And the Band Played On ..
by peptide Saturday, Jun 23 2007, 7:46am
The title refers to the band on the ‘Titanic’ playing while the ship sank beneath the icy waters. Metaphor or allegory for the assault on free speech and democracy, judge for yourself but don’t forget to remain passive, servile and fearful in the face of all assaults on hard won freedoms and civil liberties – liberties your fathers died in wars to protect!
Deckchair from Titanic
Alerts and warnings (see link) that the powers would attempt to slowly implement the most draconian measures against free speech and the free flow of information by utilising the excuse of child abuse/pornography remained unheeded and so today the first stage of implementation has become reality. Tasmania, the smallest State in Australia has been chosen, for obvious reasons, to introduce internet information filtering at ‘backbone’ level, that is at ISP or PROVIDER level. That method effectively allows the powers to control the flow of ALL internet information to the end user. The installation of software by end users achieves exactly the same results and effectively manages information in any given environment, including the home! Citizens should rightly be alarmed and wary of any attempt to rob them of their RIGHTS and prerogatives to freely access information.
The following report from IDG.net confirms moves toward a totalitarian State.
ACMA issues content filtering tender for ISPs
Computerworld Australia staff
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a request for tender to conduct a trial of content filtering products in Tasmania at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level.
ACMA is seeking submissions from suitably qualified and experienced organizations to test a range of ISP level commercial filtering products.
The tender is part of ACMA's trial of content filtering products at the ISP level.
The successful tenderer will be responsible for establishing a test environment and reporting on the effectiveness of the product in blocking illegal and inappropriate content.
Closing date for the tender is July 18, 2007.
Content filtering at the ISP level has been assessed on three previous occasions in Australia.
For example, a technical study was conducted by CSIRO in 2001, analyst firm Ovum did a study that was commissioned by the Department of Communications, Information, Technology and the Arts as well as a technical trial conducted by RMIT training on behalf of NetAlert in 2005.
Certain trends in the social test laboratory of the western world -- Australia -- have become apparent. The Australian lackey prime minister, John Howard, this week utilised indigenous child abuse as the excuse to justify the neutralisation of rights indigenous communities achieved half a century ago. Howard also took the opportunity to attack indigenous land rights, a most revealing manoeuvre. Howard’s inclusion of this unrelated ‘measure’ reveals much. The sordid nature of the Prime Minister’s tactics and the depths (utilising child abuse) to which he would sink to achieve his re-election ambitions and allow his masters, Transnational Mining Corporations, access to land previously unavailable due to land rights and sacred site restrictions, reveals the character of a truly evil, amoral, and sick personality – one perfectly suited to lead a former penal colony!
The politically savvy Howard hides his real intentions behind the highly emotive issue of child abuse hoping that no one would dare oppose his carefully structured strategy and expose the most despicable and disgusting leader Australia has ever known – his appalling record speaks/reeks for itself!
Whenever a convergence of related events occurs it is rarely coincidental. This week also saw the spectre of the international centralisation of power in the form of jailing (for 51 months) a British born Australian citizen, Hew Griffiths, extradited to the United States for software piracy offences not relating to either Britain or Australia! Seems the force for an international totalitarian State has a star-spangled character! “Our agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly to nab intellectual property thieves, even where their crimes transcend international borders," US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said. Griffiths fought extradition for years prior to the Australian lackey government of Howard surrendering him to the U.S. -- a nation which has legalised torture (Guantanamo Bay); engages in illegal invasions, oil plunder and flouts international law and convention whenever it chooses. Allow me to express the true Oz sentiment for such blatant hypocrisy, g.. f….. or as the English would say, f... o..!
Some imagine we write these articles and stories in the hope that people will act, not so, most contributors are specialists who hold postgraduate degrees, some earn up to three thousand dollars per hour as consultants; some I am sorry to say actually work for the powers, their contributions here seem to alleviate their feelings of guilt.
