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RSF Names Names In Report On Online Spying

timothy posted about a year ago | from the kool-aid-to-cultists dept.

Censorship 29

eldavojohn writes "Reporters without Borders has released a report on governments and the companies they employ to spy on their own citizens online. Syria and China were singled out as the worst with Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam not far behind. In addition, RSF named names when it came to the corporate entities (a market worth 5 billion dollars) that provided specific services to these oppressive governments: Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat. The report is aptly titled 'Enemies of the Internet' and, though lengthy, provides a detailed examination in the destruction of online rights as well as very specific attacks each government employs. RSF also noted the many attempted solutions to these problems and a link to their online survival kit."

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29 comments

Just Say No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43147741)

Just Say No to Buttsex!

Going to name the American and European ones too? (5, Insightful)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year ago | (#43147761)

While I realize that censorship and monitoring are nowhere nearly as bad in the U.S. and Europe as they are in the included countries (though perhaps more insidious for its subtlety and secrecy), I still would very much like a public shaming of the contractors who are helping those governments too. As big as the homeland security contractor craze [washingtonpost.com] has gotten in the U.S., you can't tell me that there aren't a bunch of companies out there happily helping the U.S. spy on its citizens (and you can bet it's happening in Europe and other Western countries too).

Reporters w/o Borders:A dubious/shady organization (4, Informative)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about a year ago | (#43147883)

Any info from Reporters w/o Borders should be taken with a large grain of salt - is a dubious organization at best, a propaganda mouth piece for special interests. References:

"Reporters Without Borders Unmasked" [counterpunch.org]

"Reporters Without Borders seems to have a geopolitical agenda" [voltairenet.org]

"Source Watch: Reporters Without Borders" [sourcewatch.org]

Re:Reporters w/o Borders:A dubious/shady organizat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43147941)

Whistle-blowers would do well to stay far away from their "Anti-Censorship Shelter [rsf.org] " or they may find themselves in Mannings boat [guardian.co.uk] .

Re:Reporters w/o Borders:A dubious/shady organizat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43148657)

I don't know for the others, but your source on voltaire.net is amongst the worst sources you can find. This is a network rather conspiratist-oriented (9/11 is an inside job, etc.), with a strong influence of Lyndon LaRouche [wikipedia.org]

Re:Reporters w/o Borders:A dubious/shady organizat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43148835)

voltaire.net did not actually write that article, it is just a high ranked google hit [google.com] of many websites of varying credibility that carry the same article.

Re:Reporters w/o Borders:A dubious/shady organizat (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43155993)

Agreed, RSF used to be just US propaganda outlet, but there is a little sign that things may be changing: in this report,they criticized Barhain, which since now has been ignored just like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, probably because they are US allies.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43147893)

That was my gut reaction too, I'm more interested in domestic censorship than foreign.

Though likely the response to that knowledge [REDACTED]

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (4, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43148087)

What about domestic censorship, monitoring and even censoring on all foreign communications? Spying on their own citizens are internal affairs, could be justified on maintaining order, internal peace or whatever, but doing it for most communications of other countries or between other countries? Wikipedia is [wikipedia.org] full [wikipedia.org] of references [wikipedia.org] on it [wikipedia.org] , among [eff.org] others [salon.com] , And is acting [theregister.co.uk] on the information that is gathering.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43149633)

Interesting point of view. My view is that domestic censorship is defensible. If a group of people decide in a democratic fashion to censor certain types of information, that is their perogative. For example if you live in a society where porn is outlawed, then so be it. Move somewhere else if you want to live under different rules.

However, spying and total surveillance always implies a strong shift in power from the population to the government. That is far from ok in my book. I fear that it corrupts and destroys democracy.

I would really like you to expand on your points of view.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43150487)

There is no shift in power, at least in US the power is in the government (and groups that in a way or another control them), with population with little to no power at all. Oh, you can choose between Kang or Kodos, but not really change what governs you, think in the transition between Bush and Obama, different parties, different platforms, but the big trends were going steady all thru it till this day. And you can't choose another thing with the media control, by those control groups or directly by government. Think in how the opinion of the population in general is driven around topics that they should care regarding their power vs the government, like wikileaks and the occupy movement.

But ok, lets say that US is doomed. What about the rest of the world? Its still having US spying and close to total surveillance (most communications go thru it or end in companies hosted on it, like google, facebook or amazon), and the media is in good part still controlled by it too (and actively used to desestabilize governments, usually by the same pressure groups that control US). And the main defense that have the other countries against this is... surveillance and censorship.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43148113)

That was my gut reaction too, I'm more interested in domestic censorship than foreign.

