• World Submarine cable map

  • Neutrality is fundamental basis of the Internet VIDEO
    The defenders of anonymity on the internet
    You may not realise it, but every time you open up your laptop or switch on your phone, you are at the heart of one of the greatest battles now taking place in our midst - what shape will the internet take in the future, and what role will anonymity play in deciding it?

    Last year, the revelations of US security contractor Edward Snowden, suggested for the first time the extent to which governments were collecting and analysing our communications over the internet. But what Horizon reveals is that scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the way such information could be used to predict our behaviour and from that, be used as a form of control.

    It is really no surprise that the privacy issue has unfolded the way it has”
    David Chaum Internet anonymity pioneer

    "The power of that data to predict and analyse what we're going to do is very, very high," says Dr Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute. "And giving that power to somebody else, regardless of the original or stated intentions, is very worrying." What Dr Wright is talking about is "traffic analysis", which allows the prediction of the behaviours of individuals, not by looking at the contents of their emails, but by looking at the patterns of communication. It's become ever more possible as we spend more of our lives online. However, what few may realise is that scientists at the dawn of the information age predicted such issues would eventually become matters of public concern and interest.

    Godfather of anonymity

    Few outside the computer scientists' community will know the name David Chaum, yet he has a claim to be one of the great visionaries of contemporary science.

    In the early 1980s, while a computer scientist at Berkeley, Chaum predicted the world in which computer networks would make mass surveillance a possibility. As Dr Wright explains: "David Chaum was very ahead of his time. He predicted in the early 1980s concerns that would arise on the internet 15 or 20 years later." This visionary thinker now rarely gives interviews, but he has spoken exclusively to Horizon about his early work and his anxieties about the world we live in today. "Well it's sad to me," he explains.

    "But it is really no surprise that the privacy issue has unfolded the way it has. I spelled it out in the early publications in - in the 80s." Chaum's great achievement is that he didn't simply identify the problem, he developed prototype systems that would make such surveillance more difficult. The most important being something called a Mix Network which used sophisticated cryptography not to encrypt the content of message but to hide the identity of the user. As Chaum himself admits, "this was quite a paradigm shift".

    Chaum's insights have given him the unofficial title of "the godfather of anonymous communication" because, amongst other things, his systems provided the theoretical basis for the modern Tor network. US Naval Research Laboratory Tor began life as a project at the US Naval Research Laboratory and its developers still receive funds from the US government Developed by the US Government in the early 2000s, Tor made it possible to browse the net anonymously.

    Its ability to allow individuals to operate online without detection has proved a vital tool for dissidents in regimes which operate close control of the online space, such as Syria, Iran and China. Yet it has taken off in the West in a way the US government never imagined - for whistleblowing against the US itself.

    'Real autonomy'

    In 2011, it is believed that Chelsea Manning used Tor to leak US government cables and other data to Wikileaks which constituted one of the greatest government leaks in history. Horizon has gained access to the Ecuadorian embassy for an in-depth interview with Julian Assange who, while refusing to comment on Manning, agrees that Tor was important to Wikileaks. "It was a longstanding quest… to be able to communicate individual to individual freely and anonymously," Assange says.

    Yet Tor's effectiveness has also made it a target for the US National Security Agency, that has made repeated attempts to attack it. Campaigners like Jacob Appelbaum, who has worked with both Wikileaks and Tor, condemn these actions. "They want to attack people and sometimes technology makes that harder… the users have something which bothers them which is real autonomy… true privacy and security," he says.

    Yet while anonymity offers a potential bulwark against surveillance, for those who do not wish to be watched, it has also helped in the development of that part of the online world known as the dark web. Sites on the dark web like Silk Road have used Tor technology to hide their location and yet still be available to users who wish to visit them.

    The dark web has now become a focus for law enforcement officers who believe it is facilitating a variety of illegal activities including financial crime and child abuse. "Our detection rate is dropping" says Troels Oerting, head of Interpol's cybercrime centre.

    "It's risk-free crime."

    The arguments over illegality aside, many believe we need to develop technologies which make everyday use of the internet more resistant to surveillance and for that, we need to be able to encrypt our content. Encryption is, as Edward Snowden has said, the "defence against the dark arts for the digital realm". Yet currently, many encryption products, including Tor are not user-friendly enough.

    Anonymous internet user Tor, I2P and Freenet are three of the best-known anonymising networks There is some consensus that the market will need to provide the necessary solution - and for those who wish to avoid surveillance - the outlook is hopeful since, as Julian Assange points out: "It turns out that it's easier in this universe to encrypt information, much easier than it is to decrypt it if you're someone watching from the outside... the universe fundamentally favours privacy."

    The question now is whether there is sufficient public interest and pressure to make that encryption the norm rather than the exception.

    UK viewers can watch Horizon: Inside the Dark Web on BBC Two at 21:00 and on iPlayer afterwards. It will be broadcast on BBC World at a later date.

  • Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block
    A new kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites, from to YouPorn.

    Update: After this article was published, YouPorn contacted us to say it had removed AddThis technology from its website, saying that the website was "completely unaware that AddThis contained a tracking software that had the potential to jeopardize the privacy of our users." A spokeswoman for the German digital marketer Ligatus also said that is no longer running its test of canvas fingerprinting, and that it has no plans to use it in the future.

    A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from to First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.

    Canvas Fingerprinting in Action

    Watch your browser generate a unique fingerprint image. This is for informational purposes only and no fingerprint information is sent to ProPublica. (Mike Tigas, ProPublica) Even the slightest change in one pixel — one dot in the image — can create a totally new ID. Different computers and web browsers may draw the image differently, resulting in an ID that is semi-unique to a user. Tracking code can use techniques like this to follow users from website to website — even when cookies are disabled in a user's web browser. Fingerprints used for tracking are normally hidden from the user and — unlike this demonstration — don't require a user's permission to draw.

    Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them. But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus. The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code, primarily written by a company called AddThis, on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use AddThis’ social media sharing tools. Other fingerprinters include the German digital marketer Ligatus and the Canadian dating site Plentyoffish. (A list of all the websites on which researchers found the code is here).

    Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace “cookies,” the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers. “We’re looking for a cookie alternative,” Harris said in an interview.

    Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided “this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.” He added that the company has only used the data collected from canvas fingerprints for internal research and development. The company won’t use the data for ad targeting or personalization if users install the AddThis opt-out cookie on their computers, he said. Arvind Narayanan, the computer science professor who led the Princeton research team, countered that forcing users to take AddThis at its word about how their data will be used, is “not the best privacy assurance.”

