#India- Government eavesdropping ‘chilling’, says rights group #CMS #Monitoring


Agence France Presse | Updated: June 07, 2013 17:03 IST

 Indian government eavesdropping 'chilling', says rights group
New DelhiThe Indian government‘s move to implement blanket eavesdropping of online activities, telephone calls and text messages is “chilling”, Human Rights Watch said today as controversy raged in the US about Internet surveillance.The Central Monitoring System was announced in parliament late last year and is a so-called “single window” allowing Indian state bodies such as the National Investigation Agency or tax authorities to monitor communications.

New York-based Human Rights Watch demanded a full public debate about “the intended use of the system before proceeding” as the monitoring was created without parliamentary approval.

The Indian surveillance comes as reports emerged that the US National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been tapping into the servers of Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and six other top US Internet companies, stirring a major row in the United States.

The US White House defended the clandestine data collection as a critical tool for preventing “the threat posed by terrorists” and said it was only targeting foreigners, not Americans.

In December 2012, the Indian government said in a statement its monitoring system would “lawfully intercept Internet and telephone services”.

A government spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on media reports that the government had begun rolling out the system.

Human Rights Watch said clear laws were needed to ensure that increased surveillance of phones and the Internet does not undermine rights to privacy and free expression.

“The Indian government’s centralised monitoring is chilling, given its reckless and irresponsible use of the sedition and Internet laws,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Indian activists have raised concerns that the monitoring will inhibit them from expressing their opinions and sharing information.

The government has released scant information about what Indian agencies will have access to the system, who may authorise surveillance, and what legal standards must be met to intercept various kinds of data or communications.

India does not have a law to protect against intrusions on privacy.

A government appointed expert group observed in a 2012 report that current privacy regulations were “prone to misuse”.

Wong said Indian authorities should amend the existing Information Technology Act to protect free speech “and be fully transparent about any surveillance system that might chill people’s willingness to share opinions and information”.

In recent years, Indian authorities have arrested people for posting comments critical of the government on social media, put pressure on websites such as Facebook to filter or block content and imposed liability on private telecom operators to filter and remove content from users.

 

UID will result in loss of freedoms: WikiLeaks backer #Aadhaar


The Hindu, By V. Sridha

Computer security expert , Jacob Appelbaum at a talk in TERI complex in Bangalore on Tuesday. Photo : K . Bhagya Prakash
The establishment of a centralised database of Indian citizens such as the Unique Identification (UID) project will result in the loss of freedoms on a “societal scale,” according to Jacob Appelbaum, a staunch supporter of the WikiLeaks project.

Addressing a small gathering of hacking enthusiasts here late on Tuesday, Mr. Appelbaum, an associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said he was “horrified” by the establishment in India of the Central Monitoring System (CMS), which was being used to gather a diverse range of analogue and digital information, including telephone records, text messages and Internet traffic. “We live in the golden age of surveillance,” said Mr. Appelbaum, a U.S. citizen who has been detained by U.S. law-enforcement agencies on at least a dozen occasions.

“The problem with the Unique Identification (UID) system or the CMS is not that it will not be perfect,” but the fact that it would result in people being forced to “behave differently” because they would be under surveillance or have to live in fear of it. “This amounts to a loss of freedom,” he argued. “To watch is to control, and surveillance is a kind of control.”

Warning of the possibilities of data theft, Mr. Appelbaum said that though “fingerprint lifting may appear far-fetched now,” techniques for enabling “transferable fingerprints” were being discussed in the public realm. Iris scans, he told The Hindu, were also “far from being foolproof.”

“These are things that deserve resistance, not protest, because protest happens when you do not go along with something,” he said. “Resistance, on the other hand, happens when you stop others from going along.” “I also think we need to build alternatives to these systems.”

Though he conceded that there might be a need for citizen identification systems in society, he argued that centralising them posed grave dangers to the freedom of citizens. “When we centralise the collection of information, we actually centralise the place that an attacker would like to attack to gain control of society,” Mr. Appelbaum said.

The “intentions” of those in authority do not matter because “general purpose information systems” were difficult to protect. “We can try, but there is a threshold of attack, where someone will probably win.” “If there are valid concerns of national security, espionage or terrorism, does it make sense to make a centralised system with all the records of usage of phones, Internet browsing, emails, fingerprints?” “Doing this may result in losses on a societal scale,” he said.

Mr. Appelbaum, co-author, with Mr. Assange, of Cypherpunks: Freedom and the future of the Internet, said “dragnet surveillance” systems amounted to “a tyranny of sorts.”

Example from Nazi Germany

Arguing against the notion that technology is benign, Mr. Appelbaum recalled the use of punching card technologies deployed by the Nazi regime in Germany to target Jews, Communists and others social groups. The machines enabled the regime to determine how many Jews or Communists lived in a particular residential block, he said. “We can understand from the past what possibilities exist in the future for surveillance,” he said. “In fact, when people suggest that surveillance causes no harm, they are denying history.”

