Are our social networks rewiring us right thru our DNA?
Look, I am flabbergasted by this. BMC from Austria joined Tales recently and posted her first post yesterday.
It hit over 8,000 hits yesterday, and it’s already over 10,000 hits today.
I honestly don’t know what to make of it.
BMC is now a celebrity and she has to go into hiding.
By the way, do you ever get so excited about posting a story that you just cannot wait? This is one of them. I admit it is fun and exciting. Vicariously enjoying the fleeting feathers of fame.
I find it funny that the entire Comments section of the blog has been taken over by the French. At first they tried to write English, but as the arguments heated up, French people have been know to be passionate, they switched to French. I’m cracking up writing this.
- Sacrebleu! The French Have Invaded Talesfromthelou! (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- The Quenelle – The New Sign of Resistance (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Big News: Tales is Now International! (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
Nov, 21, 2013
Dear friends, this is too funny. BMC joined Talesfromthelou a few days ago. Her first post on the Quenelles
blew the roof of this blog off. We’re getting hit 2291 times per hour.As I am writing this, the post we are talking about (link right above) has had almost 8000 hits. Never seen anything like that.
I must make a post of it, as it is a cool story, and a nice way to remember BMC’s intro to Tales. Well done BMC. It’s like a hole in one in golf. The first time ever. Wow.
I watched the interview. From my understanding, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, makes a clear distinction in his words between antisemitism and antizionism. He says he is not antisemitic. He is the latter.
Here’s a sample of some of the comments. They are all in the comments section of the blog. I Google Translated a few for those who don’t read French. Suffice it to say that it is not respectable language. The French are very passionate people.
We are including a quick video of the controversial man in question, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, at the bottom of the post. It’s translated. He is a popular French comedian that advocates for Islam. Can you see the sparks grinding?
“Ferme la a jamais, sale collabo.”
Shut yer mouth forever traitor!
“Ferme ta gueule nana mouscouri !”
Shut up your face Nana Mouskouri! (No idea why this is an insult)
“Ils sont cons comme Dieudonné”
They are all imbeciles like Dieudonne
“Dieudo is anti-zionisme not antisemitic, he denounced the Zionist power in France and in the world ’cause one day he made a sketch of Israel and the media have accused of being Nazi. Wake up and welcome to the revolution through humor and “quenelle” American people..”
“I’ll answer you in French because it is distressing , you saw them or convictions Dieudonné for antisemitism? The charges were dropped in Belgium (the most recent ) and he has lost two of the 40 + minutes that he did. Not the tocarde , do not invent facts to give you the importance and give a semblance of justification. The scoop has never been a rallying anti-Semitic and I ‘m pretty sure even you know.
The dumpling HAS never been , and never WILL be a racist symbol , this article was on point it’s just about sticking it to the Man. As for her comments about Dieudonné , They are far from the truth , the thing is , you can do joke about blacks, Asians , Caucasians , Catholics , Muslims , if you talk about goal Zionists people attack you with the term ” antisemitism ” Because everybody Seems to be scared of this word , as if it was beyond racism . Please just do your own opinion about this , try to do research , look at some Time of the Old shows (he is seriously competing for best comedian Richard Pryor all time ) but do not take everything for Granted That is said in the news as our friend About did NaNa?
“Here we go again …
I’m also French, and the “Quenelle” is definitely not an anti-Semitic gesture !
You’re a part of these people who are trying to give this gesture a meaning it doesn’t pretend to have !”
“In the french medias, you are now ans “islamo-nazi” if you are among Dieudonné followers….but it’s ok to support people like : Polanski….does this name rings a bell in US ???”
A little clarification from a fellow French and Dieudonné fan: it is not just fuck the system or state, it is fuck the elite, fuck any patronizing or controlling person or structure, fuck any pseudo-official impostor, any servile figure speaking in line with the system (like popular commercial artists)… you name it. The better way to summarize it is: SIGNE D’INSOUMMISSION (“GESTURE OF REBELLIOUSNESS”, “SYMBOL OF REBELLION”, or, literally “SIGN OF UNSUBMISSIVENESS”).
Perhaps the author of this article was to prude for this precision, but the length measured by the folded arm against the stiff one symbolizes how far up they can stick it. Hence Dioudonné expressions “a 175cm quenelle” (175cm=69”), “a shoudlered quenelle”, or “a quenelle up to and including the head”.
“I’m french and I have to say that democracy is totally over in our country. The “Human rights” concept now applies to only non catholics, non-white, and left-wing people, churches are being regularly attacked by extreme left-wing roaming gangs in a total indifference from the authorities, people are tagged as “fascists” or even “Nazis” as soon as they start opposing themselves to the system… This country has become so stinky that my family and me are actually planning to leave France forever before it gets too late. Hollande and his government are the worst leaders since a while and our history as a nation is constantly being fouled and severely bullied every day.
Guys as Dieudonné or Soral are demonized for denouncing all that… etc… If you really want to know more about violence in our country, please read “La France Orange Mecanique” from Laurent Obertone and you’ll have an idea about what France has become nowadays…
Those who still believe France is still a democracy should come here see by themselves! I lost my beautiful country and I’m really sad!”
Thank you all for the entertaining comments. For those of you who read French, it’s still raging on. Go to the comments section of Tales.
- The Quenelle – The New Sign of Resistance (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Big News: Tales is Now International! (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Antisemitism hasn’t gone away. We must find a way to talk about it | Keith Kahn-Harris (theguardian.com)
Monday 18 November 2013
Private firms are selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies to developing countries with promises that “off the shelf” equipment will allow them to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls, according to a cache of documents published on Monday.
The papers show how firms, including dozens from Britain, tout the capabilities at private trade fairs aimed at offering nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East the kind of powerful capabilities that are usually associated with government agencies such as GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency.
The market has raised concerns among human rights groups and ministers, who are poised to announce new rules about the sale of such equipment from Britain.
“The government agrees that further regulation is necessary,” a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said. “These products have legitimate uses … but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.”
The documents are included in an online database compiled by the research watchdog Privacy International, which has spent four years gathering 1,203 brochures and sales pitches used at conventions in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London. Analysts posed as potential buyers to gain access to the private fairs.
The database, called the Surveillance Industry Index, shows how firms from the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the US offer governments a range of systems that allow them to secretly hack into internet cables carrying email and phone traffic.
The index has details from 338 companies, including 77 from the UK, offering a total of 97 different technologies.
One firm says its “massive passive monitoring” equipment can “capture up to 1bn intercepts a day”. Some offer cameras hidden in cola cans, bricks or children’s carseats, while one manufacturer turns cars or vans into surveillance control centres.
There is nothing illegal about selling such equipment, and the companies say the new technologies are there to help governments defeat terrorism and crime.
But human rights and privacy campaigners are alarmed at the sophistication of the systems, and worry that unscrupulous regimes could use them as tools to spy on dissidents and critics.
Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi is known to have used off-the-shelf surveillance equipment to clamp down on opposition leaders.
Privacy International believes UK firms should now be subject to the same strict export licence rules faced by arms manufacturers.
“There is a culture of impunity permeating across the private surveillance market, given that there are no strict export controls on the sale of this technology, as there are on the sale of conventional weapons,” said Matthew Rice, research consultant with Privacy International.
“This market profits off the suffering of people around the world, yet it lacks any sort of effective oversight or accountability.
“This lack of regulation has allowed companies to export surveillance technology to countries that use their newly acquired surveillance capability to spy on human rights activists, journalists and political movements.”
Privacy International hopes the Surveillance Industry Index will give academics, politicians and campaigners a chance to look at the type of surveillance technologies now available in the hope of sparking a debate about improved regulation.
The documents include a brochure from a company called Advanced Middle East Systems (AMES), based in Dubai. It has been offering a device called Cerebro – a DIY system similar to the Tempora programme run by GCHQ – that taps information from fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic.
AMES describes Cerebro as a “core technology designed to monitor and analyse in real time communications … including SMS (texting), GSM (mobile calls), billing data, emails, conversations, webmail, chat sessions and social networks.”
The company brochure makes clear this is done by attaching probes to internet cables. “No co-operation with the providers is required,” it adds.
“Cerebro is designed to store several billions of records – metadata and/or communication contents. At any time the investigators can follow the live activity of their target with advanced targeting criteria (email addresses, phone numbers, key words),” says the brochure.
AMES refused to comment after being contacted by the Guardian, but said it followed similar protocols to other surveillance companies. “We don’t want to interact with the press,” said a spokesman.
Another firm selling similar equipment is VASTech, based in South Africa, which has a system called Zebra. Potential buyers are told it has been designed to help “government security agencies face huge challenges in their combat against crime and terrorism”.
VASTech says Zebra offers “access to high volumes of information generated via telecommunication services for the purposes of analysis and investigation”.
It has been designed to “intercept all content and metadata of voice, SMS, email and fax communications on the connected network, creating a rich repository of information”.
