#FCBBCA Cyber snooping: In whose hands should internet governance be entrusted?

on October 23, 2012 11:04 PM

By Doug Brown

A packed audience filled the Frontline Club forum on 23rd October to hear a panel tackle the question: In whose hands should internet governance be entrusted? Chaired by the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship Kirsty Hughes the event, in association with BBC Arabic, featured: Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir; developer for The Tor ProjectJacob Appelbaum; independent media technology consultant, Karl Kathuria and director at the Cyber Security Centre Dr Ian Brown.

Frontline Club 23/10/2012 - Cyber SnoopingDr Ian Brown kicked off proceedings by describing the distribution of power over cyberspace. Referring particularly to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which runs the international domain name system and although it is a “international facing” it is governed by US laws.

“Is it fair that this one powerful country the US should have such say over something that is a global resource?… Since so many large internet companies; the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters and so on, that are becoming increasingly important in internet governance debates, are headquartered in the US or at the very least have significant exposure to the US, and US law and case law has very firmly said that the behaviour of companies… with any assets exposed to the US had better watch out when it comes to their behaviour elsewhere in the world because there have been a number of US laws applied to the behaviour of these companies elsewhere in the world”

Karl Kathuria then moved on to discuss the censorship of information by governments from a more optimistic viewpoint, describing his time at the BBC on access to users in Iran and China:

“People were still able to get access to that content anyway, people are always looking for the content… its average everyday people who are reaching out.”

Birgitta Jónsdóttir has misgivings on calls for further global internet governance:

“Shouldn’t we have a global freedom of information act?… it is impossible… it would destroy the internet as it is today… maybe we need to start to look at this differently.”

Jacob Appelbaum, a core member of the anti snooping software Tor described the rise of cyber snooping and the oppression it can bring:

“Surveillance is a support system for violence.”

“What we see is a massive expansion of authoritarianism across the globe, even in so called free countries… the mere fact that it has gone so far and the American government has become so brazen.. is an incredibly bad sign, because in a lot of ways the US has led the world in these matters.”

“Freedom from suspicion is part of the necessity for feeling free… we should look at Facebook as stasi-book, and we should look at human data as human data-traffic. It is not a problem of over there-istan, it is a problem over here.”

Birgitta Jónsdóttir discussed the Iceland Modern Media Initiative as a solution to internet governance and excessive cyber snooping, and its uptake by the Icelandic Government to turn Iceland into a “safe haven” for freedom of information.

“Take the same concept as if you were to create a tax haven, so why not create the same for a freedom of expression and speech haven… if you have one country that sets the standard [other countries will rise to it]. I have a dream for a ‘Scandinavian Shield’… as the Scandinavian countries now have a good idea of the importance of these rights to bring the laws into the 21st century.”

Dr Ian Brown finished on a note about public uptake of new technology that can divert around any governmental snooping, “encouraging people to use the tools that already exist is the first step”.

View reaction to the debate on Twitter: #fcbbca, or watch the debate as it happened below.


Opinion: “The Persecution of Wikileaks”

The Persecution of Wikileaks – “Burning the Messenger”

by James Rothenberg october 9, 2012

The just finished Banned Books Week serves as a vivid reminder that we must be vigilant about freedom of expression and freedom from censorship. Absent this vigilance, we could wake up in a society that not only bans books, but takes the next step and burns them as well. The German writer, Heinrich Heine, extended this with grim historical accuracy: “Where books are burned, it ends in burning people.”

We can extend these thoughts about books into the general area of censorship, military and government censorship. Presently there is a landmark case, actually more of an affair, involving the US government and WikiLeaks, the online organization that provides anonymity for sources to leak information. The US feels it has leaked too much information about the wrong country, the US. Continue reading

Statement: Julian Assange rejects ‘Perfil’ Freedom of Expresion award.

Statement by Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks:

“I note that Argentinian journalist Herman Schiller has rejected the award, under the basis that the award is abusing my good name to promote U.S. funded attacks on the government of Ecuador. This year Perfil concurrently awarded the director of the media lobby group ‘Fundamedios’.

I have researched the issue and discovered that the director of ‘Fundamedios’ has previously denounced my work and that of WikiLeaks.

Fundamedios specializes in savaging the Ecuadorian government’s attempts at breaking up Ecuadorian media ologopolies. Most of these ologopolies have traditionally been close to the U.S. government and have engaged in frequent acts of journalistic corruption. Ecuadorian media diversity reforms have been mandated by national popular referendum.’Fundamedios’, which is also funded by these same ologopolies, simply has little credibility. While no government should get a free pass in media reform, ‘Fundamedios’ is not an example to be followed.