They write in the full knowledge that populations facing totalitarian pressures are unable to act and must see the process through to its usually catastrophic conclusions. They write for future generations; they write for the historical record. However, as an editor, I could scream and often do! [rainman]
Joseph Goebbels perfected modern information 'management' techniques
US Dept. Defense Info war paper!
COMMENTSshow latest comments first show comment titles only
jump to comment 1
Some people think the internet is a bad thing
by Jemima Kiss via reed - guardian Tuesday, Jun 26 2007, 5:07am
[Australia will join a number of totalitarian regimes that filter info at the backbone level -- shame on you Oz and shame on its apathetic people for doing nothing to protect their hard won rights. Ed.]
Amnesty International hosted a fascinating event last night on a subject that doesn't receive anywhere near enough attention - internet censorship.
This focused on one subject with more than ten speakers and it is a rare treat to witness people drill down through a subject in such depth.
There was so much covered here, and the full beast is on the Amnesty site as part of the Irrepressible Info campaign that is supported by the Observer. The campaign is a year old today.
Martha Lane Fox on the power of the internet
Martha Lane Fox gave the keynote, picking out what she sees as the three defining features of the internet that have remained consistent since she began working online as co-founder of lastminute.com ten years ago.
Those three elements are the global potential of the web, the disruptive nature of internet tools and the innovation that it inspires.
Ten years ago, she discovered Korean school kids doing homework for Australian school kids - utilising the overnight time difference and making themselves some decent pocket money. Not entirely ethical )more on that later), but very enterprising and certainly very global.
Web giants like Google and Amazon are perfect examples of disruptive businesses, and she said, and lastminute itself was disruptive in a smaller way for the travel industry.
And the innovation and excitement of the web industry was what made her "jump out of bed every morning for lastminute.com". "Historically, the UK has been good at ideas but not at commercialising them," she said, so the web is an important part of encouraging innovation and that creative economy.
She also said the web has facilitated a shift in power from corporations to users, and that even tools that are still relatively techie - like internet telephony service Skype - are used by millions of people. Skype now has 196m users globally.
An arms race in cyberspace
Ron Deibert, co-founder of OpenNet, said that after researching web activity in 41 countries, 25 were found to be filtering or montoring web use. Six of those were "pervasive" -Burma, China, Iran, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam. and Deibert said there has been a "dramatic increase in states engaging in these practices" since OpenNet began tracking in 2002.
Even within Western countries, there has been an increase in filtering and monitoring in private environments like business, and overall censorship is growing in terms of its sophistication.
Initially, censorship was focused on porn and culturally sensitive material but this is now growing much wider to include Amnesty, independent news sites, political opponents and blogs.
Sites like Flickr and YouTube are being banned and in Pakistan, the whole of Blogger is blocked. Sophisticated US technology is being sold to regimes that apply it to filter and censor web traffic, and some are trying techniques such as "slowly turning off the tap" to sites they want to ban which allows them "plausible deniability" in claiming the problems are down to a technical error.
Deibert said that in Krygistan, opposition news sites have come under denial of service web attacks and in Cambodia, authorities have banned SMS messages.
"The prospect of an arms race in cyberspace is very real," said Deibert. "The bottom line is we can no longer take the internet for granted as a structure that supports basic human rights. We have assumed it has some magical powers that support human rights and help us evade censorship, but states are actively intervening in the environment."
The solution is to encourage governments and corporations to be accountable and transparent, and we must hold them accountable, he said.
"There is far too much deceit and secrecy around internet surveillance practices."
On the front line of government oppression
We heard from several bloggers with experience on the front line.
Iranian journalists and blogger Sina Motalebi, whose work included covering detained writers, spent three weeks in prison during which time he said he was interrogated and kept in solitary confinement.
Motalebi said he was extremely nervous about speaking and found it hard to talk about his time in prison, saying he lost "his psychological stability and started hearing voices and hallucinating".