A spokesman for the company said: “VASTech produces products for governmental law enforcement agencies. These products have the primary goal of reducing specifically cross-border crimes such as child pornography, human trafficking, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling, money laundering, corruption and terrorist activities. We compete internationally and openly against several suppliers of similar systems.
“We only supply legal governments, which are not subjected to international sanctions. Should their status change in this regard, we hold the right to withdraw our supplies and support unilaterally.”
Ann McKechin, a Labour member of the arms export control committee, said: “Obviously we are concerned about how our government provides licences, given these new types of technology.
“Software technology is now becoming a very large component of our total exports and how we police it before it gets out of country will become an increasingly difficult question and I think the government has to review its processes to consider whether they are fit for the task.”
She said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has responsibility for granting export licences, had to ensure it has the skills and knowledge to assess new technologies, particularly if they were being sold to “countries of concern”.
“The knowledge of staff which maybe more geared to more traditional types of weaponry,” she added.
A business department spokesperson said: “The government agrees that further regulation is necessary. These products have legitimate uses in defending networks and tracking and disrupting criminals, but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.
“Given the international nature of this problem we believe that an internationally agreed solution will be the most effective response. That is why the UK is leading international efforts to agree export controls on specific technologies of concern.
“We expect to be able to announce real progress in this area in early December.”
What’s on offer
Some companies offer a range of spy equipment that would not look out of place in a James Bond film
Ordinary vans, cars and motorbikes can be customised to offer everything a spy could need. Tiny cameras and microphones are hidden in wing mirrors, headlights and even the makers’ logo. Vehicles can also be fitted with the latest mass surveillance technology, allowing them to intercept, assess and store a range of digital communications from the surrounding area.
The range of objects that can hide high-quality cameras and recording equipment appears almost limitless; from a box of tissues giving a 360-degree view of the room, to a child’s car seat, a brick and a key fob. Remote controls allow cameras to follow targets as they move around a room and have a powerful zoom to give high definition close-ups.
As with cameras recording equipment is getting more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. From cigarette lighters to pens their are limitless ways to listen in on other people’s conversations. One firm offers a special strap microphone that straps to the wearer’s would be spies’ back and records conversations going on directly behind them. According to the brochure: “[This] is ideal because people in a crowd think that someone with their back turned can’t hear their conversation.. Operatives can work much closer to their target.”
Handheld ‘biometric cameras’
This system, made by a UK firm, is currently being used by British forces in Afghanistan to help troops identify potential terrorists. The brochure for the Mobile Biometric Platform says: “Innocent civilian or Insurgent? Not Certain? Our systems are.” It adds: “The MBP is tailored for military use and enables biometric enrolment and identification of finger, face and iris against on board watchlists in real time from live or forensic data.”
Mobile phone locators
It is now possible, from a single laptop computer, to locate where a mobile phone is calling from anywhere in the world, with an accuracy of between 200 metres and a mile. This is not done by attaching probes, and it is not limited to the area where the laptop is working from. The “cross border” system means it is now theoretically possible to locate a mobile phone call from a town abroad from a laptop in London.
What can I tell you? I can be a procrastinator. This post was written last August. Oh well…
Thank you all for enriching my life. This has been a life experience for me. Many things and people have come and gone during the last three years, but the blog remains. Ode to the blog. For those of you wondering if you too should have a blog, the thunderous answer is yes! If you go through the motion it will form itself eventually. Does that make sense?
I have always been fascinated by language. Words have the ability to create something out of thin air merely by depicting it. It’s complicated. I see similar filaments of understanding between what quantum theory is trying to grasp today and what some mystics, notably Siddhartha, have been saying for thousands of years.Oh boy, did I digress here.
OK, as I was saying, I remember the first 20 visitors. I could not believe that my little act of sharing information would instantly connect me with people who had similar interested and views. Then the comments came, and that was just sweet cherry; the blog became interactive.
What have I learned? Besides giving me this incredible program to play with, it has helped me focus on the issues and subjects that are dear to me. I do believe that something big is going on. Something nefarious under it all. We all feel it. We just have different ways of describing it. Also, we have different ways of dealing with the fear and anxiety that permeates our age.
Perhaps there is a syndrome for this condition in psychology. Who cares? But you have to admit that the world can be complex and frightening at times. Anyhow, I am using this anniversary to reflect on what themes are dear to me. I am pretty much eclectic and I find interesting stuff just about everywhere but the following themes seem to fire up my neurons the most.
For me it’s a no-brainer. This pic is right from my window last month. I took similar pics today and erased them because I thought “what’s the point?” They are doing it right now, as I am writing this, without a care of who sees them. I actually see the jets criss-cross the skies between the US and here. If I had a high power lens I could see the face of the pilot. I’d love that. Make him proud. All day. A few times a month. Same old questions: What are they spraying? Who? Why?
This is going to be THE big story soon, We have to wait for the masses to catch on I guess.
I saw this yesterday. I filmed it, but this man’s video is better. Please tell me that this is a normal passenger plane travel route.
Also, for those of you on Facebook, find Globalskywatch
The Sun: Vitamin D and sunshine
This has been a revelation to me. I have healed my body and my soul with the sun many times now. It works. I am awaiting for the proper sun alignment here and I am embarking on a new venture: Sun Eating. I’ll fill you in as I go.
Meditation/ Yoga/ Spiritual discipline:
I vouch for the incredible benefits of a continuous spiritual practice. It absorbs everything in your life, reduces stress, and gives you an inkling of another reality beyond practical rationalism. And you feel good. It’s like slowly going sane (not my words)
Food as medicine:
Once upon a time, when I was a meat eater and unaware that big pharma is not looking out for me, I had to take antacids for stomach pain, pills to sleep, etc. Once I changed my diet towards a plant-based diet, everything changed. The results have been significant; I feel better, I lost weight without even trying. Many little health problems have vanished. Better sleep. Calmer. More aware. I could go on forever, but this is why I am always looking out for articles that address this topic. These days I don’t even take aspirin.
4 special foods/plants for me: Turmeric, Green tea, Ginger, Cannabis, and Coconut oil
Marijuana and Hemp
I must say at this point that I believe that we have won the battle. Now we have to wait for gravity to set in. The prohibitionists are looking lame and hypocritical now that the scientific facts, not opinions, are starting to come out. It’s really a no-brainer.
Marijuana deaths so far (ever)= 0
Deaths by vending machines in North America per year= Hundreds.
Need we say more?
The next step will be for us all to make sure that the usual villains, the greedy soulless corporations, do not succeed in lobbying politicians to create laws that will benefit them. Their modus operandi will be to attempt to create monopolies for themselves. We must always make certain that the laws do not prohibit anyone from growing a few plants in their back yard or basement. That is what freedom is.
Obscene wealth inequality
Weird weather phenomena
Over half the Western world’s population is on some form of legal or illegal drug.
Animals and their rights
We have no right to eat them or use them in any way for our own selfish purposes. Fur is an abomination. Animals have consciousness, not the same as ours but consciousness nevertheless. I’ll stop here.
I have been a UFO searcher since my teens and I have never seen so much activity on the subject. The internet and the way we have turned into a surveillance society are most likely the main culprits behind the huge influx of sightings within the last twenty years or so.
Deep inside, I feel that we are on the verge of being told that extra terrestrials are here, more than one species, and that they have always been here. The great masses are being slowly prepared to accept the ultimate truth. I wish they’d hurry up. We do need help with this planet and the way we are managing it. (It’s a fail) If you look at the world through the kaleidoscopic eyes of the internet, it might make you think that we are insane and we are going to self-annihilate in the near future. These are gloomy times indeed. Anyone care for a dose of Fukushima? Care or not, it does not matter, you have been exposed by its radiation.
No wonder people, including me, reach out for what appears like unscientific theories. Need I remind you that many conspiracies were proven to be true? Including the biggest of it all: A small group of individuals and corporations, owned by these individuals, control just about all the wealth on the planet. This is not a conspiracy. How come no one talks about it anymore?
Thanks you again .
Peace to all of you
With permission and from
On Thursday the Daily Mail described the Guardian as ‘The paper that helps Britain’s enemies’. We showed that article to many of the world’s leading editors. This is what they said
- The Guardian
- , Friday 11 October 2013
In a democracy, the press plays a vital role in informing the public and holding those in power accountable. The NSA has vast intelligence-gathering powers and capabilities and its role in society is an important subject for responsible newsgathering organisations such as the New York Times and the Guardian. A public debate about the proper perimeters for eavesdropping by intelligence agencies is healthy for the public and necessary.
The accurate and in-depth news articles published by the New York Times and the Guardian help inform the public in framing its thinking about these issues and deciding how to balance the need to protect against terrorism and to protect individual privacy. Vigorous news coverage and spirited public debate are both in the public interest. The journalists at the New York Times and the Guardian care deeply about the wellbeing and safety of their fellow citizens in carrying out their role in keeping the public informed.
Jill Abramson, executive editor, the New York Times
The utmost duty of a journalist is to expose abuses and the abuse of power. The global surveillance of digital communication by the NSA and GCHQ is no less than an abuse on a massive scale with consequences that at this point seem completely unpredictable.