According to U.S. embassy cables released by WikiLeaks the director of ‘Fundamedios’ has been a U.S. embassy informant and according an interview with U.S. ambassador Adam Namm in el Telegrafo earlier this year, ‘Fundamedios’ receives more than $25,000 a month from USAID and other U.S. government bodies.

I will join Herman Schiller in rejecting the Perfil award this year.”


Link: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/jdcs0a

A Tale of Two Asylums: Assange, Palacio, and Media Hypocrisy

Keane Bhatt – September 6, 2012

Every so often, world affairs offer us paired examples—two nearly identical instances through which we can better understand the role of powerful institutions, like the media. So when Ecuador granted asylum to Australian journalist Julian Assange in mid-August, and then, two weeks later, the United States provided asylum to Ecuadorian journalist Emilio Palacio, the two cases laid bare the hypocrisy of the establishment press.

1248 Julian Assange and Emilio Palacio (Reuters)

On August 16, the government of Ecuador offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum at its London embassy, after it appeared that fair treatment would be denied to him over his alleged sexual misconduct in Sweden—Sweden had rejected offers to question Assange in London or at the Ecuadorian embassy, providing no explanation.

Even more troubling, Sweden refused to offer any assurance that it wouldn’t extradite Assange to the United States if he voluntarily were to go to that country; the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office, despite multiple inquiries, declined to say whether it would exercise its powers to deny a U.S. extradition request once Assange were in Sweden; and the United States gave no indication that it will not attempt to extradite Assange. These facts did not bode well for Assange, considering that Vice President Joe Biden once likened him to a “high-tech terrorist” for his work in releasing classified U.S. documents, and that Sweden previously violated international law by working with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to transfer two asylum seekers suspected of terrorism to Egypt, where they were later tortured. Continue reading

Misconstrued Legal Arguments & Omitted Truths in the Media’s Coverage of Julian Assange

By: Kevin Gosztola Monday September 3, 2012

For over two months now, commentators or pundits in the United Kingdom (and the US) have been virulently denouncing Assange’s decision to seek asylum, something legally available to any individual who thinks they are being persecuted. They have ridiculed him for engaging in an act that they see as just another “narcissistic exploit.” They have railed against Assange’s “dodging” of due process. They have gone after “the Cult of Assange,” people who are public defenders and supporters of Assange and WikiLeaks. And, after Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange asylum, the vitriol sharply increased as those in the media only displayed even more disgust with Assange.

Much of the coverage has been filled with contemptuous remarks about Assange, hoity-toity commentary on Assange putting himself into bizarre situations and pretentious reasons for why The Free World could not possibly be after Assange. The media in the United Kingdom, as Frontline Club’s Vaughan Smith has pointed out, has railed against a WikiLeaks story that is entirely focused on Assange when it is they who are responsible for making Assange the focus. Other countries like India have spent more time on WikiLeaks and the documents released than Assange.

To further explore media coverage, the following is a thorough examination of a legal correspondent from the New Statesman named David Allen Green, who has proven himself to be a prime example of the kind of pious commentator incapable of controlling his repugnance for the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief. He sees himself as a champion of legal truths on Assange yet periodically complains about how much of a chore it is to cover this story. He writes anti-Assange posts he knows will invite the attention of WikiLeaks supporters and then laments the fact that they constantly condemning, ridiculing or trying to debate him on Twitter. For the past week or so, he has been hyping a post in response to The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald that he boasts will destroy all the alleged legal truths Greenwald thinks he has featured in his commentary. This hype has led many to ask when he was finally going to publish his post.

But, first, here is my position on the case of Julian Assange. Continue reading

Caso Assange, il record di falsità (di Stefania Murizi, L’Espresso)

In questi giorni, anche in Italia, sul fondatore di WikiLeaks e sulla sua vicenda sono state diffuse montagne di notizie sbagliate – o semplicemente di balle. ‘L’Espresso’ le ha sbugiardate, una a una  (28 agosto 2012)

Una saga delle falsità. Notizie infondate e analisi basate sul nulla. Uno degli spettacoli più sconcertanti della guerra contro Julian Assange e WikiLeaks è la superficialità della stampa.

Altro che errori. Se oggi l’organizzazione iniziasse a querelare, diventerebbe milionaria, risolvendo all’istante il problema del blocco finanziario stragiudiziale che sta stritolando il gruppo e che è stato messo in atto da cinque colossi del credito: Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, Western Union, PayPal, appena WikiLeaks ha cominciato a pubblicare i cablo della diplomazia Usa.

L’epidemia di sciocchezze ha interessato i media di tutto il mondo, tanto che Julian Assange ha chiesto e ottenuto decine di rettifiche: dall’Inghilterra fino all’America. E in Italia? In un duro editoriale sul quotidiano ‘La Stampa’, Gianni Riotta ha recentemente tracciato quella che, secondo lui, è la parabola di WikiLeaks. «Una brutta storia che diventa pessima», ha scritto, denunciando come il valore fondante dell’organizzazione, la trasparenza, si sia ormai diventata oscurità.