He was interrogated about every post on his blog. "The head interrogator told him that 'you believe blogging is a free way for expressing your views and beliefs. We want to prove you wrong. We can't chase every blogger so we want to make you an example.'"
Motalebi left Iran before he was sentenced to five years in prison. He now lives in London and works for BBC Persia.
Tunisian blogger Sami Ben Garbia, who now lives in the Netherlands, said the internet isn't bad: "It is what got me where I am. But it is bad when it is used by those people with executive control and judicial power - the internet makes them think they are losing control of information".
Garbia referred to fellow Tunisian blogger Zouhair Yahyaoui who was initially imprisoned after blogging: "What is Tunisia? Is it a republic, a kingdom, a zoo or a prison?" He spent sixteen months in prison and was released in 2003, but died 18 months later.
Arrested for blogging in the USA
Video blogger Josh Wolf spent 228 days in prison for refusing to hand over video of a San Francisco protest against the G8 to a government investigation. A policeman was injured, but Wolf said he was nowhere near the incident. After a standoff, Wolf was arrested adn eventually a compromise was reached whereby he would publish the video in its entirety on his site and give copies to the FBI, though he would not testify.
"We need a federal shield law," said Wolf. "I go out and gather information and disseminate it to the public - that's journalism."
There are advances in protection for the press in the US, and those protections should be extended to bloggers and independent journalists, he said.
The Galileo problem
Shava Nerad, executive director of the not-for-profit Onion Router project, said web censorship may be one of the largest non-violent repressive weapons in the world today.
"We are in an information arms race, with massive authroities like China in league with big corporations, and just tiny non-profits and NGOs on the other side."
The Onion Router provides IP routing, which means web users in repressive regimes can bypass censorship by effectively authorities by masking their location.
"It's the Galileo problem," she said. "The Vatican didn't try to suppress his ideas because they weren't valid, but because they were worried that the speed of innovation would be disruptive to society. They wanted more time to spin it to the masses."
She also said that the talk about web censorship is too often focused on China. "Ruling China always seemed an impossible task anyway, but now they are moving towards a market economy and it's like a pressure cooker. China does not think the internet is a bad thing - it needs that exchange of information to remain competitive."
The approach to resolving all these issues should be more reconciliatory, she thinks, because this is not a new problem - think pamphleteers. The net, just as all other media through history, has seen censorship as damage and routed around it.
"We must become the common wisdom of the internet society we want to see emerge."
And after all that, if you haven't joined the Irrepressible Info campaign and signed the petition - do it now.
© 2007 Guardian News and Media Limited
Citizen journalism battles the Chinese censors
by ABC via rialator - ABCnews Tuesday, Jun 26 2007, 5:25am
In the strictly controlled media world of China, "citizen journalism" is beating a way through censorship, breaking taboos and offering a pressure valve for social tensions.
In one striking example this month, the Internet was largely responsible for breaking open a slave scandal in two Chinese provinces that some local authorities had been complicit in.
A letter posted on the Internet by 400 parents of children working as slaves in brickyards was the trigger for the national press to finally report on the scandal, which some rights groups say had been going on for years.
The parents' Internet posting was part of a growing phenomenon for marginalised people in China who can not otherwise have their complaints addressed by the traditional, government-controlled press.
Beijing-based dissident Liu Xiaobo was one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.
"The phenomenon of 'citizen journalism' suddenly arrived several years ago," he said.
"Since the appearance of blogs in particular, every blog is a new platform for the spread of information."
He cited the example of a couple in the south-western city of Chongqing who became known as the "Stubborn Nails" in April because they refused to leave their home until they received adequate compensation from the property developer who wanted them out.
They quickly became household names in China - and symbols of resistance against greedy land developers and corrupt local authorities - mainly thanks to Internet postings.
"That case was first revealed through blogs," Mr Liu said.