It is understandable that the governments of the US and Britain aren’t pleased that journalists, with the assistance of informants within government ranks, are exposing this abuse of power. It is a classic approach for governments to attack media that have the courage to publish such stories with arguments that they threaten national security or that they are supporting an enemy of the state. And it is a tragedy that media outlets aligned with governments are now accusing the journalists uncovering these abuses of “lethal irresponsibility”.
In terms of DER SPIEGEL’s position on this affair: With each story we have published, we have given both the NSA and GCHQ the opportunity to comment prior to publication and to alert us to aspects that could be highly sensitive. The NSA took advantage of this opportunity, GCHQ did not.
The material contains myriad evidence of terrorist investigations. However, for good reason, we have refrained from reporting on these specific operations.
It is the indiscriminate mass surveillance of communications that DER SPIEGEL considers to be a scandal — not the search for terrorists. As we stated, it is the media’s duty in a free society to report on these abuses.
Exposing the intensity with which intelligence agencies conduct surveillance on the Internet does not provide proof that such reporting in any way assists terrorists.
It is common knowledge that security agencies monitor telephones, and yet, terrorists still use them.
What is clear is that the surveillance conducted by the NSA and GCHQ goes far beyond anti-terror measures.
It is for this reason that SPIEGEL and numerous other media outlets around the world will continue to take their duty seriously and report when a security apparatus spins out of control and acts beyond its remit.
During our reporting on the Wikileaks-files I worked very closely with Guardian’s excellent staff. And today, I am even more proud of the cooperation with colleagues who have such a high professional and ethical standard. They stand for freedom of information. And freedom of information is what we need more than ever.
Wolfgang Buechner, editor-in-chief, Der Spiegel
Journalists have only one responsibility: to keep their readers informed and educated about whatever their government is doing on their behalf – and first and foremost on security and intelligence organisations, which by their nature infringe on civil liberties. The Snowden revelations, and their publication by the Guardian, have been a prime example of fearlessly exercising this journalistic responsibility.
In Israel, the media are subject to pre-publication review by a military censor of any news related to security and intelligence. Israeli editors are therefore relieved from the dilemmas faced by our British or American counterparts, who should judge what might harm national security. Nevertheless, we struggle endlessly to push back the walls of government secrecy and concealment and expand the scope of public debate.
Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief, Haaretz
The decision by Edward Snowden to leak to the media an important amount of top-secret documents showing the unprecedented reach of electronic surveillance was a historic event. It has raised major questions on the control of the internet, on the balance between counter-terrorism and civil liberties, on the oversight of intelligence activities by democratic institutions.
The debate is open, and all actors of public life are legitimate participants in it. The heads of intelligence services are entitled to voice their concern at the extent of the leaks, as ordinary citizens are entitled to ask what use is made, by whom and to what purpose, of private data collected from their daily life activities. Editors of media organisations are central to this debate. The Guardian, with whom, among others, Le Monde collaborated in the publication of the WikiLeaks cables, made the right decision to publish the documents released by Snowden. It did so responsibly, acting in the public interest, as we had done with the WikiLeaks documents, and more recently with the “OffshoreLeaks” documents.
Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director, Le Monde, France
When a newspaper prints a story, or a series of stories, such as the Snowden case, the first attacks are always aimed at its editors and publishers. State or homeland security reasons are always claimed.
It happened when The New York Times and The Washington Post printed the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1973, and it happened with WikiLeaks. Now, the object of criticism is the Guardian for having printed Edward Snowden’s revelations. What is sad, baffling and dangerous is that the attacks now come not only from governments but from other newspapers too. In doing so, they are ignoring their first and utmost obligation. The press must serve the citizens and comply with their right to have access to truthful and relevant informations when it comes to public affairs. Newspapers have many duties. Having to protect governments and the powerful from embarrasing situations is not among them.
The Guardian’s work in the Snowden case is an example of great journalism, the kind that changes history and the kind that citizens need more every day, in a world where the powerful are increasingly trying to hide information from their societies. The real danger is not in the so-called “aid to the enemy” denounced by the hypocrites, but in the actions of governments and state agencies that citizens cannot control. To fight it we need newspapers willing to do their job, rather than those ready to cheer on the self-interested deceptions of the powerful.
Javier Moreno, director, El País, Spain
I have just been reading Tim Weiner’s history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, which is heavily based on leaked and declassified government documents. Over and again, one is struck by how poorly Americans’ interests have been served by secrecy – and by the folly, misjudgment, and abuse of power that might have been prevented by public knowledge. One does not have to admire Julian Assange or Edward Snowden to recognise that their revelations, filtered by scrupulous journalists, have served the fundamental democratic interest of knowing what our governments are up to and how they may be abridging our rights.
The authorities seldom rate the public’s right to know very highly. Editors, by contrast, have an excellent record in handling the security concerns related to classified material. The New York Times withheld revelations about the NSA’s wireless wiretapping programme for a full year. Both the Guardian and the New York Times redacted or held back WikiLeaks documents that could have placed lives in danger. The Washington Post has been cautious and selective in publishing the Snowden material. Contra the Daily Mail, our best journalists very much are security experts, often with a better ability to make balanced judgments about disclosure than their security-cleared counterparts. Editors must weigh the potential security harm of public revelation again the certain damage to democratic accountability that comes from a public kept in the dark. It bears noting that in historical terms, the downside of disclosure has been very small, while the cost of secrecy has been enormous.
Jacob Weisberg, chairman the Slate Group
As an editor I am confronted every day with difficult questions about what to publish and what not to. A newspaper comes across documents from all kinds of sources but authenticity is only a necessary but not sufficient condition for disseminating the information these contain.
Sensitive information must pass a twofold test: is publication in the public interest; and will it put lives at risk. Governments and intelligence agencies may have access to more information than the average editor but they do not have a monopoly over the ability to correctly answer these questions.
Well before Edward Snowden came along, the editors of the Hindu have handled classified or sensitive information on a range of sensitive issues. Never has our newspaper behaved irresponsibly with that information. Those attacking the media on the NSA issue wilfully ignore the fact that what the Guardian, the New York Times, the Hindu and other newspapers around the world have published so far are details of snooping that is not even remotely related to fighting terrorism.
Osama bin Laden did not need Edward Snowden’s revelations about Prism to realise the US was listening in to every bit of electronic communication: he had already seceded from the world of telephony and reverted to couriers. But millions of people in the US, the UK, Brazil, India and elsewhere, including national leaders, energy companies and others who are being spied upon for base reasons, were unaware of the fact that their privacy was being compromised.
In the hands of an irresponsible newspaper, the kind of care the Guardian and others who are working from this material are taking may not always prevail. But as Glenn Greenwald said on the BBC, the only people who have been reckless with this material are those who acted irresponsibly in collecting it in the first place: the NSA and GCHQ.
Siddharth Varadarajan, editor the Hindu
It is really striking and bold to accuse journalists of being allies of terrorism simply for performing their professional responsibilities. And it is even more dangerous when, in the name of a “national interest”, censorship and concealing information is sponsored on the ground that journalists are not “security experts” to judge what can and should be published.
Limits are only determined by the editors’ responsibility in a political and legal system that might protect the right to freedom of expression on a democratic basis. The Guardian has already been subjected to procedures that claim to infringe its independence and to intimidate its editors and journalists. This pressure must cease immediately.
Ricardo Kirschbaum, executive editor, Clarin, Argentina
The Snowden affair, one day, will be understood as a historic milestone at which democratic societies began to realize that the political cost of new technologies still needed to be negotiated. Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, one of Germany’s last great intellectuals and certainly not a leftist, sees it as a transition to a post-democratic society. And had the Snowden files not opened our eyes to this transition already, the way how the current debate about these documents unfolds, certainly did.These revelations are not only about secret services, but just as much about all the new social touchpoints of every citizen who is equipped with a smartphone and online access: Who controls and analyses these touchpoints and why? Is it so difficult to understand that in a world in which – according to Eric Schmidt’s concise formulation – the digital self not only mirrors but substitutes our true selves, all these issues become questions of human rights?
President Obama’s Berlin declaration that he would welcome a debate about the right balance between security and freedom gave room for hope. And different from the distant military threats of the Cold War, are we now exposed to threatening systems which seem to function only as long as they are deeply interwoven and are interfering with a civil society’s private communication.
Before Snowden, we knew about this interference only theoretically. Since Snowden, we know about empirically as well.There is no indication whatsoever that those media organisations who reported about the NSA and GCHQ files have endangered our national security. None of the newspapers involved did create artificial drama as would have been customary in the 1980s, just to increase copy sales. None of the newspapers involved has questioned the duty and legitimate need of governments to prevent terrorism. No one has defended the ideology of terrorists or has even hinted at the idea that terrorism suspects should not be screened.
