Liberty News

 2014: July-Sept



  Prison Island...

Thailand considers electronic tagging for tourists in response to Koh Tao murders


Link Here 30th September 2014
electronic tagging Identification wristbands may be distributed to tourists in Thailand, the country's tourism minister says. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she had approached hotels over the idea of handing out wristbands to help identify tourists who get lost or into trouble.

When tourists check in to a hotel they will be given a wristband with a serial number that matches their ID and shows the contact details of the resort they are staying in, so that if they're out partying late and, for example, get drunk or lost, they can be easily assisted.

The next step would be some sort of electronic tracking device but this has not yet been discussed in detail.

She said a buddy system , pairing tourists with a local minder at tourist destinations, was also being discussed.

Kobkarn admitted the wristband idea had already met some resistance:

Most people welcome the idea but some hotels are concerned that tourists may not want to wear the wristbands.

Limiting party hours on some of Thailand's islands and imposing restrictions over where beach parties could be held were also being considered, said Kobkarn.

The idea is unlikely to go down well with hoards of young backbackers who travel to Thailand each year.

 

 Offsite Article: The Final Whistle...


Link Here 29th September 2014
australian government logo Security laws pass Australian Senate amid fears over draconian limits to press freedom. National security laws allow whistleblowers to be jailed and give Asio sweeping powers to gather online data

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Snoopers Win...

Australian PM announces that balance between freedom and security will now shift to security


Link Here 27th September 2014

australian government logo This week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used recent terrorist threats as the backdrop of a dire warning to Australians that for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some, so that there can be more protection for others.

This pronouncement came as two of a series of three bills effecting that erosion of freedoms made their way through Australia's Federal Parliament. These were the second reading of a National Security Amendment Bill which grants new surveillance powers to Australia's spy agency, ASIO, and the first reading of a Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill that outlaws speech seen as advocating terrorism . A third bill on mandatory data retention is expected to be be introduced by the end of the year.

Whilst all three bills in this suite raise separate concerns, the most immediate concern--because the bill in question could be passed this week --is the National Security Amendment Bill. Introduced into Parliament on 16 July, it endured robust criticism during public hearings last month that led into an advisory report released last week. Nevertheless the bill was introduced into the Senate this Tuesday with the provisions of most concern still intact.

In simple terms, the bill allows law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to access data from a computer--so far, so good. But it redefines a computer to mean not only one or more computers but also one or more computer networks . Since the Internet itself is nothing but a large network of computer networks, it seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that the bill may stealthily allow the spy agency to surveil the entire Internet with a single warrant .

Apart from allowing the surveillance of entire computer networks, the bill also allows the addition, deletion or alteration of data stored on a computer, provided only that this would not materially interfere with, interrupt or obstruct a communication in transit or the lawful use by other persons of a computer unless ... necessary to do one or more of the things specified in the warrant . Given the broad definition of computer , this provision is broad enough to authorize website blocking or manipulation, and even the insertion of malware into networks targeted by the warrant.

Capping all this off, the bill also imposes a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment upon a person who discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation . Although obviously intended to throw the hammer at whistleblowers, the provision would apply equally to journalists. Such a provision could make it impossible for Australians to learn about the activities of their own government that infringe international human rights laws.

All in all, this sweeping bill would hardly be out of place in the NSA's pantheon alongside the USA PATRIOT Act. But unlike the United States, Australia does not have a written Bill of Rights in its Constitution, making its freedom-abridging laws even harder to challenge in court.

Nevertheless Australia is a signatory to all major regional and global human rights instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy , and that Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression . Australia, like all other nations of the world, is also addressed by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles that provide more detailed guidance on how to apply international human rights standards in the context of communication surveillance.

It is far from clear that a proper balance can be struck by rushing this draconian bill through Parliament at a time when elevated fear of terrorism may lead to important civil liberties safeguards being forgotten or deliberately overruled. Australians should call on their government, before it is too late, to withdraw this bill for further consideration. If not, this may mark the week in history when it became easier for the Australian government to surveil and manipulate the Internet at will.

 

 Offsite Article: Black box car insurance will turn down your radio and monitor your texts...


