Speaking at a recent conference, Assange, the WikiLeaks founder that’s currently under Ecuadorian asylum in London, said that there was a need for an independent Internet infrastructure so that countries could maintain sovereignty and resist US control over communications.
He echoes the worries expressed by European leaders who seek to create a local network that should be immune to US attacks and efforts to intercept. The US has already criticized the idea, saying that such a measure would go against the trade treaties between them since US companies would not have access to this infrastructure.
“To a degree this is a matter of national sovereignty. The news is all flush with talk about how Russia has annexed the Crimea, but the reality is, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, principally the United States, have annexed the whole world as a result of annexing the computer systems and communications technology that is used to run the modern world,” said Assange.
“So it’s a matter of national sovereignty. If there is not at least some national network that can be maintained in a moment of economic or political conflict with the United States, then there is simply too much leverage on nation states to be able to effectively defend the interests of their peoples,” Assange added.
It should also be mentioned that the United States has also criticized Canada’s government for deciding to have a unified email system, which prevented US companies from bidding.
On the other hand, reporting about NSA’s mass surveillance practices has caused quite a bit of stir in the world and has created a sort of resistance against US control, managing to shift the geopolitical forces of Europe.
The example that Assange gives is Germany, where both Angela Merkel and the local society are striving to demonstrate independence in relation to the United States.
New laws are the first step, but they should be followed by stronger encryption standards for telecommunication links and higher standards for security.
“Those standards need to be made proportional to the value of those telecommunication links or the amount of data being stored and the EU needs to push for that in retaliation to trade negotiations with other countries,” said the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange has been a vocal supporter of Edward Snowden and the leaks he has provided to the media, often warning about the United States’ capacity to spy on the entire world.
It wasn’t just Cuba that the United States tried to influence to take action against the political leaders. In fact, the fact that one American organization put together ZunZuneo and hid the app’s origin is just a drop in the bucket for the US govt.
American and British intelligence agencies tried to take advantage of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, to misinform and conduct propaganda, as well as to stoke the fire for public protests.
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the news on the Snowden leaks, says that the idea to exploit the Internet to disseminate points of view friendly to the interests of the Western world and spread false information about targets appears quite often among materials provided by Edward Snowden.
In a previous report on the same stack of files, it was revealed that the NSA was instructed to conduct real-time surveillance on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in order to collect the computer addresses of billions of users.
This seems to be a small-time idea compared to the topic of discussion during the 2010 SIGDEV gathering of the members of the Five Eyes, the surveillance alliance formed by the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
An NSA file from 2010’s SIGDEV meeting focuses on several topics, including propaganda, deception, mass messaging, publishing stories, alias development and psychology. Basically, the document outlines the goal of “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world.”
Such operations are so important to the intelligence community that they comprise about 5 percent of Operations for the GCHQ.
A previous NBC report also indicated that the media could also be used for the agency’s purpose. This was done by picking out journalists that could be used to spread information. In fact, GCHQ operatives would snoop on non-British journalists to get information that could be used to manipulate them to feed the information they wanted.
ZunZuneo was a messaging tool created specifically for Cuba by an American state organization, which was supposed to be similar to Twitter but work offline. The app was built and shared without ever mentioning that it was created in the United States.
Its purpose was to encourage political change in Cuba after establishing a loyal user base by proposing regular topics, such as football and the weather.
The US Supreme Court is chickening out and taking a step back from the entire NSA scandal. Rather than making a final decision on whether the bulk telephone metadata surveillance program is constitutional, the Supreme Court has decided to decline the case.
Instead, the Court has now left lower courts to contradict each other over the legality of this particular NSA surveillance program. One court, for instance, has described the metadata program as an “almost-Orwellian” effort.
In fact, this particular petition brought to the Supreme Court concerns precisely a decision given out by US District Judge Richard Leon, who also wrote that in his opinion, America’s founding fathers would be aghast at the spying practices.
Political activist Larry Klayman skipped the Appeal Court and went straight to the Supreme Court, saying that this is a case of imperative public importance, so it should immediately get the attention of the highest court. It should be mentioned that the Supreme Court doesn’t normally pick out cases before they go to the Federal Appeal Court.
The decision to ignore this particular case comes just before the White House is expected to come up with a series of more drastic reforms for the National Security Agency. So far, these reforms have extended to restricting the NSA’s access to the records and having a third party hold them rather than the agency itself, as if that will fix the issue generated by the initial collection.
Most people don’t really expect big changes in the way the United States conducts surveillance considering its weak response thus far and clear unwillingness to make any real changes.
The future of the telephony metadata collection program will most likely be decided by politicians rather than judges. There are several important bills awaiting in Congress, including some that will considerably cut down on NSA’s surveillance powers.
The intelligence community has been lobbying the Congress not to pass the bill, but social pressure might eventually pay off and the bills could still pass.
One of these bills has been written by Jim Sensenbrenner, the same man who wrote the Patriot Act, which the NSA uses to hide behind whenever it explains why a certain surveillance program is legal. Sensenbrenner now wants to set things right and make sure there’s no loophole to be used by the intelligence agencies.
The governmental monitoring of metadata is perhaps more intrusive than having your phone tapped or your emails read, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald say.
The whistleblower and the journalist who shed light on the NSA’s mass surveillance practices based on Snowden’s files appeared together via live feed in a conference of Amnesty International, Reuters reports.
While Greenwald connected to the event from Brazil, Snowden was patched in from Russia, where he’s been offered asylum last summer.
The pair said that government monitoring of metadata is more intrusive than traditional wiretaps, while stressing the importance of a free press that’s not afraid to challenge the government over its activity.
Telephony metadata includes phone number, call times and duration, as well as location data, while emails include quite a bit more details. Metadata, by definition, does not include the content of the calls or emails, which makes people believe it’s not as harmless.
Studies have shown over the past few months that things aren’t nearly as innocent as the US government paints them to be. Analyzed metadata can give the NSA insight into a lot of personal details about people, including who their closest relatives are, which friends they talk to the most, whether they’re religious or not, when they go to work, their sleeping patterns and day-to-day habits.
“Metadata is what allows an actual enumerated understanding, a precise record of all the private activities in all of our lives. It shows our associations, our political affiliations and our actual activities,” said Snowden during his intervention.
In the US, the metadata programs have gotten the most attention from media and government officials, even though programs that are even more intrusive and important have been unveiled.
The US government is currently under pressure to put an end to the metadata program, although the White House seems reluctant to do so, especially after intensive lobbying from the intelligence community.
Spy Obama has announced several measures that are supposed to reform the NSA’s program, but they are for show and barely touch the core issues.
Amnesty International, who organized the conference, has been campaigning against the US government to end mass surveillance as a whole, including the metadata programs.
So far, however, the response has been weak and faith is fading that actual changes are going to happen when it comes to the way the United States and its partners collect intelligence around the world.
Sources: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Snowden-and-Greenwald-Metadata-Collecting-More-Intrusive-than-Eavesdropping-436206.shtml , http://news.softpedia.com/news/Assange-US-Annexed-Whole-World-Through-Surveillance-436254.shtml , http://news.softpedia.com/news/NSA-and-GCHQ-Infiltrated-Twitter-YouTube-Facebook-for-Propaganda-436162.shtml , http://news.softpedia.com/news/Supreme-Court-Refuses-to-Take-on-NSA-Metadata-Case-436300.shtml