What the newspapers involved did discuss is the integrity of the very democracies that terrorists are trying to destroy. We all can feel and witness each other’s tangible shock and dismay about the complete loss of democratic control over systems and secret services which seemingly feel entitled to decide on their own who is a friend and who is an enemy of our civil societies. We saw Jimmy Carter’s deep concern. We saw how even an influential and staunchly conservative security expert such as Germany’s Hans-Peter Uhl of the Bavarian CSU party defined the NSA files as a “wake-up call” that was hinting at a dangerous merger of private industries and secret services. If a conservative security expert like Germany’s Hans-Peter Uhl ventures into such territory, we should realize that this affair is about much more than only a few powerpoint presentations. Publishing the Snowden files has by no means been an attack on our freedom and security, but a crucial prerequisite for freedom to exist in the future.
Frank Schirrmacher, publisher, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany
There is a superficial appeal in the argument that intelligence “professionals” know better than editors what information must be suppressed, even if it has already escaped their control. Particularly in this time of terror, much of the public is impressed by that argument and so are American attorneys and judges, causing David Rudenstine of Cardozo Law School to name this the “age of deference.”
Such deference was evident also when the Pentagon Papers case reached our Supreme Court. The Chief Justice compared the papers to the “White House silver,” which, had it come into our possession we would have surely returned. Other justices felt that even if the Constitution prevented our being censored, we deserved to be prosecuted under Espionage statutes for aiding the enemy.
Arrogant though it sounds, the fact is that experienced editors and correspondents who deal daily in the subject matter of “national security” know better than most judges and prosecutors whether a given piece of information could seriously threaten lives or damage national defence. Moreover, if in doubt, we have usually asked officials to demonstrate the danger of publication and in a minority of cases accepted their argument. But we have demanded persuasive argument that distinguishes between a genuine threat and mere bureaucratic embarrassment or inconvenience.
Why, ultimately, does experience argue almost always in favour of publication? Because a secret once lost by government, even if important, cannot be “returned”. It can fly across the globe in an instant and even if momentarily suppressed, it must inform all those who have learned it as they in turn inform others. Even more persuasive is the reality that neither officials nor journalists can ever be sure of the consequences of publication: facts once distributed, like seeds in a garden, acquire a life of their own with consequences that can be salutary, malignant, both, or neither. So while intelligence agents perceive a professional duty to cloak all their deeds and knowledge, it is a newspaper’s duty to publish what it learns without presuming to predict a good or ill result. The tension thus created is probably the only tolerable way to proceed.
Max Frankel, former executive editor, The New York Times
Journalists have not only the right but a responsibility to challenge government – its behaviour, its reasoning and its assertion of fact. There will always be times when an editor has to rely on his own judgment in making decisions about what to publish and weighing the implications. Editors know these can be profoundly important decisions and they should listen with care to arguments from all sides, including government. Experience has taught scepticism.
Official secrecy doesn’t just cloak the national-security state; it hides everything from bureaucratic bungling and politicians’ peccadillos to catastrophically bad policy. Officials can be just as aggressive in discouraging journalists from ferreting out mismanagement and waste as they often are in trying to block sensitive national security stories. That shouldn’t keep editors from thoughtfully considering officials’ arguments and at times being persuaded to hold something back. But there is inherent, inevitable and – in the US, anyway – by-design tension between government and a free press that reflects the institutions’ different functions. A responsible editor’s bias must be towards publication and an informed public debate. Without sight of the facts, how can a democracy chart its course?
Marcus Brauchli, vice-president, Washington Post Company
It is journalism’s most noble duty to write about and to describe what exists in our world. Our second duty is to add context to and to comment and to evaluate that which exists in our world. If it is a journalist’s duty, however, to describe what exists, then this inherently implies the duty to write about those things and events about which certain humans and institutions do not want us to write about. This tends to be case whenever journalists write about the activities of secret services and it was the case during these last weeks when The Guardian, the New York Times or Süddeutsche Zeitung have written about the British secret services, most especially about GCHQ.
No secret service likes it when its methods are being discussed openly, which is understandable as long as a secret service focuses on its core duties, such as the surveillance of terror suspects. Once a secret service starts behaving like an octopus, though, with its tentacles reaching all across everyone’s life and putting whole societies under collective suspicion with everyone falling victim to total surveillance, then the societal contract has been broken. There is no justification for such violation. Yet it is fully justifies that journalists reveal such unlawful state action. This is what the Guardian has done. Nothing else.
To claim that the Guardian had shown “deadly irresponsibility” or that it was “helping the enemies” of the UK has no foundation and is appalling. To publish such claims means to slander those who consistently and carefully fulfill their journalistic duty to society.
Wolfgang Krach, deputy editor in chief, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany
The accusations of “irresponsibility” that The Daily Mail addressed to the Guardian sound familiar to my ears. La Repubblica repeatedly received this kind of allegations too, after the numerous investigative reportings that we published to reveal Silvio Berlusconi’s network of corruption, abuse of power and manipulations during the many years in which he was at the head of the Italian government. We have been accused too of publishing documents, official wiretappings and revelations that – according to Silvio Berlusconi and his supporters – should have been kept secret, confidential, hidden. But the role of a free press in a democratic country is to be the guardians – not the spokesmen – of power. Media is part of the check and balances system of an healthy democracy and they would betray their duty if they only reported what the power considers legitimate to reveal to the public opinion.
A responsible press knows the difference between to always publish everything, and to choose, select and verify the news before publishing them. This is what we did at La Repubblica and what the Guardian does. From the Washington Post with the Watergate case to the New York Times with the Pentagon Papers, the history of journalism is full of revelations that, according to the people in power, should have been kept secret, but later it has become clear that to publish them was a service to democracy, not a “lethally irresponsible” act. After all our newspaper, as the media of many other countries, reported the Guardian’s revelations. The Guardian is certainly not alone in this battle for the freedom of the press. A newspaper answers to public opinion, not to the government.
Ezio Mauro, editor-in-chief, La Repubblica, Italy
Intelligence agencies in the United States and elsewhere have acquired enormous capacity to monitor the communications of their countries’ citizens, residents, and those who live elsewhere. While the purpose is counterterrorism and other foreign intelligence, surveillance of such massive scale has sharply eroded the privacy that many citizens feel they are entitled to enjoy in a democracy that respects individual liberties.
Citizens in a democracy are given the right to decide for themselves how to strike the proper balance between privacy and national security. They cannot do so, however, unless they know what their government is doing. A highly intrusive surveillance apparatus has been built without public knowledge and public debate.
President Obama has said the current debate over the tradeoff between security and civil liberties is “healthy for our democracy”. There would have been no public debate had there been no disclosure. Media organisations like ours consult closely with intelligence agencies in an effort to safeguard sources, methods, and lives, even as we seek to fulfill a central journalistic mission: bringing transparency to a government that wields enormous power.
Martin Baron, executive editor, the Washington Post, US
In its reporting on the NSA stories, the Guardian has played a vital role in the global debate on how society in practice weighs freedom of speech and thought versus our common need for security.
Truths are at times inconvenient, but inconvenient truths are at times of the highest importance. This is such a case, and we strongly support The Guardians decision to publish these stories.
Hilde Haugsgjerd, editor-in-chief, Aftenposten, Norway
Back in 2006, Dean Baquet (who was then the editor of the Los Angeles Times and is now managing editor of The New York Times) and I (who was then executive editor of the New York Times) published a joint statement in our two newspapers addressing what was by then already a very old controversy: when is it acceptable for news organizations to publish secrets? We explained that these are excruciating choices made with great care, that as particular beneficiaries of democratic freedoms we take dangers to national security very seriously indeed, that responsible editors often (though for obvious reasons without fanfare) withhold information when we are convinced it could put lives at risk. The text is here.
In that piece, we quoted Robert G. Kaiser of The Washington Post, as follows: “You may have been shocked by these revelations, or not at all disturbed by them, but would you have preferred not to know them at all? If a war is being waged in America’s name, shouldn’t Americans understand how it is being waged?”
And that’s the question I would pose to citizens of free societies, and in particular to editors who join governments in denouncing the careful publication of secrets: which of the recent stories would you prefer not to know? Would you prefer not to be told how questionable intelligence led the United States and its allies into a misbegotten war in Iraq? Would you prefer to be ignorant of the existence of secret prisons, and the practice of torture? Would you really rather not know the extent of eavesdropping by governments or private contractors, and the safeguards or lack of safeguards against abuses of these powers? Democracy rests on the informed consent of the governed. Editors’ highest responsibility is to assure that it is as informed as possible.
Bill Keller, former executive editor, the New York Times
The attacks against the Guardian by both the government and representatives of the British press are unacceptable. What the Guardian is doing is both brave and important for our democracies. We fully support the paper.
Peter Wolodarski, editor-in-chief, Dagens Nyheter, Sweden
The freedom of the press is so precious that it cannot be restricted or compromised by the accusation of complicity with ‘the enemies’. This does not, of course, mean that newspapers can say whatever they want without any kind of control or any kind of responsibility. But from what I understand, the Guardian has carefully scrutinised the documents they received. This is important. In Italy we were very impressed with the time the Guardian took to publish these documents. It meant that you checked and scrutinised them. You cannot be accused of acting simply as a kind of post box. You received a lot of material and then you decided what was fit to print and what wasn’t.