What's domestic to you is foreign to someone else.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43148103)

From the article.

"The European Union and the United States have already banned the export of surveillance technology to Iran and Syria. This praiseworthy initiative should not be an isolated one."

They Sure Did (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#43148205)

Well, as the submitter I guess I'm the only person to read the article so I guess I have to collect only the bits you're interested in (emphases for your benefit):

Twitter launched its own transparency report in July 2012. It focuses on user data requests by governments (the United States made the most requests) and on content removal requests by governments or copyright holders. Twitter has also undertaken to leave a “Tweet withheld” message whenever a Tweet is removed in response to a complaint from a copyright holder and to send a copy of each takedown notice to the Chilling Effects website.

Opponents of the proposed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA) say it will allow privacy to be violated in order to protect cyber-security. Although it seemed to have broad support in the US Congress, it caused such an outcry that substantial revisions were made to increase protection for privacy, the White House threatened a veto and a sizeable number of representatives ended up voting against it. A new version of CISPA was resubmitted in January 2013 and could come before Congress as early as April 2013.

United States

The proposed "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and "Protect IP Act" (PIPA) elicited a great deal of domestic and international criticism of the danger of unprecedented Internet censorship. Their opponents said they would prejudice countless Internet users who had never violated intellectual property by forcing websites to block access to other sites accused of vaguely defined copyright violations. The bills were finally shelved, but for how long?

Trial of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning

US Army Private Bradley Manning confessed before a court martial on 28 February 2013 that he passed military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks, including US embassy cables, the files of Guantanamo detainees and videos of air strikes in which civilians were killed, in particular the “Collateral Murder” video that showed a US helicopter crew killing Reuters journalists. He said his motive was to enlighten the public about what goes on and to “spark a debate about foreign policy.” He explained that he initially tried to give the files to the New York Times andWashington Post but could not find anyone who seemed interested. He also claimed that he chose the material with care in order to ensure that it would not cause any harm. Manning is facing up to 20 years in prison. Many NGOs have criticized the conditions in which he was being held as humiliating.

The European Union and many member countries were criticized as well but you can just read the report instead of having me repost the entire thing. Also, I find your logic laughable:

While I realize that censorship and monitoring are nowhere nearly as bad in the U.S. and Europe as they are in the included countries (though perhaps more insidious for its subtlety and secrecy)

By this logic, it is the Government of Antarctica that we truly have to watch out for. Their efforts of censorship are not nearly as bad as the U.S. and Europe (though perhaps even more insidious for its subtlety and secrecy since no one even knows they exist). Every time the US or EU attempts to censor something, it makes Slashdot's front page. Are you really so naive as to think they're so much more sophisticated than China that we can't detect the worst things they're doing? In China they have to rent access to the internet from the Chinese government! In the United States, if Comcast inserts a popup into a browser to notify users, it makes Slashdot's front page [slashdot.org] ! How can you even compare the two or call the US more insidious? Hyperbole much?

Re:They Sure Did (1)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year ago | (#43148531)

It's more insidious because, while I dare say that pretty much every halfway informed citizen in China, Syria, etc. know the basics about their government's censorship and spying activities (is there seriously any internet user in China who DOESN'T know about the "great firewall"?), but there are very few citizens in the U.S. who know about the existence of NSA "black rooms" [wikipedia.org] capable of intercepting voice and data traffic at major telecommunications hubs throughout the U.S. If you stopped random internet users on the street in the U.S., I would be genuinely surprised if even one in ten had any idea the NSA was even capable of that kind of mass spying (hell, I would be surprised if four in ten even know that the NSA exists). That's what makes it more insidious.

An open threat to freedom is no less a threat, mind you (and I sure wouldn't want to live in China), but at least you KNOW it's there.

Re:They Sure Did (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43153921)

Every time the US or EU attempts to censor something, it makes Slashdot's front page. Are you really so naive as to think they're so much more sophisticated than China that we can't detect the worst things they're doing?

I'll leave the source of this next quote as an exercise to the reader

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

What the NY Times narrative leaves out is that the lead journalist on the story had a book coming out,
and the NY Times wanted to break the story before the book did.

I'm sure there are plenty of stories that have never seen the light of day,
because media organizations like the NY Times agree with the government not to publish.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#43149921)

I don't think you could be sure that the US isn't the #1 snoop on the planet.

They've been building a MASSIVE data center -- I believe in Colorado (after the one in Utah). It could well be "private company" run, as that would make it "legal" with a few hand washing exercises.

We learned that AT&T sought and received indemnity for copying their entire pipe to the NSA during some internal spying investigations.

