Posts Tagged ‘jacob appelbaum’
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on Civil Liberties
Last March, I blogged about Kim Dotcom , the Internet multimillionaire the FBI is trying to extradite to the US on Internet piracy charges. In brief the FBI is accusing the founder of Mega Upload of illegal file sharing and copyright violation. Dotcom, much of the New Zealand media and Internet freedom activist Jacob Appelbaum contend that the US government has no case.
If Dotcom’s Guilty, So Is YouTube
If Dotcom is guilty, so are dozens of other “cloud” Internet providers (for example YouTube) that provide bandwidth for uploading and sharing large files. Like YouTube, Dotcom deliberately built a number of precautionary measures into Mega Upload to protect the motion picture and music industry against illegal file sharing that violates their copyright protections. The first is the Terms of Service Agreement all Mega Upload users were required to tick. In it they agreed not to share copyrighted material, but only files that they themselves had produced. The second was file deletion rights Mega Upload granted their 180 partners, which included every single member of the Motion Picture Association and many music studios. As Dotcom points out, this isn’t a legal requirement (YouTube doesn’t grant automatic deletion rights) but something he did voluntarily. This is in addition to the 15 million files Mega Upload deleted at the request of copyright holders.
US Laws Protecting “Cloud” Servers
Dotcom is also extremely knowledgeable about US laws that protect “cloud” servers, which legally are categorized as Internet service providers (ISPs). The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is very explicit that ISPs are in no way responsible for copyright violations of third party users, other than to take down illegal files that are reported to them. Because of privacy protections in the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, ISPs are forbidden from examining files posted by their patrons. Thus they have no way of knowing they contain copyright violations unless content providers notify them.
Our Own Julian Assange
Dotcom has become a kind of folk hero in New Zealand, our own Julian Assange. Kiwis are aware the US government has stripped most of its own citizens of their civil liberties and happily champion anyone (even multimillionaires) brave enough to take on Big Brother.
NZ Court Rulings in Dotcom’s Favor
Unlike Assange’s experience in Britain, Dotcom is faring pretty well in New Zealand Courts
New Zealand courts. Thus far the FBI has refused to share the evidence against Dotcom with his defense team (sound familiar?). All they been willing to provide is a summary of the charges. The judge presiding over the upcoming extradition hearing disagrees. In May Judge David Harvey ruled that Dotcom’s lawyers should have access to information collated against him by the FBI. The Obama administration (predictably) has appealed the ruling, objecting that it’s outside the treaty agreement New Zealand has with the US on extradition. The action has struck an extremely negative chord with the New Zealand public, who still regard New Zealand as a sovereign country with a bill of rights guaranteeing all the civil liberties Americans used to enjoy under the US Constitution.
Dotcom’s ability to defend himself again extradition is especially difficult, as he no longer has access to computers, servers and computer files the New Zealand police seized (on behalf of the FBI), which are now in the US.
Last week New Zealand High Court judge Helen Winkelmen ruled that the warrants authorizing the search and seizure were illegal. She also ruled it was illegal for Dotcom’s computer data (which the FBI now refuses to share with his defense attorney) be taken offshore.
What Did Joe Biden Meet with the MPAA About?
Dotcom accuses United States Vice-President Joe Biden of masterminding the case against him. He says Hollywood bigwigs pressured the US Government to take down his website in a series of meetings about six months before New Zealand police (acting on the US extradition request) raided his Auckland home. He has evidence documenting meetings between all the studio executives in the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and Biden. One executive later met, Mike Ellis, later met with former New Zealand justice minister Simon Power. The head of the MPAA disputes this. He claims the purpose of the meeting with Biden was to discuss America’s World Trade Association (WTO) complaint against China and the importance of getting more American films into the country.
Dotcom is in the process of creating a website to make all the evidence public. I can hardly wait.
 Kim Dotcom was born (in Germany) Kim Schmitz and changed his surname by deed poll.
 Cloud computing refers broadly to a range of Internet services that allow files to be uploaded to a remote site.
by stuartbramhall in New Zealand
There is growing suspicion in New Zealand that this country, like American Samoa and Puerto Rico, has become an American colony. Sadly, the unfolding Kim Dotcom saga seems to confirm this. On January 20th, a New Zealand assault team consisting of helicopters and special defense forces and police armed with automatic weapons invaded the private Auckland home of Mega Upload founder and CEO Kim Dotcom. The reason for Dotcom’s arrest? In New Zealand such treatment is normally reserved for international terrorism suspects and drug dealers. However the purpose of the January 20th assault was an FBI extradition order for Internet piracy.
Dotcom, who is out on bail, gave his first media interview last night on TV 3 Campbell Live. People have to see this. Americans especially need to watch the interview, as this type of hard hitting investigative reporting has become extremely rare in the US. The twenty-three minute segment leaves absolutely no doubt that the FBI Indictment is nothing but lies and fabrication. If, due to massive legal bungling, some New Zealand judge agrees to extradite this guy, he will undoubtedly be found innocent in US federal court.
