institutionalized strategic surveillance that would make the dreaded Stasi green with envy – do you?

Still, why bother? What can one person do? Well, Edward Snowden just showed you what one person can do. He stands out as a whistleblower both because of the severity of the crimes and misconduct that he is divulging to the public – and the sheer amount of evidence he has presented us with so far – more is coming. But Snowden shouldn’t have to stand alone, and his revelations shouldn’t be the only ones.

You can be part of the solution; provide trustworthy journalists – either from old media (like this newspaper) or from new media (such as WikiLeaks) with documents that prove what illegal, immoral, wasteful activites are going on where you work.

There IS strength in numbers. You won’t be the first – nor the last – to follow your conscience and let us know what’s being done in our names. Truth is coming – it can’t be stopped. Crooked politicians will be held accountable. It’s in your hands to be on the right side of history and accelerate the process.

Courage is contagious.

Signed by:

Peter Kofod, ex-Human Shield in Iraq (Denmark)
Thomas Drake, whistleblower, former senior executive of the NSA (US)
Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower, former US military analyst (US)
Katharine Gun, whistleblower, former GCHQ (UK)
Jesselyn Radack, whistleblower, former Department of Justice (US)
Ray McGovern, former senior CIA analyst (US)
Coleen Rowley, whistleblower, former FBI agent (US)

Index on Censorship – Time to Step Up: The EU and Freedom of Expression

In Archive, Censorship, EU, Snowden, Surveillance on December 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM



Index on Censorship’s policy paper, Time to Step Up: The EU and Freedom of Expression, looks at freedom of expression both within the European Union’s  28 member states, which with over 500 million people account for about a quarter of total global economic output, but also how this union defends freedom of expression in the wider world. States that are members of the European Union are supposed to share “European values”, which include a commitment to freedom of expression. However, the way these common values are put into practice vary: some of the world’s best places for free expression are within the European Union – Finland, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden – while other countries such as Italy, Hungary, Greece and Romania lag behind new and emerging global democracies.

This paper explores freedom of expression, both at the EU level on how the Commission and institutions of the EU protect this important right, but also across the member states. Firstly, the paper will explore where the EU and its member states protect freedom of expression internally  and where more needs to be done. The second section will look at how the EU projects and defends freedom of expression to partner countries and institutions. The paper will explore the institutions and instruments used by the EU and its member states to protect this fundamental right and how they have developed in recent years, as well as the impact of these institutions and instruments.

Outwardly, a commitment to freedom of expression is one of the principle characteristics of the European Union. Every European Union member state has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To complement this, the Treaty of Lisbon has made the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding which means that the EU institutions and member states (if they act within the scope of the EU law) must act in compliance with the rights and principles of the Charter. The EU has also said it will accede to the ECHR. Yet, even with these commitments and this powerful framework for defending freedom of expression, has the EU in practice upheld freedom of expression evenly across the European Union and outside with third parties, and is it doing enough to protect this universal right?



Related Link: EU Has Failed to Defend Edward Snowden, Says Activist Group

Digital Advertising – the next horizon

In Al Jazeera NEWSHOUR, Archive, ASIO, Australia, Australia, Censorship, Facebook, FBI, Internet, leaksource, Microsoft, Netherlands, New Zealand, News, Technology, Viral Videos on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 AM

Digital Advertising has exploded and is showing all the signals of becoming the new horizon in the advertising industry.

22% of the world’s population sign into a social media site at least once a month.

The revenue raised from digital advertisements is for the first September FY Quarter is over one Billion dollars.

A new horizon for an industry which relies on its ability to  morph to its environment and to its brand customers expectations.

Applications continue to provide a significant base for this emerging horizon leading to a new sector of creative and technology skill sets.

If you’re not on the edge,…you’re taking up space.

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