Privacy as Innovation Interview

A recent interview I gave while in Stockholm to the Privacy as Innovation project:

privacy_innovation

UK Anonymous Radio Interview

Here’s the link to my interview tonight on UK Anonymous Radio – I had a great time and found it a fun, wide-ranging, and stimulating hour.  I hope you do too.  So, thank you Anonymous.

And also thank you to Kim Dotcom setting up the new file-sharing site, Mega, which replaces his illegally-taken-down global site, MegaUpload.  I have somewhere safe, I think, to store my interviews!

What a shambolic disgrace that MegaUpload raid was, and what a classic example of the global corporatist agenda that I discuss in the interview.

I do love geeks.

The FISA/Echelon Panopticon

A recent interview with James Corbett of the Corbett Report on Global Research TV discussing issues such as FISA, Echelon, and our cultural “grooming” by the burgeoning surveillance state:

Echelon Redux

Just a quickie, as this is some sort of holiday season apparently.  However, this did annoy me.   In the same way that President Obama signed the invidious NDAA on 31st December last year, despite his protestations about vetoing etc, it appears the US government has sneaked/snuck through (please delete as appropriate, depending on how you pronounce “tomato”) yet another draconian law during the festive season, which apparently further erodes the US constitution and the civil rights of all Americans.

Yet another problem for our benighted cousins across the pond, you might think.  But as so often happens these days, bonkers American laws can affect us all.

Yesterday the Senate approved an expansion of the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  This allows the US intelligence services to hoover up, if you’ll pardon the mild intelligence joke, the emails of god-fearing, law-abiding Americans if they are exchanging emails with pesky foreigners.

Well of course the whole world now knows, post 9/11, that all foreigners are potential terrorists and are now being watched/snatched/extraordinarily rendered/tortured/assassinated with impunity.  In Europe we have had many people suffer this way and some have managed to achieve recognition and restitution.  That appears to do little to stop the drone wars and blood-letting that the USA has unleashed across the Middle East.

But the NDAA and the extended FISA should at least rouse the ire of Americans themselves: US citizens on US soil can now potentially be targeted.  This is new, this is dangerous, right?

Well, no, not quite, as least as far as the interception of communications goes.

The Echelon system, exposed in 1988 by British journalist Duncan Campbell and reinvestigated in 1999, put in place just such a (legally dubious) mechanism for watching domestic citizens.  The surveillance state was already in place, even if through a back door, as you can see from this article I wrote 4 years ago, which included the following paragraph:

ECHELON was an agreement between the NSA and its British equivalent GCHQ (as well as the agencies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) whereby they shared information they gathered on each others’ citizens. GCHQ could legally eavesdrop on people outside the UK without a warrant, so they could target US citizens of interest, then pass the product over to the NSA. The NSA then did the same for GCHQ. Thus both agencies could evade any democratic oversight and accountability, and still get the intelligence they wanted.

The only difference now is that FISA has come blasting through the front door, and yet people remain quiescent.

Echelon and the Special Relationship

Journalist and writer James Bamford, has a new book, “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” (Doubleday), which came out this week in the United States.

Bamford is a former producer at ABC News of thirty years’ standing, and his book has caused quite a stir. One of his key gripes is the fact that foreign companies try to acquire work in sensitive US departments. He cites in particular the attempt in 2006 of Israeli data security company, Check Point Software Technologies, to buy an American company with existing contracts at the Defence Department and the NSA. This deal was stopped after the FBI objected.

Foreign software and security companies working within intelligence agencies are indeed a problem for any country. It compromises the very notion of national sovereignty. In the UK, MI5 and many other government departments rely on proprietary software from companies like Microsoft, notorious for their vulnerability to hackers, viruses and back door access. Should our nation’s secrets really be exposed to such easily avoidable vulnerabilities?

Another section of the book to have hit the headlines is Bamford’s claims that bedroom “conversations” of soldiers, journalists and officials in Iraq have been bugged by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Bamford, who is by no means a fan of the NSA in its current rampant form, makes the mistake of thinking that in the innocent days pre-9/11, the agency respected democratic rights enshrined in the US constitution and never snooped on US citizens in their own country.

While technically this might be true, does nobody remember the ECHELON system?

ECHELON was an agreement between the NSA and its British equivalent GCHQ (as well as the agencies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) whereby they shared information they gathered on each others’ citizens. GCHQ could legally eavesdrop on people outside the UK without a warrant, so they could target US citizens of interest, then pass the product over to the NSA. The NSA then did the same for GCHQ. Thus both agencies could evade any democratic oversight and accountability, and still get the intelligence they wanted.

Special relationship, anyone?