    Device fingerprints rely on the fact that every computer is slightly different: Each contains different fonts, different software, different clock settings and other distinctive features. Computers automatically broadcast some of their attributes when they connect to another computer over the Internet. Tracking companies have long sought to use those differences to uniquely identify devices for online advertising purposes, particularly as Web users are increasingly using ad-blocking software and deleting cookies. In May 2012, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, noticed that a Web programming feature called “canvas” could allow for a new type of fingerprint — by pulling in different attributes than a typical device fingerprint.

    How You Can Try to Thwart Canvas Fingerprinting

    Use the Tor browser (Warning: can be slow)
    Block JavaScript from loading in your browser (Warning: breaks a lot of web sites)
    Use NoScript browser extension to block JavaScript from known fingerprinters such as AddThis (Warning: requires a lot of research and decision-making)
    Use a browser extension that blocks JavaScript from known ad tracking companies such as AddThis. Extensions include Disconnect or AdBlockPlus browser extension with the EasyPrivacy filter installed. (Warning: Only blocks known ad tracking companies; other websites could still employ canvas fingerprinting)
    Try the experimental browser extension Chameleon that is designed to block fingerprinting (Warning: only recommended for tech-savvy users at this point)
    Install opt-out cookies from known fingerprinters such as AddThis (Warning: fingerprint will likely still be collected, companies simply pledge not to use the data for ad targeting or personalization)

    In June, the Tor Project added a feature to its privacy-protecting Web browser to notify users when a website attempts to use the canvas feature and sends a blank canvas image. But other Web browsers did not add notifications for canvas fingerprinting.

    A year later, Russian programmer Valentin Vasilyev noticed the study and added a canvas feature to freely available fingerprint code that he had posted on the Internet. The code was immediately popular. But Vasilyev said that the company he was working for at the time decided against using the fingerprint technology. “We collected several million fingerprints but we decided against using them because accuracy was 90 percent,” he said, “and many of our customers were on mobile and the fingerprinting doesn’t work well on mobile.” Vasilyev added that he wasn’t worried about the privacy concerns of fingerprinting. “The fingerprint itself is a number which in no way is related to a personality,” he said.

    AddThis improved upon Vasilyev’s code by adding new tests and using the canvas to draw a pangram “Cwm fjordbank glyphs vext quiz” — a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once. This allows the company to capture slight variations in how each letter is displayed. AddThis said it rolled out the feature to a small portion of the 13 million websites on which its technology appears, but is considering ending its test soon. “It’s not uniquely identifying enough,” Harris said. AddThis did not notify the websites on which the code was placed because “we conduct R&D projects in live environments to get the best results from testing,” according to a spokeswoman.

    She added that the company does not use any of the data it collects — whether from canvas fingerprints or traditional cookie-based tracking — from government websites including for ad targeting or personalization. The company offered no such assurances about data it routinely collects from visitors to other sites, such as did not respond to inquiries from ProPublica about whether it was aware of AddThis’ test of canvas fingerprinting on its website. Read our recent coverage about how online tracking is getting creepier, how Facebook has been tracking you, and what tools to use to protect yourself.

  • Which SPY agency dreamt up the SELFIE?
    As more and more dupes withdraw from putting personal information out on the internet in the wake of the major players assisting the NSA and its many allies the SELFIE was born. Whoever conjured up such an expression clearly did so to try and reinforce the need of the international freemason cult that controls all spy agencies across the globe to gather information and images and none better that the dupes who think selfies are purely a fad and nothing to do with the secret society network losing valuable information and pictures of those who withdrew after the Ed Snowden exposures.

    ANYONE stupid enough to place private and personal images online only have themselves to blame when either the complicit media go looking for those images to use in smear campaigns they conjure up or added to the mountainous database of images being gathered for future use and reference against anyone who tries rocking the establishment boat.

  • The Selfie Syndrome
  • What is the end result of Ed Snowden's whistleblowing?
    America's parasitic zionist press and political mafia's can castigate Ed Snowden all they want for his courage in exposing what is going on right at the heart of the global spy rings that connect three of the worst regime's on the planet. NOT the axis of EVIL that George Bush tried to tar the Middle East with but the three countries that operate primarily to satisfy the hidden agenda of freemasonry.

    Zionist Israel, zionist UK and zionist USA all have ONE primary motive and that is to establish a NWO one world government using every dirty technological trick in the book . Placing their citizens under the umbrella of every conceivable type of electronics eavesdropping, that was until Ed Snowden blew a MASSIVE hole in their warped view that they could get away with this tyranny indefinitely . Ed took the brave stance of exposing their vile network of eavesdropping on ordinary citizens while the sheeple continue to be browbeaten that this was in their best interests. The G8 that has since been reduced to the G7 when Putin broke rank, is primarily a global political club set up to allow in only countries that are adhering to the zionist / freemason agenda.

    The reality is that there are two primary reasons for their stasi influenced spying on the public . One is that every citizen at some point in their life can rise up and be a threat like Ed to their control system. The second, and something the sheeple fail to understand despite endless efforts to inform them, is that the biggest terrorist threat on the planet by far is the global law society. It is noticeable the families were both partners are lawyers have been selected to run as heads of their political parties in USA and UK. Obama and his wife are lawyers, Clinton and his wife are lawyers and Tony Blair and his wife are lawyers.

    The global law society terror cell requires to keep their lackeys in control of all political parties who are the only ones who get publicity in the media they also control via their media lawyers. The ultimate goal is the mass fleecing of their populations in the courts dominated by freemason judges. The myth that somehow they want to weed out those THEY claim are terrorists are usually the very individuals who have fought against their tyranny and who have tried to expose them as the real terrorists responsible for more deaths and destruction than all recent wars combined. Every day in courts throughout those nations are battles taking place where men and their families, not part of their creepy satanic cult, are being destroyed in their millions and seldom reported by the controlled gutter press.

    Ed has shot a massive cannonball across the bow of their NWO battleship and has scuppered their plans ensuring that they now realise those within their ranks, who have been given responsibilities like Ed, can break rank and expose further atrocities that have been carried out under the guise of fighting the terrorist threat. The ONLY threat men need to concern themselves with are the murderous scum pointing the finger at everybody else while in their psychopathic mindset are unaware they themselves are the biggest terrorist threat to men across the planet. That we will continue to press forward while the gutter media provide the massive smokescreens to allow them to carry on their multi trillion dollar scams that have ultimately led to the deaths of ten of thousands of men who buckled under the psychological torture their lackeys meted out while being dragged through the gutter, but NOT if we can help it.