In short, a judgement was made, and this cannot be underestimated.
I believe that this is the role of journalism in our society- to decide what is important- what is valid- for the public interest. Now, I can disagree perhaps with some documents you have published or some opinions that you have expressed but I cannot disagree with your freedom to do journalism. And journalism means taking on the responsibility of deciding what is important for the public interest. This is what newspaper editors have to decide. This role cannot be given to the government or the secret services.
Mario Calabresi, editor, La Stampa, Italy
The position of Neue Zürcher Zeitung on publishing sensitive material is always based on journalistic, ethical and legal considerations. We do not accept intervention by third parties – neither private nor by the government. We consider public interest higher than state interest as a principle, however, and respect our responsibility to safeguard professionalism in investigation, analysis and judgment – based on our core values as a quality brand.
It is clear that MI5 has by logic another agenda than the Guardian. In a functioning democracy, however, both sides are entitled to do their jobs within the framework of legality and their professional duties.
Markus Spillmann, editor-in-chief, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland
As journalists, we are responsible towards society, not towards state institutions. This differentiation is essential for the work of an independent press. A diverse media landscape and freedom of speech are constitutive elements of democracy.
Edward Snowden’s revelations serve to educate society about transgressions by the government and potential abuse of power. To withhold such information would be a betrayal of a free press and would destroy its credibility.
The protection of privacy is an element of human dignity and has been defined as such in the universal declaration of human rights in 1948. Since only a few decades, the policies of human rights are beginning to bear fruit. To a good extent, this positive development has been made possible also through our work, the work of a free press.
Stephan-Andreas Casdorff and Lorenz Maroldt, editors- in-chief, Tagesspiegel, Germany
It is with abhorrence that we have read today’s editorial in the Daily Mail attacking the Guardian’s coverage of Edward Snowden’s revelations and accusing its competitor of “aiding Britain’s enemies”. It effectively amounts to the accusation of treason.
We fully support the Guardian’s relentless disclosures of secret services’ abuses of power and widespread spying on citizens, domestically as well as abroad. For many months now, the Guardian has been subject to unprecedented pressure by the British government, in order to discourage its reporters and editors from pursuing such stories. We are convinced that, in this case, the national security argument is largely overused; since the revealed massive surveillance of people cannot be justified by the war on terror.
Piotr Stasinski, deputy editor-in-chief, Gazeta Wyborcza
In October 1962 German authorities arrested journalists from the newsmagazine Der Spiegel, including its founder and publisher Rudolf Augstein. After having published a cover story on the sorry state of the German armed forces – “Partially ready to defend” – they were accused of treason. Spiegel offices were closed. Augstein remained in custody for 103 days.
The so called “Spiegel Affair” became a cornerstone in recent German history. It changed the country. The public – and the courts – defended the principle of freedom of information and its importance for a democratic society.
And as of today fortunately German authorities have learned their lesson. Nobody would try to force German journalists to destroy computers in the basement. I follow the events in Great Britain with great concern. I was engaged in dealing with intelligence issues, secret documents for more than 20 years. I know how difficult it can be to make decisions about the publication of relevant information – and sometimes, in a very few cases, to take the decision to withhold information from publication. To uncover the (dirty) secrets of governments is an essential part of good journalism. Do journalists have to publish all and every secret? No. Journalists and editors need to weigh arguments. Journalists and editors have responsibility of their own. I am confident that journalists take this responsibility seriously.
Should we tell the names of sources, if their life might be endangered by being made public? No. Should we warn suspects, if we know, that authorities are after them? No. Should we report about the threat for our freedom being caused by he worldwide surveillance by intelligence services, the GCHQ or the NSA? We absolutely must.
Georg Mascolo, former editor-in-chief, Der Spiegel, Germany
In an era of big data and big surveillance, we need a public and global debate on the borderlines between national security concern and democratic transparency. By publishing stories about the Snowden revelations, the Guardian has made a significant contribution to this important debate. Citizens all over the world must ask themselves if democracies risk being harmed more than defended by a surveillance that is not only secret to the broader public but also seems to be out of democratic control. It is essential that the press engage in this debate and provides documentation to inform it.
Bo Lidegaard, executive editor-in-chief, Politiken, Denmark
Governments lie and keep secrets for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it is to protect the public. Sometimes it is to protect the politicians and the officials who do their bidding, even when what’s being covered up is morally bankrupt or outright criminal. It happens again and again and again. Yes, governments need to keep some secrets. But secrecy takes hold as a value in itself, with corrosive effects. In western democracies, transparency is essential to secure the consent of the governed.
The Daily Mail apparently has absolute faith in the integrity and competence of its government on national security matters, despite the ample lessons of history. The Mail has a right to be the government’s toady. We’ll look elsewhere for actual journalism, which we still need.
Dan Gillmor, founding director, Knight Centre for Digital Media Entrepreneurship
Edward Snowden’s release of an unprecedented mass of classified material on the NSA’s and GCHQ’s mass surveillance programmes and technologies, and their publication by the Guardian, have triggered a lively and important debate round the world, including in India – a country that is directly affected by this surveillance. The debate is essentially about the limits of surveillance carried out amid whole populations, domestic and external, by intelligence agencies in the name of the global war against terrorism. It raises urgent questions about accountability, and the absence of adequate lawful oversight over the mass surveillance programmes.
As a former editor with some experience in investigating and exposing corruption and misconduct that the Indian state was determined to keep secret in the name of national security, I have the greatest admiration for the way the Guardian has handled the Snowden leaks. The moral courage, professional diligence, social responsibility, and editorial excellence that has gone into making this challenging mass of material, including technical information, accessible to general readers are in the finest traditions of public-spirited and impactful investigative journalism.
I am not surprised by the attacks, considering the level of importance, the magnitude, and the ongoing nature of the leaks. But for journalists to suggest that editors of newspapers, not being experts on security matters, are unfit to make decisions on publishing confidential material and must leave the whole field of surveillance and security to the state to handle as it thinks fit, under an impenetrable veil of secrecy, sounds to me like the worst kind of intellectual philistinism.
N. Ram, former editor-in-chief, the Hindu
The best way for government officials to avoid answering in public to embarrassing or illegal conduct is not to engage in it. Indeed, the free press has been the most reliable check on government officials lying to their constituents and violating their rights in the modern political era, at least since the Pentagon Papers revealed the deep deceit in American conduct in the war in Vietnam.
The free and responsible American and English press also have an appropriate tradition of taking seriously their governments’ concerns over physical safety and national security, which in some cases have themselves turned out to be overstated and deceptive.
Editors, government officials and citizens share an interest in ensuring that this important democratic tradition continues into a new media era shaped on one side by new access to undigested information and on the other by encroaching government controls. Readers and sources should expect that when a reporter learns of government misconduct, the default should be to inform the public, not to protect the government.
Ben Smith, editor-in-chief, Buzzfeed
Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinions, even if they are utterly absurd. A journalist calling the well documented and carefully researched exposure of serious governmental wrong-doing a “lethal irresponsibility”, of course, is such an absurdity: a professional forgetting the very purpose of his profession.
The Guardian did what newspapers were invented to do: to make well-reasoned editorial judgements – in this case to reveal an abuse of power by American and British intelligence agencies on a scale which most people would have regarded unthinkable.
In my 28 years as a journalist, I cannot think of a single topic that would have been more justified being debated publicly in a democratic society than Edward Snowden’s, Glenn Greenwald’s and the Guardian’s revelations of these last few months. The former editor of the New York Times once said, it’s not their primary task to deliver news but to provide judgement. The Guardian provided both and did it brilliantly.
Armin Wolf, deputy editor-in-chief, ORF-TV, Austria
October 06, 2013
Two million analysts are employed by China’s state and commercial clients to monitor people’s opinions posted on social networks, state media reported. Considered a means of feedback, some such analysts report to China’s leaders daily.
According to Beijing News, the job of those collecting and reporting on views and attitudes of people on social networks has recently been officially recognized as “internet opinion analyst.”
Despite the seemingly overwhelming number of these experts, they apparently remain in great demand in China, with open analyst training courses taking place in mid-October.
The job role of one such internet opinion analyst, Tang Xiaotao, was described by Beijing News.
Tang works with special “web crawling” software by entering keywords set by the “customer.” He particularly looks for any “negative public opinion” and reports any such opinion to the decision-maker at the office.
He believes the institutions should not hide or ignore public opinion, but should instead use it to actively identify and solve the problems.
Tang said the analysts do not delete any posts, describing such tactics as ineffective because the original message is often replicated by sharing and caching.
The daily goes on to describe several cases of the effective management of web-exposed scandals involving local politicians and police by “calming down” the internet users’ opinion with quick investigation, sacking the responsible public figures, and using thorough online reporting.