Riotta scrive che «per non farsi processare in un processo per stupro, Assange insiste sul ‘caso politico’ contro di lui». E «pur di non andare alla sbarra a Stoccolma», si butta tra le braccia di personaggi come il presidente dell’Ecuador, Rafael Correa. C’è un piccolo particolare, che sembra sfuggire completamente all’editorialista: non c’è alcun processo per stupro, nessuna sbarra. Julian Assange non è mai stato incriminato: tutta la saga giudiziaria che va avanti dall’agosto 2010 è un’inchiesta che è nella fase preliminare da ben due anni, perché i procuratori svedesi hanno rifiutato qualsiasi offerta di Assange di essere interrogato a Londra, anziché estradato a Stoccolma.

E’ proprio questa la controversia che fa discutere il mondo. La Svezia pretende l’estradizione di Assange non perché va processato o perché deve scontare la pena: non è neppure incriminato. La Svezia insiste da due anni sull’estradizione semplicemente per interrogarlo e per stabilire se le accuse delle due ragazze sono fondate, e quindi Assange deve essere processato, oppure se il caso va archiviato e il suo nome va ripulito da quella macchia infamante che è lo stupro. Nessuno è al di sopra della legge. Nemmeno Julian Assange. Deve rispondere ai magistrati sulle accuse delle due donne. E la Svezia ha tutto il diritto di darsi leggi che puniscono come stupro quello che altri paesi non considerano tale (avere rapporti sessuali consensuali, ma non usare il preservativo nonostante la richiesta del partner). Quello che, però, il resto del mondo non riesce a capire è perché Stoccolma s’intestardisce a estradare Assange, quando potrebbe interrogarlo all’ambasciata svedese a Londra, come ha chiesto fin dall’inizio il team legale di Assange. O anche a quella ecuadoriana di Knightsbridge, dove si è rifugiato, come ha proposto poche settimane fa anche l’Ecuador. Assange non ha chiesto di essere interrogato al pub o in una sala bingo: si è subito reso disponibile ad essere sentito all’ambasciata di Svezia a Londra o a Scotland Yard. La Svezia, però, ha rigettato ogni soluzione, senza spiegare perché. Continue reading

Assange smear campaign drowns out ‘secrecy’ story

Assange smear campaign drowns out ‘secrecy’ story

Wikileaks founder had consensual sex

By Geoff Olson, Vancouver Courier August 29, 2012

What’s up with the media chorus on the cornered founder of Wikileaks? “Assange berates U.S. from balcony of Ecuador Embassy,” pronounced a Reuters headline from Aug. 19. “Assange berates United States from Ecuador embassy balcony, ” echoed CNBC. “_Julian Assange appeared on the first-floor balcony of Ecuador’s London Embassy to berate the United States,” echoed the San Francisco Chronicle. “Defiant Assange berates U.S.,” parroted the Oman Tribune.

“His hypocrisy and cowardice is rivaled only by his self-aggrandizement and arrogance,” fulminated the Australian. “In pleading his case for martyrdom, he was quick to berate U.S. and British authorities, but conveniently ignored the serious allegations of sexual assault against him.”

As of this Wednesday, a Google search of the terms “Assange,” “berate” and “Ecuador” netted 171,000 hits (5,930 hits on Google News alone). The problem is there was no actual “berate,” at least according to the dictionary definition of the verb: to “scold, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reprove, admonish, chide, criticize, upbraid.” Rather, the hunted activist calmly called on U.S. president Barack Obama to “do the right thing” and stop the U.S. persecution of his whistleblowing organization and its members.

During his 2008 election campaign, Obama promised protection for whistleblowers, defending their “acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.” Ironically, his administration has turned out to be even more enthusiastic than George W. Bush’s minions in targeting men and women of conscience for prosecution. The sixth person to be charged under the Espionage Act, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, has the distinction of being the only figure charged in connection with the Bush-era rendition and torture program. The accusation: he revealed classified information about the program itself, including names of colleagues.

Is this the endgame for Britain/U.S./Sweden’s sport of whack-a-mole with Assange, with the complicity of a mynah-bird media: to turn him into a human hazard light for any insiders who get the funny notion of exposing high-level crimes and misdemeanors? If he is extradited to Sweden, Assange fears he will bounced to the U.S. and jailed like the still-untried soldier Bradley Manning, who has been sitting in solitary confinement for over 800 days for allegedly releasing the infamous State Department cables to Wikileaks.

As for the serious allegations of rape, both accusers agreed they had consensual sex with Assange. A female Swedish prosecutor, since over-ruled, threw out the initial arrest warrant for the Australian activist after finding no evidence of criminality.