    The law while it remains administered by the zionist / freemason infiltrators is their MAIN source of power and wealth over good men not prepared to sell their soul to the devil and the main mechanism used to create the vast inequality that keeps their hierarchy in the opulence they think they deserve through the sinister use of a satanic cult and its blackmail control structure.

  • Mystery plane circles London sparking surveillance rumours VIDEO
    Nude pics passed around NSA spies as fringe benefit
    faces Nude photos intercepted by NSA would be shared among employees as 'fringe benefit', says whistleblower Edward Snowden

    Whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed a culture exists within the National Security Agency in which intercepted nude photos of people in 'sexually compromising' situations would be routinely passed around among workers. Speaking from exile in Russia, Mr Snowden said NSA employees saw sharing such images as a 'fringe benefit' of their position. The 31-year-old former NSA worker also spoke of his concerns for personal privacy and urged professionals to do more to protect themselves and the data they have.

    The former computer analyst has been living in Moscow since leaking thousands of top-secret documents about government surveillance practices in the US and beyond. During an interview with The Guardian he said: 'I'm much happier in Russia than I would be facing an unfair trial where I can't even present a public-interest defence to a jury of my peers.' When asked whether he witnessed anything that troubled him while working in surveillance he said: 'You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records.

    'Now, in the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense - for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation, but they're extremely attractive. 'So what they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker -- and their co-worker says "hey, that's great, send that to Bill down the way." And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people.' Mr Snowden said he had seen such instances on a number of times, adding: 'These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.'

    He said it was 'reasonable to assume' he was under surveillance, adding: 'Anyone in my position is surely subject to some surveillance, but you take the precautions you can, so even if you are under surveillance there's no sensitive information for you to expose.' A new data surveillance bill has been fast-tracked through Westminster that will give authorities greater powers to access mobile data for up to a year as part of security measures and checks. Mr Snowden is one of several high-profile figures calling for more rights to be offered to internet users to help protect their privacy.

    Earlier this year, Mr Snowden appeared on-stage via video link with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, to call for a 'bill of rights' to be introduced to protect global internet users. During the talk, Sir Tim called Mr Snowden 'a hero' for the work he had done for internet privacy, which led to the exposure of wide-scale surveillance networks involving the NSA in the US and GCHQ in the UK. However, Mr Snowden said he did not believe that technology and privacy were incompatible.

    He said: 'Technology can actually increase privacy, but not if we sleepwalk into new applications of it without considering the implications of these new technologies.' Mr Snowden also responded to claims that he was working for the Russian government. He said: 'If the government had even the tiniest shred of evidence that I was associating with the Russian government it would be on the front page of the New York Times by lunchtime.' Mr Snowden is wanted in the US on espionage charges but believes it would be hard for a jury to unanimously convict him on a charge where there was a public-interest defence.

  • How iPhone and Android smartphones spy on you and how to stop them VIDEO
    The Latest Snowden Leak Is Devastating to NSA Defenders
    obama collage The agency collected and stored intimate chats, photos, and emails belonging to innocent Americans—and secured them so poorly that reporters can now browse them at will.

    Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency's defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden's actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

    But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post's latest article drawing on Snowden's leaked cache of documents includes files "described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained" that "tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless."

    The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected "medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam ..." Have you ever emailed a photograph of your child in the bathtub, or yourself flexing for the camera or modeling lingerie? If so, it could be your photo in the Washington Post newsroom right now, where it may or may not be secure going forward. In one case, a woman whose private communications were collected by the NSA found herself contacted by a reporter who'd read her correspondence.

    Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not "just" metadata—when they communicate digitally. They'll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath. What about Snowden critics who defend the NSA? Ben Wittes questions the morality of the disclosure:

    Snowden here did not leak programmatic information about government activity. He leaked many tens of thousands of personal communications of a type that, in government hands, are rightly subject to strict controls. They are subject to strict controls precisely so that the woman in lingerie, the kid beaming before a mosque, the men showing off their physiques, and the woman whose love letters have to be collected because her boyfriend is off looking to join the Taliban don’t have to pay an unnecessarily high privacy price. Yes, the Post has kept personal identifying details from the public, and that is laudable. But Snowden did not keep personal identifying details from the Post. He basically outed thousands of people—innocent and not—and left them to the tender mercies of journalists. This is itself a huge civil liberties violation.

    The critique is plausible—but think of what it means.

    I never thought I'd see this day: The founder of Lawfare has finally declared that a national-security-state employee perpetrated a huge civil-liberties violation! Remember this if he ever again claims that NSA critics can't point to a single serious abuse at the agency. Wittes himself now says there's been a serious abuse. The same logic applies to Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Stewart Baker, Edward Lucas, John Schindler, and every other anti-Snowden NSA defender. So long as they insist that Snowden is a narcissistic criminal and possible traitor, they have no choice but to admit that the NSA collected and stored intimate photos, emails, and chats belonging to totally innocent Americans and safeguarded them so poorly that a ne'er-do-well could copy them onto thumb drives.

    They have no choice but to admit that the NSA was so bad at judging who could be trusted with this sensitive data that a possible traitor could take it all to China and Russia. Yet these same people continue to insist that the NSA is deserving of our trust, that Americans should keep permitting it to collect and store massive amounts of sensitive data on innocents, and that adequate safeguards are in place to protect that data. To examine the entirety of their position is to see that it is farcical.

    Here's the reality.

    The NSA collects and stores the full content of extremely sensitive photographs, emails, chat transcripts, and other documents belong to Americans, itself a violation of the Constitution—but even if you disagree that it's illegal, there's no disputing the fact that the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding that data. There is not the chance the data could leak at sometime in the future. It has already been taken and given to reporters. The necessary reform is clear. Unable to safeguard this sensitive data, the NSA shouldn't be allowed to collect and store it.

  • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says UK surveillance law "defies belief" VIDEO
    Zionist freemason global stasi spy network
    America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ have been trying to justify mass surveillance under the guise that we are ALL at risk of terrorist attacks. Or at least from those THEY brand as terrorists for showing any form of dissent against the BIGGEST global terrorist threat, controlled by the British Royals via their loyal lord lieutenant the Dukey Kent for and on behalf of the Israeli supremacists, using the secret society network to blackmail and corrupt literally every major political and legal system across the planet. BUT NOT as yet in the muslim controlled nations and Germany has been resisting efforts to impose that control and why the NSA has spent so much time spying on their leaders.

    The five million plus army of Royal parasitic gophers embedded right across the globe in most of the major power centres are behind the manufacturing of pseudo terrorism to justify the mass spying and control they are exerting in every region of the world .