However, it also gives a glimpse of Chinese government involvement in such opinion analytics programs.
Tang, who works in an unspecified company, says he and his counterparts receive some sort of a government list, sometimes coming directly from the party leaders, asking to report on the “division of public opinion” on certain issues.
Meanwhile, Yan Ming, director of the Network Information Center of Henan province, detailed the types of reports he presents to the “country’s leaders.”
Yan directly reports on public opinion to the government by means of daily text messages and daily printed reports, as well as larger weekly reports. Those can consist of more than 20 pages, he revealed.
According to Shan Xuegang, deputy general secretary of the Online Public Opinion Monitoring and Analysis Center operated by state newswire Xinhua, the software used by Chinese analysts has become very sophisticated, with thousands of processors filtering the information from both local and foreign websites.
This is far cry from using Google, Baidu, and other search engines previously used by Chinese web analysts, he added.
7 September 2013
British scientists have developed a computer program they say can map the mood of the nation using Twitter.
Named Emotive, it works by accessing the emotional content of postings on the social networking site.
The team, from Loughborough University, say it can scan up to 2,000 tweets a second and rate them for expressions of one of eight human emotions.
They claim Emotive could help calm civil unrest and identify early threats to public safety.
More than 500 million people across the world use Twitter, and more than 340 million tweets are posted daily.
The team, from the university’s new Centre for Information Management, say the system can extract a direct expression of anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion from each tweet.
The academics said that using the Emotive software to geographically evaluate any mass mood could help police to track potential criminal behaviour or threats to public safety.
It may be able to guide national policy on the best way to react to major incidents, they added.
‘Sadness and disgust’
Prof Tom Jackson, who led the research team, said that public postings through social media gave a very accurate real-time record of how and what people were feeling.
“For any incident we can view how reactions grow and diminish over time”
Dr Ann O’Brien Loughborough University
“Following the murder of solider Lee Rigby in Woolwich there was an outpouring of sadness and disgust through Twitter,” he said.
“Across the country people expressed their emotions at this unprovoked attack, with some using the incident to incite racial hatred against Muslims.
“Two days after his murder his family appealed for calm, stating that their son would not have wanted his name to be used as an excuse to carry out attacks against others.
“This appeal had an almost immediate effect, leading to an outpour of positive sentiment.”
Prof Jackson added: “Twitter is a very concise platform through which users express how they feel about a particular event, be that a criminal act, a new government policy or even a change in the weather.
“Through the computer program we have created we can collate these expressions of feelings in real time, map them geographically and track how they develop.”
Dr Ann O’Brien, who was part of the team that created the study for emotions used by the programme, said it could chart the strength of feeling expressed in both ordinary language and in slang.
“For any incident we can view how reactions grow and diminish over time,” she said.
The system is currently only being used to analyse tweets in the UK, but the researchers said it could easily be scaled up to monitor tweets globally.
By JG Vibes
September 18, 2013
New research shows Facebook has lost a total of 11 million users, nine million in the US and two million in Britain. Researchers at the University of Vienna analyzed 600 users and found they quit for reasons like privacy concerns, general dissatisfaction, shallow conversations and fear of becoming addicted, Alalam reported.
Facebook developed a following because it allowed people to connect with friends more easily, and due to these increased capabilities they became the dominant social network on the internet.
Over the years Facebook has become one of the most popular websites in the world, and recently the company has been taking advantage of their social network dominance.
The newest controversies surrounding Facebook have been the intentional censorship of activist profiles and the “promotional posts” scam which has cut off every single Facebook user from a vast majority of their posts.
Since these changes silently went into effect a few months ago, every single Facebook user can now only see a fraction of the stories which should be in their news feed.
For artists, activists and people with websites, there is now an option for them to promote their posts for a ridiculous fee and have more of their fans see their posts.
Many Facebook users don’t even realize that this is happening because unless you’re using the site for promotional purposes you don’t really notice.
Also, for years there have been so many rumors about Facebook charging that now when activists try to tell people about these new changes, it has turned into a “boy cried wolf scenario” and no one pays attention.
In addition to this monetizing scam there has also been an increase in censorship.
If we wanted to fight a losing battle we could protest Facebook, and try to get them to change their polices. However, that doesn’t really seem like it would be effective, and it hasn’t been effective in the past.
What actually needs to take place is the same sort of exodus that we saw from MySpace to Facebook, and in order for that exodus to take place we are going to need a more appealing social network for people to migrate to.
There are already some newer social networks popping up, but it doesn’t seem like any of them can compete with Facebook, at least not yet anyway.
I know that there are masses of hackers out there that are way more intelligent than Mark Zuckerberg, and they can work together to create a decentralized, open source social network that blows Facebook completely out of the water.
So what do you say guys? Is the challenge accepted?
 11m users abandon Facebook on privacy concerns – alalam
How do you pick up a malicious online virus, the kind of malware that snoops on your data and taps your bank account? Often, it’s through simple things you do each day without thinking twice. James Lyne reminds us that it’s not only the NSA that’s watching us, but ever-more-sophisticated cybercriminals, who exploit both weak code and trusting human nature.
Whether he’s taking on insecure hotspots, inept passwords, or lax OS designers, James Lyne exposes technology’s vulnerabilities while elevating the security awareness of everyday users.
- 6 basic tips for better online security, from TED speaker James Lyne (ted.com)
- Security expert warns Scots over unsecured wifi (scotsman.com)
- Man cycles around Edinburgh trying to hack into wireless networks (news.stv.tv)
Authorities target ‘wanton defamation’ by social media critics by bringing in even stricter controls
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 17 September 2013
An influential Communist party journal has compared online rumours to Cultural Revolution-style denunciations and warned of the need to curb “wanton defamation” of authority, as China intensifies its campaign to control social media.
It came as the Chinese state broadcaster aired video footage of the handcuffed businessman Xue Manzi, also known as Charles Xue, confessing that he had irresponsibly spread rumours because his 12 million microblog followers made him feel like an “emperor”.
While China has repeatedly attempted to rein in the country’s boisterous social media, a leading internet activist described the wide-ranging crackdown on dissent as unprecedented.
“In their eyes, the internet is out of control now and it has become a tool to reduce their political base, and subvert the ideology of the government,” said Wen Yunchao. “This campaign includes the crackdown on ‘big Vs’ [verified microblog users with many followers] and inner rectification [of the Communist party]. It is a brutal and astute plan … At present, people do not talk.”
Others have raised concerns about increased pressure on academia and the detention of activists, including legal scholar Xu Zhiyong.
The Communist party’s top theoretical journal – Qiushi, or Seeking Truth – warned that some were using internet freedoms “to engage in wanton defamation, attacking the party and the government …The internet is full of all kinds of negative news and critical voices saying the government only does bad things and everything it says is wrong.”
It compared online rumours to “big character posters”, the handwritten denunciations of people and institutions mostly associated with the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966. The appearance of the posters was often the prelude to more vicious persecution.
Websites and social media have become an essential forum for discussion and the spread of information, despite censorship, because the restrictions on other media are still stricter.
But authorities have signalled they are increasing controls and targeting popular users by issuing a judicial decision that internet users could face three years in jail if they share rumours that are viewed more than 5,000 times or forwarded more than 500 times.
Chen Ziming, an independent Beijing-based scholar, said that normally in China one spoke of “killing chickens to scare the monkeys” – sending a warning to people by punishing lowlier folk.
“This time they have killed a few monkeys, such as Xue Manzi, to try to terrify the chickens,” he said.
Police arrested Xue last month for soliciting prostitutes for group sex, but supporters believed it was retaliation for his outspokenness.
On Saturday, the English-language edition of the state-run Global Times newspaper accused critics of seeking to portray any liberals who faced court as victims of “political persecution”, adding: “Even the prostitution scandal of Chinese-American investor Charles Xue has been seen by them as an ‘official crackdown on freedom of speech’.”
Only one day later Xue appeared – of his own volition, news anchors announced – on a major news bulletin, to talk about online responsibility. He told viewers: “Freedom of speech cannot override the law.”
The news programme cut between pictures of the venture capitalist in happier times, beaming from a magazine cover, and the image of him in handcuffs and a green detainee’s uniform, with a scruffy beard and unkempt hair.
Last week, another prominent businessman known for his bold online comments – property tycoon Pan Shiyi – appeared on television news to stress that internet users should be socially responsible. Viewers were as struck by the normally fluent entrepreneur’s marked stutter as his remarks, and he subsequently commented on his nervousness about the interview.
Zhang Lifan, a well-known historian, predicted that controls, while effective in the short term, risked backfiring as authorities lost touch with public opinion.
“If someone is speaking, a certain security remains; if everyone remains silent, then when the volcano erupts, no one can control it. This is what the rulers don’t understand. They force the critics to be opponents,” he said.
Wu Qiang, a political scientist at Tsinghua University, said the tightening of controls on civil society began before Xi Jinping became leader, under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.