He recalled the “Athens Incident” of 2004, when the telephone switches leading to the Prime Minister and a number of Greek parliamentarians were subjected to wiretapping with “interception systems.” He pointed out that telephone-switching standards established in the U.S. were mimicked all over the world. “There is a trickledown effect in all this. So, Greece gets them [interception systems] just the same way as Iran gets them, and just about the way the U.S. has them,” Mr. Appelbaum said.

“The theory goes that the FBI [the Federal Bureau of Investigation], which is legitimate, goes to a court and never abuses its authority, and so everything is fine.” But the “backdoors” built into these switches made them vulnerable to anyone who might have access to the switch through a computer network.

Internet freedom

“In theory, the Internet allows us to be free, but the fact that almost by default, the Internet is not secure implies a breakdown of this freedom,” Mr. Appelbaum said. “This results in a strange situation: people have the freedom to communicate and say what they want, but does the surveillance actually allow them to be free?”

An expert hacker, Mr. Appelbaum said: “Technology is quite boring, when compared with the richness of societies.” Urging the audience to read his book, he said: “You have my blessings to download it from Pirate Bay.”

 

FBI Pursuing Real- Time Gmail Spying Powers as “Top Priority” for 2013 #privacy


For now, law enforcement has trouble monitoring Gmail communications in real time

Image courtesy Google

Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a “top priority” this year.

Last week, during a talk for the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann discussed some of the pressing surveillance and national security issues facing the bureau. He gave a few updates on the FBI’s efforts to address what it calls the “going dark” problem—how the rise in popularity of email and social networks has stifled its ability to monitor communications as they are being transmitted. It’s no secret that under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the feds can easily obtain archive copies of emails. When it comes to spying on emails or Gchat in real time, however, it’s a different story.

That’s because a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn’t cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games (“the chat feature in Scrabble”) to Gmail and Google Voice. “Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,” he said.

While it is true that CALEA can only be used to compel Internet and phone providers to build in surveillance capabilities into their networks, the feds do have some existing powers to request surveillance of other services. Authorities can use a “Title III” order under the “Wiretap Act” to ask email and online chat providers furnish the government with “technical assistance necessary to accomplish the interception.” However, the FBI claims this is not sufficient because mandating that providers help with “technical assistance” is not the same thing as forcing them to “effectuate” a wiretap. In 2011, then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni—Weissmann’s predecessor—stated that Title III orders did not provide the bureau with an “effective lever” to “encourage providers” to set up live surveillance quickly and efficiently. In other words, the FBI believes it doesn’t have enough power under current legislation to strong-arm companies into providing real-time wiretaps of communications.

Because Gmail is sent between a user’s computer and Google’s servers using SSL encryption, for instance, the FBI can’t intercept it as it is flowing across networks and relies on the company to provide it with access. Google spokesman Chris Gaither hinted that it is already possible for the company to set up live surveillance under some circumstances. “CALEA doesn’t apply to Gmail but an order under the Wiretap Act may,” Gaither told me in an email. “At some point we may expand our transparency report to cover this topic in more depth, but until then I’m not able to provide additional information.”

Either way, the FBI is not happy with the current arrangement and is on a crusade for more surveillance authority. According to Weissmann, the bureau is working with “members of intelligence community” to craft a proposal for new Internet spy powers as “a top priority this year.” Citing security concerns, he declined to reveal any specifics. “It’s a very hard thing to talk about publicly,” he said, though acknowledged that “it’s something that there should be a public debate about.”

 

#Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting probed as ‘domestic terrorism’


 

 

A man sits on a rock as police investigate the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wis., after a shooting Sunday, Aug 5, 2012. A gunman killed six people at the suburban Milwaukee temple in a rampage that left terrified congregants hiding in closets and others texting friends outside for help. The suspect was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers.

The Associated Press

Published Sunday, Aug. 05 2012, 1:07 PM EDT

Police in Wisconsin say seven people are dead at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, including the suspected gunman.

The FBI says it is investigating whether the shootings were an act of domestic terrorism. FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson says in a Sunday night statement that no motive has been determined for the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. She says the investigation is in its early stages.

He says one of those killed outside is the suspect. Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards says the suspect “ambushed” one of the first officers to arrive at the scene as the officer tended to a shooting victim.

Mr. Edwards says the suspect shot the officer multiple times outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday morning. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect and fatally shot him. Mr. Edwards says the officer who was ambushed is undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital and is expected to survive.

Police do not believe a second shooter was involved, contradicting earlier reports of multiple shooters.

At least three men have been admitted to a Milwaukee-area hospital, including one police officer. A Froederdt Hospital spokeswoman says one of the men is in the operating room, another is in a surgical intensive care unit and the third is being evaluated in the emergency room. All three are considered to be in critical condition.

The first official word from police was that they didn’t know how many victims or suspects were involved. But a short time later, after an extensive search of the temple, authorities said they did not believe there was more than one shooter.