The FBI Has Knowingly Violated US Law
The FBI has no case. If Dotcom is guilty, so are dozens of other “cloud” Internet providers (for example YouTube) that provide bandwidth for uploading and sharing large files. It appears that, once again, the FBI has knowingly violated US law. I suspect they have done this on the assumption that Dotcom is an easy target because either 1) the New Zealand legal and judicial system is (in their view) made up of ignorant hicks or 2) our current (conservative) National government are such obsequious lapdogs that they will introduce some weird retroactive law in Parliament to alter the rules of evidence (this is legal in New Zealand, owing to the absence of a written constitution).
Protected by the Same Laws as YouTube
John Campbell is a very skillful interviewer. The first point he brings out is the elaborate precautions (based on millions of dollars of legal advice) that Dotcom built into Mega Upload to protect the motion picture and music industry against illegal file sharing activities. The first is the Terms of Service Agreement all Mega Upload users were required to tick. In it they agreed not to share copyrighted material, but only files that they themselves had produced. The second was file deletion rights Mega Upload granted their 180 partners, which included every single member of the Motion Picture Association and many music studios. As Dotcom points out, this is not a legal requirement (YouTube doesn’t grant automatic deletion rights) but something he did voluntarily. This is in addition to the 15 million files Mega Upload has deleted at the request of copyright holders.
The Mega Upload founder goes on to outline the US laws that protect “cloud” servers, which legally are categorized as Internet service providers (ISP’s). The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is very explicit that ISP’s are in no way responsible for copyright violations of third party users, other than to take down illegal files that are reported to them. Because of privacy protections in the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, ISP’s are forbidden from examining files posted by their patrons. Thus they have no way of knowing of copyright violations unless content providers notify them.
Why the FBI Doesn’t Go After YouTube
The CEO of Mega Upload acknowledges that Internet piracy is an enormous problem for all cloud/file sharing providers, including YouTube (now owned by Google, Media Fire, Rapid Share and Shy Drive (run by Microsoft). He asks why the FBI doesn’t go after any corporate cloud/file sharing servers and answers his own question: Google has $50 billion to defend themselves.
Dotcom is surprisingly nonchalant that the FBI has destroyed his billion dollar business. I suspect this may have been their intention all along – in order to intimidate other solo entrepreneurs keen on entering the lucrative cloud/file sharing industry. The FBI, Hong Kong and New Zealand have frozen all his financial assets. He indicates his attorneys presently are working without pay, owing to their concern about the blatant miscarriage of justice by both the FBI and the New Zealand government. Dotcom is clearly relieved to be out of jail, as Mrs. Dotcom is expecting twins in April.
Implications for Cloud Users
The case also has ominous implications for cloud users. When the FBI shut down Mega Upload on January 20th, all their patrons (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) lost all their data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is preparing to file suit if the FBI fails to retain and return these files to their rightful owners.
Jacob Appelbaum’s Take on the Dotcom Case
People should also view Jacob Appelbaum’s commentary on the Dotcom case, in a speech at Occupy Melbourne. Appelbaum is the Internet freedom activist who, owing to his association with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, was detained at both Newark and Seattle airport and had his laptop, cellphones and other electronic equipment confiscated. Appelbaum makes the point that the law has never held the FBI back in harassing law abiding citizens. He believes they have chosen to make an example of Dotcom owing to the failure of The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in Congress – that they want to make the case they don’t really need SOPA to arrest Internet pirates. This is a common strategy. As any activist over fifty can attest, the FBI has long engaged in illegal surveillance activities that only became legal in 2001 under the Patriot Act.
 Kim Dotcom was born (in Germany) Kim Schmitz and changed his surname by deed poll.
 Cloud computing refers broadly to a range of Internet services that allow files to be stored, backed up and/or shared on-line.
by stuartbramhall in The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
by Ahmed Bensaada
(Michel Brule May 2011)
In tracking down sources for an upcoming presentation on the antiglobalization movement, I have come across a little gem called Arabesque Americaine by French Canadian author Ahmed Bensaada. The full title is Arabesque Americaine: Le role des Etats-Unis dans les revoltes de la rue arabe — translated American Arabesque: the Role of the US in the Revolts in the Arab Streets.
I have been increasingly skeptical of the authenticity of the “Arab Spring” revolutions — especially in Egypt (where the outcome is a military junta) and Libya (which, like Iraq , has been bombed back to the Middle Ages). Last February, a few blogs mentioned a 2009 meeting between Hillary Clinton and one of Egypt ‘s (presumably) US funded pro-democracy groups. Then the English alternative media and blogosphere went all quiet on the issue.
Arabesque Americaine leaves absolutely no doubt that the “Arab Spring” — like the earlier “color revolutions” in eastern Europe — were almost certainly destabilization/regime change operations, funded and orchestrated by the CIA, State Department, historic CIA-funded foundations — and last, but not least, Google.