But he added: “The government has a strong sense of insecurity because they see Xu Zhiyong and Wang Gongquan, mild dissidents, as the growth of political opposition. Also, the internal political struggles didn’t stop after the handover [of power to new leaders], but are developing … The third plenum is coming, and they need to avoid letting anything affect the internal struggles.”
The event carries symbolic weight because Deng Xiaoping used a third plenum in 1978 to establish his vision of economic reform and opening.
Sept. 5 2013
It’s now a given that the NSA works to grab data from sites like Facebook—but what about the stuff that’s explicitly private, the websites guaranteed to be protected and secure? The New York Times reports that American spies have been decoding our scrambled online acts for years.
Aside from data-siphoning programs like PRISM and on-demand requests for personal profiles, the basic technology that prevents someone from eavesdropping on your internet banking or password-protected emails is compromised—that little padlock icon you see in your web browser, smashed to virtual bits.
A driver has confessed in a video posted online that he’s to blame for a wrong-way car crash stemming from a night of heavy drinking that killed another man and says he’s willing to take “full responsibility.”
The 3.5-minute video, posted on at least two websites on Tuesday, shows 22-year-old Matthew Cordle describing what led to the accident in which he killed the man three months ago.
“My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani,” he says sombrely. “This video will act as my confession.”
Cordle says in the video he “made a mistake” when he decided to drive his truck home after “drinking really heavily” and hit the other car, killing the 61-year-old Canzani.
The video begins with Cordle’s face blurred as he describes how he has struggled with depression and was simply trying to have a good time with friends going “from bar to bar” the night of the accident. He then describes how he ended up driving into oncoming traffic on a highway.
Cordle’s face becomes clear as he reveals his name and confesses to killing Canzani.
“When I get charged I’ll plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family,” Cordle says.
Later, he says he understands that by releasing the video he’s giving prosecutors “everything they need to put me away for a very long time.”
Prosecutor Ron O’Brien on Thursday said Cordle was a suspect in the deadly crash but hadn’t been charged. O’Brien said he saw the video on Wednesday and downloaded a copy onto a CD as evidence. He said he’ll ask a grand jury to indict Cordle for aggravated vehicular homicide with an alcohol specification, a charge that carries a maximum of eight years in prison upon conviction.
O’Brien said Cordle’s blood sample from the night of the crash tested positive for alcohol and negative for drugs.
Defense attorney George Breitmayer III said the video “is a strong testament” to Cordle’s character. He said Cordle intends to cooperate with prosecutors.
Police in June said Canzani,, died at the scene after his Jeep was struck.
Cordle ends the video confession by “begging” viewers to not drink and drive.
Friday 6 September 2013
US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
This story has been reported in partnership between the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica based on documents obtained by the Guardian.
For the Guardian: James Ball, Julian Borger, Glenn Greenwald
- For the New York Times: Nicole Perlroth, Scott ShaneFor ProPublica: Jeff LarsonRead the New York Times story here
The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.
The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – “the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet”.
Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to breakencryption with “brute force”, and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.
Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities – known as backdoors or trapdoors – into commercial encryption software.
The files, from both the NSA and GCHQ, were obtained by the Guardian, and the details are being published today in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica. They reveal:
• A 10-year NSA program against encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010 which made “vast amounts” of data collected through internet cable taps newly “exploitable”.
• The NSA spends $250m a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to “covertly influence” their product designs.
• The secrecy of their capabilities against encryption is closely guarded, with analysts warned: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods.”
• The NSA describes strong decryption programs as the “price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”.
• A GCHQ team has been working to develop ways into encrypted traffic on the “big four” service providers, named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
The agencies insist that the ability to defeatencryption is vital to their core missions of counter-terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering.
But security experts accused them of attacking the internet itself and the privacy of all users. “Cryptography forms the basis for trust online,” said Bruce Schneier, an encryption specialist and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “By deliberately undermining online security in a short-sighted effort to eavesdrop, the NSA is undermining the very fabric of the internet.” Classified briefings between the agencies celebrate their success at “defeating network security and privacy”.
“For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used internet encryption technologies,” stated a 2010 GCHQ document. “Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”
An internal agency memo noted that among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA‘s progress: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”
The breakthrough, which was not described in detail in the documents, meant the intelligence agencies were able to monitor “large amounts” of data flowing through the world’s fibre-optic cables and break its encryption, despite assurances from internet company executives that this data was beyond the reach of government.
The key component of the NSA‘s battle against encryption, its collaboration with technology companies, is detailed in the US intelligence community’s top-secret 2013 budget request under the heading “Sigint [signals intelligence] enabling”.
Funding for the program – $254.9m for this year – dwarfs that of the Prism program, which operates at a cost of $20m a year, according to previous NSA documents. Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800m. The program “actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs”, the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.
Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.
“These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through Sigint collection … with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems’ security remains intact.”
The document sets out in clear terms the program’s broad aims, including making commercial encryption software “more tractable” to NSA attacks by “shaping” the worldwide marketplace and continuing efforts to break into the encryption used by the next generation of 4G phones.
Among the specific accomplishments for 2013, the NSA expects the program to obtain access to “data flowing through a hub for a major communications provider” and to a “major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system”.
Technology companies maintain that they work with the intelligence agencies only when legally compelled to do so. The Guardian has previously reported that Microsoft co-operated with the NSA to circumvent encryption on the Outlook.com email and chat services. The company insisted that it was obliged to comply with “existing or future lawful demands” when designing its products.
The documents show that the agency has already achieved another of the goals laid out in the budget request: to influence the international standards upon which encryption systems rely.
Independent security experts have long suspected that the NSA has been introducing weaknesses into security standards, a fact confirmed for the first time by another secret document. It shows the agency worked covertly to get its own version of a draft security standard issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology approved for worldwide use in 2006.
“Eventually, NSA became the sole editor,” the document states.
The NSA‘s codeword for its decryption program, Bullrun, is taken from a major battle of the American civil war. Its British counterpart, Edgehill, is named after the first major engagement of the English civil war, more than 200 years earlier.
A classification guide for NSA employees and contractors on Bullrun outlines in broad terms its goals.
“Project Bullrun deals with NSA‘s abilities to defeat the encryption used in specific network communication technologies. Bullrun involves multiple sources, all of which are extremely sensitive.” The document reveals that the agency has capabilities against widely used online protocols, such as HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), used to protect online shopping and banking.
The document also shows that the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, ostensibly the body through which technology companies can have their security products assessed and presented to prospective government buyers, has another, more clandestine role.
It is used by the NSA to “to leverage sensitive, co-operative relationships with specific industry partners” to insert vulnerabilities into security products. Operatives were warned that this information must be kept top secret “at a minimum”.
A more general NSA classification guide reveals more detail on the agency’s deep partnerships with industry, and its ability to modify products. It cautions analysts that two facts must remain top secret: that NSA makes modifications to commercial encryption software and devices “to make them exploitable”, and that NSA “obtains cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships”.
The agencies have not yet cracked all encryption technologies, however, the documents suggest. Snowden appeared to confirm this during a live Q&A with Guardian readers in June. “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,” he said before warning that NSA can frequently find ways around it as a result of weak security on the computers at either end of the communication.
The documents are scattered with warnings over the importance of maintaining absolute secrecy around decryption capabilities.
Strict guidelines were laid down at the GCHQ complex in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on how to discuss projects relating to decryption. Analysts were instructed: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods underpinning Bullrun.” This information was so closely guarded, according to one document, that even those with access to aspects of the program were warned: “There will be no ‘need to know’.”
The agencies were supposed to be “selective in which contractors are given exposure to this information”, but it was ultimately seen by Snowden, one of 850,000 people in the US with top-secret clearance.A 2009 GCHQ document spells out the significant potential consequences of any leaks, including “damage to industry relationships”.
“Loss of confidence in our ability to adhere to confidentiality agreements would lead to loss of access to proprietary information that can save time when developing new capability,” intelligence workers were told. Somewhat less important to GCHQ was the public’s trust which was marked as a moderate risk, the document stated.
“Some exploitable products are used by the general public; some exploitable weaknesses are well known eg possibility of recovering poorly chosen passwords,” it said. “Knowledge that GCHQ exploits these products and the scale of our capability would raise public awareness generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters.”
The decryption effort is particularly important to GCHQ. Its strategic advantage from its Tempora program – direct taps on transatlantic fibre-optic cables of major telecommunications corporations – was in danger of eroding as more and more big internet companies encrypted their traffic, responding to customer demands for guaranteed privacy.
Without attention, the 2010 GCHQ document warned, the UK’s “Sigint utility will degrade as information flows changes, new applications are developed (and deployed) at pace and widespread encryption becomes more commonplace.” Documents show that Edgehill’s initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) – used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major internet companies, and 300VPNs.
Another program, codenamed Cheesy Name, was aimed at singling out encryption keys, known as ‘certificates’, that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.