    That is to primarily line the pockets of the royal mafia and their lackeys using a global system of law that they have manufactured to ensure EVERYTHING flows to them . The main ploy above all else is the total global monopoly on property, land and business that is easily stolen back after billions of dupes have fallen into the trap of thinking they have bought into OWNING something.

    The biggest terrorist racket by far is the ease with which the global terrorist group of the law society can help themselves to the very homes they sell to the dupes using a myriad of legal machinations while they bombard us with all sorts of phony war scenario's that allows them to hide behind a facade of terrorist threats that they themselves create using bogeymen who allow the gutter press to direct attention away of what they are getting up to . A massive multi trillion dollar fraud against the men of the world who are NOT part of their creepy satanic den of inequity. Do NOT be fooled by the distractions as they go about their business of stripping men en masse in the biggest crime wave ever carried out across this planet.

  • 'NSA spying in Germany creates anti-Americanism earthquake, people fed up' (VIDEO)
  • Germany kicks out American spies(VIDEO)
  • Germany tells American CIA station chief to get out of their country (VIDEO)
  • Murdering tory scum turn UK from police state into stasi spying state(VIDEO)
  • Zionist controlled America spies on prominent leaders of Muslim faith (VIDEO)
  • The Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On
  • CIA had role in Germany spy affair
  • Second American SPY Caught Working Within German Government In A Week! (VIDEO)
  • Germany to escalate counter-espionage efforts in wake of US spying allegations
  • Anti-privacy Paradise: NSA's offshore pleasure islands(VIDEO)
  • Latest Greenwald Interview 9 July 2014 VIDEO
    'NSA is corrupt. If WE did that we'd be thrown in jail' VIDEO
    'Potential Extremists': Merely going to Tor's website will land you on NSA's red list VIDEO
    The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz VIDEO
    Selective Protection: Apple launches MAC anti-tracking tech used to incriminate Swartz VIDEO
    Resetting the Net: Snowden and Surveillance VIDEO
    Net Neutrality Nightmare: Social media under govts' control? VIDEO
    'People taking up tech against surveillance state' VIDEO
    Snowden's global revolution: One year of revelations VIDEO
    Brand-Ed: Snowden name spells quick cash for big biz VIDEO
    Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy
    In the third chapter of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon gave two reasons why the slavery into which the Romans had tumbled under Augustus and his successors left them more wretched than any previous human slavery. In the first place, Gibbon said, the Romans had carried with them into slavery the culture of a free people: their language and their conception of themselves as human beings presupposed freedom. And thus, says Gibbon, for a long time the Romans preserved the sentiments – or at least the ideas – of a freeborn people.

    In the second place, the empire of the Romans filled all the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world was a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. As Gibbon wrote, to resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.

    The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders' control of communications. The Mediterranean was their lake. Across their European empire, from Scotland to Syria, they pushed roads that 15 centuries later were still primary arteries of European transportation. Down those roads the emperor marched his armies. Up those roads he gathered his intelligence. The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed. Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world. That power eradicated human freedom. "Remember," said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, "wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror."

    The empire of the United States after the second world war also depended upon control of communications. This was more evident when, a mere 20 years later, the United States was locked in a confrontation of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union. In a war of submarines hidden in the dark below the continents, capable of eradicating human civilisation in less than an hour, the rule of engagement was "launch on warning". Thus the United States valued control of communications as highly as the Emperor Augustus. Its listeners too aspired to know everything. We all know that the United States has for decades spent as much on its military might as all other powers in the world combined. Americans are now realising what it means that we applied to the stealing of signals and the breaking of codes a similar proportion of our resources in relation to the rest of the world. The US system of listening comprises a military command controlling a large civilian workforce. That structure presupposes the foreign intelligence nature of listening activities. Military control was a symbol and guarantee of the nature of the activity being pursued. Wide-scale domestic surveillance under military command would have violated the fundamental principle of civilian control.

    Instead what it had was a foreign intelligence service responsible to the president as military commander-in-chief. The chain of military command absolutely ensured respect for the fundamental principle "no listening here". The boundary between home and away distinguished the permissible from the unconstitutional. The distinction between home and away was at least technically credible, given the reality of 20th-century communications media, which were hierarchically organised and very often state-controlled. When the US government chose to listen to other governments abroad – to their militaries, to their diplomatic communications, to their policymakers where possible – they were listening in a world of defined targets. The basic principle was: hack, tap, steal. We listened, we hacked in, we traded, we stole.

    In the beginning we listened to militaries and their governments. Later we monitored the flow of international trade as far as it engaged American national security interests. Last century we desperately fought and died against systems in which the state listened to every telephone conversation The regime that we built to defend ourselves against nuclear annihilation was restructured at the end of the 20th century. In the first place, the cold war ended and the Soviet Union dissolved. An entire establishment of national security repurposed itself. We no longer needed to spy upon an empire with 25,000 nuclear weapons pointed at us. Now we spied on the entire population of the world, in order to locate a few thousand people intent on various kinds of mass murder. Hence, we are told, spying on entire societies is the new normal.

    In the second place, the nature of human communication changed. We built a system for attacking fixed targets: a circuit, a phone number, a licence plate, a locale. The 20th-century question was how many targets could be simultaneously followed in a world where each of them required hack, tap, steal. But we then started to build a new form of human communication. From the moment we created the internet, two of the basic assumptions began to fail: the simplicity of "one target, one circuit" went away, and the difference between home and abroad vanished too. That distinction vanished in the United States because so much of the network and associated services, for better and worse, resided there. The question "Do we listen inside our borders?" was seemingly reduced to "Are we going to listen at all?" At this point, a vastly imprudent US administration intervened. Their defining characteristic was that they didn't think long before acting. Presented with a national calamity that also constituted a political opportunity, nothing stood between them and all the mistakes that haste can make for their children's children to repent at leisure. What they did – in secret, with the assistance of judges appointed by a single man operating in secrecy, and with the connivance of many decent people who believed themselves to be acting to save the society – was to unchain the listeners from law.

    Not only had circumstances destroyed the simplicity of "no listening inside", not only had fudging with the foreign intelligence surveillance act carried them where law no longer provided useful landmarks, but they actually wanted to do it. Their view of the nature of human power was Augustan, if not august. They wanted what it is forbidden to wise people to take unto themselves. And so they fell, and we fell with them. Our journalists failed. The New York Times allowed the 2004 election not to be informed by what it knew about the listening. Its decision to censor itself was, like all censorship and self-censorship, a mortal wound inflicted on democracy. We the people did not demand the end at the beginning. And now we're a long way in. Our military listeners have invaded the centre of an evolving net, where conscriptable digital superbrains gather intelligence on the human race for purposes of bagatelle and capitalism. In the US, the telecommunications companies have legal immunity for their complicity, thus easing the way further.