If there was a singular voice of sanity in last week’s Assange-watch, it belonged to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian. “Is it not remarkable that one of the very few individuals over the past decade to risk his welfare, liberty and even life to meaningfully challenge the secrecy regime on which the American national security state (and those of its obedient allies) depends just so happens to have become-long before he sought asylum from Ecuador-the most intensely and personally despised figure among the American and British media class and the British “liberal” intelligentsia?” Continue reading

The Swedish media war on Assange…

The Swedish media war on Assange – ”Australian pig”, ”retard”, ”white-haired crackpot”, ”scumbag”

24 august 2012

STOCKHOLM (FRIA TIDER). Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has claimed that the media climate in Sweden has become so “hostile” against him that it may now jeopardize his right to a fair trial. These allegations have been strongly rejected by several Swedish officials, but a brief glance at recent Swedish media coverage on Assange seems to show that they are not entirely without ground.

In a controversial statement last week, Swedish Minister of Social Affairs Göran Hägglund called Assange a ”coward” and a ”pitiful wretch” for taking refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Hägglund also alleged that Assange was afraid of having ”his case tried by the court”, even though Assange has not been charged with any crime and has not been summoned to court. He added that Assange was a ”scumbag” if the accusations against him were true.

Another official reaction came from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an angry attempt to explain why Assange cannot be questioned in London: ”You do not dictate the terms if you are a suspect. Get it?”, the Ministry declared via its official Twitter channel.

The bulk of the attacks on Assange, however, do not come from government officials, but from journalists and prominent intellectuals. The four major Swedish newspapers – Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet and Expressen – have all roundly condemned the Wikileaks founder, using very strong language. A number of examples are provided below to illustrate the general tone of Swedish media opinion on Assange.

In Sweden’s largest tabloid Aftonbladet, well-known columnist Oisín Cantwell characterized Assange as a ”coward”, a ”creep”, a ”white-haired crackpot” and an ”asshole” because he would rather request asylum from Ecuador than face extradition to Sweden.

Cantwell’s colleague at Aftonbladet, Johanne Hildebrandt, famous for her reporting from the wars in former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, chimed in. ”He’s a paranoid retard who refuses to come to Sweden”, she claimed in a recent column.

Also writing in Aftonbladet, prominent journalist Martin Aagård called Assange an ”Australian pig”. ”There are many good reasons to criticize Assange. One of them is that he’s a repugnant swine”, Aagård elaborated. Continue reading

Incinerating Assange – The Liberal Media Go To Work

June 27, 2012

27 june 2012 – By: David Edwards

On June 19, in a final bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange requested asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Credible commentators argue that Assange has good reason to fear extradition to the United States from Sweden. Ray McGovern, who was a CIA analyst for 30 years, commented:

‘Not only is Julian Assange within his rights to seek asylum, he is also in his right mind. Consider this: he was about to be sent to faux-neutral Sweden, which has a recent history of bowing to U.S. demands in dealing with those that Washington says are some kind of threat to U.S. security.’

Former US constitutional and civil rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald supplied some detail:

‘The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks violated the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. Key senators from President Obama’s party, including Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have publicly called for his prosecution under that statute. A leaked email from the security firm Stratfor – hardly a dispositive source, but still probative – indicated that a sealed indictment has already been obtained against him. Prominent American figures in both parties have demanded Assange’s lifelong imprisonment, called him a terrorist, and even advocated his assassination.’

Greenwald argued that smaller countries like Sweden are more vulnerable to American manipulation. Moreover, Sweden ‘has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US. A 2006 UN ruling found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for helping the CIA render two suspected terrorists to Egypt, where they were brutally tortured.’ Continue reading

Exclusive Video Interview: Journalist Helene Bergman on Assange, Sweden and the hope of Ecuador

via WACA (@akaWACA) 30/07/2012 by kazamcasrane

While Julian Assange waits to find out whether or not he will receive asylum in Ecuador, WACA thought it was time to hear from a Swedish voice. Sam Castro sat down via Skype to talk with renowned Swedish journalist and feminist Helene Bergman, who met with Julian Assange prior to him seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

In her article’s ‘Julian Assange is already condemned by Swedish State feminism‘ and ‘My Meeting with the Most Wanted Man – the Assange Case‘, Helene reveals the co-option of the feminist movement into the State apparatus and the mainstream media’s refusal in Sweden, to the read facts of Julian’s case or publish her articles, which are critical of the State and feminism in relation to Julian Assange.

Helene Bergman has been a journalist for over forty years and was a pioneer in the feminist movement in Sweden, as a host of the legendary women’s program Radio Ellen on Swedish Radio.

PART ONE: Assange, Sweden and the hope of Ecuador

PART TWO: Swedish State Feminism, the Media and the USA