Analysts on the Edgehill project were working on ways into the networks of major webmail providers as part of the decryption project. A quarterly update from 2012 notes the project’s team “continue to work on understanding” the big four communication providers, named in the document as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook, adding “work has predominantly been focused this quarter on Google due to new access opportunities being developed”.
To help secure an insider advantage, GCHQ also established a Humint Operations Team (HOT). Humint, short for “human intelligence” refers to information gleaned directly from sources or undercover agents.
This GCHQ team was, according to an internal document, “responsible for identifying, recruiting and running covert agents in the global telecommunications industry.”
“This enables GCHQ to tackle some of its most challenging targets,” the report said. The efforts made by the NSA and GCHQ against encryption technologies may have negative consequences for all internet users, experts warn.
“Backdoors are fundamentally in conflict with good security,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Backdoors expose all users of a backdoored system, not just intelligence agency targets, to heightened risk of data compromise.” This is because the insertion of backdoors in a software product, particularly those that can be used to obtain unencrypted user communications or data, significantly increases the difficulty of designing a secure product.”
This was a view echoed in a recent paper by Stephanie Pell, a former prosecutor at the US Department of Justice and non-resident fellow at the Center for Internet and Security at Stanford Law School.
“[An] encrypted communications system with a lawful interception back door is far more likely to result in the catastrophic loss of communications confidentiality than a system that never has access to the unencrypted communications of its users,” she states.
Intelligence officials asked the Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica not to publish this article, saying that it might prompt foreign targets to switch to new forms of encryption or communications that would be harder to collect or read.
The three organisations removed some specific facts but decided to publish the story because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful tools for protecting the privacy of internet users in the US and worldwide.
- Report: US cracked most online encryption (aljazeera.com)
August 16, 2013
For a very brief few minutes on Friday you may have noticed some Google services, most notably search, appeared to be down. If not, maybe you noticed the ensuing freak-out across Twitter and the rest of the Internet.
LOOK AT THIS:
Internet Users worldwide
August 3, 2013
Only 1% Of People Create Online Content 1-percent-rule Online, there’s a little thing known as the 1% Rule. In a nutshell, it states that 1% of people create the content of the Internet, around 9% of people contribute to that content through comments, votes, likes, and shares, and the remaining 90% or so in no way participate. Using this site as an example, even the lists with many thousands of views will probably only have a few dozen comments at most. The same can be said for the thousands of other sites out there; the vast, overwhelming majority of people are happy to simply consume the content without participating. Which is fine, as by simple virtue of reading a site, you’ve aided it by providing your page view. However it’s the 9% part that’s depressing, since it’s this vocal minority who are most likely to be critical of the content. Now, we’re not targeting people with legitimate concerns or constructive criticism. If we miss an entry on a list or make a spelling mistake, tell us about it. We’re human, and we’re bound to make mistakes. It’s the small section of people who do nothing but be critical, mean, or generally unpleasant just for the sake of it. Though those people are very much a minority, just remember that every person who creates content online is outnumbered a thousand-fold (at least) by people willing to instantly tear it down. For every person willing to start a blog, make a video, or take a photo, there are a hundred people waiting with bated breath to tell them it sucks for no other reason than “the lulz.” And that’s a terrifying thought, since people creating original content are already hard enough to find online. Read more: http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-depressing-facts-about-the-internet.php#ixzz2azqJZ0rE
Read more at http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-depressing-facts-about-the-internet.php#1Q3sYbVv5JH2UyTc.99
- Forget the 1/9/90 Rule: The Key to Making Money in Social Media (startups.typepad.com)
Attention Bloggers, this will affect you. The US is bankrupt. Half of its population is living on food stamps. 3.65 million homeless living on the streets. Congress finds the time to regulate free speech instead of tackling the real serious issues facing Americans. Why is America so afraid of the truth, free speech, and whistle blowers? Lou
Lawmakers in Washington are again weighing in on who should and should not qualify as a journalist—and the outcome looks pretty grim for bloggers, freelancers, and other non-salaried journalists.
On July 12, the Justice Department released its new guidelines on investigations involving the news media in the wake of the fallout from the leak scandals involving the monitoring of AP and Fox News reporters. While the guidelines certainly provide much-needed protections for establishment journalists, as independent journalist Marcy Wheeler explained, the DOJ’s interpretation of who is a “member of the news media” is dramatically narrower than the definition provided in the Privacy Protection Act and effectively excludes bloggers and freelancers from protection. This limiting definition is causing alarm among bloggers like Glenn Reynolds on the right as well.
While the DOJ’s effort to limit the scope of who can be recognized as a journalist is problematic, it doesn’t have teeth. Guidelines are, well, guidelines. But the report is part of a broader legislative effort in Washington to simultaneously offer protection for the press while narrowing the scope of who is afforded it. Importantly, Congress introduced federal shield bills in May—both ironically named the “Free Flow of Information Act of 2013”—that arguably would exclude bloggers, freelancers, and other non-salaried journalists from protection because they are not included within the bills’ narrow definition of who qualifies as a journalist.
If these bills—support for which the White House reaffirmed in its DOJ report—pass without change, Congress effectively will create two tiers of journalists: the institutional press licensed by the government, and everyone else. That’s a pretty flimsy shield if what we are really trying to protect is the free flow of information.
Not-So-Free Flow of Information Acts
Both the House (H.R. 1962) and Senate (S. 987) bills use the euphemistic phrase “covered person” as a stand-in for “journalist.” In defining “covered person,” the bills effectively describe an individual working for a mainstream news organization and threaten to exclude bloggers.
Specifically, the House bill requires that such an individual engage in “journalism” for “financial gain or livelihood.” The Senate bill defines a “covered person” as one who “regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes” on “local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest.” (emphasis added) Further, both bills explain that “covered person” includes that person’s “supervisor, employer, parent [company], subsidiary, or affiliate.”
The requirement of doing journalism for money and on a consistent basis, coupled with the suggestion that such activities happen within a larger journalistic organization, paints a picture of a New York Times correspondent—and arguably excludes bloggers, freelancers, and other non-salaried individuals who practice the craft of journalism and need the most protection.
Déjà Vu: Sen. Schumer’s 2009 Shield Bill Amendment Excluding Bloggers, Freelancers
Congress’ hostility to bloggers and independent journalists is nothing new. Indeed, EFF documented and fought against Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) 2009 amendment to a similar federal shield bill that explicitly exempted bloggers and others from protections.
Clearly, Congress wasn’t listening. Though the prior legislation died after WikiLeaks—in conjunction with the New York Times and others—started publishing a trove of State Department cables in late 2010, Congress has revived both the good and bad. This time around, anti-blogger language is baked into the bills’ text. Sen. Schumer has re-introduced the Senate version with the restrictive definition of journalist, along with a large national security exception that would render the bill meaningless in the cases where a reporter’s privilege is needed the most.
Win-Win Legislative Fix: Define Journalism, Not Journalist
So what’s the solution? Congress should link shield law protections to the practice of journalism as opposed to the profession. Not only does this fix ensure that bloggers and freelancers are not categorically denied access to the protections to which they should be entitled under the law, but also it addresses lawmakers’ concerns, recently voiced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a June 26 op-ed, that in the absence of a legal definition of journalist anyone can claim to be one, thereby diluting the law by stretching it beyond any relevant boundaries. We can have a line in the sand; it simply needs to be one that is meaningfully tied to what journalism actually is—a point that Wheeler eloquently makes in endorsing a similar solution.
Plus this interpretation has the weight of precedent: EFF successfully argued in Apple v. Does in 2006 that the goal of a shield law is to protect the free flow of information, not the people we historically think of as journalists. And as EFF has explained, many federal courts use a test to determine if a state-level reporter’s privilege applies that turns on the practice of journalism, asking
whether that person intended to disseminate information to the public, and whether that intent existed at the inception of the newsgathering process . . . . Under this test, courts have provided the privilege to non-traditional journalists, including book authors and documentary filmmakers.
Fortunately, the bills currently moving through Congress have really good language defining journalism. Consider the House’s definition:
The term ‘journalism’ means the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.
If we dropped the bills’ definitions of “covered person” and relied instead on the House bill’s definition of journalism, then we’d be well on our way to strong shield laws that protect the practice of journalism, regardless of what label we attach to the person doing it.
Why We Need to Broaden the Proposed Shield Now
Congress is moving forward with these anti-blogger bills: the Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to markup the bill later this month, the House has referred its bill to two Judiciary Subcommittees, and the White House reiterated its support for the bills in the DOJ report. Further, legacy media organizations like the Society for Professional Journalists and the Newspaper Association of America have voiced strong support for the bills’ passage.
Sending a clear message ensuring that bloggers are in fact journalists and that their work is journalism is even more important now than it was when Congress considered a federal shield law in 2009 because recent district-level decisions have denied this basic reality of contemporary journalism. Most prominently, in a ruling from October 2011, a federal district judge in Oregon suggested that bloggers not “affiliated” with a major media organization don’t fall under the protection of the state’s shield law. Such state-level narrowing of the scope of who a journalist is cannot be allowed to set the trend for the entire country.