Also in Chongqing, parts of the city were this month set on fire following the beating of flower sellers by the "chengguan", city police charged with "cleaning up" the city's roads.
Witnesses to the beatings had appealed to local television journalists, but nothing was broadcast.
The incident only became known outside the city thanks to photos and stories published on the Internet, sparking anger among China's netizens.
"It's fascism," said one, while another mocked: "The inhabitants of Chongqing are truly naive, the Chinese media is all controlled by the Communist Party, they decide what people know."
Several days later, another blunder by the "chengguan" - this time in Zhengzhou in central Henan province, again targeted at a street seller - provoked further riots.
The image of protesters surrounding a police car, captured by a mobile phone, made its way round the world, after being posted on Chinese movie sharing site Tudou, then reposted on YouTube.
Elsewhere across China, protesters often seek to post on the Internet photos or videos of unrest to counter the versions from the state-run press and local authorities, who usually downplay or deny the events.
Recognising the threat of China's growing online community, Chinese President Hu Jintao called in January for the Internet to be "purified", and the Government has since launched a number of online crackdowns.
"The department of propaganda has sent out regulations to try and control the opinions being spread on the Internet, but every citizen has the right to criticise or to take part in public affairs on the Internet," said Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai Tongji University.
"The government has to accept the criticisms of the people, it can no longer react crudely like in the past."
Julien Pain, who monitors Internet freedom issues for Reporters Without Borders, is less optimistic.
"One cannot truly say that the Internet in China is becoming more and more free, because at the same time as the development of citizen journalists, the government finds ways of blocking or censoring content," Pain said.
Reporters Without Borders, which labels the Chinese Government an "enemy of the Internet", says about 50 cyber dissidents are currently behind bars in China.
© 2007 ABC
[Utilising child porn as an excuse to implement information filtering at provider level is a typical Howard government stunt -- protect your rights/prerogatives and discretions to manage information access at user level. John Howard is presently utilising the same tactic of child abuse/porn to rob indigenous communites of their hard won (land) rights.
The problem is not the internet, it is John Howard -- remember his appalling political tactics, criminal lies and deceptions at the forthcoming federal elections! Ed.]
Tug-o-War Continues over Internet Control
by Lynette Lee Corporal via rialator - IPS Wednesday, Jun 27 2007, 1:25pm
BANGKOK, Jun 27 (IPS) - Against the backdrop of a key Thai official’s latest statement, the tug-o-war between the government and campaigners against Internet censorship looks far from being resolved any time soon.
At issue is how far the government can come in, citing the public interest, to control, penalise or shut down websites, or to curb cyber crimes.
"I'm sorry that my right to regulate the Net seems to be the right of the government of Thailand. The only thing I'd do my utmost is to prevent lese majeste cases," Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said with a tone of finality in front of a packed Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand Tuesday night.
In early April, Sitthichai ordered the popular video-sharing web site YouTube blocked from Thailand, after users uploaded footage insulting to Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Under the law of lese majeste here, Thais and foreigners who violate the law can, if found guilty, face a prison term of up to 15 years.
Sitthichai’s statement at the press club did not sit well with the many freedom of expression advocates in the crowd, who expressed concern about the use of laws to suppress freedom of expression in general by banning political websites as well.
In a symbolic gesture, Campaign for Popular Media Reform's Supinya Klangnarong handed the minister a thick pad listing the allegedly blocked websites.
This despite the minister's vehement statement that he only ordered the closing down of 200 websites -- and not the more than 17,000 sites that critics say have been shut down since the military seized power on Sep. 19, 2006. Many of these are critical of the military-installed government, critics say.
Sitthichai did announce that he would ask the government to repeal Order No 5 of the newly passed cyber crime law, which allows the MICT to block or close down websites. But Supinya, like other media rights advocates, remains wary.
According to Supinya, if not done properly and fairly, letting the courts decide to close down a website upon recommendations by authorities is a cause for concern.