    The invasion of our net was secret, and we did not know that we should resist. But resistance developed as a fifth column among the listeners themselves. In Hong Kong, Edward Snowden said something straightforward and useful: analysts, he said, are not bad people, and they don't want to think of themselves that way. But they came to calculate that if a programme produced anything useful, it was justified. It was not the analysts' job to weigh the fundamental morality for us.

    In a democracy, that task is given by the people to the leaders they elect. These leaders fell – and we fell with them – because they refused to adhere to the morality of freedom. The civilian workers in their agencies felt their failure first. From the middle of last decade, people began to blow whistles all over the field. These courageous workers sacrificed their careers, frightened their families, sometimes suffered personal destruction, to say that there was something deeply wrong. The response was rule by fear. Two successive US administrations sought to deal with the whistleblowers among the listeners by meting out the harshest possible treatment. Snowden said in Hong Kong that he was sacrificing himself in order to save the world from a system like this one, which is "constrained only by policy documents". The political ideas of Snowden are worthy of our respect and our deep consideration. But for now it is sufficient to say that he was not exaggerating the nature of the difficulty.

    Because of Snowden, we now know that the listeners undertook to do what they repeatedly promised respectable expert opinion they would never do. They always said they would not attempt to break the crypto that secures the global financial system. That was false. When Snowden disclosed the existence of the NSA's Bullrun programme we learned that NSA had lied for years to the financiers who believe themselves entitled to the truth from the government they own. The NSA had not only subverted technical standards, attempting to break the encryption that holds the global financial industry together, it had also stolen the keys to as many vaults as possible. With this disclosure the NSA forfeited respectable opinion around the world. Their reckless endangerment of those who don't accept danger from the United States government was breathtaking.

    The empire of the United States was the empire of exported liberty. What it had to offer all around the world was liberty and freedom. After colonisation, after European theft, after forms of state-created horror, it promised a world free from state oppression. Last century we were prepared to sacrifice many of the world's great cities and tens of millions of human lives. We bore those costs in order to smash regimes we called "totalitarian", in which the state grew so powerful and so invasive that it no longer recognised any border of private life. We desperately fought and died against systems in which the state listened to every telephone conversation and kept a list of everybody every troublemaker knew. Snowden spied on behalf of the human race. As he said, only the American people could decide if his sacrifice was worth it.

    But in the past 10 years, after the morality of freedom was withdrawn, the state has begun fastening the procedures of totalitarianism on the substance of democratic society. There is no historical precedent for the proposition that the procedures of totalitarianism are compatible with the system of enlightened, individual and democratic self-governance. Such an argument would be doomed to failure. It is enough to say in opposition that omnipresent invasive listening creates fear. And that fear is the enemy of reasoned, ordered liberty. It is utterly inconsistent with the American ideal to attempt to fasten procedures of totalitarianism on American constitutional self-governance. But there is an even deeper inconsistency between those ideals and the subjection of every other society on earth to mass surveillance.

    Some of the system's servants came to understand that it was being sustained not with, but against, democratic order. They knew their vessel had come unmoored in the dark, and was sailing without a flag. When they blew the whistle, the system blew back at them. In the end – at least so far, until tomorrow – there was Snowden, who saw everything that happened and watched the fate of others who spoke up. He understood, as Chelsea Manning also always understood, that when you wear the uniform you consent to the power. He knew his business very well. Young as he was, as he said in Hong Kong, "I've been a spy all my life." So he did what it takes great courage to do in the presence of what you believe to be radical injustice. He wasn't first, he won't be last, but he sacrificed his life as he knew it to tell us things we needed to know. Snowden committed espionage on behalf of the human race. He knew the price, he knew the reason. But as he said, only the American people could decide, by their response, whether sacrificing his life was worth it. So our most important effort is to understand the message: to understand its context, purpose, and meaning, and to experience the consequences of having received the communication.

    Even once we have understood, it will be difficult to judge Snowden, because there is always much to say on both sides when someone is greatly right too soon. In the United States, those who were "premature anti-fascists" suffered. It was right to be right only when all others were right. It was wrong to be right when only people we disagreed with held the views that we were later to adopt ourselves. Snowden has been quite precise. He understands his business. He has spied on injustice for us and has told us what we require in order to do the job and get it right. And if we have a responsibility, then it is to learn, now, before somebody concludes that learning should be prohibited.

    In considering the political meaning of Snowden's message and its consequences, we must begin by discarding for immediate purposes pretty much everything said by the presidents, the premiers, the chancellors and the senators. Public discussion by these "leaders" has provided a remarkable display of misdirection, misleading and outright lying. We need instead to focus on the thinking behind Snowden's activities. What matters most is how deeply the whole of the human race has been ensnared in this system of pervasive surveillance. We begin where the leaders are determined not to end, with the question of whether any form of democratic self-government, anywhere, is consistent with the kind of massive, pervasive surveillance into which the United States government has led not only its people but the world. This should not actually be a complicated inquiry.

    For almost everyone who lived through the 20th century – at least its middle half – the idea that freedom was consistent with the procedures of totalitarianism was self-evidently false. Hence, as we watch responses to Snowden's revelations we see that massive invasion of privacy triggers justified anxiety among the survivors of totalitarianism about the fate of liberty. To understand why, we need to understand more closely what our conception of "privacy" really contains. Our concept of "privacy" combines three things: first is secrecy, or our ability to keep the content of our messages known only to those we intend to receive them. Second is anonymity, or secrecy about who is sending and receiving messages, where the content of the messages may not be secret at all. It is very important that anonymity is an interest we can have both in our publishing and in our reading. Third is autonomy, or our ability to make our own life decisions free from any force that has violated our secrecy or our anonymity. These three – secrecy, anonymity and autonomy – are the principal components of a mixture we call "privacy". Without secrecy, democratic self-government is impossible. Without secrecy, people may not discuss public affairs with those they choose, excluding those with whom they do not wish to converse.