Bensaada’s 120-page book provides a carefully researched and referenced account of each of the foundations that are “exporting democracy” to MENA (the Middle East and North Africa ), along with an exact accounting of the millions of dollars given to each country in 2009 and the specific groups the funds went to.
My favorite chapter was the one describing the role these foundations, the State Department, and Google have played in training young MENA activists in the use of social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). I was particularly interested in the free access and training they provide international youth activists on TOR, a special software designed to evade government surveillance (which, under the Patriot Act, is illegal in the US ).
Bensaada, who was born and received his early education in Algeria, devotes special attention to the Egypt revolution, emphasizing the role Google played via their star employee Wael Ghonem.
The following is a brief outline of the topics covered:
Chapter 1 — concerns the secret American funding and orchestration of the so-called “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe , with particular focus on Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Kirghizistan(2005). In each case, pro-Soviet governments were overthrown by mobilizing disaffected, pro-Western young people — financed by the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon linked “democracy manipulating” foundations. The latter include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Freedom House (FH), the Albert Einstein Institute, the Center for Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — and George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI).
Chapter 2 — contains a detailed discussion of the above think tanks and foundations, which includes a description of the their government funding, as well as the subversive activities (espionage, election rigging, an popular destablization activities) they promote in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Iran that oppose America’s pro-corporate agenda.
Chapter 3 — discusses the promotion, by the State Department and these think tanks and foundations, of new technologies in these destabilization campaigns. I was fascinated by Bensaada’s description of Guide Star’s TOR Project, which permits anonymous navigation of the Internet. According to their own website, TOR is funded by Google, the US Naval Research Lab, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). In 2004 Paul Treanor documented that HRW is a joint project of Soros’ Open Society Institute and the State Department (http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/HRW.htm). US Wikileaks spokesperson Jacob Appelbaum, the main TOR spokesperson, travels all over the world training activists in the use of TOR (Wikileaks uses TOR on their servers).
Chapter 3 also discusses the role of Movements.org and the Alliance of Youth Movements in promoting the use of social media to international youth activists (once again, Bensaada points out that promoting protests via social media is illegal in the US — he cites the example of an activist arrested at the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh). Movements.org is run by Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas and a former adviser to both Condolizza Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jason Libman, another Google employee formerly employed by both the State Department and the Pentagon. AYM executive director David Nassar was formerly employed by NDI, USAID and IRI. The list of luminaries who participated in a 2008 Summit focused on teaching international activists how to use Facebook and Twitter is also extremely enlightening: Sherif Mansour from Freedom House, James Glassman from the State Department, Larry Diamond from NED, and national security advisor Shaarik Zafar.
Chapter 4 — focuses on the specific case of Egypt, with particular attention to the role played by Google employee Gael Ghonem, who was given paid leave from his job (Google’s chief of marketing for MENA) to participated in the Tahrir Square uprising. Ghonem was responsible for creating the Facebook page “We are all Mohamed Bouazizi” after the Tunisian fruit seller trigger the Tunisian revolution by setting himself on fire. Ghonem also created the “We are all Tal Al-Mallou” to pressure Syria to release the Syrian blogger after she was arrested for espionage activities in the Syrian Embassy in Cairo . Back in 2009, he also set up a Facebook page for Egyptian exile Mohammed El-Baradei, in advance of his February 2010 visit to Cairo to explore a bid for the Egyptian presidency. The visit, according to Wikileaks cables, was organized through the US embassy. Please note this was a full year before the Tahrir Square protests.
In this chapter, Bensaada also focuses on two lead organizers in the April 6th movement (Bassam Samir and Adel Mohamed) with strong links to Washington and the “color revolutions.”
Chapter 5 — focuses on the pro-democracy organizations in other Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebannon, Lybia, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria) financed by the State Department and the “democracy manipulating” foundations. In his appendix, Bensaada identifies the specific pro-democracy groups by name and the exact amount of US funding each received in 2009.
Chapter 6 — a summation and analysis, which explores the ethical dilemma faced by many Egyptian activists on learning the non-violent materials they were using to organize demonstrations were the creation of CIA and State Department Funded think tanks and Foundations.
Arabesque Americaine is available in print for $16.95 from Amazon Canada (with links to discount distributors selling it for $11.08). It’s also available in Epub from two sites. According to one ebook distributor, Archambault, the Epub version is only available in Canada to “protect the rights” of the author. A second site, Livresquebecois.com allowed me to pay for and download the Epub version. However the file they provided is corrupted and had to be converted to PDF (via free downloadable software) in order to read it.
Bensaada’s writing is unusually clear and concise. Thus I highly recommend the book, even where readers have only limited knowledge of French. More than half the reference links are to English sites. That alone, in my opinion, is more than worth $11.08 for a print copy .