“It was a very coordinated thing. It wasn’t haphazard,” temple member Amardeep Kaleka told CNN. He said his father was wounded in the attack.

“This is nerve-racking. No one really knows what’s going on. Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Mangat said. Later, when he learned of the deaths, he said, “It was like the heart just sat down. This shouldn’t happen anywhere.”

It is still unknown how many were wounded in the shooting. At least three priests may be among those shot, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

According to the Journal Sentinel, one of the temple’s committee members said the motive for the shooting is unknown, but identified one shooter as a white male who is not a member of the temple, and suggested it may have been “a hate crime.”

U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday that he and First Lady Michelle Obama had been “deeply saddened” to learn of a shooting that left at least seven people dead at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

“As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family,” he said, in a White House statement.

Police and ambulances have cordoned off the area, and tactical units are on scene, while officers were dispatched to another nearby temple as a precaution.

With reports from James Bradshaw and Reuters

 

A Victory for the Internet: SOPA Act Dropped After Mass Protest


 

The blockage last week of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2012, is a tentative victory not only for net neutrality and changing definitions of intellectual property, but also an impressive display of new online organizing.

SOPA is the first of what will likely be several attempts to censor the Internet, under the logic of media’s intellectual property law. Nominally, the act would have shut down offshore torrenting sites, a move which the FBI already took in part on Jan. 19, when massive file share sites Megaupload and Megavideo were shut down. Actually, the law would have the capacity to shut down or censor some of the most trafficked sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as numerous smaller sites with much less clout and bargaining influence.

SOPA is not the last we’ve seen of the push to censor the Internet. As our modes of information access have shifted from newspapers and libraries to the vast universe of the web, law, especially intellectual property law, has struggled to keep up. It’s no secret that record sales, newspaper sales, movie attendance and other hallmarks of our media-saturated era have plunged in recent years, and the industries have scrambled to save their bottom lines. SOPA and its ilk will not go without a fight.

The most interesting outcome, then, of the SOPA debacle is the massive backlash from the general public. Goaded in part by blackouts of popular sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit, millions of angry consumers signed petitions large and small to “save the Internet!” The sites in blackout, and even those that weren’t, linked viewers to a place where they could look up their representative and send an email in protest, as well as sign a petition.

People’s activist fervor, at least as exhibited through Facebook and Twitter, was overwhelming. Seasoned organizers might argue that anything done in front of a computer screen is not activism but “slacktivism”; yet behold, the architects of the bill have backed down and vowed to go back to the drawing board.

How SOPA is critical, is determined by the means we had to use to protest it, indicating ever more clearly the Internet’s omnipotence and almost crippling power in our lives. A censorship of the Internet would be a censorship of the people’s power, through the means we in the developed world now use to express it.

The anti-SOPA petitions are a heartening harbinger of the massive quantities of fervor and activism, even via the Internet, waiting to be tapped. This was a large-scale version of the rapid-fire Change.org petitions that stunned corporations, such as Molly Katchpole’s Change.org petition against Bank of America‘s proposed $5 fee for debit card usage. Katchpole, a 22-year-old nanny (and full disclosure, a former coworker of mine), collected 300,000 signatures through an online petition and the bank relented. Several months later, SOPA protests ignited the same kind of public fervor, just on a larger scale. Both protests indicate the ubiquity and power of online organizing, and both capture public distress at a time when banks and governments are overstepping their limits more than ever.

Attempts to legislate the Internet will not go away. The Internet is a relatively young place and as such is inevitably going to be reined in as the boundaries of authority shift with the meaning of intellectual property. Fortunately, the medium shapes the message, and the millions of signatures, calls and emails to our representatives indicate how the general online public can organize not just for net neutrality, but for anything.

Source- Sophian

FBI updates Rape definition after 85 years


 The FBI (FBI) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites] announced an official update of the federal government’s definition of rape [press release] to include the violation of “any person” rather than the previous definition that only covered women. The previous definition had been unchanged for 85 years. The new definition, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim,” is primarily used in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) [materials], an annual statistical analysis of crimes in the US. Before this year, any rape of a man was not included in the US government’s official rape statistical reports. This crime, not only under-reported, has thus also been under-represented statistically as well. Other updates are implied in this new definition with the inclusion of a consent provision:

The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with state statute. Physical resistance from the victim is not required to demonstrate lack of consent. The new definition does not change federal or state criminal codes or impact charging and prosecution on the local level.

The previous definition was simply “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

Last month, the FBI announced that violent crime in the US has dropped [JURIST report], continuing a trend lasting for the past four-and-a-half years. Violent crimes, which include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, dropped 6.4 percent in the first months of 2011 compared to the same time in 2010. Property crimes, including burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft, dropped 3.7 percent and arson decreased 8.6 percent. The FBI data is a compilation of more than 18,000 jurisdictions that voluntarily participate in the FBI’s UCR Program. However, with the amended definition of rape, non-forcible rapes and rapes of men will now be included in the statistical analysis, so the violent crime rate next year should reflect that shift.

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