    Anonymity is necessary for the conduct of democratic politics. Not only must we be able to choose with whom we discuss politics, we must also be able to protect ourselves against retaliation for our expressions of political ideas. Autonomy is vitiated by the wholesale invasion of secrecy and privacy. Free decision-making is impossible in a society where every move is monitored, as a moment's consideration of the state of North Korea will show, as would any conversation with those who lived through 20th-century totalitarianisms, or any historical study of the daily realities of American chattel slavery before our civil war. In other words, privacy is a requirement of democratic self-government. The effort to fasten the procedures of pervasive surveillance on human society is the antithesis of liberty. This is the conversation that all the "don't listen to my mobile phone!" misdirection has not been about. If it were up to national governments, the conversation would remain at this phoney level forever. The US government and its listeners have not advanced any convincing argument that what they do is compatible with the morality of freedom, US constitutional law or international human rights. They will instead attempt, as much as possible, to change the subject, and, whenever they cannot change the subject, to blame the messenger.

    One does not need access to classified documents to see how the military and strategic thinkers in the United States adapted to the end of the cold war by planning pervasive surveillance of the world's societies. From the early 1990s, the public literature of US defence policy shows, strategic and military planners foresaw a world in which the United States had no significant state adversary. Thus, we would be forced to engage in a series of "asymmetric conflicts", meaning "guerrilla wars" with "non-state actors". In the course of that redefinition of US strategic posture, the military strategists and their intelligence community colleagues came to regard US rights to communications privacy as the equivalent of sanctuary for guerrillas. They conceived that it would be necessary for the US military, the listeners, to go after the "sanctuaries". Then, at the opening of the 21st century, a US administration that will go down in history for its tendency to think last and shoot first bought – hook, line and sinker – the entire "denying sanctuary", pervasive surveillance, "total information awareness" scheme. Within a very short time after January 2002, mostly in secret, they put it all together.

    The consequences around the world were remarkably uncontroversial. By and large, states approved or accepted. After September 2001, the United States government used quite extraordinary muscle around the world: you were either with us or against us. Moreover, many other governments had come to base their national security systems crucially on cooperation with American listening. By the time the present US administration had settled into office, senior policymakers thought there was multilateral consensus on listening to other societies: it could not be stopped and therefore it shouldn't be limited. The Chinese agreed. The US agreed. The Europeans agreed; their position was somewhat reluctant, but they were dependent on US listening and hadn't a lot of power to object. Nobody told the people of the world. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, a gap opened between what the people of the world thought their rights were and what their governments had given away in return for intelligence useful only to the governments themselves. This gap was so wide, so fundamental to the meaning of democracy, that those who operated the system began to disbelieve in its legitimacy. As they should have done.

    Snowden saw what happened to other whistleblowers, and behaved accordingly. His political theory has been quite exact and entirely consistent. He says the existence of these programmes, undisclosed to the American people, is a fundamental violation of American democratic values. Surely there can be no argument with that. Snowden's position is that efforts so comprehensive, so overwhelmingly powerful, and so conducive to abuse, should not be undertaken save with democratic consent. He has expressed recurrently his belief that the American people are entitled to give or withhold that informed consent. But Snowden has also identified the fastening of those programmes on the global population as a problematic act, which deserves a form of moral and ethical analysis that goes beyond mere raison d'état. Hopelessness is merely the condition they want you to catch, not one you have to have

    I think Snowden means that we should make those decisions not in the narrow, national self-interest, but with some heightened moral sense of what is appropriate for a nation that holds itself out as a beacon of liberty to humanity. We can speak, of course, about American constitutional law and about the importance of American legal phenomena – rules, protections, rights, duties – with respect to all of this. But we should be clear that, when we talk about the American constitutional tradition with respect to freedom and slavery, we're talking about more than what is written in the law books. We face two claims – you meet them everywhere you turn – that summarise the politics against which we are working. One argument says: "It's hopeless, privacy is gone, why struggle?" The other says: "I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care?"

    These are actually the most significant forms of opposition that we face in doing what we know we ought to do. In the first place, our struggle to retain our privacy is far from hopeless. Snowden has described to us what armour still works. His purpose was to distinguish between those forms of network communication that are hopelessly corrupted and no longer usable, those that are endangered by a continuing assault on the part of an agency gone rogue, and those that, even with their vast power, all their wealth, and all their misplaced ambition, conscientiousness and effort, they still cannot break. Hopelessness is merely the condition they want you to catch, not one you have to have.

    So far as the other argument is concerned, we owe it to ourselves to be quite clear in response: "If we are not doing anything wrong, then we have a right to resist." If we are not doing anything wrong, then we have a right to do everything we can to maintain the traditional balance between us and power that is listening. We have a right to be obscure. We have a right to mumble. We have a right to speak languages they do not get. We have a right to meet when and where and how we please. We have an American constitutional tradition against general warrants. It was formed in the 18th century for good reason. We limit the state's ability to search and seize to specific places and things that a neutral magistrate believes it is reasonable to allow.

    That principle was dear to the First Congress, which put it in our bill of rights, because it was dear to British North Americans; because in the course of the 18th century they learned what executive government could do with general warrants to search everything, everywhere, for anything they didn't like, while forcing local officials to help them do it. That was a problem in Massachusetts in 1761 and it remained a problem until the end of British rule in North America. Even then, it was a problem, because the presidents, senators and chancellors were also unprincipled in their behaviour. Thomas Jefferson, too, like the president now, talked a better game than he played. This principle is clear enough. But there are only nine votes on the US supreme court, and only they count right now. We must wait to see how many of them are prepared to face the simple unconstitutionality of a rogue system much too big to fail. But because those nine votes are the only votes that matter, the rest of us must go about our business in other ways. The American constitutional tradition we admire was made mostly by people who had fled Europe and come to North America in order to be free. It is their activity, politically and intellectually, that we find deposited in the documents that made the republic.

    But there is a second constitutional tradition. It was made by people who were brought here against their will, or who were born into slavery, and who had to run away, here, in order to be free. This second constitutional tradition is slightly different in its nature from the first, although it conduces, eventually, to similar conclusions.

    'Country X': WikiLeaks reveals NSA recording 'nearly all' phone calls in Afghanistan

    The NSA records almost all domestic and international phone calls in Afghanistan, similar to what it does in the Bahamas, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange said.

    Reports in the Washington Post and the Intercept had previously reported that domestic and international phone calls from two or more target states had been recorded and stored in mass as of 2013. Both publications censored the name of one victim country at the request of the US government, which the Intercept referred to as 'Country X'. Assange says he cannot disclose how WikiLeaks confirmed the identity of the victim state for the sake of source protection, though the claim can be “independently verified” via means of “forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs.” The Intercept, which Glenn Greenwald, who first broke the Edward Snowden revelations helped to found, had earlier named the Bahamas as having their mobile calls recorded and stored by a powerful National Security Agency (NSA) program called SOMALGET.

    SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which the the NSA is using to gather metadata – including the numbers dialed and the time and duration of the calls – from phone calls in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines. SOMALGET by its nature is far more controversial, however, as it stores actual phone conversations for up to 30 days. WikiLeaks initially opted not to reveal the name of 'Country X' as they were led to believe it could “lead to deaths” by Greenwald. WikiLeaks later accused The Intercept and its parent company First Look Media of censorship, saying they would go ahead and publish the name of the NSA-targeted country. “We do not believe it is the place of media to ‘aid and abet’ a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population,” Assange said in the statement.

    "By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere," he said.

    mystic reporting

    Assange continued that their decision to identify 'Country X' was not only done so as to provide effective legal remedies against “the crime of mass espionage,” but also to prevent innocent lives from being taken due to how covert surveillance is part and parcel of the US drone program.

    “We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program,” Assange said. “The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people.” Regarding the potential threat to human life, Assange continued that “false or overstated claims” is a regularly employed tactic by US officials to delay or altogether stifle publication.

    Assange pointed to the 2010 example of the now Infamous WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables, in which the US State Department “falsely claimed” would “place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals." He continued that the Pentagon had also repeated this unsubstantiated claim. “To this day we are not aware of any evidence provided by any government agency that any of our eight million publications have resulted in harm to life,” Assange said. He added that in 2013, US officials were compelled to admit under oath they had been unable to find evidence substantiating the claim, with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitting that official reaction to the publications had been"significantly overwrought."

    According to The Intercept, 5 countries are being monitored using MYSTIC, two with full content audio and three where telephony metadata is collected. The Washington Post, however, noted that a six country is also under the NSA's cross hairs, though surveillance operations might not yet be operational. The collection of phone conversation audio is not limited to the Bahamas and Afghanistan. In March, John Inglis, then serving as NSA Deputy Director, told the Los Angeles Times that the NSA tracks and records every email, text message, and phone-location signal sent in Iraq. This is not the first time it has been revealed mass surveillance was being conducted on Afghanistan by the NSA. According to a book released by Der Spiegel entitled 'Der NSA Komplex', a program called ACIDWASH collects 30-40 million telephony metadata records per day from Afghanistan. ACIDWASH has been identified as being part of the MYSTIC program.

    The NSA has so far refused to comment on the program, saying “the implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false.” The agency further maintains that it follows procedures to “protect the privacy of US persons” whose communications are “incidentally collected.”

  • New Document Release Shows NSA Collecting EVERY Phone Call In The Bahama's VIDEO
    Net Neutrality rap VIDEO
    Ed Snowden's video telling Glenn Greenwald about email encryption VIDEO
    GCHQ's spy malware operation faces legal challenge
    GCHQ run and controlled by the royal mafia via the Duke of Kent at the United Grand Lodge of England and 33 degree freemason haunt behind Chatham House (now they have reverted to calling it by its OLD name The Royal Institute of International Affairs)

    GCHQ, the government's monitoring agency, acted illegally by developing spy programs that remotely hijack computers' cameras and microphones without the user's consent, according to privacy campaigners.

    A legal challenge lodged on Tuesday at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) calls for the hacking techniques – alleged to be far more intrusive than interception of communications – to be outlawed. Mobile phones were also targeted, leaked documents reveal.

    The claim has been submitted by Privacy International following revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the mass surveillance operations conducted by GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency (NSA). The 21-page submission details a host of "malware" – software devised to take over or damage another person's computer – with such esoteric names as Warrior Pride, Gumfish, Dreamy Smurf, Foggybottom and Captivatedaudience.

    Details of the programs have been published by the Guardian and the online magazine The Intercept run by the journalist Glenn Greenwald. They are said to allow GCHQ to gain access to "the profile information supplied by a user in registering a device [such as] … his location, age, gender, marital status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and family". More intrusively, Privacy International alleges, the programs enable surveillance of any stored content, logging of keystrokes and "the covert and unauthorised photography or recording of the user and those around him". It is, the claim maintains, the equivalent of "entering someone's house, searching through his filing cabinets, diaries and correspondence, and planting devices to permit constant surveillance in future, and, if mobile devices are involved, obtaining historical information including every location he had visited in the past year". Such break-ins also leave devices vulnerable to attack by others "such as credit card fraudsters, thereby risking the user's personal data more broadly", Privacy International argues. "It is the modern equivalent of breaking in to a residence, and leaving the locks broken or damaged afterwards."

    The claim acknowledges that it is unclear how many computers or mobiles have been infected but points out that leaked documents show the agencies have the ability to scale up the programme to infect millions of computers and devices around the world. GCHQ itself had reservations about the legality of these surveillance operations, Privacy International claims, pointing to a leaked document noting that "continued GCHQ involvement may be in jeopardy due to British legal/policy restrictions". The activities of GCHQ breach the right to private and family life under article 8 of the European convention on human rights and the 1990 Computer Misuse Act, Privacy International alleges.

    The submission states: "Privacy International accepts that, in principle, surveillance may be conducted for legitimate aims such as national security. The issue is therefore whether the interference is 'in accordance with the law' or 'prescribed by law', and whether it is necessary and proportionate." The IPT is a partially secret court which investigates complaints about MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the use of surveillance powers by government, police and local authorities. Many of its hearings take place behind closed doors. The IPT has extensive powers to demand to see all relevant intelligence and evidence. Often complainants are told the tribunal can neither confirm nor deny whether surveillance has taken place.

    This latest submission will join a long line of legal challenges brought by civil liberties groups following Snowden's revelations. The IPT is already looking at complaints over GCHQ and NSA use of mass interception programmes such as Prism and Tempora. Other claims have been lodged against other European governments, at the European court of human rights and with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), alleging abuse of telecommunications equipment. Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said: "The hacking programmes being undertaken by GCHQ are the modern equivalent of the government entering your house, rummaging through your filing cabinets, diaries, journals and correspondence, before planting bugs in every room you enter. Intelligence agencies can do all this without you even knowing about it, and can invade the privacy of anyone around the world with a few clicks. "All of this is being done under a cloak of secrecy without any public debate or clear lawful authority. Arbitrary powers such as these are the purview of dictatorships, not democracies. Unrestrained, unregulated government spying of this kind is the antithesis of the rule of law and government must be held accountable for their actions."

    In the past GCHQ has declined to comment on any of its specific programmes, but stressed that its activities are proportional and comply with UK law. Responding to allegations earlier this year that mobile phones were being targeted through downloaded apps, the agency said: "It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters." A spokesman added: "Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework that ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners, and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position."