Link Here 24th September 2014
big brother watching In-car black boxes already monitor many drivers' habits, but their scrutiny is about to become more intrusive

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: War on Citizens...


Link Here 20th September 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
NSA logo Tor, proxy and VPN users will soon be liable to having their devices taken over by US state snoops

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act has proved to be a snooper's charter...


Link Here 12th September 2014  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
ripa logo It can be argued that it is less about regulating the government and more about conferring them without much regulation at all. By David Banks

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: Holding Coats...


Link Here 10th September 2014
global voices logo German companies are selling unlicensed surveillance technologies to human rights violators

See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

 

 Offsite Article: Mass snooping in Australia...


Link Here 20th August 2014
australian government logo Government pushing to expand surveillance, hacking powers

See article from privacyinternational.org

 

 Offsite Article: Would you trust the Police to have access to your medical records?...


Link Here 15th August 2014
Big Brother Watch logo And would you trust your doctor if your records went straight to the police (and probably many others state agencies too)?

See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

 

 Offsite Article: New internet snooping legislation...


Link Here 5th August 2014
australian government logo Combatting the Snowden Effect: National interest and media freedom in Australia

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  What Could Possibly Go Wrong?...

Government proposes to connect up state databases to facilitate the analysis of people's worth and behaviour


Link Here 4th August 2014
Big Brothers Clegg and Cameron Details of the financial history, qualifications and property wealth of millions of Britons could be shared across Whitehall for the first time without their consent, the Telegraph has disclosed.

Information including voters' driving licences, criminal records, energy use and even whether they use a bus pass could be shared under a radical blueprint to link up thousands of state databases used by schools, councils, police and civil servants.

The proposals are likely to ignite privacy concerns when officials are granted unprecedented access to citizens' private data.

Ministers claim the ability to aggregate and mine citizens' data under a new legal framework will allow them to better monitor economic growth and population movements, identify troubled families and elderly people in need of support, and cut fraud. They want to use sophisticated customer analysis techniques developed by retailers such as Amazon and Tesco.

The proposals are contained in a discussion document produced by the Cabinet Office Data Sharing Policy Team in April. The proposals, drawn up by Francis Maude, will be contained in a White Paper published in the Autumn. It may feature draft legislation for introduction after the 2015 election, according to sources.

Under the most wide-ranging option being considered, private data could be shared by all bodies providing public services - permitting private companies to receive unprecedented amounts of citizens' data.

 

 Offsite Article: The Citizen Lab...


Link Here 2nd August 2014
citizen lab logo Meet the white hat hackers keeping you safe from Big Brother

See article from wired.co.uk

 

  Running Onion Rings Around the Authorities...

Russia offers bounty for cracking the internet encryption tool Tor


Link Here 29th July 2014
tor logo The Russian government is offering almost 4 million rubles (about USD $100,000) to anyone who can devise a reliable way to decrypt data sent over the Tor anonymity network . A mounting campaign by the Kremlin against the open Internet, not to mention revelations in the United States about government spying, have made Tor increasingly attractive to Russian Internet users seeking to circumvent state censorship.

Developed as a project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory more than a decade ago, Tor anonymizes Internet traffic by sending it through a unique configuration of nodes known as an onion routing system . Now in the hands of a nonprofit group, the project continues to receive federal funding but boasts approximately 4 million users worldwide , among them many tech-savvy digital activists in countries where technical censorship and surveillance are prevalent. Even the U.S. State Department supports programs that train foreign political activists to use Tor to protect themselves from the watchful eyes of authoritarian governments.

Of course, Tor is a dual-use technology . By providing people with the means to escape censorship and spying, the network is also used by people engaged in organized crime, drug trafficking, and the exchange and sale of child pornography. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden prove that the U.S. National Security Agency has devoted significant resources to hacking Tor , in order to grab personal data about the people who use it.

The U.S. government cites precisely these worrying uses of Tor when justifying its own efforts to decrypt users' data. But the anonymous nature of the network makes it difficult to know precisely who uses it, and for what, at a global scale.

Although unlikely, should Russia's decryption project succeed, it could endanger millions of Internet users whose interest in online anonymity is far from nefarious.

 

 Update: Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications...