So no -- the only reason they can't list where the US is on the list of "spying on citizens" is because they are way more sophisticated than Saudi Arabia.

Though they must be tone deaf because it's a major source of anger amongst internet savvy blogizens. They need more security due to the existence of their security. And they can't trust their citizens anymore because we can't trust them.

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43150101)

Shuddup Benedict Arnold! You are now on the TSA No-Fly list bitch.

Regards NSA ECHELON

Re:Going to name the American and European ones to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43150899)

I know for a fact that Blue Coat proxies U.S. govt computers.

Incredible logic (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43148073)

PARIS â" Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam are flagrantly spying online, media watchdog RSF said Tuesday, urging controls on the export of Internet surveillance tools to regimes clamping down on dissent.
A new report entitled "Enemies of the Internet" also singled out five companies -- Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat -- that it branded "digital era mercenaries," who were helping oppressive governments. ....

RSF called for a ban on the sale of surveillance hardware and software to countries that flout basic fundamental rights and crack down on any opposition.

"The private sector cannot be expected to police itself. Legislators must intervene," it said.

"The European Union and the United States have already banned the export of surveillance technology to Iran and Syria. This praiseworthy initiative should not be an isolated one."

So the conclusion is that 'private sector cannot police itself and legislator must intervene', when in reality it is legislators that legislate that such tools must be used to control the population in the first place?

This passes for logic nowadays?

First of all: private sector only fulfils a demand and it doesn't matter if the demand is generated by individuals and markets or governments, it will be fulfilled, because there is money in it.

Secondly: the problem is created by governments, how is it going to be solved by governments? In fact it will be private sector that will solve this problem by providing solutions that will help individuals on the web to be safe from the solutions that governments acquire (possibly from other individuals in the private sector, but that's not even relevant. Governments pay for weapons, any type of weapons, this includes Internet spying technology. A government can hire people from the private sector to work on a nuclear weapon or on an Internet spying system.

Saying that the problem of governments legislating spying is with the private sector is.... I have many words for it, none of them are well suited for a civil company like that found on /. (now that was a poor attempt at humour).

Re:Incredible logic (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43148267)

" when in reality it is legislators that legislate that such tools must be used to control the population in the first place?"

In other news, using an army to stop an invasion is futile; because armies are what invade in the first place!

'Legislators' aren't some sort of global hive mind. The theory is that legislators in jurisdiction A would take action to prevent companies in jurisdiction A from aiding legislators in jurisdiction B from oppressing jurisdiction B. Since, as you say, the private sector is (or at least enough of it is that you can usually get what you want) amoral and mercenary, the only check on mercenaries in jurisdiction A would be either the total impoverishment of jurisdiction B, which would leave them unable to buy weapons, or coercive legislative pressure.

In practice, the likelihood of this actually happening has more to do with perceived national interest than any fancy talk about human rights. We are currently rooting for Syria's collapse, so some amount of legal pressure against those who assist Syria is quite likely(in the US, Russia the reverse). Bahrain, by contrast, is our bestest ever US Navy Fifth Fleet buddy, so it is exceedingly unlikely that anything more than cosmetic expressions of displeasure are to be expected.

Re:Incredible logic (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43148529)

Wheels within wheels. I hate to suggest it, but maybe some of these tools allow western governments to spy on these countries.

So, gentlemen, keep up your good work as unaware dupe obfuscators. Maybe.

Re:Incredible logic (1)

fascismforthepeople (2805977) | about a year ago | (#43148795)

Wow, you took both sides of the argument in scarcely 24 hours. Well done, sir.

Yesterday you wrote that the federal government must take control [slashdot.org] :

federal gov't was supposed to prevent individual States from setting rules that would for example require re-licensing of businesses and different professionals from one state to another

In other words, that the federal government must prevent states from doing anything that prevents profit.

Now, today you are instead arguing that they should not:

the problem is created by governments, how is it going to be solved by governments? In fact it will be private sector that will solve this problem

So yesterday you wanted more federal government, today you want less. Which is it? Which argument are you trying to make and why can't you decide that? And how will your church help us with it?

Just stand up for what you really want, don't try to appeal to non-believers. You want massively concentrated power and wealth in the hands of very, very few. You want fascism. You want your church leader to deliver fascism for the people.

Re:Incredible logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43148867)

See, roman_mir is quite fine with governments clamping down on dissent, on the condition the private sector is playing a big part in it.

Reporters without borders is a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43148313)

Doctors without out borders should sue the shit out of them for co-opting the name.

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43151639)

N. Korea is best Korea in everything!

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