  • Attempts to stay anonymous on the web will only put the NSA on your trail
    The sobering story of Janet Vertesi's attempts to conceal her pregnancy from the forces of online marketers shows just how Kafkaesque the internet has become

    Corridors of power: one woman’s bid to conceal her pregnancy from the forces of online marketers ran into difficulty when her husband tried to buy $500 of gift cards from Amazon, run by Jeff Bezos, above. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters When searching for an adjective to describe our comprehensively surveilled networked world – the one bookmarked by the NSA at one end and by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and co at the other – "Orwellian" is the word that people generally reach for.

    But "Kafkaesque" seems more appropriate. The term is conventionally defined as "having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality", but Frederick Karl, Franz Kafka's most assiduous biographer, regarded that as missing the point. "What's Kafkaesque," he once told the New York Times, "is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behaviour, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world." A vivid description of this was provided recently by Janet Vertesi, a sociologist at Princeton University. She gave a talk at a conference describing her experience of trying to keep her pregnancy secret from marketers. Her report is particularly pertinent because pregnant women are regarded by online advertisers as one of the most valuable entities on the net. You and I are worth, on average, only 10 cents each. But a pregnant woman is valued at $1.50 because she is about to embark on a series of purchasing decisions stretching well into her child's lifetime.

    Professor Vertesi's story is about big data, but from the bottom up. It's a gripping personal account of what it takes to avoid being collected, tracked and entered into databases. First – and most obviously – she determined that there would be absolutely no mention of her new state on social media. She phoned or wrote individually to friends and family members to give them the good news, and asked them not to mention it on Facebook. But an uncle in Australia sent her a congratulatory message via Facebook. "I then did," she said, "what any rational person would do. I deleted the thread of all our conversations and unfriended him." He replied plaintively: "But I didn't put it on your wall", apparently unaware that chats and other messages aren't private in the sense that he assumed.

    In preparing for the birth of her child, Vertesi was nothing if not thorough. Instead of using a web-browser in the normal way – ie leaving a trail of cookies and other digital tracks, she used the online service Tor to visit anonymously. She shopped offline whenever she could and paid in cash. On the occasions when she had to use Amazon, she set up a new Amazon account linked to an email address on a personal server, had all packages delivered to a local locker and made sure only to pay with Amazon gift cards that had been purchased with cash. The really significant moment came when she came to buy a big-ticket item – an expensive stroller (aka pushchair) that was the urbanite's equivalent of an SUV. Her husband tried to buy $500 of Amazon gift vouchers with cash, only to discover that this triggered a warning: retailers have to report people buying large numbers of gift vouchers with cash because, well, you know, they're obviously money launderers.

    At this point, some sobering thoughts begin to surface. The first is Melvin Kranzberg's observation that "technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral". Our technologies have values built into them, which is why Vertesi in her talk cites someone's observation that "the iPod is a tool to make us moral" (because it encourages people to buy music rather than download it illicitly) and philosophers argue about whether surveillance encourages moral – ie socially approved – behaviour (think speed cameras). Even more sobering, though, are the implications of Professor Vertesi's decision to use Tor as a way of ensuring the anonymity of her web-browsing activities. She had a perfectly reasonable reason for doing this – to ensure that, as a mother-to-be, she was not tracked and targeted by online marketers.

    But we know from the Snowden disclosures and other sources that Tor users are automatically regarded with suspicion by the NSA et al on the grounds that people who do not wish to leave a digital trail are obviously up to no good. The same goes for people who encrypt their emails. This is why the industry response to protests about tracking is so inadequate. The market will fix the problem, the companies say, because if people don't like being tracked then they can opt not to be. But the Vertesi experiment shows that if you take measures to avoid being tracked, then you increase the probability that you will be. Which is truly Kafkaesque.

  • Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden
    Obama and his wife are lawyers and first and foremost a lackey for the global law society terrorists using surveillance to justify the mass theft of land, business and property from every single man targeted by their big brother collection network. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife are lawyers, former President Bill Clinton and his wife are lawyers as well as the first 'Scottish First Minister' Donald Dewar. Scotland is about to vote for independence with law society lackeys controlling the SNP party under Kenny MacAskill and Nicola Sturgeon. Any divorcing man will tell you the lengths crooked lawyers, acting for the law society godfathers and their financial backers the legal aid board's, will go to gather information on a man's total financial history from childhood. That requires surveillance where they have masonic spies in every single area of life we require to survive in.

    The US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

    “It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.” Snowden made his comments in a short video that was played before a debate on the proposition that surveillance today is a euphemism for mass surveillance, in Toronto, Canada. The former US National Security Agency contractor is living in Russia, having been granted temporary asylum there in June 2013. The video was shown as two of the debaters – the former US National Security Administration director, General Michael Hayden, and the well-known civil liberties lawyer and Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz – argued in favour of the debate statement: “Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms.”

    Opposing the motion were Glenn Greenwald, the journalist whose work based on Snowden’s leaks won a Pulitzer Prize for the Guardian last month, and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the social media website Reddit. The Snowden documents, first leaked to the Guardian last June, revealed that the US government has programs in place to spy on hundreds of millions of people’s emails, social networking posts, online chat histories, browsing histories, telephone records, telephone calls and texts – “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, in the words of one leaked document. Greenwald opened the debate by condemning the NSA’s own slogan, which he said appears repeatedly throughout its own documents: “Collect it all.”

    “What is state surveillance?” Greenwald asked. “If it were about targeting in a discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate. “The actual system of state surveillance has almost nothing to do with that. What state surveillance actually is, is defended by the NSA's actual words, that phrase they use over and over again: 'Collect it all.’ ” Dershowitz and Hayden spent the rest of the 90 minutes of the debate denying that the pervasive surveillance systems described by Snowden and Greenwald even exist and that surveillance programs are necessary to prevent terrorism. “Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!” Hayden said, drawing laughter.

    Greenwald sparred with Dershowitz and Hayden about whether or not the present method of metadata collection would have prevented the terrorist attacks on 11 September, 2011. While Hayden argued that intelligence analysts would have noticed the number of telephone calls from San Diego to the Middle East and caught the terrorists who were living illegally in the US, Greenwald argued that one of the primary reasons the US authorities failed to prevent the attacks was because they were taking in too much information to accurately sort through it all. Before the debates began, 33% of the audience voted in favour of the debate statement and 46% voted against. It closed with 59% of the audience siding with Greenwald and Ohanian.

  • Online freedom of speech under threat VIDEO

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