"That the government is trying to intervene and control the media is worrisome enough. I feel threatened because people, in general, rely on the judicial system to protect them from any violation of their rights. Now, it seems that the court is the one who will clip these same rights," she told IPS.
Internet Thailand project manager and avid blogger Isrya Paireentairit said: "Taking away the MICT's power to block sites is a good development. This will prevent them from doing anything they want." Unlike Supinya, though, he said that under the new law, "at least we have official guidelines as to how to implement the laws, unlike before when we had nothing to hold on to".
Known as the Computer-Related Offences Commission Act, the law identifies 12 types of Internet crimes that are punishable with up to 20 years imprisonment and a 300,000 baht (9,420 U.S. dollars) fine.
The law is still a source of confusion for Chiranuch Premchaiporn of the independent, Thai-language online daily newspaper Prachatai.com.
"The cyber crime bill should focus on preventing cyber criminals from violating the right of and harming Internet users. But I'm also wondering if this will encroach on the right to privacy of an individual," said Chiranuch.
She is worried that, taken to extremes, the law could become a tool for repression by authorities. Her concerns are stem from a provision that requires Internet service providers to keep computer traffic data for at least 90 days. This allows authorities to check on the IP addresses of each subscriber and identify who visits particular websites.
Sitthichai, however, assured that the government follows certain criteria in banning or blocking a website, the most important of which is lese majeste.
"Pornography comes next, but this is a grey area and we leave this to the public's discretion. As for political sites, the only thing I'm against is when they attack people personally and in a very inappropriate manner," said Sitthichai.
Like the blogger Isrya, Chiranuch is for the abolition of Order No 5 of the cyber crime law "because it is against the Constitution". The Constitution is currently being amended in the wake of the September coup.
"Let our courts be involved in the process. This is better than having officials do everything on their own. This is a good check-and-balance system," Chiranuch added.
More public awareness is crucial to protecting the space for freedom for expression, including on the Internet, campaigners say. Supinya notes that the present political situation and the elections promised by the military-installed government in December are taking up most of the public's attention.
"Internet freedom is a very new issue here. On the surface level, just pointing out this issue to people will give you cool reactions. But I think that if you provide them with more information and discuss with the implications of these laws and regulations, the majority will come up with new ideas," she said.
Chiranuch says that while more netizens may feel that freedom of speech is being controlled and violated online, the cyber crime law is a different story.
"Only a few people are interesting and actively pursuing the issue. These are the people directly affected by the new law, such as the ISPs and webmasters. Ordinary Internet users see it as something interesting but they don't care deeply enough," she explained.
Said Isrya: "Most bloggers are not aware of the new cyber crime law. I think the people who are likely to be more aware are those involved in webhosting and ISPs."
Chiranuch adds that also need to learn to use circumvention programmes on the Internet if necessary. No, there is nothing illegal about this, she assures. "One of the bill’s draftees clarified that using proxy servers is not a crime per se, so I think people can learn new ways of getting online."
© 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service
US plans to 'fight the net' revealed
by Adam Brookes via reed - BBC Wednesday, Jun 27 2007, 5:08pm
A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.
As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.
From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.
The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.
Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.
The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.
The document says that information is "critical to military success". Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational importance.
The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.
All these are engaged in information operations.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.
"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.
"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.
The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.
"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.
Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low, but it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.
When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.
Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The stories - all supportive of US policy - were written by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.
And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.
But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.
The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to - and the grand scale on which it's thinking.
It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.
It recommends that a global website be established that supports America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".
It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.
'Fight the net'
When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone.
It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.
"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads.
The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.
The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.
"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."
US digital ambition
And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".
US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".
Consider that for a moment.
The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.
Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are they real?
The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously indeed in the Pentagon.
And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched only by the US military's ambitions for it.
Published: 2006/01/27 18:05:49 GMT
© BBC MMVII
<< back to stories