Whistleblower says NSA revelations mean those with duty to protect confidentiality must urgently upgrade security


Link Here 23rd July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
edward snowden

 

 Offsite Comment: Blanket digital surveillance is a start....


Link Here 23rd July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
The Guardian But how about a camera in every bathroom? The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act needs strengthening. Only terrorists and paedophiles can object. The House stands ready to act

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Extracts: Intelligence services creating vast databases of intercepted emails...

Government told internet surveillance tribunal that gathering material may be permissible, say human rights groups


Link Here 19th July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping

gchq logo The intelligence services are constructing vast databases out of accumulated interceptions of emails, a tribunal investigating mass surveillance of the internet has been told.

The claim emerged during a ground-breaking case against the monitoring agency GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and the government at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT).

Matthew Ryder QC, for Liberty and other human rights groups, told a hearing the government had not disputed that databases gathering material that may be useful for the future is something that may be permissible under Ripa [the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000] .

If they are deemed under the legislation to be necessary , he said, that may mean their use can stretch far into the future .

Ryder added: The government is now conceding it can gather such databases.

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet

21st July 2014. See article from firstlook.org by Glenn Greenwald

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, amplif[y] sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be extremist. The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.

The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG's use of fake victim blog posts, false flag operations, honey traps and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

21st July 2014. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Intelligence agency GCHQ is able to spy on Facebook and Youtube users and can manipulate online polls, according to the latest documents allegedly leaked by fugitive CIA worker Edward Snowden.

Documents thought to have been provided by the whistleblower allegedly show that the Cheltenham-based agency has developed a set of software programmes designed to breach users' computers and manipulate the internet.

Among the listed tools are ones capable of searching for private Facebook photographs, sending fake text messages, changing the outcome of online polls, censoring extremist material, and collating comments on Youtube and Twitter.

Some of the software enables the psychological manipulation of internet users, not unlike the controversial secret study recently undertaken with the approval of Facebook, in which the social network altered people's newsfeeds to see if it had an effect on their emotions.

The list of programmes was revealed in a Wikipedia-style document allegedly compiled by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), which was first published by The Intercept.

 

 Update: The ISPA Awards...

For internet heroes and villains


Link Here 18th July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping

ispas logo The Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA UK) announced the winners of the 2014 ISPAs, the UK's longest running internet industry awards, now in their 16th year. Almost fifty organisations were nominated across sixteen categories, and the evening ended with the Internet Hero and Villain Awards, given to those who have helped or hindered the industry in the last year.

Surveillance and broadband dominated the Internet Hero and Villain shortlists, sponsored by NetLynk Direct, with The Guardian named Hero for their work covering the PRISM revelations..

Conversely, GHCQ/NSA won the Internet Villain Award for their role in the surveillance state, a particularly important issue for industry given yesterday's new Bill on data retention. The Guardian collected their award on the evening whilst digital rights campaigners, Big Brother Watch , picked up the award on behalf of GCHQ.

Internet Hero sponsored by NetLynk winner: The Guardian

For their excellent reporting of mass surveillance programmes.

Internet Villain sponsored by NetLynk winner: GCHQ/NSA

For running the widest covert electronic surveillance programme in the world.

The other Internet Villain finalists were:

  • Charles Farr, Director of the Office of Security, Home Office  For continued attempts to collect communications data in spite of the growing consensus to balance retention of data with fundamental rights.
  • Norfolk County Council  For failing to rollout superfast broadband to 80% of residents as promised.
  • Russian Government  For passing one of the most restrictive internet freedom laws in the world.

 

 Offsite Article: : So why is the government encouraging use of Tor to work around crappy website blocking?...

US internet surveillance targeted at web surfers showing a keen interest in the Tor browser


Link Here 8th July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
tor logo

 

 Offsite Article: Court Hearing...


Link Here 6th July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
gchq logo ISPs launch legal challenge against mass snooping by government and GCHQ

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: Dangerous Apps...


Link Here 3rd July 2014  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
Sony Xperia Sim Free Smartphone Black How governments devise custom implants to bug smartphones. Post provides rare glimpse inside Android-based lawful intercept app.

See article from arstechnica.com